Sunday, June 30, 2019

Letter to my senator

Dear Senator Barrasso,
How can you stand by this president? How can you support the policy of child separations at the border? How can you support an administration that perpetrates such horrors while lying to the American people about it? How can you justify this treatment of children? I cannot imagine what must be in your mind as you stand next to President Trump in all those photos you seem to want to be in. How can you sleep at night? You must stop this. There must be a moral core inside of you somewhere. Please can you do something? Please? 
Your Constituent,
Amy Ryan

Dear Amy, 
Thank you for taking the time to contact me about asylum and border security issues. It is good to hear from you.
I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the recent influx of asylum requests and subsequent humanitarian crisis on our southern border. In order to uphold the safety and security of all Americans when processing asylum applications, we must have a strong background check and vetting process. While you and I agree we must remain compassionate toward families and children fleeing for their safety from war torn countries, we must also make sure our borders are secure. Please know I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue to monitor this situation.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
John Barrasso, M.D.
United States Senator

My response:

It is insane to equate child abuse with secure borders. One has nothing to do with the other.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

What Can I Do about Climate Change? Plant a Garden!

Part of the challenge of our modern society is finding ways to feed the massive population of people on Earth without compromising the natural world. One thing we can all do, even people without yards, is grow a little bit of food for ourselves every year.

People with sunny yards where the summer is hot will have the easiest time growing food. If the summer nights are warm enough you can grow peppers, tomatoes, and melons. If you plant a fruit tree you can even have your own home grown cherries, apricots, pears, or apples in a few years if you choose a quick growing variety. People who live in a year round warm climate can even grow their own avocados, oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits. Even if you would have to wait ten years for the tree to bear fruit, think of how happy you will be in ten years to have avocados you grew yourself! And the good work you do now will help future inhabitants of your house after you move away! That's one more family that doesn't have to get their apricots, pears, apples, or avocados shipped in from Mexico! If a lot of people think this way and plant their trees now, in ten years, we could save untold fuel costs and shipping emissions by producing renewable, readily available, locally grown food.

We are not all so lucky to live in a warm climate. I live in Jackson Wyoming, the prettiest place on Earth as far as I'm concerned. The problem with Jackson is that you can't grow tomatoes without a fairly heroic effort. To me, and to most vegetable gardeners, tomatoes are almost the entire reason to have a garden. Home grown fresh tomatoes are heaven on earth! But you know what else is pretty heavenly? A salad that you make of lettuce and spinach that you picked only moments ago. It's an entirely different experience from your usual supermarket salad. Your carrots are sweeter, your kale is crisper, your peas are more succulent, and your herbs are more potent and delicious. I can't grow my favorite crops, but I can still grow some pretty fabulous produce in my cold back yard. Is it more trouble than picking up a plastic container of pre-washed salad greens at the supermarket? Sure it is. But it's so good for you to get out there every day and tend your plot, and believe me, it all tastes so much better!

But what about apartment dwellers? Well even you can sprout yourself some delicious micro salad greens to enjoy as an accompaniment to your dinners, even in winter if you are willing to invest in a grow light. Many herbs also grow well indoors, and they are so much cheaper than buying fresh herbs at the supermarket, which are usually packaged in non-recyclable plastic, just like those fresh salad greens that are so easy to buy.

If you're just starting out, I suggest you start small. Start with a small four by four foot plot, and work from there. If you use the Square Foot Gardening method, you can harvest a surprisingly large supply of veggies in a small space, and best of all this method cuts your weeding time down to almost nothing. It's easy to cut up a crop of carrots, blanch them quickly in boiling water, and then store them in the freezer with reusable freezer bags. Then you have garden grown pre-cut carrots for soups for the whole year. Makes wintertime dinners so much easier!

If you're excited by these ideas, let me suggest a couple resources for you:

To learn more about your local growing environment, check out the nearest university or college website. Many of them have resource pages for gardeners like the one I often refer to:

Mel Bartholomew's method, Square Foot Gardening, is revolutionizing home gardens. Bartholomew was a genius gardener, and his method is really quite amazing, and pretty easy for beginners! Link to the foundation that he started:

For more information about indoor gardening, go here:

And here are links to a couple books I've found really helpful:

Don't get depressed get GROWING!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

New Series: What Can I Do? Plant a Tree.

So I've been thinking a lot about the state of our environment. Seems that things aren't going too well.
So instead of listing all the horrors, I'm going to write my blog posts centered around the question: What can I do?

Here's an idea: Plant a tree!

I have a big sunny back yard with a mature aspen tree that has been sending up pesky shoots. We decided to let five of the baby trees grow, and they are already over seven feet tall! Soon we will have a place to hang a hammock. More birds will have places to nest. We'll have shade to relax in. The trees cut down on traffic noise from the road near our house. And best of all, these extra trees will eat up all kinds of carbon dioxide!

Once, the earth was positively covered with forests. Since the agricultural revolution, people have been cutting into the Earth's lungs to make room for human crops. These crops do indeed also sequester CO2, but not as effectively as trees. What's worse, modern agriculture has destroyed the soil all over the world, and you know what active organic soil is good at? You guessed it! Sequestering CO2 and breathing out nice oxygen!

Now it's time for us to start undoing that damage. Mayor Bloomberg spent his term as New York City mayor planting one million trees. I used to live in New York, and I made a recent trip back there for a visit. I hardly recognized the drive in from JFK airport. All those TREES!! My taxi driver was so excited about it! I can tell you without a doubt the city is much more beautiful with greenery. It's shady and fragrant, and there are sounds of the wind rustling leaves that counteract all those harsh traffic sounds. It's only going to get better as those trees mature!

Even if you don't have a yard to plant a tree, you can help pay for other people to plant them! Below is a list of charities that need funds so they can go out and plant all kinds of gorgeous saplings all over the Earth! Give those kids something to climb! Even a few bucks helps!

Don't get depressed! Get going!


Look at this study that just came out! They identified places where forests could be restored, and how many trees could be planted there. These trees could consume 2/3 of the carbon released into the atmosphere by humans. Follow the link: