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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Paucity of Spiritual Resources?

Yesterday I encountered the title of a book by an author I'd never heard of.  While I'm a librarian, it isn't unusual for this to happen.  Librarians are NOT, as some people think, walking encyclopedias of information, nor do they know the title of every book published.  And, as a self-proclaimed spiritual seeker, I don't know the names of every self-proclaimed teacher or the titles of every "spiritual" book printed.  Still, the title:  Transcending the Levels of Consciousness  is of interest as, in plain English, it's along the line of spiritual inquiry that I've been studying, on and off, for years.

I did some online searching about the author, Dr. David Hawkins, and his Institute of Advanced Spiritual Research after texting a friend (she's in another time zone so won't get back to me right away.  She's also not generally in front of a computer screen, like me.)  

I thought I'd see if I can borrow one of Dr. Hawkins' books from the local library but they  have none.  Since I'm there frequently, I'm aware that books of this ilk are scarce at my local library.  So, I tried the state's ILL (Interlibrary  Loan) system which can be accessed, in most cases from your local library's web site or in person at your local library.  Still nothing by Dr. Hawkins along these lines.

And, it's not unusual.  There are many definitions and interpretations of the words spiritual and spirituality.  There are just as many paths presented by many, many "teachers".  I'm not going to delve into these definitions or the various paths here or now.  I'm more concerned at this moment about the the lack of substantive printed material, in this subject area, in many public libraries.  You will find religion in the 200s, philosophy in the 100s, as well as the occult.  But, unless a book of this type is reviewed and, even more importantly, reaches the level of some commercial success, it will not be purchased because, unfortunately, public libraries, have, in many cases, succumbed to the pressure to compete with recreational entities like bookstores, video games, television and celebrity.

Some of my professional friends and colleagues will be angry, if they read this, but most of them do not and will not and, I'm sorry, but this is how I feel personally and professionally.  I may be 'old school' but when I entered the profession we were proud to be considered part of the educational community, dispensing information to those who need it.  Library collections were intended not just for leisure reading but to represent the diversity, breadth and depth of human knowledge and culture.  

A couple of years ago I was at a training session with a bunch of other library directors and happened, at lunch, to sit next to a director of a library not far from mine.  In the course of conversation, we were commiserating about the lack of substantive intellectual inquiry we were encountering at our libraries.  She expressed the sense that we're past the dumbing down of America and have reached the state of dumbed down.  This includes, sadly, spiritual inquiry, in my opinion.

In any case, neither my local public library, nor the state's ILL system is giving me ready access to any of the titles of Dr. Hawkins.  At the moment I'm not interested enough to make a purchase but I'll keep the information in my back pocket.

I am concerned that my profession is missing The Mark and will, eventually, pay for it, as it already is, in lack of support.  After all best sellers are everywhere, in multiple formats and some of us aren't interested in that; we're looking for something much more.

More investigation is needed but maybe this is a direction for me to consider in my pursuit of financial stability in retirement.  Maybe there's a need for a review tool of this type of resource.

Of course, there is NOT a paucity of spiritual resources, I'm well aware of that.  They are there, readily available but not generally familiar to those not seeking them.  Still, it might be useful to have reviews of printed resources for those who are needing some direction in sorting out the kernels of wisdom from possible chaff.

Something to think about.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Refrigerator Tea and Miscellaneous Observations

Refrigerator Tea


We’ve been blessed with a cooling break the past week or so but during our long, hot and dry span I was getting really uncomfortable in my un-air-conditioned house.  I’d been drinking a lot of that popular sweetened, peach-flavored “iced” tea and thought it was too sweet so I thought I’d make some sun tea in the left over 2 liter bottles.  Going online to figure out how many tea bags per 2 liters I should use I discovered several links to sites warning of the dangers of sun tea.  I was already thinking that sun tea takes a while and I never really found it all that tasty so this really put me off.  After investigating a little I decided against making sun tea but, in that heat, I really didn’t want to make tea and then  wait for it to cool off.
Here is a link to the Snopes article on sun tea:

It seemed like more attention needed for the process than I wanted to give so I looked for more solutions.  What I found was a process for making refrigerator tea which I’ve been making since.  I use the discarded plastic 2 liter bottles from that well-known, popular tea that I like so much (I don’t name brands anymore unless they want to advertise and help support me, sorry.)

Here is my methodology for refrigerator tea.  It occurs to me that this may be equally hazardous to sun tea so proceed at your own risk.  I’ve been using this method for over a month now and no problems so far.

  • Fill a clean 2 liter container with filtered water. (I keep 2 water filter pitchers filled in my refrigerator most of the time) Fill to about 1 inch from the bottom of where the cap screws on.
  • Select one or more of your favorite bagged teas. (I’m still experimenting with a variety of black, green and herbal teas) The bags should have strings.
  • Holding the tags at the end of the string, insert one teabag at a time into the water, keeping the string and tag draped outside.  Insert 7 to 8 teabags this way.  I find that holding on the bundle of tags as you insert each bag keeps the strings even and keeps the teabags from sliding into the bottle.
  • Using a table knife or narrow handle of a cooking spoon, holding the tags of the teabags to keep them from falling into the bottle, push the teabags beneath the water several times until they appear mostly saturated.
  • Pull the tags and strings straight but not too taut but leaving the teabags immersed in the water and gently, slowly screw on the cap.
  • Put the bottle into your refrigerator for at least 4 hours but preferably longer and even overnight.

You can thinly slice lemon and/or lime, squeeze the juice into the water and insert the slices.  I also shave the rind (no white) and add it.  You can add fresh or frozen peach slices, strawberries and other fruit that you like.  So far, I’ve not found that the fruit, other than the citrus adds much flavor so maybe I need more.  I don’t add sweetening until later, if at all.

Generally it’s been a weaker tea than the commercial brand I sometimes still drink but that’s ok for me; I just want some flavor to what I drink.  It’s made cold and stays cold and it’s refreshing and satisfies a need for something cold to drink on those uncomfortably hot days.

Miscellaneous Observations

Since I’ve given up on my business I’ve been trying to think of something I can do online to make a little money to eventually supplement my retirement that’s not far aware.  I’m still interested in unique independent businesses but, call it sore grapes, I won’t be promoting any businesses anymore unless I get something out of it.  There are a ton of really interesting little businesses throughout New Jersey.  I still find them exciting.  But, I spent months collecting information, web sites, and putting a database together and didn’t make a dime.  So, I’m done with that.

I’m a librarian, most of my life.  But, I’m not a best seller librarian; I’m more of an information dispensing librarian.  I love to help people find whatever information they need for whatever they need it (as long as it’s legal, of course).  So, if anyone read this and has a brilliant idea about what I might do with that experience and ability, let me know.  So far I don’t think anyone reads this, not even my friends so….

So, observations:  I see some healthy trends.

Return to local, small business – I think this is really happening; more and more.  I plan to continue to promote the idea.  I think it’s intelligent, sensible, and economically healthy.  It doesn’t mean we don’t need some things from big business.  Where else would I buy gas?  While I’d like to see more choice in cable providers, I would continue to feel most comfortable with experienced and well-financed cable companies.  The same with phone and Internet access providers.  I don’t really need most things imported either.

Packaging.  I, myself, have become more aware of the amount of packaging that clutters our lives.  I’ve been trying to find ways to eliminate more and more of it.  Food packaging is mostly for processed foods so eating more whole foods automatically eliminates some of that packaging.  Supermarkets, though, have, for some time, packaged produce, probably at the insistence of people who are afraid of “those other people” who might have touched the fruits and vegetables they want to buy.  This morbid paranoia about germs is part of a number of problems we currently have and need to move away from.  Germs are everywhere and always have been and the population is growing, not shrinking so I think we, as a species, are ok if we’re sensible in how we move through life.  Besides, who thinks that packaging eliminates germs?  So, reducing the need for packaging is, I believe, a good effort to make.

Plastic – Do you remember that some of us, self-proclaimed, hippies used the word plastic as a derogatory adjective?  That’s because we saw it’s proliferation in our lives.  We saw synthetic (plastic) double knits as an indicator of the opposition.  Well, plastics also have their place but have become an enormous environmental problem.  There are many organizations fighting to reduce and eliminate plastic in the environment.  I was recently called to attention by the Two Hands Project when I mentioned collecting refuse at a local park in plastic bags which went into my garbage.  They told me they don’t use plastic garbage bags.  I stopped buying garbage bags some time ago and recycle my plastic grocery bags for my garbage.  No, I don’t use reusable bags for my groceries because I always forget to take them into the store with me and now I can find mine and I refuse to pay for the ones the stores well.  Mine are canvas and were free, picked up at various library conferences.  But, I’ve been given the challenge of eliminating those plastic bags as well and wracked my brain for weeks trying to think of a solution.  I recently found instructions online for making origami pouches.   I’ve modify the instructions to make much larger liners for wastebaskets.  I’m trying to find a way of making a video to demonstrate.  Reducing or eliminating packaging usually means plastic.

Slow Living – I’m seeing an increasing number of people returning to a saner, quieter, slower way of life.  A friend of mine and I are at or near retirement age.  We’re single women.  We’re trying to figure out what to do next.  One of the things we’ve been discussing is living overseas where things are less expensive.  We’ve also been thinking about, researching, looking at intentional communities where people of like mind have joined together to live a different lifestyle from the mainstream.  We’re also interested in combining the 2 and looking for intentional communities abroad. I'll keep you posted about this.

Pigheaded thinking – I'm seeing also, unfortunately in my thinking, a lot of people clinging to dreams of the economy just before the crash and wanting to get back there.  I think it’s a mistake.  That lifestyle, that economy and that focus of thinking was what created the economic mess we’re in today.  Going back there is the wrong direction.  We need to rethink everything.  That particular American dream – accumulating stuff, buying whatever the latest gadget is, constantly seeing celebrities as models for living, is a model for the disaster that was caused by greed and a race toward a meaningless future.  I’ve already seen ads for programs about flipping houses, ads for useless products, ads for new models of many things that differ from the last mostly in unnecessary features that are cute or entertaining.    I’m moving in an almost opposite direction.  What stuff can I eliminate from my life?  What devices do I have or can I find to replace power tools of any kind?

Middlemen – A friend tells me he appreciates the middlemen that make his life possible but most of the examples he cited make it possible for him to have stuff he doesn’t really need which I’m sure is not of concern to him; he wants those things.  If I buy produce from farmer’s markets, I eliminate a LOT of middlemen.  Middlemen increase the prices of many things.  Middlemen don’t produce anything.  The entire financial industry is mostly unnecessary.  Wall Street is nothing but a highly elevated Atlantic City, Tahoe, Vegas and Monaco combined.  

So, now I’m looking for ways to bypass middlemen whenever possible.  I don’t have any good examples yet but eating out is certainly something on my mind.  I run out, frequently, to get fast food (I’m no purist in any respect) or a sandwich.  Even if I go to a sit down restaurant, I find, in many cases, that I’m a much better cook so why am I paying someone to cook for me worse than I can cook for myself.  Granted, when I was working and commuting full time (I’m semi-retired), cooking after work was often more than I could gather energy for.  But, eating more naturally and simply, rather than thinking I have to cook a full meal, just for me, every night, makes it possible to have good healthy food and not pay someone else to prepare it.  I’ll try to find more examples of this.  

I know that some of you pay people to clean your house, walk your dog, do your laundry.  Some of you need these services and, as a librarian who’s supported myself most of my life in public (service) employment, I certainly feel that providing a service is a valid business model.  But, I do think there are layers and layers of middlemen who are inflating the prices of too many things in our lives.

A word of advice – Moderation in all things.  I’m not a purist in any respect, as I mentioned earlier.  I do what I can, when I can.  I try to learn and do more to live a sensible, meaningful, low-impact life on a continual basis.  I don’t think beating each other up over every little thing is a good way to make changes happen.  I think disseminating information and getting people to think about their choices are useful efforts.  I’m a librarian, what else would I think?  That's what I'm trying to do here.