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Retrograde, Schmetrograde

So… apparently Mercury has been in retrograde.

Which is strange to me because I don’t understand what much of that sentence means. I don’t know what retrograde actually entails and I am not sure what Mercury’s pastimes have to do with life on Earth.

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Mercury, that little f***er

 Those who know me will vouch for my excessive organizational skills and attention to detail. And yet, last week I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t send my husband a text along the lines of, “I forgot deodorant today”, “I left my lunch in the fridge today”, “I forgot to shave the 580 pound gorilla”.

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Finally, after about 5 days, my husband replied to my text of, “Today I totally forgot underwear” with, “Mercury is in retrograde” instead of his usual, “Hah!”

I would have done a spit take if there had been liquid of any kind in my mouth. My husband and astrology are like Snooki and common sense – the two just do not go together.

It turns out one of his co-workers has indoctrinated him in the language of planetary angst and he spread it all over me like sneeze goo.

So, there you go. If you too are experiencing any sort of absent minded-professor type behavior or suddenly hippy-tized spouses, now you know why.

For more info on just what the ‘wait, what?’ Mercury in Retrograde is, here are some informative words from our friends at Astrology Zone (a site I just googled):

Mercury Madness
Mercury retrograde dates:

2012
March 12 – April 4
July 14 – August 8
November 6 – November 26

At several points throughout the year most of us will be bombarded with the maddening effects of Mercury in retrograde. Mercury is a planet, which governs all transportation and communication issues. Mercury is not an emotional planet, but rather a highly objective, truth-seeking one. It rules intelligence, education and truth. When it is in retrograde, some of its power is held back.

When Mercury starts turning in an apparent backward motion, we will start to feel the effects of this event days or even as far as two weeks earlier. When the planet normalizes we will see the tempo of events pick up in our lives as the planet becomes “stationary” and then speeds forward.

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This, of course, only led to more questions, like what does retrograde actually mean? And that took me to Wikipedia, the site for those who want to research stuff, but not that thoroughly:

At certain points on Mercury’s surface, an observer would be able to see the Sun rise about halfway, then reverse and set before rising again, all within the same Mercurian day. This is because approximately four Earth days before perihelion, Mercury’s angular orbital velocity exactly equals its angular rotational velocity so that the Sun’s apparent motion ceases; at perihelion, Mercury’s angular orbital velocity then exceeds the angular rotational velocity. Thus, to a hypothetical observer on Mercury, the Sun appears to move in a retrograde direction. Four days after perihelion, the Sun’s normal apparent motion resumes at these points.[13]

Mercury attains inferior conjunction (near approach to the Earth) every 116 Earth days on average,[3] but this interval can range from 105 days to 129 days due to the planet’s eccentric orbit. Mercury can come as close as 77.3 million km to the Earth,[3] but it will not be closer to Earth than 80 Gm until AD 28,622. The next approach to within 82.1 Gm is in 2679, and to within 82 Gm in 4487.[72] Its period ofretrograde motion as seen from Earth can vary from 8 to 15 days on either side of inferior conjunction. This large range arises from the planet’s high orbital eccentricity.[13]

What I gathered in my clearly thorough searching, and even more clearly thought out late-at-night, deep-in-a-glass-of-wine logic, is that when Mercury is in retrograde it appears to spin backward and that leads us little critters on Earth to act like total morons. Good times! Looking forward to November, that’s for sure. It’s right around election time, so that means we may just be stupid enough to vote for the Koch Brothers’ stool pigeon.

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Things I Learned in School 2

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were great and you’re excited about whatever 2012 has in store for you, assuming, of course, that doesn’t mean the end of the world. Just kidding, that’s a bunch of poppycock. Right? Right?

Anyway, my dear husband and I decided to spend the first week of the new year consuming nothing but fresh squeezed fruit and veggie juices in order to start our new year off on the right track and maybe, just maybe, make up for some extra rich eating over the holidays.

I may not have told you about this, but back in September, when it was still summer in Los Angeles and warm and sunny and… sorry, I forgot it’s probably snowy and frigid where you are, but back in September we did the juicing and it was grand. We lost weight, we were full of boundless energy and we slept better than a baby. (The proverbial baby who actually sleeps through the night, with nary a care in the world, not an actual baby).

After 11 days we eased back into the world of real people food but kept on juicing for a meal or two a day. Ah, those were the days.

So, it certainly wasn’t out of line to think that a week long January juice cleanse would be a good idea. Well, it definitely wasn’t a good idea. My body struggled and I suffered. Usually detoxing takes about a day and a half as your body scrounges up all the ice cream sundae and cheeseburger residue and flushes it from your system. Not this time. I detoxed for four days. That meant headaches, fuzzy thinking, a runny nose, some aches, etc. My skin even broke out, despite the fact that all that went into my body were fruits, veggies and water. I was always hungry, no matter how much I consumed. That’s not usually an issue with this type of eating, where you can have as much as you want. And, I didn’t have any additional energy. I did, however, lose weight at about the same rate as before. It was just twice as hard.

I should have remembered what I learned in school last quarter: In Oriental medicine we are taught that the body works differently at different times of the year. For example, in summer our bodies want to eat lighter and we need less rest. And in winter we need more rest and our bodies crave more nourishment. This is just natural biological functioning, the same way we are biologically programmed to be active during the day and sleepy at night. We can ignore it and do whatever we want, but there are consequences.

This got me thinking about New Years Resolutions. In January, the time when we (in the Northern Hemisphere) should be less active, eat and sleep more, we are prone to jump starting our year with great plans to work out, sweat a lot and eat less to purge the holiday eating pounds. That usually leads to getting up early or staying up late to squeeze workouts in before or after work, school or caring for our families. The typical result is disaster and quitting before the calendar hits February.

I suggest a more natural, body-conscious approach: save your New Years Resolution to get in shape and lose weight until late April or May, when nature and your body will be on your side. You may find that it is simply easier to get into a groove, your appetite may naturally wane and you will need less sleep as the days become longer.

And if that throws a wrench into your bathing suit aesthetic plans then I suggest that you start this year with an eye toward a complete lifestyle change, rather than needing to allocate your annual resolutions to weight loss every year. Just think, if this year you started in April then by next year, it will not only be old hat, but you’ll already be where you want to be and you can make resolutions about other things you want to accomplish in your life, like permanent hair removal in areas where hair is downright gross.

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere then New Years is a great time to start such a resolution. Lucky.

And if you still want to get started in January, cut yourself some slack. Rather than going whole hog (so to speak) with your health plans, start by cutting sugar and processed foods out of your diet. Resolve to eat smaller meals and more often. Eat filling, hearty foods like vegetable based soups and oatmeal so you will be fuller longer with fewer calories. Go for walks regularly, even if they are just short ones. Take long strides so you can feel your muscles stretching as you go. Eating better and walking will also help you sleep better, which will give you more energy. All of that will help you shed a few pounds in a way that won’t tax your hibernating body and will give you a head start for an April work out and diet plan.

That way you’ll be much more likely to see your New Years Resolution to success.

Good luck and report back!

For more information on juicing, watch the documentary that started it all for us: Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s a great movie, a fun watch and very inspiring.

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Things I’m Learning in School, Part 1

Hello, Intrepid Reader!

I intend to write a multi-part series on things I’m learning in school. This series will not be consecutive blogs. Nope, I have to break it up with “Other Things”.

Without further ado, here’s part 1:

In case you don’t yet know, I’m pursuing a 4 year master’s degree in Oriental Medicine. This is comprised of acupuncture, herbology and a great deal of Western Medicine.

The techniques I’m learning go back thousands of years and work amazingly well for an incredible number of things, assuming your practitioner is on top of their game.

This week I want to talk about something I learned in herbs class. Some of the herbs we use in prescriptions are also food items. That food is medicine isn’t news to any of you. Turkey’s tryptophan makes you sleepy, drink a warm glass of milk to fall asleep at night, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, eating carrots improves your vision. I could go on, but I got hung up on trying to find medicinal properties in chocolate cake and drifted off on a mental “yum” cloud.

Anyway, here are a few other medicinal foods that you might not know are medicinal:

Green onions. 

Green onions can be eaten in the early stages of cold and flu to help you break a sweat and release the pathogen. They can also help relieve nasal pain and abdominal pain and distention. So don’t be afraid to toss some of those bad boys into your chicken noodle soup. By the way, chicken noodle soup is one of those foods we know and love for curing the common cold. Studies have shown that the soup is very effective. That’s not a chinese herb, but it’s another example of food as medicine.

Cinnamon twigs. 

Cinnamon moves the blood, helping to prevent or alleviate stasis. It can also relieve fatigue, fever and chills, body aches and respiratory symptoms, as with the flu.

Fresh ginger. 

We all know ginger is good for settling an upset stomach. But did you also know that eating it can help warm your lungs and stop a cough? Or that it can help relieve chills, chest congestion and phlegm from a cold?

Peppermint. 

Peppermint can help relieve a sore throat and red eyes. It’s also a good tea to have when you feel depressed and anxious.

Those are a few examples of foods you probably have around your home, or can easily get, that can help you out when you’d like to feel better. And, unless they’re genetically modified, they’re certainly a lot healthier for you than some of the artificially created cold remedies at your drug store.

Here’s to your health!

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Fighting for our American Freedom

I often try to couch my opinion in a way that is palatable to all and not too ‘out there’ or distinct because I don’t want to make too many waves. And that’s fine for most topics, most of the time. I mean, really, people, I’m not an activist.

I am reminded, however, by this brave woman –

Dorli Rainey after being pepper sprayed by Seattle police. Pepper spray is a use of force reserved for threat to police officers' safety as in the threat of bodily harm this woman must have presented.

– that when people are silent and stand by while some people do the wrong thing, the right thing won’t get done at all.

Hear her in her own powerful words here.

Yes, of course I’m talking about the Occupy Wall Street protests. I posted a video of the UC Davis pepper spraying of students on my facebook page, as did some of my friends. The responses they got on their pages were horror and outrage. On my page? People talking about how the lazy student bums need to quit complaining and go get jobs.

To me their arguments are illogical. When has protesting been something lazy people do? It’s not an easy good time. The kids at UC Davis knew they might get pepper sprayed, it’s been happening all over the country. (Watch the video here). They could have been snug in their dorms playing video games, without a care in the world. Why in the world would lazy spoiled children protest and risk their health and safety? They wouldn’t. Watching this made me cry, it’s so blatantly unnecessary and cruel.

The comments on my facebook page talked about how people need to take responsibility for themselves and go get jobs. I wonder: who would choose homelessness over working? Do you know such people? People who willingly give up homes, cars, clothes, entertainment, fresh food and convenient bathroom facilities with running water because they’re lazy? Did I miss the memo about how homelessness is the easy life?

On my page one of the commenters suggested:  “Use that education vote or get the job to where they can change policy or be influential in that process. There is a time to protest. I’m all for it.” We’ll set our issues with his grammar aside and focus on the point at hand: The students are protesting rapidly rising tuition in a time when credit is getting tighter. They may not be able to complete that education. If they can complete it, they will likely be in quite a bit of debt. Let’s say they decide to go into politics to change the system. That’s several years away. In the meantime they’ve got to start a career, master public speaking and be up on all the current topics that matter to voters, something many of our republican candidates have not yet managed to do (see Rick Perry here and Herman Cain here, and those two have major corporate backing.) Next, if they want to avoid the influence of those who have contributed to our current circumstances, i.e. what the protesters are protesting, he or she will have to raise all of their campaign funds outside of the corporate world. Here’s a video clip about someone who tried to do just that in 2010.

These statements: the protesters are a bunch of lazy hippie kids without a point, these people have created these circumstances for themselves, and there are better ways to accomplish their goals than protesting lack a logical foundation and smack of Fox news-style propaganda. I can almost hear Ann Coulter’s and Glenn Beck’s voices as my dear commenters quote directly from the news feeds.  If people thought about what they’re saying here, would they still say it? I’m taking a stand because I think this is wrong.

In my opinion the protesters are the new front line in the war for America’s freedom. America is all of us, not the very wealthy and not the career politicians who have been bought and paid for by certain individuals.

The soldiers who’ve died in all of the wars fought to defend our country would flip out in their graves if they knew that despite their sacrifices our country was being destroyed from the inside out. We have to stop it and we have to defend what America stands for so that the American dream is still a reality for us and for future generations. The time to do that is now, not once we’ve become a Banana Republic – a land where the top 1% lives in unimaginable luxury while the bottom 99% wallows in abject poverty with no one in between. Why wait for that eventuality? Right now, thousands of brave Americans are taking to the streets to reclaim our freedoms and our rights and the very least, the very least, we can do is support them in that. It’s unAmerican not to fight for our rights.

Remember, dear readers: Civil disobedience is as American as apple pie. If not for civil disobedience we’d be British citizens, women couldn’t vote, black people would be at the back of the bus and we’d still be at war in Vietnam, among other things.

And you can quote me on that.

In the aftermath of the UC Davis pepper spraying, the school’s chancellor, Linda Katehi, walked to her car amidst hundreds of students sitting in silent protest. This isn’t violent, it isn’t mindless – it’s extremely powerful and you can see how affected she is by the response to what was done under her watch. See it here. (scroll to the bottom of the article)

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Conor Rocks the Viper Room

Today I bring you a rockin’ good time from my husband, Conor Logan, as he rocks the Viper Room with his band, The Logan.

Here is their cover of Jane’s Addiction’s “Stop!”

Enjoy.

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Give Your Loved Ones the Gift of Your Pain

This holiday season, as we attempt to balance our recession-lightened wallets with our desire to shower our loved ones with goodies, remember that the number one thing they most likely want (aside from a Lamborghini) is to feel good about themselves.

Sure, you give all of your nearest and dearest constant adoration, praise and compliments on the tiny-ness of their hindquarters or massiveness of their manly muscles, but an even better way to make them feel like valuable members of society is to let them be there for you in your time(s) of need.

That’s right, glittering readerati, I’m saying that the best thing you can do for your friends is to let them be there for you. Use them for their stated purposes – shoulders to cry on, ears to bend and hands to hold.

There’s nothing worse for a person with a heart (which is 99% of us) than to know a friend is struggling or hurting and to be shut out from the opportunity to help them.

The reasons we shut people out are usually based in thoughtfulness,  such as the desire not to be a burden or thinking that we’re too messy for our friends to handle.

But if you ponder for a moment what makes you feel good about yourself as a person, chances are good that being a good friend ranks high on your list. And how does one go about being a good friend? By being there for one’s friends. By being their 3:00 a.m. crying phone call go-to.  By being a person that others feel comfortable baring their souls to.

And what happens if you keep all your ooey-gooey ugly bits, sadnesses and 3:00 a.m. calls to yourself? Your friends feel unworthy of your emotion dumps, which makes us feel like we’re not as good a friend as we could be. No one likes to see people they care about in pain and knowing that you might be hurting and we’re not invited to the help-you party is not a friendly thing to make a friend feel.

So this year, reach deep inside your emotional purse and pull out a heaping helping of “I need you, I want you, I love you”, wrap it up in a pretty bow, serve it with a glass of wine and give it to someone you care about. They’ll be so grateful they won’t even care that you bathed the suede jacket their grandma sent them from the 80’s in your tears.

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Fed up, the people take to the streets once again.

Let’s talk about Occupy Wall Street and why you should be paying attention to the movement that’s sweeping the nation.

Remember not too long after the turn of the last century when women got all uppity and wanted the right to vote? They protested and the cops beat them up and put them in jail, but eventually they won the right and now those of us with lady parts don’t think twice about the fact we get to check off little boxes deciding who our overlords will be.

No?

From left: Charles and David Koch, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry

Remember back in the sock hoppy fifties and the hippy dippy sixties when Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and their friends said, “No more separate but equal. How about just equal?”*        (* Not to be confused with the chemical laden artificial sweetening product).

No?

Rosa Parks, criminal mastermind, busted for sitting on a bus while black in 1955

Martin Luther King Jr. and protesters getting all civil and unrested

Well then, how about back in the big hair eighties, when Kevin Bacon had had enough of a ban on dancing and stood up and tapped a toe about it? (Before he was 6 degrees from people you’ve heard of.)

No?

"You smell the civil disobedience the Bacon is cooking up?"

Luckily you can catch up on this one with the upcoming remake, also called Footloose. Watch a trailer here.

Well, two of these uprisings really happened right here in the land of the supposedly free and the brave, the good ol’ US of A.

I mention them because Occupy Wall Street is very similar; people have been treated unfairly and are upset about it and they are peacefully demonstrating to demand an end to an injustice.

And just as has happened before, they are being arrested and beaten by police and berated by the talking heads who tell the people what they should think. Some of the people have decided to turn off their TVs and think for themselves but that’s not within the comfort zone of others.

The faces change but the story remains the same.

The newsertainment writers at Fox News and their pals at The Other Networks say that these unwashed hippies are a bunch of disorganized malcontents whining about the rich instead of buckling down and getting a job like a good American should. Like they, the talking heads themselves, have done. They say the protesters don’t have clear demands.

In case you’ve been confused by the bobble heads about what this movement is all about and why it’s hopefully going to change things for the better, here is a list of the demands of the unwashed masses (I’ve taken this quote from Rep. Alan Grayson’s appearance on Bill Maher. Watch it here.):

“…They’re complaining that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody’s held responsible for that. Not a single person’s been indicted or convicted for destroying twenty percent of our national net worth accumulated over two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and the other party caters to them as well.

Something is wrong when regular everyday people are siding with the banks on this, people. I’m talking to you, good-looking reader, especially because I’m quite sure that fewer than 1% of the people reading this blog financially benefited from the Wall Street collapse and bailout. (See what I did there? With the 1%?) And I’m not just upset about what’s happened because I have a high paying full time job and am married to a man who has a high paying full time job and the two of us together can’t afford to buy a decent house in our area.

I’m upset about it because what’s happening in this country is fundamentally wrong. And I’m happy that there are people brave enough and willing to go into a public forum and speak out about the injustice that is being done to us, the American people, on our behalf. And if you’re being told that these people are are wrong in what they’re doing, check the source.

I have no doubt that one day history will call these people heroes, like the strong women who fought for our right to vote or the brave black men and women who took to the streets for equal rights. We still haven’t achieved equality in many ways, as women, as African Americans or as the 99% but as long as we don’t keep silent and take it we’ll get there eventually.

Follow the movement, support the movement or become part of it:

Twitter: @OccupyWall

http://occupywallst.org/

Here’s some additional reading:

Aljazeera: Occupy Wall Street: A Media Blackout?

Alternet: Seven Snappy Comebacks For Those Lame Anti- “Occupy” Talking Points

Opensecrets.org: Top Bank Contributors to Government Candidates

Keep reading, the news is out there, even though the revolution is not being fully televised.