There is a new trend going on everywhere: these electronic cigarettes. We have achieved another level of virtual life, this time by the consumption of nicotine in electronic fashion.
The other day I went to rent a truck for a move I needed to make, and right next to the U-haul place I saw Alpine Vape Center, a new store selling e-juice and e-cigarettes and all of the accessories. I spoke to Chris, the man that seemed to be the owner, and he gave me some interesting food for thought.
We all remember our grandparents or even our parents or at least some uncle – someone in the family had a cigarette in their hand at one point, right?
I remember – the nasty smell, the coughing, and later in time, being the outcast: that one person that had to go outside and sit in the cold to get his or her “fix”.
It was never clear to me if smoking was something that our Good Lord disapproved of…
But it was always the reason for shutting down the smokers in our lives: the fact that their vice was not only killing them… It was also seriously affecting the health of the people around them when they smoked.
Fast forward to 2016. There are these new devices out there that are battery operated and allow the user to inhale and take a “hit” of nicotine in the form of a vapor. They do not smell bad (quite the opposite, actually), they do not (allegedly) affect the health of the people around the user, but allows that person to satisfy the craving of nicotine, usually flavored with some fruity extract.
So at this point, we have to ask ourselves the following serious question: We all know excessive sugar or sodium in our diet is bad for us. And we all have that one uncle that adds salt to ANY meal, even before he tastes it, and then washes it down with two or three cans of coke…
He’s not affecting anyone around him, and we don’t make him feel like an outcast. Am I right?
The same principle applies to e-cigarettes. Sure, one may choose NOT to take nicotine, but if another person does, and that behavior doesn’t affect my health, who am I to not allow him to puff on his e-cigarette?
Does the Good Lord condemn high blood pressure and those that indulge in too much salt? NO.
Then I think no e-cigarette smoker should be banned from Heaven for that behavior, and we should not make them feel like outcasts.
Contribution by Denise C., El Hoyo, Chubut, Argentina
In 2007, while living in the U.S. my husband was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. We sat down and took a hard look at what we wanted to do with whatever time we had left to spend together (prognosis at that time was less than 10 years). Bottom line, we wanted to live a simpler, more natural life, closer to the basics, with less stress, no schedules, good food, good wine, and more laughter. Our tremendous advantage was and continues to be that our children are self-sufficient and our parents are independent.
We were free to do whatever we wanted to do, since nobody else was going to be affected by any rash financial decisions we might make. First we eliminated all debt, and reduced our expenses as much as possible, so that we could manage to live on the most minimum income.
We decided our best bet was to return to Argentina where we could buy a small piece of land outright, cash, no mortgage. Here we can have affordable health care, which is a must – given my husband’s leukemia -and our expenses are very few because we live in a rural area.
We packed up our stuff in August 2009, took a few months to travel around the western states and southern Canada in an old pop-up camper, and said our goodbyes to our sons. They are grown teenagers (or young men… depending on which side you look at them from).
On our way back, just only maybe 50 miles away from home and during a strong thunderstorm, our pop-up trailer jack-knived and made us spin out of the road and hit a guard rail.
Needless to say, after catching our breath for a moment and thanking the Lord for not being hurt, we called the good people at www.towrockford.com who carefully straightened out the forks of the pop-up and towed both our truck and the trailer back home safely.
That had been our last signal: our near death experience had made up our minds: We packed the stuff we wanted to keep, lsold and gave away the rest.
Then we flew to Argentina –the country where my parents, my husband and my three sons were all born– traveling and camping in different areas during several months while trying to figure out where we wanted to live. We ended up in a small (pop. 3000) fruit-farming community about 1400 miles southwest of Buenos Aires.
In 2010 we bought a couple of acres at the foot of a 4000 ft. peak in a low lying valley that is practically at sea level. We’re at the 42nd parallel south, the Andes are to the west, and on the other side of the mountains is the Pacific Ocean and Chile. To the east of here it’s all mesas and flatlands to the Atlantic which is about 400 miles away as the crow flies.
The land is very similar to Wyoming, flat grasslands in the east and the Rockies on the west, lots of lakes and bubbling rivers full of trout. Beautiful forests, snow-capped peaks. Because we are not high up, we get no snow in winter although all the surrounding hills get a good amount. It rains a lot in fall and winter, soft and steady for several months. Summers are hot, sunny, and dry.
In January 2012 (summer) we started building a small one-bedroom cabin here, just 15 ft. x 35 ft. with a small covered front porch. We built it all ourselves except for the concrete slab! It would’ve been fun except for my grouchy husband, worried about cost overruns and the weather turning cold before we could get it finished.
Meanwhile, we lived in a tent, used an outhouse, cooked camp-style on a gas burner, and slept like angels. The stars! It is so quiet here, except when our neighbor’s pre-teens listen to their crazy music too loud and the whump-whump-whump of the bass echoes off the hills. Ugh! Anyway, that summer our youngest son was visiting and he was a tremendous help to us, especially when it came time to put the roof in. I learned to lay ceramic tile! We made our own kitchen countertops and cabinets, shelves, did all the electric and plumbing and gas installations (it’s good to have a handy and knowledgeable man!). We put up drywall inside, and have recently put up siding outside, and now there are flowers in the garden and we’re finally getting around to building closets inside, and getting the finishing touches done like baseboards and curtains and photos on the walls, and bookshelves, etc. Looks quite decent!
We have a large vegetable garden, a greenhouse where we plant warm-climate veggies like tomatoes and peppers and eggplant, some chickens and a rooster, and there were already plenty of fruit trees here (several varieties of apples, plums, peaches, sour cherries, elderberries). We’ve planted pear trees, nectarines, sweet cherries, more plum trees, a walnut and a couple of pecan trees. We have raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries, and currants. The only vegetables we’ve bought elsewhere this summer are onions, some garlic, some extra potatoes (what we planted just wasn’t enough!), we have been self-sufficient regarding peas, carrots, green beans, fava beans, Swiss chard, radishes, arugula, lettuce, pickling cucumbers, summer squash, corn, parsley and such. We have fresh eggs, eat local poultry and beef, and go to a nearby town (15 mi.) to shop at the supermarket only for oil, dairy products, bananas, sugar for making jam and vinegar for making pickles, coffee and tea. We buy whole wheat flour, brown rice and dry beans and seeds at a small store that specializes in natural products. We don’t eat processed foods or packaged goods, if we can avoid it. We have natural gas, running water, excellent cell phone service, internet, but the electric grid in this area is overwhelmed and we often have power outages. We have a good-sized freezer full of our own vegetables, and a pantry full of pickles, chutney, canned peaches, homemade cherry brandy, elderberry syrup, and canned sour cherries for pies. The only thing missing is a creek, but my husband says maybe we can build a pond. I told him I want a waterfall. Just a small one…
My husband’s last quarterly checkup was a few weeks ago in December 2015 and he’s in perfect health, the doctor’s amazed. We’ve built a second greenhouse, and are putting up a small detached guest bedroom, and continue to live in the tiny cabin. It’s so comfy now that we wonder whether it’s really necessary to have something bigger. My mom’s been heard to say that we have a hard life, mostly because all this planting and weeding and harvesting and picking and cooking takes up so much time, but honestly we are loving it, and we love that we can choose our daily activities according to our mood or the weather. We have no TV, we have no neighbors nearby, we don’t use an alarm clock, and we try to never hurry. We watch movies, read a lot, and we have plenty of company on weekends. We drink lots of wine, laugh whenever we can, and are learning to survive spending so much time together without killing each other. Needless to say, we are very happy, and manage to live with minimum stress.
Here is a video of the paradise we live in in today:
2016. A leap year that brings to some people new habits, breaking of bad habits, promises… I bet you that you will be hard-pressed to find one human being that does not have a renewed sense of HOPE with the coming of the new year
It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Scientologist. The beginning of a new year always gives people a boost of hope. Why? Because that’s simply our nature.
The challenge is to have that hope be the fuel so that those wishes can actually become a reality. So many of us make all these wishes about the new year, but so few of us see them come true..
The new year is just an opportunity to evaluate in which direction our life is going, and perhaps redirect or at least reprioritize our goals. Yet, just as we would create our list of presents we wanted from Santa when we were kids, as adults our Santa took the shape of the Universe, the Powers at Be, God or some other higher power that will somehow grant us those wishes. We set new goals and one of these “forces” will make them happen.
The reality is that after a few weeks of months, we forget our goals in some drawer and everyday life’s problems take over. Again. Do you even remember your goals and wishes from a ear ago?
So, are New Year resolutions really that elusive? Is it really that difficult to have these things become a reality?
The reason for our goals and wishes not solidifying into tangible reality is because we ask for these things from a pure selfish stance and from the belief that something is owed to us.
We need to change that dynamic.
Give. Who cares if you give three and you receive one? It’s better than not receiving any at all. Eventually it will get back to you.
Forgive. You can walk around carrying a grudge or you can forgive and move on. As you let go of something negative, you are making room to be able to carry something positive.
Be positive. Negative views (“half empty” type outlooks) will bring you down. You are just feeding yourself negativity! Why would you do that?
You have to spin things. Once you are able to master this in your brain, your life will do a 360. Your New Year resolutions will start coming together because your whole demeanor towards life will start to change.
In this, such special time of the year in which we remember our traditions, our family and we spend time reflecting about the true meaning of Christmas, the reality sometimes saddens us, as it would seem that Christmas is just like a polar bear… on its way to extinction.
This nonsense that is taking over not just our country, but the rest of the Christian World, where it somehow “offensive” to wish someone a Merry Christmas has got to come to an end. We don’t realize the harm we are doing onto ourselves.
The fact that we cannot publicly display a Nativity with baby Jesus because somehow, somewhere, someone may feel offended…
We, as Christians, are not harming anyone or anything by doing so. We don’t force you or even ask you to pay homage to our Nativity. If you want to look at it, then do so. If you don’t feel the same we do about Jesus, then don’t. But kindly move along and let me pay homage.
If you are a non-Christian and I wish you a Merry Christmas, you need to understand that I am not trying to convert you nor your children. And how is it that a simple wish of happiness and joy can be turned into something bad? I am not wishing you nor your family ill. I am not even wishing for a cloudy day for you. I simply wish you a happy, joyous day on the 25th of December. If that day means nothing to you, I can accept it. After all, it is my faith and not yours. But you have to admit that there is something a bit awkward about someone wishing you a happy day and you getting bent out of shape about it…
Contribution by: David Jakubauskas, owner, Rank One
To me, grilling is almost like a religion. You have to understand that having grown up in Argentina, the land of Gauchos and best beef, I have a special relationship with beef and everything cow related. As a child in Buenos Aires, it truly was an affair that required a lot of planning by more than one person.
My mother would go Saturday morning to the butcher, “Don Bernabé” and secure the best looking cuts of beef. You see, butchers used to get the half carcases delivered and they would disect it with masterful skill into manageable cuts like “vacío” (flank, kinda), “asado” (short ribs), “colita de cuadril” (tri-tip), “entraña” (skirt) and so on. Then she would get some of the “other” stuff, like “chinchulin” (chitterlings), “molleja” (sweetbreads), “riñon” (kidney), sausages, and so on. And of course, chicken – for those with a lighter appetite.