Monday, October 20, 2008

Suzuki Violin Method

The Two Grenadiers
Central Arkansas Suzuki Association's
monthly recital.

I really do believe that playing a string instrument raises ones IQ. In fact, a 3-year study in Switzerland looked at 1,200 children, and found they actually learn faster, when they had more music classes. The kids who were given the extra music classes, were actually better at language, and as good at maths, as the other kids - even though they had had fewer language and maths classes. The music class kids were also better in retelling stories that had been read to them - whether they wrote it in words, or drew it in pictures. And the kids that had the extra music classes also were quicker at learning how to read.

Yet another study showed that playing the violin, can make your brain grow bigger. When you're playing the violin, your bow arm (the right arm) provides intricate balance and precision, as it moves the bow back and forth over the strings. But the fingers of your violin hand (the right hand) have a very hard task. They have to press exactly on the right spot on the right strings, for exactly the right amount of time, and do this all, very accurately, and often, very rapidly.
This study found that the part of the brain that controls the fingers of the left hand, (which is usually the weaker hand) is actually bigger in violin students, as compared to everybody else.

If you are interested in learning more about the Suzuki method just click here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Herbicides, more than just weed killers

I recently read an article about and epidemic called colony collapse disorder (CCD) that is wiping out commercial bee hives. It seems that this is another one of those cases where pesticides are having a negative impact our food supply. You can go here and watch PBS's introduction to the series "Silence of the Bees".

I read an article in the Oct/Nov issue of Mother Earth about how Dow's herbicides persist for years. These herbicides have been found to to contaminate compost. Confront, Dow's clopyralid, was found to be the contaminant that killed many nursery and home garden plants in several states. You can go here and read more.

If you don't know what GEO's are then think about it this way. You want your corn to have specific characteristic, such as being drought resistant, so a scientist inserts specific genes into your corn's genetic make up without having to go through the trial-and-error process of selective breeding.

Some farmers have been planting round-up ready seeds. Round up is a herbicide that kills everything it touches. By planting these roundup ready plants the farmers can spray round up without killing their crops. This is supposed to reduce production costs and increase yield, so food becomes less expensive. Now how do you feel about eating a plant that was genetically altered to resist a herbicide?

The bio-tech industry is exploiting the nations concerns about the future by telling us that GEO are the only way we will be able to feed ourselves in the future and this just isn't true. They are hoping that this scare tactic will allow them to expand there GE crops into other countries. I believe we need to think of the human health concerns.

The studies just don't show that GE crops are yielding more that natural crops. In fact, there ares some weeds that have developed a resistance to the herbicides that are being used with the GE crops. We can garden naturally and get better results if we simply put some for-thought into our crop rotation. For more information on GE foods go here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Heifer International

I first heard about Heifer International several years ago when our church handed out small plastic ark banks to the children. The idea was for each child to fill the bank and return it as a donation to to the Heifer project. Heifer's mission is to end hunger. They work with communities all around the world providing livestock and training to small-scale farmers and communities worldwide.

Heifer has a central office in Little Rock. Yesterday we went on a tour of the Heifer Green Building. It is one of the most "earth friendly" buildings I have ever visited. They offer free tours twice daily during the week. You can learn about what Heifer International does and even more about why the building is designed in such an unusual way by going on the tour.

As you look at the building you can tell that it is very long and narrow with many window. That design allows the building to be lit primary with sunlight. The building also captures rain water which it utilizes for the toilets, heating and cooling.

There are a videos here or go here if you want to learn more about how you can help.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” mahatma gandhi