All posts by meborja

So Big Brother is Watching Us?…..

The latest debate over whistleblower Snowden and the NSA has finally gotten people  talking about the outrageous (is it that surprising?) fact that our government “checks in” on millions of people….just because they can.

whistleblowers nsa

“Fighting terrorism” is an excuse that many people are getting sick and tired of hearing, specially when we are still investing (and corporations making money) in multiple wars in the Middle East with no true solution to getting out, and leaving these nations in a so called “peaceful state”.  And now Syria?…. Ok Obama….

nsa war on terror

So people are now saying…. “Oh no! Google can read my chats! Oh no… Facebook’s privacy policy sucks! Oh no! But the constitution says….!”

I have a proposal.

Let’s not stop at the saying….and let’s actually get some DOING done.

Here are three easy ways to at least try to avoid getting sucked in this “system”.

 

***3 EASY THINGS TO DO…..****

nsa google

1. Change from Gmail to another email provider, like Zoho…. research it. It’s not evil like google. Lovely IT Phenomenon Cara Reynolds (Mushpa) has written multiple posts about Google and has pointed me and a several others to the world of Zoho email. Same functions as Gmail, but has no red tail and horns. You can chat, save conversations, do document transfers…the whole shabam!

Check these out:

From The Day After an Inconvenient Truth: 1.“Just another reason I can’t stand google” 2. “Scroogle: the new and less evil Google” 3. “Some More Scroogle” 4. “The Grid”  and 5. “Google is Everywhere”

nsa facebook

2. Get OFF facebook. I’ve been facebook free for 6+ months after having had it on and off since 2006…. its worth it. Facebook is like a reality tv show. Entertains the masses, and keeps them occupied…. if staying in touch is what you want, then email, phones and even letters (which is so nice to get) gets the job done when you actually TRULY want to stay in touch. You know, and often hear, how much time we “waste” on the book of face. There is so much world out there! And so much to do! Let’s ditch the “like” and get real things done : )

verizon nsa

3. Phone companies? Well this one is trickier. I’m trying to get off Verizon with a contract….and a chunk of a fee, huh. No surprise there. They have their little Verizon drones trained so well, that they even tell you that the NSA scandal might all just be a rumor! I didn’t stick around too much to have a discussion with my Verizon rep, but so far I have ditched my cellphone (mostly because it’s a shattered iPhone, which magically breaks every year so I would have an excuse to buy a new one). It is much harder to keep up with the world with a landline…. So far I’m stuck on this one. T-mobile with their “no contract” deals still get to you in other ways.  So for now a landline will suffice….and taking pictures with a real camera (which is already better) and uploading to my computer might also take an extra minute…. Apparently I’ll be going back to the dark ages….

But being righteous takes work no? Who said fighting this battle would be easy? It’s kicking my butt for sure….On to the next challenge.

Bring it world!

-Mensa

Happy Photoshootin’

A nice afternoon, two cold and delicious ginger lemon cocktails, a bright colored wall, some nice shirts and your everyday fire escape was all we needed for an amazing photo-shoot.

easy photoshoot

To make something beautiful pop even more, I really feel like you only need a couple of essential things. And that’s all we used:

 Amazing light, music, and a nice camera…

easy photoshoot

Here’s a sneak peak to our latest photo-shoot….

easy photoshoot

cute….

easy photoshoot

boom!
-Mensa

The Turtles are Free!

“Yertle The Turtle”

dr seuss

On the far-away island of Sala-ma-Sond,
Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.
A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat.
The water was warm. There was plenty to eat.
The turtles had everything turtles might need.
And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.

They were… until Yertle, the king of them all,
Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small.
“I’m ruler”, said Yertle, “of all that I see.
But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.
With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond
But I cannot look down on the places beyond.
This throne that I sit on is too, too low down.
It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown.
“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be!
What a king! I’d be ruler of all that I see!”

And Yertle, the Turtle King, gave a command.
He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one’s back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.
And then Yertle climbed up. He sat down on the pile.
What a wonderful view! He could see ‘most a mile!

“All mine!” Yertle cried. “Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And, what’s more, beyond that
I’m the king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
“What’s that?” snapped the king,and he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”

“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack.”

“You stay in your place while I sit here and rule.
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
But that isn’t all. I’ll do better than that!
My throne shall be higher!” his royal voice thundered,
“So pile up more turtles! I want ’bout two hundred!”

“Turtles! More turtles!” he bellowed and brayed.
And the turtles ‘way down in the pond were afraid.
They trembled. They shook. But they came. They obeyed.
From all over the pond, they came swimming by dozens.
Whole families of turtles, with uncles and cousins.
And all of them stepped on the head of poor Mack.
One after another, they climbed up the stack.

Then Yertle the Turtle was perched up so high,
He could see forty miles from his throne in the sky!
“Hooray!” shouted Yertle. “I’m the king of the trees!
I’m king of the birds! And I’m king of the bees!
I’m king of the butterflies! King of the air!
Ah, me! What a throne! What a wonderful chair!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

Then again, from below, in the great heavy stack,
Came a groan from that plain little turtle named Mack.
“Your Majesty, please… I don’t like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
We turtles can’t stand it. Our shells will all crack!
Besides, we need food. We are starving!” groaned Mack.

“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Yertle.
“You’ve no right to talk to the world’s highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There’s nothing, no, NOTHING, that’s higher than me!”

But, while he was shouting, he saw with surprise
That the moon of the evening was starting to rise
Up over his head in the darkening skies.
“What’s THAT?” snorted Yertle. “Say, what IS that thing
That dares to be higher than Yertle the King?
I shall not allow it! I’ll go higher still!
I’ll build my throne higher! I can and I will!
I’ll call some more turtles. I’ll stack ’em to heaven!
I need ’bout five thousand, six hundred and seven!”

But, as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And started to order and give the command,
That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a bit mad.
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!

And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!

And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

by Dr. Seuss

—–

He’s got it.

-Mensa

Art in Action.

Remember in science class we would do random experiments that would ultimately teach us something about our elemental world. Salt crystals, freezing flowers with liquid nitrogen and then shattering them, testing liquids and forming chemical reactions? Well, quite accidentally we did an experiment when dying a shirt this week and it was totally cool!

tumeric dye fabric

We dyed a batch of shirts with organic turmeric. Note that this was our first time using this specific natural dye for cotton fabrics. Pretty straight forward dying technique. Hot water + a good amount of turmeric + a natural mordant, like salt, y listo, we had yellow shirts.  We rinsed them with water until no more dye came out, like three times. Perfect!

Then we wanted to double test the fabric so we warmed up some water with soap,  dipped the shirts in the water….and…sayyy whaaaaaaaat? The water and shirts immediately turned red!!!! We had no idea what had just happened. Magic!?!? : ) It brought us back to doing those experiments in science class.

After a quick research we found out the following

“Turmeric has a pigment known as xanthophylls, which lends the yellow color to it. It also has a pigment called as carotene, which is reddish orange in color. When turmeric comes in contact with detergent, it reacts with the fatty acids present in the detergent and hence the carotene pigment gets more active than the xanthophylls and turmeric turns red. When turmeric is combined with any base liquid like soap it turns red in color while when turmeric comes in contact with any substance like that of vinegar, that is acidic in nature, it turns yellow.”

tumeric dye fabric

We had no idea, so for those of you who have bought our amazing turmeric shirts I would say make sure you wash them by hand, separately, just in case of any bleeding.

On to future discoveries.

– Mushpa y Mensa

p.s. – Come check out these amazing turmeric shirts today at The Fulton Flea (located at 650 Fulton Street between Fort Greene Place and South Elliott Place (near the intersection of Lafayette Avenue) in Brooklyn, NY.). We will be there from noon to 8PM. The market is right next to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) http://www.bam.org/, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens http://www.bbg.org/, the Brooklyn Public Library http://www.bklynpubliclibrary.org/, good food and many other amazing Brooklyn sites! Make it a great day.

Compost This! An Update…

So composting at our home has been…well, I’d say it’s a definite challenge. Doable? Yes for sure. Draggin rotting stinky food on the subway or biking with it (much better option) to the nearest farmer’s market and compost disposal unit, is definitely a task. But I think it has been worth it.

Frozen compost

There has been a couple of times where we got lazy, annoyed at the stink and threw it out in the garbage…guilty! Yet every single time we have gone and dropped it off at a compost site, it has made me take a sigh of relief and accomplishment. It feels good to compost, and it feels extra nice to be good to our Earth!

Last time when we dropped off the compost, I kept noticing frozen pieces of fruit and vegetables in the decomposing piles of veggies, fruit and grains. And then it dawned on me……

Duh! Freeze it!!!! Of course! Makes total sense. You slow down the rate of decomposure by sticking your compost bin in the freezer, and it reduces the smell and the hassle of cleaning by a “Fafillion” Percent!

compost frozen

So Do it! It makes it so much easier. Now next time we go to the farmer’s market to drop it of, we won’t be gagging cleaning the bin out every time. : ) That’s nice yo…

Until the next compost update!

-Mensa

Blood on His Hands

Obama Blood on His Hands

American “Citizens” being killed overseas?

By our own government. No trail. Just Boom. It’s a dirty war.

This Big Bro is watching you, me, and us. 

Sometimes I really just don’t know.

And that is what scares me.

We don’t know.

Today in the news, 10% of elementary schools

(the Separate but Equal Blacks and Browns)

in Chicago are closed down. No funds.

Mo’ Money for the Duurty wars.

Money for a little Gitmo, in a little island will keep them shut.

No law, no man’s lives. And 100 days of hunger? Force fed like foie-gras.

Mr. President Hussein, may I call you by your Middle Name?

You have a dark stain in you slacks. 

That law. That pen. Just Exploded in your pants.

Why do you use red ink? Phew! No worries Administrators!

It blends in.

And the stain in your hands?

It’s permanent ink.

——————-

This is how I feel.

-Mensa

“Queen of The Sun: What are Bees Telling Us?”

queen of the sun

In the fall of 2006, newspapers around the United States began to publicize a unnerving phenomenon. Honeybees were a mysteriously disappearing from beehives all around the nation. Dave Hackenburg, a outspoken beekeeper, and the first to raise a stir about the crisis, reported that bees were simply vanishing from his hives. That fall, beekeepers and commercial beekeeping enterprises around the country reported losses of 30% with some beekeepers reporting losses up to 90% of all of their colonies.

I want to post a quick review about this wonderful documentary, Queen of the Sun: What are Bees Telling Us?, and just an overall shout out to the hard workers who keep us fed and alive…The Bees in our world!

It is incredible how much I learned yesterday watching this, and it’s also a bit chilling to know that these little animals are at incredible risk of disappearing from this earth, and even more daunting, our system of agriculture disappearing with them. Meaning, we are at risk as well. Our whole ecosystem actually!

2439460646_e9fe39207f_o

From how bees choose their beekeepers, to laws banning communities from bee-keeping, to the mass production and mass destruction of honey and bees, this film really shines a light on these little workers that pollinate and do so much for us. Of course, it forms a full circle and goes back to the root of many of our agricultural conundrums in our world: Massive industrial agriculture and factory farming and how it is destroying our world. Can you believe that factory farmers actually feed CORN SYRUP to the producers of honey!?!?!  I found this disgusting, outrageous, and it hurt me so much.

So what to do to help bees? The producers, filmmakers and beekeepers that put together this film have given us helpful things that we can do to keep this beautiful little creatures in our world today. So let’s get started!

queen of the bees 

 1. PLANT BEE FRIENDLY FLOWERS AND FLOWERING HERBS IN YOUR BACKYARD  

Bees are losing habitat all around the world due to intensive monoculture-based farming practices, pristine green (but flower-barren) sprawling suburban lawns and from the destruction of native landscapes. Just planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will help provide bees with forage. Avoid chemically treating your flowers as chemicals can leach into pollen and negatively affect the bees systems. Plant plenty of the same type of bloom together, bees like volume of forage (a sq. yard is a good estimate).

Here are a few examples of good plant varieties: Spring – lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, and wisteria. Summer – Mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle. Fall – Fuschia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, verbena, toadflax. For a great list of plants honeybees love click here

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2. WEEDS CAN BE A GOOD THING

Contrary to popular belief, a lawn full of clover and dandelions is not just a good thing—it’s a great thing! A haven for honeybees (and other native pollinators too). Don’t be so nervous about letting your lawn live a little. Wildflowers, many of which we might classify as weeds, are some of the most important food sources for native North American bees. If some of these are “weeds” you chose to get rid of (say you want to pull out that blackberry bush that’s taking over), let it bloom first for the bees and then before it goes to seed, pull it out or trim it back!

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3. DON’T USE CHEMICALS OR PESTICIDES TO TREAT YOUR GARDEN 

Yes, they make your lawn look pristine and pretty, but they’re actually doing the opposite to the life in your biosphere. The chemicals and pest treatments you put on your lawn and garden can cause damange to the honeybees systems. These treatments are especially damaging if applied while the flowers are in bloom as they will get into the pollen and nectar and be taken back to the bee hive where they also get into the honey—which in turn means they can get into us. Pesticides, specifically neo-nicotinoid varieties have been one of the major culprits in Colony Collapse Disorder.

——-

4. BUY LOCAL, RAW HONEY

The honey you buy directly sends a message to beekeepers about how they should keep their bees. For this reason, and for your own personal health, strive to buy local, raw honey that is from hives that are not treated by chemicals. It can be hard to find out what is truly “local” and truly “raw”–and even harder yet to find out what is untreated. Here’s a few guidelines: If you find it in the grocery store and it’s imported from China, don’t buy it. There have been a number of cases recently of chemically contaminated honey coming from China. If it’s coming from the grocery store, but it doesn’t say the words “pure” or “raw” and you can’t read in the description that it’s untreated by chemicals, don’t buy it. If it’s untreated, the label will say, as this is an important selling point. We recommend a simple solution for most people. Go to your farmer’s market and shake hands with the beekeepers you meet. There are beekeepers at nearly every farmer’s market selling their honey and other products. Have a conversation with them, find out what they are doing to their hives, and how they are keeping their bees. If they are thoughtful, respectful beekeepers who keep their bees in a sustainable, natural way, then make a new friend and support them!

——-

5. BEES ARE THIRSTY. PUT A SMALL BASIN OF WATER OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

You may not have known this one—but it’s easy and it’s true! If you have a lot of bees starting to come to your new garden of native plants, wildflowers and flowering herbs, put a little water basin out (a bird bath with some stones in it for them to crawl on does a nice trick). They will appreciate it!

——- 

6.BUY LOCAL, ORGANIC FOOD FROM A FARMER THAT YOU KNOW

What’s true for honey generally holds true for the rest of our food. Buying local means eating seasonally as well, and buying local from a farmer that you know means you know if that food is coming from a monoculture or not. This is much easier in the summer when you can get your fresh produce from a local farmer’s market. Another option is to get your food from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Farm. Keep in mind, USDA Organic Certification can be expensive and you may find many great farmers and beekeepers with excellent food and honey that isn’t USDA certified simply because they don’t produce a high quantity or opt for the expense of certification. Don’t let this get in the way of supporting them and if you’re worried about their products—have a conversation with them.  (Note – A huge challenge for beekeepers is to keep their bees in an area where there is no chemical spray within 3 miles, as this is really what is required to guarantee truly organic honey. All the more reason for us all to avoid the use of harsh chemicals.)

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7. LEARN HOW TO BE A BEEKEEPER WITH SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES

Look up a local bee association that offers classes with natural approaches in your community and link up. Visit our resources & links page to start reading and exploring first steps!

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8. UNDERSTAND THAT HONEYBEES AREN’T OUT TO GET YOU

Honeybees are vegetarians. They want to forage pollen and nectar from flowers up to three miles from their hive and bring that food back to provide food for themselves and the beehive. Contrary to what the media might have us believe, they are not out to sting us. Here are a few tips to avoid getting stung. 1. Stay still and calm if a bee is around you or lands on you. Many bees will land on you and sniff you out. They can smell the pheromones that come with fear and anger it can be a trigger for them to sting you. 2. Don’t stand in front of a hive opening, or a pathway to a concentration of flowers. Bees are busy running back and forth from the hive, and if you don’t get in their way, they won’t be in yours. 3. Learn to differentiate between honeybees and wasps. Honeybees die after they sting humans (but not after they sting other bees!), wasps do not. Wasps are carnivores, so they like your lunch-meats and soda. Honeybees are vegetarians. For a quick lesson on their differences click here.

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 9. SHARE SOLUTIONS WITH OTHERS IN YOUR COMMUNITY 

There are so many fun ways to help and be a voice for the bees. Share about the importance of bees at local community meetings, at conferences, in schools and universities, and on on-line message boards and forums. Let them know about QUEEN OF THE SUN and other great media out there that is in support of the honeybee.

Invite your friends and family to attend a screening of QUEEN OF THE SUN in your area. Find screening locations. – (You can also see it on Netflix “Watch it Now”.) Be part of our Community Screening Campaign by hosting a house-party or larger screening in your area! Click here to learn more.-If you are part of an educational institution, ask your institution to purchase an Educational DVD of QUEEN OF THE SUN (available HERE)

 queen of the sun
Let’s Bee Bee-utiful!
: D
– Mensa

We Are Moving in the Right Direction

I want to dedicate this post to Guatemala, and all the people who have celebrated and achieved justice. Never has a former head of state been charged and convicted of genocide and abuse of human rights, and now in Guatemala history is being made.

Rios Montt is sent to jail for the torture of thousands of innocent and unarmed civilians in Guatemala, and it just shows me that even though progress is slow, we are moving the right way. This is amazing.

Part I

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn5ay-L2xfM&w=560&h=315]

Part II

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8Mp9ytIX-c&w=560&h=315]

Felicitaciones Guatemala!

Check out this DemocracyNow! Special, that covers a bit of whats going on.

It also, like many times in Latin American history, poses questions of how the United States and the CIA’s role influenced these genocides. Because the Guatemalan government didn’t arm itself.

But to leave in a more positive note, indigenous rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchú, was also involved and fighting along side all people there. I really like a quote by her that says that “Peace is the daughter of co-habitation, of education, of dialogue. Respect to millenary cultures give birth to peace in the present”. Respect to our own humanity will make this Earth a more beautiful place.

La paz es hija de la convivencia, de la educación, del diálogo. El respeto a las culturas milenarias hace nacer la paz en el presente

Rigoberta Menchu Guatemala

Por la justicia,

Much love to all humans,

-Mensa

I’m Feeling the Moment!

Yep, it’s catchy, and I LIKE IT! So what!?!

Una para vos Mushpa!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jlI4uzZGjU]

BUT… its only catchy, cause the original is sooooo good!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914]

So cheers to this one too!

YESSS!!!

-Mensa

Get your Pollock on! (Easy to Make Business Cards)

Need a quick and cheap idea to make your own business cards?

1. Gather some card stock paper, a paintbrush and some water colors and prepare to make a little mess….and now make a mess!!! Splatter some water colors all over the place! Get you Pollock on : )

DIY home made business card ideas

2. Let it dry and cut into small rectangles. If you have a custom stamp (which we will be having soon) put it on the back, or just hand write your information down.

image-33

Easy Peasy!!!

-Mensa