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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grandma's Wisdom, Christmas Lore, Can't Fight City Hall

Can’t Fight City Hall, Grandma’s Wisdom, Christmas Lore

Christmas in Old New England… The Puritans of New England frowned on celebrating Christmas as a Catholic “gewgaw.” They actually outlawed it in 1659, passing a law, which called for a five-shilling fine for anyone “found observing, by abstinence of labor, feasting, or any other way, any such days of Christmas.”

Santa didn’t gain his roly-poly figure and white beard until the Civil War, when cartoonist Thomas Nast pictured him that way. In the 1600s and 1700s, the Dutch settlers who first imported Santa, showed the patron saint of retailers as a skinny, dignified man.

A bit of holiday trivia you might find of interest!


Government Gains, Charity Loses…government, at all levels, have voracious appetites for cash. When they cannot find new ways to tax more, they resort to other means of grabbing cash from its citizens, even outright asset seizures. In this case, a local city government which controls the water provided to residents, charges a $150 “deposit” which it keeps for two years and does not pay interest on…in essence, an interest-free loan. It’s not as if the resident is going to run off to Mexico with its water or that it cannot simply turn the water off AND despite documents provided which attested to a reliable credit history with a previous water supplier, the city still demands its deposit.

Ironically, the city provided water service does not fall under the state public utility domain. In short, the city can do what it pleases without interference from the state…try this as a private business and you would be fined or even driven out of business. The city also failed to forewarn the citizen about the deposit and simply mailed a bill…in this case, the surprise fee would have normally been a part of an annual donation to the Salvation Army. Not this year, so the charity loses and the city wins. Welcome to America.

“The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.”
--Gunter Grass


"Sue the bastards," a metropolitan city editor said when asked how the closing of public records and public meetings by local public officials can be fought. He expressed the anger of newspaper editors over the country at denials of access to public news, and his response was characteristic of their readiness to go to court to get public news.

Despite the downward spiral of newspapers, for more than 150 years they’ve proven fruitful in obtaining information the public needs…more at:


Vintage Green: Improve Your Life With Age-Old Wisdom

Grandma grew up green. Use the age-old wisdom passed down through cultures around the world to improve your quality of life.
From Natural Home magazine, by Kim Wallace

We can learn a lot from our wise old grandmothers. Practices common to them — such as growing vegetables, knitting clothes and bartering goods — are the tips and tricks we seek today: a return to the good old days. These rich but simple lifestyles strengthen families and communities while growing local economies around the world.
The most important aspect of simple living is identifying your strengths, talents and abilities — then putting them to work. By focusing on the most effective, enjoyable ways to employ your skills, you can discover interests, values and, most importantly, people you may never have connected with otherwise.

Get to Know Your Community
Japan’s Ainu people kept daily contact with their community. Frequent trips to the village market for fresh food, home necessities and social time kept the Ainu people connected.

Apply this now: Scope out local shops, family-owned restaurants and farmer’s markets to get in touch with the people who grow the local economy. Volunteer to wrap gifts at the holiday bazaar; ring up customers at a farmer’s market booth; participate in trash cleanups; organize storytelling times with community children or elders at the library or community center. Connecting with your neighborhood keeps your life fulfilling and keeps the temptations of boredom — mindless spending, wasting away in front of the TV or computer — at bay.

Cultivate Hospitality
Russia’s Chechen and Ingush people tended to their guests with the best food, drink and atmosphere. These people treasured companionship and worked to keep relationships thriving.

Apply this now: Invite close friends to your home for weekend meals and entertainment. Host a potluck: Prepare a delicious, home-cooked main course and ask guests to bring side dishes and wine to share.

Peddle Your Wares
Pakistani families’ small-scale farms provided both food and a revenue stream. Families sold meat from sheep and cattle at the local market, giving them a reason to travel to town and interact with their communities. They also supported themselves by selling fine crafts. Family artisans weaved beautiful, intricate rugs and tapestries dyed with fruit and vegetable juices. These crafts adorned homes but were also sources of income: The artisans bartered and sold their creations at community markets and fairs.

Apply this now: Transform your hobby into extra cash by selling your homemade jams, artwork and clothing at the farmer’s market or community bazaar. If you have space, consider raising chickens—even city dwellers can do this! Enjoy fresh eggs and rich fertilizer for your garden. (Before you start, make sure your neighbors know what’s going on — and teach them how to raise their own chickens!)
If you’re more interested in swapping, remember that bartering is still viable today and is especially valuable in a down economy. If you can’t find people to swap with at farmer’s markets or at local shops, check out online bartering communities.

Try BarterPalace, SwapAce, Freecycle and neigh-BORROW for access to millions of other barter-minded folks. Because online barterers aren’t necessarily local, know that you may need to pay shipping to swap your stuff.

Find Your Staple
In Asian cultures, rice is a staple. It’s the base of every meal, and children learn how to cook it at a very early age. Early Asian civilizations also combined rice and rice hulls with traditional, natural building materials such as bamboo, straw and mud as a base for their homes. This important grain supported, and continues to support, Asian communities here and abroad.

Apply this now: Choose an inexpensive staple your family enjoys and build meals around it, saving you preparation time and money by buying and cooking in bulk. If your family relies on lentils for nourishment, consider the different ways to prepare them. If your family feasts on pasta each week, research interesting sauces and veggie mixes to keep your staple from becoming routine. Embrace the simplicity of having every meal revolve around your staple, but prepare the meals in ways that will keep you and your family enticed.

Pool Resources
In the Caribbean Islands, African Caribbeans pooled their money to form credit associations. Participants were able to withdraw lump sums for necessities. This system took care of families’ needs while strengthening the community and the local economy.

Apply this now: Search out neighbors who are in similar living situations and suggest sharing grocery and basic toiletry costs. This could mean putting money together to buy basic necessities in bulk or sharing the cost of a membership to a bulk food and supply store.

Honor Your Loved Ones
The theme of familial respect runs through many cultures. In China’s Dong culture, new parents planted pine trees to symbolize love for the earth and for future generations — and to later supply wood for the child’s first home. Buddhist Mongol families in China set up portable altars and devotional scroll paintings so they could conveniently honor their loved ones in their homes. Offerings, prayers and devotional meals paid tribute to the ancestors.

Apply this now: Start a family tradition that passes to each generation; this could be sowing seeds in a garden at the beginning of spring, knitting memory quilts every winter or creating a recipe book with all of Grandma’s secret recipes (then adding your own).

Set up your own personal altar to pay respects to your loved ones. Adorn it with candles, photos and other important mementos. To create a modern version of a Mongol scroll, adhere photos and mementos to a sturdy wood or corkboard; preserve it in a shadow box.

Grandma Always Said ...

• Balance your checkbook and take a look at where you’re spending your money. You may be surprised.

• Avoid gimmicks at the grocery store. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale or you have a coupon.

• Save money by making "breakfast for dinner," or something as simple as beans and rice, a few times a week.

• Never throw anything away. Graciously accept hand-me-downs and keep the cycle alive when you’re finished with them.

• Save your loose change in a jar. Cash it out at the end of the year, and you’ll see why your grandmother insisted on picking up lucky pennies.

Excerpted from Natural Home, a national magazine that provides practical ideas, inspiring examples and expert opinions about healthy, ecologically sound, beautiful homes. To read more articles from Natural Home, please visit or call 800-340-5846 to subscribe. Copyright 2009 by Ogden Publications Inc.


"The [U.S.] Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals ... it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government ... it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government." --author and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982)
The Foundations of Liberty
--John Stossel

"I reread ['Atlas Shrugged'] recently and was stunned. It was as if [Ayn] Rand had seen the future. Writing half a century ago, she predicted today's explosion of big government in shockingly accurate detail. The 'Preservation of Livelihood Law.' The 'Equalization of Opportunity Law.' The 'Steel Unification Plan.' Don't these sound like laws passed by the current Congress?

All were creations of Rand's villain, Wesley Mouch, the evil bureaucrat who regulates business and eventually drives the productive people out of business. Who is today's Wesley Mouch? Barney Frank? Chris Dodd. Tim Geithner? ... 'Atlas' is still a big bestseller today. This year, it reached as high as NO. 15 on Amazon's bestseller list. Pretty amazing. Clearly there's some magic in 'Atlas Shrugged.' The Library of Congress once asked readers which books made the biggest difference in their lives. 'Atlas' came in second, after the Bible. ...

The embrace of freer markets has lifted more people out of the misery of poverty than any other system -- ever. The World Bank says that in just the last 30 years, half a billion people who once lived on less than $1.25 a day have moved out of poverty. But now, Wesley Mouch -- I mean, Congress and the bureaucrats -- tell us they are going to 'fix' capitalism, as if their previous 'fixes' didn't hamstring the free market and create the problems they propose to solve. Who are they kidding? Rand had it right. She learned it the hard way in Soviet Russia. What makes a country work is leaving people free.

Parting thought…Poor Man’s Gold

Gold will most likely continue its upward trend for at least the first half of 2010, a viable alternative for most of us is silver. Often called the “poor man’s gold,” it is my feeling pre-1965 US silver coins are always a good bet and hedge to keep in your portfolio. No one can predict what the economy will do but storing silver has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.


That’s it for this week. We’ll return after Christmas. January represents our first year anniversary of the Poor Man site! We wish you an enlightened holiday! It has been my goal to live up to what a subscriber wrote about me…”The thinking person’s blog.”

Bruce “The Poor Man”

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