Michelle's Musings

Thu
10
Oct
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Palm Oil

I am a label reader. I cook mostly from scratch, but sometimes I want something prepackaged, particularly snack food. 

I started reading labels because I didn’t want preservatives, dyes and artificial flavors in my food. Then, I also wanted to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and now, palm oil. 

The label reading began because I personally didn’t want to ingest processed and potentially harmful chemicals. The palm oil, however, is strictly about the environment and the destruction of habitat. Orangutans, which were declared the closest relative to humans about a decade ago, are the most hard hit by the harvest of palm oil. 

This is something that came to my attention a few years ago, and prompted me to stop buying most peanut butter, including those proclaiming to be “natural.” I also had to give up Girl Scout cookies much to my great dismay and sadness. No more Thin Mints for me. 

Thu
26
Sep
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Squelching Protest

Protest is part of our fiber, our existence, as Americans. Our country was literally founded on protest, specifically a monarchy that imposed high taxes, exported resources, and ruled from afar. 

The Minutemen were adamant about overthrowing the oppressive British government. Most of us are well versed in some version of revolutionary history, even if it is just Paul Revere riding through the streets announcing that the “the British are Coming!” We know that they were successful in their coup against the throne. 

When the forefathers set about drafting the Bill of Rights, the very first Amendment was concerned free speech, including the right to peaceful protest. It reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sun
22
Sep
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Marijuana Reform

One thing I learned early on when coming to the Madison area is that there are a lot of pot smokers around here. I remember driving around last summer and smelling the sweet-scented smoke wafting from a window or yard every few blocks.

I also wrote a story early on at the Times-Tribuneabout medicinal and recreational bills introduced to the Wisconsin legislature last year. Most notably, I talked to Melissa Sergeant, who has introduced several bills with the intent of legalizing the widely used plant. It failed last year. Not one to give up, apparently, she introduced another recreational legalization bill in May of this year–the fourth she has presented.

The bill probably doesn’t have the legs to get off the ground as most Republican legislators have remained strictly opposed to the idea of full legalization, and only support heavily restricted medicinal use, also illegal in the state. 

Sat
14
Sep
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Suicide Prevention

I heard a staggering statistic on the radio the other day as I was stopped on the beltline, sipping my morning coffee: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for people aged 10-34 in the United States, and second leading cause of death for people aged 10-34. You read that right, second leading cause of death for those 10-34.

Everyone in this country has been touched by suicide in some way. Depression can often lead to suicide and the stigma surrounding mental health care and wellness has played a part in people refusing help.

The first time I experienced a suicide by someone I knew was in high school. Shon, a guy who was a sophomore when I was a senior, killed himself after his parents, who were out of town, found out the police had been called because he was throwing a party. In his note he said he did not want to go back to military school, which he feared would happen when his strict parents returned. 

Fri
06
Sep
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Diana

I was 14 the summer Lady Diana Spencer married Charles Prince of Wales in 1981, only five years younger than Diana herself. I had friends with sisters her age.

I remember watching the seemingly fairy tale wedding, with young, innocent Diana emerging from a meticulous carriage, a fluff of ivory silk, pearls and sequins. To be cliché, she was glowing. I was not the only one watching that day, millions of people around the world watched as the heir to the British throne took his much younger bride.

Diana’s life was well documented by the media from dating Prince Charles, to the birth of her children, to her husband’s affair and Queen Elizabeth finally ordering them to divorce. Along the way Diana was many things to many people, a fashion icon, a doting mother, an international celebrity, and most importantly, a humanitarian. 

Sun
01
Sep
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ATC

I really thought that the opponents to ATC’s Cardinal-Hickory Creek (CHC) high voltage power lines might actually have a chance at stopping the utility. 

I was wrong.

When I first started working in Middleton, I was commuting back and forth from Iowa, taking Hwy 151 all the way. The first trip I made to our Black Earth office piqued my curiosity with all the signs opposing the CHC line. Of course, soon after meeting Matt Geiger, editor of the Mt. Horeb Mailand former Times-Tribuneeditor, I asked, “So, what’s up with the no ATC signs?”

He gave me a brief history of the project plans and the opposition to the line. My first thought was, “Wow, with so many people opposed, it will never pass.”

Wed
21
Aug
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Frogs and Toads

I have been surrounded by toads and frogs lately. I know what some of you might be thinking: Well, we are in a wetland, so there will be frogs and toads.

Although this is true, it seems there have been an unusual number of amphibians near me of late. If all started out right before I went to Colorado in July. I was mowing our lawn and came across many toads, including one that sat and watched me mow the area in which it had been resting before the deafening whir of the ancient push mower rousted it from it otherwise cool and quiet spot. I figured the Lawn Boy would scare the bejeezus out of it, but instead it sat nearly motionless and watched me. 

I have seen a toad at my house before, typically burrowed in the cool, shaded soil next to my front door. On this occasion, there were six that I counted, and maybe more, that came out of the shadows as a worked the mower around the lawn.

Thu
15
Aug
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Beyond Impossible

I was driving past Burger King the other day when I saw a sign that read, “Try the Impossible Whopper.” For a second it didn’t register and I thought, “What is an Impossible Burger?” Then immediately remembered, “Oh a ‘bloody,’ veggie burger.”

I have not been eager to try one of these scientific marvels, a veggie burger that looks, and supposedly tastes, like the real thing, in spite of liking a real burger to be no more than pink in the middle. My friend, Olivia, however, has been obsessed with them since the moment they came out and was dying for her grocery store to offer the home version, Beyond Burgers.

She called me right after she first got a chance to consume one, and marveled at their likeness to real meat. The texture, the flavor and the look were melding together to make this the perfect veggie burger, according to Olivia.

Fri
26
Jul
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Moon Landing

I was about two and a half years old when the Apollo 11 first landed on the moon 50 years ago, and Neil Armstrong declared the event, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I have no recollection of that specific event, but I do remember other early moon missions. I remember watching the massive rockets take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. I remember the marketing items that followed, particularly, moon boots. 

When reading about all the stories surrounding the anniversary of the moon landing, I came across a YouTube video of the other day called, “Buzz Aldrin Punches a Guy.” Well, I had to know what that was about, so I pulled up the video.  

In it, a filmmaker is harassing Aldrin about the moon landing being a hoax. He was in his face with a Bible, calling him a liar and yelling at him to swear on the Bible that he landed on the moon. 

Thu
18
Jul
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Racer

My best friend Heather and I, who is more like a sister to me (her kids call us aunt and uncle), have been cooking up a plan for the last couple of months. Back in May, my niece, Keyla, called me to ask me if Matt and I would sell her my Miata. She has been taking driver’s ed this summer and gets a school permit in August. 

At the time I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with the car. It is nearly 20 years old, and I have driven it for more than 10 of those years. I was concerned about how we would come to a price. Insurance is higher on a sports car, and Keya doesn’t know how to drive a stick. These were all of my arguments. 

Keyla is very responsible for an adult, let alone a teenager, but all of these things were concerns for all the actual adults, not just me. Heather and I spent many nights on the phone talking about whether she should have a car that my whole family calls “the Racer.”

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