We have all been trapped in the labyrinth of telephone robotland trying to reach a human to speak with about a problem. Maybe you’ve needed to speak to someone at the cable company or the phone company or the credit card company, or even the local pharmacy? There are countless occasions I’ve shouted at the voice recognition system in total frustration. Hurray for gethuman! contains a database of national companies, their phone numbers and helpful hints to bypass the the robot phone systems and access a human to speak with. 

For example, if you are phoning American Airlines and need to bypass the system quickly to get to a person because you need to fly to Amsterdam suddenly…you press 0  at each prompt and ignore the messages. Neat. There are many hundreds of companies listed. If you find out that something in a system has changed, you can note that for gethuman to correct/check out.  You can add to list, too.

The gethuman™ movement was created from the voices of millions of consumers who want to be treated with dignity when they contact a company for customer support. They have 5 main goals:

-To catalog the steps consumers can take to bypass the automated phone system.

-To establish standards for customer service based on input from customers.

– To allow customers to rate businesses

-To create a forum for users to discuss experiences with customer service

-To share consumer tips on how to contact help and receive better service

The 3 team members are Paul English, an entrepreneurial and frustrated consumer, Walter Rolandi,who advises gethuman on the best of class human interface systems and Walt Tetschner who guides gethuman on industry relations.

Check this list next time you are calling and are befuddled by the automated voice system.

AND as of March 3, 2009, there is a free GetHuman app that you can download for your iPhone! The app dials the phone number for you after suggesting how to talk to a real person. 

Via: Julie Winn



A recent poll reveals that 69 percent of Canadian wheat farmers are opposed to “franken-wheat” given the fact that it’s banned in Europe, and most U.S. consumers don’t want it. As a result, the biotech industry is attempting to shift public perception by inundating the press with genetically engineered misinformation. In an article in Organic Consumer’s Association, Honor Schauland takes a humorous, sort of, look at the misguiding information being put forward by the GM wheat industry. 

In his article, Schauland takes a look at the approach the industry is taking- basically to show the consumer the benenfits of GM foods. There are no benefits to show, so there is going to be some tall tales coming up. There is no nutritional benefit nor is it cheaper. He quotes Monty Python’s spoof  for Crelm Toothpaste. Crelm Toothpaste with the miracle ingredient, frauduline. Next…

He quotes a Reuter’s article where someone mentions engineering wheat that is friendly to Celiacs. Stranger than truth- the engineering in the past has been about pests and pesticides. Now they are talking celiac disease? 

Read his article.

If any of this raises your blood pressure in the least, you can also sign an online petition:

Far Side of the Moon

June 22, 2009


June 23, 2009 at about 5:20 am PDT, you will be able to watch live-streaming of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter pictures at 1 frame/sec as it swings into orbit around the Moon, from an altitude only 9000 km above the Moon. The side towards the Sun — the far side — will be lit, so you’ll get a chance to see the far side close up.

The Mission Objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) include confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the Moon’s South Pole. The identification of water is very important to the future of human activities on the Moon. LCROSS will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon’s polar craters with two heavy impactors in 2009 to test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there. The impact will eject material from the crater’s surface to create a plume that specialized instruments will be able to analyze for the presence of water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons and hydrated materials.

Via Steve Cooperman aka Skyman


If you are a little girl what might you do with your mom? You probably bake cookies, among other things. And while the cookies are baking, mom and daughter clean up the mixing bowl, right? But first, you get the reward of licking the spatula or the remaining dough in the bowl. 

Although I remember that it was yummy when we did lick the spoon or the bowl, there was something not good about raw ingredients, maybe the egg? 

These days there often isn’t a bowl to lick, because the dough is premixed and in a tub or tube in your ‘fridge. But there are those who don’t want to be bothered with the muss and fuss of even cleaning up a cookie sheet, so even though the label says to cook before eating, they nibble and nosh on the raw cookie dough fresh out of the ‘fridge.

The preliminary results of this investigation indicate a strong association with eating raw prepackaged cookie dough. Most patients reported eating refrigerated prepackaged Nestle Toll House cookie dough products raw. (Nestle has voluntarily recalled this product.) The CDC and other government groups are investigating an outbreak of E Coli that has been linked to consumption of raw cookie dough and it seems to be a particular segment of the population who are affected. 

Good sleuthing, CDC and other government groups. The interesting part for me is the population affected by this outbreak. According to the CDC report  “Ill persons range in age from 2 to 57 years; however, more than 70% are less than 19 years old and none are over 60 years old; 75% are female. ”

 I actually don’t like raw cookie dough but I remember friends who did.  Do they still? Is this a cultural fast-food-in-a-tube habit?  If so it might be prudent to break the habit and make your own “safe-to-eat” cookie dough or just stop eating it. At the Cupcake Project  you’ll find eggless cookie dough recipes although all the recipes contain flour, butter, sugar and milk- ingredients. 

Best advice- cook your dough.

827635584_f151c708f6 has 3 simple and smart strategies to get more veggies from a small garden. I am determined to eat out of our garden to the max this summer and there seem to be too many things I want to grow an not quite enough space. I have been interplanting, planting and planning to grow things in succession and experimenting with vertical gardening (cucumbers and beans up the fence), too. You can harvest loads of beans and not take up room by growing vines up poles or fencing. My photos coming soon. Meanwhile, check out these suggestions from


It is time to say goodbye to some of your old stand by sunscreens if you are avoiding putting toxins consciously into your body.

I so appreciate the research and commitment of EWG (Environmental Working Group). Here is something to think about since it is summer and it’s time to consider protecting ourselves from sun burn. You might want to read this article about the body burden Americans have created from wearing sunscreens with oxybenzone. As I have posted before, there are many ways to protect from too much sun, from SPF clothing and hats, to safer sunscreens. I have been the sunscreen police with my kids for years. Interestingly enough, none of them have listened to me. I guess I’m glad about it.

The EWG report cites 2 studies linking cell damage and  free radical formation from sunlight causing oxybenzone to form free radical chemicals. A CDC study indicated that oxybenzone absorbs through the skin in significant amounts and another study showing that 96% of 6-8 year old girls had detectable amounts of the chemical in their urine.  

Since oxybenzone was last tested in the ’70’s it is a very outdated sun protector. I would consider reading all your sunscreens and getting rid of the offenders.

And from the EWG’s comments on the FDA’s proposed amendment on final Monograph, from back in 2007:

“EWG’s research shows that FDA’s finalization of a strong monograph is critical. We found that some sunscreens on the U.S. market:

  • offer inadequate protection from the sun;
  • may be less safe and effective than products offered in other countries;
  • are labeled with misleading product claims;
  • contain ingredients with significant safety concerns.

Specifically, our research indicates that 83% of 868 sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns. We found that only 17% of the products on the market are both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards.”

You can check the safety of your cosmetics and sunscreens at EWG’s site.



Lemon Cucumbers

June 7, 2009


Just planted one Lemon Cucumber plant. I know very little about them but thought it would be interesting to try them out. From what I have read they are round, yellow can be the size of a baseball. Some people like to pick them when they are still green, others wait till they are larger, some like them when they are the size of a lemon…that makes sense to me. The are sweeter than regular cukes, pickle well and have a tendency to be prolific. Teresa will have a big share of these this summer.


Anyone have more experiences to share on this?


It’s allergy season- my car windshield is yellow with pollen. Our sinuses are working hard- we breathe this pollen-laden air. There is an old ayurvedic nasal cleanse called jala neti .  The neti cleanse flushes/rinses out dust, debris, mucus from the sinus. It is used to treat a wide range of chronic sinus symptoms; it is an effective adjunctive therapy. According to patient self-reports it improves quality of life and reduces use of medication, including antibiotics. It is also an effective measure against chronic sinus symptoms induced by work-place exposure to sawdust.

You can buy neti pots at most natural foods stores, or on internet!

Watch this video from the Mayo Clinic.

Breathe easy!

Wind Energy Drive-In

June 2, 2009


Bring along your own organic popcorn to the movies- the Drive-In is experiencing a green revival in Gibson City , Illinois! If you are in the area, most definitely take in the feature at The Harvest Moon, the first wind-powered drive-in. Powered by Angel Wind Energy- (their logo is “Powering Winds of Change”), and costing $6/ticket, I expect this will be a blockbuster summer for movies in Gibson City. And for a generation of movie goers who have never experienced a drive-in, this is a great intro. 120 miles from downtown Chicago- that’s a long trip for a movie- but much closer to Bloomington, I hope the theater will attract a conscious college crowd.

Via: TreeHugger, and Popgadget Personal Technology for Women