Reflections on my Facebook Fast

I was driving along minding my own business at the beginning of this year with a knot in my stomach. I did all that my coach had taught me and began to meditate/pray/reflect into this simple question (something a bit new for me. A shoulder shrug and never a second thought has been my style), the question; “Where did this anxiety come from?

I came up with a list; a lack sleep, a fight I’d had with my wife, and then it struck me, I was in the middle of one of those discussions on Facebook that involve me against another with combative ideas on a topic (this one being environmentalism), and in between comments I would go about wondering, “What will he say in response to my last comment, what will I say in response to that last comment?” And, the bigger question that came to mind in my car that day…”Who is ‘HE‘ ?”

“He”…well I am just not sure who he is. I know he got to be a ‘friend’ on Facebook somehow. Normally I abide by a rule that I have had to have met a person face to face before agreeing to be friends. But somehow this stranger to me (sorry if you are reading this stranger/friend and we are old mates, I just can’t place you!) But this person ‘had me’. He had control of my emotions to the point of a knot in my stomach and anxiety in my emotions, he was taking up hours of my day, at least week. Did I enjoy the ‘banter’? I’m not sure I did, not with him, well maybe sometimes. It was respectful. it was mutual, we even stuck up for each other when someone else dug the knife in with comments, but I was never going turn this guy over to my way of thinking nor he, me. It felt, in a way, a kind of violence, a grenade slinging from our Facebook trenches. 

So I quit.

Not just that conversation. Nor that friendship on Facebook. I quit (At least for a few months) Facebook all together. It felt like a good thing to do, it felt like it had a kind of hold on me. Not just with this guy, hours were spent surfing, watching endless animals falling off couches, people smashing into walls on their bikes, along with an ever growing “Watch Later” list of interesting teaching videos from people who seem to have more time than me to watch ‘deep teaching’…which in turn gave me anxiety around my inadequacies of not being ‘deep’ enough our not managing my time like ‘others’ who seem to be able to watch endless teaching videos or …. ok…I know – I’ve got work to do 🙂

Two weeks ago was Easter Sunday, my marker point for re-downloading The App. I did it with minimal fanfare, in fact it took me a few days before downloading it onto my devices. I jumped on, made about six posts in 15 minutes and read a little, but it felt like I was not that keen, an addiction broken?

A few days later I sat down with a few minutes to spare and there it was, a post from THAT guy. Immediately I felt the vertigo of falling into a void of antagonism and argument, of oppositional hand grenades…

I de-friended him.

I felt empowered. I started surfing again. I surfed around for an hour, I read articles, a watched dogs falling off couches…I was back!

So what had changed?

I (re?)discovered that I can be drawn endlessly into idol time wasting. Facebook makes that easy. But so does Twitter and so does Instagram. When I went off Facebook my use of these other two programs went through the roof! I process publicly. With or without technology, I use people to help me discover what I really believe. I love a big wide community like Facebook with all it’s diversity of humanity (at least my handful of ‘friends’ is pretty diverse). I love ‘putting it out there’ and seeing what happens. Yes, sometimes I ‘bait’ (just ask my mother!), sometimes I suffer the anxiety of tense interactions. But If I can manage that anxiety, if I can keep my interaction to people I am in relationship with, at least to people I remember meeting and engaging with at some point, then I am content. People ask, why can’t you use ‘real’ face to face people to have these conversations with? My answer is; these ARE real people, they live in all places over the world, Facebook does not make them any less real than a telephone did when Mr Bell gave us that gift.

For every “yes” there is an equal and opposite “No”.

In terms of time wasting…I am the master of my own destiny! I am disciplined in many ares of my life, why not exercise some here? For ever hour I spend on Facebook, it’s an hour taken from something else, or someONE else. I choose.

I discovered there are people all over the place I disagree with on Facebook. Do I need to cut everyone of them off? We used to sing a song in Church; “All over the world are people just like us worshipping Jesus.” What a travesty. I am sure the writer didn’t intend it to mean that all over the world white middle-class evangelical Christians were gathering at the exclusion of LGBTQI, Aboriginal, Refugees, smelly homeless people…but that seems to be what it looks like! I don’t want to de-friend everyone I don’t look like, disagree with or everyone who disagrees with me and have a bland coloured Facebook community. Heck…that’s how many of us do church! I have de-friended a few people over the years, maybe 3 or 4 for various reasons, but in general, I think I like the diversity, I think I NEED the diversity.

Yes, I get misunderstood and judged by some as I do others. I have had many a face to face conversations explaining, apologising, and undoing knots created by my comments on Facebook (sorry friends!!) but I process publicly, I lack some discernment, I and have less at risk in my career (meaning…I don’t lead a church or bible college!!   🙂  ) I love to stimulate discussion and see people stimulated to think, argue and be challenged as I love the same back at me.

You may not see me on Facebook as much (right away), I find I am engaging with less obsessive passion and interest right now, maybe not a bad thing.

Will I fast from Facebook again? No doubt. We all need a cleanse, a detox to remind our systems of just who is running this show…NO I’m NOT a control freak 🙂 But that could be a post for another day…

 

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I Love My Mac

I do indeed love the Apple Mac!

I use Firefox as a browser, I know there is probably more argument over what people use as a browser than if people use a Mac or the other sort of computer.

But I love having no mouse on my laptop! I love keyboard shortcuts!

So here, for those Mac / Firefox users are some great keyboard tips in case you were wondering –

1. ⌘ + l = focus address bar.

2. ⌘ + d = bookmark current page.

3. ⌘ + k = focus google search bar. (I like this)

4. ⌘ + f = find.

5. ⌘ + g = find next.

6. ⌘ + t = new tab.

7. ⌘ + w = close current tab. (one I never used but will now)

8. ⌘ + shift + t = reopen accidentally closed tab (Best one ever!).

9. crtl + tab = tab through tabs.

10. crtl + shift + tab = tab backwards through tabs

To Pay or Not to Pay #2

Our government seems to be pro-environment, well they do have Pete on board, remember Mr Garrett?
So one would think that they would support people wanting to get a hold of a product that was destined to be poured into a landful and turn it into a non-poluting fuel for a car. You would think hey?

Well lets just see what I need to do to abide by the rules of our government if I want to produce biodiesel.
I need to apply for the privilage to produce my own car fuel.
In order to do this I need to prove that my set up is appropriate (like I would spend $5000 setting it all up only to be told, “nope you don’t get approval on that set up” – I am told only the top line off the factory floor set ups get looked at)
Once I get my production and storage licence I can begin.
Oh wait – I need to pay the ATO money, more than 40 cents for every litre I produce (or that I record that I have produced …settle boy!!).

No problems, they are kind enough to have a grant system.
The system is great, it’s 100% rebate. (why charge the tax in the first place?)

Who is eligable for the grant?
Anyone with a 4 tonne or more vehical (counts me out!)

But lets say I had the vehicle, a small truck.
I would need to proove that my fuel is good enough to qualify for a government rebate, only the highest quality gets the grant 🙂

So they ask for a sample, I give away some of my fuel and they give me in return a $1500 invoice for my trouble! (This has to happen once a year)

So really they don’t want people producing their own fuel, not the little guy at least.

What has been the result?

Many many people here in Perth are blackmarketing their fuel, bootleg fuel!

Funny thing is, that the petrol companies are quiet. They are happy that people are being taxed and discouraged in making their own enviro-fuel – of course they are!
Just like the liquore industry would be mad if home brew was not taxed… wait a minute, home brew isn’t taxed, and the idustry was upset with that decision, but the government went ahead and let people make their own brew – tax free.

So why not let us make environmentally friendly fuel at home?

Oil companies, I tell you, I am hearing consipracy theories!

So, apart from the fact that I have told the whole world on this blog (including the tax department) of my ethical dilemma, I will ask the question –

To Pay (the tax) or not to pay?

Food Wars Are Here!!

I know it’s a long article, but I thought it interesting. I was listening to two people in their 60’s joking yesterday about the global warming ‘crisis’ and how it was just a gimick to make us spend money. That the thought of us ever ‘running out of food’ or needing to move homes due to rising flood waters or running out of oil was ‘unthinkable’.
Anyway, food wars are not around the corner, they are here folks…

NYT January 19, 2008
THE FOOD CHAIN
A New, Global Oil Quandary: Costly Fuel Means Costly Calories

By KEITH BRADSHER
KUANTAN, Malaysia — Rising prices for cooking oil are forcing residents of Asia’s largest slum, in Mumbai, India, to ration every drop. Bakeries in the United States are fretting over higher shortening costs. And here in Malaysia, brand-new factories built to convert vegetable oil into diesel sit idle, their owners unable to afford the raw material.

This is the other oil shock. From India to Indiana, shortages and soaring prices for palm oil, soybean oil and many other types of vegetable oils are the latest, most striking example of a developing global problem: costly food.

The food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, based on export prices for 60 internationally traded foodstuffs, climbed 37 percent last year. That was on top of a 14 percent increase in 2006, and the trend has accelerated this winter.

In some poor countries, desperation is taking hold. Just in the last week, protests have erupted in Pakistan over wheat shortages, and in Indonesia over soybean shortages. Egypt has banned rice exports to keep food at home, and China has put price controls on cooking oil, grain, meat, milk and eggs.

According to the F.A.O., food riots have erupted in recent months in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

“The urban poor, the rural landless and small and marginal farmers stand to lose,” said He Changchui, the agency’s chief representative for Asia and the Pacific.

A startling change is unfolding in the world’s food markets. Soaring fuel prices have altered the equation for growing food and transporting it across the globe. Huge demand for biofuels has created tension between using land to produce fuel and using it for food.

A growing middle class in the developing world is demanding more protein, from pork and hamburgers to chicken and ice cream. And all this is happening even as global climate change may be starting to make it harder to grow food in some of the places best equipped to do so, like Australia.

In the last few years, world demand for crops and meat has been rising sharply. It remains an open question how and when the supply will catch up. For the foreseeable future, that probably means higher prices at the grocery store and fatter paychecks for farmers of major crops like corn, wheat and soybeans.

There may be worse inflation to come. Food experts say steep increases in commodity prices have not fully made their way to street stalls in the developing world or supermarkets in the West.

Governments in many poor countries have tried to respond by stepping up food subsidies, imposing or tightening price controls, restricting exports and cutting food import duties.

These temporary measures are already breaking down. Across Southeast Asia, for example, families have been hoarding palm oil. Smugglers have been bidding up prices as they move the oil from more subsidized markets, like Malaysia’s, to less subsidized markets, like Singapore’s.

No category of food prices has risen as quickly this winter as so-called edible oils — with sometimes tragic results. When a Carrefour store in Chongqing, China, announced a limited-time cooking oil promotion in November, a stampede of would-be buyers left 3 people dead and 31 injured.

Cooking oil may seem a trifling expense in the West. But in the developing world, cooking oil is an important source of calories and represents one of the biggest cash outlays for poor families, which grow much of their own food but have to buy oil in which to cook it.

Few crops illustrate the emerging problems in the global food chain as well as palm oil, a vital commodity in much of the world and particularly Asia. From jungles and street markets in Southeast Asia to food companies in the United States and biodiesel factories in Europe, soaring prices for the oil are drawing environmentalists, energy companies, consumers, indigenous peoples and governments into acrimonious disputes.

The oil palm is a stout-trunked tree with a spray of frilly fronds at the top that make it look like an enormous sea anemone. The trees, with their distinctive, star-like patterns of leaves, cover an eighth of the entire land area of Malaysia and even greater acreage in nearby Indonesia.

An Efficient Producer

The palm is a highly efficient producer of vegetable oil, squeezed from the tree’s thick bunches of plum-size bright red fruit. An acre of oil palms yields as much oil as eight acres of soybeans, the main rival for oil palms; rapeseed, used to make canola oil, is a distant third. Among major crops, only sugar cane comes close to rivaling oil palms in calories of human food per acre.

Palm oil prices have jumped nearly 70 percent in the last year because supply has grown slowly while demand has soared.

Farmers and plantation companies are responding to the higher prices, clearing hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical forest to replant with rows of oil palms. But an oil palm takes eight years to reach full production. A drought last year in Indonesia and flooding in Peninsular Malaysia helped constrain supply. Worldwide palm oil output climbed just 2.7 percent last year, to 42.1 million tons.

At the same time, palm oil demand is growing steeply for a variety of reasons around the globe. They include shifting decisions among farmers about what to plant, rising consumer demand in China and India for edible oils, and Western subsidies for biofuel production.

American farmers have been planting more corn and less soy because demand for corn-based ethanol has pushed up corn prices. American soybean acreage plunged 19 percent last year, producing a drop in soybean oil output and inventories.

Chinese farmers also cut back soybean acreage last year, as urban sprawl covered prime farmland and the Chinese government provided more incentives for grain.

Yet people in China are also consuming more oils. China not only was the world’s biggest palm oil importer last year, holding steady at 5.2 million tons in the first 11 months of the year, but it also doubled its soybean oil imports to 2.9 million tons, forcing buyers elsewhere to switch to palm oil.

Concerns about nutrition used to hurt palm oil sales, but they are now starting to help. The oil was long regarded in the West as unhealthy, but it has become an attractive option to replace the chemically altered fats known as trans fats, which have lately come to be seen as the least healthy of all fats.

New York City banned trans fats in frying at food service establishments last summer and will ban them in bakery goods this summer. Across the country, manufacturers are trying to replace trans fats. American palm oil imports nearly doubled in the first 11 months of last year, rising by 200,000 tons.

“Four years ago, when this whole no-trans issue started, we processed no palm here,” said Mark Weyland, a United States product manager for Loders Croklaan, a Dutch company that supplies palm oil. “Now it’s our biggest seller.”

Last year, conversion of palm oil into fuel was a fast-growing source of demand, but in recent weeks, rising prices have thrown that business into turmoil.

Here on Malaysia’s eastern shore, a series of 45-foot-high green and gray storage tanks connect to a labyrinth of yellow and silver pipes. The gleaming new refinery has the capacity to turn 116,000 tons a year of palm oil into 110,000 tons of a fuel called biodiesel, as well as valuable byproducts like glycerin. Mission Biofuels, an Australian company, finished the refinery last month and is working on an even larger factory next door at the base of a jungle hillside.

But prices have spiked so much that the company cannot cover all its costs and has idled the finished refinery while looking for a new strategy, such as asking a biodiesel buyer to pay a price linked to palm oil costs, and someday switching from palm oil to jatropha, a roadside weed.

“We took a view that palm oil prices were already high; we didn’t think they could go even higher, and then they did,” said Nathan Mahalingam, the company’s managing director.

Growth in Biofuels

Biofuels accounted for almost half the increase in worldwide demand for vegetable oils last year, and represented 7 percent of total consumption of the oils, according to Oil World, a forecasting service in Hamburg, Germany.

The growth of biodiesel, which can be mixed with regular diesel, has been controversial, not only because it competes with food uses of oil but also because of environmental concerns. European conservation groups have been warning that tropical forests are being leveled to make way for oil palm plantations, destroying habitat for orangutans and Sumatran rhinoceroses while also releasing greenhouse gases.

The European Union has moved to restrict imports of palm oil grown in unsustainable ways. The measure has incensed the Malaysian palm oil industry, which had plunged into biofuel production in part to satisfy European demand.

Another controversy involves the treatment of indigenous peoples whose lands have been seized by oil plantations. This has been a particular issue on Borneo.

Anne B. Lasimbang, executive director of the Pacos Trust in the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo, said that while some indigenous people had benefited from selling palm oil that they grow themselves, many had lost ancestral lands with little to show for it, including lands that used to provide habitats for endangered orangutans.

“Finally, some of the pressures internationally have trickled down. Some of the companies are more open to dialogue; they want to talk to communities,” said Ms. Lasimbang, a member of the Dusun indigenous group. “On our side, we are still suspicious.”

Demand Outstrips Supply

As the multiple conflicts and economic pressures associated with palm oil play out in the global economy, the bottom line seems to be that the world wants more of the oil than it can get.

Even in Malaysia, the center of the global palm oil industry for half a century, spot shortages have cropped up. Recently, as wholesale prices soared, cooking oil refiners complained of inadequate subsidies and cut back production of household oil, sold at low, regulated prices.

Street vendors in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, complain that they cannot find enough cooking oil to prepare roti canai, the flatbread that is the national snack. “It’s very difficult; it’s hard to find,” said one vendor who gave only his first name, Palani, after admitting that he was secretly buying cooking oil intended for households instead of paying the much higher price for commercial use.

Many of the hardest-hit victims of rising food prices are in the vast slums that surround cities in poorer Asian nations. The Kawle family in Mumbai’s sprawling Dharavi slum, a household of nine with just one member working as a laborer for $60 a month, is coping with recent price increases for palm oil.

The family has responded by eating fish once a week instead of twice, seldom cooking vegetables and cutting its monthly rice consumption. Next to go will be the weekly smidgen of lamb.

“If the prices go up again,” said Janaron Kawle, the family patriarch, “we’ll cut the mutton to twice a month and use less oil.”

Contributing reporting were Andrew Martin in New York, Anand Giridharadas in Kale, India, and Michael Rubenstein in Mumbai.

Mobile Phone Plan

How many people out there have an old mobile phone in a cupboard somewhere?
It still works, but you just upgraded at some point and tucked the old one away in a drawer somewhere with the charger and cover etc.
In fact I know some of you have 2 or 3 tucked away in that drawer! Old big Nokia’s and Sony’s – you are too conscious about the environment to throw them into some land fill and a bit too lazy to work out what to do with it to dispose of it any other way than chucking it in the bin.

Now I can help you!

Just tell me if you have one…

OR

Tell me if you need one.

Then I will put the two of you in contact with one another and one person gets more space in his/her drawer and one gets a phone.

Either email me, or just pop your email here as a comment and tell me if you are looking for a phone or looking to give one/some away.