Monday, May 30, 2011

Green Washing: Tresemme Naturals


Everyone is trying to cash in on the organic/natural product frenzy. Unfortunately there isn't anyone watching what companies are doing. There's no regulatory body that covers eco products. There are a lot of logos on products but there's no unifying criteria for a product being allowed to put those logos on their products.

I ordered a free sample of TRESemme's new Naturals shampoo & conditioner. By the time it actually arrived in the mail I'd forgotten I'd ordered it. The packaging is very nice. Lots of green and drawings of leaves.

Here's their eco pitch:
TRESemme NATURALS collection has low sulfate shampoos, silicone-free conditioning and naturally derived polymers that will leave hair healthier, shinier, stronger and looking naturally gorgeous. 
Formulas include a blend of nature's purest elements including organic coconut oil, sweet orange, aloe vera and avocado extracts leaving your hair 10X STRONGER after just one use.
Calm frizz and get smooth hair with TRESemme Naturals Vibrantly Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner. 
Formulated with organic coconut oil and jojoba extract, they control unwanted frizz leaving hair feeling noticeably soft and silky. (emphasis theirs)

It sounds good. Right away I have questions. “Naturally-derived polymers” for example. Polymers do occur in nature but “derived” leads me to believe TRESemme uses a chemical modification of naturally occurring polymers. Anything with chemicals involved doesn't sound too natural to me.

All the oils and extracts sound really good but how much is really in the product?

Shampoo ingredients
WATER, AMMONIUM LAURETH SULFATE, AMMONIUM LAURYL SULFATE, COCAMIDOPROPYL, BETAINE, SODIUM COCOYL ISETHONAATE, LAURYL GLUCOSIDE, SODIUMLAUROAMPHOACETATE, SODIUMMMETHYL COCOYL TAURATE, AMMONIUM CHLORIDE, FRAGRANCE (PARFUM), HYDROXYPROPYL METHYCELLULOSE, PROPYGLYCOL, SODIUMXYLENESULFONATE, GUAR HYDROXYPROPYLTRIMONIUM CLORIDE, DIPROPYLENE GYLCOL, CITRIC ACIDE, DMDM HYDANTOIN, COCOS NUCIFERA (COCONUT) OIL, QUATERNIUM-80, BISAMINO PEG/PPG-41/3 AMINOETHYL PG-PROPYL DIMETHICONE, DISODIUM EDTA, ETHYL ALCOHOL, SIMMONDSIE CHINESIS (JOJOBA) LEAF EXTRACT. PER-18GLYCERYLOLEATE/COCOATE, POLYQUATERNIUM-7

My eyes went buggy trying to read the tiny lettering on the sample packet. You can't tell me that's “natural”. Sure they might have a little bit of jojoba or coconut oil but they are just add ons. The formula would work without them. And “Fragrance (parfum)” isn't natural at all. Companies are allowed to use that wording to describe a chemical process that the company claims proprietary rights over (trade secrets). No one outside the manufacturer knows what's in it. Whatever it is it ain't natural.

The conditioner has a smaller list but the same problem exists. There are a bunch of chemicals most consumers won't be able to identify and then at the end, thrown it at the last minute, are two natural oils/extracts.

The Test:

I got in the shower to wash my hair as usual. I opened the shampoo and caught a whiff of chemicals that had me coughing. I put it on my hair and lathered up. I couldn't stand the smell so I rinsed it out quickly. The same thing happened with the conditioner. The smell was making sick and a bit dizzy. I rinsed it out well before the suggested two minutes. I had to rinse my hair three times to get the smell out.


The Findings:

Epic fail. After putting up with the smell I should have had some improvement on the hair front. In reality my hair didn't feel or look any different than it does with no name shampoo.

Here's what you need to know: I have asthma. I also have multiply chemical sensitivities (MCS). That means that chemicals can trigger migraines or asthma attacks. This is the reason I'm interested in natural products in the first place.


Recomendations:

Natural shampoo recipe: Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with a cup of warm water. Use as you would a regular shampoo. For oily hair you can use less water so that the soda becomes a paste. Leave the paste on your hair for 5 minutes and then rinse.

Use organic cold pressed coconut oil for a once a month deep conditioner before washing with soda.

You can find lots of recipes for shampoo and conditioner that really are natural. Making your own is cheaper too.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Movie Releases for the Week of May 29

June 3


Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon
Director: Matthew Vaughn




Beginners
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent
Director: Mike Mills




Saturday, May 28, 2011

Really?


I don't have much to say about the second season finale of Glee. I know they were doing a “homage” to all the old RomComs but really? I was waiting for Rachel to throw her beret in the air a la Marlo Thomas.

Can Kurt be any more of a gay cliché? Yes I know that some gay men really love Broadway musicals and “the theatre” but I personally know some who don't. I know this is how Kurt would behave in New York but I'm looking for more depth of character. Something from him that goes beyond the cliché.

And Puck heading to the bar? Of course. Couldn't they come up with something better/different for the bad boy to do?

Why did Santana lose it? Her character has never shown that the Glee Club means very much to her. She was sent there by Sue and stayed for Brittany. Is it just that she doesn't like losing?

And of course they had to lose. If they had won there wouldn't be anything to build towards in the third and final season.

Oops. You guys did know that next season will be the last with these Glee kids didn't you? Everybody graduates at the end of season 3. The show's producer have been talking about getting a new bunch of “kids” for a couple of months.

I probably won't watch after this crop of kids “graduates.'


Read my other Glee related posts here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Hollywood Stock Exchange



I've started playing the Hollywood Stock Exchange* again. I've been there off and on since the site opened a few years ago. The HSX gives you $2 million to “buy shares of your favorite actors and their new movies. Watch their values rise or fall based on their success. Prices soar with a blockbuster opening at the box office and plummet with a bomb no one went to see.” (source: HSX website)


For some strange reason my Johnny Depp stocks are down 23.94% today. Sometimes you just can't tell. That's part of the fun.

Since I have to know when movies are coming out to play HSX I've decided to post release dates for 2011. After today I'll post what's opening in the coming week on Sunday. If you decide to go see one of the movies I've listed here please come back and tell me which movie and whether you liked it or not.

There's a lot of other movie related information I need to play HSX. I might randomly post anything I find interesting. We'll see how it goes.



Movie Release Dates - May 26 - 28



MAY 26th

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms
Director: Todd Phillips





Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman
Director: Jennifer Yuh



MAY 27th

The Tree of Life (Limited)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Fiona Shaw
Director: Terrance Malick


If I was going to a movie this weekend I'd go to Kung Fu Panda 2. The first one was very cute.



*If you want to join the Hollywood Stock Exchange tell them I sent you. My user name there is madison1964.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Getting Creative – Week 4

Happy Towel Day!

This post could be subtitled The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Madison. I had a plan for the day. It went awry. But I had my towel so that's +1 GeekFu.

My plan was to go to my morning appointment and then down to the West End for lunch and some wandering around time. I packed my backpack last night so I wouldn't forget anything. I packed a book (Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything), a container of water so I didn't have to spend money on bottled water from a convenience store and a few other things I might need during the day.

Most importantly, I had my towel. Towel Day usually slides by me. I figure out what day it is around the time I'm going to bed. This year was going to be different. I was going to take my towel someplace I don't usually go (Getting Creative – Week 3) and I was going to have photographic evidence of the trip.

That's where things went awry. I was good. I set my camera's battery to recharge over night. I even remembered to put the battery back in the camera. I took a picture just to make sure that everything was working. Then I set the camera down.

Some of you may not know it but, I am easily distracted (ooo SHINY!) and I forget things. I usually pack my backpack the night before just so I don't forget anything. It doesn't always work. I'm one of those “make a list, check it twice, leave it at home” people. I think you can see where this is going.

I have no idea why I didn't put my camera into my backpack right after taking the picture. I guess I got distracted. I was busy doing something and realized that it was past time to leave. I grabbed my coat and my backpack and headed out. My poor camera was left all alone on the dining room table. The photo that was supposed to be the first one in my Towel Day photo essay is now the only photo. Sigh.

Oh well. It was nice to go to English Bay and watch the water and the people. I was disappointed to learn that Wrap Zone on Davie St. had closed. I was looking forward to getting their Thai-tanic Chicken Wrap but other than that the trip was a modest success. Would have been better with pictures.

I'm going to try to make time each month to get away from the computer and go someplace new or somewhere I haven't been in a long time. I spend way too much time in this chair. There's a big wide wonderful world out there. It's time I stopped hiding at home and feeling guilty that I'm not writing anything important enough.

So what about you? Where do you go to take a break or get inspiration?

Here's this week's card:
Creative Space 
You probably won't need an elaborate ranch like George Lucas built to house his many creative endeavors, but you definitely deserve – and more importantly – NEED an inspring work space. Even if you live in a studio apartment with five cats, carve out a corner or a cardboard box that houses your art supplies. This space not only legitimizes that “little creative hobby” of yours, but also provides a comfortable space in which to do it. And then all that's left to do is, well, do it.

Creativity Resources:

RexArt - a dizzying array of art storage ideas. I spent a half an hour just taking note of everything I could use. I partial to the Alvin Mobile Organizer Carts. 

Creative Spaces on Flickr - check out spaces other creative people have created.

And finally, just because writing this post made me think about it, Eddie Izzard on the best laid plans of mice. Enjoy.





Buy 52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity


Read the rest of my Getting Creative posts


Getting Creative is a 52 week project where I will try to work my way through  52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity by Lynn Gordon. You're welcome to come along as I do a card a week for a year.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's OK to be Takei



I am TOTALLY in love with George Takei now. Now to decide between a t-shirt and a mug. I wish they had a bag.

Some people are really surprised by Mr. Takei's ability to make us laugh even when discussing very serious things. It's not what they expect from Hikaru Sulu.

That's because he's NOT Hikaru Sulu. He's a very intelligent man named Georg Takei. I had the privilege of meeting him a few years ago at a charity event. He was talking about famous people who like Star Trek. He asked people to guess which senator was a fan. One person said that they don't pay attention to "that stuff." Mr. Takei told him that he has to pay attention if we're ever going to get to the future Trekkies love so much. He said something like, "We can dream about the future but we have to live in today." That's a paraphrase but it is the sentiment.

That made me HEART him big time.

Read about the "no gay" law here.

I don't get how a law that makes it a crime to talk about any kind of relationships other than heterosexual ones is anything but hateful. Even if the teachers are talking to kids who have gay family members/friends they still can't talk about homosexuality. Nothing like negating a person's existence to make them feel good about themselves and their world. As if ignoring the problem will make it go away.

Say for a moment that you can stop elementary school kids from seeing anything related to gay life. What happens to them when they get into high school? Are they going to be shocked? Upset? Will they think every one has been lying to them?

Here's an extreme example of what can happen when you keep a huge part of the world from kids. I had a friend in high school who was German Canadian. She was a nice, friendly girl. After high school we ended up in a film class together. One night the prof screened  the documentary Night and Fog. A few minutes into the film my friend ran out. When I found her a little while later she was crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said that she didn't know what the Germans had done to Jews during WWII.

Somehow, she managed to miss WWII history classes. I understand her family not going into any details about the war but to not say anything? To act as if it didn't happen? How could they let her live without any knowledge? She quit school after that night. The last time I saw her she was moving to another city and she hadn't spoken to her parents for months.

As I said, an extreme example but I am of the opinion that hiding things just makes the problem worse.


 A different take on the problem


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Goodbye Jean



I'm really sad they killed off Jean Sylvester. She was the best part of Sue. I read that the show's producers asked Jane Lynch (Sue) if she would be okay with them killing off Jean. I'm sorry she said yes. I don't know where Sue is going to go from here. The relationship between her and Jean was the only positive one in Sue's life.


The funeral was really touching. Kurt and Finn did a great job. As for the rest of the episode... meh. I find it hard to believe that Quinn's self-esteem is so low that she'd stay with Finn even though he loves Rachel. Or is it that she needs the prom queen crown to validate her life and Finn is her best bet?


The Jesse St. James stuff was boring and stupid. It showed me exactly why I don't watch American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. Is Jesse going to take over the insults from a kinder, gentler Sue? I sure hope not he doesn't have the gravitas for it.


And why did no one mention that Jesse and Finn were kicked out of prom? Didn't that just happen? Why would Mr. Shue hire him and risk alienating Finn?  He has to have heard about the incident. Wasn't it just last year that he was telling them they didn't want to be like Vocal Adrenaline? So why hire Jesse to turn them into a clone? The comment about them needing all the help they can get was insulting to every member of Glee Club.


I know it's just a TV show but I'd like it to make a certain amount of sense if I'm going to waste an hour watching it.


I was going to talk about a teacher at my high school who lost his wife and daughter in a house fire. The whole school went to the funeral in a blizzard. I will never forget it. Nor will I forget how angry I was that it happened at all. They lived in a new area of town and it took the fire department 20 minutes to get to the house. Two days later the city announced that they were building a fire station in the area. Two deaths too late.


I was going to talk about that but I find that I really don't want to now.


Pure Imagination - Glee Cast


Pure Imagination (Glee Cast Version)


You can read my other Glee related posts here

Friday, May 20, 2011

Help The Cheerleader - Save Your Soul




Many of you have probably heard about the Texas cheerleader who was ousted from the squad for not cheering the basketball player who raped her. Yeah. I said RAPED her.  The specific cheer she refused to do was “Two, four, six, eight, ten, come on, Rakheem, put it in.” Yeah you read it right. I didn't believe it either until I saw it here.


The first article I read on this story mentioned that the victim, Hillari, was harassed at school by other students after she told authorities what Rakheem and his friend(s) did. When she reported the name calling she faced every day in the cafeteria to the school officials she was told not to go into the cafeteria.


This all took place in 2008 before the recent spotlight on bullying. It is my opinion that Hillari was bullied by her classmates and the school authorities (cheerleading coach, principal etc.) three years ago. Now she's being bullied by the justice system. 


At the very least, the school is guilty of being extremely insensitive. The judge who ordered her to pay the school's $45,000 legal fees was just being vindictive. 


People seem to be divided on the issue. Was it a First Amendment issue? I'm not sure. I'm not American. One of the comments I've read asks if Hillari was African American or Jewish would she have been forced to cheer for a player she knew to be a member of the KKK? Would the lawsuit be considered "frivolous" in that case?


If you feel like helping Hillari and her family you can. Go to Help The Cheerleader

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting Creative - Week 3





I have a rather tenuous relationship to time. I can lose a lot of it during the day. Hell, I can even lose whole days. Like today when I realized that it was Thursday. I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Tuesday. Don't ask me what happened to the real Tuesday. I don't remember.

Last week's card was about setting aside a regular time for writing each day. I know I should do it but I procrastinated the week away. If any of you have ever read The Artist's Way

What I actually worked on was my sleeping habits. I've been up until 4 am every night for the last 3 weeks. I try going to bed at 11 but I can't fall asleep. I end up sleeping until 1 pm. It's really messing me up. Just another way my body likes to sabotage me. I think I might try not going to bed at all and see if I can stay up until bedtime tomorrow. I'm not sure that will work. I have actually fallen asleep at the keyboard a couple of times.

I'm not giving up on the idea of establishing a regular time to write. Maybe I should start writing between midnight and 4 am. I'm not really doing much of anything else.

Here's this week's card:
Step Away 
There's a moment, just after takeoff, when you can look out the airplane window and make out the familiar landmarks of your life: the college campus, the freeways and bridges, maybe even your own house. You're close enough to the ground to see, but far enough away to view it all from a different perspective. Sometimes that kind of distance – literal or – metaphoric can do wonders for your creative process. Even if you can't afford a plane ticket, you can always afford a change of scene. Take a walk. Ride the elevator to the top floor of your city's tallest skyscraper. Drive to another town and be a tourist for an afternoon. Things may look different from there.


Creativity Resources:

The author of Eat Love Pray gave a very interesting TED talk about creativity.








How to Stimulate Creativity - A six day art project designed to help you get your creative juices going.



About the image: Winged genius, fragment. Second-style mural painting, Roman artwork, late 1st century BC. From the peristyle of the villa of P. Fannius Synistor in Boscoreale, near Pompeii. From the Wikimedia Commons.


Getting Creative is a 52 week project where I will try to work my way through  52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity by Lynn Gordon. You're welcome to come along as I do a card a week for a year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Thrill Is Gone


You've probably notice that there hasn't been much Glee around here lately. That's because the last three episodes have left me underwhelmed. I don't have much to say about any of them. I had to look them up on IMDb because I couldn't remember the titles. Now that I've refreshed my memory, here are my thoughts:

The Born This Way episode was a disappointment. While the message was good, it was hyped way beyond it's capacity. It didn't need 90 minutes. The “Barbravention” was cool.

Rumors was an episode I could have skipped altogether. I was young when that album came out and I never really liked it. Interesting to find out about Sam's homelife. Will it ever be mentioned again?

Prom Queen. Boring. I don't get why proms are so important. I never had a prom. Is it an American thing? The whole race for Prom Queen boggles my mind. It just seems to bring out the worst in people. I also don't get why Quinn slapped Rachel when it was Finn who left her standing on the dance floor. After what she put him through, that's nothing. She should have expected karma to get her at some point.

I have to bring up the cover of “Friday.” I'd never heard the song before watching Prom Queen. I won't go in to how dumb the song is. It is dumb but it's catchy. I prefer the Glee version to the original. They took a stupid song and made it fun.




Overall, Santana becomes more and more unlikeable with each episode. Lauren also seems to be doing something uncool (as Mercedes' manager, Lucy Caboosy, etc.) if she's on the screen at all. Quinn becomes a bigger bitch with every week and wonders why she can't hold Finn's attention.

Quinn may be skinny and beautiful but her life is not perfect. She doesn't even seem happy at all. If she didn't have any friends when she was fat it might be because she actually is a bitch.

It's nice to see that “The Rehabilitation of Noah Puckerman” continues. Now if he could only stop doing stupid things every time someone questions his manhood.

I don't hold out much hope for tonight's episode (Funeral) and I'm hoping the New York episode will be much better. I just read that episode cost $6 million. I hope it's worth it.

Read my other Glee related posts here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting Creative - Week 2


Here we are again. Another week has gone by. If you're like me you're wondering where the heck it went. Last week I posted the first card in the 52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity deck. That post is here if you need a refresher.

I don't do a lot of doodling. I usually do it when I'm on the phone. Especially while I'm on hold. I don't save them. I don't save most of my "art work." A few years ago I took a drawing class. As a warm up the teacher would pose in the middle of the room and we'd have 10 seconds to get the pose down on paper. I developed  a way of drawing with circles. The charcoal never left the paper. The picture was one continuous line with loops and circles. Above are three doodles I did this week. Sometimes the circles are big and fat. Sometimes they're thin. There's no reason to it.  It's just getting the pose down a quickly as possible.

I recently discovered Charcoal Pencils. How did I not know these things existed? I love drawing with charcoal but I've always hated the mess. Now I don't have an excuse to not draw. hmm.

Here's this week's card:
Be Disciplined
Nothing like a rigid schedule to get those creative juices flowing freely. Okay, it may seem counter-intuitive to sit down on a regular schedule to work on that Great American Novel instead of waiting for inspiration to strike. Actually, though, developing a routine schedule is good Pavlovian training for getting work done. Also, others (your dog, chatty friends and your children) will become accustomed to your consistently scheduled absences.
This week is going to be hard for me. I have that whole "I'm an artist! I have to be free!" thing going on in my head. Sigh.


Creativity Resources


Making a Web Comic: How to Stay Disciplined and Artsy -  An interview with an artist working on his art whenever and where ever he can.


Getting Creative is a 52 week project where I will try to work my way through  52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity by Lynn Gordon. You're welcome to come along as I do a card a week for a year.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Getting Creative - Week 1

Every year in high school we had to do these horrible tests to see what kind of job we'd be suited to. Every year my top three were: writer, actor and photographer. They weren't always in the same order but they were always there at the top. I can't say how accurate these kinds of tests are. I have no idea why these three kept coming up. I can't help noticing that "singer" never came up. All those years in Glee Club wasted. Maybe I should have kept up those acting lessons instead. Nah.

I have a love/hate relationship with my creative self. I love being able to express myself with words but I often can't force myself to sit down and write. If it's a job I'll procrastinate for as long as possible. College was one long string of all nighters the day before a paper was due.

When a deadline is self-imposed it's even worse. I can literally make myself sick in order to guarantee that I miss the deadline. I've started wondering if I really like writing or if I write because I have too. There are so many stories running around in my head I don't know what would happen if I couldn't get them out. I think that's why I have 4 blogs and I'm working on a novel, a screenplay and a short story all at the same time. I think it might be some kind of compulsion. I have these ideas or "dreams" and I have to start getting it down or I can't rest. Now if I could just start "needing" to get the thing finished.

A few years ago I found Lynn Gordon's 52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity (52 Series). There are some really great ideas in this deck of cards. I don't know why I've never done any of the things Gordon suggests. For the next 52 weeks I'm going to give each of her ideas a go. I've shuffled the deck (with my eyes closed) and will pick a card off the top of the deck each week. I'll post whatever I do that relates to this week's card next week. If you decide to work on your creativity too, I'd love to see a link to the results posted in the comments.

Here's this week card:
Even if it's just a silly doodle you did while on the phone or a letter you sent to a friend, save copies or the original of creative outpourings. Whether they were conscious or not, keep these banal masterpieces in a file box. You already manifest creativity without even being aware of it; keeping track of these incidental creations will remind you how easily  naturally and  unselfconsciously you already express yourself.

Creativity Resources

Chaotic Shiny - Dozens of writing and gaming generators. Whether you're into RPGs or writing a sci-fi or fantasy novel you'll find a treasure chest of ideas here. One of my favorite spots to go to for that little thing to make my story or character better. Take a look a the wining entry from a contest Chaotic Shiny ran: Paradox Recycler

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Please Vote

Pacific Assistance Dogs (PADS) is trying to win $100K from Pepsi. They need the money to expand their "reading to dogs" program. Vote Here! I think you can vote everyday. PADS is currently in 24th place.

Below is a video showing a similar program.