10 Facts About LGBT Families

(ref: All Children Matter study, http://children-matter.org )

Here are some of the findings about LGBT families that come from a research study authored by the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, Center for American Progress, COLAGE, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and the National Association of Social Workers in October, 2011.

  1. Roughly 2 million children are being raised in Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) families.
  2. Children raised by same-gender couples are twice as likely to live in poverty.
  3. Same-gender parents raising children are more racially and ethnically diverse than mixed gender couples. 59% of same-gender parents are white versus 73% for mixed-gender parents.
  4. Same-gender couples in the South are more likely to raise children than same-gender couples elsewhere in the county. (Interestingly, the same states with the most restrictive laws against LGBT people also seem to have the most number of same-gender couples raising kids.)
  5. Children raised by same-gender parents are just as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by mixed-gender parents. 30 years of research in this area come from authorities including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Child Welfare League of America.
  6. 14,000 foster children are being raised by Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual foster parents. (Transgender was not tracked in this number)
  7. A child living with two parents of the same gender can be assured that his/her relationship with both of his/her parents will be recognized by the law in fewer than half of the United States. A LGBT parent not legally recognized as a parent can lose (or never have) custody or visitation rights.
  8. LGBT families are largely excluded from tax credits and deductions designed to help ease the financial costs of raising children. In one case study, a same-gender family of five (two parents and three kids) paid $1,490 more in federal taxes than a mixed-gender family of five.
  9. Even for legally married same-gender parents, a surviving parent is not eligible for Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance which is administered by the Social Security Administration. This is interesting in that the United States government ordinarily relies on a state’s determination of parental and marital status in providing benefits.
  10. On a positive note, LGBT families (with both parents being U.S. citizens) have equal access to federal food assistance programs and public housing assistance due to a more inclusive definition of “family” for these programs.

Please consider reading and signing The Defense of All Families Pledge.


15 Uses for Baking Soda

(ref: armandhammer.com, about.com)

How many of these money saving applications do you already know about ways to use ordinary baking soda?

  1. Causes dough to rise in recipes (making it lighter and more porous)
  2. Deodorize a wastebasket, garbage can, or sink
  3. Make a homemade modeling clay (with addition of corn starch, water, and food coloring)
  4. Use as a fabric softener
  5. Make your own water color paints (with addition of flour, sugar, dry drink mix, and water)
  6. Clean greasy dishes
  7. Make your laundry detergent go farther and clean better
  8. Polish silver
  9. Use as a fruit and vegetable scrub
  10. Freshen upholstery
  11. Use as a personal deodorant
  12. Freshen your breath
  13. Relieve heartburn
  14. Deskunk a dog (with addition of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap) [Editor note: we have much personal experience with this one!]
  15. Take care of a carpet spill

FYI: There is a difference between baking soda, washing soda, and baking powder. Baking Soda is made of 100% Sodium Bicarbonate. Washing soda is made of 100% Sodium Carbonate. Baking powder is around 30% baking soda with the addition of an acidifying agent (usually Cream of Tartar) and a drying agent (usually starch)

Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions

(ref: http://www.time.com 1/3/2011, 1/3/2012)

To file under “Promises, Promises”, here is a list of the top ten New Year’s Resolutions made and broken according to Time Magazine.

  1. Lose Weight and Get Fit
  2. Quit Smoking
  3. Learn Something New
  4. Eat Healthier and Diet
  5. Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  6. Spend More Time with Family
  7. Travel to New Places
  8. Be Less Stressed
  9. Volunteer
  10. Drink Less

And from Time Magazine, 1/3/2012 here’s a list to help you beat the odds…

5 Tricks To Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Based on an article by Gary Belsky & Tom Gilovich

  1. Limit your promises
    Although it’s tempting to pursue several related goals at the same time (losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more), it’s likely more productive to stagger resolutions.

  2. Write them out
    Research suggests that it helps when we put pen to paper before embarking on projects.

  3. Involve a friend
    Teaming up with others is particularly powerful given our social natures and reluctance to let other folks down.

  4. Get out of your own way
    If you want to cut late-night snacking, throw out your snack food. If you want to stop abusing credit cards, close your accounts. If you want to save more, use direct deposit rather than asking yourself to write a check or transfer funds every month. Removing Y-O-U from a New Year’s resolution is a great way to achieve it.

  5. Expect missteps
    Research suggests that contemplating unpleasant or surprising future outcomes will make you less likely to overreact to them. There’s no guarantee, but encountering a problem you’ve even briefly anticipated might just give you that small boost of comfort or self-esteem that will translate into useful self-control.

20 Richest People in the United States in 2011


(ref: Forbes 400, forbes.com. GDP data from 2010 CIA Factbook)

The total worth of the 400 wealthiest in the United States rose to $1.53 trillion.  Numbers in [brackets] are countries with the closest approximate GDP.

  1. Bill Gates ($59.0 bil; 55 yo; Medina, Washington;   Microsoft) [Lebanon, Tanzania]
  2. Warren Buffett ($39.0 bil; 81 yo;  Omaha, Nebraska; Berkshire Hathaway) [North Korea]
  3. Larry Ellison ($33.0 bil; 67 yo; Woodside, California; Oracle) [Paraguay]
  4. Charles Koch ($25.0 bil; 75 yo; Wichita, Kansas; diversified) [Trinidad, Estonia]
  5. David Koch ($25.0 bil; 71 yo; New York, New York;  diversified) [Trinidad, Estonia]
  6. Christy Walton ($24.5 bil; 56 yo; Jackson, Wyoming; Wal-Mart) [Estonia]
  7. George Soros ($22.0 bil; 81 yo; Katonah, New York; hedge funds) [Georgia]
  8. Sheldon Adelson ($21.5 bil; 78 yo;  Las Vegas, Nevada; casinos) [Mozambique]
  9. Jim Walton ($21.1 bil; 63 yo; Bentonville, Arkansas; Wal-Mart) [Mozambique]
  10. Alice Walton ($20.9 bil; 61 yo; Fort Worth, Texas; Wal-Mart) [Zambia, Macedonia]
  11. S. Robson Walton ($20.5 bil; 67 yo; Bentonville, Arkansas; Wal-Mart) [Zambia, Macedonia]
  12. Michael Bloomberg ($19.5 bil; 69 yo; New York, New York; Bloomberg LP) [Madagascar]
  13. Jeff Bezos ($19.1 bil; 47 yo; Seattle, Washington; Amazon.com) [Madagascar]
  14. Mark Zuckerberg ($17.5 bil; 27 yo; Palo Alto, California; Facebook) [Nicaragua, Chad]
  15. Sergey Brin ($16.7 bil; 38 yo; Los Altos, California; Google) [Mali]
  16. Larry Page  ($16.7 bil; 38 yo;  Palo Alto, California; Google) [Mali]
  17. John Paulson ($15.5 bil; 55 yo; New York, New York; hedge funds) [Papua New Guinea]
  18. Michael Dell ($15.0 bil; 46 yo; Austin, Texas; Dell) [Papua New Guinea]
  19. Steve Ballmer ($13.9 bil; 55 yo; Hunts Point, Washington; Microsoft) [Benin, Malawi]
  20. Forrest Mars ($13.8 bil; 80 yo; Big Horn, Wyoming; candy) [Benin, Malawi]

Net worth of the 20 wealthiest Americans for 2011: $459.2 billion [Pakistan].The net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans was $1.53 trillion [the GDP of Mexico or the combined total GDP of Chile, Ghana, Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia] or 10.4% of the $14.66 trillion GDP of the United States .

Check out Teaching Economics as if People Mattered – Born on Third Base for an interesting lesson plan about wealth and the Forbes 400.

Here’s a link to the 2009 list of the 20 Richest People in the US.

6 U.S. Clean Air Act Milestones

(ref: Environmental Protection Agency, epa.gov )

Everything is ConnectedThe Clean Air Act is making the news due to a proposed amendment by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. This would effectively block President Barack Obama and the EPA from holding the nation’s biggest polluters accountable for the carbon dioxide they produce and a major step backwards in addressing climate change.

Current legal authority for federal programs and particularly the Environmental Protection Agency regarding air pollution control is based on the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments which is usually referred to as the Clean Air Act of 1990. This legislation modified and extended federal legal authority provided by the earlier Clean Air Acts of 1963 and 1970. The EPA describes the following milestones in the evolution of the Clean Air Act as it exists today. Continue reading

12 Principles of Permaculture by David Holmgren

(ref: http://www.permacultureprinciples.com )

Permaculture iconsPermaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems that mimics the relationships found in natural ecologies. It was first developed practically by Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer on his own farm in the early 1960s and then theoretically developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications.wikipedia.org

Central to permaculture are the three ethics: care for the earth, care for people, and fair share. They form the foundation for permaculture design and are also found in most traditional societies. Here are the 12 principles of permaculture as described by David Holmgren. Continue reading

9 Affirmations for World AIDS Day 2009

(ref: United Nations, http://www.un.org/en/events/aidsday/2009/ )

World AIDS Day 12/1/2009The United Nations established December 1st as World AIDS Day in 1988 following the lead of the World Health Organization that also established this day of remembrance and action that same year. The theme for 2009 is “Universal Access and Human Rights“. Understanding HIV and AIDS from a human rights perspective can be difficult.  Human rights are often misunderstood – and can sometimes be seen as abstract ideals with not much practical relevance for real people.