Proof That Big Brothers Aren’t So Bad After All (PHOTO)

Good News – The Huffington Post
Proof That Big Brothers Aren’t So Bad After All (PHOTO)
Sure, they left smelly socks all over the house after soccer practice and ratted you out to mom and dad when you went to the movies while grounded. But somewhere down the line, most of us come to realize that it really does pay to have an older brother.

The sweet note below is proof of that. Imgur user libbyful shared it on the site recently with this backstory: “A few years ago, I had a bad breakup and my brother left me this note and a rose. I keep it on my mirror so I see it everyday.”

Here’s the aww-inducing letter:

A few years ago, I had a bad breakup and my brother left me this note and a rose. I keep it on my mirror so I see it everyday.

Big brothers: They’re not so bad after all.

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Divorce on Facebook and Twitter.

Retired Military Dog Discovers His First Kitten (VIDEO)
This retired military working dog had never seen a kitten before.

See what happens when he meets his rambunctious new playmate for the first time. They may be opposites in terms of size, but we think they’re a match made in heaven.

For more adventures with tiny kitties and big dogs, check out this video of an itty bitty feline scaring the bejesus out of its Mastiff pal.

H/T: HooplaHa

Green – The Huffington Post
Planting Paradise in a Parking Lot
Seven years ago when I transferred to White Rock United Methodist Church, it was an act of radical hope. Charming though it was, the little church gave no indication that it was capable of stopping the steep decline in membership resulting from an aging congregation and changing demographics. But it was within walking distance of my new green home and I was writing a book on sustainable living. If for no other reason than to walk my own talk, I decided to stop driving across town to the “big church” and start putting down roots in my own neighborhood.

In pre-Recession Dallas, voluntarily moving from a thriving congregation in the heart of the city to a church in decline felt revolutionary. Times are changing, though, and localism is taking root in our city’s culture. Here in East Dallas, a nearby Baptist church hosts a green fair every other weekend in their parking lot. But no sign of progress has been so inspiring as the garden springing up over our own church parking lot.

Thanks to a new partnership between the Promise of Peace community garden and White Rock UMC, neighbors are enjoying the view of a garden where they once gazed over a black square of asphalt. A colorful shed and greenhouse complement several dozen 4′ X 14′ plots in neat cedar boxes over fresh mounds of mulch. On Saturday mornings, children play in the playground while visitors play the guitar and gardeners tend their plots. Seeing the cultural vitality the garden brings to a neglected corner of our neighborhood is like watching a minor miracle.

“A seed is nothing if not hope,” says Elizabeth Dry, executive director of the Promise of Peace garden, and a public school educator for more than 30 years. Elizabeth started the garden in 2008 on another parking lot, but her move to White Rock UMC holds the promise of more collaboration, space and access.

Dry’s new office, an old room in the church, represents a big step up from the shed at her former location. Holding up seed packets from the garden’s seed library, Elizabeth talks about the volunteers who catalog seeds and handle other tasks related to administering the garden.

“During these tough times, lots of people just need a sense of purpose,” says Dry.

And purposeful work she is giving us. My 8-year old daughter came home from school last week and announced, “Stevie and I planted broccoli in the garden next door.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic School has a few of the garden plots at the Promise of Peace garden. While churches are generally known for their inability to work together, the Promise of Peace community garden has become a place where all faiths – and the faithless – work together side by side.

“What I love about this experience,” said Dry, “is that I’m seeing a church walk its own talk. It’s like a sermon in action.”

Shamed as I am to admit it, I tried to jump ship several times during my tenure as a member of White Rock UMC. Once every two years I was seized by sudden misgivings. Should I be somewhere with more programs to offer the kids? Was this church able to feed my family’s spiritual needs? Underneath these questions lay my real worry. Could I trust where I was led, even if it didn’t make sense in the face of “better” options? Reverend George Fisk stepped in a few times to talk me off the ledge.

“If you stick around, you are going to learn something,” Rev. Fisk told me. “We can try some things that we couldn’t before, but it’s going to take time. I guarantee that something special is happening here.”

George’s prediction came true, although it would take two more years to see further signs of progress. Last year, the church board approved the hiring of 28-year Rev. Mitchell Boone as associate pastor. The combination of a seasoned pastor nearing retirement mentoring a younger protégé breathed new life into the place. Rev. Boone didn’t arrive a vision of reform so much as renewal. At last, we had the leadership to cultivate the seeds we had begun scattering five years ago.

Back in 2009, when I launched the “Come as You Are” discussion group at White Rock UMC, it was mainly out of need for a place to drink coffee while my kids were in Sunday school. I also nursed the hope that this group might become an incubator for more youthful and eclectic churchgoers, one that could support green initiative like a community garden. For years I showed up to a room containing a handful of people, which has since expanded to a steady flow that you can now count on two or three hands (not mega improvement, but a 200-300 percent increase nevertheless).

Although we managed to tackle the issue of Styrofoam cups, our group did not itself spawn the “green” culture I was hoping for. That ended up coming from the garden over the church parking lot instead.

Rev. Fisk was right. I have learned some things by staying at White Rock UMC. For example, culture change cannot be forced. At our church, behind-the-scenes stewards planted seeds of change for years until catalysts like Elizabeth Dry and Mitchell Boone could bring these ideas to life. The Promise of Peace community garden has emerged as a lovely sign of hope for a church with nothing left to lose. And neighbors from this largely “un-churched” community are taking notice of a building that for too long seemed irrelevant.

At the height of White Rock UMC’s membership, as many as 1,400 people attended worship services on Sundays. Today, Sunday attendees number about 10 percent of that.

“Hitting the bottom can freeing,” says Rev. Boone. “There’s nowhere to go but up.”

White Rock UMC is still waiting for a swarm of new members, and we may be waiting for some time yet. But maybe growing membership inside the walls of the building was never the point. As Mitchell told us on a recent tour of the garden for Dallas Interfaith Power and Light:

“The politics of churches trying to navigate to new areas is finicky. But our reality is that we are sitting here with 57,000 square feet. We know that this space will not be filled to capacity as it once was in this church’s heyday. It’s our job as stewards to put it to some good use and turn these assets back to the community. Also, in these moments of gentrification, the church should be helping people adapt. Growing a garden and giving away some of the produce to help feed our neighbors is what we should be doing.”

Nurturing a garden over an empty parking lot is a bold initiative for a small church with limited funds, but to a non-profit community garden, this church is rich in resources. As more churches struggle to stay vital, White Rock UMC is cultivating a model for adaptation in a world destined to be very different from the past.

Facts Are Facts: We Must Act on Climate Change
“Sceptic (skep•tic) noun

1. A person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.”

-Oxford English Dictionary

In diplomacy we ask a lot of questions. We aren’t doing our jobs if we don’t challenge accepted conventions and look for new solutions to apparently intractable problems. But there is a line between healthy scepticism and questioning and seeing conspiracy where there is none.

Today, the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the first of three volumes of its Assessment Report, the most comprehensive study of the science of climate change ever undertaken. The report, as authoritative as it is comprehensive, shows beyond doubt what we have now known for many years: that our climate is changing and that harmful emissions from human activity since the Industrial Revolution are largely to blame.

Some people reading today’s report will try to find evidence to support inaction. They will focus on a reported pause in global temperate rise. But the thermometers do not lie: 2012 was among the ten warmest years on record. And the long term trends are clear: Arctic sea ice is receding; Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers worldwide are losing mass; sea levels are rising around the globe. All of these pose grave risks.

A recent joint UK/U.S. paper showed that the extreme heat waves the U.S. experienced last year are now four times more likely to occur than they were before human-induced climate change. Coastal flooding caused by devastating events like Hurricane Sandy is now twice as likely as in 1950. These are not just abstract figures; extreme weather threatens lives and livelihoods. Hurricane Katrina alone killed more than 1,800 people and reduced US GDP by 1.2 percent.

So we need to act. As the British Foreign Secretary said today, “The longer we delay, the higher the risks and the greater the costs to present and future generations.” That’s why the UK has committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. And it is why we are working internationally to agree a binding global deal to reduce emissions.

An international deal will require all countries to act. This latest report shows us with greater clarity than ever before why that action is needed.

Eric Holthaus, Meteorologist, Tweets That He Will Never Fly Again
Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who has covered weather for the Wall Street Journal, tweeted that he will no longer fly on planes after a grim climate-change report left him in tears. Holthaus, who now writes for Quartz, was reacting to findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a well-respected body that includes 195 member countries, which released a report on Friday that found it is “extremely likely” that humans are causing warming trends seen in the last several decades. It also revised upwards its estimates of the increase in sea levels by the end of the 21st century. Holthaus took the news hard, and vowed to reduce his carbon footprint by giving up on air travel.

I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I’ve never cried because of a science report before. #IPCC

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

I realized, just now: This has to be the last flight I ever take. I’m committing right now to stop flying. It’s not worth the climate.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

We all have to do everything we can, every day to reverse CO2 emissions. There is no other way that makes sense.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

All of our energy…each one of us…should be devoted to this issue. Nothing else matters. It’s a zero sum game.

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

Why am I committing to not flying any more? Its the same reason I’m vegetarian: it’s my biggest carbon footprint. #lastflight #climatechange

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

Holthaus didn’t stop there. He said he has also decided not to have children in order to leave a lighter carbon footprint, and has considered having a vasectomy.

Totally agree. RT @Mer1968: @EricHolthaus No children, happy to go extinct, which in and of itself, carries a certain sadness. #IPCC

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

Unfortunately, yes. Its a very emotional decision. Mixed feelings. RT @ibidibid: @EricHolthaus adios babies? :/

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

I’m thinking of vasectomy. RT @PaulEMetz: You’re courageous. Last week an artist had herself sterilized for similar reason. @looovetinkebell

— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) September 27, 2013

Colorado Oil Spills Hearing Called For By Rep. Jared Polis, Following Flooding
As more oil spills were discovered this week in Colorado following devastating flooding that inundated drill sites in the state, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) is calling on the House Resources Committee for a hearing on the leaks caused by the floodwaters.

“Not only have my constituents been dealing with damage to their homes, schools, and roads, they are increasingly concerned about the toxic spills that have occurred from the flooding of nearly 1,900 fracking wells in Colorado,” Polis wrote in a letter to Resource Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, KDVR reported. “Congress must deal with this issue to ensure that natural disasters do not also become public health disasters.”

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission announced Thursday that there are 12 oil and gas releases classified as “notable,” which was unchanged from Wednesday, the first time this week that COGCC has not found an increase in spills from day to day.

There are 14 sites with evidence of a “minor release” and 60 sites with visible damage to storage tanks but no identified release.

A total of 890 barrels of oil — or 37,380 gallons — have been released in Colorado in the wake of the catastrophic flooding that resulted in the deaths of at least eight and over $2 billion in property damage.

The volume of oil released due to flooding, although growing, remains small by oil and gas industry standards. “In the context of this historic event, these spills are not an unexpected part of many other sources of contamination associated with the flood,” the COGCC wrote in a statement. “Those include very large volumes (millions of gallons) of raw, municipal sewage and other hazards associated with households, agriculture, business and industry.”

The COGCC reported that it has five teams in the field Friday and has covered roughly 70 percent of the flood-impacted area. Through Wednesday, teams have inspected 736 well locations.

Approximately 1,300 wells remain shut down — down from 1,900 at the peak — out of more than 51,000 operating in Colorado.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
‘Are You Happy?’ This Visual Survey Will Make You Tear Up (VIDEO)
Bangladesh is one of the happiest countries in the world, according to The Happy Planet Index. Photographer and filmmaker Farhan Hussain embarked on a journey through the streets of its capital city, Dhaka, to find out if that was true.

He and a few friends went to various locations in the city to ask random pedestrians the question, “Are you happy?”

Hussain told The Huffington Post in an email that even though Bangladesh has plenty of strikes, poverty and pollution, he wanted to make a film that depicted a human connection that all residents of Dhaka could relate to. He wrote:

We are all tired of political videos and all the things that are wrong with our country. The story of a country and of individuals can be vastly different, and I always found stories of individuals really interesting. I wanted people to tell their own life stories, and the subject of happiness seemed the most fitting. After all that’s our ultimate goal in life, to be happy.

What makes you happy? Let us know in the comments below.

Even the Bliss Mistress Gets the Blues
A few years ago, I took on a new name and persona along with it. I had been teaching a class called BYOB — Be Your Own Bliss which encouraged folks to take a look at their lives as they were and make positive changes so that they more closely resembled what they desired.

I was walking into the room when one of the women said “Oh, you’re the Bliss Master who is going to show us how to live blissfully.” I nodded, smiled and proceeded to teach the class. By the time it was over, both the participants and I were walking on clouds. Bliss will have that impact on people. When I got home, I was speaking with a friend who lived in San Francisco at the time. I told him the story and his delighted response was “Oh no, not Bliss Master… Bliss Mistress.” and I could see the twinkle in his eye from the double entendre designation all the way cross country. He added, “If you’re going to call yourself that, you had better be living it.” Game on! The challenge was set. I began to come up with lists of blissful goings on in my life as well as new ways to engage in that state. I loved embracing that lifestyle and it became my branding as a result. People had come to expect that of me. That I beam sunshine and scatter rose petals in my wake… or maybe that was just my own expectation.

It sometimes rings hollow, as a long-time friend expressed a year or so ago. She has known me since the early 1980s, and has seen me mostly shining, rarely cloudy, never stormy. When my book, entitled The Bliss Mistress Guide to Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary was born in 2011, she told me that as much as she was proud of me for writing it, she wasn’t going to read it until I showed her my anger. Not at her, mind you, but in general. She wanted me to express “normal human emotions,” which I had been reluctant to do for fear of people disappearing if I did. She and her husband invited me to come over to their apartment and engage in energy release exercises where the possibility… heck, encouragement of a raised voice would be heard. “But, I’ll disturb your neighbors,” I protested. When that didn’t work, I added “I’ll scare the dogs.” I was assured that both the neighbors and dogs had heard it before and would survive my intentional tirade. The day arrived and I found myself standing in front of a strategically placed pile of pillows with a plastic baseball bat next to them. I was invited to whale away at them, breathing and yelling. Not my comfort zone by a long stretch, having grown up in a home where raised voices were rare and then living with a Taurus (son) and Leo (husband) who had no problems vocalizing fortissimo. After a few minutes, I really got into it and was actually laughing in between shouting out expletives and all of the things I felt angry about that I had stored for so many years. Drenched in sweat afterward, I felt spent. A few side effects lingered for the next several days, including a sore sacral spine.

“Now,” affirmed my friend, “I’ll read your book.” The last time I saw it, it was ensconced between others on their bathroom bookshelf, along with the rubber duckies so I know it is being read.

In the past few months, real emotion has become all too… well, real and raw and unavoidable as mightily as I initially attempted to resist its siren song (not an alluring and pretty one, either). It sneaks up on me when I least expect it and broadsides me, knocking me on my butt. I make sure I drink more water than usual, so as to avoid having my tear ducts dry up. I carry tissues around with me since I know they will be necessary. I sit with clients and connect even more deeply with their pain, without taking it on, but having a more profound experience of what they might be feeling. I no longer am as willing to dispense platitudes in an effort to make everything all better for them or my friends, or even myself for that matter.

I am questioning everything, letting go over and over, surrendering expectation as much as possible, even though I want what I want when I want it. I throw inner temper tantrums, letting my petulant 2 year old lead the way sometimes, kicking up quite a fuss in my head. I am less likely to withhold sharing of my thoughts, putting my heart on the line. I have long believed that we teach people how to treat us and they will follow suit as long as we allow it. I am speaking up even if my voice trembles. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself and it is as if I am giving birth, at nearly 55, to a new version of myself. I don’t yet feel the excitement of the possibilities that exist for “her,” still seeming quite uncertain who she will become. I am stripping away the layers of the stone Buddha to reveal the radiant golden Buddha beneath it.

GoPro Video: Alex Gray Rides In A Golden Barrel
Think surfing’s not for you because of the intimidating big waves, action-packed adrenaline, and terrifying wipe-outs? This video will change your mind.

For almost a full minute, pro surfer Alex Gray — a “ladies man, nudist, lobster diver [and] yoga god” — rides towards a golden, setting sun, as the barrel of a beautifully arcing wave drapes around him. His GoPro captures the whole setting and, paired with the whimsical music of Thee Oh Sees, the overall effect is graceful, wondrous, and even soothing.

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo

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