The trials and tribulations of a new knitter...

The Opposite Of Junk Mail

It remains a great thrill for me to receive a handwritten envelope in the post whether it contain a card or a letter. In our ever increasingly digital lives, it's become a relatively rare event; but because of that, increasingly special.

Receiving a handwritten letter or card immediately tells me that the sender has invested a degree of time, thought and energy well beyond that of the user of Emails, text messages and or glib comments on social media sites. In my perception any expressed feelings of gratitude, appreciation, support etc., are going to carry more weight with them in the written form.

Certainly, when sending such thoughts and messages the phrase 'there's no school like the old school' rings true for me. This is my opportunity to amplify my feelings, customize them, choose the specific carrier (funny, thoughtful, sincere, appropriate, seasonal etc.) - making the message itself much more unique and impactful.

Here's another thing too - with a physical carrier like an envelope (or packet) you can easily enclose something additional to enhance the message or surprise the person your communicating with. My perennial favourite is to tear out interesting newspaper articles (funny, sad, moving, inspiring) and distribute them amongst friends in a random pattern in cards and letters over the coming months, sometimes years.

Of course, being a 21st century citizen, I do make frequent use of Email, the telephone, text messaging and social media services. Immediacy and ease are often good or essential - 'horses for courses'. But, do you know what? Already (for me anyway) these have turned into utilitarian communications mechanisms - quick, easy, cheap... shallow? Is this just me; one size does not fit all?

I feel like I'm on a crusade to encourage more people to take some time and thought to express things properly, when it really matters. When I want to demonstrate real gratitude, love, empathy, sympathy etc., there's nothing like doing it by dropping someone a note, a letter or a card. It's good karma - and you get to feel good too!

Lastly, and here's the BIG difference between the handwritten communication and 'junk mail'; permanence. Physical reality turns into keeps sake. It remains with us because it is special - it made us laugh, cry, smile, remember. It made a real connection, albeit from afar. Somehow, it makes us human. It offers us the opportunity to express ourselves with more freedom and effect. Hopefully, the message will mean more, and last longer, when its received. Karen Bowden

Can Spirituality Be Non-Denominational?

This is a prominent question in today's life with all the different things going on in the world at the moment. So many people would love to know if the troubles that we as one people face, such as the threats of Libya, North Korea and Al Quaeda, might be easier and perhaps non-existent if the human sense of spirituality was totally non-denominational. That is to say that all faith was not centered around a religion but an individual core belief.

But is it possible for human nature to drop ties with religious denominations and follow their own faith? And how similar would people's core beliefs be in comparison with each other?

In theory, yes. Spirituality can be non-denominational. After all, these denominations and religions are man-made, and are created through spirituality. They cannot trap spirituality in a inescapable bond, or they themselves would be bound in return. Spirituality is the very essence of religion, faith, belief. And people experience this in different ways.

However, the question must be asked whether humanity as a whole is able to forget about the man-made denominations and work individually each to his own belief. Why did man create denominations to begin with? Denominational laws divide the masses between good and bad behavior according to a perceived identical faith, and to begin with this seems simple enough. But what about when you reach further within and find anomalies within a denomination?

For example, the Catholic Church is against gay marriage, saying the act of sodomy is against the will of God. Therefore any gay Roman Catholics must remain chaste their entire lives if they are to follow their denomination of choice. One might argue that those people would simply leave the Catholic Church and follow a different denomination of Christianity which is more accepting of their sexual orientation. This leads me on to another point which I have to hold for a second.

What about those who have no choice to be in a religion, those who are born within some fundamental denomination who cannot leave it? They may not agree with the rules upheld by other members of their denomination but there is nothing they can do to change it. Therefore these anomalies in a denomination show that the identical faith spoken of cannot be real. Everyone's ideal of spirituality is different and shows that under the right circumstances spirituality can and possibly needs to be non-denominational.

And I can now return to my point. Why should the gay Catholic go to follow a different Christian denomination if they feel that overall they are more in tune with the traditional teachings of the catholic church? Why must they follow any denomination at all if they understand which moral rules and teachings they believe in? It should be simple for people to march alone following their own unique concept of spirituality, but for some reason most people just cannot.

Let's take a closer look at human behavior then. School is the perfect example. When a student arrives at a school they are categorized into a group according to their interests, fashion sense, looks, and intelligence. Therefore a pretty, sporty, sociable girl will quickly be shoved into the popular group. Her main topics of conversation with her friends will likely be fashion, films and boys. But what if she secretly loves watching Battlestar Galactica? If her friends knew, she would be tossed from the group because after all a sci-fi loving nerd doesn't belong with the popular kids. So what does the girl do? What would most insecure teenagers do? Keep it a secret. She would rather be in a group of people who share other similar interests with her rather than brave it and take on High School on her own, free to follow all of her interests without judgement.

Do you see the pattern here?

Spirituality can be and sometimes is non-denominational for people. But the majority of people just aren't brave enough to follow their own instincts with their faith. They're just too insecure that without denominational guidelines they'll stray from their spiritual path and get lost in a tangle of incorrect beliefs. However, in my opinion you just have to risk it. I understand completely that people feel more comfortable part of a community where they share most beliefs or interests with the rest of the denomination, but I have also grown up believing that everyone is unique. Therefore they should not categorize themselves within a group where their whole personality cannot be expressed.

Please check out this link for more articles. From time to time when I am really moved by something, I will post up on this site. Thank you J M Hart

The Pros and Cons of the Affordable Healthcare Act

The objections to the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA) are really not about its goals, that everyone should have healthcare, but how the government achieves those goals. The center of the controversy is about the total cost of reform. The present regime told us before it was instituted that it was going to be more comprehensive and you would pay less. Without even reading the bill they sold us that as fact.


The truth is it will cost more, way more because the AHA includes pre-existing conditions and expanded inclusions of healthcare that was not covered before. For example, Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) has three times more devices in the USA per capita as in other developed nations. The widespread use of these advanced medical devices would be expensive if millions more had access to them, thus driving up prices. The main objective of AHA is to insure everyone in America; inevitably costs will be driven up. The spending of $899 billion on healthcare while cutting Medicare pretty much guarantees its success.

Twenty one new taxes will be created from the AHA that will mean more money for the government to run the system but less money in your pocket.


The good news is everyone in the USA will be able to receive healthcare, even with pre-existing conditions, providing the same access to our healthcare system that the presently insured now have.

One hundred fifty three new federal agencies will be created manned by thousands of government employees that will control over 25% of the economy. This large expansion of the federal government will be good for people that get hired (average pay now for employees is $72,000) and will certainly contribute to the paying of new taxes.

Controlling Costs of the AHA

The regime in D.C. so far has not been able to control medical costs which is a secondary goal of AHA and is much likely to not be achieved in the long term because it has not to this date been able to reach this objective.
America is now spending 17% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare alone; a level that is almost double that of the OECD average and more than twice what it was in 1980 when it stood at 9%. In 1980 the feds accounted for 25% of the nation's healthcare spending, while today it has sharply risen to 45% and will continue to grow as the Baby Boomers continue to retire and move into the system.

Big Pharma

I must point out countries like Canada & Britain with national healthcare benefit from the medical innovations and new drugs that emanate from America's capitalistic system. Medical companies and Big Pharma make their money off the American consumer only to sell their newly conceived products overseas at much cheaper prices to state run systems.

AHA Monster

The AHA is putting extreme pressure on the federal budget; Medicaid & Medicare at this date account for 21% of the feds total outlays. What is in the hopper now is to cut back Social Security disability payments and entitlements (like food stamps), cut in half unemployment insurance paid out, and rid the federal system of overlapping programs. Clearly this is a good thing; the system should become more cost effective and will need to if they plan to implement this monster to get it up and flying.

Higher Cost Comes With More Benefits

By imposing expensive arrays of new mandates and regulations on the insurance industry like new rules for insurance companies rejecting people (or charging them more) because of pre-existing conditions that the industry calls a "guaranteed issue", this will also drive the cost up.

No Caps

Not allowing caps on benefits per year on treatment costs will also drive cost up. The insurance company will then be on the hook for a catastrophic health condition needing to cover the beneficiary's expenses no matter what the cost.

Other Problems

The paperwork involved for doctors will be almost a full time job leaving many with too much bureaucratic red tape and very little time for patients. This is already causing many doctors and healthcare professionals to move on to a different career with less stress and an adjusted attitude.

Insurance Companies Support AHA

1. The new law gives insurers as many as 30 million new prospects for customers, assuming all states participate in Medicaid expansion. This large market (as large as the population of Canada) will be compelled to buy the industries product. Ones that cannot afford it will be given help from the feds to purchase what they need making them the ideal customer.
2. Insurance companies still remain free to pass on the increased cost to the consumer in the form of higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles. If they increase too much, however, they could be prevented from selling insurance through the exchanges that may become a major problem in the making.


Congress stands to benefit from the AHA being fully implemented because they are already aware of what companies stand to gain with this law they created. With their insider knowledge Congress stand to make millions by becoming shareholders in companies that will profit big time from this law. My question to you is, you didn't think it was about you did ya?

If this helps you gain a better perspective on what is in store for us then go to to find out more about the written word. Gary Kent Boyd

Why You Should Still Buy Physical Books

Physical books are gradually being phased out in favor of ebooks, which are downloaded onto and read from thin electronic tablets. While it is great that people are reading at all, it is a shame that paper books are no longer fashionable. Many people in the field of literature are working to bring physical books to the forefront once again.

Tablets have become popular because they appear to be convenient. People love the idea of having a whole library that is accessible with the touch of a finger. However, building this sort of library requires a significant upfront cost. Tablets are not cheap. Electronic books are slightly less expensive than physical ones, but one would have to buy hundreds of ebooks before the money saved would fully absorb the initial cost of the tablet. Savvy readers who buy physical books online often find books that are cheaper than ebooks. One cannot make the switch to ebooks with the goal of saving money.

Another problem with tablets is that they break. Like smart phones, ebook tablets are notorious for having screens that shatter easily. It is very common to see someone reading an ebook around cracks in the tablet's screen. Some models have glossy screens that create huge glares, disrupting the reading process, though some companies have begun to use a matte finish on their screens. Whatever minor inconveniences physical books were perceived to pose have now been replaced with a whole new set of annoyances.

Academics dislike ebooks for several reasons. First of all, one cannot highlight phrases or write in an ebook. It is impossible to quickly flip to an appendix or skip to footnotes. Tablets eliminate the fluidity of the reading process as it has been taught up to this point. Turning pages and feeling paper is part of the experience of reading a book. Everyone knows what it is like to make creases in a book's spine for the first time. A small sense of pride comes from having made it through a book and left one's mark on it.

Books become heirlooms that are passed down through generations. As new editions are published and different cover art is printed, an old book increases in value. It also becomes an object of curiosity. Old books have a certain mystique about them. It is fascinating to look through a book that someone else has owned and look for notations or drawings. These little messages from a book's past owner contribute to a book's character. An ebook cannot be shared with others in the same way.

It is unclear how ebooks will factor into early childhood education. Children who use tablets are receiving a kind of education that their parents did not, but they are missing out on the tactile experience of turning a book's pages. Books for children are manufactured to contain different textures and pop-up features that cannot be mimicked in an ebook. Time will tell whether children suffer for not having this particular experience.

The main argument against ebooks is similar to the larger argument against people's growing dependence on technology. A book is not something that can only be enjoyed through an expensive electronic device. Some things should be left in their purest forms, and a book is one of those things.

Penny Lee is an avid reader and lover of books in its physical form. She enjoys reviewing best selling titles for readers and buy most of her books from this Singapore-based online bookstore. She previously wrote an interesting article on the effect of reading to newborns. Penny P. Lee