Saturday, April 19, 2014
TRUTH is the rock foundation of every great character. It is loyalty to the right as we see it; it is courageous living of our lives in harmony with our ideals; it is always—power.
Truth ever defies full definition. Like electricity it can only be explained by noting its manifestation. It is the compass of the soul, the guardian of conscience, the final touchstone of right. Truth is the revelation of the ideal; but it is also an inspiration to realize that ideal, a constant impulse to live it.
Lying is one of the oldest vices in the world—it made its debut in the first recorded conversation in history, in a famous interview in the garden of Eden. Lying is the sacrifice of honor to create a wrong impression. It is masquerading in misfit virtues. Truth can stand alone, for it needs no chaperone or escort. Lies are cowardly, fearsome things that must travel in battalions. They are like a lot of drunken men, one vainly seeking to support another. Lying is the partner and accomplice of all the other vices.
Truth is the oldest of all the virtues; it antedated man, it lived before there was man to perceive it or to accept it. It is the unchangeable, the constant. Law is the eternal truth of Nature—the unity that always produces identical results under identical conditions. When a man discovers a great truth in Nature he has the key to the understanding of a million phenomena; when he grasps a great truth in morals he has in it the key to his spiritual re-creation.
For the individual, there is no such thing as theoretic truth; a great truth that is not absorbed by our whole mind and life, and has not become an inseparable part of our living, is not a real truth to us. If we know the truth and do not live it, our life is—a lie.
In speech, the man who makes Truth his watchword is careful in his words, he seeks to be accurate, neither understating nor over-coloring. He never states as a fact that of which he is not sure. What he says has the ring of sincerity, the hallmark of pure gold. If he praises you, you accept his statement as “net,” you do not have to work out a problem in mental arithmetic on the side to see what discount you ought to make before you accept his judgment. His promise counts for something, you accept it as being as good as his bond, you know that no matter how much it may cost him to verify and fulfill his word by his deed, he will do it. His honesty is not policy. The man who is honest merely because it is “the best policy,” is not really honest, he is only politic. Usually such a man would forsake his seeming loyalty to truth and would work overtime for the devil—if he could get better terms.
Truth means “that which one troweth or believes.” It is living simply and squarely by our belief; it is the externalizing of a faith in a series of actions. Truth is ever strong, courageous, virile, though kindly, gentle, calm, and restful. There is a vital difference between error and untruthfulness. A man may be in error and yet live bravely by it; he who is untruthful in his life knows the truth but denies it. The one is loyal to what he believes, the other is traitor to what he knows. “What is Truth?” Pilate’s great question, asked of Christ nearly two thousand years ago, has echoed unanswered through the ages. We get constant revelations of parts of it, glimpses of constantly new phases, but never complete, final definition. If we but live up to the truth that we know, and seek ever to know more, we have put ourselves into the spiritual attitude of receptiveness to know Truth in the fullness of its power. Truth is the sun of morality, and like that lesser sun in the heavens, we can walk by its light, live in its warmth and life, even if we see but a small part of it and receive but a microscopic fraction of its rays.
Which of the great religions of the world is the real, the final, the absolute truth? We must make our individual choice and live by it as best we can. Every new sect, every new cult, has in it a grain of truth, at least; it is this that attracts attention and wins adherents. This mustard seed of truth is often overestimated, darkening the eyes of man to the untrue parts or phases of the varying religious faiths. But, in exact proportion to the basic truth they contain do religions last, become permanent and growing, and satisfy and inspire the hearts of men. Mushrooms of error have a quick growth, but they exhaust their vitality and die, while Truth still lives.
The man who makes the acquisition of wealth the goal and ultimatum of his life, seeing it as an end rather than a means to an end, is not true. Why does the world usually make wealth the criterion of success, and riches the synonym of attainment? Real success in life means the individual’s conquest of himself; it means ”how he has bettered himself” not “how he has bettered his fortune.” The great question of life is not “What have I?” but “What am I?”
Man is usually loyal to what he most desires. The man who lies to save a nickel, merely proclaims that he esteems a nickel more than he does his honor. He who sacrifices his ideals, truth and character, for mere money or position, is weighing his conscience in one pan of a scale against a bag of gold in the other. He is loyal to what he finds the heavier, that which he desires the more—the money. But this is not truth. Truth is the heart’s loyalty to abstract right, made manifest in concrete instances.
The tradesman who lies, cheats, misleads and overcharges and then seeks to square himself with his anemic conscience by saying, “lying is absolutely necessary to business,” is as untrue in his statement as he is in his acts. He justifies himself with the petty defense as the thief who says it is necessary to steal in order to live. The permanent business prosperity of an individual, a city or a nation rests finally on commercial integrity alone, despite all that the cynics may say, or all the exceptions whose temporary success may mislead them. It is truth alone that lasts.
The politician who is vacillating, temporizing, shifting, constantly trimming his sails to catch every puff of wind of popularity, is a trickster who succeeds only until he is found out. A lie may live for a time, truth for all time. A lie never lives by its own vitality, it merely continues to exist because it simulates truth. When it is unmasked, it dies. When each of four newspapers in one city puts forth the claim that its circulation is larger than all the others combined, there must be an error somewhere. Where there is untruth there is always conflict, discrepancy, impossibility. If all the truths of life and experience from the first second of time, or for any section of eternity, were brought together, there would be perfect harmony, perfect accord, union and unity, but if two lies come together, they quarrel and seek to destroy each other.
It is in the trifles of daily life that truth should be our constant guide and inspiration. Truth is not a dress-suit, consecrated to special occasions, it is the strong, well-woven, durable homespun for daily living.
The man who forgets his promises is untrue. We rarely lose sight of those promises made to us for our individual benefit; these we regard as checks we always seek to cash at the earliest moment. “The miser never forgets where he hides his treasure,” says one of the old philosophers. Let us cultivate that sterling honor that holds our word so supreme, so sacred, that to forget it would seem a crime, to deny it would be impossible. The man who says pleasant things and makes promises which to him are light as air, but to someone else seem the rock upon which a life’s hope is built is cruelly untrue. He who does not regard his appointments, carelessly breaking them or ignoring them, is the thoughtless thief of another’s time. It reveals selfishness, carelessness, and lax business morals. It is untrue to the simplest justice of life.
Men who split hairs with their conscience, who mislead others by deft, shrewd phrasing which may be true in letter yet lying in spirit and designedly uttered to produce a false impression, are untruthful in the most cowardly way. Such men would cheat even in solitaire. Like murderers they forgive themselves their crime in congratulating themselves on the cleverness of their alibi. The parent who preaches honor to his child and gives false statistics about the child’s age to the conductor, to save a nickel, is not true.
The man who keeps his religion in camphor all week and who takes it out only on Sunday, is not true. He who seeks to get the highest wages for the least possible amount of service, is not true. The man who has to sing lullabies to his conscience before he himself can sleep, is not true.
The power of Truth, in its highest, purest, and most exalted phases, stands squarely on four basic lines of relation,— the love of truth, the search for truth, faith in truth, and work for truth.
The love of Truth is the cultivated hunger for it in itself and for itself, without any thought of what it may cost, what sacrifices it may entail, what theories or beliefs of a lifetime may be laid desolate. In its supreme phase, this attitude of life is rare, but unless one can begin to put himself into harmony with this view, the individual will only creep in truth, when he might walk bravely.
The man who has a certain religious belief and fears to discuss it, lest it may be proved wrong, is not loyal to his belief, he has but a coward’s faithfulness to his prejudices. If he were a lover of truth, he would be willing at any moment to surrender his belief for a higher, better, and truer faith.
The man who votes the same ticket in politics, year after year, without caring for issues, men, or problems, merely voting in a certain way because he always has voted so, is sacrificing loyalty to truth to a weak, mistaken, stubborn attachment to a wornout precedent. Such a man should stay in his cradle all his life—because he spent his early years there.
The search for Truth means that the individual must not merely follow truth as he sees it, but he must, so far as he can, search to see that he is right. When the Kearsarge was wrecked on the Roncador Reef, the captain was sailing correctly by his chart. But his map was an old one; the sunken reef was not marked down. Loyalty to back-number standards means stagnation. In China they plow today, but they plow with the instrument of four thousand years ago. The search for truth is the angel of progress—in civilization and in morals. While it makes us bold and aggressive in our own life, it teaches us to be tender and sympathetic with others. Their life may represent a station we have passed in our progress, or one we must seek to reach. We can then congratulate ourselves without condemning them. All the truths of the world are not concentrated in our creed. All the sunshine of the world is not focused on our doorstep. We should ever speak the truth,—but only in love and kindness. Truth should ever extend the hand of love; never the hand clenching a bludgeon.
Faith in Truth is an essential to perfect companionship with truth. The individual must have perfect confidence and assurance of the final triumph of right, and order, and justice, and believe that all things are evolving toward that divine consummation, no matter how dark and dreary life may seem from day to day. No real success, no lasting happiness can exist except it be founded on the rock of truth. The prosperity that is based on lying, deception, and intrigue, is only temporary—it cannot last any more than a mushroom can outlive an oak. Like the blind Samson, struggling in the temple, the individual whose life is based on trickery always pulls down the supporting columns of his own edifice, and perishes in the ruins. No matter what price a man may pay for truth, he is getting it at a bargain. The lying of others can never hurt us long, it always carries with it our exoneration in the end.
Work for the interests and advancement of Truth is a necessary part of real companionship. If a man has a love of truth, if he searches to find it, and has faith in it, even when he cannot find it, will he not work to spread it? The strongest way for man to strengthen the power of truth in the world is to live it himself in every detail of thought, word, and deed—to make himself a sun of personal radiation of truth, and to let his silent influence speak for it and his direct acts glorify it so far as he can in his sphere of life and action. Let him first seek to be, before he seeks to teach or to do, in any line of moral growth.
Let man realize that Truth is essentially an intrinsic virtue, in his relation to himself even if there were no other human being living; it becomes extrinsic as he radiates it in his daily life. Truth is first, intellectual honesty—the craving to know the right; second, it is moral honesty, the hunger to live the right.
By William George Jordan; : Individual Problems and Possibilities, 1902
IT WAS going on for 3.30am when Lorraine Browne picked up her fares outside the Roma chipper in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan. Ms Browne ran, and still runs, a minibus taxi service out of Kingscourt in Co Cavan. About 10 people boarded her mini-bus. The mood was good, but finely balanced, in the early hours of February 25, 2007.
She told everybody that she was going to Kingscourt, which is 13km from Carrickmacross. Among the group on the bus were four men whom she didn’t know. Later, she would estimate that they were in their late 20s, or maybe early 30s.
One of the four was a big lad, another shorter. The third was bald and asleep for most of the journey, and the fourth sat behind the driver.
“The minute I pulled off, the verbal abuse from the biggest lad started,” she told gardaí. “He started verbally abusing the lady passengers that I had on board. Putting women down, saying filthy talk, and talking about their privates. He was trying to start a row with their partners by saying stuff to them. His mates, one of them, the smallest lad, kept laughing and egging him on. The bald lad was asleep in the bus and the last lad was sitting behind me telling them to stop.”
About 6km along the road, Ms Browne pulled up to let a couple disembark. “When the girl was getting off, the biggest lad grabbed her arse. Her boyfriend turned around and said ‘how dare you mate’. The big lad laughed in his face. The couple then left.”
For the remainder of the journey, one of the four kept shouting abuse at the other passengers. At Kingscourt, Ms Browne told the men this was the last stop, and asked the four of them to get off. She still had about six passengers aboard, whom she knew, and often dropped to their homes. The men refused to get off. One of them kept shouting that he wanted to be brought to Ardee in Co Louth, about 15km away. The abuse continued for up to half an hour.
Presently, the other passengers began to disembark. “When the passengers were getting off, the biggest lad groped another girl.” By then, there was just one other woman left on the bus.
Ms Browne’s statement went on: “At this stage I was terrified so I told them I wasn’t taking them anywhere but I’d ring them another taxi. I then got off the bus and walked to the middle of the road so they couldn’t hear me and rang Bailieborough Garda Station.
“The minute I got off the phone I heard the girl on the bus screaming. I ran around to the side door and saw the big lad had a grip of the girl, holding her by her clothes at the front. She then broke free of him and ran up the town screaming. The girl kept running away. I didn’t manage to catch up with her. I then turned and went back towards the bus.
“They were all on the bus still shouting very loud. I then saw the big, rowdy fella step off the bus shouting ‘where the fuck was she gone’. At this stage, I turned and ran towards Kingscourt Garda Station and hid at the corner of the road so that I could still see them. They all got off the bus and walked up towards where I was, so I ran further up towards the Garda station. I then heard the voices were getting faded so I walked back down towards the corner and saw that they were going back towards the bus still looking for me.”
Kingscourt Garda station was closed at that hour of the morning. She could now see the men from up the street. They hung around the bus, and then drifted over towards the Europa chipper.
“A fare that I was to pick up in Bailieborough started ringing me at this stage and knew I was in trouble, in a distressed stage. They then got another taxi and when they got to Kingscourt rang me to see where I was and picked me up. They then brought me down to the bus and the gardaí landed at the same time.”
The men had left by that stage. Ms Browne felt thoroughly shaken. She gave a statement to the gardaí concluding with an observation: “I was working with CIE as a bus driver, working on route 77 which is the worst one in Dublin, which is the Tallaght one, for five years. Previous to this I was a taxi driver around Dublin for four to five years. This was the worst I have ever encountered in all my years driving.”
THE investigating garda was a probationary officer. After graduating from Templemore, gardaí serve a probationary period of two years to determine whether they are suitable for full member status.
He took a statement from Ms Browne and would have been expected thereafter to investigate the whole matter and prepare a file with a view to sending it on to the DPP.
A report compiled later suggested that charges could have included public order offences, sexual assault, false imprisonment, and assault.
No investigation file was created. Nobody was formally interviewed. No statements from the investigating garda was included. Effectively, nothing in the way of investigating a crime under standard procedure was undertaken. In the subsequent investigation into the handling of the case, the garda in question stated that he had traced one of the suspects to a location in Dundalk.
The garda travelled to the town with a view to taking a cautioned statement from this man. On making contact, the suspect asked the garda for Ms Browne’s details in order that he might apologise to her. The garda refused to pass on the details. “He then asked me if I would ask the lady if he could compensate her for any damage or loss of fares she had incurred and give her a meal voucher also and for her to let the matter go,” the garda reported.
According to the garda, he passed on this offer to Ms Browne, but she said it was a serious matter and she didn’t want the meal voucher, or to meet the man who had terrorised her. Later, the garda says, she agreed to take a written apology and her losses in the fares, which amounted to €150. The officer said that she called to Bailieborough station and picked up an envelope
“After receiving this, she made a statement of withdrawal and I later updated the Pulse system to this effect,” the garda reported.
It is highly unusual for a member of the force to take a statement of withdrawal from a witness or victim, particularly when matters such as alleged sexual assault are at issue. Typically, if a woman wanted to withdraw a statement in these circumstances, it would have to wait until a court appearance. For a probationary garda to do so is unheard of.
The Irish Examiner understands that the updated Pulse entry indicated that the matter had been “resolved amicably” by the parties.
Ms Browne remembers things differently. Last week, she said she accepted the money offered because it was indicated to her that there was little or no chance of a prosecution being pursued.
“He said that nothing would come of the case,” she said. “I wanted to go the whole way with it. In my eyes it was very serious, but he was so determined to tell me that it wasn’t going to go anywhere. I was very taken aback.”
Ms Browne says that she hadn’t been in contact with the woman who was assaulted on the night in question, but she believes she also would have wanted a prosecution.
“That girl was petrified. They kicked her in the stomach. There was just the two of us there in the end, and these were big men. It was four or five in the morning and there was nobody about.”
She said she wasn’t clear about what happened afterwards, but the Irish Examiner understands she did make a complaint about the matter to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. The subsequent GSOC investigation was one of two probes into the case. According to sources, GSOC appointed a serving superintendent to investigate. This is a system that has been criticised by former garda John Wilson, among others, as it ultimately involves gardaí investigating gardaí, albeit under the aegis of GSOC.
THE GSOC investigation came to naught. One of the issues encountered by the investigating officers was a failure to gain co-operation from interested parties. The other investigation was conducted by Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne, on foot of a complaint by Sergeant Maurice McCabe, the man who has come to be known as the Garda whistleblower.
Sgt McCabe, who was based in Bailieborough, was familiar with the details, and was understood to be shocked at what unfolded. His complaint was examined by Assistant Commissioner Byrne, who had access to the file, and authority to interview all parties involved. He ruled that the complaint of malpractice was not upheld.
“Disciplinary investigation complete — no breach of discipline uncovered,” he reported.
The case was one of a number contained in a dossier furnished by Sgt McCabe to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in February. Mr Martin in turn handed over the dossier to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and on February 26 Justice Minister Alan Shatter addressed the dossier in an extensive Dáil speech. He pointed out that all the cases had been investigated by the gardaí, and some by GSOC as well.
“While GSOC dealt with a small number of relevant complaints which had been made to it, it does not appear to have felt it necessary to take any further action.”
Two days later, this version was disputed on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke programme by former GSOC commissioner Conor Brady.
“I differ from the minister on one point,” Mr Brady said. “What he said was GSOC didn’t find it necessary to take any further action. I don’t think that’s telling the full story. It’s more accurate to say GSOC didn’t find it possible to take any further action. While witnesses were quite willing to tell them [GSOC investigators] what happened, when it came to making statements, they weren’t going to do that.”
So the matter was investigated twice. Once by an assistant commissioner who found little wrong, and a second time by GSOC, which efforts ran into the sand. The case is now among those under review by the Government- appointed barrister, Seán Guerin, who is expected to report in the next week or so.
The probationary guard at the centre of the affair had his probationary period extended, although he had also been out of work for a prolonged period during his probation, as a result of a road traffic accident. He is now based in the north-east.
In his speech of February 26, Mr Shatter referenced the fact that the cases complained about by Sgt McCabe had all been investigated as per procedure.
“Of course, I understand that Sgt McCabe did not accept the outcome of these investigations, and that is his right. But I am sure the House will appreciate that there is no mechanism that can guarantee all complainants will be at all times fully satisfied with the outcome of all investigations. What is important is that there are procedures in place to deal with allegations.”
The effectiveness of those procedures, and whether they are appropriate in the running of a modern police force, must surely be a matter of debate by now.
By Michael Clifford
Monday, April 14, 2014
1) A number of alternative medical practices have solid science behind them
2) Acupuncture highly recommended for pain, nausea
3) Research mixed, but St. John's Wort viewed as worth a try for depression
Studies have shown that acupuncture can ease pain, but researchers aren't sure of the exact mechanism.
ATLANTA, Georgia -- Dr. Andrew Weil wasn't sure exactly how he hurt his knee; all he knew was that it was painful. But instead of turning to cortisone shots or heavy doses of pain medication, Weil turned to the ancient Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture. "It worked -- my knee felt much better," says Weil.
Americans spend billions of dollars each year on alternative medicine, everything from chiropractic care to hypnosis.
Weil says alternative medicine can work wonders -- acupuncture, certain herbs, guided imagery.
For example, Dr. Brian Berman, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has done a series of studies showing acupuncture's benefits for osteoarthritis of the knee.
Extensive studies have also been done on mind-body approaches such as guided imagery, and on some herbs, including St. John's Wort.
But on the other hand, there also is a lot of quackery out there, Weil says. "I've seen it all, [including] products that claim to increase sexual vigor, cure cancer and allay financial anxiety."
So how do you know what works and what doesn't when it comes to alternative medicine? Just a decade ago, there weren't many well-done, independent studies on herbs, acupuncture, massage or hypnosis, so patients didn't have many facts to guide them.
But in 1999, eight academic medical centers, including Harvard, Duke and Stanford, banded together with the purpose of encouraging research and education on alternative medicine. Eight years later, the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine has 38 member universities, and has gathered evidence about what practices have solid science behind them.
Here, from experts at five of those universities, are five alternative medicine practices that are among the most promising because they have solid science behind them.
1. Acupuncture for pain
Hands, down, this was the No. 1 recommendation from our panel of experts. They also recommended acupuncture for other problems, including nausea after surgery and chemotherapy.
2. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 for PMS
Your Health Tools
When pre-menstrual syndrome rears its ugly head, gynecologist Dr. Tracy Gaudet encourages her patients to take these dietary supplements. "They can have a huge impact on moodiness, bloating, and on heavy periods," says Gaudet, who's the executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine at Duke University Medical School.
3. St. John's Wort for depression
The studies are a bit mixed on this one, but our panel of experts agreed this herb -- once thought to rid the body of evil spirits - is definitely promising. "It's worth a try for mild to moderate depression," says Weil, founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. "Remember it will take six to eight weeks to see an effect." Remember, too, that St. John's wort can interfere with some medicines; the University of Maryland Medical Center has a list.
4. Guided imagery for pain and anxiety
"Go to your happy place" has become a cliché, but our experts say it really works. The technique, of course, is more complicated than that. "In guided imagery we invite you to relax and focus on breathing and transport you mentally to a different place," says Mary Jo Kreitzer, Ph.D., R.N., founder and director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota.
There's a guided imagery demo at the University of Minnesota's Web site.
5. Glucosamine for joint pain
"It's safe, and it looks like it's effective," says Dr. Frederick Hecht, director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "It may be the first thing that actually reverses cartilage loss in osteoarthritis."
All our experts warn that since alternative medicine is financially lucrative, a lot of charlatans have gotten into the business. They have these tips for being a savvy shopper:
1. Look for "USP" or "NSF" on the labels
"The biggest mistake people make is they don't get a good product," says Dr. Mary Hardy, medical director of the Sims/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology. She says the stamp of approval from the United States Pharmacopoeia or NSF International, two groups with independent verification programs, means what's on the label is in the product.
2. Find a good practitioner
Make sure the alternative medicine practitioner you're going to is actually trained to practice alternative medicine. One place to start is the Consortium for Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine
3. Be wary of crazy claims
"Anything that sounds too good to be true probably is," says Weil.
And once you do start on your journey with alternative medicine, here's a piece of advice: Take it slow. Alternative medicine works, but sometimes not as quickly as taking a drug. "I tell people it's going to take a while," says Hardy. "I tell them to do a six- to eight-week trial, or even 12 weeks."
By Elizabeth Cohen
1 Sunday make a large batch of pastry. Then, when the joint goes in the oven for the roast dinner, start baking: apple pies, mince pies, sausage rolls, jam tarts, rock cakes, scones etc.
This will last all week so you don’t have to put the oven on again until next Sunday, then repeat the process.
2 Make your own tonic wine/cough mixture with elderberries. One of the most prolific wild berries, elders grow both in country woodland, on field margins and also in cities, on vacant lots and building sites. The berries are juicy, tart and packed with vitamin C. Boil about 2lbs of berries together with cloves, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and some finely chopped fresh ginger. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain and when cool mix in a glass of brandy for every pint of liquid. Bottle and keep in a dark cupboard. It lasts forever and is a soothing tonic for coughs and sore throats.
3 Forage field mushrooms, which adds dense flavour to meat dishes. Slice the mushrooms, layer with salt and leave overnight. Wash off the salt and simmer for an hour with red wine vinegar, finely chopped garlic and plenty of black pepper. When almost black, strain through a muslin, then bottle it.
4 Invest in a pressure cooker or slow cooker: these are the two most economical ways of cooking food and will start to save you money after very little use. You can also cook cheap cuts of meat such as neck or brisket and they’ll taste like the choicest fillets after a few hours’ slow cooking.
5 In early spring, harvest sorrel from woodland walks – it makes a delicious lemony soup. Boil potatoes in stock first then add the sorrel leaves; simmer for no more than two minutes; mix with yogurt or crème fraîche for a richer, silky texture.
1 Seal draughty gaps in floorboards with DIY plastic strips. This is a quick, fun weekend job with gratifyingly instant results.
2 Adding secondary glazing to windows: Get a carpenter to make wooden frames for each section and inlaid a brush seal all the way around before fitting with laminated glass. 15 times cheaper than double glazing.
3 Revert to wood heating with a wood-burning stove. Beats oil, creates atmosphere and is eco friendly.
4 Hunt down all those unexpected leaks in your home’s fabric with a thermal imaging camera. Contact your local community recycling/sharing group to see if someone locally has one you can borrow or swap for something else.
Cleaning and laundry
1 Gentle lotion for cleaning wood or delicate surfaces made from elderflowers: pick fresh elderflowers and bruise with a pestle and mortar. Pour over boiling water and leave to steep until the mixture is cool. Strain and add one part white wine vinegar to every two parts of elderflower water. Bottle in clean jars.
2 Sweet-scented bags, folded into washing as it dries in the airing cupboard help add freshness to the laundry.” Eight measures each of crushed coriander seed and powdered orris root; one measure each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; three measures of dried lavender and a cotton wool ball soaked in geranium or rose essential oil. Fill small cotton or muslin bags (ideally from fabric remnants) with the mixture and sew up carefully.
3 Home-made beeswax wood polish: melt together beeswax, soya wax and a little white wine vinegar; stir in briskly a handful of soap flakes and a small cup of boiling water to create an emulsion. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. When it cools, it should be a creamy consistency. Keeps a long time in a screw-top jar and, with plenty of elbow grease, and a duster, buffs wood up to a mellow shine.
4 “Eco-cloths” – Many cleaning product manufacturers now make these finely woven cloths; the weft is so dense that the fibres literally eat up dirt from smooth surfaces, obviating the need for expensive chemical cleaners. A drop of water and plenty of elbow grease is all you require to polish glass, mirrors and porcelain tiles.
5 Dry your clothes outdoors all year round with a rotary washing line cover – no need for tumble driers and no damp clothes hanging on radiators.
Lighting and electricity
1 Switch from tungsten to the new generation of LED bulbs. The first of its kind to be recommended by the Energy Saving Trust, the ledon bulb, lasts 25,000 hours and uses 10 watts of electricity to produce the same light as a 60-watt tungsten bulb.
2 Replace your ordinary shower head with the Ecocamel “Jetstorm”: it aerates water droplets to provide a powerful shower using a fraction of the normal amount of water – and electricity needed to heat it.
3 Rather than use a light in dark corners, install a “sunpipe”. Light from the sun – or moon – is illuminated and magnified as it is piped to where it is needed through mirrored ducts, creating a soft, natural and surprisingly bright light.
4 Towel-dry hair rather than use an energy-guzzling hair drier.
Decorating and interiors
1 Organic wall paints are infinitely less damaging to the environment than vinyl ones. Any unused paint from decorating can be recycled into children’s playroom creations as they are safe to use. They also smell lovely – rather like playdough.
2 Next time you need to replace a pillow or duvet, go for a wool-filled one. Wool is making a welcome comeback and supports upland farmers. Organic wool mattresses not only help regulate body temperature but don’t contain harmful flame-retardant chemicals.
3 When cushion covers become more “shabby” than “chic” replace with fabric swatches or remnants from your local interiors shop – fashions in interiors fabrics change so quickly that those fabric swatch books rapidly become obsolete for designers – but provide perfect cushion-size squares of gorgeous fabric for you.
On Friday nights, most testosterone-driven high school guys head out to the football field to either put on the pads or chase after the girls in the stands. I went to turn a profit.
At 16 years old, I started my first business among the throngs of a community gathered on muggy summer nights to cheer on the home team. Cheering means one thing: yelling. And yelling means that people will have tired, sore, dry throats.
For the penny pinchers unwilling to spend concession stand prices for their carbonated relief, the school had conveniently provided a pop machine in the stadium that would deliver an ice-cold can of heaven for 50 cents.
This pop machine had a particular quirk that lent itself fantastically to my young entrepreneurial spirit: it stubbornly required exact change.
A lot has changed since 1998, but one thing hasn’t: nobody carries exact change. I set up shop beside that beautiful, glowing, humming machine and offered people exactly what they needed: exact change.
For a small fee to compensate my kindness and service, I’d sell them two quarters. Because they needed to soak their thirst, they’d gladly give me one dollar and I’d kindly give them two quarters, easily turning a $10 profit each home game.
It wasn’t much of a payday, granted, but I learned five invaluable lessons from that pop machine that helped me build the two successful businesses that I’m running today.
Lesson #1: Be Necessary
If I’d sold can-koozies at the game, I have a hunch that I would have had far less success. Why? Because people needed a cold drink, not a holder for one. In my experience, I’ve learned that there are two types of business ideas: 1) “It would be nice if” ideas, and 2) ideas that make necessary things better.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to figure out if you have an “it would be nice if” idea or one that makes necessary things better:
▪ Does this help someone do a necessary action more easily? Does it make someone’s job, responsibility, or task less of a pain in the neck?
▪ Does this idea save someone money? What about time? Will the idea provide a way for people to do something more efficiently?
▪ Is this idea a game changer? Does the idea change the way that people behave, operate, or think? Will this idea revolutionize an industry? How?
If you can’t answer yes to at least one of these three questions, you have an “it would be nice if” idea on your hands. Proceed with caution.
Lesson #2: Do Something You Know Something About
Over the years, I’ve had hundreds of seemingly great ideas for a moneymaking business. Some of those ideas have since been discovered and turned into great profit by someone else. I should be bitter, right? I’m not. Here’s why:
I wasn’t the right man to lead the companies that would be birthed from those ideas.
Over the last two years, I have raised over $1 million in investment capital for my technology start-up. All that nerve-conquering, sweat, presenting, and hustle served to teach me an invaluable lesson: the leader’s story (read: your story) matters.
Your background, experience, and education must align with the business that you are creating. Your business must be a part of you. I was able to raise the necessary capital for my start-up because I spent seven years preparing myself. Before building a digital marketing software product, I built a digital marketing agency. That means that I prepared myself to be the one person capable of executing my new business model.
Everyone has ideas. Successful people aren’t measured by the amount of ideas they have, but by their ability to execute a chosen few.
Lesson #3: Resolve Is Your Biggest Asset
Despite anything that you’ve heard or seen on TV, starting your own business isn’t very glamorous. It’s a grind that involves obsessive dedication and an unrelenting amount of effort and resolve.
It took five years for my digital marketing agency to fit into the “successful” label. I wanted to quit every single year before that. There were too many hurdles, too many unknowns, too many obstacles for the company to thrive. Many late nights, I laid awake justifying walking away from it all.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stuck it out. Here’s the lesson: Your resolve is the real “X” factor for your business.
Every start-up will encounter obstacles that will threaten to shut it down. Every beginning business will face seemingly insurmountable odds. Getting your idea off the ground will require your weekdays, weeknights, and weekends. There’s no getting around any of that.
To be successful, you must be resolved.
If you’re launching out to start your own business, you must be able to answer one question without a hint of hesitation: are you prepared to fight? Will you be willing to stick to the plan even if it seems that it’s failing? Are you willing to make the sacrifices today that might pan out in 5 or 10 years?
Building a successful business from the ground up requires the resolve of Leonidas and the patience of Mother Teresa.
Lesson #4: Doing Something Awesome Requires an Awesome Amount of Side Hustle
When I started my first business (which failed), I had enough cash in the bank to support myself for six months. Young, and without the wisdom of the side-hustle approach, I promptly quit my full-time job and dove into the shallow end of the pool head first.
Two years later, I was renting a bedroom in a friend’s house for $200 a month, driving a downgraded car, eating off dollar menus, and living on a salary that brought in less than $1,000 a month.
I could have saved years of my life if I started growing my business while staying employed somewhere else. If you’re toeing the line and thinking of starting a new business, consider keeping your current job. You’ll keep your income and benefits, which will help you to make more level-headed decisions about your start-up and its future.
There should be one important caveat here: If you’re side hustling, don’t cheat hours on the clock. Your priority is your current job, and a man with integrity takes that responsibility seriously. Respect the person who took a risk to hire you, keep producing at your desk, and be a valuable contributor to your current company.
Once you get your start-up off the ground, you’ll expect the same from your employees.
Lesson #5: Ideas Are Cheap, Execution Isn’t
I once had a friend approach me about a business idea that he was ready to set into motion. He wanted to build a company that would rent high-quality packing/moving crates in order to keep people from buying (and, more importantly, throwing away) boxes when they had to move. Letting him work through his business model and pricing structure, I noticed an unfortunate flaw: to make any real money off the company, he’d need to have several thousand boxes in circulation. Per week.
It’s unbelievable how the excitement of an idea can cloud our senses of judgment. It happened to me. And it happened to my friend above, who, despite my caution, dove into the shallow end of the pool head first and quickly realized there was no water.
No matter how great the idea, the numbers must add up if you’re going to be successful. Work through your overhead costs and schematics. Factor in your salary and the costs of your production. Know up front how many sales you’ll need to consistently make (and maintain) in order to turn a profit. You’re starting a business, after all, not a hobby.
The old adage holds true: You must do the math.
One Final Word
There’s one final lesson that the soda machine taught me during those humid summer nights: most people are addicted to convenience. That’s what helped me get away with charging a dollar for two quarters. Sure, I was saving them money because my product was cheaper than the concession stand, but I was also saving them time.
A lot of people will talk about starting a business and day-dream about being their own boss. Very few people will actually take the leap and invest the time. And a ridiculously small amount will actually see their dreams come to life.
That’s because building your own business isn’t convenient.
You’ll be misunderstood and frustrated along the way. While your friends are busy buying nice cars and going away on fancy vacations, you’ll be pinching pennies to pay the bills and staying up late to answer emails. There are times that you’ll feel isolated and a bit foolish, and will be close to giving up and walking away from it all. When you have these moments, remember this quote, which I used to keep on my bathroom mirror and read to myself every morning: Plant those seeds and hang in there. It’s worth every second.
By Justin Spring