Tag Archives: Zdena

Mooncup

28 Oct

I have found another way how to reduce my carbon footprints, to save money and apparently my health, too. A menstrual cup.

I did hear about it years ago from a friend of mine, but I wasn’t ready for it then. I pretty much imagined that a glass of red wine would be out of question forever and ever. But then I learnt about the problems tampons can cause, such as toxic shock syndrome, dryness, irritation, pelvic inflammatory disease, even cervical cancer and about their impact on environment and I was prepared for the sacrifice. Guess what, I still enjoy my red wine as much as before! Of course, silly. Online reading proved to me that I wasn’t the only one with gory stories never to be told, that it was the part of the learning process, so be it. Have you learnt anything without pain, effort and persistence? I didn’t.

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The initial cost may be quite a shock but when you consider that for 10 years you won’t need to buy a new one and do your calculations on how much the tampons and pads would cost you in that period of time, then it comes rather cheaply. And what’s more, you won’t be filling the landfill! The statistics say that ’20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills annually’ alone. I believe The Mother will be more than grateful to us if we all choose reusable essentials.

I did learn to use this tiny silicone item in the end. I persisted in the name of eco/nom/log/y and I do love it as much as other women who have tried and used it and shared their stories on the forums and blogs. Some admitted that tampons weren’t the best option for them, causing them the pain, some were complaining about the discomfort and hygiene problems but all of them agreed that menstrual cup was the best solution. I am one of them. Will you care to join us?

About the writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema

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Bad seed

30 Sep

Imagine the taste of the freshly picked tomato. Or a strawberry. Or a bean. The richness, the smell! Now imagine that having them would be illegal. I’m not kidding. I wish I was talking sci-fi, but there is a company, Monsanto that is trying to make that happen. The multinational that is producing genetically modified seed (GMO) and weed killer called Roundup.

At the moment, they are trying to ban the labelling of all genetically modified food around the world. Why? Because people are aware that it’s good for nothing and prefer to eat organic. Well, the company knows the truth as much as the people who have already had the opportunity to try it.

Watch Genetic Roulette, the documentary in which mothers, paediatricians, immunologists, dieticians, farmers and scientists share their experience. None of them have anything good to say about GMO. We learn that since GMO was introduced in the US in 1996, the stomach inflammation induced illnesses have been escalating. The inflammation may cause cancer, kidney disease, digestive disorders, diabetes, thyroid disease, allergies, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disease and/or heart attacks. Since then, there have been more children born with autism than ever.

The stories of the farmers around the world are scary too. They talk about the cattle, normally docile, but after fed GMO, start to become agitated and irritated, their stomachs blow up and then they  die.

Alarming messages came from the areas sprayed with Roundup. There was 70x increase in birth defects, miscarriages and infertility in cattle as well as people.

In 0:50:56, we see the back of the seed packaging. ‘DANGER’ is followed with the list of warnings (and the list seems not to be exhausted): ‘keep out of reach of children, do not use for food, feed or oil processing purpose, treated seed exposed on soil surface may be hazardous to birds’ – and those are the seeds that we will eventually eat! I cannot imagine that anything wholesome can grow out of them. How can we not be alarmed? I wonder if the company dares to eat their own invention.

What’s more, the philanthropist Monsanto took their expensive patented Bt cotton to one of the poorest countries in the world, India, whose income is cotton dependant. People believed that the seed would make them rich. Sawing it with their bare hands, they developed flu-like symptoms, allergies, rashes, itching. Their cattle, for centuries grazing on the crops suddenly got sick in thousands and died. Another blow was the unreliability of the seed. Instead of doubling their yielding, they lost their income but nevertheless, they were forced to pay high interest, which they could not afford. Their solution was suicide. Three quarters of all suicide cases in India in recent years were the Bt farmers.

In South Africa, they grew GMO corn for their domestic animals. They developed problems with milk production and reproduction and their life spam was shortened. Animals suffered from diarrhoea, infertility and respiratory problems. They even became cannibalistic. And they died.

Corn is a staple food in Africa. Eating GMO corn brought the upper respiratory problems, flu-like symptoms, running noses, severe headaches, and eyes of the people didn’t track.

GMO has had the same impact in Argentina.

Monsanto’s website claims that their aspirations are purely humanitarian. They are here to feed the world when in fact, all they want is to take over the food production. Shall we talk terminator seed? ”If you control the food supply, you control the people”, said Henry Kissinger. And make millions, Monsanto adds. The fairytale as sweet as honey is their commitment to sustainable agriculture, human rights, providing support to research, funding educational projects, working with governments, when the truth is that their ‘working with governments’ is lobbying to get what they want. ‘Support to research’ means buying universities so only information supporting their case can get out. The scientists who dare to speak out against are penalised, ridiculed and sacked. From 1:00:04 of the documentary we learn what happened to the scientists like Dr. Shiv Chopra, Dr. Arpad Pusztai. Dr. Andres Carrasco, Ignacio Chapela, PhD, Irina Ermakova, PhD, Terje Traavik, PhD.

They refuse us the right to information, freedom of choice, democracy, nutritional healthy food, so any talk about human rights, honesty, ethical behaviour and respect is more than hypocritical.

GMO-funders

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They claim they want to feed the world. Yes, the world is hungry, but because food is being destroyed instead of delivered. Well, there are other factors for it, too, of course. Apparently, we can’t afford to distribute it. My reasoning is: if  we stopped putting money in advertisement, lobby and war, then we would definitely be able to feed the world.

If you feel that the activities of Monsanto don’t make sense and they should be stopped, there are petitions to sign as well as the world-wide (in several cities around the UK as well) March against Monsanto on 12th October that you are welcome to join.

About the Writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.

How much pain does my new T-shirt cost?

11 Sep

One would like to think that slavery is the reality of the past. Well, the term itself may be dated but  slavery definitely still exists. The slaves used to build roads and pyramids, work on cotton fields, while today they build iPhones, make clothes and whatnot. No one would dare to call them slaves though, it is much too harsh a term and in the days of political correctness, definitely forbidden. The modern slaves are simply called workers. Workers who work anything from 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Children workers. Domestic slaves. Victorian era all over again. Paid starvation wages, they are not able to feed their families, let alone buy the products they make. They are beaten, bullied, forbidden to go to the loo when they need. The people behind the labels such as ‘Made in China’.

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image by Zdena

Let’s talk about Tian Yu. A seventeen year old girl was producing iPhones and iPads. For a month, she was working 12 hours long shifts, 6 days a week and still, she was not paid because of some administrative mistake. Her monthly salary was £140. She jumped from the fourth floor of the dormitory where she lived but survived, half paralysed.

Surely, the company with trillions of dollars revenue would be able to pay what they owned her.

Let’s talk about Julie. She bought a Halloween decoration from Kmart inside of which was a letter from the labour camp pleading for help. A person who wrote it said they worked 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, making $ 1.61 a month. They were tortured, bullied and beaten.

Sears Holdings, the owner of Kmart, told The New York Times that an internal investigation prompted by the letter found “no violations of company rules that bar the use of forced labor.”
Let’s talk about Amazon. It doesn’t pay taxes, why should it, it creates jobs after all. Call me a stupid crazy anti-corporatist hippie who doesn’t understand the way Economics work; but I work, make money, pay taxes. Even The Queen pays taxes. Amazon is a business, makes huge profits, pays meagre taxes after being found out.

I am not happy with this division of responsibilities for the world’s economic progress.

Corporations take their factories to the poorest countries of the world to save on overheads. They took away the jobs that we would really appreciate, especially in today’s economic climate. Instead, they lock the workers in the production lines and after they squeeze more than there is to squeeze out of them, they move their sweatshops somewhere else, somewhere fresh, leaving the people worse off than they were before, treating some other poor nation as if the human rights did not apply to them. And claim ignorance, they are good at it. Meanwhile, we are stupefied with trash. Somebody makes sure that we don’t question where the bling bling comes from, who produces it, in what conditions and for what pay. The sheep needs cheap (or not so cheap) sh*t. How else could you define the advertisements, if not as propaganda.

Let’s see in these the short videos how the workers are treated. In Amazon, the workers are on zero-hours contracts, with every minute of their working time monitored. Disney pays pittance, in Bangladesh, people work in horrific conditions, as young as 12 years of age, dying in flames when producing x, y, z for Walmart who here operates as Asda. Walmart is not the only one.

Does this knowledge make it immoral to buy the newest whatever? Who is guilty? The profit greedy corporations? Us, the commoners entrapped in consumerism? Can we stop slavery? I hope we can. It’s people like us, the women, the girls who work there. Help support the organisations, such as Clean Clothes Campaign and Sumofus who try to improve conditions of the workers. Let’s make sure that we learn about the poverty from Dickens’ novels only and not from news and documents. My small contribution to the collapse of this oppressive regime is educating myself on the problem, boycotting the guilty parties (I have cancelled my Amazon account for example), spreading the word, joining the campaigns. If I have to shop, I spend my money in charity shops.

If you have more ideas on how to try to make this world a fairer place, please, share them with me. I would be grateful.

About the Writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.

Spišský Hrad

31 Jul

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Just around the corner from my home city, there is one of the biggest castles in Central Europe. We came here often on family trips. I was always pretending to be a princess. Slowly and gracefully, I would descend the spiral staircase as if from my room in the tower, wearing a lovely dress. I saw myself entering a huge dining room where the feast had been holding a place. Fires, candles, the dogs lying in front of the fireplaces, jumping up as soon as I entered, happy to see me. The musicians playing, people dancing. I could have been a knight as well, but I chose to be a princess.

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The castle has been lying in ruins since the fire in the late 18th Century but it is still lovely to walk up there, have a look around, contemplate what the life must have been like during its famous period.

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After the visit to the castle you can walk to the Chapter of Spiš (Spišská Kapitula) to breath in the atmosphere of ecclesiastic town.

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St Martin’s Cathedral

If you would like to try Slovakian specialities in a lovely rustic place, definitely try the restaurant Spišský salaš.

PS: Read ‘š’ as ‘sh’ and ‘á’, ‘ý’ prolonged.

About the Writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.

A Piece Of Cake

26 Jun

I promised myself to cook more and maybe even start baking. At the end of the day, it is a creative outlet with great tangible results.

There is the chestnut and orange roulade cooling down in the kitchen at the moment, the one that I promised myself to make about three weeks ago. Every week I would buy oranges and then eat them. But I decided I was using the last one for the roulade. And still, I just couldn’t make myself do it. I had a perfect excuse – I do not own all necessary equipment, such as a mixer – the most useful tool for baking. Imagine all that physical work involved in mixing ingredients by hand, I am not a slave!

But during my yet another sleepless night, lying in bed, I started comparing the old times with today’s. All those household electrical, noise making appliances were invented to make our lives easier. As if there was nothing better than to wake up to the neighbour’s mowing their lawn at 8.30 on Saturday morning! Nothing better to do? A lie-in, no? But I want a lie-in!!!

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I made a loaf of bread. Yummy, but what a hard work! All that kneading, my poor spaghetti arms hurt after like after three minute plank. The women of the past, I bow down to you. I guess, working in the kitchen then was comparable to building a house. And I am exaggerating just a tiny bit.

That must have been a great lifestyle; getting an exercise while making something useful. And today? The supermarket’s aisles are full of ready made meals, so all those beautiful appliances are doomed to be used by only a few the chosen ones, those who have time on their hands, housewives without a proper job, those who don’t work hard enough to make money. People with ‘alternative’ lifestyles. Because only workoholism counts for mainstream.

So we do not have time to cook a proper dinner every night. After all, there are take-aways and ready meals to get us by, shovelling in our mouths, to be done with, moving to something else.

After work, we head to gym, because that is the only right place for exercising. Apparently, they even have screens that play images of the nature to make the run on the treadmill more interesting.

That reminds me of a date I had years ago. The first and the last one. He said he was at he gym basically every night. He would drive there although it was just twenty minutes away. He had to drive there because there was, ehm … a very steep hill on the way.

So me, refusing to ever step on the gym’s grounds, I decided I will make that cake without the mixer or the electrical whisk, like all good women before the electricity was invented. I put on a good energetic song (the only electricity that I used while baking) and was whisking away while dancing in the kitchen. Eggs and sugar proved to be quite easy but the egg whites! My mum taught me that unless you can put them over your head and they’ll stay in the bowl, keep whisking. But we had the lovely mechanical whisk with which you just had to turn the handle. That was a hard work, too.

So I whisked like crazy for two whole songs but it just wasn’t good enough, at least not according to my mother’s standards, her voice from long gone past still in my head. I sweated (my level of fitness is really below the zero) and it still wasn’t enough. My biceps hurt so bad that I had to give up. Hopefully, the cake will still be lovely and she will be proud of me.

So there is a piece of advice for these hard economic times – don’t go to gym, bake and knead like in the old times.

PS: The roulade is edible. 🙂

About the Writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.

Don’t call me a consumer

5 Jun

I was unemployed for a few months. Coming back from my big trip, full of ideas and enthusiasm, I was enjoying freedom for a while but then, feeling like a waste of space every time someone didn’t bother to answer to my plea for employment, I felt more and more into frustration. The low picture of self is good only for self-loathing, which is, as you can imagine, very unproductive. So instead of doing something worthwhile, I end up watching a TV programme that I used to like. I borrowed all 8 series from a friend of mine and fed myself morning, lunch and afternoon. As it is, it was an interesting experiment. Before I would see only a random episode here and there, just like homeopathy, but being overdosed, I’ll tell you what happened.

 

First two series I was so taken by beautiful people on the screen that I wanted to be like them. I kept thinking a lot about my hair and creating new outfits. Then I decided I needed some accessories. How could I live until now without a belt or hairpins or little scarf thingy? I didn’t get as far as doing my make-up because 66 episodes later my point of view changed. I realised what the show was doing to me. I was being brainwashed into being a consumer! Me, who lived in the campervan for a year, basically in one T-shirt and one pair of shorts! The same person who had in mind creating a masterpiece was suddenly turned into a self-obsessive person standing in front of the mirror and searching the Net for inspiration on how to look good. Ouch.

I think that all the time dedicated to improve the appearance takes away the valuable time that seems to be vanishing with each breath. Where does it go, I don’t know, suddenly I have wrinkles and grey hairs but I still remember how impatiently, at the age of 13, I was waiting to turn to be an adult. One blink, and my age more than doubled. One more blink, and I am dead. So, definitely, I need to prioritise. Will I create that masterpiece people will remember me by in 200 years or should I make a masterpiece of myself and enjoy the odes on me now?

 

That is one question sorted. They say the beauty comes from within but they still sell us thousands of beauty products for I don’t know what. I am not going to spend my valuable free time wandering the aisles of Boots to find out how far from ‘perfection’ I am.  I wash my hair regularly, I have a shower every day, I clean and cut my nails, I use a deodorant and perfume, sometimes even make-up. I feel comfortable in my body. Nobody can ever guess my age. What else can I want? I may be spending all my money on the clothes and cosmetics (which, it seems, doesn’t really work because the women who overuse them look older than they really are) or I can save up for the next looooong trip somewhere out there. I think I know what I’m choosing.

 

About the Writer: Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.

A Little Happy Girl

11 May

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom called The First World. Although its vassal’s thought of themselves as enlightened, the truth was they were selfish and cold hearted. They always wanted to look good and following the saying ‘Clothes make the Man’, they were buying expensive clothes made by the poor people in The Third World. They ignored the fact that those people were treated like slaves and they would not be able to buy a button of the shirt they made with their salaries even if they worked 19 hours a day, 7 days a week. Well, it is hard to think of someone far, far away if you are not considerate to people closer to you. And they weren’t. They would let their neighbours starve in the name of some abstract idea that made only a few of them rich.

They cared more for their pets. When they took the dogs for a walk, they didn’t bother to tidy up after them, even though they knew that children played in those parks even after their pets used them as toilets. They knew that dog’s poo could make the little ones ill with heartworms, roundworms, tapeworms or other diseases with weird names like parvo, corona, giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis or campylobacteriosis, which would cause the children who would put everything in their mouth because that was their way of learning fever, muscle aches, headaches, vomiting or diarrhoea. They wouldn’t collect the dog’s poo even from the streets, so as soon as one stepped out of their homes, they had to watch their step if they didn’t want their expensive shoes to be soiled. That was a part of a grand plan of the regime. If people were more concerned with mundane everydayness, they wouldn’t concentrate on evil doings of the economic top.

So the blindness wasn’t really people’s fault. They were programmed by the world’s leaders. The constant presence of TV screen served as a great channel to persuade commoners of what they needed in their lives, what was expected of them and most of all, the information that reached them was carefully censored so they would hardly learn about the slavery in The Third World, about the real goals of the major corporations and about the fact that they were being exploited. If they knew about it, they would get really mad. If the good people of the kingdom could get their hands on the book No Logo by Naomi Klein, they could wake up from their zombie-like sleep and see what was really happening around them.

Not everyone was brainwashed, especially the people who didn’t listen to the news. They were called the enemy of the state because they saw the truth. They understood the great evil that the regime represented and they were not afraid to stand up and march against it, boycott it and live lives free of consumerism.

One of them was a Little Happy Girl. She always tried to help the less fortunate, like that day, she helped to feed the hungry ones. She was feeling exhilarated. The day couldn’t have been better. It was an early spring, the grass was of fresh green colour, the trees were in buds, the air was warm. On her way home, she decided to cut through the park and enjoy the light breeze in her hair. There was a man with two little cute dogs on the leads. Both of them had diamond collars and white bows on the top of their heads. Their little legs made pitter-patter sounds. The man was holding the full poo bag.

‘What a fantastic day!’ the little girl thought to herself when suddenly, with an abrupt movement, the man tossed the bag into the bushes. The Little Happy Girl became furious. She was red in face and she was breathing heavily. The man must have felt her stare because he turned around to look at her. He could see the fury. In a few strides she was breathing words about the bins and the fines on his neck. He played blissful ignorance and the girl wished she could do something. At that moment she felt as if to feed the man from that bag he threw in the bushes but she knew she had to save her world in a peaceful manner. She understood she didn’t have superpowers to save the whole world because, anyway, there was too much to solve in her close proximity.

Later that day, after she calmed down and was able to think straight, she called the good people who knew what to do. They told her that she should never play a hero but to speak to a ranger or go to the nearest café who would call one. She would describe a perpetrator and they would find him and deal with him. They were trained to deal with the situation safely.

The Little Happy Girl felt a little bit more powerful, she wasn’t alone. She was happy again.

Zdena comes from Slovakia but has made Wales her second home, that is when she is not travelling, which she can’t live without. Two important things in her life are books and Scrabble and she also loves world cinema.