If you live in Oklahoma and are an ONG customer, there is an excellent rebate program you should know about.

I recently purchased a new gas dryer and it’s worth noting that “big box” stores like Home Depot or Lowes don’t typically have a wide selection of gas dryers in stock at the store. They’ll order it for you or you can do as I did and order it online. The rebate program hasn’t (in my opinion) been widely advertised. I recall it being mentioned on a TV news broadcast in fall of 2011, but I’d long since forgotten about it. When I ordered my dryer online, I was also applying for a line of credit and made an error during the application process. To correct this, we had to go to the store and they mentioned the rebate program to us. Never been so grateful for a mistake in my life! If I hadn’t gone to the store, I wouldn’t have been reminded of the rebate program.

The forms are downloadable at the Oklahoma Natural Gas website, where you’ll find listings for other rebates which include:
• Natural Gas Heating-System Checkup
• Heating-System
• Water Heater
There are also programs listed for new homes and contractors. Our dryer was a simple change-out because we were replacing an existing gas dryer. I was afraid that since my husband did the install himself, we might not get the full amount ($ 300.00) of rebate, but we did!! It took less than a week to get the check in the mail, which was a big surprise because the wait time was listed as 4 – 8 weeks. This is a great program, not to be missed if you’re shopping for new appliances. I grew up with natural gas dryers, heaters, stoves/ovens and water heaters. They are far superior to all electric appliances, in my opinion. If you’re building a new home or remodeling, you should seriously consider natural gas as a source of energy on these appliances, you won’t regret it. ONG is also offering rebates that apply to installation of gas pipeline to hook up the appliances. All worth checking into. The rebate program runs through 2012, or until funds are depleted, so don’t procrastinate! Get gas!!!

Written by Wendy Vancil for Karla Olson

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Jan

8

The deal With Wheels

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I watched my daughter sail off on her bike solo a few days ago. Her enthusiasm for it has been unmistakable since. What is the deal with wheels? I can’t imagine the excitement of that first human who made an idea into a functional rotating device; or the wild exhilaration that accompanied the cascade of inspirations for its use. What a rush that must have been! I imagine the same rush was experienced when the first brave soul took a ride on a wild pony. Until then man had been condemned to the limitations of our relatively puny body. Our success was not owed to our physical prowess, rather it was our mental flexibility. That mental flexibility armed us once again with the power of speed when we learned to used wheels and harness the power of animals. We still get a piece of that rush with our first ride on a tricycle or bike, roller skates, skateboards, and scooters – then that first car that eventually follows. Some still get to experience the thrill of riding animals. Although evolution pruned our physical abilities and replaced them with brain power, all was not lost after all.

Written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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Dec

30

spay spay spay!

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For the second time I managed to rescue a kitten from the jaws of my dogs. Fortunately this time I did it before it started being dismembered. The last one was beyond being a candidate for euthanasia by the time I got it. My dogs are not vicious, but when they encounter a cat outdoors it isn’t any different for them than if it was a possum or rat. This is no wonder, considering that feral cats are seemingly more common “wild animals” than most others. I see them slinking around in my pasture, darting across roads in front of me and occasionally making the mistake of approaching dog territory. No doubt that many of these cats are descendants of the sweet little kitties that people feed on their back porch. I get it; I feel bad for them too. However, when we encourage the survival of these outdoor half wild felines we are only contributing to the problem. These cats carry feline leukemia, ringworm (ask me how I know) and a host of other nasties that we don’t want spread around to us or our pets. A single female can, through the powers of compounding, create hundreds if not thousands of other cats!

The latest kitten escaped with only a broken tail. It was desperately malnourished and certainly would have suffered a torturous death just as most of its littermates probably will (or already have). I am at capacity when it comes to animal rescues and my saintly vet agreed to take it in. If it can’t find a home, he will euthanize it. Although it makes me sad to imagine such a sweet and friendly kitten could be euthanized, I am realistic and I wish others would be more so. Its alternative fate would have been much more cruel. Even if it had managed to survive, it would only become a kitten factory, cranking out more and more innocent beings; most of which would have short and miserable lives. When I decide to take on the responsibility of feeding a cat, I simultaneously sign a mental contract to be sure it cannot reproduce. When you spay or neuter a cat you are not only saving its life, but preventing the suffering of countless future ones.

Written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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Dec

6

Enough with the vaccine scare already!

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Many parents are concerned over vaccinating their children. While it is true that vaccines carry some risk just as all medications or interventions do, they are overwhelmingly safe in comparison to most! A little perspective is needed here! 1969 an estimated 2 million people died of smallpox, around 35% died and many were left with permanent damage including blindness. Small pox has now been officially eradicated! Yeah vaccines! Polio terrorized people since ancient times. It has now been eradicated in the industrialized world and efforts are underway to send it the same route as polio. The positive impact vaccines have made and continue to make are irrefutable with reason.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield was the self-absorbed glory seeking “genius” who started the vaccine scare and he is an admitted fraud. His work was immediately under fire for having no controls. The fact that press saw fit to spread this lie and the general public swallowed his “findings” is a perfect representation of the public ignorance and media blitz about what constitutes real science. In order to conclusively make connections between any drug and side effects, experiments have to be conducted very carefully to eliminate bias.

Never the less, organizations have latched on to the vaccine autism link and continue to harp on it. Digging for any possible anecdotal link to justify the position that they stubbornly refuse to let go of and using their “evidence” to continue to scare parents! Can’t they just admit that they were wrong and spend those resources on real research regarding autism? I am all for freedom of speech and the press, but I sometimes wonder if research purported to be of scientific merit should have to undergo a little more scrutiny before unleashing it on the unwary and generally scientifically illiterate public.

Written by Leah Havlik for Karla olson

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Nov

20

Incredible Cranberries!

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Cranberries are not just a great holiday tradition they are good for you too! They are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants and are a versatile and abundant food. My favorite cranberry recipe is as follows.


Ingredients:

2 cup chopped cranberries
½ and ¼ cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese
10 ounces “Simply Fruit” apricot preserves
1 pint heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:Simmer cranberries and ½ cup sugar on stovetop until tender (about 10 minutes). Stir in cream cheese, walnuts and apricot preserves stirring constantly until melted. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, whip 1 pint of heavy cream, ¼ cups sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Fold in to cranberry mix. Refrigerate until cold/set (overnight).

Written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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Nov

4

Alternatives

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Natural gas is one of the alternative fuels that I have been keeping my eye on. My husband installs gasoline storage and fuel systems and has seen an increase in natural gas powered fuel stations in the area that seem to be especially utilized by fleets. Obviously he has some interest in the market but it appears there is quite a monopoly on who gets to install these stations. Business monopolies and red tape regulations are big obstacles. Honda sells a CNG powered vehicle but all others are must be retrofitted.
I understand the purposes behind strict emission laws and the resultant legislation that restricts legal conversion kits and installers, but they can also present a problem. I think that the big fat cats get control over who gets the business by using legislation, and they funnel dollars, monopolize markets, and drive costs up for their own benefit. I think part of the problem lies in the catch 22 of hiring people knowledgeable enough to help develop appropriate regulations; they often still have ties to the businesses that the legislation they help enact impacts. They are not objective and can actually have serious conflicts of interest.
In addition there are environmental concerns with the finding and extraction of natural gas. Contaminated frack water is of serious concern. Water is used to force natural gas up out of the ground; often that water is contaminated and can make its way into ground water supplies.
Bio fuels such as ethanol can seem promising on the surface. Ethanol is made through fermentation of starches. I have a side hobby of making my own wine that I pursue intermittently and the process I use is essentially the same process used to make fuel for cars: sugars and yeast. Converting a car to ethanol has some of the same challenges as converting to natural gas. Just as with natural gas there are environmental problems to consider also. GreenCar.com says that one gallon of fossil fuels can make five gallons of ethanol, which sounds like a good deal. However, the damage to the environment through farming tactics and increased feed costs that trickle down to the grocery store (and my goat feed) are a little harder to quantify and assign a value to. It may take only one gallon of fossil fuel to make that five gallons of ethanol; but how many riparian areas are damaged through it production? How much soil is depleted in its production? How much persistent pesticide and herbicides contaminate our world because of it? These are all question that haven’t been sufficiently addressed in my book.
I fear that that alternative fuels are marketed with only the silver lining showing and are at risk of becoming just another tool to fill the pockets of big wigs, if they aren’t already. I also fear that they aren’t really going to save the environment they are simply going to damage it in other ways. We need to get it together and find safe and realistic alternatives that can go mainstream!

written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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Oct

29

Posted by karlaolson under Uncategorized


People have been devoting a portion of their income to gasoline expenses since they began driving cars. For most people, it proved impossible to resist the temptation to utilize the revolutionary transportation advantages that gasoline powered engines provided.

The industry surrounding cars has exploded as has the technology. What also exploded was our income levels. So what is the problem right?

According to fiftiesweb.com the average income in 1950 was $3,126.00 and the price of gas was about $ 0.20 per gallon; in 1950 the price of gas represented approximately .0064% of income.

According to 1980’sflashback.com, the median income in 1980 was $17,710 per year and the average price of gas was $1.25; representing about .0071 percent of income.

In 2011 the median income hovers around $40,000 and the price of gas is about $3.53 per gallon; representing about .0088 percent of our income.

The range in gasoline prices per gallon from 1950 to 2011 rose a very small percentage in comparison to our average income. Despite that, it seems that people really feel the pinch of transportation costs. While Income levels have risen tremendously in relation to gas prices over the past fifty years, another dramatic increase has occurred also: Our miles driven. The graph you see here provides an illustration of the difference.

According to the US department of energy, in 1950 the average miles driven per capita was about 3,017. In contrast the average amount of time behind the wheel in 2009 proved to be over three times that at 9,548.

Although the reasons for the dramatic increase in the amount of time we drive is probably due to many factors there are a few obvious culprits. Urban sprawl requires us to commute much further to work and school. In addition, Improved infrastructure and technology makes it much easier and more comfortable to go places. We may be feeling the pinch of gas prices but it is not because it is expenesive!

written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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Oct

24

Extra and Ordinary

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Water is both the most ordinary and extraordinary compound on earth. The abundance of water on the planet certainly makes it seem as if it is rather ordinary; perhaps it was this abundance that occurred by chance on a fledgling planet that stimulated so many processes and species to utilize it. One of the most important functions of water is hydrolysis; our bodies break down energy sources by the use of hydrolysis. Life as we know it wouldn’t be possible without water. A second extraordinary function of water is how it shapes the land. Erosion by flowing water and droplets spilling from the sky have a major part in painting the landscape of earth. It also has a huge impact on climate; precipitation levels are a big factor in every conceivable climate on earth. Water warrants status as extraordinary just because of the amazing kinds of life it supports in marine environments and the likelihood that the first oceans were the source of the microbes that have evolved into the amazingly complex organisms we see today.

Written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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Oct

17

Pumpkin Time!

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Pumpkin pie
Ingredients
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can Pumpkin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated Milk
Directions1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2.Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
3.Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Pumpkin soup
Ingredients
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
5 whole black peppercorns
Directions
1.Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, onion, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
2.Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender.
3.Return to pan, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

Pumpkin cake
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups white sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 10 inch bundt pan.
2.Cream oil, beaten eggs, pumpkin and vanilla together.
3.Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined. If desired, stir in some chopped nuts. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
4.Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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Oct

7

Different Perspectives

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Our view of the world, ourselves and our moral perceptions are primarily influence by the culture and beliefs we have been exposed to. Many people have not been exposed to the amazing range of beliefs and ways that people worship throughout the world; they remain adamant that they happen to be born into whatever belief system is “right”. This is felt as strongly by a Muslim or Hindu as it is by a Christian or Jew. From an objective perspective it is wise to at least be aware of other religions and tolerate them as much as we wish our own to be tolerated and respected by others. Here is a look at some world religions that may not be familiar.

HinduismHinduism is the major religion of India and Nepal. It is the third largest religion in the world with more than 750 million followers. It has many different gods which tend to be regarded as manifestations of one spirit. Certain natural places as well as animals are considered sacred, the most familiar of which is the cow and monkeys. They do not eat meat and believe that all animals have a soul and that after death it is born again into a new body. Hindus worship as individuals, often at a shrine in their home. The origin of the trendy practice of yoga is Hinduism

ConfucianismConfucianism began in china with the teachings of the man for which it is named. He didn’t set out to create a religion, but his teachings were so respected that he obtained followers. He taught that everything was composed of the forces of good and evil, known as yin and yang. Like most religions, one of its teachings echos The Golden Rule “never do to others what you would not like them to do to you”. He also taught that the government should care for its people the way a loving father would care for his family and that people should be kind to one another.

BuddhismA Hindu named Siddhartha, later known as Buddha, was inspired by the pain and suffering he saw around him and was the founder of Buddhism. He taught that suffering comes from a desire for “things” and that suffering would end if this desire ended. He believed that someone could end their suffering by following eight rules. The rules center around not harming others and learning to control your thoughts. The familiar word “nirvana” comes from Buddhism. Nirvana is achieved when one is released from all suffering. According to one legend, when Buddha was asked if he was a god, he replied that no, he was only “awake”; this reflects the idea that Buddhism is an awakening to the truth.

Written by Leah Havlik for Karla Olson

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