Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, August 29, 2016

"3 extreme ways to go green"/ Old man helps single mom of 4

Jun. 17 2016 "3 extreme ways to go green": This is an article I got from Professional Writing.  It was in my Basic HTML class where we were to create a website about saving the environment:

This article was written by Maggie Koerth-Baker, and appears in the March-April 2008 issue of mental floss magazine.

Recycle, schmecycle. These days, saving the Earth requires a lot more than just collecting cans.

1. Build Your House Out of Tires

Two decades ago, architect Michael Reynolds realized that a tree-hugging utopia would never be possible if homes weren't inexpensive, easy to build, and environmentally friendly. His solution? The Earthship.
Earthships are built out of used tires that have been packed with dirt and then stacked in a brick-style pattern. Construction is almost obscenely simple, though time-consuming. It can take as long as half an hour to properly pack each tire. But what you lose in free time, you make up for in energy savings.
Earthship walls absorb heat quickly and release it slowly, allowing the houses to maintain a natural temperature of around 60 degrees. They also use filtration systems to collect and recycle water so that, even in desert conditions, it doesn't need to be pumped in. [Images courtesy of Nicaragua Real Estate News.]

While living in an Earthship may take more work than living in a split-level in the suburbs, the eco-friendly homes have become surprisingly popular. Several Earthship subdivisions have opened up in the past few years, including the Greater World Earthship Community near Taos, New Mexico, which was founded in 1994. Greater World residents build their own homes and, in an interesting twist on subdivision bylaws, are expressly forbidden from hooking up to public utilities or digging wells on their land. Here are photos of a few Greater World Earthships:
[Images courtesy of]

2. Fight Oil Spills with Mushrooms

In the war against ocean pollution, environmentalists have a new ally in mushrooms. As nature's morticians, mushrooms have the unique ability to take dead things and make them pretty again by turning decomposed matter into nutrients. In fact, they're so adept at tearing down and rebuilding chemical compounds that even oil spills are no match for their natural abilities.
In November 2007, when an oil tanker sprang a leak in San Francisco Bay, 58,000 gallons of oil seeped into the water and beaches. A group of local activists decided to take the cleanup into their own hands, using a technique originally developed to dispose of used motor oil. They headed for the shore and laid out mats made of human hair that were covered in oyster mushrooms. The hair quickly soaked up all the oil, while the mushrooms digested the dangerous chemicals. Within 12 weeks, only harmless compost remained. Although technically illegal (the EPA and the Coast Guard prefer leaving toxic waste to trained cleaning squads), the hair-and-mushroom technique was a success.
Actually, the process is so simple and cost-effective that grassroots organizations and local governments are encouraging federal officials to use it as a way to clean up contaminated soil on old factory sites and hurricane-damaged areas of New Orleans.

3. Dumpster-Dive for Dinner

Once upon a time, environmental idealists could make a statement simply by giving up steak. But today the ante has been upped.
And freeganism has answered the call.

As the name suggests, freeganism is an off-shoot of veganism, meaning that most practitioners avoid all products made from animals. But the "free" part refers to how freegans get their victuals. Method No. 1? Digging through the dumpster.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans pitch 245 million tons of waste a year, much of which is salvageable. In addition to unfashionable furniture and clothes, plenty of edible food ends up in the garbage. According to unofficial freegan spokesman Adam Weissman, that waste is directly tied to capitalism, which freegans see as an oppressive economic system. To avoid contributing to it, they become scavengers—collecting the vast majority of what they eat, wear, and use from other people's garbage. Often, these "urban foragers" will meet in designated locations at designated times to rummage together in a group, typically focusing on dumpsters behind retailers, offices, schools, and other places of high-volume disposal.
It's not as beggarly as you might imagine. Most freegans aren't homeless, and many of them have 9-to-5 jobs. They eat pretty well, chowing down on practically fresh veggies, day-old bread, and canned goods. Food poisoning is a risk, but smart freegans know to skirt bacteria-prone produce and avoid canned goods that are bulging or oozing. They're also big on community involvement. Veteran freegans train newbies in dumpster-diving technique and foraging for wild plants. They also organize "freemarkets," where goods and services are given away or bartered instead of sold. In fact, many trade goods via a Web site called, and the community even has its own section on Craigslist.
food-not-bombs.jpg Additionally, freegan-run organizations like Food Not Bombs (FNB) reclaim food to cook hot meals for the homeless. Using items that are either donated to them by stores or recovered from the trash, FNB members set up public stations to feed anyone who requests a meal. With chapters in more than 200 cities across the globe, the organization is slowly trying to prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch. [Images courtesy of Emo.ware.]

My opinion: I like freeganism the best, because it doesn't cost money.  However, if you aren't as extreme, you can go to Value Village or garage sales to get second- hand times where you don't have to put as much effort into going through dumpsters trying to find clothes and furniture.

Jul. 17, 2016 "Blind ambition drives Taylors": I read this article by  Bill Broulx in the Edmonton Journal.  It was about Lowell and Julie Taylors.  Lowell is legally blind, but he is competing in The Amazing Race Canada.  I don't watch the show, but I found in inspirational because he and his wife Julie are overcoming this disability.  Here is something from

Julie and Lowell are an enthusiastic and dynamic couple who persevere through obstacles every day. Lowell suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and is legally blind. He has no peripheral vision, reduced central vision, and no vision in low light. Lowell has adjusted to decreasing sight his entire life, and has found passion in sports. He is currently training for Para-Triathlon and Para-Cycling (road and track) events with a dream to compete in the Paralympic Games. His Paralympic dream is just one way his inspiring optimism, humour, and determination have turned tough times into positive experiences.
Julie and Lowell work tremendously well as a team. Julie has been by Lowell’s side every step of the way as he faces challenges to his independence. And Lowell’s emotional/mental strength and unending patience has been their stronghold as they raise two young boys together.

This loving pair wants to run "The Amazing Race Canada" before Lowell’s sight decreases further, and hopes to inspire their sons as well as those with physical limitations. “I want to honour my grandfather who suffered from the same eye condition. He was blind by age 40, but continued farming till his 80s… decades after he completely lost his sight,” says Lowell. Julie and Lowell would use their winnings to acquire proper equipment and training for Lowell’s Paralympic Games dream, fund eye treatments to help slow the progression of his condition, and travel with their kids before Lowell goes fully blind.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Abbi Ruicker married her high school sweetheart Swift Myers in an Oklahoma hospital on Sunday.

The 18-year-old newlyweds tied the knot at the
Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis in Tulsa after two years of dating – and only two days after Swift proposed. Swift has been battling Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of cancerous tumor that forms in bone or soft tissue, for seven years.

“His entire family was in the hospital room and he said, ‘Will you marry me? Will you be my wife?’ ” Abbi tells PEOPLE. “At first, I laughed because he’s always playing around, saying he wants to marry me.”

But when Swift asked if he could call her father to ask for permission, she knew her “best friend” wasn’t joking this time.

My opinion:

Cop in a bikini takes down pickpocket: I read about it in the Edmonton Journal, but I found this on Yahoo:

A pickpocket made the unwise decision to try to steal from a group of off-duty police officers, and the result was brilliantly captured in a viral Instagram picture shared by the Swedish police officer Mikaela Kellner, who tackled the rogue in her bikini.

Aug. 1, 2016 "Buoy meets world": I found this article by Wency Leung today about floating spas and how it helps people physically and mentally.  I thought of The Simpsons ep where Lisa and Homer enter into one.  The Simpsons have been on for so long that they make fun of everything.  Here's an excerpt:

He felt like the world’s smallest six-foot, nine-inch-tall man. In 1987 at the age of 20, Brent Giroux was on his motorbike when a truck struck him and drove its front wheels on top of him. The near-fatal collision left him with severe head trauma and in chronic pain, particularly in his back and knees. His brain injury seriously hindered his memory, dampened his mood and shattered his self-esteem.

“I couldn’t talk to anybody. Why would anybody want to talk to me? I’m a nobody,” he says.

For decades, he struggled to get his life in order and suffered thoughts of suicide. His stutter, which he had before the crash, became much worse.
Then, around 2010, after an acquaintance suggested he start up a flotation therapy business, Giroux tested the effects of floating for himself. He visited a Toronto chiropractor who had a flotation pod and immersed himself in the large, dark tank filled with water containing a high concentration of Epsom salt. As he drifted in the somewhat chilly liquid, Giroux found himself feeling as though he were awake, yet dreaming.

“I recall thinking, ‘Okay, where am I? I’m in a big vat of … hmm … Jell-O.’ That’s what it felt like. You lose track of where you are,” he says.
After an hour-long session, he says he left the chiropractor’s third-floor office with his interest piqued, feeling relaxed and pain-free for the first time in decades. “I recall walking down he stairs very slowly, going, ‘Ooh, what’s going on?’” he says. “Pain was like breathing for me. Being pain-free was like, ‘Whoa, what the hell? This is weird.’”

Giroux, who opened a flotation clinic in Sudbury, Ont. four years ago, credits regular flotation therapy for alleviating his pain, lowering his stress, boosting his mood, restoring his self-confidence and reducing his stutter.

Old man helps single mom of 4:

“An older gentleman (he was 74) with a cane and a bad limp was on the other side of that knock. I opened the door. He handed me a plate of chicken strips and biscuits from the deli and bottles of water. ‘Feed those babies and your self young lady. I have a tow truck on the way and my wife will be here shortly to take y'all home.’“

After delivering on his promises, the man returned the next day with a mechanic to help fix her car. 
“When I asked what I owed the mechanic and if I could make payments he smiled telling me the older man had paid for all of it. He said that the only payment the older man wanted was for me to never give up and keep being an amazing mom.”

At this point the older man had already left and Nelson wasn’t able to thank him personally. 
“Without knowing us or our situation this kind man helped us in ways he will never know.”
"I’ll never be able to thank him. But I certainly hope one day I can do what he did for me for someone else.”

Les48 minutes ago
In my years as a chef, I have seen a lot of things happen but, the one thing I will never forget is when one of my serving staff came into the kitchen and asked me to come to the dining room door for a minute. What I saw there was a family of five – father, mother and three young boys – trying to figure the cheapest way to celebrate the oldest one’s birthday. The restaurant I operated at the time was a ‘middle of the road’ family style like a Denny’s without the formula and I thought that my prices were really good.

Watching this family try to find a way to feed everyone and not break the budget was disturbing to say the least and more alarming, was the fact that I could identify with their plight due to my upbringing. I am the eldest of ten kids and we often lived from hand to mouth over the last week of each month. My father was a federal government employee when they earned a living that would maybe support a family of four. We often had hamburger, liver or some other cheap dinner many times. Breakfast was invariably oatmeal, cream of wheat or cornmeal grits.

Due to this all of us kids were obese to the detriment of our health. You can’t fill up on useless calories and stay healthy. We ate a lot of starches like potatoes, rice and yams. I learned that my mother had at least thirty recipes for ground meats, especially beef. She made her own bread because the cost of store-bought bread to feed all of us was just over $2.00. That would get us three loaves and they would last for four meals max. That $2.00 was better spent on bus fare for school or on a little extra for the soup pot.

Seeing that family, I made a decision. I told my servers to let them order what they wanted and it was on the house because of the lad’s birthday. They made it sound like a house rule, and we got away with it. I know that a lot of people have pride and will refuse what they consider ‘charity’ but, if I was in that situation, my pride would NOT let my kids starve or go without and I raised nine.

My opinion: This person seems generous and all.  However, I am mildly annoyed that this family is going out to eat, when they seem to be struggling on a budget.  I know you want to celebrate your kid's birthday, but can it be cheaper?  How much for cake?  $30?  Or buy 1 slice just for him.
  • T
    The Truth
    The Truth39 minutes ago
    Hard lessons to learn to soften your heart for others days to help. Some of the richest in Canada & USA never help expect for tax deduction

My opinion: At least some people are donating money even if it's for a tax deduction.

Aug. 15, 2016: Here is an article that's sad, but with an uplifting ending.

  • Aug. 17, 2016 The age to cheat: It was 39.

  • My week:

    Aug. 22, 2016 "Say what? Mongolian coaches strip their clothing in wrestling match protest":

    Yes, this is a real thing.  Mongolia’s Ganzorigiin Mandakhnaran has some pretty passionate coaches. Following a decision by the judges, his coaches stormed onto the mat and stripped their clothing in protest. Because yes, that will solve everything. See the photos above.

    Here are some funny comments:

    spaz_td 8 hours ago                                          
    I feel bad for the athlete. He realized he screwed up and accepted it. Even congratulated the Uzbekistan winner while his coaches were being fools.

    Gerald 6 hours ago   
    Dramatic, as they will probably be shot upon their return home so they had to make it look good.                    

    Chhaya 4 hours ago                                          
    i hope women coaches do the same for women's teams.    

    My opinion: My first thought was: "This has been done before in the movie Juwanna Man where the basketball player Jamal started stripping off his clothes and was then led off the court."

    Aug. 24, 2016 Lou Pearlman's death: He is a music executive/ fraudster who created Backstreet Boys and Nsync among other bands.  He died at 62.  I found out about it yesterday "Svengali of boy bands went to prison for Ponzi scheme" by Liam Stack in the Globe and Mail.  This part in the article stood out to me:

    Another part:

    Almost all the musicians he worked with were young men, and some accused him of sexual impropriety. Rich Cronin, a singer in LFO, told Vanity Fair magazine in 2007 that Mr. Pearlman was “always grabbing” the young men he worked with. “Honestly, I don’t think Lou ever thought we would become stars,” Mr. Cronin said. “I just think he wanted cute guys around him; this was all an excuse. And then lightning crazily struck, and an empire was created. It was all dumb luck.”

    I wrote about him before in the American Greed part in a 2012 post.  It also mentioned some sexual misconduct.

    In his 2014 interview with Billboard, he insisted that he could have paid back the people he defrauded if the federal authorities had only allowed him to start auditioning singers, even from behind bars.

“If I was given a chance to put another band together, that would have paid everybody back,” he said.

My opinion: He created Backstreet Boys, Nsync, O-town, LFO, Take 5, and C Note.  This is off the top of my head. He didn't need to make any more boy bands.

Aug. 25, 2016 Ashley Madison fake security awards:

"It’s never a good sign when a website markets itself with a phony security award. But that’s what Ashley Madison did prior to last year’s massive data breach."

My opinion: I thought it was bad, but then again this website is about infidelity and lying.  My expectations of this website and brand are so low, that the company making up fake security awards doesn't really matter.

"Your stay in SoHo helps fight poverty": I found this article by Ann Hui in the Globe and Mail yesterday:

In an increasingly crowded hospitality market (see: Airbnb), 11 Howard looks to set itself apart with its motto of “conscious hospitality.” The hotel donates a portion of its revenue from each stay to the Global Poverty Project: a non-profit aimed at reducing extreme poverty. Meanwhile, the 150-foot mural along the side of the building was a partnership between the hotel and student artists with the public art organization Groundswell, under the mentorship of artist Jeff Koons.

The building at 11 Howard St. in Manhattan’s SoHo district has lived many lives. First, it was a post office. More recently, it was a Holiday Inn. A few years ago, developer Aby Rosen (who owned and relaunched the Gramercy Park Hotel) purchased the building, and hired Copenhagen-based designers to renovate the entire space into a new 221-room hotel that’s also a temple of Danish modern design.

New York hotel 11 Howard lets you stay in SoHo while helping the poor


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