Monday, April 30, 2012

Space Weather?

On FEMA's preparedness website,, you'll find information about "typical" disasters like Tornadoes and Hurricanes and even some rare events like Volcanoes. But there is also a category for "Space Weather". What is that?

Our Sun has been very quiet for the past few decades but it has a history of extreme outbursts of solar flares. The strongest solar storm on record is the Carrington Event of 1859 which electrified telegraph lines, shocking technicians and setting their telegraph papers on fire. Northern Lights were visible as far south as Cuba and Hawaii. Another significant space weather event took place in 1989 which caused a power blackout in Canada that left six million people without electricity for nine hours. This flare also melted some power transformers in New Jersey.

More recently there was a flare-up in 1989 but NASA reports this was nowhere near the same scale as the Carrington event.

We have been very lucky in our digital age that there's been no massive solar storm. Imagine TVs and computers bursting into flame from power surges. The damage will be massive.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Make It Through

The state of Washington has launched a new preparedness website called "Make it Through" at  It begins with the traditional FEMA/Red Cross guidelines of "Make a Plan", and "Build a Kit" but changes the third step.  Instead of "Stay Informed" or "Get Involved", Washington state says, "Help Each Other".

The "Help Each Other" topic has three sub-points:
1. Get Involved (same as FEMA)
2. Participate in Training  (usually covered under "Get Involved"
3. Work Together

Here's the entire text of "Work Together"
No matter how much you and others plan, something may happen that you don’t expect and don’t have the tools to deal with on your own.  After a catastrophe, connecting with others to share information, identify those who need help, provide first aid and pool resources will increase your abilities to make it through until emergency services are available.
Bottom Line

What does it say about modern society that a state government has to encourage its population to work together and share?

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Will that be Debit or Credit?

The Consumerist describes 5 Situations Where You Shouldn't Use A Debit Card,
  1. When shopping online or making a large purchase:
    If you use a credit card you may be able to dispute a damaged or missing item from your order through your credit card company. Some credit cards also offer extended warranties.
  2. While traveling:
    Some credit cards offer services when traveling like insurance coverage and concierge services.
  3. When worried about begin ripped-off:
    With a debit card you must report fraud within two business days of discovering the problem or you can lose up to $500. With credit cards, you're loss is limited to $50 for unauthorized purchases.
  4. When you want to raise your credit score.
    Debit cards won't help your credit history.
  5. When you want to earn money on purchases.
    Most debit cards are cutting back on rewards to save money.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Summer Swim

As summer nears, thoughts turn to playing at the pool or the beach but did you know that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death between the ages of 5 and 24? A backyard swimming pool is 100 times more deadly to children than a gun at home! Swimming lessons are available for all ages - even infants! Teach your children to swim today - it may save a life.

Every Cub Scout is taught to "Buddy up!" when swimming. Always swim with a partner, every time — whether you're swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake. Even experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps, which might make it difficult to get out of the water. When people swim together, they can help each other or go for help in case of an emergency.

When swimming, watch out for the dangerous “too’s” – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, and too much sun activity. Never swim so far into a lake or ocean that you haven't enough energy left for the swim back. Body temperature can drop quickly in water. If a child is shivering or experiencing muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water immediately.

Don't assume that a child who knows how to swim isn't at risk for drowning. All kids need to be supervised in the water, no matter what their swimming skill levels. Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities. For example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep or be required to wear a life jacket.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Diverticulitis, the word looks scary but it's not hard to pronounce di - ver - tic -u -LI - tis. What is it?

Imagine a pimple, a pore on your face which becomes infected and swells. Now imagine that pimple happening alongside your large intestine. As people age, small sacs or pouches, (like pores in the skin) form along the intestine. The sacs are called diverticula and the condition is called diverticulosis. If digested food (feces) becomes trapped in these pouches and becomes inflamed, it's called  diverticulitis.

No one really knows what causes these small sacs to form but it's very common with more than half of Americans over age 60 having diverticulosis that can be seen during a colonoscopy. There are usually no symptoms for diverticulosis (sacs only). Diverticulitis is a different story and can often start suddenly with
  • Tenderness or pain, usually in the left lower side of the abdomen
  • Bloating or gas
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Not feeling hungry and not eating
That sounds a bit like GERD or even the flu. I'd guess the first two items, tenderness and bloating are the symptoms to watch for. Pain on one side of the abdomen could be appendicitis, potentially very serious. See your doctor!

Treatment for severe cases may require hospitalization. Or your doctor may suggest:
  • Rest in bed and possibly use a heating pad on your belly for the pain
  • Take pain medicines
  • Drink only fluids for a day or two, and then slowly begin drinking thicker liquids and then eating foods
  • Antibiotics.
Fiber is recommended - think of it as the equivalent of washing your face for pimples. But too much fiber may make one gassy so find the right balance.

Once you have the sacs you have them for life. Traditionally diverticulosis patients are recommended to avoid food items that may become trapped in the gut sacs like coarse grains, nuts, coconut, corn and popcorn, dried fruits, skins on vegetables and fruits, and seeds from tomatoes, strawberries, pickles, and cucumbers. However the Mayo Clinic reports that current research has shown that these foods aren't associated with an increased risk of diverticulitis. So the cause remains a mystery.

For more information see...

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Monday, April 23, 2012

12 Confusing Foods

"You heard that eggs can be high in cholesterol, so you dutifully switched to whole grains for breakfast. Next, you swapped out red meat for fish—only to later learn that fish can contain dangerous levels of mercury...and eggs may not harm your heart after all. 'With all of the different reports and headlines, it’s no wonder that many people get confused,' "
So begins an article by Prevention Magazine on 12 Confusing Foods.

  1. Coffee - Prevention notes that coffee has antioxidants and other minerals that are good for you. Of course one could argue that cigarettes with added vitamin D would be "healthy". I disagree with Prevention here and suggest one needs to look at the whole food effect and not just a few favorable components.
  2. Wine - as with coffee above, wine has antioxidants. But here Prevention is more clear - at most one glass a day because wine also has negative effects. They fail to note that grape juice can provide many of the same health benefits.
  3. Potatoes - is healthy food often served in unhealthy ways (fried, with butter, etc)
  4. Cheese - great for calcium but high in fat calories. Depending on your diet this may be a good thing.
  5. Fish - "benefits far outweigh the risks" However, the FDA advises that young children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and women trying to become pregnant steer clear of fish that contain the most mercury, including swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tile fish. [What's a tile fish?]
  6. Chocolate - dark chocolate is good for the heart according to recent studies. Eat in moderation.
  7. Red Meat - "Go lean. Look for cuts with “loin” and “round” in the name—and limit yourself to 18 ounces a week. That translates into around six 3-ounce servings (imagine a deck of cards)."
  8. Nuts - "Ounce for ounce, nuts pack in more calories than most other snacks. But the surprising truth is that nuts are one of the best foods for weight loss."
  9. Beer - see wine
  10. Soy - a healthy food in "healthy people" but causes hormone-like effects (Estrogen) that may raise the risk of breast cancer. Ask your doctor before consuming large amounts of soy.
  11. Eggs - a great food but limit to one a day
  12. Margarine - Avoid any product with the words “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredient list.
Bottom Line

Honestly, after reading the Prevention article, I'm still confused. Food X is packed with good stuff but limit to one a day? What kind of advice is that? There's no shortage of "safe" foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals, for example spinach. I'm reminded of Stock Analysts that NEVER say sell; it's always but or hold a stock. Somehow they can never find anything bad to say about a stock. Or Entertainment News shows that flatter celebrities because they do not want to be denied access to the stars. Is Prevention afraid of losing sponsors if they say don't eat this or don't drink that?

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Friday, April 20, 2012

What makes a Thunderstorm severe?

What exactly makes a thunder storm “severe”? One of several things:
  1. a tornado
  2. winds at or above 58 mph
  3. or quarter-size (one inch diameter) hail or larger.
Did you know there are different types of thunderstorms?
  • Single cell thunderstorms usually occur during the summer months when the air is warm, moist, and unstable, and winds are weak. These thunderstorms, also known as pulse or airmass storms, form as unorganized clusters and have little to no movement.
  • Multicell thunderstorms and squall lines are organized complexes of thunderstorms that cover large areas. These storms are more likely to produce severe weather, particularly damaging winds, since they move rapidly across an area. Tornadoes, hail and flash flooding are also possible.
  • Supercell thunderstorms are the strongest and most dangerous and can produce long-lived tornadoes, winds in excess of 100 mph, and large hail. Fortunately, these storms are rare.
Bottom Line

The best defense against thunderstorms is to stay inside a building or shelter for protection from lightning, wind, hail, and heavy rain. For tornado protection you need a substantial shelter or basement, preferably far from windows. But don't think a storm is "ignorable" just because there's no tornado, damaging wind events occur 10 to 20 times more often than tornadoes. Initial storm reports often erroneously attribute significant damage to tornadoes when actually strong, straight-line winds from thunderstorms are responsible.

Fortunately, thunderstorms generally pass within an hour. When thunderstorms are expected, stay tuned to your NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards for up to date information. Postpone outdoor activities.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Energy Hogs

This morning I heard a commercial about a tax rebate in NY state for buying a new energy efficient appliance. Many old appliances are energy hogs and one reason why domestic energy consumption has more than doubled between 1949 and 2010. has identified 7 Deadly Energy Sinners.
  1. Older refrigerators hold up better but they also use up to three times more energy.
  2. An old freezer can cost $120 in energy
  3. A clothes dryer literally burns energy. 200 hour-long drying cycles can cost $85. That's cheaper than a Laundromat but money that could be saved with a clothesline.
  4. Space Heaters use the power of a hair blow dryer but stay on for much longer.
  5. TV's can use up to 1 kilowatt of energy when left on when you're not in the room. This adds $30 to your energy bill.
  6. PC's if left on 8 hours a day will consume $60 per years
  7. A swimming pool pump costs $240 per year to operate
Bottom Line

Turn off appliances when not in use.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spend Less Than You Earn

The fundamental principle of financial security can be said quite simply, "Spend Less Than You Earn". Or as Saturday Night Live put it many years ago, "Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford". says, Becoming Wealthy May Be Simple, But It’s Not Easy

While simple in theory, there's a few gotchas to keep in mind.
  1. You must spend less than your take-home pay which will be much less than your salary. Taxes and Social Security take a big bite out of the pay check.
  2. You need to factor in emergencies. It's not enough to say I keep my expenses within budget but this month I had to visit the vet, the doctor, the mechanic, etc and that put me over budget. Emergencies are part of life and need to be part of the budget too.
  3. You need to prepare for retirement. If you spend every penny you earn today, what will you live on when you stop working?
One way to address the issues above is the 50/30/20 budget described by Liz Weston at MSN Money.
  1. Start with your after tax income.  "If your employer deducts other expenses from your paycheck, such as 401k contributions, health insurance premiums and union dues, add those back into your net pay to get your after-tax income."
  2. Work hard to limit your "must-have" expenses to 50% of what you earn after taxes. The "must-haves" included insurance, rent/mortgage, utilities, essential food, and minimum loan payments. If you choose not to buy something (like clothing) then it is not a "must-have".
  3. Limit your "wants" to 30% of after-tax pay. This includes gifts, clothes, dining out, extra features for your TV or phone, etc. Is the Internet a want or a must-have? Think about it.
  4. Save 20% of your after-tax income for savings or early debt repayment. "Any loan payments you make above the minimum belong in this category, as do contributions to your retirement and emergency funds."
For many families this may sound impossible. But when you exceed the limits above you put yourself into an impossible situation of a debt that you cannot pay back.
 “Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation. … Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.” - J. Reuben Clark Jr., 1938

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Beware of These Snacking Habits

Prevention magazine warns of six Bad Eating Habits to Break,
"For too many of us, snacking has become so automatic that our brains barely register the hand-to-mouth motion. ... A 2010 study from the University of North Carolina found that most of us eat nearly 600 calories a day—roughly a third of our food—in snacks rather than meals."
  1. You're Good All Day But Pig Out At Night
    This may be because you're starving yourself by day. Eat a real breakfast and a filling lunch and try to save calories on dinner instead.
  2. 2. You Stuff Your Face Before Dinner
    Are you starving when you get home from work and just cannot wait for dinner? Find healthy snacks like raw veggies or sugar snap peas. Drink water or have a clear broth soup.
  3. You Can't Stop Eating In The Car
    Don't eat in the car!!! Avoid the temptation of drive thrus. If you must nibble on something, try gum or carrot sticks.
  4. You Work At Home
    Keep a log of your daily activities, including every time you get up to eat. You may be surprised at how much time you're wasting. Also keep work and home separate by eating ONLY at the kitchen table, not in your work area.
  5. You Graze At The Office
    I do this too much. Keep natural snacks like nuts at hand and avoid the "healthy" snack bars, etc, in the vending machines.  Force yourself to get up and eat your snack in the lunchroom or somewhere not at your desk. Drink more water.
  6. Your Kids' Snack Habits Are Contagious
    Kids burn a lot of calories. When I look back I'm amazed at what I could eat in college and not gain weight. As an adult stick with real foods and avoid munching on cookies, oreos, pop-tarts, that your kids enjoy.  

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Emergency Kits

While many preparedness sites emphasize 72-hour kits, I don't. I've seen too many people make a kit in a can, which is then placed in the basement and forgotten. When you think about it, a 72-kit makes no sense for emergencies at home if you have food and water storage. Are you truly going to leave your cupboards bare before the storm and live solely off your kit?

I like the term "go-kit". Some use GOOD-kit (Get out of Dodge) as a reminder that what you really need is an evacuation kit, something to sustain you for 3 to 5 days when not at home. Good go-kits are stored in backpacks and keep near the front door (or garage?) so you can grab and go when evacuating the house.

While a go-kit in a backpack is superior to a 72-kit in a can, it still has one drawback. If your house catches fire you might not have access to the front door and your kit burns with the house. So I prefer to keep my go-kit in the trunk of my car. This has the added benefit of giving me some protection if an accident happens while driving.

Bottom Line

Focus on building a great car kit for the family or commuter. See The importance of car survival kits for some great ideas of what to include and how to customize it for your family.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Panic At the Gas Pumps

There are many things we take for granted like fuel at gasoline stations. Last month in England, fuel tanker drivers voted for "industrial action" which could have resulted in a strike of delivering fuel to 90% of the stations. Two ministers in the government offered helpful advice:

1. "a bit of extra fuel in a jerry can in the garage is a sensible precaution to take"

2. "If there is an opportunity to top up your tank if a strike is potentially on the way, then it is a sensible thing if you are able to do that"

These two comments caused a panic as motorists raced to stations to fill cans and top off tanks before the possible strike. Fuel sales climbed 50% and stations ran dry. In Christchurch, Dorset, police closed filling stations after the town became gridlocked with motorists trying to fill up.

Bottom Line

As with many other "just in time" supply chains, it takes very little increase in demand to wipe out supply.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

But what about the polar bears?

The foundation of Science is good measurements that can be independently verified. Consider the following two charts on historical temperatures:

These two charts could hardly be more different and yet both are produced by Climatologists who stand behind their accuracy. The first shows that we have climbed quite a bit since 1600 but that was an extreme cold dip;  AND our current high is less then 1100 BC before the carbon crisis AND we seem to be on a downward dip since 1998.

The second chart is the famous hockey stick graph cited by Al Gore in his documentary as proof of modern global warming. Wikipedia has a detailed discussion on it at

Bottom Line

The wiki article cites many recent papers as supporting the hockey stick with results like warmest in the past 400 years or warmest in the past 600 years. But this is only proving that it's warmer than the start of the "Little Ice Age".  Temperature data older than this is still rather fuzzy but getting better with ice cores, etc.

So it may be fair to say the question is still open. What caused the Medieval warming period of 1000 years ago? Why is the modern warming different? or is it?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pushy Parents

This weekend our cub scout pack will be racing their pinewood derby cars. This is supposed to be a learning experience for the 8-10 year old boys. We've devoted the past 6 weeks to drawing a cut-out template on the cars, sanding them, applying a base coat, a prime coat, and racing stripes. However one boy has had nothing to do because his dad made his car in the very first week. It looks great but the son had zero involvement in its creation. Tragic.

NPR tells another story of parents doing too much, Easter Egg Hunt Canceled Due To Aggressive Parents. "Organizers of an annual Easter egg hunt in [Colorado Springs,] Colorado attended by hundreds of children have canceled this year's event, citing the behavior of aggressive parents who swarmed into the tiny park last year, determined that their kids get an egg." Ropes had been set up for a kids-only area but parents jumped the ropes to help their child get the most eggs. The egg hunt was over in seconds, with many tots finding nothing.
"Parenting observers cite the cancellation as a prime example of "helicopter parents" — those who hover over their children and are involved in every aspect of their children's lives — sports, school, and increasingly work — to ensure that they don't fail, even at an Easter egg hunt. .. (The parents) can't stay out of their children's lives. They don't give their children enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mistakes."
Bottom Line

Have you observed aggressive parents?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shelf Life for Food Storage

One question that always comes up with Food Storage is, "how long will the food last?"  That's not an easy question.

The Family Survival Planning web site distinguishes two ways of defining "Shelf Life":

1. The "Best if used by" date for best taste and nutrition

2. A "Life Sustaining" date where the food may not taste wonderful but it will keep you alive.

The life sustaining period is influenced by temperature, moisture, oxygen and light.

* Temperature - the cooler the better, above freezing. Heat destroys food and its nutritional value, while foods stored below freezing will suffer freezer burn. A storage area should never exceed 75°; optimal is 50° to 60°.

* Moisture in food allows bacteria and other microorganisms to grow. Hence many long-term storage foods are freeze-dried or dehydrated.

* Oxygen in stored food also encourages microorganisms.  When my wife & I stored wheat, we added an oxygen absorber packet to each storage bucket. Oxygen is also the enemy of fats and oils causing them to go rancid. Nuts, grains, and other long-term foods contain some natural oils. Whole grains have an outer shell that protects the oil inside and can last 30 years or more, but ground flour exposes the oils and goes rancid in 5 years.

* Light can destroy the color in food and promote microorganisms growth.

Bottom Line

Check out the Long Term Food Shelf Life Chart at FSP. I was surprised to learn that dried apple slices and dried potatoes can last 30 years. Powered milk for 20yrs? Hmm, I'd worry about it going rancid sooner.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Cures You Can Grow At Home

I like plants and am one of the few cubicles at my workplace with plants in it. At home we have a veritable jungle of easy-care hanging plants. And plants can be more just pretty and freshen the air, they can also be useful as described in Organic Gardening's (OG)  9 Food Cures You Can Grow At Home.
  1. Aloe Vera is easy to grow with light and water once a week. You can break off a leaf and apply the gel that oozes out to soothe your skin from damage like sunburn.
  2. Basil - this grew like mad in pots we hung outside our window. Pull off the white flowers to keep the herb from going bitter. Can be used in cooking, pesto or "rub crushed leaves on your temples to relieve headaches. Pour boiling water over basil leaves for a pain-relieving footbath."
  3. Lavender - has a great smell and can be soothing if you have trouble sleeping. OG says, "Crush a handful of the heads and add to a bowl of boiling water to use as a steam bath for your face."
  4. Lemon Balm (keep it in pots!) Used for "healing cold sores."  Also, "rub leaves directly onto skin as a natural insect repellent or to soothe bites."
  5. Mint (also keep limited to pots).  OG says, "Sip tea made with fresh peppermint leaves to soothe stomach cramps, nausea, and flatulence." But I've also read that mint is a stomach irritant and to be avoided if you have GERD.  OG also recommends using it in a steam bath for decongestion. 
  6. Parsley - also grows well for us. Eat daily as an immune-system booster. Also good for bad breath?
  7. Rosemary - is said to lift spirits when used in a tea by people with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
  8. Sage - gargle with a sage broth for sore throat (boil 1/4 cup of leaves and let it cool)
  9. Thyme - OG recommends, "drink a tea made from lemon thyme to treat colds before bed. Warning: don’t use thyme when pregnant."
Bottom Line

The article 9 Food Cures You Can Grow At Home also has links to growing advice. I'll have to try some of the "cures" suggested. The only one I have personal experience is aloe vera applied to skin, though I've grown and used others just for cooking.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Don't Kiss That Chick!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that while baby chicks are cute, they can also be a source of Salmonella infection, especially for children. Since 1990, more than 35 outbreaks of Salmonella have been associated with live poultry. "It is important to know that infections from live poultry can occur at any time of the year, not just during the spring" said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a veterinary epidemiologist at CDC. 

A chick or duckling may look perfectly normal and clean still carry Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks) and make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and/or abdominal cramps. Sometimes, people can become so sick from a Salmonella infection that they have to go to the hospital. Young children, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. When this occurs, Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Bottom Line

What should you do?

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. Don't give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.
  • Don't snuggle or kiss the birds, or let them touch your mouth.
  • Keep live poultry outside and away from human foodDon’t eat or drink in an area where the birds live or roam.
  • Don’t clean any poultry equipment, such as cages, inside the house.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Home Remedies

Woman's Day magazine recommends Eight Home Remedies that really work (though they don't always know why).

  1. Duct Tape to Remove Warts - just don't expect an overnight cure. Two months of duct tape with a weekly pumice stone scrub was 85% effective. Freezing was only 60% effective.
  2. Vapor Rub to cure Nail fungus - apply once or twice daily. This will also remove the infected nail and a new one will grow back.
  3. A 15 minute soak in finely ground oatmeal for Eczema (skin inflamation)
  4. Yogurt to cure bad breath
  5. A spoonful of sugar to cure hiccups
  6. Gently biting a pencil to cure a tension headache
  7. Olives for early stages of nausea from motion sickness
  8. Salt water gargle for sore throat.
    1 tablespoon salt to 8 ounces of water, but more salt is better than less.
Bottom Line

Have any of these cures worked for you?

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What is Pink Slime?

Pink slime has been in the news a lot lately. Which grocery stores sell it? What fast-food chains use it? Will certain public schools use it in school lunches?

So what is pink slime? First off, they're not talking about pink algae which is sometimes seen in swimming pools and called pink slime by some.  The official name is "Boneless lean beef trimmings". When a cow is butchered, there are leftover trimmings of meat mixed with a lot of fat and connective tissue. The meat industry used to cook the trimmings to render out the oil to make some profit from it. Then in 1990, Eldon Roth, founder of a frozen beef company called Beef Products Inc (BPI) had an idea.

The trimmings are finely ground and then spun in a high speed centrifuge to separate out the fat from the meat. The meat is squeezed through a tube the size of a pencil and exposed to ammonia gas to kill any pathogens such as E. coli. At the end of the process, the beef is at least 90 percent lean. It is used in meat supplies across the US, usually mixed in with normal hamburger upto 25% of the content.

Some people find the process objectionable and coined the derogatory term, pink slime. Other health experts credit the process for reducing the risk of E. coli infections.

Bottom Line

The sad part about the whole thing is that no labeling is required to indicate that Boneless lean beef trimmings were used. It may be perfectly safe but there's no way to opt out as an informed consumer except for giving up all hamburger.

And least people get into a huff over this, look closely at chicken and hams at grocery stores. Many have water and chemicals injected for "preservatives" but also to add weight and cost. Last week I noticed that a 5-gallon bottled water contained chemicals on the ingredients listing? Why?! For preservatives and minerals it claimed.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

1940 Census!!

If you do genealogy you may be aware that every US Census is kept private for 72 years. Yesterday, April 2, the 1940 census reached its 72nd birthday and is now available free to the public. Well, sort of.

The US census bureau is releasing free digital images of the millions of pages of records. If I knew the city where a John Doe lived in 1940 I could wade through hundreds or thousands of pages looking for the record. Or I could wait for the records to be transcribed and made searchable.

Volunteers are needed to read the records, decipher the handwritnig, and type the names, ages, etc into forms which will be permanently stored and searchable. One site where anyone can volunteer is


Monday, April 2, 2012

Are drivers getting worse?

My wife & I are amazed at the crazy, stupid things that drivers do now-a-days. She recounts that last week she came to a stop in her car for a garbage truck which blocked the road. The car behind, which had been on her tail, would have none of that and sped blindly around her and the garbage truck.

Here's an extreme example from CBS News in Miami:

According to witnesses, a woman got impatient while waiting for a gas pump so she swerved in front of a yellow Hummer which was next in line. Apparently, when she sped up, she lost control and slammed into the gas pump which caused a huge explosion and fire.

The entire incident was captured on surveillance video and can be viewed at the CBS site.

Bottom Line

The article concludes with "No word on whether any charges will be filed."  I hope they throw the book at the driver for being reckless.

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