Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Years thoughts....

Christmas is over and the New Year is creeping up on us. We generally spend the week between Christmas and New Years trying to de-stress from the frantic gift buying season and cleaning the house for the gathering of New Years revelers.

Last year, we went up the hill to our friend's lake house for the holiday. The wife had to work and they wouldn't be able to attend otherwise. I was getting over the flu, and my poor husband started getting a fever on the way up there. So, I spent the weekend nursing him through bouts of fever spikes and soaking sweats, cooking for the crowd, and taking pictures and didn't get to enjoy myself much. This year, the party will be back at our house.

Our kids are getting older now and while that thought is somewhat bittersweet, it is kinda nice to look back over the past year and see how much they have grown. My baby boy will be 18 in March. My daughter, 21 in June. I know that I don't tell them often enough how proud I am of them. They have turned into the kind of kids any parent would be proud to claim. And I love them very much.

My husbands job is still looking ok for the time being, so we are going to focus on getting the house ready to sell. We still have a lot of work to do around here to make that happen but at least we are not pressed for time or money to do it. We still have to do something with the bedroom and our bath, living room floor and kitchen counters. There are a few outside things that need doing, but they will be easy and inexpensive fixes that can wait until later. I am just ready to get out of this place and into my forever home.

The past year has had it's share of ups and downs. We got the house paid off, which is a major accomplishment, all of the vehicles are paid for, the kids both have good scholarships for college, and we have enough saved to be able to do the things we need to do to the house. On the down side, the garden didn't really do well this year and we are starting to feel it in the lack of canned vegetables that are left in the pantry. I may actually have to start buying vegetables from the grocery store again before the first produce comes out of the garden this coming spring.

And our smallest family member, Stuart, a 15 year old house cat passed away the first week of December. He was pretty old for a cat, and had been declining for the past few months. I was heartbreaking to see him getting so weak and know that there was nothing to be done about it. He died peacefully at home and was laid to rest with his favorite things in a spot by the back fence. We will be building a flower bed over his resting place as we did when Katie, our 14 year old Border Collie, passed a couple of years ago. He will continue to be sorely missed for a long, long time.

For the New Year, we will be starting off with a major celebration. Our Alma Mater had a winning football season for the first time in a very long while and has a Bowl Game that will be played the first week of the New Year. We are very excited about it and will be supporting our team in a grand style.

Our son will be graduating from High School in May with very good grades and will be getting ready to go to college in the Fall. Our daughter will be completing her Junior year of college (with perfect marks so far!) and will be starting her Graduate School search.

All of our years of scrimping and scraping are paying off. Our children are moving fully into adulthood as productive, well rounded citizens with bright futures ahead of them and we will have an empty nest. It will be a little odd to not have them underfoot but I think the future they will have will be worth it for all of us.

This New Year, for us at least will be full of new beginnings. And I am actually looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We are all gonna die!

Every so often, I get a bee up my butt about things. Generally, it has to do with the state of our government. Or the Economy. Or Big Agri. Or lobbyists. Or our elected officials. All of which are essentially the same thing, when you boil it down to the bare minimum.

Today, I am irritated by the fact that we are all going to die. Sounds silly, I know. We all have to die sometime, from some cause or another. But what is bothering me today is the absolute staggering numbers of ways to day that no one is telling you about.

Where to begin. Pesticides. That seems to be a given, right? If it can kill a bug, it can kill a person, right? Seems simple. So we all try to limit our pesticide use. Except for Big Agri. See the connection here? To get the increased yields that the GMO (again, see the previous rants about Big Agri) grains and seeds are supposed to supply us with, you have to keep the bugs out of it. So, pesticides are sprayed over the fields. Supposedly, they can't be used within so many days of harvest so that the effective half life of the chemical of choice is degraded enough to be safe for consumption. That all sounds lovely, doesn't it? In reality, only part of those chemicals have degraded enough for the arbitrary levels that the EPA sets to fall within the "safe" limits. The rest of it is still on the product. Well, we all wash our fruits and veggies to make sure we get rid of the rest of it. The problem is that if it has rained at all during the growing cycle, and we all know it has or the crop wouldn't grow, that pesticide gets washed into the soil where it is taken up by the root system and deposited into what ever the crop is. So that beautiful tomato that you wash so carefully, probably has pesticide residue inside it that can't be washed off. So all of that careful washing, while it will remove anything left on the surface, is irrelevant to the overall picture.

And another overlooked fact is the that when Big Agri first started it's boom in the 1950's and 60's, there wasn't a lot of research on the long term effects of some of the pesticides being used. DDT for instance. DDT was wonderful for vector control of insects, like mosquitoes, but had the disturbing side effect of hanging around long after it was sprayed. DDT has been linked to diabetes, cancers, hormonal changes in both men and women, miscarriage, developmental problems and hypothyroidism. And all of that isn't even counting the enviromental effects on wildlife. Thankfully, DDT was banned for use in agriculture in 1972 in the U.S. but it wasn't until 2004 that it was restricted to vector control worldwide. So most of use who are at least 40 years old probably have come in contact with it at some point in our lives.

These days, other less persistent insecticides are used yet the long term effects of these poisons are being overlooked or deliberately withheld from the general public. Even pesticides labeled for use in "organic" crops haven't been sufficiently tested because the companies that make them make billions of dollars from them and will not allow anyone to say they are bad.

OK, Enough on pesticides.

Another way we are all gonna die is from the food itself. Lets say you know about the pesticide issues so you grow all of your food organically, including grains, for your family. You have the 5-10 acres and the time needed to do that. First off, that makes you part of the extreme minority. But lets say you do it anyway. That is Great! You eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, eat a hot multigrain cereal for breakfast every day, bake all of your own bread, eat less than 4 ounces of lean meat a day if you eat meat at all. OK, lets look at what you are eating. Look at all the carbohydrates you are consuming every day. All of that cereal and bread. Every bit of those carbs turn into sugar in your body. If you are not a highly active person who actually uses all of those calories you are eating, all of that sugar will do one of two things. It either gets stored as fat or it gets burned as fuel. If you do not burn all of the calories, you will get fat. Seems simple right? Well, there is another problem. If you are constantly, consistently, eating too many carbs, you will run the risk of diabetes. And that is just from all the bread, grains, and starchy vegetables.

Most of us do not get the right mix of vitamins and minerals from our food. We just don't eat a varied enough diet. Even if you think you do, you probably don't. We have a tendency, as a society, to eat maybe 10 different vegetables on a regular basis. Peas, carrots, corn, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, with a couple of more thrown in on the individual basis. And we have a tendency to load those few up with butter or other fats to make them tasty. Then we eat more of them than we actually need. There are micro-nutrients in things like squash and leafy greens (which most people won't eat) that we just won't get from our normal diet. And if you don't cook or use highly processed mixes and "kits" to save time, or eat fast food a lot, your diet is even more lacking in nutrients.

All of this boils down to high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, etc. and the associated diseases like heart disease, arthritis, gall bladder issues, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, the list goes on and on.

So the food we eat will kill us even faster than the pesticides.

Then there are the environmental factors that we can't control. A little over 6 months ago, there was a devastating earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan. It severely damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant and they lost containment. Radiation poured into the ocean because they were having to use ocean water to put out the fires. Radiation poured into the air through the smoke from those same fires. The land around the plant has been so thoroughly contaminated that the people who used to live there will probably never be able to go home. In the days after the accident, people in the U.S. were very concerned about airborne radiation being carried by the Jet Stream. The folks in California got down-right panicked about it. But after the first month or so, the media thought it was a non-story anymore so the coverage stopped. You have to really look to find any stories about it, even on the internet. But there are stories out there. Radioactive iodine 131 was found in milk collected in the South Central parts of the United States. Radioactive rainwater was collected in California that contaminated reservoirs used for drinking water. And again, the list goes on. But the government doesn't tell us these things because it would just cause panic and there is nothing we can really do about it anyway.

Then there is the fact that rice from the Fukushima Prefecture has been banned for export because of the high radiation levels found in the rice grown there. Has no one thought that maybe the world might need to know these things? What about all of the radiation that is falling in California as rain? What will that do to the crop land there? All of those strawberries we all gobbled up last spring probably came from California unless they were from a verified local source. But you know what? It rained here too. Hmmm, makes you wonder, doesn't it? There are places in Scotland that still cannot sell their sheep as meat because the grass they eat was contaminated from the Chernobyl accident back in the 1980's. Kind of a scary thought.

But the big concern here is that the Fukushima Daiichi plant is STILL releasing radiation. They hope to have it contained by the first of the year. So all of that radiation that made the news back in March and April is still floating around us, unseen and unreported. Pleasant thought, huh?

What this all boils down to is the fact that we are all going to die. Not necessarily because we are just old and worn out, but because the Powers that Be either don't want us to know they are poisoning us, don't want us to know what is going on around us, or they give us mis-information so we cannot make informed choices.

None of these things make me trust the media or the government.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Alternative Energy

I have been researching again. Sustainability, off-grid, alternative energy, all of the things that would be necessary if something happened to society as we know it. Want to know what I have discovered? It is really expensive and none of them are good for general purposes.

If you do a web search on these things, you will find millions of pages, most of which are simply common sense things, to reduce the amount of energy you consume. You can use solar PV systems, but they are expensive, bulky, and if you live in an area that doesn't get optimum amounts of sunlight year round, not really the way to go unless you have a huge amount of battery storage and/or another source as a backup. Wind turbines can be a good solar backup, but you have to have open space, a good steady wind, and they can be noisy if they are too close to the house. Micro-hydro is another good source for solar backup. If you have a creek, stream, or spring with a high enough flow rate. Again, you have to have the right local conditions.

Then there is the whole biomass thing. Essentially, it all boils down to a wood stove of some sort. Yes, you could rig up a way to use the wood stove to boil water, to create steam, to run a turbine, that is connected to a generator, to produce a current. Is it efficient? Not really. You would have to really, really like cutting firewood, and have a large patch of woods, for this to be a viable option. But...there are things you can burn besides trees, provided your stove can handle the different types of fires and still be efficient. Corn cobs, waste paper(ie cardboard, rolled newspapers, etc) sawdust (either loose or pellets), broken shipping pallets, construction waste, basically anything that is cellulose based and will still burn. A wood stove in the home would be a great alternative to being strictly electric since you can use it to heat the home, cook on, and heat water, but this would be mainly limited to cool or cold weather seasons. But as a supplement, it is a great option.

Lets say you have 5 acres and a small (1000 sf or less) house and it is just you and your significant other. One of you works outside the home and the other stays on the property and gardens, tends the livestock, etc. For this setup, 4 to 6 solar panels with the associated battery bank, a wood stove, and maybe a small wind turbine (if you really use a lot of electricity, like for a separate chest freezer and a small ac unit) would be a good set up. The main problem would be that the equipment would run you over $10,000. Plus the batteries would have to be replaced every 5-8 years and that can get expensive in the long term.

You could go really old school and do without electric completely. Have 2 wood stoves, one inside and one outside, candles or kerosene lamps, and live without an AC unit. Here in the hot humid South, not really a viable option. It can be done but you have to have the right layout on your house or you would just be living in a oven all summer. Good airflow through out the house and a 3 sided wrap-around porch with windows (and screens) facing the prevailing winds. This is how our grandparents lived. And it worked out fine.

So, I guess the bottom line on this is really how much do you want to spend, and how many of the modern luxuries can you give up to do it. If it is a survival situation, I can personally give up a LOT of things. If it is just a sustainability issue, I am not gonna give up my a/c.

So until we have our 5 acres, or life as we know it comes to an end, I will just keep researching options. Maybe something new will be developed that will eliminate the need for multiple systems and battery banks. Maybe...maybe...maybe.

It does give me something to think about though.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer 2011

OK, Almost 3 months without a blog post. I know. I keep saying that I will try to do better but it has just been so busy.

I think I am just about finished canning for the year. Hopefully. Peaches, nectarines, apples, potatoes, meat, tomatoes, salsa, soup, beans, corn, jams, relishes, etc. Not enough, but it will have to do.

And I have been hurting. Alot. My rheumatoid arthritis has been giving me fits all summer. I went to the doctor last week and he upped my meds again. Hopefully it will help. Fall will be here soon and the rain and cooler weather don't help my hands and feet at all. Let's all hope that another surgery isn't needed on the other hand.

We got our daughter moved back into her dorm room with minimal fuss for once. She seriously downsized what she took with her this time and that helped tremendously. Unfortunately, that means she left most of it here. But it is all neatly packed away.

The economy is looking bad so we are cutting back on the spending again. We moved some things around and started looking at what all we will need to do if we have to sell the house quickly. We have a lot more work than money at this point so it will take a while to get everything fixed up and sell-able. Sigh. It is always something.

I have started making lists for things that have to be done. Some things are a given. Dishes and laundry are a daily chore, but things like mowing the lawn and sweeping the floors I can pass off to other family members. Why does it always seem like my list is longer than everyone else's? Then there is the long term list. Getting gutters, paint the bedroom, getting new kitchen counters. That is the ugly list. And getting new floors. The bare concrete in the bedroom is really starting to get old. And the dryer is starting to go out. Yet another expense, and one that we can't put off to boot. We are headed back into broke time.

Well, my feet and hands hurt, but laundry waits for no one.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I am scared, and you should be too...

There are so many things going on in the world that we just tend to overlook either because it doesn't immediately affect us or because we are just happier not knowing what is going on in the world. In this age of instant news, we are more concerned about who will win American Idol than who is leading our country. We over look the laws that are being passed in Washington that restrict our freedoms, restrict our rights, and restrict our choices because that isn't as entertaining or funny as the new LOL Cats or a Youtube video of some stupid teenager taking a faceplant doing a bicycle stunt.

There are things happening in the world that we should be concerned about. Each new piece of legislation that is voted on limits the rights of someone in this country. Whether it be the small farmer who has no choice but to use pesticides and GMO seeds because the government tells him that he must or he can't sell his crops or the small business owner who has to close his doors because he cannot afford to pay the fees, and sometimes penalties, for not providing health insurance and other benefits for his 2 part-time employees that are already covered by Medicade or some other government service.

The news media is being very closed-mouthed about world events. Did you know that a few weeks ago there were riots in Spain because the government could no longer afford to provide the services their Socialist government had been handing out and the Unionized workers revolted? Probably not, because the media didn't want us to know that Socialism is not sustainable in the long term. Did you know that the Bilderburg Group is meeting is Switzerland as this is being posted to decide, well, no one actually knows what they talk about because the meetings are secret. Did you know that your water can be contaminated with "proprietary" chemicals that even the local water departments are unaware of because the gas drilling companies are not legally required to disclose that information to the public? What about the radiation levels from the Fukushima Nuclear plant in Japan? They still do not have that reactor shut down and it is still releasing radiation into the atmosphere. Where is the news on that? And what are the health effects for us?

And the Economy? Well, do you feel safe in your job? The unemployment numbers that are being published are still hovering around 10%. 10% isn't that bad, you think? Those numbers, if you listen closely, are only "New Jobless Claims". That number doesn't count those who have been unemployed long enough to no longer qualify for benefits. Think of it this way, if there is 10% unemployment, that means that of every 10 people you know, 1 of them is out of work. And that isn't counting the people who have taken what ever job they can find just to be able to pay their mortgage and put food on the table. 10% is a very misleading number. There simply aren't any jobs available in this country any more because they have been shipped overseas where corporations can find literally millions of workers willing to do the job for what would be starvation wages in the US.

Public safety is another issue you don't hear much about. Were you aware that in Illinois it is illegal to film or photograph a police officer without his permission? So if you see a cop beating the crap out of someone, for whatever reason, you had better not take a photo or video with your cell phone or you could get 15 years in prison for it. Why would the Illinois Legislature pass that law? They are protecting their power to enforce unconstitutional laws. Did you know that a man in California was awakened a couple of mornings ago, by the Department of Education of all people, had his door broken down, dragged into the front yard in his underwear, handcuffed, and held in a police car for 6 hours while his house was being searched, while they were looking for his EX-WIFE'S student loan papers that she supposedly defaulted on? Does this sound like we live in a free society?

What ever happened to Free Speech? What about the right to be free of illegal search and seizure? For that matter, what about the rest of the Constitution of these United States?

This has got to stop. It will soon come to the point where we will all be living in a society that is wholly controlled by the government, told what to think, what to say, what to eat, where to live, and how to live our lives. All for the good of the whole.

I personally do not think they have the right to tell me what to do.

I fully expect that I will be in jail.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day

For most of us, Memorial Day means grilling out with friends and family, going on a camp out, the first dip of the year in the ole swimming hole, or just enjoying a day off. We have forgotten about the men and women who have fought, and sometimes died, so we can have a day of rest.

These people have made the personal decision to protect and defend our nation from all threats, foreign and domestic, to put their very lives on the line, so that others, that they do not even know, can enjoy a barbeque.

We know these people. They are your fathers, and grandfathers. The paper boy. The nice clerk at the grocery store. Your neighbor's kid that used to mow your lawn. The old geezers who sit all day in the coffee shop. And in some cases, our own children.

And it isn't just the Armed Services. It is the police officer who stopped you from speeding so you would not endanger yourself or others. It is the Firemen who saved your next door neighbor from a burning house. It is the Rescue worker who got you out of your wrecked car when someone on their cell phone ran a red light. All of these people put their lives on the line, EVERY SINGLE DAY, so that we all are safe, comfortable, and can live our lives without worry.

When was the last time you thanked a soldier? Or a Police Officer? Or a Park Ranger?

Or even the old geezer at the coffee shop?

This Memorial Day, thank someone who protected you. Remember those who gave everything so we can have our burgers and hot dogs. But most of all, never forget that these people live and die for you. And they should be honored for their sacrifices.Memorial Day

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A few random thoughts for the day

Well, we have the bathroom remodel finished and it just looks great. We spent a lot more than I had originally intended, but I think it is money well spend. And we should be able to recoup some of the costs when we get ready to sell next year. And it won't be a day too soon.

My garden is doing well so far. The green peas are blooming so we will have fresh peas in the next couple of weeks. And I noticed this morning that my tomatoes have several bloom buds on them. Hopefully I can start picking tomatoes by the first part of June. Strawberries are just starting to come in season so it is time to start thinking about what I want to do with those as well.

I have found a lady that has LOTS of canning jars that she doesn't plan on using again and she is willing to sell them to me for $4 a case. I may go ahead and buy them all. It won't hurt to have them around if I can clean out the shed enough to have a place to store them.

I need to get serious about cleaning house. The whole place is covered with construction dust from the bathroom. And it will feel good to have everything clean to go with the nice new room.

I am getting really worried about the safety of the food supply. Radioactive Iodine 131 has been found in our local milk supply. It isn't in dangerous levels yet, but it doesn't bode well for the future. If they don't get that Japanese nuclear plant under control, it will only get worse. I can only imagine how bad it is for the folks living in Japan. I pray for them.

Death and taxes. Well, no one we know has died yet, and the taxes have been filed. We had to use the refund from one to pay the other. Sigh. But at least that chore is over with for the year.

I am still keeping an eye on properties in the area we want to move to. There aren't many for sale that will satisfy our needs, but the ones that are have been on the market for a while now. Maybe they will still be available when we get ready to move and the price will be more negotiable. Or maybe something more desirable will show up. Either way, here is hoping.

These chores will not get done by themselves. I had better get busy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Japan, the Economy , and Food

The more I watch the world news, the more concerned I am for the state we will soon all be in. The earthquake in Japan has fallen from the top stories, but is it still of grave concern for all of us. There are still large amounts of radiation being emitted from the Fukushima plant and it doesn't look like it will be ending any time soon. It has now contaminated the water supplies in Tokyo, but unless you are paying close attention to the news, you miss it in the mass of reports about Libya. The people of Japan are in grave danger. And we in the US are as well. The radioactive plume, that was reported as being less than a single chest x-ray when it made landfall last week, is continuing. What the news isn't telling us is that radiation is cumulative, meaning that while a single exposure is less than a single x-ray, this is still continuing, building up to be a lot of x-rays every time you go outside. And anything that lives outside, cows, chickens, vegetables, fruit, etc., will all be exposed to a concerning amount in the long term.

I will not be buying any food produced in California any time soon.

Japan owns or operates a lot of the US manufacturing. Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Sony, Hitachi, Samsung, all of these and many more like them are all based in Japan. Japanese companies have a general rule about production. They do not like to keep and warehouse large amounts of parts for the items they produce. They manufacture just enough to keep production in full swing. If something happens, like an earthquake and subsequent loss of power, there are no more parts to build with. So the factories in the US that build stuff for these companies are having to shut down due to lack of parts. Toyota has announced this week that they are having to shut down at least one of their plants in the US. That is a lot of jobs that will be lost. Another problem with items from Japan is that the products are contaminated with radiation. Most every ship coming from Japan lately has some at least some contamination. That means that even if we can get the parts, we can't use them. Again, this isn't really being reported except as an afterthought.

Have you actually thought about everything that you own that has a semi-conductor or processing chip? What will you do if you have to get it repaired and the only chips available are from radioactive Japan?

Now, back to the radioactive plume. It is hanging over the US. Yes, most of the radioactive materials have fallen out over the ocean. And yes, the levels that are hanging out over us are small, comparatively. But remember the cumulative effects. That is building up. There are places in Scotland where they still cannot sell their sheep for human consumption due to the contamination from Chernobyl back in 1986. That was 25 years ago folks. Yes, we are farther away from Japan that Scotland is from Chernobyl, but if they do not get this radiation stopped soon, everything on Earth will be contaminated with low levels. Everything we eat, the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, everything. Remember the cumulative effects. And the real problem will be food. There will be no getting away from it. Until there is a way to grow food, in large quantities, without exposure to soil, air and water, we will all be getting it. Expect a rise in cancer rates across the US in the next 20 years.

If you think what happens in Japan doesn't affect you, you are mistaken. It affects us all. And on more than just the humanitarian scale.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Is it the End Times?

With world events spiraling out of control, things are going to be getting really bad, for every one. People are dying by the thousands in Japan, either from the earthquake/tsunami or they will soon be dying from radiation poisoning. People in Africa are being killed by their own governments. And this is not just in Libya, but all over the continent. Disease, famine, wars, gang violence, thousands are dying every DAY. And what are we doing about it?


Everyone has been taught by society that we should all look out for ourselves first and others second. How can we learn and grow as humans if we look out for ourselves first? It is just insane to think that we can succeed by only looking out for ourselves. Do we not learn compassion by seeing, not looking but really seeing, those who are less fortunate? Do we not learn what love is by loving others unconditionally? Do we not learn, well, anything important, by doing for someone else? Is it really surprising that most of us don't even think to donate to charities until there is a disaster of some sort?

Most of us do not see how current events will affect us in the long term. We are not prepared, none of us, for a global tragedy. We, as a society, have exchanged the ability to provide for ourselves for convenience. Take out is cheap so we no longer cook our own meals and in many cases wouldn't even know how. We do not know how to make clothing, grow food, preserve food, build a shelter, find water, protect ourselves and our families. We think Survivor is an entertaining show, but not anything we would ever have to do ourselves.

I am afraid that we will all have to be Survivors in the near future. When there is nothing left in the stores, will you be able to either do without or make it your self? You know where to look to see what is happening in our world and what it means for humanity. Will you be part of the problem, or part of the solution?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The State of the World

I know that I haven't posted in a while, and I apologize. There has been so much going on around here that I just haven't had time to sit and collect my thoughts.

There are a lot of things going on in the world these says that are very worrisome. Civil wars in the Middle East, the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan, the instability in the global economies. All of these things will affect us in the months and years to come. It is rather frightening just how little most of us understand how all of these things together will affect our way of life.

Fuel costs are going up, with no end in sight. This will effect the price of everything we purchase. It will cost more to produce goods, from agricultural products to clothing and everything in between. It will cost more to get to work every day as we fill up our SUV's with gas. It will cost more to heat and cool our houses. Businesses will have to cut costs, either by cutting salaries or cutting jobs. Rising costs of production will be passed on to consumers who are already cash-strapped. Your dollar will not buy as much as inflation takes off. And that is just from fuel prices.

The disaster in Japan will have a whole different effect on us in the United States. Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world, but at the moment, their economy is shut down. Their factories are not producing, their already produced goods are very limited and possibly contaminated. The population will soon be having food and water shortages as they deal not only with earthquake and tsunami damage, but rolling blackouts and contamination from the nuclear disaster. The Bank of Tokyo has been pumping trillions into the Japanese stock markets to keep it from completely collapsing, but there simply isn't enough yen available to maintain this.

And since every nation's economies are tied globally, it will affect every nation on Earth.

Food costs are going to be the biggest problem in my opinion. People will stop buying luxury food items, like steak, in favor of cheaper cuts and ground meats. We will stop eating out so much in favor of eating at home. Generic canned goods will become more popular choices causing a drop in sales for the name brands. Big producers will have to lay off, causing more economic problems for the US as a whole. And with the legislation being pushed through Congress that favors Big Agri, the small farmers and small producers will have no choice but to go out of business causing even more food issues.

And that is supposing that there will even be enough food to feed the country. If there appear to be shortages, a lot of people will begin hoarding food, causing even more shortages on the store shelves. Depending on just how bad it gets, there could be food riots. Yes, this is a worst case scenario, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility.

And then there is the fact that the radioactive plume being produced by the Fukushima Power Plant will reach the West Coast of the United States tomorrow. No one is really sure just how that will affect us. There is so much dis-information being thrown out on the airways it is difficult to know just what is true and what is executives playing CYA.

Are we prepared for this sort of situation? The answer for most of us is NO. As Americans, we have gotten complacent in our land of plenty. We have come to believe it is our God Given Right to have a Starbucks just around the corner and strip malls full clothing and food and closets full of shoes.

We should all be asking ourselves What If?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

State funding linked to graduation rates

Our illustrious Arkansas State Legislature, in all of their infinite wisdom, have decided to discuss the possibility of linking the funding provided to State colleges and Universities to the graduation rates of the individual schools. What they are saying is that the schools who have the highest grad rates, get the most money.

Now, that being said, the University of AR at Fayetteville is the most exclusive State University in Arkansas. It is in the area of the state that also has the Walton Family (Wal-mart headquarters), the Tyson Family (Tyson Chicken), JB Hunt Trucking, and has been the only Republican area of Arkansas for the last 150 years. They have the highest graduation rate in the state because you have to have a higher GPA and test scores to even be accepted.

But there are also 2 Universities in the Delta region of the state, aka the poor folks. These are Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (where DD goes) and University of AR at Pine Bluff.

ASUJ( Northeastern region) has a history of being a "regional" college but they have recently been focusing on helping students stay in school and graduate with a useful degree. They also have a network of "feeder" schools, aka junior colleges, that offer 2 year degrees and let the students transfer into ASUJ after the first 2 years.

UAPB on the other hand, is a 4 year college that focuses on giving minorities a chance to get an education. They are in the poorest(Southeastern) section of the state, and in Arkansas that means the least educated. Their graduation rates have a tendency to correspond to the general education of the region.

This legislation is specifically designed to keep the rich, well educated area of the state, well educated and rich, and keep the poor, uneducated areas, poor and uneducated.

This is absolutely not what the legislature is supposed to do. They are supposed to educate the poor, economically depressed areas so they are not so poor and economically depressed. This is a classic example of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. The Democrats want to keep that minority voting block on the public dole.

It is just so counter-intuitive.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


This morning, I have been reading up on the biosphere aspect of the fish farm, basically an aquaponics/hydroponics set up where, in a greenhouse dome of 3 levels, fish ( in this case, carp of various species) are grown in above-ground swimming pools, they eat surface level vegetation on the pools, solar panels are used to run pumps that take the accumulated wastes from the fish and pump it to grow beds for vegetables and fruit on the upper levels where the now filtered and oxygenated water is gravity fed back to the fish pools. The solar panels are also used to run the ventilation system in the summer as well as a small heat source in the winter.

Between the fish eating vegetation and the compost and waste products from the fish to fertilize the plants, it is pretty much a closed system that supports itself. Another variation I read about had a worm farm incorporated into it and the fish being used were catfish that ate the worms and the castings were leached to fertilize the garden beds.

This particular system was built in Canada and maintained a temperate zone climate pretty much all year.

If I had to guess, I would think the cost for something like this would be somewhere between outrageous to astronomical. It would be interesting to see if it would be possible to do something similar using scavenged/reclaimed materials on a smaller scale.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Am I just weird?

Last night, I asked my husband a relatively banal question. "Do you know what would be good?" I was thinking about a fried peach pie.

"A thousand dollars?" he replied.

His answer stopped me cold. Would a thousand dollars be good? And I could not for the life of me think of anything I would need a thousand dollars for. We have plenty of food, all of the bills are paid, I have a little bit of mad money if I want it. What would I possibly use it for?

Am I the only one who is happy and thankful for the things I ALREADY possess and really don't need anymore? We watched a television show the other evening about greed in the United States. I was simply appalled! The things people would do to other people all for the sake of money and power.

I guess I just don't understand those folks who can't get enough money, power, possessions....anything. I don't need "stuff". I have more "stuff" than I know what to do with as it is. And if you don't need "stuff", you don't need the money to buy the stuff or to upkeep the stuff.

And I have NEVER understood the power thing. Why would I even WANT power? I have enough trouble just keeping the laundry done. What would power get for me?

I just don't get some people.

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