This blog is meant to assist you in preparing for an emergency. It also contains other information that you might find helpful and spiritually up-lifting.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is ‘Oven Canning’ Safe?

 When learning to can there are certain safety measures we all need to know about to make sure you, (or those around you) do not become injured, sick or seriously scarred.  We learn these safety measures through research, manuals, and other canners’ experiences.  In this article I am going to give you a sensible argument about why it is unsafe to oven can and why it could be considered an impractical way to store dry goods.  We will also discuss alternative methods to storing your dry goods.
Is Dry Oven Canning Safe?
The answer is NO.  As Wise Geek so elegantly explains this…
Oven canning is not safe because it is a dry heat and the jars are not made for that. They can explode. Contamination is the main fear when it comes to dry canning. In order for food to be shelf-stable, it must be heated to a hot enough temperature that any latent bacteria in the food is killed off. The premise behind dry canning is usually sound, as a 200°F oven is generally hot enough to be considered sterile. Not all oven thermometers are accurate, however, and it can be tough for home cooks to know whether the external temperature is actually penetrating the jars.

There is no way for cooks to test the internal jar temperature without removing the lids and compromising the food. Any bacteria that remains in sealed jars can grow into toxins over time, which can cause serious food poisoning once the contents is eventually consumed. Sometimes spoiled food looks discolored or has an unpleasant taste, but not always.
Then there is oil.  Some of the few things that have oil in them are nuts and seeds and even some flours.  The heat from the oven liquefies the oil making the product go rancid faster than if you had left it alone, which defeats the purpose.

IMG_20120127_151647Is it practical to use canning jars for dry good?
Lets pretend you have twenty, 1 pound bags of pinto beans and you want to store them air tight for long-term food storage.  Right off the bat you’re going to have to buy, at minimum, two boxes of jars that run about $10-$15 each depending on where you live.  You will also have the added cost of using your electricity/gas to oven can your food.  Depending on how often and how much you can, that can raise your monthly bills considerably.
Assuming you already have a vacuum sealermachine, a 3- 20 foot rolls of bags cost approximately $26.50, however, you will be able to seal and store much more.  Something else you might consider is instead of using the jars and the space they take up dry canning, use them for canning meat items and things you can not otherwise vacuum seal (Mmmmm, like salsa).  If you insist on storing your dry goods in jars then the safest and cheapest way to go would be to use an Oxygen Absorber in the jar and then use a vacuum seal jar attachment to remove air and seal the jar tightly.  If you do not have a vacuum sealer you can still add an Oxygen Absorber and then listen for the *ping* sound we all love about 15 minutes after you tighten the ring. The three most dangerous things you can do to your food storage is expose them to heat, light and moisture.  So why expose your food to heat if you don’t have to?
In our home we use storage totes and five gallon buckets to store our dry goods.  When we vacuum seal the food in the bags we pack them tightly in a storage tote and once full we place the lid on them and stack them up. I love how light the tote is (depending on the food) compared to stacking and moving jars.  We typically use the vacuum sealer for items like crackers, drink mixes, tea bags, dried herbs, coffee, etc.  For things such as rice, beans, flour, and sugar we use the five gallon buckets with Mylar bags.
As you can see, Dry Oven Canning can be more expensive, take up more space and can be very dangerous, as with any canning that does not practice safe, tried and true practices. Keep your family safe and stick to methods that have been tested and proven safe. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Food Storage I Get, But Water Storage?

It makes sense to have at least three days worth of emergency supplies in your home at all times. Depending on where you live and your particular situation, you may want to keep more supplies than this available, but three days of emergency food storage is a good starting point. The idea of gathering in these supplies may seem overwhelming, but with a little planning, you will soon have what you need.
Select food items that are shelf stable, easy to prepare and things that your family will eat. It is relatively simple to determine how much food to set aside for three days, but determining your water needs are a little more challenging. In addition to having water to drink, you also need water to prepare food and clean up. In general, plan for a minimum of one gallon of water, per person, per day. So if you have a 72-hour kit made for four people, you’ll want 12 gallons of water to go with it. In hot weather, or if you will be performing physical labor, you may need up to twice that amount. When putting together your emergency supplies, make sure to remember your pets, and have an emergency stash of food, bandages, blankets, cloths, cash and prescription drugs.
To make using stored water as easy as possible, have it stored in a variety of container sizes. Gallon jugs are perfect for food prep and clean up, but having some smaller bottles for drinking means you won’t need to dirty glasses unnecessarily.
Purchasing unopened, sealed water is the safest and least labor intensive way to store water. This can be expensive, and is not necessary as long as you are willing to take some steps to ensure your water is stored correctly.
Wash empty soft drink bottles with soap and water and rinse well. You can now use these to store water. Soft drink bottles are ideal, because they wash out easily and are a convenient size. Juice or other drink containers which are made of PETE plastic are also acceptable, although it can be difficult to get all of the juice residue washed out of the container. Do not use milk jugs, as this plastic quickly breaks down and is not designed for long-term storage.
You can simplify food storage by purchasing items that are shelf stable. Select items that your family will eat, and that you will be able to prep with no electricity. Store a manual can opener with your food supplies.
It is important to store food in an area free of pests. Rodents, insects and other pests can chew through packaging, so check your stores frequently to make sure there are no signs of pest infestation.
The ideal temperature for food and water storage is between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity should be low in the storage area, as moisture will increase the risk of mold damage and bacteria growth, as well as speed the breakdown of packaging materials. It is also important to keep food and water supplies away from direct sunlight and heat sources, which can speed the breakdown of both food and packaging.
Water Safety
It can be tempting to use your own tap water and containers to prepare water for storage. It is much less expensive than purchasing water, and you can easily rotate in fresh supplies without feeling wasteful. If your water comes from a clean source, pre-treated with chlorine, which most public water supplies in the US are, you only need to put the water in clean containers for storage. If your tap water is not chlorinated, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoons of unscented household bleach to every five gallons of water. Be sure to use plain bleach, rather than the type with added thickeners. Your water will be safe to use when needed, although it is advisable to rotate through your entire emergency stock of food and water once a year.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

5 unusual household items you need to use when packing

Any good traveler knows that packing is an annoying yet crucial task. So to make your experience more effortless, Brittany Jones-Cooper presents the six weird household items to use the next time you pack.
1. Shower cap
When you’re packing, it’s ill-advised to put your dirty shoes next to your clean clothes. My problem is that I don’t own any shoe bags. I mean, who does? Either way, a shower cap can do the job. Just slide each of your shoes inside of a cap and you’re good to go. I usually have a shower cap or two lying around the house, and they’re also cheap to buy. Double bonus: If you’re staying at a hotel, they usually have them in the bathroom amenity kits.

2. Straws
Packing jewelry can be a pain in the you-know-what — especially necklaces. I tend to just throw them in the pocket of my makeup bag, and then when I take them out, they are in a tangled mess. That’s where a straw will come in handy. You simply take a straw, thread the necklace through, secure the clasp on the other end, and bam! — you’re tangle free.

3. Empty pill bottles
Every shampoo known to man comes in a big clunky bottle. And because of the TSA’s three-ounce rule, you can’t put them in your carry-on … so what do you do? Just take empty prescription bottles and use them for your gels and liquids. The seal is pretty strong, plus you typically have to put liquids in little zipped plastic bags anyway, so I’ve never had a problem with leaking.
4. Rubber bands
Depending on whom you listen to, the best way to pack certain items is to roll them. I usually roll my T-shirts. The problem is, if I end up unpacking or repacking, I have to reroll my shirts. That’s why our next travel hack is the simple rubber band. Use them to secure your clothes after you’re done rolling. You definitely have these lying around the house, and ladies, hair ties will work as well!

5. Oven mitt
The last thing I do before I leave my hotel or house is unplug my flatiron, which means that it is usually the last thing I pack, and it’s typically still warm. So, to keep from burning up all my clothes, I’ve been known to solicit the help of my handy oven mitt. You just slip the flatiron in, place the mitt in your bag, and you’re good to go. I don’t cook, so my oven mitts are purely decorative anyway.

Friday, August 22, 2014

20 Ingenious Uses for 7 Common Household Items How these unassuming products can solve tricky problems for you

Clark Kent. Peter Parker. They looked like ordinary guys, right? But underneath their day-to-day exteriors, they were superheroes. In the spirit of Superman and Spiderman, we’ve rounded up our favorite, unassuming household items — products you probably already have on hand — that have amazing versatility. They may not be faster than a speeding bullet, but they can move from kitchen to laundry to medicine cabinet with equal ease, solving tricky probelms with their hidden superpowers.

You probably don’t think twice about the salt that graces your table, but at one time salt was so highly prized that it was used as currency. The Roman army is said to have paid soldiers in salt; the word “salary” has its roots in this practice and it’s why we say someone is “worth his salt.” Salt's hidden uses:
Remove a wine stain: Blot (don’t rub) the spill to remove as much as possible, then cover the stain liberally with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water, if possible, then repeat if necessary. If the spill is on a carpet, you can wait for the salt to dry and then vacuum it up.
Make drip-proof candles: Soak new candles in salt water for a few hours, then let them dry. They will burn drip-free.

Not only is corn delicious on the cob or off, it’s the source of white distilled vinegar, which — as our grandmothers knew — can make a salad dressing or clean the walls with equal aplomb. Vinegar's hidden uses:
Revive wilted vegetables: Soak wilted greens or other vegetables in a bath of one tablespoon of white vinegar to two cups of water for 10 minutes.
Keep colors from running: Add one cup of white vinegar to the wash to help set the color of new towels or other items. 
Prevent cheese from getting moldy: Dampen a paper towel in white vinegar and wrap it around hard cheese to prevent mold spores from forming.

Unless you’re swimming the English Channel, we don’t recommend slathering your body with petroleum jelly. As the name implies, it’s a by-product of oil refining, so a little dab will do you! That said, its been in use since 1870, and it still has many safe and effective uses. Here are three:
Keep car doors from freezing shut: We got this tip from an Air Force mechanic: Put a thin layer of petroleum jelly around the insulation of your car door, and you won’t have to worry about your car doors freezing shut when the next polar vortex hits.
Make an at-home mani/pedi look perfect: Use a cotton swab to outline your nails and nail polish won’t stick to your skin. Also, a thin layer of jelly around the tops of your nail polish bottles will keep them opening easily.
Keep ants out of the doggy bowl: Coat the outside of Fido or Fluffy’s food dish with a thin layer of jelly and ants will dine elsewhere.

Raw, organic honey is one of nature’s superfoods, and you should definitely keep a jar on hand. If you can, buy honey that is produced locally. Some of the honey sold in supermarkets has been found to contain high fructose corn syrup and red food dye. Besides being delicious, this natural food has some other 'sweet' uses, like these:
Ease a hangover: Next time you’ve overindulged, try a tablespoon of honey. (You can add it to herbal tea or hot water or drizzle it on toast, if you prefer not to eat it straight.) The fructose is thought to help speed up the metabolism of the alcohol, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK.
As a dressing for minor wounds: Honey is antimicrobial and antibacterial, which means the bad stuff can’t grow in it. You can use raw honey as an ointment on minor burns, cuts and scrapes. It also can banish blemishes for the same reason. Just be sure you cover the area with a bandage to keep the sticky stuff off your clothes and furniture.

Next time you buy apple cider vinegar, skip the clear, refined stuff and go raw and organic. Look for a brand that may look a little cloudy, and has bits of sediment in it; those are the enzymes that make it so powerful. Three hidden uses:
Use it to tame a rosacea flare-up: For some rosacea suffers, applying apple cider vinegar diluted with water as a toner can help soothe the redness and burning or itching.
Condition your hair: Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of warm water and rinse your hair with it after you shampoo. It will remove any soapy residue and leave your hair shiny and manageable. (Don’t do this if you color your hair, though, as it may interact with or strip away the dye.)
Remove fish scales more easily: When your favorite fisherman brings you his catch of the day, rub it with vinegar before you clean it. The scales will come off more easily, and your hands will smell less fishy, too.

Though willow bark has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain and inflammation, it wasn't until 1897 that a German chemist was able to modify its active ingredient — salicin — to create acetylsalicylic acid, which is gentler on stomachs and the basis of modern aspirin. But this “miracle drug” can do more than treat a headache. For example:
Soften your feet: Remove calluses from your feet (or hands) with aspirin. Crush six to eight tablets and mix them with a teaspoon or two of lemon juice, and enough warm water to make a paste. Spread the paste on the calloused area, then wrap in a warm towel and cover with a plastic bag. Leave on for 10 or 15 minutes, then scrub with a pumice stone to remove the callous. (Note: Do not try this if you are diabetic or have impaired circulation.)
Make your plants healthier: Aspirin may just be a gardener’s best friend. A solution of one aspirin in a gallon of water can help plants that have been traumatized by moving or replanting to recover and can help new plants to develop strong root systems. Or add a little mild, liquid soap to the aspirin water and spray it on plant leaves to discourage pests. (The soap will keep the solution from just rolling off the plant.) 
Banish sweat stains: If a favorite shirt or blouse is marred by armpit stains, crush three or four aspirin and dissolve in a bowl of water. Soak the stained area of the fabric in the solution for two to three hours. If the stain remains, repeat the procedure.

Almost every kitchen has a bottle of this gold-green elixir that can dress a salad or sauté vegetables, imparting heart-healthy fat in every teaspoon. But olive oil (regular or light, save the more expensive — and healthier — extra-virgin varieties for flavoring food) can also make dirty work a little easier. Examples:
Remove paint: Forget the harsh chemicals. To remove paint from your skin, just use olive oil and a little granulated sugar or salt. The paint will come off and your skin will be exfoliated and moisturized, too.
Take it outside!: Olive oil can help you do your yard work. Spritz it onto lawn mower blades in the summer to help keep grass from sticking and onto snow shovels in the winter so snow will slide off the shovel more easily. You can use it on other garden tools like hoes and rakes, too.
Polish leather shoes: No need to use that nasty-smelling chemical stuff. A little olive oil and a soft cloth will keep your shoes looking great.
Get gum out of hair: Apply the olive oil to the gum and the surrounding hair; work it through gently and let it sit for a few minutes. Work a comb through the strands until the gum is gone, then wash with shampoo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love thy neighbour, it's good for the heart...

Ever felt like your neighbour's antics could drive you to an early grave?Well, there may be reason for concern, said researchers who reported a link Tuesday between having good neighbours and a healthier heart.

"Having good neighbours and feeling connected to others in the local community may help to curb an individual's heart attack risk," said a statement that accompanied a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Heart and blood vessel diseases are the number one cause of death globally, claiming some 15 million lives in 2010, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study.
Research into neighbourhoods and health had in the past focused on negative impacts through factors like fast-food restaurant density, violence, noise, traffic, poor air quality, vandalism and drug use, said the study authors.
For the latest research, the University of Michigan team used data from 5,276 people over 50 with no history of heart problems, who were participants in an ongoing Health and Retirement Study in the United States.
They monitored the cardiovascular health of the group, aged 70 on average and mainly married women, for four years from 2006 -- during which 148 of the participants had a heart attack.
At the start of the project, the respondents were asked to award points out of seven to reflect the extent to which they felt part of their neighbourhood, could rely on their neighbours in a pinch, could trust their neighbours, and found their neighbours to be friendly.
When they crunched the numbers at the end of the study, the team found that for every point they had awarded out of seven, an individual had a reduced heart attack risk over the four-year study period.
People who gave a full score of seven out of seven had a 67 percent reduced heart attack risk compared to people who gave a score of one, study co-author Eric Kim told AFP, and described the difference as "significant".
This was "approximately comparable to the reduced heart attack risk of a smoker vs a non-smoker," he said.
"This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect," the statement underlined.
Limitations of the study included that researchers did not have access to the trialists' family history of heart disease and stroke.
But they had ruled out other possibly confounding factors like age, socio-economic status, mental health and underlying ailments like diabetes.
The mechanism behind the association was not known, but the team pointed out that neighbourly cohesion could encourage physical activities like walking, which counter artery clogging and disease.
"If future research replicates these findings, more neighbourhood-level public health approaches that target neighbourhood social cohesion may be warranted," the team wrote.

Monday, August 18, 2014

10 Toxic Household Items You Should Throw Away Now

AlycohenBy Aly Cohen, MD, FACR, Special to Everyday Health
Could your choice of shampoo or cookware be harming your health?
As a rheumatologist, I am often asked why patients have developed a particular autoimmune disease. I take a holistic view of their illness, so I inquire about the patient’s stress levels, diet and exercise patterns – and any chemicals they may be exposed to. This helps me better understand the role their environment may play in their  health.
A growing body of research suggests that chemicals in everyday products may  put us at risk for health problems – from infertility and birth defects to certain types of cancer. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now monitors a total of 298 environmental chemicals that have been found in humans, including many used in consumer products. These chemicals can gradually build up in the body, potentially making you sick.
While it’s impossible to avoid exposure to all environmental chemicals, there are ways to rid your home of many of these potential toxins. Here are 10 items you may want to avoid buying, toss or replace:

1. Plastic food containers

Ever wonder why clear plastic containers turn cloudy after running through the dishwasher a few times? Plastic breaks down over time, and this breakdown can release dangerous chemicals into your food. Many plastic containers are made from chemicals includingphthalates, which act as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).  Switch to glass containers.

2. Prepared foods in plastic containers

You don’t necessarily have to toss these, but don’t heat them up in the plastic. Heating plastic can release chemicals that seep into your food. It’s well worth your time to take a few extra seconds to transfer prepared foods into a glass container before heating them in the microwave.

3. Nonstick pans

Many nonstick pans contain trace amounts of a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. The pans’ non-stick lining can scratch or chip off into your food. Instead, use cast iron or stainless steel cookware, and natural, non-stick sprays such as olive oil.

4. Air fresheners

I never allow artificial air fresheners in my home. Anything you breathe in eventually ends up in your bloodstream. Plug-in scents or synthetically scented candles many contain chemicals called phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive problems. Instead, choose candles made with essential oils and fresh flowers to scent your home. Also,  try using baking soda and white vinegar as odor absorbers.

5. Perfumes

The one-word ingredient “perfume” can translate to a product containing upwards of 300 chemical ingredients. (Perfume companies won’t release lists of exact ingredients for fear of divulging secrets to their competitors.) Avoid perfumes and colognes or switch to products that are scented with natural oils.

6. Fabric and upholstery protection sprays

Stain blockers essentially create an invisible plastic barrier over your furniture. This plastic will eventually wear off and be released into your home environment. Instead, simply clean stains as necessary rather than trying to prevent them.

7. Cleaning products

Check the labels of cleaning products for chemical ingredients such as phthalates and chemical surfactants. Natural products like baking soda, Borax, soap powder, vinegar, lemon and hot water work just as well without coating your home in toxins.

8. Cosmetics

From shampoo to lipstick, the average American woman applies up to 12 personal care items, and the average man up to six, to their skin each day. That adds up to roughly 126 unique ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group, a public health advocacy organization. Opt for cosmetics with mineral-based pigments and natural oils. Choose soaps and shampoos free of synthetic fragrances and chemicals such as triclosan, which has been found in animal studies to alter hormone regulation.

9. Antiperspirants

Many antiperspirants use aluminum-based compounds and other chemicals, which are absorbed into the sweat glands. While there are ongoing studies on possible health impacts of antiperspirants, I advise avoiding any chemicals that are absorbed into the body for non-medical purposes. You can find aluminum-free antiperspirants, and there are many chemical-free brands of natural deodorant sticks and sprays that don’t contain parabens and all ingredients with ‘PEG’ in their name (such as PEG-8 and PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil).

10. Sunscreens with oxybenzone

Research on animals suggests that chemicals in some sunscreens, including oxybenzone, may cause health problems when they penetrate the skin. The safest sunscreens are made from minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but they can be very expensive. In general, avoid aerosol spray sunscreens, which you can accidentally inhale, as well as sunscreens containing chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A), and fragrances.

Beware of ‘Natural’ Ingredients

When you’re looking  for safer products, keep in mind that term “natural” means almost nothing in the food and cosmetics industry, as it’s not regulated by the FDA. Instead, look for “organic” labeling, because organic ingredients are federally monitored, and really mean something in the food and cosmetics world.
A good start in finding a safer products for yourself and your home is to avoid items containing parabens or -sulfates (such as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureate sulfate) or items labeled “fragrance” or “parfum.”
Of course, it may not be practical for you to toss all of these items at once. Instead, try swapping out one product at a time with a safer version. Even small steps to minimize your chemical exposures can create a healthier and safer home.
Aly Cohen, MD, FACR, a certified rheumatologist and integrative medicine specialist atCentraState Medical Center in Freehold, New Jersey, recently completed a fellowship in integrative medicine at  the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Her book, The Smart Human: Essential Guide to Living Healthy in a Chemical World, is slated for publication in January 2015.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wanna pay 8-9 bucks a gallon for gas? Think it couldn't happen here?

It’s already happening.
The "Hidden Gas Tax”, buried deep within California's"Cap-and-Trade" program, was tucked away in the fine print of AB 32—a 2006 bill that radically increased government control over businesses in the name of reducing “global warming," and which goes into effect Jan 1, 2015. 
AB32 is administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the board responsible for drafting regulations to achieve the broad and often vague goals of the actual law.  
CARB has elected to expand the devastating Cap-and-Trade scheme to include transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel. That means refiners and importers will need to buy carbon credits, just like manufacturers, food processors and power plants. Of course, we all know who will pay those added costs.  
Now, even moderate Democrats are sounding the alarm about a problem they created with the help of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.  
Earlier this summer, 16 Democrats signed a letter asking CARB chair Mary Nichols to delay or redesign California’s punitive Cap-and-Trade program. In the letter, they make the same point critics have been making all along--namely, that AB32 is nothing more than a capital confiscation scheme.  
"We are concerned about the impact of the AB 32 cap-and-trade program on our constituents," they write, adding that "many of the areas we represent are still struggling with double digit unemployment."
Now, that letter has given birth to a new bill, AB 69 authored by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno). AB 69 would delay implementing the hidden gas tax portion of the Cap-and-Trade program for transportation fuels for three years. 
This will be the last opportunity for the legislature to stop the egregious fuel charges that are sure to follow.  
How egregious?  
According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), retail gas prices will rise by 13 to 20 cents per gallon immediately, and up to 50 cents by 2020, but CARB’s own analysis calls for both diesel and gasoline to rise by 76 cents per gallon. 
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, some analysts said the increase will be far worse:  "The Boston Consulting Group predicted in 2012 that cap and trade and the state's carbon fuel standard would drive up gas prices between $0.49 and $1.83 per gallon by 2020. These green regulations are intended to raise the cost of gas to encourage people to drive less or buy electric cars."
While I commend my Assembly colleague for literally taking the bull (and his Democrat Caucus) by the horns to turn back the "hidden gas tax,” it’s strange that they weren’t concerned about it when it ostensibly only affected larger companies and corporations.  
Naturally those hardest hit are not the wealthy owners, but the little guys who lost their jobs (or never got hired) due to the increase in new fees and taxes that sapped capital for expanding and hiring.  
The Democrats' newfound concern over this issue seems to stem from possible voter backlash. Democrats were so proud of Cap-and-Trade in 2006 when the legislature passed AB 32, the "Holy Grail" of environmentalists.  They ignored science--especially the science of economics--and discounted the tremendous advances in environmental science and technology that have drastically reduced our air pollution by every measure. 
Those of us who support a balanced, sound-science approach to preserving our air quality and natural resources are called insulting names, insinuating we are somehow owned by Big Oil. 
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, any increase in the cost of gasoline or diesel hits the little guy, the working poor and the small business owner harder than anyone else.  
I have consistently stood against CARB, even attempting to abolish the agency with my own bill (AB 1332), because in the name of attempting to change the “climate”, this agency has managed to decimate the business climate in what was once the fastest-growing, strongest economy in the country.   
While AB 69 will delay the implementation of this portion of AB 32 for three years, California's economy cannot withstand such a jolt even three years from now.  
I am pleased Assemblyman Perea and his legislative colleagues will drop partisan politics in order to reform one of the most damaging pieces of legislation in California history.  
I will fully support their efforts to oppose the upcoming implementation of cap-and-trade and hope they convince Governor Jerry Brown to join them in our effort. 
For once, let's simply be a friend to our economy and the good people of California, without any surprises in the fine print. Because what you can’t see can hurt you.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Where All Mac Users Can Find a Copy of the Constitution...

Here are the directions for accessing the Constitution on your Mac, via the Unofficial Apple Weblog:
To see this information from The New Oxford American Dictionary, just launch the Dictionary app from your Applications folder. Once it’s up and running, go up to the menu bar and select Go > Front/Back Matter. There you’ll not only find such exciting information as who was on the editorial staff and advisory board for the Dictionary, but also a bunch of useful references.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Is the Fed fueling a giant stock market bubble?

Take a good look at the chart below and you'd be excused for concluding that we're in the midst of the greatest stock market bubble of all time. Not only has the S&P 500 fully recovered from the financial crisis, it's a staggering 30% higher than the peaks of the Internet and housing bull markets.
But is this really the case? With unemployment still above 6%, how could we find ourselves in the throes of yet another brewing catastrophe? Didn't investors and analysts learn anything from the past decade and a half?
While it requires some explanation, the answer is that we're most likely not experiencing another irrational inflation of stock prices. The market's record level is instead a predictable response to the Federal Reserve's policy of keeping interest rates at historically low levels.

Does monetary policy cause bubbles?
As an initial matter, it's important to appreciate that monetary policy itself doesn't cause bubbles. This may sound strange if you've read much about the financial crisis, given that the Fed is often blamed for both inflating and popping the housing bubble. But this narrative is flawed.
The argument goes like this: Following the bursting of the Internet bubble and 9/11, the central bank dropped short-term interest rates to the lowest level since 1958. This drove borrowing costs down and made it easier and more affordable for people to get mortgages and buy homes. Too many people proceeded to do so and a housing bubble ensued.
But the problem with this chain of events is that it excludes a number of critical pieces. Most importantly, it wasn't low interest rates that caused so much havoc; it was the proliferation of subprime mortgages.
At the time, much of the financial industry was operating under two fallacies. First, lenders believed that new derivatives and asset-backed securities had eradicated the risk of default. And second, while it seems absurd in hindsight, many of the best and brightest minds on Wall Street had concluded that housing prices would never stop going up -- or, at the very least, that they wouldn't decline simultaneously across the country.
The result was that these assumptions removed much of the incentive for lenders to monitor credit standards. If there's no fear of default, why not lend to anyone and everyone regardless of their income, assets, or credit score? And it was this behavior, and notably not the Fed's manipulation of interest rates, which fueled the housing bubble and laid the groundwork for the financial crisis.
But what about the stock market's record highs?
This isn't to say that the central bank can't distort asset values by way of monetary policy. Indeed, not only can it do so, but it can do so to a considerable degree.
"Monetary policy has powerful effects on risk taking," Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellenacknowledged in a speech earlier this month. "Indeed, the accommodative policy stance of recent years has supported the recovery, in part, by providing increased incentives for households and businesses to take on the risk of potentially productive investments."
This is exactly what's happened. As Josh Brown recounted earlier this year, "flows into equity funds went megapositive in 2013 while money going into bond funds slowed to a trickle." More specifically, he noted that stock funds have had $298 billion in inflows since the beginning of last year, while bond funds have had only $75 billion.
But that's as far as it goes. In other words, the fact that the Fed's monetary policies have caused stock prices to soar, doesn't mean there's a bubble.
The reason for this is simple. In order for there to be a bubble, asset prices must be more than inflated; they must be irrationally inflated. And, like I've discussed, this isn't the case. If anything, in fact, the increase in asset prices is entirely rational.
As Bloomberg's Noah Smith recently explained (emphasis added):
"The value of a financial asset is the discounted present value of its future payoffs, and when the discount rate -- of which the Fed interest rate is a component -- goes down, the true fundamental value of risky assets goes up mechanically and automatically.That's rational price appreciation, not a bubble."
Does this mean stock prices won't at some point deflate? No. In fact, you should probably assume they will. Stock prices correct all the time. But what's important to remember is that a correction isn't a bubble.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fall Gardening: A Guide To Growing Cold-Weather Vegetables

I always say that Gardening is a VITAL prepping skill. Many people think it’s as easy as dropping seeds in the ground and watch them grow, it’s not that simple, right?  In a long term situation most if not all of your initial food preps will be exhausted at some point.  In fact, I am one of those who believe that the food items that you prep in a “long term” situation, are there to get you by until your garden is fully functional and you and your family can survive eating from it. When this happens then your Garden is one of your “long term” food sources.  Remember, most people will eventually run out of their stored food, so you’ll need a solid plan for creating a sustainable food supply!
Fall Gardening is a skill that must be developed and enhanced if you are going to survive in a “long term” situation.  It goes without saying that you will still need nutrition that will get you through fall, winter and into late spring.  The Fall season is a wonderful time to further enhance your garden and Gardening survival skills.
I’m going to assume that you’ve done the initial work in terms of soil prepping for your garden area and/or raised beds.  This should have already been accomplished because you’ve most likely been gardening sometime from March to October.  Now is the time to further use those soil preps and get your fall crops into the ground.  Many of the fall veggies I’ll be discussing will even grow well into winter if you have a greenhouse or cold frame.   Once you get the experience you’ll be able to grow certain cold-hardy vegetables successfully endlessly through all seasons.
 What You Can Grow In The Fall: Cold-Weather Vegetables
This is the reason why our heirloom Seeds packages contain many cold-weather vegetables, specially  designed to assist you in having a full fledged or survival garden all year long.  You can have an abundance of leafy garden greens as well as plenty of cold-weather vegetables that will produce good wholesome food for you and your family during the cold-weather season.  Just think about it, you can grow veggies like spinach, artichokes, beet, radishes, carrots, kale, onions, garlic and more.  All of these vegetables will make delicious soups, both cold and hot.  When planted right, you might be able to even get certain plant varieties to grow from Spring to Spring.
Tip:  One thing that you will learn is that Fall temperatures are conducive to certain cold-weather vegetables, their production and often aids in sweetening many of cold-weather plant varieties such as our Kuroda carrot, spinach and others.
 Timing Is Everything: Knowing When to Plant Your Fall Garden Is Crucial
I’m writing this article in late October 2013 and for the most part of the USA it’s still a good time to start that fall garden.  When it starts to get cooler, you can easily get your some veggies like garlic, our Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions and shallots.  Your Fall Garden will benefit if you can get them into the ground BEFORE your first frost.   If you have access to a computer, try to find out when the “first frost” is due in your planting zone.

Here is what I recommend:

Trying getting an early start or a jump on your “Fall Garden” by planting your heirloom seeds such as kale, our Brunswick Cabbage, cauliflower and Calabrese Green Broccoli indoors and then later transplant them.  Make sure you acclimate them a few hours a day before actually putting them out in the garden for planting.
Companion gardening can play a supporting role in your Fall Garden productions.  It will add value to it because you can even plant some of these varieties together so that nitrogen producing plants will mix with those that had deprived your soil of nitrogen during the spring planting season.  Make sure you feed the soil of your fall plants this means adding compost and using organic materials in your soil.  You want to apply the appropriate amount of organic fertilizer a few weeks ahead of your fall planting season. Don’t let your fall garden area dry out.  A drip watering system or soaker hose will solve this problem.  Your seeds and/or transplants will need moister for both germinating and growing.  Once your transplants and/or seeding are about a few inches in height you might want to think about adding mulch.
You can increase plant production by tricking your produce into generating more produce.  This works with leafy vegetables like turnips, spinach, kale, lettuce etc.  We often feed our livestock the leafy parts of beets, radishes, and carrots.  Another trick with broccoli and cabbage is that you can actually pick the first head and then wait for the plant to generate smaller ones later.  Our heirloom favorite for broccoli is ourCalabrese Green Broccoli.  It’s an heirloom dating back to the early 1900′s.

Season-Extending Techniques

You can extend your garden season with a few techniques:
  1. Cover the plants that are more sensitive to frost and cold weather at night with row covers or even old blankets.  Mulching will also help in this area .  If you don’t have old blankets or how about tarps or even plastic?  Cover growing beds or rows with burlap or a floating row cover supported by stakes or wire to keep the material from directly touching the plants. Individual plants can be protected by using milk jugs, paper caps, or water-holding walls.

  1. Cold Frames & Greenhouses: It has been suggested that providing plants with just one additional layer of protection is like moving your garden more than one full zone to the south. There are many types of survival greenhouses and you’ll have to choose which one is best suited for your situation.
Most of the semi-hardy and hardy vegetables will require little or no frost protection. Semi-hardy vegetables should be harvested before a heavy freeze. Root crops such as carrots and radishes should be harvested or mulched heavily before a hard freeze. The harvest of mulched root crops can often be extended into the winter.  During mild winters, harvest may continue till spring.

Insects and Diseases

It is not uncommon for insects and diseases to be more abundant in the fall. Most problems from insects and diseases result from a buildup in their populations during the spring and summer. There is hope of keeping these pests at tolerable levels, however, if a few strategies are followed. Strive to keep fall vegetables healthy and actively growing; healthy plants are less susceptible to insects and diseases. Check the plants frequently for insect and disease damage and apply treatment for controlling or eradicating diseases.
Here are a few seed recommendations (some of which we actually carry) that don’t mind chilly temperatures.  Why don’t you get them a try and let me know how they turnout in your Fall Garden.
Various Greens Leafy Vegetables
Mustard, Turnip, Collards, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Radicchio and Lettuce.
Herbs & Vegetables
*Sugar Snap Peas, *Calabrese Green Broccoli, *White Hailstone Radishes, artichokes, *Brunswick Cabbage, Cauliflower, Garlic, *Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions, Leeks, Beets,* Kuroda Carrots, Watercress, Cilantro, Garlic, Parsnips, Potatoes, Scallions, Shallots and Turnips.