Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

Do you need a water filter

I have always tried to look ahead and prepare for whatever situation may occur. That's why I bought a water filter to begin with.

You know, in case the balloon popped and the only water available would be from streams or ponds.

Last summer the well pump had to be replaced. Since then there has been black particles in the water. I suppose the new pump being more powerful was sucking up rust or dirt so I got out the water filter and put it together.

It's similar to a Berkefeld in that it uses carbon/ceramic cartridges to filter the water. A Berkie is probably the best,and also probably the most expensive. I got what I could afford.

Within the first week, three of the four filters broke at the base and had to be repaired. When I wrote to the company I got no support. Make sure that when you buy a filter that they are willing and have a good support in place.

Other then that, my filter is made of stainless steel and is quality.

After using it for awhile I noticed that the water in the top container was anything but clean looking. The rust and crud were amazing! I never would have believed that water from a private well could be so full of contaminates.

The only thing the filter does not remove is the calcium, which our water has a lot of. But hey! You don't have to take any calcium supplements.

After almost a year of use, I won't drink any water that has not gone through the filter. Nor will I use water from the tap for cooking. Washing dishes and such is O.K. Tho.

So, do you need a filter? I didn't think I did before this experience. Maybe you should take a hard look at your situation to determine whether you should use one or not.

O.W. Newman

Free Your Computer with Ubuntu

There is lots of talk everywhere, I know, about the different Linux operating system distributions but I must say that, as far as I am concerned, I shall, for the time being for personal use, at least, stick with Ubuntu by Canonical.

I like Ubuntu for a number of reasons, and the word Ubuntu being one of then. I know that that may be silly but so be it. I also love the Ubuntu promise, which is to keep it totally free of licensing fees. The promise was given some while back and it is still as true as it was then. Let us hope that it will also remain thus, namely free of all license fees.

We have come a considerable way already since I started using Ubuntu, with Dapper Drake. Feisty Fawn came and went, the Gutsy Gibbon arrived and then the Heron. Now, yet another version/upgrade is due out soon. I am not worried about that, presently.

For, while now even Gutsy Gibbon and the Heron are both out and more or less, history, I personally still use the Dapper Drake version of Ubuntu and am very happy with it for the work PC, e.g. the one where all the writing is done, predominately. It sits there quietly in the corner, is ready when I want it and never freezes up or crashes – well, at least not so far. It is quacking great, the Drake, in my view, and very dapper.

If you have an older computer or just want to get the absolute best performance out of your computer you may want to try Xubuntu, which, apparently, uses the slim and trim Xfce Desktop. If you want the KDE Desktop there is Kubuntu. And, if you want to run a thin client and server setup for a classroom there is Edubuntu.

For all of the versions except Xubuntu you can request a free install CD.
However, if you have a broadband Internet connection, or have a friend who does, downloading the CD images will get it to you faster and conserve resources for those that have not choice but to order the CD.

I guess that, personally, I am biased as to the Linux distro that I use, e.g. Ubuntu, simply because it was Ubuntu that introduced me proper to Linux on the desktop and as far as I am concerned Ubuntu it will remain for a long time to come.

This is not to say that I shall not, in due course, as I have a number of “older” PCs sitting about here that I want to put to use again, experiment with Fedora, Puppy, Damn Small Linux, and a few others. I still doubt, however, that any of them will replace my Ubuntu one(s).

Let me reiterate that Ubuntu Linux is definitely worth a look

The Ubuntu developers have a philosophy and a product that seems to be Second to none. Here are some points that I find appealing as regards Ubuntu Linux:

Ubuntu Linux has a company behind it to make sure releases and updates are available in addition to support by an active user community. They have pledged never to charge a license fee. They make their money by offering paid support only.

The people behind Ubuntu Linux are committed to the free Open Source software concept and working hard to get the software out to people to use.

One impressive way they are helping to spread the word about (free) Open Source Software is by offering free CD-ROMs with free shipping. This is a great way to get the software to those without fast Internet connections and to get people to share it with their friends.

Ubuntu Linux is available as a Live Linux version you can run from the CD so you can see how you like it before installing.

Ubuntu Linux is definitely worth trying whether you have ever run Linux before or not. Check it out! I did exactly that. I checked it out by ordering the live CD and got sent about five of them. One for use, theoretically, and four, I guess, to pass on to others. I have meanwhile also cut CDs of those and given them of people who were interested.

I had heard a lot about Linux and decided to give it a go. I liked what I saw and stuck with it. I also stuck with the first initial version of Ubuntu that I ever stuck onto the PC. Why? Because of the old adage “if you Linux box works, leave it alone”. The real reason is, it does what I want it to do, is fast about doing it and, well, I am happy with it. As said, give it a try, you have nothing to lose bar your ties to Microsoft. You can set up – the CD does that automatically – a dual-boot on the PC so you have the option to return to Windows at any time, should you so wish; though I doubt that you would wish to.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

P.S. I am not getting paid by Canonical for this, before anyone asks. I just like the product.

Homemade Mouthwash Recipe

Looking for a cheap and natural way to freshen your breath? Then, try this simple mouthwash recipe:

Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to half a glass of water, and use it to gargle – an instant fix for even the worst case of bad breath.

Why This Works and How?

Baking soda neutralizes the odors in your mouth, rather than just covering them up, as many, if not indeed, all manufactured mouthwashes do.

Benefits of Using Baking Soda Mouthwash that it is inexpensive, contains no harsh chemicals, has no strong taste and is alcohol-free.

  • Keep some baking soda in your purse or briefcase, and you can even freshen your breath on the go.
  • Add a drop of peppermint oil for a minty taste.
  • If you prefer to make up big batches, boil your water, and add a teaspoon of baking soda for every eight ounces of water. Store in a sterilized container.

Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

Make Your Own Copper and Brass Polish

If you are looking for a low-cost, low-elbow grease way to clean the copper and brass around your home then try this:

For this natural copper and brass polish you need: some baking soda, some white vinegar, and a cleaning cloth.

To make the cleaner you mix baking soda and white vinegar together to create a paste. You then rub the paste into the copper or brass object that you wish to clean. Rinse, and buff with a dry cloth; and, voila, a new shining object.

The technology behind this cleaner is the fact that the acetic acid in the vinegar and the sodium in the baking soda work together to dissolve the tarnish.

The benefits of using a baking soda/vinegar polish is that it is inexpensive, free of chemicals and all natural. This cleaner and polish is food-safe, environmentally-friendly and, last but not least, fast-acting.

A couple of tips:
  • Be sure to use a soft cloth. Stiff brushes, scouring pads and other scratchy tools can damage copper, as copper is a relatively soft metal.
  • If the object you're cleaning is badly tarnished, you may need to repeat the process
  • This polish can also be used to clean bronze.

Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

Uses for Found Orphaned Socks

Often, on my walks, I do find the odd orphaned sock of a small and not so small child and I have often wondered as to what to do with them, as I always thought it a shame to waste them, as a resource and then, one day it just dawned on me... USB stick and cell phone/MP3-player socks, obviously.

Now I have a use for them and you have an idea as to what to do with them too, if you find some.

The smallest ones, those that tend to be lost by babies in their pushchairs are turned into covers – not much to do about it – for USB Flash Drives, aka USB Sticks, and the bigger ones, from older babies and toddlers, make great ones for cell phones and also for iPods and other MP3 players. Why buy a so-called USB or cell phone sock when you can have them for free and do something for the environment at the same time.
So, happy sock hunting...

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

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Found Clothes

Only recently I found out that I am not alone, so it would appear, in picking up lost clothes, and other such things, that are laying about.

I had always thought that I must be alone and strange as regards to doing this – not that that would have surprised me one single bit – but, it would seem, that I am not alone. There is even a website, a Typepad Blog, dedicated to the activity of rescuing orphaned clothes, teddies and other items found lost or abandoned. It is rather nice, in a way, to know that one is NOT alone in this after all.

The purpose of this little dissertation, aside from letting you, the reader, know that there are rescue services about for orphaned articles, it is to have a look at and maybe a little discussion about as to the activities of adopting such orphans and what to do with them in the end.

First of all let me say that I find it always amazing to see what does end up left laying around in the way of clothing items, as well as other things. How some people forget things such as those always bets me.

I must say that, even though I do draw and attract some strange looks at times, I tedn to pick up most orphaned items of clothes (toys, dog leads, etc.), as and where feasible and healthy, whether I can personally make use of them or not. Children's clothes, for instance, get washed and stored to go into boxes for Gypsy families in need.

I must say though that I doubt that anyone could make use of the lovely woolen hat (real wool) that I managed to ruin the other day. Why? Well, it was found in the woods and in an attempt to clean it up a little I washed it, even though I used only warm water, in the washing machine and I shrunk and felted it rather heavily. Mind you, it will make a great liner or an egg basket, though, I am sure.

On a more serious note, however, I find that at least by picking the things up and where possible bring them back into use, for myself or others, after cleaning, they are kept out of the landfill sites or the refuse incinerators, in addition to the fact that they are still being used, thus reducing a little the impact on the environment.

Like with many things, if we would not throw them and find a use for them instead we would have far less of an adverse impact on our environment, on Nature, than we do.

Many of those items of “orphaned” clothes, as well as soft toys, and other items, that are being found should never be there in the first place. It beats me how anyone can lose a shoe, as in a single shoe, for instance, or boot. I can understand that one may find a single small child's sock floating about, so to speak, for we all know what little ones, when in their prams, do. They often pull them of and before Mom notices one or both socks are lost. Obviously, Mom is not going to go back looking for one or even a pair of baby's socks: well, seems to be the attitude, we just buy another pair. We shall be looking at uses for such orphaned socks in another article.

In general too it is surprising how such items of clothing – toys again get there often in the same way as the child's socks, namely that they get dropped by the child on the way and no one can be bothered, generally to look for them again – end up where they do end up in the first place. When I pose this question now it is a rhetorical one but, “what is wrong with people nowadays?”

I must say that, when one was raised the way I was in that, firstly, we did not have much, whether in way of clothes, or toys or other, and secondly, when one has the environment in mind and also those less fortunate than oneself, the adopting of orphaned clothes, and other such items, becomes an addiction and an obsession. So, beware. The are now Lost Clothes Adopters Anonymous around; well, not as yet, anyways.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

Metal and Carbon Fiber Hiking Staffs – Another NO Good Idea

The sport of Nordic Walking, in which originally ski poles, once from natural materials, were used, has brought us this, often telescopic, hiking staff, also referred to as a hiking pole now and we seem to come across those things now everywhere, in parks, in woods, on the hills. What a silly and to the environment costly invention. What is wrong with the good old wooden staff or stick?

Yes, I do know that you cannot collapse a wooden staff into a short length to stick it into your backpack or such, but when using a wooden staff you also don't use something that took lots of energy and CO2 to produce. In fact, while the sapling for the wooden staff was growing it used only the energy of the sun and used up carbon, in fact.

OK! I will have to admit it, I am biased. I am, after all, a stick maker, amongst other things, but still.

You cannot beat the beauty, character and especially strength of a natural wooden (or bamboo, if need be) hiking staff. In no way can you put the weight on one of those modern metal and plastic thingies that you can on a standard walking stick or a hiking staff made from a sapling. That is, however, something that you may have to do when traversing difficult terrain and not only difficult terrain. The stick or staff is the third leg to the walker and hiker, it is there to steady you on slopes and on rough ground and to make your passage easier and, should the need arise, it can also be used as a weapon to defend against two- and four-legged attackers.

You cannot, however, do that efficiently with the aluminium or carbon fiber hiking pole. I am sure that, should you have to put lots of strength on it or have to use it as a weapon, say, against a ferocious dog, the staff would break. In fact 99 out of a 100, of that I am nigh on sure, definitely will break if too much pressure is brought to bear upon them. May of those one can, nowadays, find broken in parks and on the hills because people had to put weight on them and one or both – when used as a pair – have failed. This could also be rather dangerous to health and safety of the walker using such staffs.

This is not something that I have ever, as yet, encountered with a natural grown and carefully crafted stick or staff. The grown wood, often purposely grown and trained into this or that kind of outdoors stick, can never be bettered by man-made “stick”, a “stick” made from a metal, light metal at that, which is not all that strong to start with, e.g. aluminium, or made from a plastic, even if it is carbon fiber. While carbon fiber may make great fishing rods with a great breaking strain, because it flexes well, this material, in my – biased, I hasten to add – opinion, does not a great walking stick make. I have tried them and found them all wanting. I guess this simple may be because I am used to wood for a staff but then again...

...Food for thought!

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

Artificial Flavors

Ice cream manufacturers are not by law required to list the additives in the making of ice cream. Chemical additives are much less expensive than the real thing so that the manufacturers usually take the path of least resistance to higher profits. Consequently, the majority cheaper, pre-packed (especially half gallon and gallon) ice creams are synthetic from start to finish.

Laboratory analysis have shown the following:

Diethyl Glucol – a cheap chemical that is used as an emulsifier to substitute for eggs. It is identically the same chemical used in anti-freeze and paint remover.

Piperahol – extensively used as a substitute for vanilla. This widely used by exterminators as a chemical to kill lice.

Aldehyde C17 – used to flavor cherry ice cream. This is an inflammable liquid which is used in aniline dyes, plastic and rubber.

Ethyl Acetate – used to give ice cream a pineapple flavor. It is used a cleaner for leather and textiles. Its vapors are a cause of chronic lung, heart and, especially, liver damage to those two industries.

Butyraldehyde – used to give ice cream various nut-like flavors. It is one of the common ingredients of rubber cement.

Amyl Acetate – used to give ice cream a banana flavor. It is used commercially as an oil paint solvent.

Benzyl Acetate – used to give a strawberry flavor. It is used as a nitrate solvent.

This is just a small list of whats used in ice cream.

What are they using in other foods? We have decided not to buy anything that says artificially flavored or colored. Yes, it has cut down on what we can safely
buy. Better that than feed our bodies something that could cause cancer or other health problems.

A couple of books that you can read to get more information on this are:
CONSUMER BEWARE by Beatrice Hunter, and THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD by William Longgood.

O.W.C. Newman

N.B. While the above may hold true and be the case as to artificial flavors and such in the USA, in the countries of the EU, including Great Britain, each and every ingredient has to be listed and if E-numbers are used there is a list available that shows what what product is and does. There was once a great scare as to the E-numbers and people rejected or attempted to reject anything with E-numbers. However, every ingredient, even natural flavors, etc. have an E-number, simply because that's how the EU works and sometimes only the number is listed. In the UK, however, the entire name of the ingredient must be in the list.

In the main, in Europe, the ingredients for ice cream have to be natural, and vanilla flavor means flavored with vanilla essence. However, ice cream does not have to use milk fats in the UK and still can be called ice cream while in some other countries this is not the case. Ed.

Easy to make cleaners


1/2 cup white vinegar,
1 cup ammonia
1/4 cup baking soda,
1 gallon warm water
This can also be used in a spray bottle


In a spray bottle,mix:
1 cup Isoprpyl (rubbing alcohol),
2 tablespoons liquid dish detergent,
2 cups water


Use equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Crumpled newspaper can used to dry windows


1 gallon water,1 cup white vinegar. No need to rinse.


1 gallon water, 3/4 cup ammonia. Use on heavily soiled floors – NOT on wood.


2 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap
tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon borax
Store in spray bottle, shake before use.


In a spray bottle, combine: 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup Wisk, 1/2 cup of water. Spray on spots, wash as usual.


Wet stain and rub with a bar of Fels Naphtha soap.


Mix in a spray bottle: 1 cup salt, 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup liquid laundry detergent. Spray stain and wash as usual.


Pour 1/2 cup Dawn dish washing liquid into a spray bottle or other bottle. Fill the bottle with white vinegar. Spray on the tub, scrub & rinse.


Sprinkle baking soda in bowl and drizzle with vinegar. Scour with a brush. Cleans and deodorizes.


1 teaspoon each-liquid dish soap, lemon juice, vinegar, borax, 1 quart warm water. Apply liberally to inside of oven. Let set for at least 30 minute then scrub.


Contributed by Owen Newman. Taken from the latest issue of "Plain Interests", a monthly paper put out for the Amish and other old order people.

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A better mousetrap

Having mice move in with you is one of the worst things that can happen to spoil domestic tranquility.

You could put out traps,but then you have to empty them and reset before putting them back.

Sticky traps work quite well,but again,you have to handle them to dispose of them in the trash.

Cats do not always do a good job. Just how many mice can a cat eat? Besides,there's the litter box problem. No thank you.

Poisons are dangerous. Especially if you have little ones around. So,what's a person to do?

Well,take one Alka Seltzer tablet and grind it up as fine as you can. Mix it with an equal amount of whole wheat flour and put it in a container [a jar top works well]. Place where there seems to be a lot of mouse activity. Place another jar lid with water along it.

What happens is the mice eat flour-AK mixture, drink water,and die from bloat. You see,a mouse cannot belch.

They go to the nest and die,our if they die in sight, just sweep them up and dispose in the trash.

You don't have to worry the dangers of poison or touch the rodent itself.

© O W C NEWMAN, March 2008

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Credit card data stolen from supermarket chain

A computer hacker or computer hackers stole thousands of credit card numbers after managing to breach security at two U.S. grocery store chains owned by Belgium-based Delhaize Group SA, the companies admitted.

Nearly 2,000 cases of fraud have been linked to the breach, but no personal information such as names or addresses was accessed when the hacker broke into the Hannaford Bros. stores in Massachusetts, New England and New York, and Sweetbay customers in Florida, Hannaford claimed in a statement. The question is, how do they know that no other information was accessed.

According to Boston's WBZ radio 4.2 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen. Company officials were not immediately available to confirm the number of stolen card numbers. In other words, officials of the company were not prepared to admit that the is so large. They are working on so-called “damage control”, I am sure.

Hannaford, headquartered in Scarborough, Maine, said that it had become aware of unusual credit card activity on February 27 and began an investigation. It said the data was illegally accessed during the credit card authorization process. And how is this possible? If it is that easy to access such information then, maybe, we better all went back to cash payments and, maybe, checks. This definitely does not make for inspiring confidence in the systems that are in place to safeguard information that companies (and governments) hold on us. Time to put the breaks on this, methinks.

Hannaford Chief Executive Ron Hodge offered an apology for the intrusion. There are 165 Hannaford stores in the U.S. Northeast and 106 Sweetbay supermarkets in Florida.
"We sincerely regret any concern or inconvenience this has caused," Hodge said in a statement. "We have taken aggressive steps to augment our network security capabilities."

The breach is the latest at a big U.S. retailer and comes after U.S. retail group TJX Cos Inc disclosed last year that data from 45.7 million credit and debit cards were stolen by hackers over a period of 18 months, as well as personal information for 451,000 people.

A group of banks later asserted in court documents that the number of consumer accounts were affected was closer to 94 million, a charge Massachusetts-based TJX denied.

But, how can this be? The data we give out is supposed to be so secure. Yes, I am being sarcastic; a trait I am well known for. Our data is simply NOT secure on an such systems that can be accessed from the “outside” so to speak, whether business or government. This is yet another reason for for us all not to trust the governments with our personal data for any kind of national ID card scheme, whether in the UK or in the USA. With all the information in digital for cloning it is all so much easier and NOT harder, as they try to tell us all the time.

Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008

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California Court Rules That Homeschooling is – basically – illegal

A California appeals court has made the decision that only parents who hold teaching credentials can legally homeschool their children.

"Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," Justice Walter Croskey wrote. The ruling was unanimous.

Many parents in the State are most upset about this ruling, which means they could face potential prosecution if they do not comply with the law. It is estimated more than 160,000 students are homeschooled in California, but, unless the parents hold a teaching degree they break the law under Califirnia's penal code.

The ruling comes from a California child welfare case where two parents homeschooled their eight children without either holding a teaching certificate.

The children were also enrolled in a private school, which considered them a part of their school, although in independent study. The school reported that they visit the children several times a year.

Legitimate Schools, Unqualified Teachers?

The appeals court said the state law on education has been clear since 1953, when another appellate court rejected a separate challenge by parents.

Education officials theorize that some homeschooling parents avoid that law by registering as a private education institution with the state, then only enroll their children.

But to become a teacher in the state, a person must have a bachelor's degree and pass a battery of certification tests.

California's Teachers Union said they were pleased with the court's ruling. One board director said that they believe "students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."

I do not think that there is any surprise here that the California's Teachers Union and state brainwashers are pleased with this ruling. It would hardly be otherwise.

Homeschooling Effectively Banned

The president of the Home School Legal Defense Association says the ruling would effectively ban homeschooling in the state.

"California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home," he said in a statement.

One parent told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "if homeschooling becomes illegal, then it's just going to become underground."

Well, the other option would be, and that would soon teach – pun intended – the State's lawmakers, and that is for those who wish to homeschool their children legally to leave California. A mass exodus of thousands of people would soon, I am sure, carry the message even to the lawmakers and judges with the thickest of skulls.

One legal expert on children's law says the court did not change the law, they only upheld it. She said that "if they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers."

I do not think that the question here is about a “private Christian school” but about parents exercising their God-given right to teach their own children, and I am saying that without even believing in the God of Abraham. I do, however, believe that the God or the gods, have given parents or guardians the right to teach their own children in the way that they see right and not having to send them to official state brainwash institutions.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), March 2008