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

The school bus may not come next school year

In the new school year the bus may not make a stop for your kid as high fuel prices force cost-cutting nationwide

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Families are not the only ones who are examining their driving habits as fuel prices continue to climb. The same applies for municipal governments, police departments and school districts. They are all also tightening their belts, as budgets get stretched by high fuel costs.

In certain suburban areas, school officials are asking children to walk farther to their bus stops so districts can squeeze a few more miles per gallon. In other areas it may be a case that children will be asked to walk to school altogether or to cycle. I am sure that there will be more districts and counties to follow suit soon, as it would not appear that the prices will be going down in the near future. It seems that they will rise still further. The $200 a barrel oil by the end of the decade, e.g. 2010, does not seem all that far off anymore; a notion when mentioned by Dr. Stephen Leep in his book “The Coming Economic Collapse” was laughed off as impossible fantasy.

Read more here...

Free software for all

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Open Source software is the biggest open secret in the IT world.

Open Source software is free, secure, and supported by some of the world's largest software and hardware companies. The software they will be promoting includes OpenOffice, a complete office suite, Firefox, a secure web browser and Thunderbird, an email and calendar manager. Companies that are committed to open source include Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems and Novell.

Operating systems like Linux and BSD are safe and secure to use and some easier than others. The current one that I find, probably, to be the best is Ubuntu Linux in this regards.

Read more here...

PETA upset after pigeons shot dead at Wimbledon

Here we go again with PETA – Wimbledon under fire for pigeon cull

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Tournament has come under fire from animal activists on the second day of Wimbledon for using marksmen to shoot down dive-bombing pigeons.

The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club does “employ” two hawks during the tournament to scare away pigeons who that have become a pest swooping down onto Centre Court and distracting players in the middle of tense matches.

However, the hawks have failed to keep the pigeons away from the players’ lawn and the open-air media restaurant, due to the high number of pigeons in the area, so marksmen were called in to shoot them.

“The hawks are our first line of deterrent”, said Wimbledon spokesman Johnny Perkins, “and by and large they do the job well enough.”

“But unfortunately there were one or two areas where the hawks didn’t deter the pigeons, so it was deemed necessary to take a harder approach,” he explained.

The marksmen were summoned by Wimbledon as pigeon droppings on the restaurant tables were thought to be a health hazard.

The decision to call in the marksmen was condemned as “cruel and illegal behaviour” by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which complained to the tournament organisers and the police.

“Since the use of marksmen to kill pigeons appears to have been carried out as a first, rather than a last resort, and not out of a concern for public health, but rather because the animals were deemed inconvenient by players, you appear to be in clear violation of the law,” PETA vice-president Bruce Friedrich said.

I do not know where this idiot from PETA comes from – what planet, I mean – but there is no law against shooting pigeons, as they are classed as vermin. It needs nothing to do with public health or whatever. PETA, kindly wake up and also, if possible, return to the planet whence you have come.

Apparently there are always again and again people who have nothing else to do but to involve themselves in needless campaign such as these. It looks like they cannot find anything else that can get them into the news well enough bar things such as the Wimbledon Tournament and pigeons.

I must say and will also do so that, while I am all for the environment and everything ecological, when it comes to pigeons, whether feral, as in rock doves in the cities, or to wood pigeons, as well as to the gray squirrel, that's where it ends and those end up in my freezer.

Does someone out there have the phone number for the marksmen? I'd like to contact them for the pigeons. My freezer could do with filling up and as food is getting a little expensive those would do nicely, thank you.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Dump that screen saver

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Dump those flying toasters and endlessly looping slide shows. They may be doing more harm than good.

In today's world the screen saver is no longer needed, and it has not been needed for many years now. Our monitors are no longer the ones that can end up with so-called screen burn or burn in, as the old green and gray ones once did. So, why do you still use a screen saver.

You do not still use a screen saver, do you?

Read more here...

Wood Stoves and Air Pollution

Clean Burning Wood Stoves Minimize Health Risks

Many households use wood as a primary heating fuel, while other households use wood stoves and fireplaces as supplementary heating sources. For many people, the sight and smell of wood smoke curling out of a chimney brings back fond memories of hearth and home. Wood is a renewable resource, unlike fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas, which are non-renewable. In fact, if firewood is harvested in a sustainable way, woodlots can provide an abundant source of fuel for years to come.

Unfortunately, smoke from wood burning stoves and fireplaces can be a significant source of air pollution, negatively impacting public health and the environment. People can reduce the amount of smoke from their wood stoves by choosing low-emissions certified stoves, operating them properly, and using good quality firewood. This will improve combustion efficiency, reduce emissions, help protect public health and the environment, and save fuel costs.

The Problem: Smoke from Wood Stoves is a Public Health Risk

The smoke produced from woodstoves and fireplaces contains over 100 different chemical compounds, many of which are harmful and potentially carcinogenic. Wood smoke pollutants include fine particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, dioxins, and furans. Breathing air containing wood smoke can cause a number of serious respiratory and cardiovascular health problems. Those at greatest health risk from wood smoke include infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those suffering from allergies, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, or any other heart or lung disease.

Fine particulate matter, the very small particles that make up smoke and soot, may be the most insidious component of wood smoke pollution. The most harmful particles are those ten microns or less in diameter (a human hair is approximately 70 microns in diameter). These particles can easily be inhaled deep into the lungs, collecting in the tiny air sacs (called alveoli) where oxygen enters the blood, causing breathing difficulties and sometimes permanent lung damage. The particles are also often composed of harmful substances, such as sulfate, which is acidic, and toxic trace metals like lead and cadmium. Inhalation of fine particulate matter can increase cardiovascular problems, irritate lungs and eyes, trigger headaches and allergic reactions, and worsen respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, resulting in premature deaths.

Pollution from wood stoves is a particular concern in the winter when cold, stagnant air and temperature inversions limit air movement. Communities located in valleys are more strongly affected. As wood burning increases on cold, clear, calm nights, smoke is unable to rise and disperse. Pollutants are trapped and concentrated near the ground, and the small size of the particles allows them to seep into houses through closed doors and windows.

In addition to its potential health impacts, wood smoke contributes to the unpleasant brown haze we often experience on winter mornings. Regional haze reduces visibility and obscures our enjoyment of scenic vistas.

The Solution: Increasing Wood Stove Efficiency to Reduce Smoke

Smoke from wood stoves is generated primarily by incomplete combustion, which can be caused by a number of different factors related to the wood stove's efficiency. Improving a wood stove's efficiency will improve the combustion process, and thus reduce the amount of smoke and harmful air pollutants released into the air. A wood stove's efficiency is affected by both the design features of the stove and how it is operated and maintained. Here are some ways to improve wood stove efficiency, resulting in less smoke and money savings on wood fuel costs.

Select a clean-burning stove and make sure it is the proper size

When buying a new wood stove, make sure you are purchasing a certified clean burning, more efficient model with design features that promote complete combustion. Wood stove design technologies that are desirable include advanced combustion stoves, catalytic stoves, and wood pellet stoves. Advanced combustion stoves are designed to create the conditions necessary to burn the combustion gases as they go up the chimney. Catalytic stoves contain a catalytic combustor that ignites smoke gases and particles at a lower temperature, resulting in a more complete burn of harmful substances. Wood pellet stoves burn small pellets of compressed wood by-products instead of cordwood. The pellets are fed into the stove through a hopper at a controlled rate, producing a clean optimum burn with low emissions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set standards for wood stoves in 1990. Stoves cannot be sold to consumers in the U.S. unless they meet certain emission standards for particulate matter and carry the EPA Emission Certification label. Certified stoves reduce smoke emissions by as much as 90 percent, compared with conventional stoves, and are much more efficient. EPA-certified stoves often include design features that promote secondary combustion aimed at burning off dangerous chemicals and toxic substances before they leave the firebox. Be sure the wood stove you are using is EPA-certified, and if your wood stove is old, consider replacing it with a cleaner, more efficient model if at all possible.

EPA offers advice to consumers for purchasing woodstoves, ranging from considerations relating to installation, operation and maintenance, to determining the best size stove for your heating needs. A wood stove should be the proper size for the area being heated. A stove that is too large or too small will create more pollution.

Make sure your wood stove is properly installed

All wood stoves should be properly installed to ensure tightness, safety, proper draft and efficiency. Improper installation could result in more air pollution, chimney fires, or house fires. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations for flue size, clearances and connections, and consider having your wood stove installed by a certified installer. Before installation, be sure to check with your local authorities regarding building codes and permits, and notify your fire insurance company.

Choose the proper fuel

The best wood to use in wood burning stoves is air-dried hardwood (oak, beech, maple, elm, ash - not pine), seasoned for six to eight months prior to burning and stored under cover for protection from the weather. Wet or freshly cut ("green") wood is not energy efficient because the heat produced is used to evaporate water, rather than heat the home. The water content of a tree or freshly-cut firewood can be as high as 50 percent, compared with 15 - 20 percent in dry, well-seasoned wood. Burning dry wood produces a more even burn and helps prevent the formation of creosote, a highly-flammable crusty deposit that sticks to the inside walls of your chimney.

The use of properly sized wood pieces is equally important. Wood should be split to a maximum thickness of four to six inches, depending on stove size. This size increases the surface area exposed to flame, resulting in higher burn efficiency.

NEVER burn household wastes such as plastics, color newsprint, diapers, magazines, packaging materials, coated or laminated papers, or painted or treated wood in residential stoves or fireplaces. When burned, these products produce smoke, odors, and release toxic fumes, and the remaining ash may be hazardous. Only dry, untreated wood is acceptable to burn.

Use proper burning techniques

Efficient wood burning requires proper starting, an adequate supply of oxygen, and temperatures high enough to ensure that gases coming off the fire are burned. Start a wood stove fire small at first, with dry kindling or small pieces of clean paper. Once the flames from the kindling just begin to subside, add several small pieces of wood, being careful not to smother the fire. The key to maintaining a good fire is careful control of the air supply. The fire should be small enough for air to get to it, but large enough to be hot and able to be hot and able to burn for hours without opening the wood stove door. Unwanted emissions can be released in the house whenever the wood stove door is opened.

A fire that is burning brightly without visible smoke is a sign of good combustion. Excessive smoke from a chimney in the middle of a burn means the smoke is not being burned in the firebox, but is going up the chimney. Never allow the fire to smolder. Smoldering fires are the worst polluters because they burn at a temperature too low for efficient combustion. The result is more smoke - unburned wood going up the chimney, wasted. This means more air pollution and creosote deposits that could lead to a chimney fire.

In addition to checking the fire and smoke conditions, keep the wood stove properly maintained and check it frequently for leaks. Leaks in a stove reduce its efficiency and cause indoor air pollution. To enhance chimney safety and maintenance, periodically check and clean the stack pipe and chimney. See your local fire officials for more information on maintenance of wood stoves, stacks and chimneys.

Reduce the amount of firewood burned by making your house more energy-efficient

Before installing a wood stove, consider insulating and weather stripping your home to conserve heat. Also, make sure that all doors and windows are properly caulked.

Source: N.H. Department of Environmental Services

P.S. NEVER burn household wastes such as plastics, color newsprint, diapers, magazines, packaging materials, coated or laminated papers, or painted or treated wood in residential stoves or fireplaces. When burned, these products produce smoke, odors, and release toxic fumes, and the remaining ash may be hazardous. Only dry, untreated wood is acceptable to burn” may be the advice of the agency but in the UK it is now being talked about that we should consider burning waste lumber in power stations and such. Well, as far as I am concerned, of you have a woodburner at home that's where that stuff gets burned as well. M.S.

Make Do and Mend

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This is a philosophy that I grew up with as a child as much as I grew up in hand-me-downs whether this were clothes, bicycles, or what-have-you, and it is one that I have never forgotten. I still practice this philosophy – nowadays known as
practical recycling – in various forms to this very day.

Already as a small boy I developed the habit, and it has – unfortunately some of my friends would say – stayed with me, of picking up anything from the streets, the woodland paths, the hedgerows, and so on that might just come in handy. Old nails and screws; nuts and bolts; tools that have been lost or thrown away; old knives; and much more are in that category. Among the knives that I have found there have been knives for the re-working into sheath knives as well as pocketknives with nothing wrong with them; there have been spanners and wrenches, screwdrivers, and many other tools; the list would be far too long to write down.

This habit also applies with me to making use of everything that can be, in one way or another, re-worked into something else, whether this be old and worn Jeans into Ditty/Possibles bags or other things; old kitchen and butcher’s knives into “new” sheath knives. The leather of old boots, shoes and bags will be made into the sheath for such knives and/or into other items such as belt pouches for folding-knives, compass, pocket-watch, and so on. There is only one severe drawback to such a habit and that is the need for a fairly large storage area in your home for all the things ”that might come in handy some day”.

During WWII in England booklets galore were published by the Ministry (and there was a shortage of things but they seemed to have enough paper to produce those official booklets) on the very subject of
Make DO & Mend telling people, for instance, of how to change adult clothes into underclothes for children; to convert Dad’s old cotton shirts into nightshirts for the boys, and so on.

The philosophy and attitude of
making DO also applied in those days to digging up one’s flowerbeds and “digging for victory” by growing vegetables there instead of flowers in one’s garden. That could also still be a very valuable philosophy today to – instead of filling the garden up with grass and flowers, which may be esthetically pleasing to the eye and all that don’t feed no-one. Growing at least some of one’s own vegetables and such could give one some more cash in one’s pocket. Vegetables can – in actual fact – grown behind say a flowery border in a garden and look quite nice as well. The trees in one’s garden should not be ornamental this or that but fruit trees such as apples, pears, cherries, walnut and hazelnut, and anything else in that league and the ground beneath such trees should be utilized by vegetables and soft fruit such as strawberries. Also grow your own culinary and medicinal herbs in your garden, including such beneficial plants as Aloe Vera. If the weather isn’t suited for growing the latter out-of-doors than grown those in pots in the house. The same can also be done with many other herbs and spices. And if you have no garden to grow your own vegetables and such but live, for instance, in a trailer park with only hard-standing of concrete then you can use various forms of containers such as the raised bed, tubs made of various things such as old bathtubs even, and also old automotive tires. Even fruit trees can be grown in containers.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

The Voluntaryist - Advertisement

Fourteen ways to save water in your garden

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It is important, especially nowadays, that we all protect our precious water sources and water resources by using water wisely. This does bot mean, however, that you have to let your yard and garden dry up completely. The trick is to know when to water and how much water to use on the plants and also and especially as well as what to plant and when. The following tips will help you water less often and more effectively.

Please also remember that everything that you put in or on your plants and lawn to make them grow is also going to find its way either onto your skin or into your vegetables, and the excess will go into the groundwater.

Chemicals do not all decompose into meaningless neutral entities. On the contrary rather. If you have not done so already, it might be advisable to make a change t to organic or natural fertilizers and insecticides. They are safer to handle, safer for your pets and safer for your kids, plus they don't contaminate the groundwater.

1./ Plant in the early spring or fall when watering requirements are lower and rains more likely. This gives smaller plants a good start and you don't have to worry about watering as much.

2./ Make sure your sprinkler isn't watering the roof, driveway, sidewalk or, worse yet, the street. Using the kitchen timer is a helpful way to remember to turn the sprinkler off.

3./ Spring is the perfect time to start a compost pile. Compost adds water-holding organic matter to the soil as well as fertilizer, keeps weeds down, reduces landfill waste and water waste from kitchen disposal use.

4./ Put mulch around plants to help keep water from evaporating. It also benefits you by keeping weeds down.

5./ Water your lawn when you notice you leave footprints when walking across it, that's an obvious indicator that it is dry.

6./ Set your mower higher. Longer grass shades itself and keeps water from evaporating.

7./ Use pervious paving options for driveways, walks and patios so your water does not run off into the sewer or retention ponds. Turn downspouts so that they drain away from the house and into bushes and gardens.

8./ Plants that are watered deeply need less frequent watering and send roots deeper, making them heartier.

9./ Group plants with the same watering needs together to get the most out of your watering time.

10./ Plant trees to help lower air and soil temperatures, reducing plant and soil moisture loss. (They also keep your house cooler in summer and warmer in winter.) One word of warning on that, however, and that is that lots of trees around your properly can also make the house dark and the garden too moist and lacking light for proper growing.

11./ Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation. However, in reality you do not, unless your zoning laws require you to do so (and then the authorities should pay you for doing so), have to water grass at all. I know that it gets brown when not watered under semi-drought and full drought conditions, but it reinvigorates immediately once the water returns. So far I have not found any lawn that has gotten brown that did not revitalize after a little rain. My advice would not to waste valuable water on grass. If you think that you have to water your lawns then also remember not to water your lawn on windy days. After all, sidewalks and driveways do not need water. Also avoid over fertilizing your lawn. The application of fertilizers increases the need for water.

12./ Replace worn washers between the spigot and hose to prevent leaking, and use a hose with a shut-off nozzle, which can be used to adjust water flow as needed. And turn off the hose at the spigot instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.

13./ Drip hoses and sprinklers work great for large areas, but water small areas by hand to avoid waste. Use a watering can for raised beds and tubs and such, whether those are used for flowers or for growing produce.

14./ Add rain barrels to catch rain off the roof. They are more popular now and are available in many sizes. Many include faucets and attach easily to down spouts.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

BOGO LIGHT - Advertisement


by Lawrence Marsh

I would like to share with you all some of the thoughts and beliefs that have helped me move toward an even more simple and peaceful lifestyle. I have never been more happy in my life = thanks to these ideas…

1./ A wise man or woman will own as few things as possible. The goodness in people is tarnished by material possessions.

2./ Everything you own, owns you. What you chain to you, you are also chained to it. (This applies to animals, too.)

3./ How quickly we become the servants of our tools (machines).

4./ So many exhaust themselves in their own service – rushing to self-appointed tasks, most of which need not be undertaken in the first place.

5./ Spending is a form of mental illness. It is to be avoided whenever possible.

6./ Love your enemies, for they are your teachers.

7./ A radish does not care what time you get up, animals you own most certainly do.

8./ Everywhere a blade of grass will grow, something else will grow that you can eat or sell.

I still cannot understand the refrigerator debate. I can’t put root crops in it, not tomatoes, nor fresh fruit, nor grain. I buy fresh vegetables, don’t eat meat, and am too old to drink milk. My sister-in-law in Latin America has a refrigerator to show off to the neighbors. When she was gone one day, I looked inside – there was nothing in there but one bottle of Coke. (She’s from the “third world” – she likes fresh food!).

U.S. School District starts to microcip students

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A school district in Rhode Island has announced that it is implementing a pilot program to monitor student movements by means of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips implanted in their schoolbags.

How long until they will be implanted in the child him- or herself? Not long, I should think.

The Middletown School District, in partnership with MAP Information Technology Corp., has launched a pilot program to implant RFID chips into the schoolbags of 80 children at the Aquidneck School. Each chip would be programmed with a student identification number, and would be read by an external device installed in one of two school buses. The buses would also be fitted with global positioning system (GPS) devices.

Parents or school officials could log onto a school web site to see whether and when specific children had entered or exited which bus, and to look up the bus's current location as provided by the GPS device.

And in due course the chip implanted in the child's schoolbag or under his or her skin will also have a transponder, I am sure, that will make it possible to global position the location of the child as and when he or she has left the school bus even. Great – NOT!

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has criticized the plan as an invasion of children's privacy and a potential risk to their safety.

Because the pilot program is being provided to the school district at no cost, it did not require approval from the Rhode Island ethics commission.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Pea pod soup

At one time I thought growing English peas was a waste of time and garden space for what we got back. Now I grow lots of peas since my wife discovered how to make soup from the pods.

In case you would like to try it, here is the recipe.

2 qts green pea pods(pods only)
1 tsp salt
1 onion
1 tsp pepper
2 Cups milk
3 TBSP flour
1 tsp sugar
a little Nutmeg
3 TBSP butter

Wash pea pods, cut into 1' long pieces, boil in water with onion for 1 1/2 hrs. Strain through colander, add pepper, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and milk (which has been scalded). Bring to boil and thicken with butter and flour mixture.

With a sandwich, this is really good, especially on a cold day.

Owen Newman 2008

Farms need emergency plans before disasters strike

(Wisconsin) Farmers should have emergency plans before a tornado, fire, or other disaster hits their farm, according to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. The Farm Bureau posts a farm emergency plan template on its web site,, for farmers to make their own list of emergency contacts, family members and employees, a plan to meet away from the farm in an emergency, and a diagram of their farm.

“When an emergency responder pulls into a farm’s driveway, they may not always be prepared for what they are going to find,” said Casey Langan, Director of Public Relations for the Farm Bureau. “They might not know how grain bins operate, how livestock react under stress, how anhydrous ammonia tanks work and the danger involved with handling the product. Therefore a farm emergency plan should include a description and location of production facilities, livestock and equipment to help minimize the devastating effects of a farm disaster.”

The Farm Bureau said current operational procedures exist for local police, fire and emergency response teams, but many of them may have little knowledge of the workings of a farm. An emergency plan should provide the additional safety information that emergency responders will need.

Farms may have equipment, building structures, livestock bio-security measures, farm chemicals and fuels, power usage and generation, and other aspects of raising livestock and growing crops that require special attention by emergency officials or other important partners who respond to the special needs of farms.

The Farm Bureau is recommending that farm families review and update this emergency list with their family and employees, and to have copies posted near telephones and shared with neighbors and emergency responders.

Items to include in a farm emergency plan:
  • List of family members, employees or neighbors, who are familiar with your farm business.
  • List of emergency contacts.
  • Description of medical history or medical information of family members and employees.
  • Description of location of the farm and directions from nearest major intersection.
  • A general diagram of the farm that includes the location of chemical, fuels, livestock, equipment, overhead and buried utilities, etc.
  • Location of spare keys for vehicles or buildings.
  • Contact information of businesses providing services such as veterinarian, heavy equipment, electricity, livestock and milk hauling, insurance, financial, etc.
  • List of suppliers of chemicals, fertilizer, medications, etc.
  • Contact information of medical care provider.
  • Telephone grid of farmers to help provide livestock care, emergency feed and water, power, etc.
  • Safe storage of farm and personal financial information and computer records in fire-proof boxes or off-site safe deposit boxes.
  • Off-site meeting location and contacts for family and employees to gather following a disaster to assess the situation and coordinate response.
The template of an emergency plan can be found under the “Ag Resources” section of

Source: Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (USA)

Special Needs Require Special Preparation

Do you or a family member have a disability? Will you be responsible for the care of an elderly adult in case of an emergency or disaster? Do you have small children that will need extra supplies and care in the event of a hurricane? If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," then you should consider now what extra steps to take in your disaster plan.

As the 2008 hurricane season begins, all levels of government, from city councils to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), are working to prepare for potential storms that may strike Mississippi in the coming months.

"An aspect of preparedness that cannot be overstated as we continue to focus on recovery here in Mississippi is that of individual preparedness. We should all be prepared and alert as hurricane season is here once again." said Sid Melton, director of FEMA’s Mississippi Transitional Recovery Office (MS TRO).

Residents should be mindful that disaster preparedness is not a "one size fits all" concept. Those with special needs require special preparations.

"It is critical that Mississippi’s most vulnerable residents and their caregivers take the time now to get a plan," said MEMA Director Mike Womack. "They should consider such details as medication and special transportation when planning for the upcoming hurricane season."

General considerations for those with family members with disabilities:
  • Make prior arrangements with your physician or check with your oxygen supplier about emergency plans for those on respirators or other electric-powered medical equipment. Be sure to have electrical back up for any medical equipment.
  • Maintain a two week supply of such items as dressings, nasal cannulas and suction catheters.
  • Maintain a two week supply of medications, both prescription and non-prescription.
  • Keep copies of your medical records.
  • Keep copies of prescriptions for medical equipment, supplies and medications.
  • Keep extra contact lenses and supplies, extra eyeglasses and extra batteries for hearing aids.
  • Make plans now to have accessible transportation in case of evacuation.
  • Shelters may be limited in accommodations to meet some of the needs of those with disabilities. Prepare ahead of time to ensure that you will have what you need.
Considerations for those with small children:
  • Assemble extra items in your disaster supply kit such as diapers, baby formula, medications, favorite books, crayons and paper, puzzles, favorite toys, a favorite blanket or pillow, pictures of family and pets and any other items that will comfort your children.
  • Remember that children’s fears often can stem from their imagination – fears they may be separated from family, someone will be injured or killed, or that they will be left alone. Communication is very important in maintaining your children’s mental well-being in times of crisis.
  • Also, keep a copy of your children’s immunization records, including the date of their last tetanus-diphtheria shot.
Considerations for those who are responsible for the care of senior citizens:
  • Remember to help seniors who live alone. They may need help evacuating from their home, preparing for a storm and dealing with the aftermath of a disaster.
  • If an older adult lives in an assisted living facility or nursing home, you should contact the administrator to learn about the disaster plan for that facility.
Other considerations:
  • Hearing Impaired - make special arrangements to receive warnings.
  • Mobility Impaired - plan for special assistance to get to a shelter.
  • Single Working Parent - may need help to plan for disasters or emergencies.
  • Non-English Speaking - may need assistance planning for and responding to emergencies.
  • People without vehicles - make arrangements for accessible transportation.
  • Special Dietary Needs - take steps to ensure you maintain an adequate emergency food supply.
In case of evacuation due to an approaching storm, those who require transportation to a storm shelter should contact the Coast Transit Authority at 228-896-8080.

Additionally, people with special needs should create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends and coworkers to aid them in an emergency. Discuss needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment.

More information regarding disaster plans and planning for special needs can be found at, and

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Source: FEMA (USA)

Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Do you want to use a fruit and vegetable wash, but are scared off by the price? Here is how to make your own at a fraction of the price:

All you need are white vinegar, water and a spray bottle

When it comes to using it use the following procedure:

In case of hard-skinned fruits and vegetables:

1./ Fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water.
2./ Then, spray the solution onto your fruits and vegetables; rub it in; and rinse.
Hint: Use a scrub brush to work the solution into the skin

For soft-skinned fruits and vegetables:

1./ Fill a bowl with equal parts white vinegar and water.
2./ Then, soak your fruits and vegetables in the solution for a minute or two, and rinse.

The reason this works is as follows: The acetic acid in vinegar kills bacteria and helps to dissolve the wax and pesticide residues found on the skins of many fruits and vegetables.

The benefits of making your own fruit and vegetable wash are that it is cheaper than store-bought washes, cleans more effectively than water alone and is all-natural.

As with all cleaning materials store your fruit and vegetable wash out of the reach of children and ALWAYS label the contents of your spray bottles. Too many accidents happen because a bottle is not labelled and contains some poisonous substance or such.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Lights Out!

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Think about your sleeping schedule and how it effects your power consumption.

While it is certainly true that late at night power is usually at less demand, that is to say, after a certain watershed when everyone else has gone to bed. However, would it not be better to use less electricity yourself?

Read the rest of the article here>>>

Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I must say that I have never understood why anyone would want or need to have the tap running when brushing their teeth, especially in some case the hot tap, and have always found this rather strange.

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Washing hands in cold water

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If like me you are a frequent washer of hands – in my case this being due to my Romani-Gypsy Culture and our People's Cleanliness Laws – then using the hot tap for this purpose would be rather wasteful, both in terms of water and energy. By the time the water reaches the tap, generally, you will have finished washing your hands which means that – one – you have anyway washed, basically, in cold water and – two – and this is the important bit – you have needlessly fired the boiler.

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Mule Power!

Farmers in the United States are turning to mule power to fight rising oil prices

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Rural areas in the United States are now feeling the severe and profound effects of the ever rising fuel prices. The fuel price rise is felt more stronger in the countryside than in other parts of the country. This due to the combination of lower incomes and also and especially the heavier dependence on farming equipment, tractors, pickup trucks and vans, which either require gasoline or diesel in order to run.



Incognito, the revolutionary new approach to dealing with the age-old problem of being bitten by insects is expanding with the introduction of two ranges of luxury soaps. Incognito is a pleasant-smelling powerful camouflage that make the user invisible to all things small that bite. Its unique blend of 100% natural ingredients, including organically-certified citronella (C. winterianus) and eucalyptus, has taken years to perfect and a new, improved formula is being launched in a 100 ml size alongside the soaps.

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Wash in cold water and do your bit for the environment

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Setting the temperature on your washing machine to cold or 30 degrees Celsius is a great way to save energy, money, and carbon emissions.

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Is your drinking water causing depression?

Other impacts of fluoridation are “constipation, fuzzy thinking”

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A New York organization whose members are raising alarms about the damage from fluoride in America's water supplies says a government study available online suggests the additive can be blamed for a multitude of problems stemming from thyroid imbalances, including cardiac disease, depression, constipation, fuzzy thinking and fluid retention.

The New York State Coalition opposed to Fluoridation Inc., has said that there is clear evidence that small amounts of fluoride, at or near levels added to U.S. water supplies, present potential risks to the thyroid gland.

The organization cited a study by the National Research Council that reviewed fluoride-thyroid research and literature.

“Many Americans are exposed to fluoride in the ranges associated with thyroid effects, especially for people with iodine deficiency," Kathleen Thiessen, Ph.D. and co-author of the government-sponsored NRC report, wrote.

"The recent decline in iodine intake in the U.S could contribute to increased toxicity of fluoride for some individuals," she said.

"A low level of thyroid hormone can increase the risk of cardiac disease, high cholesterol, depression and, in pregnant woman, decreased intelligence of offspring," she continued.

The statement said other common thyroid symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain and slow reflexes.

The New York group said fluoride, in the form of silicofluorides, is added to public water supplies across about two-thirds of the U.S. The program dates back decades and was "ostensibly to reduce tooth decay, [but] was never safety-tested," the group said.

Robert Carton, Ph.D., an environmental scientist whose more than 30 years of work for the U.S. government included managing risk assessments on high priority toxic chemicals, told the New York organization, "Fluoride has detrimental effects on the thyroid gland of healthy males at 3.5 mg a day. With iodine deficiency, the effect level drops to 0.7 milligrams/day for an average male."

The report also cites studies documenting fluoride concentrations in thyroids exceeding levels found in other soft tissues except kidneys, an association between endemic goiter and fluoride exposure or enamel fluorosis in human populations and how fluoride adversely affects thyroid and parathyroid hormones, which affect bone health.

The National Research Council functions under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. It is one branch of a private, nonprofit institution that provides science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

The collective mission of the organizations is "to improve government decision-making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology, and health."

Most people think that fluoride is what you have in your toothpaste or water, but they are unaware of the fact that Prozac is a fluoride product; almost all psychotropic drugs are fluoride products."

The study itself notes various studies have linked secondary hyperparathyroidism to fluorosis and that other studies have found "there are some data to suggest that fluoride does adversely affect some endocrine glands."

This study also includes other chapters on studies that found lower IQ scores for subjects of Chinese studies who had exposure to fluoride.

"The IQ scores in both males and females declined with increasing fluoride exposure," the online study reported. "Of special importance, 21.6 percent of the children in the high-fluoride village scored 70 or below on the IQ scale. For the children in the low-fluoride village, only 3.4 percent had such low scores."

And this is what they put into the drinking water in the Unites States and intend to put into the drinking water in Britain.

People just are entirely unaware of what fluoride actually is and most dentist do not even seem to understand it, and it is them that had been pestering the authorities, so it is said, to fluoridate drinking water “in order so that children get healthy teeth”. Shame that they get also damage tooth enamel and more importantly that it will affect many other things, such as, amongst others, the brain. Fluoride is also a neural pathway agent, so it is understood by this writer. Hence the fact that fluoride is an ingredient in Prozac and other neural pathway drugs.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Taking notice of the invisible wasteful things

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The most frequently discussed and mentioned way to go green is changing habits. To do this, instead of that, we are told and such. However, much less do we here mention of one as important if not more important than changing habits and that is “changing the mindset”.

Habits are one thing; put the empty glass bottle into the recycling bin for glass, the waste paper into the paper recycling bin, and so on, instead of simply chucking those things into the garbage can, which then ends up, more often than not, in the landfill. Changing the mindset is where things must get to and that is much more important and much more difficult, I think, for most. Me must develop, the older generation as much as the younger generation, a “green mindset”.

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Salvaged food

What, you ask, do I mean by salvaged food? Let me tell you, it ain't for the ultra fastidious or the weak of stomach.

Many stores and greengrocers (produce stores) will through out bags and boxes of fruits and veggies that my have one or two bad apples, potatoes, tomatoes, whatever, rather than sort through it and re-bag. A lot, and I mean a lot, goes into the dumpster.

Much can be salvaged, and what cannot, can either be fed to the chickens or pig, put in the compost pile. Nothing should go to waste!

We have a small produce store that has told us to just go through the dumpster and take whatever we want. Recently we took home 4 flats of strawberries, a box of apricots, three pineapples, a bunch of rhubarb, two boxes of green grapes, two eggplants, several cantaloupes, and an onion.

My wife made over twenty jars of jam, syrup, and preserves out of the strawberries. Several jars of apricot butter, also peach butter(I forgot to mention them, and several mangoes). She is drying the rhubarb for future pies. She is canning the grapes for future use also. The onion we'll use in cooking, the small head of cabbage will become coleslaw. So you have to sort through it and cut out the bad spots, Think of all the fruits and veggies you'll have with no money out of your pocket, just a little work.

Now some will say, "But that's garbage!". Have you ever toured a canning plant, checked the label on some sausages. I once bought some chorizo that was made from hog salivary glands, snouts, and other assorted parts that if I had read the ingredients before, I certainly would not have bought it.

With the economic upheaval we are experiencing now, getting food this way might become more rewarding. Just be sure to tell them you want it for your chickens, pig, or compost pile. If you tell them you're going to eat it, they won't give it to you because of the possibility of getting sued if some one gets sick. Use some discretion here. Happy food gathering!


Is drinking sodas bad for bones?

Apparently this is the case and there are at least three reasons to think before you drink...

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

1./ There is research that does link the drinking certain types of soda with weaker bones - but it is not the carbonation that seems to be the problem. Something else seems to be the culprit.

2./ Once upon a time – and no, we are not starting a fairy tale - nutrition experts believed that it could be caffeine who might be the culprit. In a 2001 study out of Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, people lost measurable amounts of calcium after drinking sodas which contained caffeine. Drinking decaffeinated sodas did not appear to have the same effect. As it turned out, though, people tended to make up for the losses by excreting less calcium later in the day, and therefore the researchers concluded that if sodas do harm to bones it is probably because people drink them in place of milk, and many children indeed seem to do just that. Or are, in fact, given colas and such instead of a decent drink of the white stuff.

3./ Another study, however, reported in 2006 by researchers at Tufts University in Boston, suggests that colas, specifically, might be problematic. Among the 1,413 women whose dietary records and bone-density scans they reviewed, those who drank a diet or regular cola at least three times a week over five years had significantly lower bone densities than those who sipped cola once a month or less. No such effect occurred with other carbonated drinks, even after researchers factored in intake of calcium from foods.

The most likely cause, therefore, would appear to be Phosphoric acid, which is unique to colas. When the body breaks down this compound, the acidity (or concentration of free hydrogen ions) of the blood increases. To neutralize acidity, hydrogen ions bind with minerals, including calcium and magnesium. If they are not available in the blood, then, so it would appear, the body draws calcium from bones.

While the occasional cola drinker probably need not worry those that drink cola every day should definitely consider an change. Those who drink it daily could be at a real and significant risk.

There are plenty of good reasons to quit a regular soda habit; carbonation isn’t one of
them. In fact, sparkling mineral waters sometimes contain a little calcium and magnesium so they might even benefit bones. But, then again, it is water in a bottle and we do not really want to advocate that.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Unplug your chargers when not in use

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

When you're not using your chargers, be it for your mobile telephone, your digital camera, your PDA, your MP3 Player, or what-have-you, unplug them or, if you happen to live in the UK, switch them off at the socket where the charger happens to be plugged in at the wall. If you use a power strip then the “unplug” applies, also in the UK.

Chargers still use a lot of energy, as they are constantly still actually transforming current, when they are plugged in at the socket. Savings can range from a few pounds a month to hundreds a year depending on how many chargers you have and use and tend to keep plugged in.

© M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

Romani Herbs Part 2

Cabbage: highly regarded by the Rom, it's germ killing and anti-inflammatory properties being well known. Leaves were bound on wounds,boils, abscesses, and sores. Crushed cabbage leaves were applied to bites and stings of insects. Arthritis and rheumatism, muscle aches and menstrual cramps called for an application of hot cabbage leaves, as did also sore throats. Cabbage water is good for preventing nightmares and stomach infections. These same properties can be found in sauerkraut as the cabbage enzymes are preserved in the fermentation.

Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus): The juice is rubbed on warts and corns, to remove them. Very effective,but mix with a little vinegar first and use sparingly.

Chamomile: Very strong antiseptic,the smell of which repels bees and biting insects. An infusion is used to a tonic and cure for flatulence,digestive problems. Relieves nausea and diarrhea. Helpful for babies with colic and teething pain. Being an effective sedative, the tea should not be drunk to excess. Flowers made into a paste can be used to treat skin ulcers, infections, rashes, and burns. For asthma it is smoked like tobacco.

Chervil: Used raw as digestive,diuretic,and expectorant. Use only young, green leaves. Cut fine with a knife... Do not chop!

Chestnut: Leaves were used in a tincture to treat chilblains, eczema,and rheumatism.

Chickweed: Very valuable plant. Stems were cooked and given to children that were undernourished to gain strength. Also used for rheumatism and cramps. Being potent, it is never used in large doses. It can sometimes cause mild temporary paralysis.

Chicory: The root made into a tonic is bitter digestive that increases bile flow and eases inflammation. The roasted root is used as coffee substitute and additive. An excellent tonic for the liver, and cleansing the urinary tract. Used as a mild laxative for children.

Red clover: A tea was made of the dried flowers to make a tonic for indigestion, headache, nausea, neuralgia, and bronchitis. Also used as a sedative for nervous complaints. Poultices are used to treat ulcers and sores. The dried flowers mixed with coltsfoot are used as an herbal tobacco.

Coltsfoot: Leaves were gathered after all the flowers had disappeared then dried. They were used to treat colds and bronchitis. Infused with honey, relieves asthma and pleurisy. A decoction of crushed leaves is applied to insect bites, ulcers, burns and cuts. Tobacco was made from the leaves mixed other leaves, comfry, beech and chestnut. It was smoked to cure asthma.

Comfrey: Also known as knitbone or boneset. The root is lifted in March, then grated and mashed and the warm pulp used as a poultice to treat inflammations, wounds, insect bites, and sores. It sets up hard just like a plaster cast.

Owen Newman, June 2008