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Need a competition gun, Springfield says they’ve got one.


day3_ROStainlessI have a 1911 and whenever I carry it old boys, former military and ex-police stop and congratulate me. Actually it’s a bit big for my hand but I go with the flow because who doesn’t want to look cool, right?

 I’m the first to admit that while I know which end is which I am by no means a firearms expert. But I’d like to know one. And I know my readers would, too. So if you you’re a writer trapped inside your gun nut brain, please send me your comments, articles, reviews, hunting journal stories – and share it with fellow Squirrel readers. will find me. (use the @ symbol)

In the meantime, here’s a press release for the new Springfield 1911.

For shooters who need a competition 1911, the Range Officer® from Springfield Armory® offers finely tuned performance without breaking the bank. The Range Officer® brings the precision of a competition pistol in a simple and straightforward configuration.

The Range Officer® has the same quality forged national match frame and slide as the Trophy Match™ and TRP™ 1911s. It gets the same precision fit as these pistols, too. Add in the same national match stainless steel barrel and bushing, and you have a pistol that shoots well beyond its price tag. The Range Officer® is topped with a fully-adjustable rear target sight, so you have maximum flexibility. The beavertail grip safety, extended lightweight trigger and checkered flat mainspring housing allow the pistol to sit in your hand comfortably for long periods of time at the range. The extended thumb safety keeps things simple and functional. It all adds up to a pistol that will let you seriously compete in a variety of matches.

If you want to get into the game and bring a gun that will surprise you with its performance, try the Range Officer®. Are You Ready?™

MAGAZINES:2 – 9 Round
BARREL:5″ Stainless Steel Match Grade, Fully Supported Ramp / 1:16 LH
SIGHTS:Fully adjustable rear target with fiber optic front
FRAME:Forged Stainless Steel
SLIDE:Forged Stainless Steel
WEIGHT:41 oz. w/ Empty Magazine

So you got your conceal carry, now what?

In this video Michael Martin, author of Concealed Carry and Home Defense, and Tim Schmidt, aka Tactical Tim and president and founder of the USCCA, speak to users about the top ten concealed carry mistakes, don’ts and blunders which many responsibly armed Americans can often find themselves falling into.

This quick and easy concealed carry video could be the difference between life and death, being in jail or the ability to walk away a free citizen. The United States Concealed Carry Association is the number one resource for the responsibly armed American to educate, train, equip, and insure themselves to carry a weapon in self-defense.

The full list of the top ten mistakes is:

#1 Selecting the Wrong Firearm for You
#2 Making a Personal Protection Plan Only About Firearms Training and Not About Conflict Avoidance and Situational Awareness
#3 Finding the Right Gun but the Wrong Holster
#4 Believing You’ve Ever Had Enough Training
#5 Doing the Wrong Kind of Training
#6 Not Preparing for the Legal and Financial Aftermath of a Self Defense Shooting
#7 Not Testing Your Self Defense Ammo
#8 Not Building Consistency into Your Carry Practices
#9 Not Properly Maintaining Your Carry Gun and Ammunition
#10 Not Understanding Your State’s Laws or the Laws of States You Might Visit

To See All Top Ten Mistakes of Concealed Carry visit the USCCA UNITED STATES CONCEALED CARRY ASSOCIATION http://www.ConcealedCarryTrainingVide…

A Minimalist’s Guide: How to Do More With Less Space

MinimilizeWith the tiny home craze circulating through TV shows and Internet articles, it’s safe to say that minimalism has found its primetime. More and more people want to downsize and live simpler, but if you’re used to 2,000 square feet, downsizing can be daunting. Here are some tips from leading designers.

Over at Modernize, they love the minimalist approach to living simply, and we have a few tips to do more with your small space.

The Clutter Snowball Effect

It’s a no-brainer that less space means you’ll have less room for your possessions. But it’s easy to wake up one day and find yourself living in clutter.
It happens to all of us. That’s because clutter attracts clutter. What starts out as a junk drawer becomes a catch-all, and can transform into a junk closet or room.

via Architecture Home Design

To keep clutter in check, combat it with superior organization systems. For small closets, use stacking or spinning shoe racks, or hang a plastic organizer over the door. Sort your wardrobe with a shelving unit to utilize all of your space, and install shelves to store purses and accessories. For media centers and game rooms, use decorative baskets to house miscellaneous items, and tuck them into a shelving unit or cubby system.

Utilize Wasted Space

Use all of the space you can, from floor to ceiling. Give every item a home, and when you make a new purchase, brainstorm where you would like to keep it. If you don’t have space, go through your items and decide what you can sell or donate.

Get creative when creating storage solutions. The area behind your door? You can set up a skinny bookshelf no deeper than the doorframe, so that the door still fully opens. Use it to store knick-knacks, art, small items and toys. You can also install a shelf over the door frame for more storage options. Use
wasted space under the stairs by installing a set of drawers or small closet.

Create the Illusion of Space

via Dwell

Installing an outdoor living space, like a wrap-around patio or garden area will make you feel like you have
place to get some air and natural light, so you don’t feel confined by a small space, but rather liberated.

Additionally, you can replace doors with sliding walls that open and close to generate a flow. This turns
still allows for a sense of privacy when you need it. You can also substitute curtains for sliding walls.

Turn Your Bed Into a Loft

via Refinery 29

Maximize square footage in smaller places by lofting your bed. Raising your bed will allow you to utilize the space beneath for a variety of purposes. You can select a desk with a ton of storage and slide it under the loft to create a home office. Or, if you’ve given up on the dream of a walk-in closet, you can have faith again and install one in the empty space. Other ideas include a play area for children or a library.

Have Fun With Accent Colors

Keeping your décor simple is great advice when you have a smaller space, but that doesn’t mean your interior design has to be boring. Take advantage of accent colors to add fun pops around the house, from throw pillows on the couch to an interesting paint color on a shelving unit. This vibrance will lift
your spirits, making it easier to appreciate what you have and how simply you’re living.

Can a good guy with a gun beat an armed bad guy? Check out this investigation.

WFFA screenshot. Conference room scenarioGreat test to Wayne LaPierre’s assertion that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

These test scenarios were run by Texan local ABC affiliate WFFA. WFAA conducted the exercise at a vacant office building near Lewisville. All of the volunteers admitted they were nervous, but were eager to see how they would perform.

They all knew they would be involved in three different scenarios in which they would have to encounter an assailant with a gun. Everyone was armed with helmets, goggles and training pistols with plastic pellets.

Their “good guys” — all of whom have concealed handgun licenses — are:

  • Brian Martin, 30, of Lewisville, who has 10 hours of training 
  • Matthew Beeman, 41, of Denton County, who has six hours of training
  • Mary Bannan, 67, of Lantana, who has 25 hours of training
  • Royce Hardin, 68, of Lantana, who has the most experience — 50 hours of training

In charge of the exercise was Travis Bond, the managing member of the DFW Shooters Academy in Highland Village, an instructor with 32 years of training and law enforcement experience.

The “bad guy with a gun” was Shawn Clary, a SWAT team member and tactical instructor with 22 years experience. Clary was carrying a semi-automatic AR-15 that also shot plastic pellets.

The overall lessons: Conceal Carry. Train. Prepare. Practice. Practice some more.

Neat storage idea


guns-make-us-less-safeThis week, President Barack Obama announced executive actions related to guns. Here are 10 common myths about firearms. 

Myth No. 1: Firearm purchases at gun shows do not require a background check due to the “gun show loophole.”


  • When the president and others refer to the “gun show loophole,” they imply that there are no background checks being done at gun shows. As a result, much of the public has been misinformed and are led to believe that individuals who purchase firearms at gun shows are not subject to a background check.
  • In reality, there is no “gun show loophole.” If an individual wants to purchase a firearm from a licensed firearms retailer, which typically makes up the majority of vendors at gun shows, the individual must fill out the requisite federal firearms paperwork and undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check.
  • The only firearms that are being purchased at gun shows without a background check are those being bought and sold between individuals, peer-to-peer, as opposed to buying a firearm from a gun dealer. These private sales are not at all different from selling a personal hunting rifle to the owner’s niece or nephew down the road. It is a private sale, and no background paperwork is required. The gun is private property, and the sale is made like a sale of the family’s good silver. The one difference is that the locus of a gun show is being used to make the private sale.
  • Under current law, an individual is permitted to occasionally sell part, or all, of his personal firearms collection. These private sellers, however, cannot be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. “Engaged in the business” means they can’t repeatedly sell firearms with the principal objective of earning funds to support themselves. Some of the individuals who wish to sell a portion, or all, of their personal firearms collection do so at the show and might display their wares on a table. These “private table sales,” however, are private, peer-to-peer sales and, therefore, do not require a background check. The president cannot change criminal statutes governing requirements for which sellers must conduct background checks. His new actions don’t do so and don’t claim to do so.
  • In a peer-to-peer, private firearms transaction, it is already illegal to sell a firearm to another individual if the seller “knows or has reasonable cause to believe” that the buyer meets any of the prohibited categories for possession of a firearm (felon, fugitive, illegal alien, etc.).

Myth No. 2: Gun shows lack any law enforcement presence and are a free-for-all for felons and other prohibited individuals to obtain firearms.


  • Local, state, and federal law enforcement are often present both in uniform and/or covertly in plain clothes to monitor and intervene in suspected unlawful firearms sales such as straw purchasing; purchases made by prohibited individuals, including non-residents; and the attempted sale of any illegal firearms.

Myth No. 3: Individuals who purchase firearms on the Internet are not subject to background checks.


  • An individual cannot purchase a firearm directly from a firearms retailer over the Internet and have that firearm shipped to him directly. An individual can pay for the firearm over the Internet at websites and online sporting goods retailers. The firearm, however, must be picked up from a federal firearms licensee, such as a gun store. In many cases, this is the brick-and-mortar store associated with the website where the gun purchase was made. Once at the retail store, the Internet purchaser must then fill out the requisite forms, including ATF Form 4473, which initiates the NICS background check process. Thus, an Internet purchase of a firearm from a firearms retailer requires a background check.
  • Individuals from the same state are able to advertise and purchase firearms from one another and use the Internet to facilitate the transaction. It is unlawful, under current law, to sell or transfer a firearm to an individual who is out of state. Any Internet sale, even between individuals, that crosses state lines would have to utilize a federal firearms licensee, such as a gun store, and the purchaser would be required to fill out the requisite state and federal paperwork and would undergo a background check.

Myth No. 4: The president’s Jan. 5 executive action on gun control represents landmark change regarding gun control.


  • With few exceptions, Obama’s executive action on firearms is nothing more than rhetoric regarding the status quo. Many senators have long argued for better and more robust enforcement of existing laws that prohibit criminals from owning guns.
  • It is the current law of the land that anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms must have a federal firearms license. The president’s action does not change current law, but merely restates existing court rulings on the meaning of “engaged in the business.”

Myth No. 5: The Obama administration has made firearms enforcement a priority.


  • The Obama administration has used its limited criminal enforcement resources to focus on clemency for convicted and imprisoned felons, the investigation of police departments, and civil rights cases. The latter two categories represent important work, but the Department of Justice lost track of one of its core missions of enforcing criminal law: prosecuting violent criminals, including gun criminals.
  • The Obama administration is only now making firearms enforcement a priority. Clearly, enforcing the gun laws is a new initiative, or one of the president’s actions would not have been informing all of the 93 U.S. attorneys about it.
  • Proof of this lack of enforcement is revealed in the decline of weapons-related prosecutions during the Obama administration. As data obtained from the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal, firearms prosecutions are down approximately 25 percent under the Obama administration versus the last year of the Bush administration.

Myth No. 6: Mental health has nothing to do with gun control.


  • People with certain levels of mental illness are not permitted to own guns. Many of the recent mass killings were committed by mentally ill individuals. One of the keys to preventing further mass shootings and violence committed with firearms is addressing the issue of mental health.
  • Background checks to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining guns can work only if states provide mental health records to the NICS system. Too many states have failed to do so. Many of the worst offenders are states with the most stringent gun control laws. For multiple years now, many members of Congress have repeatedly called for and introduced legislation that would provide incentives for states to submit their mental health records for inclusion in the NICS database.

Myth No. 7: Obama’s executive action on gun control will thwart criminals’ ability to obtain firearms.


  • The president’s executive action regarding firearms is focused primarily on individuals who attempt to purchase firearms through the background check process.
  • Criminals, however, obtain firearms in myriad illegal ways, including home invasion robbery; trading narcotics for firearms; burglary of homes, vehicles, and businesses; and straw purchasing.
  • My legislation, Senate Amendment 725, was specifically designed to combat the straw purchasing of firearms as well as firearms traffickers who transfer firearms to prohibited individuals and out-of-state residents.

Myth No. 8: There is a general consensus in America that greater gun control is needed to prevent mass shootings in the United States.


  • Despite the president’s statement to the contrary, polls have shown that the majority of Americans do not believe that stricter gun control would reduce the number of mass shootings in the United States.
  • The American public does not believe that making it harder for law-abiding Americans to obtain guns makes America safer. In fact, polls have shown that a majority of Americans thinks the United States would be safer if there were more individuals licensed and trained to carry concealed weapons. A majority opposes re-imposition of the “assault weapons” ban.

Myth No. 9: The terrorist “no-fly” list is a proper mechanism to bar Americans from purchasing firearms. —Obama, Jan. 5


  • The no-fly list is actually multiple lists, which are generated in secret and controlled by executive branch bureaucrats. The Second Amendment right to bear arms has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court to be a fundamental right. This puts the right to bear arms in our most closely guarded rights, similar to the rights to free speech and freedom of religion. It is unconstitutional to deprive an American citizen of his Second Amendment right without notice and an opportunity to be heard.

Myth No. 10: Gun retailers need to step up and refuse to sell semi-automatic weapons. —Obama, Jan. 5


  • There is nothing unlawful about a semi-automatic firearm. A semi-automatic firearm simply means that a round is discharged with each pull of the trigger. These include most shotguns used for waterfowl hunting and rifles commonly used for target shooting.

Written by Sen. Chuck Grassley for the Daily Signal


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Turbulent times… and How You Might Profit From Them

With the Fed’s December 2015 interest rate hike in the rear view mirror, savvy investors like you are coming to grip with its impact on their portfolios. Anyone paying attention knows this will potentially have significant effects on their bottom line.

Most immediately, the value of your long-term bonds will tumble.

A 1% rise in interest rates means that a 10-year bond will lose 10% of its value, unless held to maturity. The quarter point rate increase means a 2.5% loss of bond value, unless held to maturity.

Your equities won’t fare well either, especially if they depend upon growth through borrowing.

Eventually, corporate debt will have to be refinanced, and at a higher rate, decreasing profits. If you own stock of debt-ridden companies, you will be hurt.

Plus, the equity markets in general will take a hit as investors look to safe haven U.S. Treasuries. Whereas the government bonds already issued are subject to the loss of value mentioned above, the newly issued, higher yielding bonds may very well lure investors away from stocks and into Treasuries.

What about the dollar?

Pundits believe raising interest rates will inevitably weaken the dollar as well. We are a debtor nation and will be forced to pay more for our debt service. While ordinarily an increase in interest rates makes the dollar more attractive to foreign investors and therefore strengthens the dollar, our foreign lenders may pull back their willingness to extend our credit if higher rates increase the possibility of default through negative pressures on debt service.


What can you do to protect yourself from the impact of an interest rate rise and own an asset uncorrelated to market volatility?

Take advantage of the U.S. dollar’s strength. Take some strong dollars and diversify into tangible assets.

A Rare Strategic Metals program is now available in which you can own metals used in the manufacturing of 95% of products used today.

Among the variety of strategic metals offered is Hafnium, a metal that is rare both because very little is produced and because there are restrictions on its distribution. Consider trading some strong dollars for Hafnium today.

Hafnium_lump_thin_film_effectsWhy Hafnium?

Hafnium is used in the manufacturing of nuclear control rods and aero and industrial gas turbine blades. It is also used in plasma-cutting equipment, which has been revolutionized by the properties of Hafnium. Other uses include Intel’s processors, blue lasers for DVD readers and critical film deposit applications – chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and physical vapor deposition (PVD) – for products such as semiconductors, composites, optical fibers and nano machines.

Hafnium is virtually always in short supply. The United States and France are the world’s major producers, with China and the Ukraine producing small amounts in less pure forms.

Distribution is also administratively difficult because, although Hafnium has commercial uses, it is also a critical nuclear metal. There are export and safety restrictions to certain countries under the provisions of the Wassenaar Agreement – a multilateral international agreement controlling the export of conventional arms as well as dual-use technologies and goods.

Prices for Hafnium are rising.

Hafnium prices rose 30-40% at the end of 2014, and pressure continued from super alloy manufacturers throughout 2015.

Industry analysts project a 20-30% rise in demand over the next 10 years from the aerospace industry alone.

In addition, orders from the nuclear arena are estimated to jump to 70-80% of demand (up from the current 25%), because of new reactors being built worldwide in the next three years.

Undoubtedly, Hafnium represents a very strong market, but a very small one.

Approximately 50 tons per year are produced, so there is not much to go around. Hafnium has been under the radar for over 30 years. It was first isolated in 1923. Afterwards, it had no practical use until the nuclear industry discovered its property of blocking neurons. But, it was only in 1970 when an alloy, MAR M 247, which contains 1.5% Hafnium, was patented by Martin Marietta Corporation for use in jet engines, that the demand for the alloy created a Hafnium investor following. 

The supply of Hafnium is limited by a variety of factors.

It is difficult to extract Hafnium in practical quantities from anything but Zirconium sand. However, the majority of Zirconium is bought by the refractory industry for use in furnace bricks or liners. The Hafnium in Zirconium is usually left intact and never extracted.

It is wasted!

Even though the Hafnium is not of use to that industry, it is simply less expensive not to separate the two metals, and so a great deal of Hafnium is lost to the market place.

By contrast, Hafnium is separated from Zirconium in the nuclear industry as it uses both Zirconium and Hafnium for different purposes; but, the industry does not make their Hafnium available outside their industry. This leaves the aerospace industry and other users left with low supply, high demand and a willingness to pay a high price.

You can see, with great price potential coupled with its usual scarcity, a unique opportunity opens up when Hafnium becomes available to investors.

How do you take advantage of the U.S. dollar’s strength and Hafnium’s positive supply/demand situation?

If you have a source for Hafnium, it is a simple exchange of current strong value (dollars) for potential future strong value (Hafnium). And, we have access to just such a source.

Click here to find out more

Who doesn’t want a flying car?

I’m a sucker for pushing technology to the limits. I love the idea of a flying car although I’m sure that the government would spoil all the fun by regulating the bejesus out them. But check out this fabulous craft.

It’s from Terrafugia. It’s their new Outer Mold Line for the TF-X™, Terrafugia’s vision for the future of personal transportation. The TF-X™ will be a four-seat, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) hybrid electric aircraft. Visit for more information.

TF-XTM Quick Facts:

  • Timeline: The TF-X™ is still in the early stages of development, with a production date estimated at 8-12 years in the future.
  • Pricing: The price will be consistent with high-end luxury cars. More specific pricing information will become available as we progress in the development of the TF-X™ program.
  • Range: the TF-X™ will have a range of 500 miles with cruise speeds up to 200mph.

TF-XTM Goals:


  • Operating the TF-X™ should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile.
  • The TF-X™ will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace.
  • The TF-X™ will have a backup full-vehicle parachute system which can be activated by the operator in an emergency if the operator believes the TF-X™ to be incapable of auto-landing.
  • If a TF-X™ operator declares an emergency (which will automatically notify authorities of the situation), the TF-X™ can be landed in non-approved landing zones.
  • If the operator becomes unresponsive, the TF-X™ would automatically implement an emergency auto-land at the nearest airport.


  • Learning how to safely operate the TF-X™ will take substantially less time than would be required for a traditional aircraft.
  • The TF-X™ will give the operator significant freedom in flight – controlled in a manner similar to steering a car.
  • The TF-X™ will be able to fly in either “manual” or “automatic” modes between approved landing zones or airports.


  • The TF-X™ will carry four people in car-like comfort.
  • The TF-X™ will have a non-stop flight range of at least 500 miles.
  • The TF-X™ will fit into a standard construction single car garage.
  • The TF-X™ will be able to take off vertically from a level clearing of at least 100ft in diameter.
  • The TF-X™ will be able to drive on roads and highways – providing true door-to-door convenience and an automotive level of weather insensitivity.

Find out more on the Terrafugia website. 


Survival masterclass: Build a wood and clay heated home from scratch. Amazing!



This guy is amazing. He practices primitive technology as a hobby. But what he does for me is remind me that if we have the skills, we could survive. It might not be pretty, but we could make a go of it. In this amazing video, he builds a wooden with kiln-fired roof tiles and underground heating. To me he’s an inspiration. Here’s his website.

He describes his passion thus: Primitive technology is a hobby where you make things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials. This is the strict rule. If you want a fire- use fire sticks, an axe- pick up a stone and shape it, a hut- build one from trees, mud, rocks etc. The challenge is seeing how far you can go without modern technology. If this hobby interests you then this blog might be what you are looking for.

Also It should be noted that I don’t live in the wild but just practice this as a hobby. I live in a modern house and eat modern food. I just like to see how people in ancient times built and made things. It is a good hobby that keeps you fit and doesn’t cost anything apart from time and effort.

Describing this video he writes: I built this tiled roof hut in the bush using only primitive tools and materials. The tools I used have been made in my previous videos. It should be pointed out that I do not live in the wild and that this is just a hobby. It should be obvious to most that this is not a survival shelter but an experiment in primitive building technology.
To cut and carve wood I used the celt stone axe and stone chisel made in this video (…). To carry water and make fire I used pots and fire sticks made in this video (…). Finally, to store fire wood and dry, unfired tiles, I used the wood shed built in this video (…). 

The wooden frame was built with a 2X2m floor plan and a 2m tall ridge line with 1m tall side walls. 6 posts were put into the ground 0.25 m deep. The 3 horizontal roof beams were attached to these using mortise and tenon joints carved with a stone chisel. The rest of the frame was lashed together with lawyer cane strips. The frame swayed a little when pushed so later triangular bracing was added to stop this. Also when the mud wall was built, it enveloped the posts and stopped them moving altogether.
A small kiln was built of mud from the ground and a perforated floor of clay from the creek bank. Clay was dug, broken tiles (from previous batches) were crushed and added to it as grog and it was mixed thoroughly.This clay was pressed into rectangular moulds made from strips of lawyer cane to form tiles. Wood ash prevented the clay sticking to the stone. 20 tiles were fired at a time. 450 flat tiles and 15 curved ridge tiles were made with only a few breakages. 26 firings were done in all and the average firing took about 4 hours. The fired tiles were then hooked over the horizontal roof battens.
An underfloor heating system was built into one side of the hut to act as a sitting/sleeping platform in cold weather. This was inspired by the Korean Ondol or “hot stone”. A trench was dug and covered with flat stones with a firebox at one end and a chimney at the other for draft. The flames travelled beneath the floor heating it. After firing it for a while the stones stay warm all night with heat conducted directly to the sleeping occupant and radiating into the room.
The wall was made of clayey mud and stone. A stone footing was laid down and over this a wall of mud was built. To save on mud, stones were included into later wall courses. The mud was dug from a pit in front of the hut and left a large hole with a volume of about 2.5 cubic metres. 
The finished hut has a swinging door made of sticks. The inside is dark so I made a torch from tree resin. A broken tile with resin on it acts as a small lamp producing a lot of light and little smoke. The end product was a solid little hut, that should be fire and rot resistant. The whole project took 102 days but would have taken 66 days were it not for unseasonal rain. For a more in depth description see my blog

Easy Ways to Manage Your Whole Home in Zones  

You’ve been taught from childhood to turn off the lights when you leave a room to save energy and money. Now, technology is allowing homeowners to apply those years of training to managing energy consumption – and comfort – on a room-by-room basis throughout the house.

This new approach to managing your home allows you to customize nearly every aspect of a room’s environment independently from other parts of the house, in some cases, even when you’re miles away. You can adjust lighting, music and even the temperature using the right technology-enabled devices.

Options to create ambiance
Nothing sets a mood quite like music. Your home audio system may be perfect when you’re home alone, but when guests fill every room, a more custom approach is in order. For example, the volume may be louder to overcome the commotion of the kitchen, while a lower decibel provides a gentle backdrop to conversation in the living room. Where the kids are congregated, you can play a different soundtrack entirely.

Likewise, there are dozens of reasons to change the lighting from room to room. Kids shuffle from room to room and guests gravitate to different parts of the house, or you may simply want to give the appearance that someone is home when you’re on the road. These are all good reasons to explore a system that lets you adjust your home’s lighting from a single location.
Zoned climate control
The approach to heating and cooling homes has evolved dramatically through the years as well. Now, the latest technology makes it possible to combine the advantages of cooling and heating systems with the benefits of more localized climate settings. Individualized zone control allows homeowners to save money while offering the flexibility to choose which rooms they want to cool and heat.

“Cooling or heating unused areas of your home means using less energy,” said Mike Smith, senior marketing manager, residential, Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. Cooling & Heating Division. “By creating zones, homeowners can feel confident that they are not only saving money, but living smarter and more comfortably.”

Options, such as Mitsubishi Electric’s zoned Diamond Comfort System, create efficient, whole-home cooling and heating solutions, offering year-round comfort control room-by-room. The whisper-quiet units also feature an anti-allergen filtration system to reduce allergens, dust, pollen, viruses and bacteria in the home. Learn more at

Remote management
One of the greatest advantages of the new zoned approach to home management is the ability to adjust each room remotely. Smartphones have taken that function to a whole new level, with apps that let homeowners control virtually any aspect of the home from a remote location, whether down the hall or across the country.

For example, the kumo cloud smart controls app integrates seamlessly with Mitsubishi Electric systems allowing the homeowner to control the temperature of each room in the house from anywhere. The tool takes pre-programmed thermostats to a whole new level with greater flexibility, such as the ability to boost the heat when you’re home earlier than planned. Learn more about the app, which is also compatible with other devices, at

SOURCE: (Family Features) 
Mitsubishi Electric

Juice up breakfast with warm liquid sunshine

Grapefruit BreakfastBring Warmth and Freshness to Your Winter Breakfast

During the cold and dark winter months, it’s important to stay warm and well-nourished. Using in-season ingredients and produce is a simple way to brighten your winter blues and introduce authentic vitamin-rich flavor to your meals.

“Florida Grapefruit reaches its best taste during the heart of winter, making it a great source of fresh, nutrient-rich fruit at a time when many others are not available,” said Emily Richards, cookbook author. “I like to add Florida Grapefruit and its juice to salads, savory dishes and snacks.”

Follow this recipe from Richards for Quinoa Grapefruit Blueberry Breakfast to add Florida sunshine and a boost of energy to your blustery mornings. This refreshing breakfast combines hot quinoa with Florida Grapefruit and blueberries for a new twist on breakfast.

Quinoa Grapefruit Blueberry Breakfast

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

3/4       cup Florida Grapefruit Juice

1/2       cup water

3/4       cup quinoa, rinsed

2          tablespoons liquid honey or maple syrup

2          Florida Ruby Red Grapefruit, segmented

1          cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1          cup 0% vanilla or plain yogurt

fresh mint leaves

In small saucepan, combine grapefruit juice, water, quinoa and honey. Bring to boil; cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

Stir in grapefruit and blueberries; divide into shallow bowls and top with yogurt. Garnish with mint to serve.



(Family Features)  To learn more about Florida Grapefruit and find more recipes, visit



Buying & Storing Potatoes, cooking an egg in a spud, and more

potatoes-448610_960_720Look for clean, smooth, firm-textured potatoes with no cuts, bruises or discoloration.

Proper Storage

  • Store potatoes in a cool, well ventilated place.
  • Colder temperatures lower than 50 degrees, such as in the refrigerator, cause a potato’s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked.  If you do refrigerate, letting the potato warm gradually to room temperature before cooking can reduce the discoloration.
  • Avoid areas that reach high temperatures (beneath the sink or beside large appliances) or receive too much sunlight (on the countertop).
  • Perforated plastic bags and paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf-life
  • Keep potatoes out of the light.
  • Don’t wash potatoes (or any produce, for that matter) before storing.  Dampness promotes early spoilage.

“Green” or sprouting potatoes

  • Green on the skin of a potato is the build-up of a chemical called Solanine. It is a natural reaction to the potato being exposed to too much light. Solanine produces a bitter taste and if eaten in large quantity can cause illness.
  • If there is slight greening, cut away the green portions of the potato skin before cooking and eating.
  • Sprouts are a sign that the potato is trying to grow. Storing potatoes in a cool, dry, dark location that is well ventilated will reduce sprouting.
  • Cut the sprouts away before cooking or eating the potato.

Potatoes are one of Mother Nature’s best-kept secrets.  This delicious, family-favorite vegetable is not just good but good for you. With just 110 calories, one medium, skin-on potato provides 45% of your daily value of vitamin C and more potassium than a banana. There are hundreds of innovative and healthy ways and reasons to make potatoes part of your dinner.  Visit for more information, including some great recipes.

And just for fits and giggles here’s a Swedish outdoorsman with a bonkers way to use a potato to cook an egg, waste most of the potato — and scare away mosquitos — all at the same time.

Wear your sleeping bag and stay warm!

f9915f8b-b91f-4049-9abd-5f50b96bd86fI’m in the market for a warm sleeping bag that packs away really small. I had a down one but the kids “liberated” it and now I have nothing so compact. While searching online , I found this “wearable bag.”

It alleges it combines the warmth of a legit sleeping bag with the “indulgent comfort of the biggest puffy jacket you could own. Trust us, it makes getting out of your tent to make coffee a lot easier.”

It’s not quite warm enough for my needs but I thought I’d share it with all you RV and summer campers who don’t need their bag to go to zero or below.  This is called the evrgn Crash Sack and it’s available from REI.

Savvy Industry Leaders Know Something You Can Use to Your Advantage

By Ryan Kirsch

Industry leaders in healthcare, technology, energy or most any type of manufacturing know Rare Strategic Metals (RSMs) are required to keep them in business. National Geographic called RSMs “the secret ingredient in almost everything.”

It’s no wonder investors stockpile RSMs to sell at an enormous profit when shortages hit. World governments are in on the stockpiling as well, because if big industry is in trouble, GNP suffers.

How can you as an individual investor gain the clout of big business, big government and big investors?

Until recently, you could not. These metals could only be purchased in bulk by metal traders and manufacturers. The ASI program now makes them available to individual citizens and institutions in smaller quantities.

Liquidity and attractive pricing are the benefits of buying RSMs through ASI.

With our RSM program, you enjoy the same kind of liquidity you have experienced with gold, silver and other precious metals through ASI.

You can choose from individual metals, such as:

  • Strategic Metals: Dysprosium, Indium, Rhenium, Gallium, Germanium, Hafnium, Tantalum, Bismuth and Tungsten
  • Base Metals: Tin, Copper, Molybdenum, Cobalt and Nickel
  • Precious Metals: Rhodium, Platinum, Ruthenium, Silver, Gold and Platinum

Do not be concerned with storage.

Your Rare Strategic Metals are stored, allocated and segregated in highly secure storage facilities within Duty Free Zones just outside Zurich, Switzerland. You may view your physical holdings at any time just by providing the Deed of Ownership delivered to you after completing the purchase.

Selecting the right metal – ASI can help

With some help from our industrial suppliers, ASI has been studying and following the supply, demand and price movements of RSMs and have pinpointed the ones with the best potential under current conditions:

1. Rhenium

Rhenium is important to military strategy – the manufacture of stealth aircraft, military jet engines and rocket engines – plus, it is vital to missile propulsion. It is also used for electrical contact material, flash lamps in photography, combustion chambers, turbine blades, exhaust nozzles, high octane lead free gasoline and liver cancer treatment.

Because of the low availability of this metal (45 tons per year) relative to the high demand, Rhenium is highly prized and currently costs about $3,500 per kilo.

2. Dysprosium

Dysprosium is vital to nuclear energy, refrigeration, laser materials, commercial lighting and automotive manufacturing. One of its more exciting applications is in electric and hybrid vehicles, which are being strongly promoted in both China and the EU. This industry alone requires over 100 grams of Dysprosium in the drive motors for every car produced. Toyota’s projected output of 2 million cars per year alone will require more dysprosium than is currently available.

A recent European Union study named Dysprosium as its number one, most-needed RSM and also one of the eight metals listed as ‘At Risk’ for supply shortages as part of the EU’s decarbonization efforts. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense expects a 47 ton shortfall because of expected military applications with only 100 tons of Dysprosium produced each year.

3. Gallium

Gallium, when combined with Indium and Tin, becomes an alloy called Galinstan, which is a non toxic Mercury substitute. That makes Gallium essential for thermometers.

However, the main use for Gallium today is in the manufacturing of semiconductors. Gallium increases the functionality significantly over that of older technologies such as silicon-based semiconductors.

Gallium is necessary, also, for a new type of light-emitting diode (LED), which won Japanese scientists the Nobel Prize. Eventually, all public lighting, and much consumer lighting, will use the new ‘blue light’ LED… cutting costs worldwide.

Gallium is a very rare mineral. Approximately 100 tons of raw Gallium are produced annually, primarily in China. Further, Gallium’s production appears not to be keeping up with demand; a sure sign of rising prices.

4. Hafnium

Hafnium’s key application is nuclear technology. It is non-reactive and creates a nuclear shield. With new reactors being built in many countries, including India, the demand has skyrocketed.

The cost of Hafnium has increased 60% in the past ten months. The buy-in price is a hefty $600,000, minimum… and, therefore, out of reach for many of us. However, Hafnium illustrates the upside potential of rare metals in high demand. Analysts predict further short-term profits for Hafnium still.

Other key applications of Hafnium include micro-processing. Computer chips have reached their present performance levels largely due to the inclusion of this element.

Want to know more? Get a brochure from our friends at Asset Strategies.

A world without metals?

Santa Baby, I want a 3D Printed Supercar!

3d printed smart carConventional cars are wasteful in the way they’re built and the way they’re operated. A startup called Divergent Microfactories has developed a radical new way to build cars in distributed factories with ultra-lightweight construction. Divergent Microfactories founder Kevin Czinger and his team speak with Solid program chair Jon Bruner about the technology they’ve developed and the promise it holds for a cleaner, more efficient world. Their website is here if you want to see more of the car. The video is about the potential!

What do you ACTUALLY know about melatonin?

MelatoninI have problems sleeping, so like many Americans I have turned to non-narcotic options that are available over the counter from any drugstore.

For years, my go-to option was Simply Sleep, which is also Benadryl and is the anticholinergic medication called diphenhydramine. Then I got spooked by the research that suggested while occasional use is OK, long-term use may contribute to dementia. (We covered it back in May, )

For a while I didn’t use anything. I found that when I took no sleep aids at all, I did sleep well occasionally but it only took a light noise to awaken me at 3am and I wouldn’t sleep again.

Recently the lack of sleep began to get to me. So I picked up a bottle of melatonin. Assuming that it’s a safe I bought the 10mg tablets and took one as instructed. The first time I felt groggy the next morning, after that it didn’t work for me. But it got me thinking, so I looked it up.

Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that our bodies make when it gets dark. It’s nature’s way of making us sleepy. That’s why we take it to get our circadian sleep rhythms under control. Blood tests show virtually no melatonin in the system during daylight hours but the level climbs as night falls (Which is why doctors recommend you dim your lights when you take melatonin as a sleep aid. Bright lights counter the effects. Fun fact: melatonin is nicknamed  the “Dracula of hormones” – it only comes out in the dark.) Research on melatonin is inconclusive and some scientists suggest that realigning circadian rhythms could also be done by exposure to sunlight.

Tiny SquirrelThe Squirrel says: Did you know it’s the only hormone that can be sold without a prescription? That’s because it naturally occurs in some foodstuffs so the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows it to be sold as a dietary supplement. The FDA decided not to regulate it.

Because it is not categorized as a drug, synthetic melatonin is made in factories that are not regulated by the FDA. Listed doses may not be controlled or accurate, meaning the amount of melatonin in a pill you take may not be the amount listed on the package. Most commercial products are offered at dosages that cause melatonin levels in the blood to rise to much higher levels than are naturally produced in the body. Taking a typical dose (1 to 3 mg) may elevate your blood melatonin levels to 1 to 20 times normal. National Sleep Foundation. 

But there are also no official guidelines and most of us seriously overdose. Take my 10mg, apparently the medical dose could be between .3mg and 1mg. I’m self-medicating by taking over ten times the usually prescribed dose. (Mayo Clinic has some people on doses as high as 20mg but this is short term and extreme.)

MIT research from 2001  pronounced that the .3 mg dose yielded the best results, particularly by improving sleep efficiency during the second and third phases of the three sleep cycles. The 3 mg dose was found to remain in the body beyond waking, creating daytime tiredness.

Although I couldn’t find any records of melatonin poisoning, medical sources say that because there is no data doesn’t mean there’s no risk. Overdosing on any hormone is generally considered a bad thing.

Suggestions for sleep aids will be gratefully received in the Comments section below!




3 things you should know before taking cold and flu medicine


Between headaches, stuffy noses, cough and the occasional fever, chances are you’ll at some point reach for over-the-counter medicines (OTC) to combat cold and flu symptoms. OTCs are a safe and effective way to relieve minor ailments when taken as directed, but a new survey suggests Americans are overlooking the Drug Facts label on OTCs.

Two in five Americans see OTC dosing instructions as suggestions, not directions, according to a national survey conducted by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Also, while 84 percent believe it’s “very important” to read the directions the first time they take prescription medicine, only 72 percent felt that way about OTCs.

Medical experts say that ignoring the label can lead to unnecessary risks like double-dosing, or taking too much of the same active ingredient at the same time. This is especially important during cold and flu season, when it’s not uncommon to take multiple or multi-symptom OTC medicines.

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, an emergency department physician who partnered with McNeil to encourage the safe use of OTC medicines, says it’s important to read the medicine label each time you take an OTC. “I’ve seen my patients take too high of a dose, too frequently, in combination with medications that could interact, or a medicine that’s not right for their health condition,” she says. “These are unnecessary risks that could easily be prevented by paying close attention to the label.”

Dr. Long Gillespie encourages her patients to know three important things before taking their next OTC medicine.

1. Always read and follow the label — whether it’s the first time or the 100th time. One in four Americans don’t think it’s important to look at labels of OTCs they’ve taken before, according to the survey. But medicine labels and formulations change, and so does our health.

“Even if you use the same pain reliever every month, make it a point to read the label again,” says Dr. Long Gillespie. “Double check dosing instructions, if there are new warnings or directions, and consider any new health conditions or medications you have.”

2. Be aware of active ingredients. Combination medications such as for cold and flu, migraines, and arthritis have multiple active ingredients, which can be very convenient as relief could come in a single pill.

“Many of these different combination medicines have the same active ingredients and taking multiple medications with the same active ingredient can increase your risk of taking too much,” notes Dr. Long Gillespie. She recommends reviewing the active ingredients list, and to only take one medicine with the same active ingredient at a time — whether prescription or OTC.

3. Know your dose, and do not take OTC medicines longer than indicated. According to Dr. Long Gillespie, a common misconception she hears from her patients is that taking more than the recommended doses will improve your symptoms faster or better. “Not only will this not help your symptoms, but it could be harmful. Follow the dosage amounts and be sure to stay under the 24-hour maximum,” she advises.

She also recommends speaking to your doctor or health care provider if you find you need the OTC medicine for more days than recommended. They will be able to help you assess which medicine may be best to treat your symptoms and figure out the cause of your symptoms. “OTCs are not meant for prolonged use,” she says, so never take the OTC for longer than indicated on the label.

As final advice, Dr. Long Gillespie reminds patients to always treat OTC medicines with the same responsibility you would any prescription medication. “The best way to both relieve your symptoms and stay out of harm’s way is by following the instructions on every label, every time,” she says.

(BPT) – Every Label Every Time is a national education initiative from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division to encourage safe and informed use of OTC medicines. For more information, visit

10 Essential Steps to Take (Now) This Winter

As the East Coast basks in unseasonably warm weather, it may be hard to convince yourself you need to get ready for Winter. But remember, El Niño years often bring a ferocious start to the New Year, so for 2016’s winter season, prepare for the inevitable with these 10 steps:

Snow Joe iON Hybrid Snow Blower

  1. Equip yourself with the right snow removal tools, including a reliable snow blower, shovel and ice scraper. The new and innovative Snow Joe iON Hybrid Snow Blower is the perfect accessory to have this winter season because it the first to use both battery and corded electric power, giving you plenty of clearing time. It’s also ready-to-use in case of an unexpected snow fall, no gas or oil involved.


Rock Salt

  1. Rock salt or sand your walkways, driveways and other pathways to improve traction and melt snow and ice. Rock salt melts ice when the temperature is about 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Sand does not melt ice, but improves traction during dangerous conditions. You may consider adding both to your driveway and walkways to ensure optimal safety.


Pipe Insulation

  1. Insulate your pipes by wrapping them in insulation or newspapers and plastic. Insulate your pipes to lower your chance of dealing with the stress of having your pipes freeze later. Keep the faucets dripping water so that water is always flowing through the
    pipes, rather than standing still.


Winter Tires

  1. Install reliable winter tires on your car. Reliable snow tires will be well worth the cost if you live in a snowy or icy environment.


Survival Kit

  1. Have “survival kits” in your car and at home in case of a winter emergency. Include water, blankets, a battery-powered flashlight, a battery-powered radio, emergency flares, energy bars, a pocket knife, rope, jumper cables, a lighter, rock salt and sand in the kit. For your car, look for multi-tasking items, such as the 4-in-1 illum-n-Broom, which removes snow and ice and can act as emergency blinker lights.

Clean Gutters

  1. Clear gutters and repair roof leaks to avoid clogging from snow. Don’t put cleaning your gutters off until the weather conditions are too unbearable. It is important to clear out your gutters and repair your roof to help avoid major damage from snow and ice.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

  1. Invest in a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are at their peak during the winter months, so protect yourself from this harmful gas by installing carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and on every level within your home.
  1. Check your windows and doors for cracks, leaks or drafts and repair them as snow and cold weather set in. This improves efficiency within your home and keeps you warm from the cold air and wind. Install a door draft insulator to help prevent air leakage.

Check Your Air Filters

  1. Check out your heating system and replace furnace filters as the temperature drops. You don’t want to realize your heater doesn’t work and that you’re without a warm living space as colder weather sets in.
  1. Drain and turn off your sprinkler system. This may seem like a no brainer, but many people don’t remember to complete this task. Drain and turn off your sprinkler system, as well as your hoses, to prevent freezing and other problems.

Take advantage of these useful tips during the winter months, and if snow and temperatures are already falling, make sure to take action as soon as possible.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (all images but Snow Joe)

(Family Features) SOURCE: Snow Joe. Self-Reliance Central is not endorsing Snow Joe as we haven’t used one of their machines yet, but we are grateful to them for this handy list.


Carnegie Mellon Study Finds Eating Lettuce Is More Than Three Times Worse in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Eating Bacon

By Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 / [email protected]

Contrary to recent headlines — and a talk by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference — eating a vegetarian diet could contribute to climate change.

In fact, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie. Published in Environment Systems and Decisions, the study measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint and GHG emissions associated with U.S. food consumption patterns.

Bacon and Lettuce
Eating lettuce is more harmful to the environment than eating bacon

“Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” said Paul Fischbeck, professor of social and decisions sciences and engineering and public policy. “Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think. Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.”

Fischbeck, Michelle Tom, a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering, and Chris Hendrickson, the Hamerschlag University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, studied the food supply chain to determine how the obesity epidemic in the U.S. is affecting the environment. Specifically, they examined how growing, processing and transporting food, food sales and service, and household storage and use take a toll on resources in the form of energy use, water use and GHG emissions.

On one hand, the results showed that getting our weight under control and eating fewer calories, has a positive effect on the environment and reduces energy use, water use and GHG emissions from the food supply chain by approximately 9 percent.

However, eating the recommended “healthier” foods — a mix of fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood — increased the environmental impact in all three categories: Energy use went up by 38 percent, water use by 10 percent and GHG emissions by 6 percent.

“There’s a complex relationship between diet and the environment,” Tom said. “What is good for us health-wise isn’t always what’s best for the environment. That’s important for public officials to know and for them to be cognizant of these tradeoffs as they develop or continue to develop dietary guidelines in the future.”

CMU’s Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research and the Colcom Foundation funded this research.

Read the full study.

Related Article:
Weighing Environmental Impacts of Obesity in U.S. Population

Bridge the financial gap for your kids with life insurance

Generational retirement planning

Retirement_pensions4-300x199New research finds a link between inheritances and retirement preparedness. For many, life insurance proceeds can help close the gap between what the next generation will have and what they need.

A recent study indicates that 52 percent of Americans are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement, with younger households in worse shape than those approaching their retirement years. While 45 percent of households headed by an individual age 50-59 are at risk of not maintaining their pre-retirement standard of living during retirement, a whopping 59 percent of households headed by an individual age 30-39 are at risk.

The younger generation has already seen a reduction in their future Social Security benefits and are far less likely to benefit from a guaranteed pension. With this in mind, the research examined the role inheritances play in lessening individuals’ post-retirement income shortfall. The research, sponsored by Prudential Financial, Inc., showed that receiving an inheritance can have a significant impact on a household’s overall retirement preparedness, especially for lower- to middle-income families.

The Overlooked Asset

When you think about a typical inheritance, what comes to mind is real estate, personal property, and financial assets. However, often overlooked is the fact that life insurance proceeds left to a beneficiary can function in a similar manner.

“There is a growing concern that future generations will have a very challenging time when it comes to retiring securely. With the decline of guaranteed pensions, rising housing costs, rising childcare costs, and increased student loan debt, young adults may not be contributing enough to their 401(k)s,” said Mark Hug, executive vice president, product and marketing, Prudential Individual (Life) Insurance. “The good news is that even a relatively modest life insurance death benefit can have a meaningful impact on improving the retirement security of the next generation.”

Life insurance proceeds can function similarly to an inheritance, if the death benefit is payable to a child who is the insured’s beneficiary. The transfer of wealth through life insurance has the added benefit of generally being received federal income tax free. In addition, a life insurance death benefit can make a meaningful difference when it comes to quality of life during retirement. Consider the following “shortfall” scenarios:

* The median shortfall for lower-income households at risk today is $56,986. That figure is projected to be $131,283 (in today’s dollars) when the head of the household turns age 65.

* Middle-income households fall short by $87,489 today. That number is projected to be $197,385 (in today’s dollars) when the head of the household turns age 65.

Every parent hopes to leave something to their children, and with the right financial planning, a life insurance policy may help close some or even all of those shortfalls. Regardless of an individual’s current assets, the death benefit from life insurance can be a tax-efficient way to leave a gift that may help to meaningfully improve the retirement preparedness of the next generation.

(BPT) – Learn more at

The Seabin Project. Something we can all get behind. Cleaner oceans.


About the Seabin Project

We have designed and made an automated rubbish bin that catches floating rubbish, oil, fuel and detergents. It designed for floating docks in the water of marinas, private pontoons, inland waterways, residential lakes, harbours, water ways, ports and yacht clubs.

Can even be fitted to super yachts and motor yachts!

Right now we have a perfectly working prototype and we need the help of Indiegogo and supporters to set up a production of the Seabins to be built in the most sustainable and responsible way we can afford.

Gifts with purpose that you buy rather than make

Holiday presents that blend style and function

I know, I know, this looks like a page full of ads, but there are some people you have to ‘buy” a gift for. Not everyone appreciates your homemade present. (They should!) I’m not recommending these items, but someone put the list together and I thought I’d share it with you in case you needed some ideas for your difficult friends and family!

And as the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts when it comes to gift-giving. But the thought means even more when you delight the recipients on your shopping list with gifts that are as stylish as they are functional.

The kitchen is a focal point of most homes, so gifts that make the most of this oft-used space are sure to please. Ideas can range from the more practical, such as dishes or knives, to serving pieces that make entertaining extra special.

For the person who has it all, look for gifts that make life easier. For example, a tote bag with the versatility to safely transport items for a day at the park, gym or office is a handy choice that will have your recipient offering thanks for months to come.

Remember that gifts reflecting the recipient’s personal taste are always winners. Look for detailed designs, colors and styles that reflect their interests to show the thought you put into choosing the perfect gift.

Get started on your holiday shopping with these ideas that combine the best of style, fun and function.

Bombay Company Two-Piece Sugar & Creamer Set

Practical meets pretty
Crafted from striking white porcelain with a detailed, hand-painted design of blue leaves that scroll around each piece, the Bombay Company Two-Piece Sugar & Creamer Set makes a great addition to the table for casual and formal entertaining and is durable enough to stand up to the rigors of everyday use. The creamer features an oversized handle that provides an easy grip and an elongated spout for precise pouring, while the sugar bowl features a recessed lid. This eye-catching gift set is available exclusively at Walgreens for $20.



Morning wake up call
Perfect for serving coffee with friends, the La Cafetière Wake Up and Smell the Coffee 8-cup French Press makes a great gift for the coffee aficionado on your shopping list. This Cafetière is available in black or mocha with striking polished steel accents so your freshly brewed coffee looks as good as it tastes. The set retails for $39.99 at

Sabatier 15-Piece Forged Triple Rivet Knife Set with Acacia Block

A cut above
(I use Sabatier knives, Kelly)

Keep essential everyday knives at your fingertips with the Sabatier 15-Piece Forged Triple Rivet Knife Set with Acacia Block. The knives are expertly crafted from superior quality high-carbon stainless steel and feature triple-riveted handles that are perfectly weighted and balanced for control. The acacia wood storage block keeps knives organized while adding elegance to the kitchen counter. The 15-piece set includes an array of knives for common kitchen tasks, as well as six steak knives, an angled sharpening steel, an all-purpose kitchen shear and a wood block. This cutlery set is available for $136 at

The BUILT City Tote Bag


Style on the go
The BUILT City Tote Bag combines fashion and function in one light-weight, ultra-durable tote bag that features stylish straps, a snap button closure and a roomy interior pocket for your phone, keys or other small items. Made from durable neoprene (the material used to make wetsuits), the bag folds flat when not in use for compact storage. Choose from a number of playful yet sophisticated patterns, including Granite, Black, Candy Dot, Plum Dot and Lush Flower, each available for $39.99 at






Photo courtesy of Getty Images (people with gifts)

Lifetime Brands

Americans are all sweetness and lite!

You probably realize that eating too many sugary foods and gaining weight go hand in hand. What you may not know is that aside from loading up on calories that help pack on the pounds, consuming too much sugar can also harm your health in other ways. Here’s some information from the Army National Guard.

Consuming more than nine teaspoons of sugar a day for men and six teaspoons for women can lead to health problems, such as tooth decay, obesity and depression. Reducing your sugar intake can help more than your waistline; it can improve your overall health.

First, it’s important to recognize that there are two types of sugar – natural sugar and added sugar. Natural sugar is found in fruits, milk and some whole grains. Added sugar is sugar that is added to processed foods and drinks, such as cookies, cereals and soda.

Added sugar affects your body in many ways. It can be as addictive as drugs, tobacco or alcohol because it affects the same regions of the brain, triggering the pleasure sensors to release dopamine. Dopamine makes you want to eat more, even when you are not hungry.

When you consume too much added sugar, your liver has to work extra hard to process it. Excess sugar in the liver often turns into fat, which can lead to liver damage or other health concerns, such as high cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease.

It can also overload and damage your pancreas, which controls the blood sugar called insulin that powers your muscles and organs. Lack of insulin can cause muscle and nerve damage.

Limit added sugars in your diet with these healthy alternatives:

  • Skip sugary cereals at breakfast. Instead, opt for a protein-rich meal. Options, such as eggs, turkey sausage and whole-wheat toast with peanut butter are healthier ways to fuel your day.
  • Bring healthy snacks to work to ward off the temptation of sugary treats. Some smart choices include: frozen grapes, trail mix, yogurt, almonds, apple slices and peanut butter with celery sticks.
  • Instead of pie, donuts or cake, curb your sweet tooth craving by reaching for fresh fruit, low-fat frozen yogurt or a fruit and yogurt parfait.
  • If you can’t substitute a fruit, make your treats small, such as a single fun-size piece of candy.
  • Sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks sneak in a lot of sugar calories. In fact, a single can of soda has nine teaspoons of sugar – the maximum an adult male should consume in an entire day. Skip the sugary beverages and try hot or iced tea, fizzy water or lemon water instead.

Choosing simple substitutions make it easy to replace sugary foods with smarter options for better health. Visit for more food and nutrition tips and resources.

Lite options

On the heels of these warnings about sugar from the Army National Guard, there’s some concern about artificial sweeteners. Regularly debunked as being a health risk (we have to wonder about the vested interests behind all that research) aspartame, saccharin and sucralose are now table staples of the American diet. Let’s have a look at what we know.


Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) is the sugar substitute used in most diet soft drinks. Approved by the FDA in 1981, aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar. Besides soft drinks, it can be found in breakfast cereals, desserts and chewing gums, and as a tabletop sweetener. Currently, aspartame is found in more than 6,000 products and is consumed by over 200 million people around the world.

There are 90 different symptoms reported resulting from aspartame, and aspartame did account for over 75% of all of the adverse reactions reported to the Food and Drug Administration annually.  Aspartame is a synthetic composite of three naturally occurring compounds: aspartic acid (40%), phenylalanine (50%), and methyl ester, which becomes methanol in the body (10%). While this sounds very sinister, there are naturally occurring foods that also contain these compounds. Personally I don’t touch the stuff because I like sugar and I have no real idea of the longterm effects of consuming this particular batch of chemicals.

Aspartame Components:


People with the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU), those with advanced liver disease and pregnant women with hyperphenylalanine (high levels of phenylalanine in blood) should be especially wary of aspartame.  These groups of people cannot effectively metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine. High levels of phenylalanine in body fluids can cause brain damage.

Aspartic acid

Aspartic acid acts as a neurotransmitter. Too much aspartic acid over stimulates nerve cells, allowing too much calcium into the cells, and contributes to a number of chronic illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, epilepsy, memory loss, migraine headaches, Fibromyalgia, vertigo, vision problems, problems speaking and depression.


When aspartame is ingested it breaks down into methanol, which is created and released into the small intestine as aspartame comes into contact with the enzyme chymotrypsin.  A full 10% of the aspartame taken into the body can be turned into methanol.  Repeated contact with methanol, even in low doses, can bring about symptoms including heart problems, headaches, nausea, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, dizziness, misty vision, vision tunneling, blurring of vision, conjunctivitis, insomnia, vision loss, depression and inflammation of the pancreas.


Some of the methanol formed by aspartame can react with other substances in the body to form formaldehyde, part of which becomes formic acid.  Formaldehyde is a particularly nasty material which attacks the immune and neurological systems.  Even minute dose of formaldehyde can cause permanent genetic damage.  Modest amounts of aspartame can produce a build-up of formaldehyde in the organs, including kidneys, liver and brain.  Long-term ingestion of small amounts of formaldehyde leads to progressively worse complex symptoms, beginning with headaches, fatigue, joint pain, irritability, memory loss and continuing to vision and eye problems and seizures. Formaldehyde addiction may occur after low-term, low-level exposure.

Drinking a few cans of diet soda per week can cause aspartic acid, methanol and formaldehyde to accumulate in your body.  Note that your eyes are particular at risk from ingestion of this toxin.  Each of the components of aspartame can attack the retina or optic nerves. Methanol, especially, causes swelling of the optic nerve and degeneration of ganglion cells in the retina.  Even small amounts of aspartame can lead to hurtful, long-term disorders of the eyes and many other areas.

Other Artificial Sweeteners


Discovered in 1879, saccharin is the granddaddy of all sugar substitutes.  Over 300 times sweeter than sugar, it was used during both world wars to sweeten foods, helping to compensate for sugar shortages and rationing.  Then in 1977, a Canadian study showed that saccharin caused bladder cancer in rats. In response the FDA proposed to ban saccharin, but Congress intervened and stopped the ban, provided that foods containing saccharin bear a warning notice that reads, “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.” Congress has extended their moratorium on the saccharine ban several times.

Acesulfame Potassium

First approved in 1988 as a tabletop sweetener, acesulfame potassium, also called Sunett, is now approved for use in products such as baked goods, frozen desserts, candies and, most recently, beverages.  About 200 times sweeter than sugar and calorie free, acesulfame potassium often is combined with other sweeteners. Pepsi mixes acesulfame potassium with aspartame to sweeten its one calorie soda. Worldwide, the sweetener is used in more than 4,000 products, according to its manufacturer, Nutrinova. Acesulfame potassium has excellent shelf life and does not break down when cooked or baked.  It appears to be one of the safer sugar substitutes on the market, but many researchers feel that the data on acesulfame potassium is incomplete.


Also known by its trade name, Splenda, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Sucralose is the only artificial sweetener made from real sugar.  First FDA approved in 1998, sucralose cannot be digested, so it adds no calories to food. Because sucralose is so much sweeter than sugar, it is bulked up with maltodextrin, a starchy powder, so it will measure more like sugar. It has good shelf life and doesn’t degrade when exposed to heat. Numerous studies have shown that sucralose does not affect blood glucose levels, making it marketable for diabetics.

Pre-approval research indicated that sucralose could cause shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage) and enlarged liver and kidneys.  More recent research has shown sucralose to cause more problems in the intestines and kidneys.  Also, sucralose may break down into small amounts of dichlorofructose, a chemical which has not been sufficiently tested in humans.

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DIY Gifts: Bath bombs

9022206416_bc2a033226_bGot lots of people on your list? Got no money? Want to make something rather than buy? Try these fizzy bath bombs, they’re great for gift-giving at the holidays. And you can make extras at the last minute if you forget someone.
This recipe can be used with traditional spherical molds, or you can shop around for fancy hearts and stars. If you don’t have any, check out Etsy. Another popular idea is to pat down the mixture into cupcake baking cups.  This is a great solution if you’re making shower bombs, as they will stay flat on the floor of the shower. Otherwise, use your imagination, ice-cube trays, muffin trays, fortune cookie molds, whatever.
Dry ingredients: (We’re going European here, it’s by weight not volume)

  • Baking Soda – 8 ounces
  • Citric Acid – 4 ounces
  • Corn Starch – 4 ounces
  • Salts – 4 ounces ( Dead Sea Salts, Mineral salts.)

Make sure there are no clumps or lumps by sieving or breaking up by hand. Mix all dry ingredients into a big glass (nonreactive) bowl.

Wet Ingredients:

  • Water 3/4 tablespoon
  • Essential or Fragrance Oil – 2 teaspoons. (Make sure it’s body safe. Perfume might work but room fragrance won’t!) Oh, and if you’re making shower bombs, you can go with oils that might not work on sensitive body parts in the tub, like eucalyptus, menthol and peppermint. These are great decongestants.
  • Oil – 2.5 tablespoons.  Light vegetable oil works but you can get swanky with almond, cherry kernel, etc.
  • Food coloring – just 1 or 2 drops. (It will look dark in the batter, but don’t worry as it will look quite light in the bombs. Too dyed and your bathtub will suffer rings. Remember kindergarten: red + blue = purple/lilac, etc. Work out the drops ratio beforehand.

Shake up the wet ingredients in a jar then slowly pour into the bowl. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look mixed, it’s oil and water. It’ll start to prematurely fizz if you mix it too fast so do this bit slowly. Stir gently so you end up with a damp gravel that you can squish into a lump when you squeeze it. Push this into your mold.

As soon as it has the shape you desire, push it out and store it in an airless ZipLock, jar or plastic container. Humidity will cause it to start fizzing. So wrap it carefully.



A reader writes: Remember the fuel-car-generator-electrical power combo

Lewis H. is a like-minded Squirrel. He wrote to me to remind me that in an emergency our vehicle can be a powerful option for home electricity. He says:

One major point no one mentions is fuel-car-generator-electrical power combination when the grid is down.

AuragenLook up AuraGen on the web. The AuraGen or VIPER (VIPER is the name used by the US military) is an integrated, mobile power generator and power management system that installs in a motor vehicle and delivers, on-location, both AC and DC electricity for any end user application. Its official description is a “solid rotor axial flux induction machine.”) This induction power machine hooks up under the hood of any vehicle, runs off its engine at any rpm, and generates computer grade *good* power.  Lewis says that many of these devices are  sold to police, sheriff, ambulance/EMT vehicles where they need good power in the vehicle, as well as to contractors so they can run power saws etc. on the job site from their truck.

Feeding power to your home from your car
As well as the AuraGen, you will need a very simple modification to your home electrical system to connect select items, like a freezer, refrigerator, microwave, or medical device and a few selected wall outlets to an “emergency panel.” (Get a qualified electrical contractor to do the design work and a certified electrician to do the installation of the new panel. It’s quick and easy but it’s important to get it done right to minimize the threat of fire or electrical shock.)

Under normal conditions, grid power feeds into your main panel, which includes this emergency panel. When the grid goes down, you connect an extension cord (from AuraGen) to the emergency panel and to your vehicle. The power from your vehicle and the AuraGen feed into the emergency panel and from there to the desired electrical outlets.

It’s not strong enough to power everything in your home but you can rotate devices as you need them. Keeping the freezer on for a few hours every 24 hours for instance and while that’s not running you try and run your home communications system or microwave or lamps.
Warning – – if times are really tough (e.g.the grid is down long time,) it’s not a good idea to “advertise” that you have power (lights on) because that would tempt looters to come see what else you have worth stealing.   Lewis says, you should clean out enough of your garage to let the vehicle actually be in the garage (what a radical concept!)  Get an exhaust hose, run it from the exhaust pipe out through a hole in the back of your garage (away from the street) for exhaust that will not draw attention. Good black-out curtains in a few rooms will ensure you have some sort of normal life by lamplight while not inviting looters.

Modern vehicles, at idle, will run for very long time on one tank of gas.  But you are not going to run vehicle non-stop, only as needed to keep freezer and refrigerator at design temperature (get some good thermometers and keep them inside both, check to maintain freezer at or near zero and fridge in mid 30s).  Then off for a while, on to cook a microwave meal, then off.  On to run wall outlets that charge rechargeable batteries for lamps in those blackout curtain rooms.

But even *run a long time* is only good for as long as you have fuel for vehicle.  Make it a habit to always keep vehicle as full as possible- – hit the gas station when nearly down to 3/4 full so you start any emergency situation with a full or nearly full gas tank.

Gasoline storage is not always easy. But the problem is easily solved. Rotate your supplies.  Buy half a dozen (or more based on your estimate/analysis of how much/how long you might need to depend on your car for electricity) five-gallon gasoline containers. Fill one or two at a time, at different  gas stations, till you have all full.  From now on, you are your own gas station as far as filling the car is concerned.  Down near 3/4 full?  Fill up from one of those five gallon cans.  Take it with you on a normal errand and refill it.  Arrange all the gas cans in a row, and put that ‘just-filled” can at the back of the line.  By using fuel in each can, in line, in turn, you are roatating your fuel stocks and not letting any “go bad” from storing too long.

So here you are, your vehicle is running quietly in your garage, your exhaust is going through a hose safely out a hole in back of the garage, fuel is being rotated and electricity is available to keep your freezer and fridge at cold temps, cook a microwave meal, use your computer to retrieve all the good stuff you have stored there, and have some lights in a secluded portion of your house.

One major benefit of my idea is to eliminate the serious fire risk involved with trying to refuel a portable generator, spilling fuel and possibly having that fuel ignite when it hits a very hot metal part on that generator. Using a gas can with a nozzle makes putting gas in the car’s gas tank a spill-proof, foolproof method of refueling.  And, the “hot engine parts” are a long way away from any possible spill. If five gallon gas cans are too heavy for you, three-gallon cans (but get more of them) will be easier to handle.  Also, that smaller size is a more normal size for the average home owner to be using to run their lawnmower in the summer or their snowblower in the winter, so filling a three gallon gas can or two will attract less attention.

Tiny Squirrel

I emailed AuraGen but they haven’t got back to me. I’ll keep on them and I’ll let you know what I can find out and how we might be able to get these babies into fellow Squirrels’ paws.

Hey Alan! Here’s your gluten-free bread recipe.

Photo: BY-SA 2.0
Photo: BY-SA 2.0

Shout out to Alan who wrote and asked me about hand-baking gluten-free bread.

Here’s what I discovered. Forget everything you knew about bread making. Gluten-free doesn’t need so much kneading (see what I did there) and doesn’t need a second rise.

Here’s a great recipe that doesn’t use gluten, dairy or cane sugar and yet still tastes and feels like bread. No crumbling.

Champion Sandwich Bread from


Light in texture, this is the perfect everyday bread for breakfast and sandwiches. This recipe takes only a few minutes to put together in a stand mixer. For maximum yeast rise, have all ingredients at room temperature.

4  cups Brown Rice Flour Blend
1  tablespoon xanthan gum
1  tablespoon gluten-free egg replacer
2  teaspoons salt
½  cup powdered milk or nondairy milk powder substitute
1  package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
3  large eggs
¼  cup butter, margarine or Spectrum organic shortening
2  teaspoons cider vinegar
⅓  cup honey or agave nectar
2  cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

1. Grease and flour two 8-inch bread pans.

2. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium-size bowl. Set aside.

3. Place eggs, butter, vinegar and honey in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together for about 30 seconds. The butter (or magarine or shortening) will be chunky.

4. Add half the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix just until blended. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix for approximately 30 seconds, until blended.

5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add warm water until well absorbed. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 4 minutes. Bread dough should resemble cake batter.

6. Spoon the dough into prepared pans. Set aside in a warm place to rise, about 50 to 60 minutes. While dough rises, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7. Place pans in preheated oven on middle rack and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until bread’s internal temperature reaches 200 degrees with an instant-read thermometer.

8. Let bread cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then remove loaves from pans and place on a rack to cool.

Each serving contains 119 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 29mg cholesterol, 185mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g protein.

TIP: Gluten-free egg replacer is available from Ener-G Foods (


Remember, gluten-free bread dough needs to be mixed vigorously. The best way to do it is with a stand mixer. Don’t have one? The power is out? Do it by hand, and put some elbow grease into it. Don’t worry about over-mixing. There’s no gluten to ‘overwork.’ Crumbly bread will be about moisture content not the vigorous action.

Tiny Squirrel

The Squirrel says: Don’t make substitutions until you really know what you’re doing. And don’t omit the gluten alternatives like anthem gum.  Don’t use a handheld mixer unless it has a dough hook option. And for some reason, gluten-free recipes often work better using weights rather than volume.  (Europeans weigh items, we do it by volume with cups, spoons, etc.) Gluten-free tends to be an exact science so you should look out for variables and take great care to get the chemistry right. Use an oven thermometer because your oven will not be exact. (Try it and see for yourself!) I’ve also read that you shouldn’t double a batch, but instead you should make two batches. If you’re failing, try that.

Still want more? This one is easy!

Brown Rice Flour Blend from


1⅓  cups brown rice flour, preferably super-fine grind
1⅓  cups tapioca flour/starch
1⅓  cups cornstarch
1  tablespoon potato flour (not potato starch)

Blend ingredients together. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Allow flour blend to warm to room temperature before using.

Here’s a recipe from King Arthur Flour:


If you’ve ever baked bread in a bread machine, then you know it’s easy-peasy. You just put everything into the loaf pan, choose your settings, hit start, and walk away. It’s like a slow cooker, but for bread.

But the real question is… can you make gluten-free bread in your bread machine?

At first, I was skeptical of using a bread machine for gluten-free dough, because gluten-free bread doesn’t use the same rise times as a traditional recipe. But my fears were quickly put to rest when I realized that the Zojirushi Virtuoso bread machine has a gluten-free setting built right in! How great is that!?

How to make Gluten-Free Bread in a Bread Machine via @kingarthurflour

Knowing that our gluten-free sandwich bread is always a winner (it never fails me), I put it to the test using a Virtuoso. And let me tell you, with just a couple of minor changes, it didn’t disappoint! The bread was absolutely perfect. It was just the right texture, with a nice crust and a soft interior.

And the best part? All I had to do was put everything into the machine and push a button.

So for those of you who’ve been wondering if a) our gluten-free sandwich bread can be made in a bread machine; and/or b) if gluten-free bread turns out just as delicious when made in a bread machine, the answer is a resounding yes!

After baking my bread, I do have some tips for helping to ensure your bread machine yields that ultimate gluten-free loaf you’re hoping for.

How to make Gluten-Free Bread in a Bread Machine via @kingarthurflour

Tip 1: Add a touch more flour.

With our first test of gluten-free sandwich bread in the bread machine using the recipe as written, it lacked the dome that we look for in good sandwich bread. The texture and taste were still there, but the loaf was fairly flat across the top. So we tweaked and tweaked and found that adding just an ounce more gluten-free flour helped us get closer to the dome shape, without compromising the bread’s texture, moistness, or flavor.


Tip 2: Add one more egg.

An extra egg helped give the bread a bit more lift. With the addition of the extra flour, we wanted to make sure the bread didn’t dry out, but adding more milk wouldn’t have helped us with structure or rise. So we added one more egg and found results perfect.


Tip 3: Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

This is so, so important. When the bread first comes out of the pan it will feel a little soft and under-baked. Have no fear; once you let it cool completely, the crust will harden and the inside will be soft and filled with perfect little air pockets. So good!

And now it’s time to bake! Here’s are some quick step-by-step instructions on how to make gluten-free bread in your bread machine.

How to make Gluten-Free Bread in a Bread Machine via @kingarthurflour

Step 1: Put the liquids into the bread machine followed by the dry ingredients. Follow our recipe, but use 1 additional large egg, and an additional 1 ounce (3 tablespoons) gluten-free flour.

Step 2: Choose your bread machine’s gluten-free setting. Set the crust to medium.

Step 3: Let the machine do its thing.

Step 4: Once the bread is done baking, remove it from the pan and place it back in the machine to finish cooling (this will help keep the crust from getting overly soft and potentially leathery).

Step 5: Slice and enjoy!

And how about these two-ingredient pancakes!

Basic Batter:
  • 1 large banana, mashed (should be around ⅓ to ½ cup when mashed)
  • 2 eggs

If you’re mixing in a bowl, make sure the banana is all mashed. Then spray your pan with some PAM or coconut oil on low to medium heat, scoop some of the batter on there, give it about 20-30 sec, flip, and done!

Optional add-ins:

  • ⅛ tsp baking powder to make them fluffier
  • 2 tbsp nut butter, pb2/peanut flour, almond flour or dessicated coconut (see notes)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup blueberries/ raspberries/ chopped nuts
  • 2 tbsp mini chocolate chips

What to do in a terrorist attack

Attacks like the ones that took place in Paris last November where 129 people died, or Orlando where currently 50 people were murdered are fortunately extremely rare. But the fact that it’s happened, and that our terrorist enemies are promising more, should remind us that we must be vigilant, and be prepared to react if we find ourselves in a mass panic situation.

There is a lot of psychological research surrounding crowd behavior and panic reactions. It’s worth looking at them now, it will help you mentally prepare for a life-threatening terrorist or criminal event.

Be prepared
Many survivors of the Paris attacks mistook the gunfire for fireworks. This is typical, we try and justify events to fit the narrative in our heads. Gun shots don’t fit with a gig, so your mind seeks a rational explanation. Unless you are familiar with gunshots, you look for another cause. This delays your response time. The lesson from this is you must try to respond to the events around you, not what’s in your head.

Delay is your enemy. Processing what’s going on and working out how to deal with it all takes time. Plan ahead for eventualities. Always check where the emergency exits are located. Carry a small flashlight — everywhere. Train yourself to plan an exit route EVERYWHERE you go.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check for an exit in every building you visit. Make it a habit. Whether it’s the supermarket, the ball game, church, the mall, the movies, or a show, you MUST have an escape route in mind that you have memorized so you could crawl there. Look for solid objects to duck behind. (Cars aren’t as bulletproof as concrete but they’ll do. Try and crouch behind the tires to protect your legs.)

The aim is to make yourself as small a target as possible, ideally out of sight. Ducking out of sight reduces your risk of being targeted deliberately, or being hit by someone  spraying the room with bullets.

Other people and the herd instinct

The vast majority of people will be too confused to do anything during an attack. John Leach, survival psychologist and military survival instructor. has looked at life-threatening situations around the world and has found that only 15% of people will respond in a way that helps them survive. Up to 75% will just be too bewildered by what is happening around them to react at all. The other 10% will react in ways that reduce their chances of survival and get in the way of other people, he says.

Acting decisively might make survival more likely. But it’s also human nature to wait for other people to act first. In a classic experiment, psychologists put people in a room and filled it with smoke to see how they would react. People who were on their own were more likely to take action than those who were with other people. BBC

The UK government’s advice, in its document on “dynamic lockdowns”, is to run if there is a safe route out. But if there is no safe way to do this it advises hiding.

In extreme situations like at the Bataclan club in Paries where there was no place to hide, many survivors made it by “playing dead.” This is tough. Mass murderers are looking for movement and eyes, breathing, moaning and twitching all register subliminally. Practice. And practice with your kids. Make it a game but let them learn the skill. Give them a word that makes them play dead. (I know it sounds like training a dog, and it is a little like that. But it could be useful one day.)

Fighting back
You have to be very sure or very desperate to do this. Military personnel might pull it off, like they did in France when four passengers subdued a lone gunman on a train, but regular citizens should run. However, ISIS are not interested in hostages. They want a body count. It’s wise to have a least some basic fighting knowledge if you’re cornered.

File: The Wreath Laid by Secretary Kerry and French Foreign Minister Fabius Is Pictured Outside the Hyper Cacher Kosher Market in Paris. Pubic Domain

Get as far away as possible, walk behind as much hard, high cover as possible and go to the nearest authority figures for help. It can be dangerous to join big groups nearby or to take public transport. Always assume that there’s going to be a secondary device or attack. Take advice from police officers or other officials, as they may have better knowledge of the situation.

Help each other and work together

The chances of being caught up in a major attack are still low. But if it does happen, co-operating with others can increase people’s chance of survival, says Chris Cocking, social psychologist and expert in crowd behaviour.
After the 7/7 London attacks, Cocking helped interview dozens of people involved and concluded that the quickest and most efficient way for a group to evacuate is for people to work together.
This is the only way to avoid situations such as a crowd getting jammed at a fire escape. Cocking says that most people are likely to try to help each other even in extreme situations. “There’s an assumption that it’s everybody for themselves but that just doesn’t happen,” he says.  BBC

Women: Medical steps you can take to stay healthy at 50+

Use this information to help you stay healthy at ages 50 and above. Learn which screening tests you need and when to get them, which medicines may prevent diseases, and daily steps you can take for good health.

Get the Screenings You Need

Screenings are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms. Blood pressure checks and mammograms are examples of screenings.

You can get some screenings, such as blood pressure readings, in your doctor’s office. Others, such as mammograms, need special equipment, so you may need to go to a different office.

After a screening test, it’s important to ask when you will see the results and who you should talk to about them.

Breast Cancer. Talk with your health care team about whether you need a mammogram.

BRCA 1 and 2 Genes. If you have a family member with breast, ovarian, or peritoneal cancer, talk with your doctor or nurse about your family history. Women with a strong family history of certain cancers may benefit from genetic counseling and BRCA genetic testing.

Cervical Cancer. Get a Pap smear every 3 years or get a combination Pap smear and human papilloma virus (HPV) test every 5 years until age 65. If you are older than 65 or have had a hysterectomy, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether you still need to be screened.

Colon Cancer. If you are 75 or younger, get a screening test for colorectal cancer. Several different tests—for example, a stool test or a colonoscopy—can detect this cancer. Your health care team can help you decide which is best for you. If you are between the ages of 76 and 85, talk with your doctor or nurse about whether you should continue to be screened.

Depression. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your health care team about being screened for depression, especially if during the last 2 weeks:

  • You have felt down, sad, or hopeless.
  • You have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things.

Diabetes. Get screened for diabetes (high blood sugar) if you have high blood pressure or if you take medication for high blood pressure.

Diabetes can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.

You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your health care team about any changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about, not just the ones here. If you are wondering about diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or skin cancer, for example, ask about them.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Get screened one time for HCV infection if:

  • You were born between 1945 and 1965.
  • You have ever injected drugs.
  • You received a blood transfusion before 1992.

If you currently are an injection drug user, you should be screened regularly.

High Blood Cholesterol. Have your cholesterol checked regularly with a blood test if:

  • You use tobacco.
  • You are overweight or obese.
  • You have a personal history of heart disease or blocked arteries.
  • A male relative in your family had a heart attack before age 50 or a female relative, before age 60.

High Blood Pressure. Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years.

HIV. If you are 65 or younger, get screened for HIV. If you are older than 65, talk to your doctor or nurse about whether you should be screened.

Lung Cancer. Talk to your doctor or nurse about getting screened for lung cancer if you are between the ages of 55 and 80, have a 30 pack-year smoking history, and smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years. (Your pack-year history is the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day times the number of years you have smoked.) Know that quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health.

Osteoporosis (Bone Thinning). Have a screening test at age 65 to make sure your bones are strong. The most common test is a DEXA scan—a low-dose x-ray of the spine and hip. If you are younger than 65 and at high risk for bone fractures, you should also be screened. Talk with your health care team about your risk for bone fractures.

Overweight and Obesity. The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI). You can find your BMI by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator, such as the one available at: to Exit Disclaimer.

A BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates a normal weight. Persons with a BMI of 30 or higher may be obese. If you are obese, talk to your health care team about getting intensive counseling and help with changing your behaviors to lose weight. Overweight and obesity can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Get Preventive Medicines If You Need Them

Aspirin. If you are 55 or older, ask your health care team if you should take aspirin to prevent strokes. Your health care team can help you decide whether taking aspirin to prevent stroke is right for you.

Breast Cancer Drugs. Talk to your doctor about your risks for breast cancer and whether you should take medicines that may reduce those risks. Medications to reduce breast cancer have some potentially serious harms, so think through both the potential benefits and harms.

Vitamin D to Avoid Falls. If you are 65 or older and have a history of falls, mobility problems, or other risks for falling, ask your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement to help reduce your chances of falling. Exercise and physical therapy may also help.


  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Get shots for tetanus and whooping cough. Get a tetanus booster if it has been more than10 years since your last shot.
  • If you are 60 or older, get a shot to prevent shingles.
  • If you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot.
  • Talk with your health care team about whether you need other vaccinations. You can also find which ones you need by going to:

Take Steps to Good Health

  • Be physically active and make healthy food choices. Learn how at
  • Get to a healthy weight and stay there. Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities.
  • Be tobacco free. For tips on how to quit, go to To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline: 1-800-QUITNOW (784-8669).
  • If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink per day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.womenover50-cover

Get More Information on Good Health

Check out these Federal Government Web sites: Guides and tools for healthy living, an encyclopedia of health-related topics, health news, and more. Go to:

MedlinePlus. Health information from government agencies and health organizations, including a medical encyclopedia and health tools. Go to:

Questions Are the Answer. Information on how to get involved in your health care by asking questions, understanding your condition, and learning about your options. Go to:

Men: How to stay healthy at 50+Medical steps you can take to stay healthy at 50+

Use this information to help you stay healthy at ages 50 and above. Learn which screening tests you need and when to get them, which medicines may prevent diseases, and steps you can take for good health.

Get the Screenings You Need

Screenings are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms. Blood pressure checks and tests for high blood cholesterol are examples of screenings.

You can get some screenings, such as blood pressure readings, in your doctor’s office. Others, such as colonoscopy, a test for colon cancer, need special equipment, so you may need to go to a different office.

After a screening test, ask when you will see the results and who you should talk to about them.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, (smoked 100 or more cigarettes in your lifetime), talk to your health care team about being screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAA is a bulging in your abdominal aorta, your largest artery. An AAA may burst, which can cause dangerous bleeding and death.

An ultrasound, a painless procedure in which you lie on a table while a technician slides a medical device over your abdomen, will show whether an aneurysm is present.

Colon Cancer. If you are 75 or younger, get a screening test for colorectal cancer. Several different tests—for example, a stool test or a colonoscopy—can detect this cancer. Your doctor or nurse can help you decide which is best for you. If you are between the ages of 76 and 85, talk to your doctor or nurse about whether you should continue to be screened.

Depression. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for depression especially if during the last 2 weeks:

  • You have felt down, sad, or hopeless.
  • You have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things.

Diabetes. Get screened for diabetes (high blood sugar) with a blood test if you have high blood pressure or take medication for high blood pressure.

Diabetes can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Get screened one time for HCV infection if:

  • You were born between 1945 and 1965.
  • You have ever injected drugs.
  • You received a blood transfusion before 1992.

If you currently are an injection drug user, you should be screened regularly.

You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about any changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about, not just the ones here. If you are wondering about diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or skin cancer, for example, ask about them.


High Blood Cholesterol. Have your blood cholesterol checked regularly with a blood test. High blood cholesterol increases your chance of heart disease, stroke, and poor circulation.

High Blood Pressure. Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.

HIV. If you are 65 or younger, get screened for HIV. If you are older than 65, ask your doctor or nurse if you should be screened.

Lung Cancer: Talk to your doctor or nurse about getting screened for lung cancer if you are between the ages of 55 and 80, have a 30 pack-year smoking history, and smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years. (Your pack-year history is the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day times the number of years you have smoked.) Know that quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health.

Lung cancer can be detected with low-dose computed tomography (LCT). For LCT, you lie on a table while a large machine passes over you to scan your lungs.

Overweight and Obesity. The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI). You can find your BMI by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator, such as the one available at:

A BMI between 18.5 and 25 indicates a normal weight. Persons with a BMI of 30 or higher may be obese. If you are obese, talk to your doctor or nurse about getting intensive counseling and help with changing your behaviors to lose weight. Overweight and obesity can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Get Preventive Medicines If You Need Them

Aspirin. Your doctor or nurse can help you decide whether taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack is right for you.

Vitamin D to Avoid Falls. If you are 65 or older and have a history of falls, mobility problems, or other risks for falling, ask your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement to help reduce your chances of falling. Exercise and physical therapy may also help.


  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Get a shot for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Get a tetanus booster if it has been more than 10 years since your last shot.
  • If you are 60 or older, get a shot to prevent shingles.
  • If you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot.
  • Talk with your health care team about whether you need other vaccinations. You can also find which ones you need by going to:

Take Steps to Good Health

Be physically active and make healthy food choices. Learn how at

Get to a healthy weight and stay there. Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities.

Be tobacco free. For tips on how to quit, go to To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline: 1-800-QUITNOW (784-8669).

If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks per day if you are 65 or younger. If you are older than 65, have no more than one drink a day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

Get More Information on Good Health

Check out these Federal Government Web sites: Guides and tools for healthy living, an encyclopedia of health-related topics, health news, and more. Go to:

Healthy Men. An AHRQ Web site for on health for men. Go to:

MedlinePlus. Health information from government agencies and health organizations, including a medical encyclopedia and health tools. Go to:

Questions Are the Answer. Information on how to get involved in your health care by asking questions, understanding your condition, and learning about your options. Go to: