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Checklist: What to stockpile besides food

Tiny SquirrelAnyone who starts prepping pretty much starts out the same way, stockpiling food and water. That’s actually a very good starting point, but it doesn’t take long for anyone to realize that when things go bad, they are going to need a whole lot more than just food and water to stay alive.

If you think about it for just a moment, you realize that there’s a huge amount of products that we use on a daily basis. While some of those aren’t necessary, many are to some extent. If any crisis situation comes along which disrupts the supply lines, we won’t have those items available to us. In that case, we’ll either need to have them on hand or come up with some sort of substitute for them.

In most cases, it’s easier to have them on hand; or at least have enough of them on hand to keep us going for a while. After that, we’ll have to come up with some alternative way of functioning without those items.

So, what sorts of items should we be stockpiling, besides food and water?

  • Fuel – Any kind of fuel you can think of. If you’ve got a gas barbecue grille, then you should have extra fuel for it. Try and keep some extra gasoline on hand, even though it doesn’t keep well for long periods of time. Make a pile of firewood in your backyard for heating your home. You need to have fuel for anything that you own which needs fuel. There’s no telling how long available fuel sources will last.Batteries
  • Batteries – This kind of goes along with the fuel. The two most common sizes are AA and AAA. But if you’ve got a red dot sight on your gun, it probably uses some sort of lithium battery. Make a list of all the different battery sizes you need and stock up on them. Fortunately, Alkaline batteries are now rated at a ten year shelf life, so they’ll last you longer.
  • Cleaning supplies – It’s going to me harder to keep your home clean, because you’ll be doing more manual labor. You’ll also have the doors and windows open more, allowing more dust to blow in.
  • Personal hygiene supplies – Cleanliness is an important part of maintaining your health. Stock up on soap, shampoo and toothpaste, as well as some extra tooth brushes. If you’re planning on shaving, you’d better have a goodly supply of razor blades on hand. Stockpile deodorant as well, or just buy one of the deodorant stones so that you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Feminine hygiene supplies – While it is technically possible for women to live without these, using rags instead, they’ll be much more comfortable and much happier if they have the right stuff to take care of them that time of month.
  • Toilet paper – Another important item to keep the women happy. Toilet paper will be like gold in a crash where the supply lines are cut.Toilet paper
  • Matches – You can’t have too many matches, especially the strike anywhere kind. Those are getting harder to find and more expensive, but in a survival situation, they’re worth having.
  • Plastic bags – You’re going to generate trash and need something to put it in. Make sure you have a good supply of bags, in all sizes, for everything from dealing with human waste to putting away some important papers in a waterproof covering. For trash and human waste, you’re better off with the heavy-duty kind.
  • Heirloom seeds – No matter how much you stockpile, there’s always the possibility that the disaster will outlast your stockpile. Heirloom seeds will allow you to keep a good vegetable garden going, providing food for your family. Don’t buy hybrids as you won’t get seeds from them that you can use the next year; buy only heirloom. That way, you can harvest seeds from your crops and keep on planting.
  • Basic building materials – If your home becomes damaged, you’ll need a way to fix it, even if it isn’t fixed correctly. A few basic things will make it possible for you to cover a broken window or fill in a hole in the roof.
  • Duct tape – Great for 1,000 uses or more
  • Candles & oil lamps – You’ll need some sort of lighting after the sun goes down and flashlights go through batteries quickly. Get a bunch of candles so that you can see to read or work at night. Oil burning lamps are great as well, and most will burn just about any type of oil you can find.
  • Ammunition – You’ll want enough for hunting and for protecting your family.
  • Water purification filters – If your water purifier uses filters, you’ll need a goodly stock of them on hand. You can make those filters last longer by only using them to filter water you are drinking. Water for washing doesn’t have to be filtered.
  • Recipes – You’re going to be eating a different sort of diet and cooking in a different sort of way. Make sure you have recipes that you can use for the cooking methods you’re going to have available and using the types of food you’ll have available.
  • First aid supplies – Medical services will be overwhelmed, so you want to make sure you have supplies to take care of yourself if anyone in the family gets sick or injured.
  • Vitamins – Vitamins will go a long way towards making up for a poor diet. Make sure that you have good ones, as some of the lower cost ones don’t even dissolve in your system.
  • Medicines – Everyone needs a good stock of over the counter medicines. If anyone in your family has special medical needs, make sure you have those medicines on hand as well.
  • Clothing – Your kids are going to be growing, even though there’s a crisis going on. Shift your buying patterns so that you are buying clothing a couple of sizes larger than what they need right now. That way, you’ll always have a couple of years worth of clothing for them to wear.

Tiny SquirrelAs you can see, there are a lot of items on this list, and I won’t even claim that it’s complete. The thing is that we need much more than just food and water to survive. Start looking at what you use on a daily or weekly basis and think about what you would do if you couldn’t get it. If you have another alternatiCleaning suppliesve, that’s great; but if you really need it, you’d better start stockpiling it.

Everything you have been told about cholesterol is flat out wrong

I am a huge fan of Zoë Harcombe, the revolutionary diet guru from the UK. If you have not come across her and need to lose weight, conquer candida, eliminate allergies or just feel better about yourself, you really should try the Harcombe Diet. Here is a link to her website.

HarcombeI STRONGLY recommend her books and her diet. You eat real food, are never hungry and your body recovers from all of the mistakes you’ve been making with your eating habits. She is especially brutal with processed foods, carbohydrates from wheat and sugar, Big Food, and almost every word of advice that comes from a  Government. She scorns the 5-a-Day movement, is a champion of meat (Did you know olive oil has 9 times the saturated fat of pork?), loves thick cream and whole milk and has absolutely nailed the digestive system and metabolic functions of the human being!

So, I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her extensively here. I tried to find a way to reach her through her website to get permission but couldn’t find a way. But her observations on cholesterol should be much more widely known and I am a disciple on a mission here.

Basically her story goes like this. She was at a restaurant when the conversation turned to the old myth “cholesterol is bad for you.” This is her response.

This is what my fellow diners should have been saying about cholesterol: (You can find the whole article and a list of references here.)

1) Cholesterol is utterly life vital

Every human being would die instantly without cholesterol. Every single cell in the human body depends upon it. We would have no digestion or hormone function without cholesterol. Cholesterol is critical for brain and memory functions – even though the brain is only 2% of the body’s weight, it contains approximately 25% of the body’s cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for bones and all the roles performed by vitamin D. We could not reproduce without this life vital substance. Hence, not only would humans die without cholesterol, the human race would die out.

2) Cholesterol is so vital that our body makes it

It cannot be left to chance that we would need to get cholesterol from an external source, such as food. One of the key reasons that we need to spend approximately one third of our lives sleeping is to give the body time to produce cholesterol, repair cells and perform other essential maintenance.

3) There is no such thing as good and bad cholesterol

The formula for cholesterol is C27H46O. There is no good or bad version. Ignorant people call HDL ‘good’ cholesterol and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol. Neither HDL nor LDL are even cholesterol – they are lipoproteins. HDL is High Density Lipoprotein and LDL is Low Density Lipoprotein. HDL is smaller than LDL and is therefore higher in density. Lipoproteins carry cholesterol, protein, phospholipids and triglyceride around the blood stream to undertake vital roles.

4) The cholesterol blood test is a guess

The standard blood test can only measure total cholesterol & HDL. So we have one equation, four unknowns, only two of which can be measured:

Total cholesterol = LDL + HDL + Triglycerides (VLDL)/5

Any math student will tell you that this is insolvable.

Your best option is not to get your cholesterol ever tested and then you can never be a victim of the cholesterol lowering machinery that will kick in if your guestimate fails the following test…

5) There is no science behind the number “5” (This is how they measure cholesterol in the UK, we do it differently in the US but the logic is the same)

Even after years of artificial intervention, the average cholesterol level in the UK is somewhere between 5.6 – 6.3 mmol/l (216-244 mg/dl). The powers-that-be have decided that this should be 5mmol/l (193 mg/dl).

This is like saying that the average height for a woman is 5’4” and we have decreed that it should be 5’1”. We could then stop the body from performing a natural function (growth) by administering drugs to stop growth hormones from doing their job. I trust that this analogy disturbs you. It is, however, frighteningly similar to what we are doing with attempts to lower average cholesterol levels.

6) “There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood. And we’ve known that all along.” Ancel Keys

Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal foods – meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Ancel Keys spent the 1950s feeding humans high levels of animal foods to see if dietary cholesterol had any impact on blood cholesterol levels. He concluded unequivocally that it did not. He never deviated from this view. While exonerating cholesterol, Keys also exonerated animal foods at the same time – and any substance contained therein. If large intakes of animal foods have no impact on cholesterol levels, then neither animal foods per se or any component of these foods (water, protein, cholesterol, saturated or unsaturated fat) have any impact on cholesterol levels!

Unaware of this irrefutable logic, diet ‘experts’ will tell you that saturated fat raises LDL and unsaturated fat raises HDL. They won’t tell you how. I have yet to find a biochemist who can explain how this can happen – let alone that it does. As every food that contains fat contains all three fats (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) you cannot consume any food that has saturated and not unsaturated fat, or vice versa.

Even if the very small 3 grams per 100 grams of unsaturated fat in sirloin steak (Ref 3) could raise HDL and even if the even smaller 2 grams per 100 grams of saturated fat in sirloin steak couldraise LDL – where would this leave our insolvable equation?!

The US dietary guidelines are due to be re-issued this year. The draft report announced in February 2015 that “cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern”. It never was, you Muppets!

7) Low cholesterol is associated with higher mortality. High cholesterol is associated with lower mortality

I have analysed cholesterol levels and death rates for all 192 countries for which the World Health Organisation has data. You may need to read this carefully. The lower the cholesterol levels, the higher the death rate; the higher the cholesterol levels, the lower the death rate. This holds for men and women and for heart disease deaths and total deaths from any cause – for all the countries in the world. Knowing how utterly vital cholesterol is to human life, this makes complete sense.

8) Follow the money

Why would humans put so much effort into stopping the body from doing something that it is designed to do – make cholesterol?

Statins are drugs that impair the body’s production of cholesterol. One statin alone, Lipitor, has been worth $125 billion to Pfizer since 1997. This statin is the most lucrative drug in the world. It is not the only statin.

Thankfully statins don’t work perfectly. If they stopped the body producing cholesterol altogether they would have a 100% death rate.

An entire low-fat spread industry, worth billions, has emerged simply by adding plant sterols to margarines because the brainwashed public will buy anything with “cholesterol lowering” properties. These plant sterols compete in the human body with human cholesterol and the overall impact on heart health is serious. I trust my body to make the cholesterol it needs. I’m not going to replace this with a foreign compound.

Back to the dinner party: While my healthy heart sank at the nonsense being asserted by intelligent acquaintances, there was an upside to their naive acceptance of propaganda: When the cheese course arrived, there was plenty to be enjoyed by the enlightened!


USA made at 84 MPG for only $6,800.

How about this little auto? By using a combination of lightweight materials and a unique aerodynamic body style, the three- wheeled vehicle will weigh slightly more than 1,200 pounds, roughly half of the average 2,400 pound vehicle today. Front-to-back two-person seating is the secret to the company’s high fuel efficiency along with being half the width of traditional passenger cars. Therefore, the Elio moves half as much air as a traditional passenger car, and wind drag is the single biggest factor impacting fuel economy during highway driving.

In addition, the car will be made here in the US.

  • Manufacturing facility is former General Motors Hummer H3 facility in Shreveport, Louisiana.
  • 90% North American content that is re-engineered using proven and existing technology.
  • 1,500 direct US jobs will be created in Shreveport.
  • 1,500 US jobs will be created at our supplier partner companies.
  • These manufacturing jobs will create another 18,000 jobs across the country.

Safety is top priority.

Elio is engineered to meet the highest safety standards with a Safety Management System including three airbags, a reinforced roll-cage frame, Anti-Lock Braking System, and 50 percent larger crush zones than similar vehicles.


Did you say a targeted $6,800* base price?

Standard features include A/C Heat, AM/FM Stereo, power windows, power door lock and auxiliary port. Elio’s 8-gallon tank can achieve up to 672-miles saving the average driver approximately $1,500 a year in fuel savings.

Blending fuel-efficiency, torque and power.

Elio Motors has partnered with the world-class team at IAV to design a completely new engine. The Elio features a fuel-injected, SOHC gas-powered, 3 cyl., .9 liter, liquid-cooled engine. The engine is 55 HP with 55 LB-FT of torque, has a top speed over 100 MPH, and goes 0-60 speed in 9.6 seconds.

Check out their website.

Canned food: Its real shelf life and how to test it

20091125_180946_ThisOldSpam_CanWe have all heard of the canned food that was still edible after 50, 75, or 100 years. Of course, most of us would be too chicken to eat it. We have grown fearful. In part because we understand there are risks from cans that are compromised; where changes in pH lead to an environment that breeds botulism or other poisons.  But we have also allowed ourselves to be browbeaten by the food industry and its attorneys, who try to cover their backsides by adding a “best before” date to the cans to limit their liability  in the event of a problem. This poses a significant burden to the American food system.

So what’s the real story?

From the National Center for Home Food Preservation website,

Properly canned food stored in a cool, dry place will retain optimum eating quality for at least 1 year. Canned food stored in a warm place near hot pipes, a range, a furnace, or in indirect sunlight may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, depending on the temperature. Dampness may corrode cans or metal lids and cause leakage so the food will spoil.

Does that mean that canned goods are done in one year? Nope.  Many foods will last far longer than that. You just need to know what to look for.

How about this for a great story. Dale Blumenthal, a staff writer for the FDA, wrote:

The steamboat Bertrand was heavily laden with provisions when it set out on The Missouri River in 1865, destined for the gold mining camps in Fort Benton, Mont. The boat snagged and swamped under the weight, sinking to the bottom of the river. It was found a century later, under 30 feet of silt a little north of Omaha, Neb.

Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand in 1968 were brandied peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974, chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they had been when canned more than 100 years earlier.

The nutrient values varied depending upon the product and nutrient. NFPA chemists Janet Dudek and Edgar Elkins report that significant amounts of vitamins C and A were lost. But protein levels remained high, and all calcium values “were comparable to today’s products.”

NFPA chemists also analyzed a 40-year-old can of corn found in the basement of a home in California. Again, the canning process had kept the corn safe from contaminants and from much nutrient loss. In addition, Dudek says, the kernels looked and smelled like recently canned corn.

Basic commonsense suggests you:

Look at the can. Food in damaged or rusting cans has a higher chance of being contaminated than cans in good condition. Do not eat food from cans that are bulging, dented, leaking or sticky or super rusted.

In the case of glass jars, check the food’s color. Some color change over time is normal, but a big alteration in color or a lack of color signals a problem.

For preserved fruit, pickles and relishes, check the syrup or brine. If it’s cloudy, opaque or looks like the liquid has evaporated away, give it a miss.

Dump anything with a damaged lid. Microorganisms can get in and affect the pH level and lead to poisoning.

Open the can. Throw it away if liquid spurts out when you open the can. Then, check the surface for mold or scum.

Smell the food. Dump anything that smells “off” or just unusual.

Taste it. If it’s old it might have lost some flavor. Don’t eat all of it at once.  Taste some and wait a while to see if you feel OK. Basically, if you have a bad feeling about it, toss it.

Here are some additional guidelines for canned food storage.

Low-acidic foods Canned meats can last longer than canned fruits and vegetables. Most canned meats will keep for two to five years or even longer. Other long-lasting canned low-acid foods are soups (without tomatoes), carrots, pumpkin, potatoes and peas.

botulism-468x1024High-acidic foods High-acidic foods include tomatoes and fruit and canned foods that contain vinegar. Although these foods may taste the best and have the best nutrition within a year or so, many of them are edible after years of storage.

Storage requirements The main reason canned foods spoil is improper storage. Cool, dry storage is best.

Microorganisms can grow and thrive in cans stored in damp areas and in high temperatures (over 95°F). These microorganisms can spoil the food and/or alter the food, enabling other microorganisms like botulism to grow. Click the infographic to find out how not to get botulism!

Keep canned foods away from sunlight as the heat can cause the air in the can to expand and bust the seal, again allowing microorganisms to poison the food. In addition, sunlight can turn oil or fats rancid.

There are no hard and fast rules about how long canned foods last. According to the NRDC study,

The waste of edible food by consumers, retailers and manufacturers poses a significant burden to the American food system. Wasted food costs consumers and industry money; squanders important natural resources that are used to grow, process, distribute, and store America’s food supply; and represents a missed opportunity to feed the millions of food insecure households in the United States that are struggling to access healthy, affordable food. Misinterpretation of the date labels on foods is a key factor leading to this waste.

And here is an official guide to storing food. Daredevils can ignore it at their own risk!

Texas Storage

Poison ivy? Get a goat!

Skip the lawnmower and herbicides! What you need are some goats to clean up poison ivy and poison oak. Save your bees and other wildlife. Get a herd of goats. They LOVE all the poisonous plants and don’t excrete seeds.  This is a rental herd for a big project – but just think how you could make this work on your backyard or homestead!
Check this out:

Dome Sweet Homes – Check ’em out

They’re super strong and long-lasting. They are energy efficient and virtually disaster-proof. They’re cheap to make and some can be erected in hours. And the design possibilities are endless. What’s not to like about dome homes?

Balancing Act: Tips for Adults Returning to College

Considering going back to college?

You’re in good company. Non-traditional students now make up the majority of US undergraduates, and one-in-four college students are age 30 or older.

CollegeBut although colleges are serving a greater number of adults, finding the right program—a place where you can balance your education with employment and family responsibilities—is key to your success.

Here are four questions every non-traditional student should ask when researching schools.

1) What is your college’s track record with nontraditional students?

Ask some tough questions: What’s the graduation rate of non-traditional students at your institution? Are adult students eligible for merit aid? How much debt do students typically accrue? What’s the average time to graduation?

Learning the answers can help you decide which college is right for you. It can also help you estimate how much time— and money—you’ll need to complete a degree.

2) What sort of flexible learning options do you offer?

Responsibilities at home and at work can change over your course of time that you’re enrolled in college. Choosing a school that provides a variety of course options—from in-person, to online, to hybrid—increases your odds of staying on track.

“A lot of adults have full-time work schedules or child care responsibilities,” said Amber Harnack, director of advising at Ivy Tech Community College (IN). “They often need more flexibility when it comes to scheduling classes.”

Also ask about student support services, such as tutoring, recommends Michelle Christopherson, director of the Center for Adult Learning on the University of Minnesota—Crookston campus.

“You want to make sure that you are going to be supported, and you want to make sure that those services aren’t going to end up costing you extra,” she said.

3) What will it take to get a degree?

The majority of non-traditional students have already accumulated some college credits by the time they re-enter higher education.

Before you enroll in any program, learn whether your credits will transfer and how many courses you’ll need to complete a degree.

“You want to make sure that from the beginning you have a clear understanding on how much it will cost and what your degree pathway will look like,” Christopherson said.

4) How will your institution help me meet my career goals?

Begin your college search with the end in mind.

What’s spurring your decision to return to school? Are you looking for advancement options in your current field, or do you want a career change?

Ask college officials about the types of jobs landed by recent program graduates. Inquire about the services offered at the campus’ career center.

“Make sure that your goals match up with what the college is able to provide,” Harnack said. “You want to be certain that the degree program you ultimately choose is a good fit.”


Learn more at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. 

Defending your home with a firearm

Gun Vault's GV1000S
Gun Vault’s GV1000S

The typical scenario we mostly  worry about is the night-time break-in while we are all snug in our beds. While we are fortunate it is somewhat rare, it does happen. So when you awaken to the sound of breaking glass or your spouse shaking you awake to tell you someone is in the house, what steps should you take? These steps are not necessarily limited to night-time entries but can be used for basic principles. Your gun should be close at hand (If you have young family members or guests get a safe box that reacts to your palm, hand or finger prints for safety, like the one pictured from Gun Vault)

  1. Call the police on 911 and keep the channel open, do not hang up. If possible, have your spouse or another family member call the police as soon as you can. Keep a cell phone in the bedroom. If your phone lines have been cut (common if you appear to have an alarm system) you’ll still be able to summon help. It’s important to have the line open because the dispatch center records all 911 calls and if things get hot in your home this recording is a vital piece of evidence that will prove you were in fear of your life and acting under duress.
  2. Identify your target as “friend or foe” before you fire. We’ve all heard the stories about someone shooting a “burglar” in the dark only to find out it’s a family member. Rule #1 is make sure of your target. You might consider a high quality small LED flashlight by your bed. It’s useful in other emergencies, too.
  3. Where are all your household members and guests? This works with rule #1 above to locate and identify other family members and any guest(s) to ensure they aren’t the ones moving around the house. More importantly, it prevents you from being surprised by a “friendly” coming out of the bathroom. Check on the kids’ rooms, check your guest’s location and be sure you know where they are.
  4. Don’t go looking for trouble. If at all possible, don’t go downstairs or into the front of the house to investigate. Most homes offer a hallway to the bedrooms and that’s easily defended, versus having to “cover” all the hiding places in your living room, den, kitchen (with all those knives), etc. Besides which, you’ve probably just woke up, your eyes are bleary or maybe you have a tendency to cough or sniffle a lot. In any case, getting up and moving about will probably alert any intruder(s).
  5. Move family to a safe room. If you have children you may elect to move them to the room that is your safest room of the house. This is usually the master bedroom where you have your firearm, telephone and a last-ditch escape route out of the house. Remember the risk of trying to move elderly relatives and small children who may cry upon sudden awakening.
  6. Be sure your family is behind you, out of the line of fire. If you moved everyone to a safe room, you should be the closest to the door so you have a clear line of fire. If you can’t move everyone into one room, you may have to take a position in a hallway where they are behind you. The last thing you want is to be squeezing the trigger on Danny Dirtbag at the end of the hallway when your child sleepily steps into the hallway!
  1. Never block an intruder’s escape route. If you can avoid it, never put yourself between an intruder and his most likely escape route. Doing so can put you in danger if he’s surprised and bolts for the exit towards you. It’s better to let them flee than find out he’s faster, stronger or more determined that you are.
  1. If your intruder discovers that you are awake or present and shows himself to you, in a firm voice (as firm and controlled as you can muster at the moment) give them the command “Don’t Move!”. Assuming you see no weapons in his hands, follow this immediately with the command “Get face down on the ground, now!”. If the person turns and flees, fine and dandy. If you can see that he has a knife or gun use your best judgment. If you feel the situation cannot be controlled verbally or he is moving towards you, remember to put your front sight on your target. At most household ranges elevation doesn’t matter too much. If you see the front sight sticking up in the middle that’s probably “close enough”. You should cease firing when the person stops being a threat.

UCAffiliateCreative-1Regardless of whether the intruder has fled, been wounded or killed, be sure to wait for the police to come check the house to be sure he — or a companion you didn’t know about — is not hiding somewhere. If you hear or see him fleeing outside, turn on all lights, including exterior lights until the police arrive, but always be alert for a second, unseen intruder! If the person refuses your commands be very careful. He may pretend he doesn’t understand English. Or do nothing. If he makes any movement towards you, he isn’t being deterred by your firearm and is an immediate threat to your safety. A key point: watch his hands! If he seems to ignore your commands watch his hands carefully. If you can’t see both hands you don’t know if he has a weapon!

The Squirrel has a note about “machismo”. For those who think they are tough-guys, remember that you Tiny Squirrelwill have just woken up. You’ll be be bleary and probably disoriented and a bit scared. And you might cough after standing up. Perhaps you’ll find your arm is totally asleep. The intruder has the advantage in most cases; he’s dressed, pumped on drugs or adrenaline, his eyes are used to the dark and he may be armed. No matter how “macho” you think you are, your voice may crack like an adolescent’s, your hands will shake and your heart will be pounding in your ears. Don’t ever count on being ready! Think ahead!

Emily goes hunting – Seven Things Every Girl Should Know About Hunting

deerFor me, hunting is a personal passion. It’s the way I escape the hustle and bustle. Hunting is cultural tradition, self-reliance and the pursuit of knowledge all wrapped up in a peaceful, primitive package. It’s a tremendous part of my life.

For most women, however, hunting is not much of anything. There are a multitude of reasons why individuals don’t hunt, and that’s fine with me. I admit: grocery stores are a much easier and tidier way to obtain meat. However, there may come a time when providing meat for you and yours is absolutely necessary. Here is the most basic information that any gal (or guy) should know about hunting.

1.) You don’t shoot ducks with an elephant gun

Weapon choice is absolutely critical. Some weapons are completely inappropriate for certain game species. Guns are the most effective weapon, and the learning curve is not as steep as with other weapons. I am an avid archer (archess!!!), but in all honesty, archery can take years to learn properly and has a lower success rate than gun use.

Now, there are plenty of guns to choose from. If you use a gun that is too small for your chosen prey you may only wound the animal. If you use a gun that is too large, you may not be able to handle the power behind the gunshot. I think that it is a good idea for any household to own one handgun for self protection and one rifle for emergency food needs. A great gun for deer hunting is a .308 caliber rifle.

Guns can be purchased at most sporting goods stores, pawn shops and, of course, gun stores. I recommend shopping at your local sporting goods store. Sporting goods stores usually have incredibly helpful, knowledgeable staff that will take the time to find you exactly what you need. I also feel much safer at sporting goods stores than at some pawn and guns shops. Also, be prepared for a background check, paperwork, and red tape. Buying a gun takes time. Laws differ from state to state. To research gun laws in your state go to either your library, always a great place for gathering information, or access .

2.) To everything there is a season

Hunting is completely regulated. First and foremost, you need to purchase a license and research your state hunting regulations. There are specific times of year that it is ok to hunt specific animal species. More importantly, there are seasons when it is very much not okay to hunt! Laws vary by state, and detailed regulations vary within state boundaries. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know regulations, and not very many law enforcement officers are going to fall for the old “I had no idea (notice my batting eyelashes?)” Most states also require every hunter to complete a “hunter’s education” course. Each year your state wildlife agency prints up copies of current regulations. For the most part, these are available at all sporting goods stores and gun stores. In rural areas you can even pick up copies at grocery stores and gas stations. Regulations are also very easy to get off of the internet. Just type your state name and the words “hunting regulations” into Google and poof!

3.) Makeup and clothing are always a girl’s best weapons

I spend more time in front of the mirror during hunting season than any other time of the year; getting dressed for a hunting trip requires as much attention and effort as getting dressed for a job interview. A little before-hand contemplation goes a long way. The most important thing to think about when choosing your attire is weather. Be prepared for everything. Wear shoes that are comfortable and tough.

Camouflage is important, but you don’t have to look like a military combatant. The main thing is to try to break up your outline. Wear clothes with large patches of both light and dark colors. Use face paint, dark eye shadow or mud to draw lines across your face and other exposed skin. The main point of camouflage is to not look like a large human blob while in the forest. It is also best to camouflage your scent. Don’t wear perfume, scented deodorant, or eat garlic roasted sardines before you head out.

When preparing a trip in the outdoors, hunting or not, you should always be safe and bring along some emergency supplies. A few things that every good woodswoman should pack with her are: matches, small fire starters/tinder, water, a metal cup, a sharp knife, a poncho, a pair of binoculars, non-perishable food items and rope. A key note: don’t go overboard. If you try to haul an airmattress, a portable espresso maker, three frying pans and your field guide library, a lot of unnecessary energy will be expended.

4.) Animals, like college freshman, live to eat, drink and sleep

The best places to find animals are by food and water sources. Great places to start looking are alfalfa and corn fields, orchards, rivers, creeks, and ponds. Often, the best place to look for deer is literally in your back yard. Any decent hunting spot should have a plethora of game trails entering the area. Game trails look like human trails, just not as wide and lacking pavement. You can tell if a trail has been traveled recently if there are fresh tracks (loose dirt around tracks) and if droppings are all warm and squishy. You can decide how you will find that out!

For the most part, animals are most active during the hours near dawn and dusk. Scout out an area ahead of time. Look for any game trails coming into fields or water sources. Finding areas of high animal concentration is a key factor influencing a successful hunt.

5.) We can all learn from Elmer Fudd

Almost any animal can see, smell and hear far better than you can. Being very, very quiet is not just a cutesy little cartoon line.   You should always move slowly and be as alert and quiet as possible when hunting. Silence is not easilyTracking 3 achieved however. As soon as you try to walk silently through the forest you will realize that every twig and leaf is like a miniature sound bomb, just awaiting your step for detonation. The easiest way to ensure silence is to simply stay put. I like to find a promising area and sit down at a good viewpoint. Then the hardest part is mustering up enough patience to wait for game to come by.

6.) Shoot to kill

Hunters live by a very definite code of ethics. One of the principal laws of hunting ethics is this: shoot to kill. There is no reason why an animal should suffer a long death. The best place to aim to achieve this goal is directly behind the front shoulder blade. This is the location of the heart and lungs. Also, be practiced with your weapon. If shot properly, an animal will feel little or no pain and die in a matter of seconds. Watch your animal carefully after you take a shot. It will run, but if shot properly it won’t get far. You should remain still and wait for at least 15-30 minutes, then follow the track of blood and hoof prints left by the animal. Visit to learn the basics of hunting ethics and safety.

7.) Hunting is not all fun and games

Death is messy. I think this is one of the biggest reasons more women don’t hunt. Dressing game is a lot of unpleasant work. Techniques are far beyond the scope of this article, so we’ll cover them in a later edition. Just remember that you should always carry a sharp knife and get the meat to a cool place as soon as possible. There are numerous articles and books written on game dressing and you ought to read up before you begin to pursue your prey.




Outage? Charge your phone with body electricity (or do it an old fashioned way!)

spin_prod_1052519512Watch the video and you’ll see how you can charge your phone using your body electricity by making a capacitor using items commonly found in your pocket. You need two silver coins, a paper clip, a piece of paper, your charging cable and of course your phone. The electricity from your body is stored in the capacitor and then sent to the phone to charge it. The coins act as a two plates of a capacitor and the air gap and the paper act as the insulator (dielectric). The paper clip is to connect inside of your usb connector to the outer plate of the capacitor. Have fun! Try it out.

We have no idea how much power this can generate, or whether this would damage your phone but the concept looked like something that would be useful in a real emergency.

Also useful in a power outage is the AA battery-powered charger featured here. This one is from K-Mart and costs $13. I keep one in my purse all the time but it’s a useful resource to store in your Bug-out bag or Shelter-in-Place box.


Ballsy bowhunter beats bear – shoves arm down its throat

A bow hunter in Montana survived a male grizzly bear’s mauling. He surprised the bear out on the trail and it attacked him. Chase Dellwo said he only had time to take a few steps back before the bear knocked him off his feet and bit his head.

As he was being thrown around, he said he remembered a tip from a magazine that his grandmother had once shown him. It said that large animals have a poor gag reflex and shoving an arm down its throat will stop it. He managed to ram his arm into the bear’s mouth and the grizzly did indeed drop him and move away.

“I want everyone to know that it wasn’t the bear’s fault. He was as scared as I was,” Dellwo said.

Don’t take too much acetaminophen this flu season – That stuff can kill you

Know Your Dose Campaign Cold and Flu InfographicWith cold and flu season around the corner, consumers will soon begin to purchase medicines such as cough syrup, throat lozenges, and nasal sprays to help get relief from symptoms such as fever, coughs, congestion, and more. Many of the medicines used to treat these cold and flu symptoms can contain common drug ingredients such as acetaminophen.

Research published this year shows that consumers don’t always know the potential risks of double dosing on medicine or that taking two medicines with the same ingredient could be harmful. That’s why the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition(AAC) is issuing a safety message to consumers, reminding them to double check their medicine labels to avoid doubling up on medicines with acetaminophen when treating symptoms during the upcoming cold and flu season.

Acetaminophen is found in more than 600 over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines, including many that treat cough, cold, and flu symptoms. It’s safe and effective when used as directed, but there is a limit to how much can be taken in one day. Taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set a maximum daily dose of 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period.

The Coalition advises cold and flu sufferers to follow four key acetaminophen safe use steps:

  1. Always read and follow the medicine label.
  2. Check the labels on all of your medicines for acetaminophen, which is listed on the front panel of packaging and in bold type or highlighted in the “active ingredients” section of OTC medicine labels, and sometimes listed as “APAP” or “acetam” on prescription labels.
  3. Take only one medicine at a time that contains acetaminophen.
  4. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about dosing instructions or medicines that contain acetaminophen.

The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition, a diverse group of leading health, healthcare provider, and consumer organizations, formed the Know Your Dose campaign to educate consumers about safe acetaminophen use in order to prevent liver damage.

For more information, visit and follow @KnowYourDose on Twitter.


Could this funny Peruvian plant be a natural alternative to HRT?

MacaMost women experience the onset of the menopause at an average age of about 50, but it can start anytime from the early forties to the late fifties. Symptoms can vary: some women sail through but others suffer the miseries of hot flushes, night sweats, irritability, depression, lack of energy and loss of libido.

Orthodox medical practitioners invariably prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and often anti-depressants and tranquillisers, which can become addictive. However, there is a natural alternative.

HRT is prescribed to counter balance the reduced production by your body of oestrogen which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis and weakened bones leading to fractures. However, two large clinical trials have shown that HRT does not, in fact, significantly reduce the incidence of bone fractures, and there is an increased risk of heart disease, gallstones, and breast and endometrial cancer.

Rather than a shortage of hormones, it is said that most menopausal symptoms are more to do with an imbalance. By eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and natural supplements, you can boost the health of your bones, and balance sugar levels and your hormones.

It is well known that people in some parts of the world (for example Japan and the Mediterranean countries) rarely suffer from heart disease due to their different national diets. It is less well known that women in the Andes region of Peru do not suffer menopausal symptoms.

Maca – The Peruvian’s secret

Peruvian women take Maca, a tuberous plant related to the potato. Maca is a plant that grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru for at least 3000 years. Maca is a relative of the radish and has an odor similar to butterscotch. Its root is used to make medicine.

Centuries ago, the Incas inhabited this area and, in order to boost their energy, their warriors used to take Maca before going into battle. When the Spanish conquered the area they found that their horses suffered from the high altitude. The locals advised them to feed Maca to the horses and the animals immediately experienced an increase in energy levels. The Spanish found that what was good for their horses would also benefit humans, so payment for the taxes levied on the locals was taken in Maca.

Maca is used in the mountains for “tired blood” (anemia); chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); and enhancing energy, stamina, athletic performance, memory, and fertility. Women use Maca for female hormone imbalance, menstrual problems, and symptoms of menopause. Maca is also used for weak bones (osteoporosis), depressionstomach cancerleukemiaHIV/AIDS, tuberculosiserectile dysfunction (ED), to arouse sexual desire, and to boost the immune system.

In foods, Maca is eaten baked or roasted, prepared as a soup, and used for making a fermented drink called Maca Chicha. In agriculture, it is used to increase fertility in livestock.

Maca root contains many chemicals, including fatty acids and amino acids. However, there isn’t enough information to know how Maca might work.

There are three phases of menopause: the peri-menopause or the year or so prior to the onset of the menopause when the your body misses the occasional menstrual period. During this time a low dose of 1500mg is recommended to counteract the slow down in the production by your body of hormones.

During the actual menopause, increase the dose to around 4000mg each day for a period of 2-3 months, and then reduce the dose to 2000mg.

In the post menopause phase, reduce your daily intake of Maca to 1500mg. The risk of osteoporosis is apparent from the onset of the menopause and thereafter.

In addition to your daily intake of Maca, you should consider taking supplements containing aloe vera, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and vitamin C. This should ease stiffness and pain in the joints and promote mobility and good bone health.

By: Tony Luck

The Ecocapsule. Is this the future of sustainable living?

Wow! Look at this. Coming soon is this tiny home — or emergency shelter – the Ecocapsule. It can be pulled by a pack animal (or a truck, but pack animal sounds cooler. ) And plan-1024x677despite its small form, each Ecocapsule is fitted with all essentials necessary for a comfortable prolonged stay without a need to recharge or re-supply.

Ecocapsule is powered by a built-in wind turbine complemented with an array of solar cells. Dual power system and a high-capacity battery ensure you will have enough power during periods of reduced solar or wind activity.

The egg shape is optimized for the collection of rainwater and dew and the buEcocapsule4ilt-in water filters allow you to utilize any water source. It has a built-in retractable 750W wind turbine and an array of high efficiency solar cells. The dual-power system and a high-capacity battery ensure that there will be enough power even during periods of reduced solar and wind activity. The built-in filters allow you to utilize any water source.

The pod was designed by . The space measures 14.6 ft. in length, 7.9 ft. in width and 8.2 ft. in height. The total usable floor space is 86 sq. ft., giving the portable home enough space to comfortably fit two adults. The Ecocapsule comes complete with a folding bed, a working/dining area, a shower with hot water, a flushable toilet, a built-in kitchenette with running water, storage space and two operable windows.

According to the designers, the Ecocapsule would be ready for purchase in 2016, and they are taking orders now. The price is yet to be announced.




How to make money from your photography hobby

Stock Photography Sites: How to Sell Your Workcat-photo-300x192

Okay, so you have taken some nice pictures and would like to make a little money doing something you enjoy. Selling your photography to a stock photograph site may be just the right fit for you. Before you start submitting your work, however, there are some things you need to know—important things.

Getting Started

A quick Google search will provide you with several sites that provide royalty-free images to designers, publishers, and other consumers for a fee. These include sites that are always looking for content like iStockphoto, Shutter Stock, and Big Stock Photo. You provide them with stock photographs of various subjects and, when a client downloads those photos, you receive a royalty payment. Nice, right? Before you dash off to organize those pics, however, there some things you have to know.

This article will cover the three things you need to consider before you can start making money from your photographs using stock photography sites.


Stock photography sites make money by selling useful images to writers, publishers, and designers who need to enhance their projects—the important word being useful. A useful image, for the purposes of general standards, is an image that is:

• High Quality. The photo you upload must maintain its resolution over a variety of print and digital media.
• Technically Perfect. Your photo must contain no flaws that will make it unattractive to site editors or potential clients.
• Big. Your photos need to be rendered as large as possible because most stock photography sites offer multiple image sizes and the larger the download, the more money everyone makes.
• Commercially Viable. Stock photography sites collect money for these photographs from people who are going to use them in a commercial setting. You must ensure that all subjects have provided releases (both model and property) and that there is no copyright infringement or other commercial-use barrier.

The clients of stock photography sites need to be able to pay-and-go, i.e., buy a photo on the site, insert it into their project, and not worry about anything else. This means the site will only use your image if it comports with these standards.


You will have to create a user account with any major stock photography site for obvious reasons—they need to know where to send the royalty checks. Make sure that you fill out the information completely and accurately. Some sites, like iStockphoto, have an application process that also requires you to upload a copy of your driver’s license or other photo identification. There is no reason to freak out about these requirements; they are no different than what any other employer or contractor would require of you.

General Image Requirements

Different sites will have minor differences in image requirements, but I suggest you do these three things:

• Make it Simple. There are a variety of file formats for images and, while the requirements and file types vary from site-to-site, I suggest you make it easy on yourself and upload only JPG files that are in RGB. The reason for this is simple; this file format will work for everyone. Some sites will accept your PSD files in CMYK with no questions (because they are focused on effects, filters, or print images), but most won’t. Some sites take TIFF and PNG, but others have a problem with those files uploading. As of the date of this writing, ALL of the stock photography sites will take the RGB JPG. Don’t play chess if the game is checkers—make it simple.

• Make it Big. The larger the file size, the more useful the image; you can always make a large image smaller with no loss of quality but you cannot exceed the original image size without pixilation and digital noise. Some sites have a minimum allowable image size, e.g., iStockphoto requires images to be at least 1600 X 1200 pixels, but there is no need to limit your opportunity by uploading small photos. Give yourself a better chance to succeed and give the site your biggest and best. In this case, bigger IS better.

• Make it Pure. Don’t try to sell images that have been up-sampled, filtered (unless it is a totally necessary artistic look), color-adjusted, or otherwise manipulated UNLESS the editors are looking for those specific types of images. Generally, over-produced images do not help clients and, while special effect photography is an entirely different matter, the closer your image is to the original natural shot the better.

Familiarize yourself with each site’s general image requirements so you won’t have problems getting your application approved.
Stephen Box is a writer who specializes in helping educate photographers on various topics.

Telemedicine – Is it the way of the future?

Telemedicine Expands Despite Uncertain Financial Prospects

Say you’re a rural Midwestern farmer in bed recovering from a major illness at your local hospital. It’s time for nurse’s check in, but there’s no knock on the door.

At Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, just over the foot of the bed, a camera whirls around and a monitor lights up to show a smiling face with a headset on.

“Good afternoon, this is Jeff with SafeWatch. Just doing my afternoon rounds,” he said in this training exercise.

Watching the video nurses in action, it’s a little hard to shake the Jetsons vibe, but this kind of health care is already alive and growing. On October 6, Mercy Hospital will open a new telemedicine mothership that will treat thousands of patients in 5 states.

The new facility will provide even more patients in remote parts of the Midwest and South with health monitoring that is comparable to what you could get in a big hospital, said Tom Hale, the executive medical director of Mercy Virtual.

“You can monitor their heart, their blood pressure, their respiratory rate, their temperature on a 24/7 basis,” he said. “You can monitor their position, so you can tell if they’ve been out of bed. You can tell if they’ve turned in bed.”

He said telemedicine can be high quality and cheaper than in-person care. A lot of what Hale and his team now provide is care for patients in rural areas, but its use may soon explode with a different group of patients: baby boomers who want to age at home instead of in a nursing facility. Industry analyst Sarah Turk of IBISWorld says that could propel telehealth to a $3.5 billion industry by 2020.

“Coverage will be expanded to include more physicians and more specialties and also a range of communications,” she said. “So instead of it being only interactive video consultation, it could be text messaging as well.”

But she said the telehealth boom still faces some big challenges. Many insurance companies have been slow to pay for telemedicine. Medicare, the healthcare coverage for Americans over 65, is a financial powerhouse and insurance companies often follow its lead on payments. Medicare only pays for telemedicine in rural or medically underserved areas and only when video conferencing is used.

But telemedicine has broadened as technology has developed. Now it could, for instance, use a smartphone app to monitor falls in the home, so insurance companies and Medicare have to re-think their payment criteria.

But Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard University said insurers have good reason to be skeptical.

“If telemedicine really saved money, payers would be falling over themselves paying for this stuff, right? Because it would actually benefit their bottom line,” he says.

He says telemedicine does seem to provide good access to high quality medical care, but even though it could save money theoretically, that’s not what’s happening.

Mercy Virtual, based in St. Louis, will use video monitors like this to beam nurses into patients rooms in five states. (Photo by Alex Smith/KCUR)

“What tends to happen is that it tends to be an addition,” he explained. “You do the telemedicine, it leads to more tests. It leads to more follow-up visits. And over time, when you look at the data, it turns out that telemedicine overall is not necessarily a big cost saver.”

Still, Mercy Hospital is betting that expanding will be a good deal. With its new facility, the hospital can monitor nearly 7,500 acute care beds in five states, and they plan to expand from there.

This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPRKCUR and Kaiser Health News.

Amazing invention – Tap your honey straight from the hive

Why crack open the hive and stress all the bees? Why move all the parts around? Why smoke the bees? Here’s a great honey extraction invention. It’s a real game changer.

VIDEO: How to shear a sheep

Thinking about keeping sheep? Remember you’re going to have to shear it, not just for the fleece, but to keep flies and their killer maggots off the hind quarters. Watch this English farmer shear a sheep. It’s a masterclass you can learn from.


As 595 Commondiseases in Sheep and Goats

Tiny home is modern housing alternative

Tiny House Building CompanyKristopher Angstadt grew up hunting and fishing in bucolic backwoods sprinkled with tiny, tucked-away cabins.

These little living quarters, set in the woods or upon a lakeshore, intrigued him from childhood, said Angstadt, who has spent the last 13 years building and renovating area homes.

Among his projects are city houses on narrow infill lots that measure no more than 15 feet across. So, tiny houses–a burgeoning market focused on smaller, simplified living–seemed like a natural fit for the Fredericksburg-based contractor.

A year ago, Angstadt founded Tiny House Building Company, where an 8- by 24-foot model home secured upon a steel trailer regularly catches the eye of passersby.

The little, self-contained house includes a living room, kitchen and bath, as well as a king-size loft with dormer windows reachable by a sliding ladder. It is among more than two-dozen floor plans the company currently offers.

Angstadt said he built the model for off-the-grid living. “You could park it in the middle of the woods.”

Hidden beneath the kitchen counter are a battery pack, a tankless hot-water heater and a 30-gallon water tank. Cooking is done by propane; the toilet is composting.

Powered by generator or battery, the diminutive domicile can also be built to utilize solar power. And if you prefer to park your tiny home on property with a water and electricity source, there are hook-ups for that.

Demand for tiny homes and the simplified lifestyle often associated with them is growing, said Ryan Mitchell, managing editor of

Reality television has taken note, with shows like ” Tiny House Builders” and “Tiny House Hunters” on HGTV’s lineup.

People are drawn to the “tiny house movement” in part because of the considerably lower cost of living, Mitchell said.

“It’s at a price point where people can save up and pay cash and have a home outright,” Mitchell said. “That’s a pretty big draw, after the recession and so many people losing their homes.”

The median price paid for a house in 2010 was $221,800, according to the U.S. Census. A tiny house could cost as little as a tenth of that, said Mitchell, who built his own in Charlotte, N.C., a year ago.

Angstadt’s tiny homes start at $20,500. Geared toward those who prefer to do it themselves, the price includes an 8- by 18-foot trailer, a sheathed frame and shingle or metal roof. (You add the siding, windows, interior walls, flooring, insulation, plumbing and electric.)

A fully finished, 8- by 24-foot house with a refrigerator, electric stove, shower stall, toilet and other amenities can cost $65,000 or more. All plans are customizable.

While the price tag intrigues some, other buyers and builders of tiny homes downsize for environmental reasons, Mitchell said.

His tiny home uses solar panels and recycled materials.

The houses also appeal to those in search of a minimalist lifestyle.

These days, “everyone has to be really busy,” Mitchell said. But some have realized that’s not for them.

“They want to have time to themselves, to spend time with friends and family and pursue their passions and hobbies,” he said. “Tiny houses afford them flexibility and options to live a life that is more on their terms. That’s pretty appealing to a lot of people today.”

Angstadt said he tried to think of everything when coming up with his own line of tiny houses, including wireless Internet capability. On Monday, a portable air conditioning unit circulated cool air through home. But there’s space on the wall over the couch for a mounted cooling unit; on the opposite wall, behind a piece of art, is everything you need to hang a flatscreen television.

All of Tiny House Building Company’s abodes are certified by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, he said, meaning you can take them into most RV parks.

But the tiny houses are not RVs, Angstadt said.

“We build professionally and under code,” just as if they were constructing a regular house. They use real wood and quality insulation that nearly silences Lafayette Boulevard traffic just feet away.

The trailers on which the little houses sit are constructed from steel because, Angstadt said, “a house is only as good as its foundation.”

( Tiny House Building Company also sells the trailer sans home, if you prefer to construct your own upon it.)

The homes can be pulled from place to place or permanently parked. A 1-ton truck can haul the larger of the tiny homes; a Ford F-150 or equivalent can pull the 18-foot houses, he said. If you don’t plan to travel with your wee dwelling–or just don’t want to pick it up–the company can deliver it.

Soon after building his first model to see whether there would be any interest, Angstadt said, he sold two.

“Locals are just learning what they can do” with tiny houses, Angstadt said. “If I throw a sign up for an open house, 80 or 90 people will stop in.”

Many are longtime apartment dwellers who have saved money but don’t want to invest in a house that will take 30 years to pay off, he said.

Anthony Pulzone, who lives in Westmoreland County, spotted the tiny home model a couple of weeks ago during his regular work rounds through Fredericksburg. He said he was hoping it would still be there when he came through again on Monday.

It was. He pulled his work truck over to take a closer look.

Pulzone said he and his wife recently sold their longtime home and moved into a 28-foot tiny house of their own on Long Pond just off the Potomac River.

“What really caught my eye,” he said of the model, “was the second level.”

Pulzone snapped some pictures inside and out to show his wife, and left with a pricing sheet.

“Folks who were buying big homes before have realized they don’t need all that stuff,” Angstadt said. “The response has been overwhelming.”



VIDEO: How to survive being swept away in a flash flood

First video, this is what you shouldn’t do. Then there’s a life-saving video to tell you how to deal with a flash flood.  Remember – flip on your back.


Pulses! Great for fall. Great for when the SHTF.

Healthy food trends — beans and legumes

Legumes are large, fleshy, colorful plant seeds. Beans, peas, and lentils are all types of legumes. Vegetables such as beans and other legumes are an important source of protein. They are a key food in healthy diets and have many benefits.

LentilsBeans, lentils, and peas come in many options, cost little money, and are easy to find. Check your supermarket aisles and you’ll find dozens of dried and canned varieties. Perfect food for your emergency SHTF supplies.

Soft and earthy-flavored, legumes can be eaten in many ways.

My favorites are lentils. Did you know that lentils contain more protein than beef? And that they are packed with fiber, along with magnesium, iron, zinc, B6, and more potassium than a banana. Lentils are also easy to store and keep really well for a long time. As a vegetarian alternative they are difficult to beat as you can make them into chills and burgers and keep up your protein levels. If you are on a weight reducing diet, they make a good alternate to meat as the fiber keeps your stomach fuller for up to four hours longer than other food groups.

If you’ve heard bad things about lentils it’s that they contain phytic acid and lectin, both of which are considered anti nutrients, compounds that prevent the body from absorbing essential vitamins and minerals, but the great news is that cooking lentils actually releases their full nutritional potential and deactivates the lectin.

Types of legumes


  • Adzuki
  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas (actually a bean)
  • Cannellini
  • Cranberry
  • Garbanzo (chick peas)
  • Great Northern
  • Kidney
  • Lima
  • Mung
  • Navy
  • Pinto

Other legumes:

  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Soy beans (edamame)

Why they are good for you

Beans and legumes are rich in plant protein, fiber, B-vitamins, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. Most beans are also low in fat.

Legumes are similar to meat in nutrients, but with lower iron levels and no animal fats. The high protein and other nutrients in legumes make them a great option in place of meat and dairy products. Vegetarians often substitute legumes for meat.

Legumes are a great source of fiber and help you have regular bowel movements. Just 1 cup of cooked black beans will give you 15 grams of fiber, which is about half of the recommended daily amount.

Legumes are packed with nutrients. They are low in calories, but make you feel full. They are wonderful for people with diabetes since they do not increase your blood sugar very much. The body uses the carbohydrates in legumes slowly, over time, providing steady energy for the body, brain, and nervous system. Eating more legumes as part of a healthy diet can help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, heart rate, and other heart disease and diabetes risks.

Beans and legumes contain antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and fight disease and aging. The fiber and other nutrients benefit the digestive system, and may even help to prevent digestive cancers.

How they are prepared

Legumes can be added to any meal, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Once cooked, they can be eaten warm or cold.

Most dry beans (except peas and lentils) will need to be rinsed, soaked, and cooked.

  • Rinse beans in cold water and pick out any pebbles or stems.
  • Cover the beans with 3 times their amount in water.
  • Soak for 6 hours.

You can also bring dried beans to a boil, take the pan off the burner, and let them soak for 2 hours. Soaking overnight or after boiling makes them less likely to give you gas.

To cook your beans:

  • Drain and add fresh water.
  • Cook the beans according to the instructions on your package.

To add cooked or canned beans to your diet:

  • Add them to salsas, soups, salads, tacos, burritos, chili, or pasta dishes.
  • Include them as a side dish at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Mash them up for dips and spreads.
  • Use bean flour to bake them.

To reduce the gas caused by eating beans:

  • Always soak dried beans.
  • If you don’t eat a lot of beans, gradually add them to your diet. This helps your body get used to the extra fiber.
  • Chew them well.

Where to find legumes

Legumes may be purchased at any grocery store or online. They do not cost a lot of money and can be stored for a very long time. They come in bags (dried beans), cans (already cooked), or jars.



  • 2 cans black beans (15 oz.)
  • ½ medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin (ground)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano (fresh or dried)


  1. Carefully drain the juice from one can of black beans. Pour the drained black beans into a bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the beans until they are no longer whole. Set the mashed beans aside.
  2. Chop the onion into ¼-inch pieces. Set the onions aside.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and mince them finely. Set the garlic aside.
  4. In a medium sauce pan, heat your cooking oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook for 30 seconds more.
  6. Stir in the mashed black beans and the second can of black beans, including the juice.
  7. When the beans begin to boil, reduce the heat to low, stir in the salt and oregano and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture

The internet of everything. Introducing the world’s first SMART menstrual cup


Many women prefer the cup method to absorption. And for years the rubber version has been the standard method of dealing with the monthly flow.

Take The Keeper

Manufactured from soft gum rubber, this cup is inserted during your period to collect menstrual fluid. It will collect around an ounce, which is about an average day’s loss. Owners empty and wash the Keeper before replacing it. It was used by the female scientists living in the closed environment of Biosphere 1 back in 1992 as their 12. The Keeperpreferred form of feminine hygiene. The Keeper is claimed to be easy to insert and remove and so comfortable, odorless and leak-proof that users report running miles, swimming, wearing white and generally not worrying about the time of month. In addition, it is great for women with allergies, toxic shock, concerns about dioxins in tampons, or owners of septic tanks. As the Keeper can be used for many years there are economic and environmental aspects to consider. The Keeper eliminates the monthly need for those expensive cotton and paper products that generate a lot of waste. Available in before and after childbirth models.

But now the Internet of Everything has gotten involved. 

LOONCUP believes that understanding their periods can help women keep track of their overall health. The reusable cup has a discrete built-in sensor that connects to a companion app via Bluetooth. Throughout the user’s menstrual cycle, the app receives information about flow-rate, fluid color and how full the cup is — a countdown timer is included to inform women of when the cup will need to be emptied. The cup is then simply hand-washed and reused.

By storing data each month, the LOONCUP learns when the user’s period is about to begin and alerts them to prepare. The cup is made of medical grade silicon, making it comfortable, easy to insert, and reducing the risk of toxic shock syndrome associated with tampon use. The battery is sealed within the cup to prevent leakage, giving each cup a 6-month lifespan. Crowdfunding now and launching in January 2016, LOONCUP also plan to expand their device’s medical usage, offering cups to track hemoglobin levels in anaemia and blood sugar levels for diabetics.

From their Kickstarter page


It’s no secret: menstruation is not fun. But what if we could relieve the monthly stress and take back our freedom? What if we could learn something important about our periods that makes life better? Sounds good, right?

Actually, a healthy period means our body is doing what it’s supposed to. It can even give us valuable health info, and with a LOONCUP, we can take advantage of that. Think of it as your monthly period partner, a good friend who drops by when you need her, helping you feel better yourself, and making sure you take care of your body during this special time.

We know, it’s strange to call your period a special time but isn’t it about time we redefine what menstruation is all about? A LOONCUP can do so much more than a tampon, pad, or even a regular menstrual cup. It’s the world’s first smart menstruation cup, and you’ll love the way it tells you how full it is, and when it’s time to refresh. LOONCUP canLooncup kickstarter

We believe that each tiny LOONCUP can make a huge impact on the lives of women around the world, and we need your help. LOONCUP is safe, convenient and so smart, with a securely embedded sensor that talks to your smartphone. We continue to test and enhance the LOONCUP, and with your support, we can do it, helping women worldwide to win back their freedom and live happier, more enjoyable lives. Are you in? Click the leader or the photo to go to their Kickstarter page.

Lily’s awesome bug-out camp

This simple, stable, warm and dry bugout shelter was constructed with safety and seclusion in mind. Lily can sleep, hunt and hide-out in her super shelter. She can even lock in her dog!

Why haven’t you heard of this carcinogen in your food?

acrylamideYou probably haven’t heard of it but there’s a potential carcinogen created in your food when you cook it at too great a temperature.

It’s called acrylamide. Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, and baking. Acrylamide in food forms from sugars and an amino acid that are naturally present in food; it does not come from food packaging or the environment.

The problem with acrylamide is it’s potentially deadly. In fact, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer consider acrylamide to be a “probable human carcinogen,” based on studies in laboratory animals given acrylamide in drinking water.

And it’s not just cancer! Certain doses of acrylamide are toxic to the nervous system of both animals and humans. The most common exposure after food and cigarettes is from work. High levels of acrylamide in the workplace have been shown to cause neurological damage, e.g., among workers using acrylamide polymers to clarify water in coal preparation plants.

There is currently very little information about, and poor understanding of, how acrylamide is formed in foods. It appears to be produced naturally in some foods that have been cooked or processed at high temperature and the levels of acrylamide appear to increase with the duration of heating. The highest levels found so far were in starchy foods (potato and cereal products). The World Health Organization even fears that this deadly substance can cause genetic damage!

Everyone is agreed that further research is needed to explain why acrylamide forms in food as well as the conditions that promote or reduce its presence in food but there doesn’t seem to be any major rush. The problems have been well documented since 2002 and there has been no major push to warm consumers of the damage they might be inflicting upon their own bodies and those of their children. Could this be because of pressure from vested interests in the industrial food business?

Whatever the reason, we have some real world tips on how to reduce your consumption of this deadly substance.



Tiny SquirrelHow to limit your consumption of acrylamide: High-temperature cooking methods, such as frying, baking, or broiling, have been found to produce acrylamide, while boiling and microwaving appear less likely to do so. Longer cooking times can also increase acrylamide production when the cooking temperature is above 120 degrees Celsius.

To avoid acrylamide, food should not be cooked too long or at too high a temperature. Acrylamide has so far not been found in food prepared at temperatures below 248 degrees Fahrenheit, or 120 degrees Celsius, including boiled foods. However, all food, especially meat and meat products, should be cooked sufficiently to destroy food poisoning bacteria.

Food storage and preparation methods

  • Comparing frying, roasting, and baking potatoes, frying causes the highest acrylamide formation. Roasting potato pieces causes less acrylamide formation, followed by baking whole potatoes. Boiling potatoes and microwaving whole potatoes with skin on to make “microwaved baked potatoes” does not produce acrylamide.1
  • Soaking raw potato slices in water for 15-30 minutes before frying or roasting helps reduce acrylamide formation during cooking. (Soaked potatoes should be drained and ucm151026blotted dry before cooking to prevent splattering or fires.)
  • Storing potatoes in the refrigerator can result in increased acrylamide during cooking. Therefore, store potatoes outside the refrigerator, preferably in a dark, cool place, such as a closet or a pantry, to prevent sprouting.
  • Generally, more acrylamide accumulates when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures. Cooking cut potato products, such as frozen French fries or potato slices, to a golden yellow color rather than a brown color helps reduce acrylamide formation (see picture). Brown areas tend to contain more acrylamide.
  • Toasting bread to a light brown color, rather than a dark brown color (see picture), lowers tucm151072he amount of acrylamide . Very brown areas should be avoided, since they contain the most acrylamide.
  • Acrylamide forms in coffee when coffee beans are roasted, not when coffee is brewed at home or in a restaurant. So far, scientists have not found good ways to reduce acrylamide formation in coffee.

Elevated levels of acrylamide have been found in some home cooked foods, as well as pre-cooked, packaged and processed foods. Decreasing cooking time, blanching potatoes before frying, and postdrying (drying in a hot air oven after frying) have been shown to decrease the acrylamide content of some foods. And as usual – ditch the processed foods and don’t smoke.



Gear up for winter: Safety first car care checklist

What you should know to get ready for winter

12461_aPOConducting routine maintenance on your vehicle is necessary to maintain optimal performance and prevent costly repairs. As colder weather approaches, and with it the potential for treacherous road conditions, giving certain areas of your car special attention can also protect your safety.

“Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety and reliability when severe winter weather strikes,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The following tips will help you learn how to care for the systems and features most likely to affect your safety as winter approaches. Learn about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair, and order a free copy of the council’s Car Care Guide, at


The brake system is a car’s most important safety system. A faulty brake system may impede your ability to safely slow your vehicle in inclement driving conditions or avoid an accident. Brakes sustain normal wear and eventually need to be replaced for both performance and safety reasons. Ignoring routine maintenance and letting brake pads wear too thin can lead to costly rotor and drum replacement, in addition to compromising your ability to execute a sudden stop safely.

  • Have your complete brake system thoroughly inspected annually and replace equipment as needed.
  • If your car is pulling to the left or right, or if you hear odd noises when you apply the brakes, you should have your brakes inspected. Other warning signs include an illuminated brake warning light, brake grabbing, low pedal feel, vibration, hard pedal feel and squealing.
  • Don’t overlook the parking brake, which also may require adjustment or replacement parts.

Wheels and Tires

When roads become wet or icy, the right wheels and tires can help ensure you have the traction you need to maintain control. Maintaining tire balance and wheel alignment reduces tire wear and improves handling and fuel economy. Tire replacement is necessary if the tread depth is below the minimum legal requirement, or if the sidewalls are severely cracked or punctured. In addition, normal wear and road conditions can take their toll on your car’s steering and suspension system and disrupt the alignment, which in turn reduces optimum handling.

  • Use the “penny test” to check your tread; if you see Lincoln’s head above the tread, you are ready for new tires.
  • Have your car’s alignment checked at least annually or at the first sign of improper handling or uneven wear.
  • Check inflation pressure at least once a month (including the spare) and once per week in the winter.
  • Rotate and balance tires every 6,000 miles to avoid accelerated wear on shock absorbers and struts.


Your battery should be securely mounted, with connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. If the battery is three years old or more, it should be tested and replaced if necessary.


Headlights play a major role in safe driving; the chances for accidents increase if you can’t see or be seen. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility, signals and alerts other drivers, and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior.

  • If there is any doubt about whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on.
  • Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights, making it difficult to be seen by others.
  • Make sure your headlights are properly aimed. If they aren’t, headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area; otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
  • Replace dimming, rapidly blinking or non-functioning lights immediately, but check first to ensure a loose or faulty fuse isn’t the source of the problem.

12461_bPOWindshield Wipers

The wiper system keeps excessive water, snow and dirt from building up on the windshield, maintaining clear visibility. Many factors can accelerate the replacement of wipers, including operating conditions, frequency of use, material and type of wipers and weather.

  • In general, replace blades every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering.
  • Be aware that some vehicles have two washer fluid reservoirs. Check levels monthly and use washer fluid only; do not use water.


Tiny SquirrelMaintenance Checklist
Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the Car Care Council recommends these basic maintenance procedures to keep your vehicle operating at its best:

  1. Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  2. Check the hoses and belts for signs of damage or wear.
  3. Check the battery and replace if necessary.
  4. Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  5. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise.
  6. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
  7. Inspect the steering and suspension system annually, including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
  8. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  9. Check the wipers and lighting, including both interior and exterior lighting, and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.



Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Even more spying from workplace wellness programs

Workplace Wellness Programs Put Employee Privacy At Risk

Houston workers who checked the fine print said they weren’t sure whether they were joining an employee wellness program or a marketing scheme.

Last fall the city of Houston required employees to tell an online wellness company about their disease history, drug and seat-belt use, blood pressure and other delicate information.

The company, hired to improve worker health and lower medical costs, could pass the data to “third party vendors acting on our behalf,” according to an authorization form. The information might be posted in areas “that are reviewable to the public.” It might also be “subject to re-disclosure” and “no longer protected by privacy law.”

Employees could refuse to give permission or opt not to take the screen, called a health risk assessment — but only if they paid an extra $300 a year for medical coverage.

“We don’t mind giving our information to our health care providers,” said Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, which objected so strongly along with other employees that the city switched to a different program. “But we don’t want to give it to a vendor that has carte blanche to give that information to anybody they want to.”

Millions of people find themselves in the same position as that of the Houston cops. As more employers grasp wellness as the latest promised solution to soaring health costs, they’re pressuring workers to give unfamiliar companies detailed data about the most sensitive parts of their lives.

But whether or not that information stays private is anything but clear, an examination by Kaiser Health News shows.

In many workplace wellness programs, “it seems by taking the health risk assessment you are waiving your privacy rights,” said Jennifer Mathis, director of programs at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

At worst, shared information about sensitive conditions could support discrimination by employers, banks, life insurance companies and others. Wellness data is already escaping into what one expert calls “the great American marketing machine” that pitches products according to your diseases and lifestyles, privacy scholars say.

Wellness vendors charge employers a per-person fee to assess workers’ health and motivate them to exercise, eat well, see doctors and take pills. Companies push workers to participate with gift cards, insurance discounts and other rewards or penalties.

As employers flock to the wellness parade, corporate wellness vendors make up what research firm IBISWorld predicts will be a $12 billion industry by 2020 — six times its estimated size in 2011.

Tiny SquirrelSquirrel warning! Privacy advocates see a void of regulation or even voluntary standards to ensure the information is used as intended. By all accounts the amount of worker wellness data being collected — through the Web, company surveys, wearable devices, gym records and lab tests — is exploding.

“The privacy issues are profound,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, an advocacy group. “If people are being asked to wear a biometric electronic device, or use a mobile app or work within a wellness program, that data can be used in ways that may be very, very surprising to people.”

Numerous wellness vendors say flatly that privacy is critical to their reputation and that they don’t share information on individual workers with employers, data brokers or marketing companies.  But as the Houston employees found out, the fine print isn’t so plain or reassuring.

— Few workers know that wellness contractors are often unbound by the strict privacy law, known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), that restricts doctors and hospitals.

— A review of privacy policies shows that many wellness vendors adopt policies allowing them to share identifiable data with unidentified “third parties” and “agents” working to improve employee health.

— The industry boom has drawn a widening network of fitness centers, websites, app publishers, wearable device makers and other affiliates working with wellness plans to collect employee health information — each with its own complicated privacy policy. That boosts chances data will be misused, privacy advocates say.

— Wellness companies and their contractors routinely share almost completely unregulated “de-identified” data showing group heath results with employers, researchers and others. Scientists have shown such information can be “re-identified” and used for marketing, potential credit screening and other purposes.

Wellness vendor Audax Health, whose work with Houston resulted in “an overwhelming number of employees who were uncomfortable with the privacy statement,” according to a city statement to employees, said it keeps information strictly confidential. Audax’s online portal for employees is called Zensey.

“We do not sell or resell personal health information to anyone,” including marketing companies and data brokers, David Sclar, Audax’s chief privacy officer, said through a spokesman. “We do not allow third parties to market to Zensey users.”

But Audax’s own fine print contradicts the second part of his statement, saying the vendor may direct marketing pitches from third parties to wellness members based on “attributes” it collects from those employees. Audax is majority-owned by insurer UnitedHealth Group.

Other big wellness vendors, including venture-capital backed Welltok, include similar language in their disclosures. Under the heading, “Information Collected by Third Parties,” Welltok says its CaféWell portal might “target advertisements to you based on products and services you may be interested in.”

Jeff Cohen, Welltok’s co-founder, expressed surprise at the statement.

“That goes against everything we represent — probably one of those where a lawyer told us to put it in there,” he said in an interview. “I’m going to go back and talk to our compliance person” about the language, he said.

Cohen said Welltok doesn’t “use and sell and share the data from our platform about users to third parties.”

But as of Sept. 25, the disclosure language was unchanged. And that’s what matters legally, privacy lawyers said.

Primary wellness vendors such as Audax and Welltok aren’t the only ones collecting employee health data. Wearable device makers, test labs, gym chains, data centers, workout-app publishers are also part of the gold rush.

As frequent partners of employers and wellness providers, each of those companies also gathers worker information of varying sensitivity — often with employers pushing workers to participate — in what amounts to a widening wellness data web.

wellness.infographic.final_770The most advanced employee wellness programs can even “ping your cell phone when you’re at the gym” to record your visit through a geo-location app, said Erick Hathorn, a consultant to wellness companies and contractors. “Or they can ping it 30 minutes later to know you stayed.”

Lose It!, one of the most popular diet apps for smartphones, works with employee wellness plans to track your calories and weight via a wireless scale.

The app’s privacy policy assures users of Apple products that information on their weight and eating habits won’t be used for “advertising or other use-based data mining purposes” except for health research. Results for non-Apple users, on the other hand, might be given to “advertisers and potential business partners” with the identities removed.

That’s a lower level of protection, even without identification, lawyers said.

Nobody at Boston-based Lose It! was available to answer questions about corporate wellness and privacy, a spokeswoman said.

“What are the vendors doing with the data they collect?  They aren’t telling us,” said Ifeoma Ajunwa, who teaches health law at the University of the District of Columbia. “Are they selling it?  I would be surprised if they’re not selling it, because it’s valuable.”

Two years ago Under Armour bought MapMyFitness, another app promoted for use in corporate-wellness programs, and turned it into an ad vehicle for its athletic apparel.

The app records workout routes, times and speeds and shares data with wellness vendors and Under Armour itself, according to a disclosure statement. Users see ads for Under Armour gear and other products on their smartphones and computers.

Data from MapMyFitness and other apps bought by Under Armour “is going to be extraordinary,” company CEO Kevin Plank told industry analysts this year. “This will help us sell more shirts and shoes,” he has repeatedly said.

An Under Armour spokeswoman referred a reporter asking about data policies and wellness programs to MapMyFitness’ privacy statement.

More than 13 million Fitbits and other wearable health devices will be used in corporate wellness plans by 2018, ABI Research has projected. Data gathered by the Fitbit can include height, weight, heart rates and sleeping and exercise patterns.

“Now Fitbit has that information and the wellness program has it,” said Robert Gellman, a privacy consultant and former congressional staffer. “I don’t know of any best practices from wellness industry [to handle the data]. It’s the Wild West.”

Fitbit did not respond to several requests to discuss privacy. The company won’t “sell any data that could identify you” and shares information only when necessary to provide the service, when the data are anonymous or with user permission, its written policy says.

Employer wellness programs even follow you to the supermarket.

A firm called NutriSavings assigns health grades to thousands of food products and lets grocers record member shopping. Stores report scores — but not specific purchases — to the wellness vendor, says NutriSavings. Members get rewards from their employer based on what they buy.

Wellness information isn’t just valuable for selling stuff. Privacy advocates especially worry that the results might be shared with data brokers who crunch information and sell it to banks and other financial firms.

“That’s where the data then moves into other parts of the economy — lending decisions, credit decisions, mortgage decisions,” said Scott Peppet, a law professor and privacy specialist at the University of Colorado. “Once these data are in the hands of a data broker, they can be blended into any kind of formula.”

Credit-card companies could raise rates for employees that wellness programs reveal to be couch potatoes, inferring that they are more likely to default. Life insurers could deny coverage or raise prices based on unhealthy wellness results. Insurer John Hancock has already started offering discounts to life insurance customers who agree to wear a Fitbit, share data and attain certain scores.

No one knows whether data brokers are getting workplace wellness information. But despite what many employees believe, not all wellness information is protected by HIPAA, which authorizes only doctors, insurance plans and others close to a patients’ care to see their medical data.

“People assume all their health information is covered by HIPAA and that’s just not true,” Gellman said. “Wellness programs are on the border. Some are and some aren’t. How can a mere mortal tell? A lot of information can escape into the great American marketing machine, which is desperate to get information on a person’s health.”

Wellness vendors are supposed to obey HIPAA restrictions if they’re part of an employer’s insurance plan. But it’s far from clear what that means.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance, a respected health care certification group, asks workplace wellness groups it accredits to observe HIPAA rules and require the same from third parties they work with.

But NCQA recognizes only about 30 wellness vendors out of hundreds. Even a “HIPAA-compliant” program could induce workers to waive their rights without knowing it, consumer advocates said.Nor does HIPAA protect the de-identified health information that wellness providers routinely share with employers and other, unidentified outside parties, according to their privacy policies. De-identified data might include blood pressure, cholesterol, drug use and disease history.

Researchers have shown that such information can be linked to the subject by combining it with voter lists, credit-card records and other databases. Harvard investigators used birthdays and zip codes in a de-identified genetics survey two years ago to figure out who more than a fifth of the participants were.

Until recently, Audax’s policy stated that the company could use de-identified employee data “for any business purpose.” It removed that language after KHN inquired about privacy.

Fitbit and Limeade, a wellness provider in Bellevue, Wash., forbid third parties using their anonymized data from trying to re-identify the users.

But that policy — the kind recommended by Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill and others — is unusual among wellness providers, KHN’s review shows.

“We haven’t really stepped into regulating this or decided if to regulate this,” said Peppet, who favors employer wellness efforts despite his concerns about confidentiality. “I’m expecting over the next couple of years we’ll probably see some problems.”

Julie Appleby contributed to this story.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Is your company wellness program actually spying on you?


If your company hasn’t launched a wellness program, this might be the year.

Benefits enrollment have increased in 2016, and more employers than ever are expected to nudge workers toward plans that screen them for risks, monitor their activity and encourage them to take the right pills, food and exercise.

This involves a huge collection of health data outside the established medical system, not only by wellness vendors such as Redbrick, Audax and Vitality but also by companies offering gym services, smartphone apps and devices that track steps and heartbeats. Such partners pass worker results to the wellness providers.

Standards to keep such information confidential have developed more slowly than the industry. That raises risks it could be abused for workplace discrimination, credit screening or marketing, consumer advocates say.

Here’s what to ask about your company’s plan.

Q. What information will my employer see? 

Many employers get only anonymous, group data. The vendor reports how many workers are overweight or have high blood pressure, for example.

But sometimes employers can see individual results, setting the stage for potential discrimination against those with disabilities or chronic illness. Or they can guess them. Discrimination based on disability and illness is illegal but hard to prove.

Workers should ask exactly what information will get back to their company and whether it will identify them.

Q. Is the program covered under the HIPAA privacy law? 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act restricts sharing of certain medical information to doctors, health insurers and other authorized users. Asking whether a wellness plan is covered by HIPAA is a good, first attempt at judging confidentiality.

Workplace wellness programs offered separately from an employer’s group health insurance plan are not protected by HIPAA. Other privacy laws might apply. But often it’s often impossible for employees to tell without asking.

Even in HIPAA-covered programs, a few, designated managers at your workplace can see health reports including identities, although they’re supposed to keep them confidential.

Q. I don’t understand the privacy policy. Did I give up my HIPAA rights when I filled out my health assessment on the wellness site?

Use of a wellness portal often gives the vendor permission to share personal data with unidentified “third parties.” Those would be insurers, data-storage firms and other partners necessary to the program, vendors say. They’ll protect the information as well as anybody, they say.

Smartphone fitness app for sports and excerciseBut the open-ended nature of the permission gives consumer advocates the creeps. Read the privacy and terms-of-use disclosures. Ask questions if you’re uncomfortable.

Q. My employer says it sees only group results. Does that guarantee privacy?

At smaller firms it’s sometimes easy for managers to match worker identities with results from group reports. The same goes for large companies when wellness data is disclosed by team or division.

Ask how far the results will be broken down.

Q. How many other companies see my wellness data?

Workplace wellness often involves multiple firms gathering or sharing your information. The main wellness provider might work with labs, app publishers, fitness device makers, gyms, rewards fulfillment companies and others — each with its own confusing privacy policy.

Employees deserve a clear explanation of which companies get their data, what form it takes, how recipients will use it and how it is protected, privacy advocates say.

Q. What privacy policies do subcontractors and other third parties have to follow?

One privacy standard for wellness contractors, set by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, requires the primary wellness vendor as well as third-party partners to conform to HIPAA.

But that kind of policy is not universal. NCQA recognizes only a few dozen out of hundreds of wellness companies. And NCQA standards are voluntary and don’t confer consumer rights.

Q. Could somebody try to identify individuals in the group results shared by my wellness plan?

Wellness privacy policies often give vendors broad room to share data stripped of names, addresses and other identifying features. Such information is not protected under HIPAA.

Experts have shown that such results can be re-identified by combining them with public databases. As an extra protection, wellness vendor Limeade and wearable device maker Fitbit prohibit third-party partners from attempting to re-identify the information they share.

But not all vendors do the same.


Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

How replacing your water heater can help curb energy consumption

12819_bPOFamily Features: Water heaters are energy intensive appliances. In fact, they are the second largest energy user in the home, and as they age, they become less efficient, requiring even more energy.

If you don’t know the age of your current water heater, or think it may be reaching the end of its useful life span, it may be time to make a switch, says home improvement expert Danny Lipford, host of “Today’s Homeowner” TV and radio show.

Lipford suggests keeping these factors in mind as you evaluate whether it’s time to make an upgrade.

Waiting until a current water heater fails will likely cost more in the long run.

According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the average family spends $400 to $600 each year on water heating costs, and as an older unit ages its efficiency continues to erode. Rising water heating costs year after year could be a sign that it’s time to replace your unit. By switching to a new energy-efficient water heater or a new energy source, you could save hundreds of dollars each year.

Depending on where you live and how often you use your water heater, a tankless water heater could drastically lower your annual water heating costs compared with electric storage tank models, which are working to heat water even when it’s not needed. The energy source also affects your savings potential. For example, in comparison tests with electric units, propane-powered tankless water heaters saved more than $300 annually.


The size and cost of water heaters have increased dramatically.

In April of this year, the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act went into effect, increasing minimum energy efficiency standards for water heaters in your home. This means manufacturers are required to make more energy-efficient models, which ultimately saves homeowners money. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the latest guidelines will save homeowners $63 billion in home energy costs between now and 2044.

However, these standards also mean tank sizes must increase. Some homes may not have room readily available for an electric storage tank that meets the new standards, which means the installation process could take longer and cost more, while limiting access to hot water for days. Even new water heaters such as heat pump models, which are known for their efficiency, require extra space to operate effectively. Heat pump water heaters require 1,000 cubic feet of space, the equivalent of a 12-by-12-foot room, and operate best in spaces where cooling and noise will not be a problem. Propane tankless models offer greater space flexibility.


Figuring the long-term value on your next water heater is important.

Most water heaters should be replaced every 10 to 12 years. To make the right choice for replacement, you should factor in the annual cost of ownership, which is the cost of original equipment, installation and expected annual energy costs divided over the unit’s lifetime.

Both high-efficiency propane storage tank heaters and tankless models deliver lower annual ownership costs than electric or heating oil. At the same time, tankless water heaters also have a much longer life span than storage models – they can last 5 to 10 years longer than storage water heaters.


A water heater upgrade is an opportunity to downgrade your ‘carbon footprint.’

U.S. Department of Energy data suggests the new manufacturing guidelines implemented this year will prevent as much as 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, about the same as taking 33.8 million vehicles off the road. Upgrading to a newer, more efficient model means you’re helping with that effort.

Compared with standard efficiency electric storage tank models, propane produced two times fewer emissions. The difference amounts to about 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of driving a car more than 18,000 miles.

Find more information on propane-powered water heaters and the new energy conservation standards at, where you can also take a short quiz to help figure out whether it’s time to pull the plug on your current water heater.


Dump Water Heating Costs

The U.S. Department of Energy offers these tips for cutting costs for water heating at home:

  • Moderate your hot water usage. Curb shower time, and use shorter wash cycles when possible.
  • Regulate usage further by using low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Buy a more efficient water heater. Tankless models, for example, are up to 34 times more efficient than other models.
  • Consider an alternate power source. Propane-powered tankless water heaters can save more than $300 annually.
  • Manage your hot water usage for dishwashing and laundry appliances by buying Energy Star models.
  • Turn down your water heater’s thermostat.
  • Insulate your water heater tank and pipes according to manufacturer guidelines.
  • Don’t let money trickle down the drain. Fix leaks to prevent waste.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s Football season – First Aid for sports injuries

First aid for sprains, fractures and more

Image: Anthony22 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Image: Anthony22 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
We’re deep into football season so we thought we’d look at injuries often sustained on the gridiron. In this article, Jonathan Cluett, M.D. discusses some of the more common injuries and how to treat them.

And if the only thing you plan on tackling this month is a good book, this article is still for you. The information he gives is useful for injuries sustained in many other ways.



A burner, also called a stinger, is a common injury in contact sports, especially football. The exact mechanism of the injury is not well understood, but a burner is thought to be due to either stretch or compression, or a combination of both, of the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that has just exited the spinal cord. These nerves travel across the shoulder and into the arm. Symptoms of a burner are sudden pain and tingling extending from the neck and down the arm into the fingers. Most often burners are transient injuries, but they can be serious if they are persistent or recurrent. If a player has recurrent burners, he or she should be removed from competition until evaluated by a physician.


Achilles tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is a syndrome of irritation of the Achilles tendon in the ankle. The Achilles tendon is the large tendon in the back of the ankle that inserts into the heel bone (calcaneus). When individuals overuse their Achilles tendon it becomes irritated and inflamed. This inflammation can cause pain and swelling which may lead to small tears within the tendon and make the Achilles tendon susceptible to rupture.
The two most common causes of Achilles tendonitis are inflexibility of the tendon and a habit of rotating the ankle to walk on the inner margin of the foot, called overpronation. If you tend to do this, watch out. Other factors associated with Achilles tendonitis are recent changes in footwear and changes in training schedules. And as people age, tendons, like other tissues in the body, become less flexible, more rigid and more susceptible to injury.
The best treatment of Achilles tendonitis is prevention. Stretching the Achilles tendon before exercise, even at the start of the day, will help to maintain flexibility in the ankle joint. Problems with foot mechanics can also be treated with devices inserted into the shoes such as heel cups, arch supports and custom orthotics which can be used to correct for abnormalities such as overpronation and help prevent Achilles tendonitis. Other conservative measures used to treat Achilles tendonitis include icing the injury, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Resting the painful Achilles tendon will allow the inflammation to be minimized and allow for healing. Steroid injections are not used in the case of Achilles tendonitis because studies have shown an increase in incidence of Achilles tendon rupture after steroid injections.

Turf toe
Turf toe is a condition of pain at the base of the big toe, located at the ball of the foot. The condition is usually caused from either jamming the toe, or pushing off repeatedly when running or jumping. The most common complaint is pain at the base of the toe, but you may also have symptoms of stiffness and swelling. The name turf toe comes from the fact that this injury is especially common among athletes who play on artificial turf.
When a player sustains a turf toe injury they are actually tearing the capsule that surrounds the joint at the base of the toe. Tearing this joint capsule can be extremely painful. Furthermore, tear of the joint capsule can lead to instability and even dislocation of the joint at the base of the toe. This may lead to accelerated cartilage wear and arthritis of the big toe.
Treatment of turf toe consists of resting the sore toe, icing the area and elevating the foot; anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended by your doctor. Athletes diagnosed with turf toe should avoid their sport for about three weeks to allow the joint capsule to heal. Once returning to activities, special inserts can be used to limit the motion of the big toe and prevent further damage to the joint capsule. Unfortunately, turf toe can return, and rehabilitation may be slow. Surgery is rarely needed for treatment of turf toe, but in certain cases it may be called for. If a bone spur forms and severely limits motion of the toe joint, surgery to remove the spur may be helpful.

ACL injury

One of the most common problems involving the knee joint is an anterior cruciate ligament tear (ACL injury). Women are known to have a higher risk of injuring their ACL, but no one definitively knows why. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that are critical to the stability of the knee joint. When an ACL injury occurs, the knee becomes less stable. This instability can make sudden, pivoting movements difficult and can make the knee more prone to developing arthritis and cartilage tears. When the knee is unstable, patients often complain of a sensation that the knee will ‘give out’ from under them. When this is a result of an ACL injury, the knee joint is sliding too much. Each episode of instability can cause damage to the knee cartilage, so an ACL injury makes patients more prone to developing arthritis and meniscus tears.

The leading treatment of this injury commonly involves using a segment of another larger ligament or tendon to replace the torn ACL. Some patients who experience ACL tears are able to resume normal daily activities without surgical repair of this ligament. Important factors to consider in making the decision as to whether or not an operation is needed include the age of the patient, the activity level of the patient (both recreational and occupational), the degree of instability of the joint and any other associated injuries to the knee. Rehabilitation after surgery is probably the least emphasized and most important aspect of care for a torn ACL. Whether or not a patient is diligent about their therapy determines how well their knee will perform after reconstruction.

Sprained ankles

Sprains and strains are the most common type of sports injury, but early treatment of a sprain can help to speed recovery and minimize the symptoms. Here are a few simple steps to follow should you sustain this injury:

  1. Protect the injured ankle. This is quite simple, but amazingly common for people to forget. Don’t walk on the leg, and protect it from further contact by immobilizing with a splint.
  2. REST. Take a few days off of your feet. You don’t have to be inactive, but be sure the ankle is being rested. Possible exercises you can do include swimming and cycling.
  3. ICE. This can be done several times a day for 15-20 minutes. This will keep the swelling to a minimum. Do NOT ice for more than 20 minutes! It will do more damage than good.
  4. COMPRESS. This does not have to be all of the time, but particularly when your foot is not elevated it would be advisable. A simple Ace wrap is fine for light compression.
  5. ELEVATE. This will also help to minimize the swelling that takes place. A few pillows under the ankle should be fine to get the leg up enough while keeping the injured limb comfortable.
  6. Seek professional help. While most ankle injuries are simple and heal naturally over a short time, some injuries are more severe and can necessitate more aggressive treatment.


Tiny SquirrelNever ice for more than 20 minutes. Many people think the more the better, but this is not true! Maximum ice time should be 20 minutes every three to four hours. A bag of frozen corn or peas makes a great ice pack — and it’s both reusable and edible. Compression bandages should be snug, not tight. If too tight, your circulation will be impaired, and the healing process slowed.


Fractures account for one quarter of all serious football injuries (i.e. injuries that require hospital care). Despite what you may have heard, a broken bone is not worse than a fracture; they both mean the same thing.

In order for a fracture to heal as well as possible, a good reduction, or placement, of the bones must be attained. It is important to seek medical attention in the event of a fracture to achieve a proper alignment of the broken ends of the bone. In most cases reducing a fracture involves placing the broken bone in a cast, often after a little pulling and tugging to achieve improved alignment. If the alignment is not adequate or not sufficiently stable, then a further procedure may be necessary. This usually means surgery with fixation of the bone with pins, plates, screws or rods. If you break a bone, go to your doctor. Because treatments are individualized based on the patient, the x-ray appearance of the fracture and other factors such as the severity of the injury and the age and activity level of the patient, each fracture must be treated individually.



Tiny SquirrelThe Squirrel says: Stretching out before exercising is an important and often neglected step in your workout. A good routine should be established, and following the suggestions below will help you on your way.

  1. Know your activity. Whether you’re in the gym, on the track or anywhere else, know what your workout will involve. Understanding which muscles will be worked is the only way to know how to best stretch out.
  2. Focus on those muscles. While a good overall routine is helpful, your emphasis should be on the muscles that will be most heavily involved.
  3. Warm up. Just some easy walking or a light jog will be sufficient to warm up your muscles, but it will make the stretching session much more valuable.
  4. Begin slowly. You don’t need to touch your toes right away–begin slowly and push yourself as your muscles loosen up. Stretching too much too soon can be painful and potentially harmful.
  5. Hold it. Once you feel your muscles reaching their limit, hold the position for a count of 10. Then push yourself a little further and hold again for a count of 10.
  6. Don’t rush. If you’re going to have to cut your workout short, don’t skip or shorten the stretching. This is more important than an extra set of reps or another half mile.
  7. Do it again. Once you’re finished working out, stretch again. Not only is it an excellent way to cool down from the workout, but this is the time that you will improve your flexibility the most.


  • Don’t bounce! You will get the best stretch, and prevent injuries if you avoid bouncing. 
  • Stretch both sides. Many people have a tendency to under-stretch the ‘healthy’ side after an injury. 
  • Get help. Gym trainers, physical therapists, exercise instructors will all know great ways to stretch.


3-D printed steel parts. Not a threat anytime soon. But cool.

This video demonstrates the current process and technology involved in creating 3D printed steel parts. Currently metal 3D printers utilize ‘binder jetting technology’ for 3D printing of functional parts for prototypes and short run production. This video demonstrates the process and technology involved in creating dense and usable parts.

Right now the use of metal parts is in its infancy. It’s only really useful for prototypes or non-stress bearing items. The wide-scale use of most 3-D parts is still some way aways, largely because there are no standards or testing protocols in place to ensure product safety or consistency.

But the technology is catching on with hobbyists, fashion designers, architects and industrial manufacturers who need to get a handle on what a piece will look like, or where it will fail. In biomedical uses the technology is already proving its worth as it can be adapted to the needs of individual patients.

If you want to make something from plastic, you can get a 3-D printers for around $400 these days.