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October 2018 Wrap-Up

October 2018


Some months fly by. October 2018 traveled at supersonic speed. This month of seasonal change is one of my favorites. Leaf color, crisp mornings followed by warm afternoons and bountiful harvest highlight the month each year.

The first freeze of the year arrived mid-month. I missed it here on the High Plains. But Mother Nature gave me a taste of it the very same day in Quebec.

Trip to Quebec

My trip to this Canadian Province has been highlighted in three posts thus far with another scheduled next week. Please take time to read about the travels in Fall Travel, Saguenay Fjord, and Quebec Province. The slide shows share some of the picturesque scenery. I believe the Province of Quebec rivals New England for Fall Color.

Most of my travel revolves around work or family. The trip to Quebec was pure vacation for us. Perhaps this is why it has made such an impact. I currently have a Louise Penny book checked out from the library. She is a Canadian writer with a mystery series centered on this region. Stay tuned for a review.

Harvest

This year I tried sweet potatoes in the garden. Most of the slips were planted in raised boxes with one slip going into the Lasagna Bed created in the fall of 2017. The yield was good for this part of the country. But the big success of the year was the raised row garden.

Early last spring I reviewed Jim and Mary Competti’s book Raised Row Gardening. Then I followed the directions to a tee. My fellow homeowner was skeptical. But the bountiful harvest has convinced him. I tried to keep track of the harvest amounts, but the totals became too great.

By Early October the Roma tomatoes were yielding over 5 pounds each day. The carrots large and sweet. Unfortunately the freeze zapped the cantaloupe with over a dozen on the two vines. Beans, peppers, eggplants, tomatillo and squash were prolific. Much time was spent canning in the kitchen.

After the freeze I planted garlic. The Indian summer has the flat green leaves popping out of the ground. In preparation for winter, the beds have been mulched. But green onions, Swiss chard and Kale are all still thriving.

Reading Discovery

I continue to read both printed and online material. One of my finds this month is a blog by Tim Harford. Naturally this writer for the Financial Times has much to say about economics. Among the non-fiction work I read this month was The Virtue of Prosperity. You can read the review by clicking here.

Among fiction reviews, I routinely read The Critiquing Chemist. She often reviews audio books. Commuters may want to visit her site. I am amazed at how many works of fiction are read each month by some of these reviewers. Often I struggle to find time to read and then review one a week.

Challenge

Many of you took on the challenge I issued after writing Linking Liver Disease to Socioeconomic Events. The three months are over. I hope you all have benefited. Physical health has direct links to Brain Health which of course is very important to me.

At this point in time I am still meeting my New Year’s Resolutions. This has been quite challenging for me. I find the social aspect the hardest. But I am getting better. As an introvert, small talk is not one of my strengths. But there is always room and for now, time for improvement.

Happy Halloween everyone.

September 2018 Wrap-Up

September 2018 focus was on harvesting from the garden and personal growth. To be honest, I lost track of how much I put up canning-wise. But my garden was the most successful ever thanks to following the advice learned from Raised Row Gardening. Jim and Mary Competti also offer great advice on their Old World Garden Farms website. Their book will surely make the top five under the non-fiction category for 2018.

September

My favorite part of September is the cooling down, at least at night. As usual, my part of the country did flirt with triple digit temperatures mid-month. But the evenings have brought some much-needed relief. Even though we have yet to see some color change in my small town, I did enjoy the turning aspens on my Xtreme Hike.

The twenty plus mile hike allowed for personal reflection as well as satisfaction. Achieving ones goals is always uplifting. The social interaction also kept part of my New Year’s Resolutions going strong. The physical aspect is also key. Brain Health goes hand in hand with physical well-being.

Challenges

Those readers taking the no-alcohol challenge are two-thirds through. I am receiving positive feedback from several individuals. Keep up the good work.

Personal challenges for me are also on track. Part of this year’s goals involved learning new skills. This past week I successfully learned how to convert a Microsoft Office power point to Google Slides. This was necessary to upload some You Tube videos for a presentation. I am still amazed at just how proprietary the competitors are. It is an understandable part of capitalism. But does create added work for non-profits and others developing presentations.

Final Quarter of 2018

The last three months are upon us. My cucumbers have already quit producing. We usually have a freeze in October. Sometimes just as the Trick-or-TreaLooking upon a mountainter’s are making their rounds. Thus the garden will soon be put away. Then it will be time to focus on quilting again.

Congratulations again to those meeting their own personal challenges. Growth is measured in many ways. Those of us getting on in years need to keep reaching for the stars as much as we are able. Personal growth may mean spiritual growth, improvement in mind and body, or just the ability to relax and be happy with our journey through life.

Sleepless Nights

Some nights I fall right to sleep only to wake up at two or three or four in the morning. Other nights I just can’t get to sleep. No matter how tired I am. I have tried many things. Over the counter sleep aids, herbal remedies and long ago even prescribed medications. The results varied. But none have been truly successful, since once again I am sleepless.
Tonight, there is an extra inning ballgame to occupy my time. But I prefer writing these thoughts. Perhaps it will be a blog entry. I am sure there have been stranger posts. In fact many times when I do fall into a quick slumber but then wake up, I opt for writing.

Middle of the night writing has many advantages. No one knocks at the door in the middle of a thought, or paragraph or scene. The cat doesn’t beg to go out and the phone doesn’t ring. Thoughts can flow and usually they do.

Disadvantages of Sleepless Nights

Of course there are some disadvantages. Staying up half the night even when productive can have a negative effect the following day. It is best not to drive long distances for example. Or try to make critical decisions. Sleeplessness tends to impact my decision-making the following day.

Perhaps a solution would be to work all night and sleep during the day. But I would need some type of blackout curtains. As it stands whether I have slept two hours or seven hours, the light of day signals my body to rise if not shine. Yes I am a grumpy morning person after a sleepless night.

The absolute worst case scenario is when I have multiple sleepless nights in a row and yet I still can’t sleep. Another rough situation is when I am bone tired from a strenuous day of exercise or labor and still can’t sleep. My body really needs that time to recover.

Sometimes reading a book helps. Especially text books. But other times, I get too caught up in the story to stop, even if the yawning has commenced. Other than sports, I am not much of a TV person so that doesn’t work either.

I am not a scientist, but I think the key to my problem is the inability to shut off some of my brain cells. My thoughts keep percolating. I try to avoid heavy thinking in the hours before bedtime. Admittedly my worst nights are when I have become keyed up about something. The something could be personal. Or it could take place thousands of miles away.

Hurricanes do a number on me and I live in the heart of flyover country. Other types of events that keep me up are election results, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Sleepless nights are definitely aided by the instant communication of a Twitter Feed.

I have tried various tactics. There are lots of articles on how to sleep better. Even the book I review this next Friday gave advice on sleep and it was a novel not a self-help book. So I have finally decided not to fight the sleepless nights. They may turn out to be hereditary. There are tales of insomnia running through the family. So instead I will embrace them and write. Perhaps I will finally write something worthy of publication. If not, at least I have this post.

Online Passwords

Passwords have become a ubiquitous part of life. This is because so much of life now takes place online. Many people shop online and each of these stores request a password. Social media sites also want passwords. Banks offer online access and naturally they want passwords. In theory, these passwords protect the consumer. But having a password isn’t enough protection from hackers.

For starters, many people use the same password over and over. Yes, this does make life easier. For you. And for hackers. Theft, both monetary and of your identity is what a hacker is after. Therefore, a password is of utmost importance.

Risky Passwords

I have had the privilege of working with several IT gurus. They each have their own insights into password security. Each say total security is impossible. Security breaches will happen. But steps can be taken to reduce that risk.

First, don’t save your passwords on a computer file or even a caveman file, named passwords. Preferably don’t have a written list at all. But if you absolutely need one, bury it under a different name or folder. Second, don’t use the same password over and over again. Ideally each password should be unique. Yes, that means dozens of passwords.

Passwords should not be obvious. In other words, your online bank password should not be Bank 1234. However, there are some ways to compromise so that you can remember a password without writing it down.

It is also a terrible idea to share passwords. My family gets frustrated with me because I will not even share my password to fire up my computer. Just remember that old adage: loose lips sink ships and politely refuse.

Another poor habit regarding passwords is using the same one forever. I am guilty of this myself. However, there may be some safety in my approach. My one account that has not changed in almost 10 years is a social account. It is tied to an email created to join that network. Neither the email, nor the password has been used for anything else. My other accounts are changed on a regular basis.

If at all possible, do not log in on public computers. Public Wi-Fi is also a sketchy proposition. Furthermore, if you are in a public place be sure to keep your laptop, tablet or cell phone with you at all times.

Security Breaches

Breaches in security happen frequently. If you are contacted about a breach do not delay in checking the account. After scanning for unauthorized activity, change your password, even if it is fairly new. Because a breach means someone may have access to your password.

Businesses are changing protocols in response to hackers. For example, I recently booked an international flight. The first day’s attempt went nowhere. The airline site kept sending an error message. Turns out their security had just been breached and they shut their system down. The following day they were up and running. But a digital code was needed to complete the purchase. The code was emailed to me from the bank which issued my credit card. This double-check is a necessary nuisance.

Strong Passwords

In addition to businesses instituting double checks, strong passwords are important. The strongest are software generated. These are available both online and offline. Naturally, both have some risks. Anything online can be hacked. Furthermore, with the IOT (Internet of Things) even some risk occurs with software uploaded onto a computer. Nevertheless, computer generated passwords are extremely strong.

There are some old school methods to creating a random password. A favorite of mine is to use a newspaper. Find an article and count down a random number of words. The word you use should be at least five characters long. This will serve as a base for your password. Then scan the paper for a number with at least four digits. Combine the two making sure to capitalize one letter and one number. For longer passwords add a second word or set of numbers. This method is great for creating a password you will never use again and don’t need to remember.

Financial Institutions

Very strong passwords are needed for accessing accounts held in financial institutions. These passwords should also change frequently. This includes accounts such as savings, money market and C.D.’s. People routinely monitor their checking account, but all types of accounts are vulnerable.

I like using short sentences for these accounts. Then I can remember the words and hopefully how I altered them. For instance, She Hates Turkey can be written as $H3h2t3sTurk3y or S434@tuRK3y or $434@T3$turk3y. You need to create your own secret code. These short sentences can reflect the business such as Always Great Service or the day you created the password: Rain, rain and more rain. The trick is to alter the letters into numbers and symbols. And then to remember how you altered them.

Numbers are easily converted to symbols. Simply shift to capitals. For a really difficult password, set the cap lock before typing a series of random letters and numbers.

However, using an alteration of the company name is not advised. Randomness and length are what lead to strong passwords. So if the site says a password should be 8-20 characters long, don’t settle for 8.

Social Media

In my opinion, social media presents great opportunity for hacking. For one reason, many people use the apps and so they don’t sign out. In other cases, public devices are used and then clicked off without signing out. This leaves the door wide open.

The best solution would be similar to what I referenced above, have a separate email and a separate password for each. The next best option is one email for social media sites that is never used elsewhere. Again each site needs a unique password.

However, if the accounts are already set up and an email is used for both social and non-social sites, make sure you change passwords often. By often, at least four times a year and more frequently is better. Don’t simply change a digit at the end of the password to make it new. For example Twitter1 should not become Twitter2.

Passwords for social media accounts should never be used elsewhere.

Emails

Creating a new email account for business only is advisable, but sometimes the migration in use is slow. I have multiple email accounts in order to keep usage separated. But these email accounts do lead to vulnerability. You are not required to provide an email at box stores. However, many online merchants require the information for purchase.

Organizations are now requesting emails as a form of communication. Almost everyone I know has an email. (I can count two holdouts.) But not everyone understands how to safeguard these accounts. Passwords for emails need to be very strong.

Due to the rise in fraud, many transactions are verified through either email, phone call or text. An email account can be open on more than one device at a time. If someone has access to your email account and its password, fraud is easily committed.

Therefore, vigilance is needed. Many of the carriers notify via email if a new device has signed onto the account. If this was not you, take action immediately.

Cyber security is crucial for protecting your identity and your assets. Strong passwords play an important part. So does a vigilant attitude with respect to changing passwords and screening for breaches. Remember to use a unique password for each account. Change passwords frequently. Finally, look for the secure symbol on websites before submitting emails and creating passwords. Never enter credit information without the padlock symbol and the word Secure on the browser line. Sites such as Econogal pay for this extra security. Just another step in protecting your identity.

August 2018 Wrap Up

I usually find August unbearable. Hot winds out of the Southwest make life miserable. Much of the time my garden shuts down because it can’t handle the windy triple digit days. This year was different. Cool, rainy days prevailed during the early weeks with just a couple of hundred degree days toward the end. ‘I could get used to this’ to paraphrase an alien busting actor.

Travel

In fact, weather in my hometown rivaled Saratoga Springs during the early part of the month, although we lack any farmers market. Other travel trips were limited to just a few hours. But one I will share took place in the Rocky Mountains. I joined a young couple in hiking around Golden Gate Canyon State Park. We will participate in the Xtreme Hike Vail in late September. This is a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Feel free to contact me through the mail button at the top if you wish to donate.

View of mountains in distance
Looking West from atop Golden Gate Canyon State Park
two people hiking on a trail
Hiking Mule Deer Trail

High altitude certainly slows me down. On this particular hike, each mile took about twenty minutes. The three hours of “moderate” trail left me feeling confident that I am up to the challenge. I did ice my ankles and stretched afterwards. Both actions keep me on top of my game. Read my post recommending the book Stretching if you don’t already have a routine.

County Fair

August heralds the county fairs in this part of the country. I entered quite a bit of produce and some canned goods this year. Although I did not win a top prize, I was proud of my garden efforts. The Raised Row Garden certainly is a success. My plan is to continue this technique another two years before placing permanent fencing around the perimeter. So far the temporary fence is keeping the critters at bay.

4-H Competition Premiums

A comment on the fair. There were over eighty kids in the parade of champions. This is a good number. However, I believe most were competing in the livestock divisions. The other divisions were not well represented.

For example, only four articles of clothing were entered by three separate 4-H kids. This was disappointing to me. With the exception of cake decorating, the entries in the non-livestock division were sparse. I don’t think most of the kids showing animals will use the skills as adults. Much of the competition centered on lambs and goats. Outside of the Easter season, few in this country eat lamb on a regular basis.

But I do see this as a principle of economics. The premiums for animals participating in the livestock division are determined via auction. The townspeople bid on the animals (but don’t actually purchase them) and the kids keep this premium. The bids are usually in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. The kids can then sell the animals at market price if they wish. This doubles the money.

However, the 4-H entries in subjects ranging from dog obedience to cooking to rocketry to woodworking (the list of skills is extensive) earn premiums paltry in comparison. The Grand Champions of each division are awarded seventy-five dollars. If you were a kid, which activity would you spend your time on?

Econogal Challenge

In July I challenged my readers to abstain from alcohol, or if they did not drink form their own challenge. An article and scientific research indicating a rise of liver disease among Millennials prompted this challenge. The feedback is positive. Those involved feel free to share in the comment section below. Or in the comment section of the original article Linking Liver Disease to Socioeconomic Events. One month down, two to go!

National News

The investigation into the involvement of Russian election interference continues to twist and turn. I urge my readers to read my reviews of both New York Station and Hidden Target. History reveals such interference is not new. However, current technology has taken everything to the next level. I have talked about technology before. I am currently working on a post concerning cyber security. There are some things one can do to limit the invasion of privacy. However, only going totally off-grid eliminates breeches to personal data. My preference is to protect what I can with the knowledge that everything is vulnerable.

This past week, Senator John McCain lost his battle with cancer. I did not personally know Senator McCain and did not always agree with him on political matters, but I admired his devotion to this country. Over the next few days, media coverage will focus on the ceremonies recognizing this statesman. Honoring those who give much to society is important.

Even more important is each of us doing our part to make society better.

Simple Concepts

A Little Bit of This

“A little bit of this….”was the beginning of the title of one of my favorite first books. To be honest, I think the title finished with “a dab of that.” But when I did a quick Internet search I was inundated with results far different from my original understanding of dab. Perhaps the book is no longer in print. Maybe if I patiently clicked through thousands of hits the book would pop up and I could cite the author. At any rate, I still remember the story over 50 years later. The kids in this early reader book were making sandwiches and adding “a little bit of this and a dab of that.” A simple concept that stuck.

So how does someone come up with a simple concept? Many are inventions of necessity.The Flintstones had wheels of rock on their cartoon cars. But perhaps the first wheels were attached to carts to make things easier to drag along.

Simple Concepts

How are simple concepts monetized? I think one would fall back on the old standby answer, it depends. If you use the example of Walter Hunt, an inventor of the early 19th century, some of his inventions could be considered simple. The safety-pin is one of his inventions. What a great idea! Yet Hunt sold the patent to pay a small debt.

Hunt is a very interesting man with a couple of biographies. The first, written in 1935 by Clinton N. Hunt is titled Walter Hunt American Inventor and the only copy I could find through the search engines resides in a Berlin, Germany library. Fortunately for me since my curiosity has been piqued, Joseph Nathan Kane penned Necessity’s Child: The Story of Walter Hunt, America’s Forgotten Inventor in 1997 and copies are still easily available. Stay tuned for a review!

In contrast to Hunt, who merely paid the bills with his inventions, are the modern-day profiteers. Think pet rock, or even more successful, the Beanie Baby. These creations generated tremendous profits. But how have they advanced civilization?

Many of today’s money making inventions are marketing successes as much as needed creations. All fill a need, it is just our needs have changed. For example, one of my favorite pieces of exercise equipment is the Simply Fit Board. I love it! The board definitely falls into the simple concept category. But if I lived a hundred years ago, I would get fit from all the manual labor required to get through each day.

A Dab of That

The passage of time has made other changes in our daily lives. Earlier this month, Econogal sponsored the Rocky Ford Melon-Man Triathlon. Sports competition has greatly evolved. During the same time period Hunt was working on his many inventions, very little occurred in competitive sports. Baseball, with its murky origins appears to have predated both football and basketball. Modern day organized track and field events also occurred in the late 1800s.

This very informative article from The Atlantic published in 2013 discusses the tie between mandatory education and organized sports for youth. According to the author, organized sports first catered to the poor. Only in the 20th Century did middle class kids enter into competitions.

I would concur with the article that the rise of competitive leagues for kids dovetails with the educational push starting in the 1960s to lessen competition in the classroom. In theory, this would allow all children to achieve self-esteem. (I could write a series of blogs on the pros and cons of this theory.)

Rocky Ford Melon-Man Triathlon

Thus I did not find it unusual that the youngest participant in the Rocky Ford Melon-Man Triathlon was six years of age. In fact I was pleased to see a youngster competing in this event. I think personal challenges of this type are what really create self-confidence. Competition with others can be good, but improving upon your own measurements, I think, creates positive self-esteem.

Congratulations to all the participants. Thank you Rhonda Snyder for the shared photos. Next year I hope to travel to Rocky Ford to compete in the 2019 Rocky Ford Melon- Man Triathlon.

Swimming PoolMan on bicycle

 

 

 

 

Runners at Starting Line

Linking Liver Disease to Socioeconomic Events

Numerous alcohol bottles on displayI use Twitter to keep abreast of news. But, I follow-up by searching for source information. Yesterday the Twitter feed piqued my interest with a trending item relating increases of liver disease in the under 34 population with The Great Recession. Naturally, I am interested whenever I see society impacted by economic events. Also, I look for the reverse; societal events which impact economics. The interchange is often life changing.

Increased Liver Disease Since the 2008 Recession

Therefore, I searched for the source of the study and found the publication in the BMJ. The study originated at the University of Michigan. Assistant Professors  Tapper and Parikh produced the work. Please click here for the link explaining the scientific methodology. Some of you may have read articles in either the New York Times or Washington Post summarizing the study. I encourage you to read the actual study found on the above link.

The study covers the time period from 1999 to 2016. A statistically significant correlation between The Great Recession and increased deaths in the 25 to 34 population is discussed. Since my oldest offspring fit this demographic, there is a greater interest on my part. The data analysis and results were of particular note. Table 2 in the study is a good indicator that the onset of economic trouble has a direct correlation with an increase in liver disease.

Validation is important to me, so I searched for other studies. There are quite a few. The Great Recession spurred many scientific studies. Most attributed the decline in health to the decline in prosperity. However, I did come across a scholarly article that posited the opposite reaction.

Health Effects of Economic Crisis

Christopher J. Ruhm produced the working paper Health Effects of Economic Crises. His detailed analysis can be accessed by clicking here. (Note the Economic Bureau of Economic Research does not have a secure website, but the link is to a PDF.) On the surface the two studies appear to conflict. Yet a closer evaluation indicates some correlation between the two.

Ruhm’s study of the interchange between macroeconomic downturns and morbidity rates focuses on cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Everything else is lumped into a category of other disease. (He also includes analysis of death rates due to accidents, suicides and homicides. Although the two latter conditions could be attributed to mental illness.)

Backgrounds play a key role in the approaches. Tapper and Parikh are medical doctors specializing in the field of gastroenterology. Ruhm’s background is in economics. He holds a doctorate with his CV citing Health Economics, Labor Economics and Public Economics as specialties.

My belief after reading both studies is there is an interaction between economics, macroeconomics in particular, and societal changes. Declines in extra spending money leads to a decline in consumption of goods harmful to health. Examples would be alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

Correlation

From what I understand of the two studies, a correlation can be made. Ruhm’s analysis led me to believe the morbidity rates declined due to a money squeeze. Personal observation recalls individuals in my hamlet switching to bikes and walking during the Great Recession. This increase in physical activity combined with a decrease in consumption of deleterious goods such as alcohol, tobacco and sugars would lead to healthier living.

By contrast, the study by Tapper and Parikh seems to me to focus on the aftereffects of the Great Recession. The country has enjoyed a decade of prosperity. Yet it is easy to infer the lingering effects on the age group of 25-34 year olds. Some would include the Millennials in this cohort. Individuals entering the workforce during the Great Recession faced adversity at the time. Many are still struggling to catch-up.

Perhaps this internal struggle coupled with more money currently available for consumer spending is the cause for the findings in the study. Higher alcohol as well as obesity lead to liver failure. Thus a call for an increase in sin tax with regards to both alcohol and sugar by proponents of this particular study.

Health Challenge From Econogal

Taxes are unpopular and only one approach. My suggestions differ. First, as I have written before, maintaining physical health is important. In my opinion, all adults (everyone over 18) should have blood work done once a year along as part of an annual check-up. Second, we should practice moderation. I first discuss this in the book review of The Case Against Sugar.

Alcohol consumption should be limited. I looked up the suggested limits for low risk use. They were more than generous in my opinion. My understanding is those who don’t drink at all are at an advantage with regards to memory processes and only at a slight disadvantage for cardiovascular health.

Thus, I have a challenge for my readers. Starting August 1, 2018, reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption until Halloween. Monetary costs most likely prohibit blood work before and after for concrete results. So, I am asking my readers to use observation. Make weekly notes on energy levels. Note activities. Journal entries will keep you on track. Then share your results via comment. I will let responses dictate space on the blog.

If you are already a non-drinker, reduce your consumption of sugar, tobacco, caffeine or some other unhealthy product. Or those that abstain from alcohol and other sinfully delicious goodies can add a positive. This addition of a healthy alternative would be good for the drinkers as well.

Are you up for the challenge?

Procrastination

Procrastination is defined as delaying a task or action to a later time. I have witnessed procrastination all my life. Occasionally I am guilty of procrastinating. But most of the time I am not. The times I procrastinate revolve around either a dislike for a task, or a fear of rejection.

Tasks I dislike and often put off include scrubbing toilets, taking out the trash and matching clean socks. If I have both inside and outside chores, I will opt for the outside ones unless the weather is bad. Or I know company is coming.
Fear of rejection also delays me. I have two completed children’s books that I have not submitted for publication. My current excuse is I have no illustrations to go along with them. The real problem is I fear rejection. I love the stories but worry no one else will.

As I have aged, procrastination has become less and less a problem. Juggling a career, four kids, volunteer work, hobbies and last but certainly not least, a husband meant staying on task. Thus I have a few tips to share.

Paying Bills

I pay bills as soon as they arrive. This way they are paid on time. Some of my bills are set up for online payment. In this case, the payment is scheduled for a few days before the due date. Some may prefer to have the bills submitted straight to the checking account. Again, this method ensures prompt payment.

Procrastination at Work

The workplace is primed for procrastination. There are co-workers to provide distraction. Other delays are caused by customers, clients, suppliers or students as the case may be. I remember one boss complaining of all the “fires” that needed to be put out and hence things didn’t get done in a timely manner. But there are ways to stay on track.

First, set aside time to get the needed tasks completed. This may mean going in an hour before others if you are in a management position with lots of interruptions. Or put out some type of do not disturb notice. I remember one December donning a Grinch hat and posting a warning note indicating the posting of grades came first. No one knocked on my door.

Second, prioritize the work. Organize the tasks by both importance and deadline. Sometimes a first in first out approach will not work. Make sure you schedule enough time to check the work for accuracy whether it is proofreading, measuring or even taste testing.

Third, break large projects into small chunks. Procrastination has a psychological component. Often the task is overwhelming. By dividing the work up into pieces or parts the job no longer seems as daunting. Give yourself a break between sections of the work. But set a time limit on the down time. If you don’t have a plan and a time-table, procrastination can sneak back in.

Fourth, learn to delegate. If you can’t share the load, then know when to say NO. Procrastination becomes a nightmare when multiple tasks pile up.

Exercise

Another area ripe for procrastination is exercise. We all know how important it is to exercise. Studies show benefits from physical activity include brain health, physical fitness, longevity and psychological well-being. But many put off the work-outs. Maybe you woke up late. Or it is too cold. Or too hot. After work you are too tired. Part of the year it is too dark. All these are just excuses. Some people just don’t like to exercise so they put it off.

Don’t procrastinate! Exercise is one of the keys to life. In the old days we labored (and some still do). The labor served as our exercise. If you are lifting bales of hay you benefit as much as by lifting weights. But most no longer labor. The future will probably involve even less manual work. Just think of the inventions such as the robots that clean kitchen floors. In order to keep our bodies fit, we need to substitute work outs for labor.

Keys to avoid putting off exercise are as follows. First, have an exercise partner. You can encourage each other. Second, find a workout you enjoy. There are so many types of exercise that you can mix up the workouts. Bicycle two days, run two days and dance or kick-box on other days. Third, stick to a routine. Try not to go two days in a row without some form of exercise. Remember your physics, an object in motion stays in motion.

Benefits from overcoming Procrastination

Defeating procrastination leads to many benefits. Tasks are done on time. This translates into less stress which tops the list for me. There is also an increase in productivity. Procrastination slows down the time-table. So once you put the drag of undone work behind, you will be surprised at just how much work can be completed. Furthermore, you will establish a reputation for getting things done. This can-do work ethic is what employers look for. So start today by stopping procrastination.

Maintaining Physical Health

Physical Health

Aging naturally affects physical health. Maintaining ones physical condition takes more effort as each decade passes by. But the benefits of taking an active approach are many. The various body systems gain from good physical health. Of course both exercise and diet are key elements needed to keep the body in tune.

Ten years ago my body was aging fast. Even though I walked two miles most days, I had gained weight and my digestive system was a mess. My gastroenterologist prescribed some medicine to treat the ulcerative colitis. But the best thing he gave me was advice. He told me my body was used to the walks around the park. He said I needed to step it up a bit. So I began training for a marathon.
I trained a full year for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon. My physical fitness level needed all that time to get ready. The best side effect was the positive reaction in my intestinal system. Since, I was serious about the training I stopped drinking colas and other carbonated beverages. This change in diet also contributed to better physical health.

Sugar and Fat

The carbonated beverages contained lots of sugar. Please read the book review The Case Against Sugar. In addition to watching sugar, I also watch my fats. I have been drinking 1% milk for over a decade. This change from whole milk has kept my cholesterol levels in check. Now, my biggest challenge is to not eat too much cheese.

Because I am a decade older, I have personally ruled out additional marathons. In fact, I have not run a half marathon in almost two years. Unfortunately, this has had a negative reaction for my digestive system. But, my heart rate gets above where it should be if I run too far. Thus I am experiencing a bit of a Catch-22. (A good book by the way.) So, I need to find other ways to maintain good physical health.

I now keep track of my heart rate when I exercise. This leads to many run/walk outings. Fortunately, the alternation between walking and running is akin to the interval training of my track days. Since I live at altitude, my trips to the East Coast let me run a bit farther. I plan to do any future half marathons at sea level. If my heart rate gets too high, I will make myself walk part of the course.

Brain Health

The physical activity also helps my brain health. First, the exercise releases many hormones. For an informative article on exercise and beneficial hormone release please click here. I am particularly hopeful that the more intense workouts release enough Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor to grow some new cells. I need all the new growth I can get.

Some early studies show consistent aerobic exercise increases the size of the hippo-campus. One study by the University of British Columbia was limited to women. The hippocampal volume grew over the course of the experiment. Unfortunately, the results were mixed with respect to memory. The study cited possible interference by white matter as a cause. You can access the study by clicking here.

Check-ups

Regular check-ups are key. Plane travel has been affecting my right eye. It becomes blurry and a headache ensues. Recently, my annual eye exam verified my sometimes blurry right eye was a cause for concern. I have a cataract. While I am apprehensive about the surgery, I know this condition can be addressed.

Each year I have blood work done. A couple of springs ago I was surprised that my thyroid levels were off. It is a hereditary disease. But both my parents are symptom free. However, I began treatment and feel much better. Last summer I discovered my father’s brother takes the same medicine. Since my paternal grandparents died relatively young the possibility of the condition was unknown. So, it helps to know beyond just the immediate family even though the odds diminish.

Maintaining physical health can aid in the quality of life. Eating right and exercising are the two components I focused on today. Other things come into play when discussing longevity such as social connectedness and spiritual life. Both are potential topics for future posts.

Since I need to alter my workouts, please let me know your choice of exercise.

April 2018 Wrap Up

Garden bed with raised sides made from recApril 2018

It is hard to believe but April 2018 is over. We are a third of the way through the year. April was busy for me as I wrapped up an extended stay in Florida celebrating the 80th birthday of someone near and dear to me.

In The Garden

Other events included planting quite a few varieties of vegetables in the raised row garden and a few plants close to the house. The deer proof fence is working. No signs of deer (droppings) in the new garden. So I consider the effort a success.  However, 70 M.P.H. winds damaged some of the poles. Therefore, replacement poles are now anchoring the garden.

An existing 4 x 8 foot raised box was elevated even more. Originally the height was 9 inches. Now the bed reaches just over two feet. This is easier to reach. Hopefully, the added depth will allow me to plant longer root vegetables.

Reading

Quite a few book were read this month. Thanks again for the suggestions both private and public. Several exciting books will be reviewed in the coming weeks. I am beginning to get used to the format that blends current events with fiction. No longer do I find these stories off-putting. I am sure novelists with a penchant for telling spy stories can’t resist utilizing the current world affairs as a backdrop.

Gardening references occupied a large amount of my time. There is a host of information in book and magazine form as well as online sites. Make sure you read the review of Gardening Shortcuts. I also recommend Edible Gardening, a magazine put out by American Farmer’s Almanac. I consulted the website put out by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds numerous times. The site has an easy to use planting guide that you can access by clicking here.

Spring

Our springs on the High Plains are short and varied. This year we have had cooler temperatures, a bit of moisture and lots of wind. The danger comes from the wind in the form of fire. So those of you living in a drought situation (which includes various states from coast to coast) be careful using any open flame outdoors. Fires in both Florida and on the plains made appearances near me in April 2018.

As always, feel free to share any great reads. Just use a first name or even initials. The month of May will be action packed. Stay tuned!

Kentucky Derby Hats

Well it is hard to believe but it is almost Derby Time. The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is just around the corner. For some it is the fastest two minutes in sports. For others, the Derby means much more. Across the country Derby Parties are being planned.  Derby parties involve good food, mint juleps, party dresses and best of all, Derby hats.

I am a hat person. I love hats. Straw hats and felt hats, fedoras and even ball caps. My collection even includes a couple of fascinators. The best way to describe a fascinator is a headband (or barrette) on steroids. I think I need to add some fascinators because they tend to stay on your head if there is any wind in the forecast.

Hats serve a purpose in addition to looking nice. They protect from the outdoor elements. Both the sun and the rain can cause damage. Hats offer good protection from the sun for both the face and the top of the head. Guys going for the “Bald Look” need to consider the potential skin damage. Additionally, without a hat, one tends to look like a drowned rat if standing in the rain. Of course Derby hats, really fancy ones, need shelter from the rain!

Some hats are made specifically for an outfit. The photo to the right shows the winner of a hat fashion contest last fall in San Diego. I wholeheartedly agreed with the judges. But one needs to know a milliner to have a hat custom-made. There are none near me.

The next best thing is a store specializing in hats. Or at least a shop that carries hats. I am lucky to have a local shop with hats in my hometown. In some parts of the country such a store is not available. Fortunately, we live in the age of the Internet so for those without a local source of hats, shopping online is an alternative to driving a long distance.

Derby Hats

If you are hosting or attending a Derby Party the first Saturday in May you need to act quickly. Hopefully anyone lucky enough to attend the race in person already has purchased their hat. But in any case there is still time and several options.

First, if you are artsy and live near a shop like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, consider making your own hat.  Most Derby hats start with a straw base. Then the decorations are added. The add-ons could include netting, silk flowers, feathers or all three. Some people go wild. I have seen horse heads and even the entire racetrack. The sky is the limit as you can see from the pictures.

If creativity is not your thing and you don’t live near a hat shop, go online. A simple web search will give you plenty of options. But at this point you may need to pay extra for shipping. Or you can spruce up a hat you already own by adding either a scarf clip or a piece of jewelry like a fancy broach.

No matter how old-fashioned hats may seem, the Kentucky Derby and Derby hats go hand-in-hand. So jump on the bandwagon and find a hat for the first Saturday in May. The slide show below will give the creative types some ideas. For the rest, it is time to go shopping!

 

Financial Literacy Month

April is financial literacy month. So naturally, Econogal needs a post with tips on teaching financial literacy. Fortunately there are many ways to engage young people in learning financial responsibility. Even the youngest of children can appreciate a piggy bank.

In fact, two of my children received piggy banks from the OB-GYN who delivered them. At least one of the others was gifted a bank at a baby shower. Piggy banks are a fun way for the young child to begin saving. Some banks use piggy banks as marketing items.

Once the banks are filled, the kids can either roll the coins or use a coin sorter. The age of the child will determine the needed coordination to roll coins. A few banks will even allow kids to watch their large coin sorter. Just ask the next time you go to your bank.

Credit Cards versus Lay-away

Saving coins is just the first step. Many other lessons are needed. One of the most important is budgeting. In these days of plastic payment it can be especially difficult for kids to understand how transactions work. A swipe of the card at the check-out does not help with the concept of budgeting and payment in the same way as putting an item on lay-away. But the two are similar.

Although lay-away still exists, it is far more common to buy with a credit card. Both involve multiple payments. But with the credit transaction there is instant gratification. This is a two-edged sword. The item isn’t truly owned until paid in full. Many individuals forget this key concept. Using credit to buy expensive items or charging large amounts on services or vacations is a sure way to find yourself underwater financially.

Thus, if you have a store that still offers lay-away, consider using this avenue to teach the idea of budgeting. The child will understand the need to save to make each of the regular payments. The item will belong to them at the end of the lay-away. If this type of payment is not available, create your own system at home. Have the child put aside a certain amount each week until the amount needed for purchase is needed. Then go to the store. We need to get away from instant gratification.

Allowances or Earnings

Some families provide allowances. Others exchange payment for chores upon completion. Still others expect kids to pitch in as part of the family responsibility. Regardless of your methodology, kids can learn to participate in work at an early age. Work ethic is an integral part of financial responsibility. It is important to teach the concept of the exchange between work and pay.

Continue to emphasize savings. Either encourage or require the deposit of some of the allowance or chore earnings into a bank account. If possible, consider a small match of savings. This concept found in the working world of employee match for 401K deposits is important. Many individuals lose out by not contributing to these retirement accounts. Introduce the idea at an early age.

Track Spending

A problem faced by teenagers (and adults) is not knowing where all the money is going. A great exercise is keeping track of all expenditures in a month. All means all, down to the very last cent. For this exercise to work, several things are involved.

First identify income sources. This should include wages from part-time jobs, allowances, and gifts. College students can include scholarships and work-study.

Second, estimate how the money is spent. For example, a third is going to gas, a quarter is deposited in a savings account. The remainder might be broken into multiple uses.

Next, create a record. This can be as simple as a folder with notebook paper. Or an accounting ledger book could be used for those interested in accounting. The record needs to identify each day of the month. After creating separate daily logs, the information can further divide. Additional divisions could include categories such as food, rent, gas, and of course discretionary spending. Receipts should be kept.

Then, at the end of the month, analyze the expenditures. This is eye-opening. My students often discovered a large amount was spent on fast food even though they were paying for the college food service. Others underestimated daycare expenses because they did not include babysitting during evenings. The analysis is key in understanding spending habits. Unfortunately few save any money at all much less a quarter of the income.

Financial Literacy

These are just a few ideas for teaching financial literacy. While some states have incorporated financial literacy in the curriculum, parents need to take the lead. Start with a piggy bank and move onto a coin sorter. Kids are interested in how money works. Help them out by introducing financial responsibility at an early age.

Make sure budgeting is a concept they know and understand. Unfortunate events can wipe out a family, but far too many are in trouble from out of control spending. Instant gratification needs to be replaced by the satisfaction of payment in full. If you use credit/debit cards instead of cash, make sure the youngsters understand the payment transactions involved. An increase in the savings rate is necessary for long-term financial stability. Share this habit with your children.

Random Economic Thoughts

Sprinkler heads.
New and old sprinkler parts.

I am currently travelling away from my small town and thought I would share some random economic thoughts. These ideas spawn from a few weeks stay in a city whose population ranks in the top 25 in America. This is a far cry from my hamlet of 7500. This post contains my opinions. I am fortunate to live in the United States of America. The Constitution guarantees my right of free speech. You may differ in your opinion on the below subjects. I respect that. We may end up agreeing to disagree.

Big Box Hardware versus Mom and Pop Hardware Stores

This time of year I make many trips to the hardware store. Spring heralds longer days. More daylight means more hours to work. Since I am currently in a city I have visited both the Big Blue and Big Orange hardware stores. Neither have been satisfactory in the service category but the orange guys are at least passing. However, the price points are great. So, if you know exactly what you need and can tolerate the lack of personal service you are good to go.

I prefer good service. My blood pressure rose a bit after five trips for a landscape project and poor service. This particular Big Blue store used to be a favorite go to store. My Mom and I spent many enjoyable mornings picking out plants. The store became slightly tarnished in my mind two years ago because it could not hire someone with a physical handicap. This is well within the law due to the type of work and the specific handicap.

However, the place is now in purgatory-at least this location because of the abysmal service. Multiple trips were made for 2 cubic foot bags of mulch because the rental car could only hold so much. On three of the four trips to haul the mulch, no offer was made to help. The other time a young man,able bodied so hired, appeared by the stack of mulch and proceeded to watch me load the already carted bags into my trunk. Watch me. Best case scenario, he was dumber than a doorknob. As was another young man who told me one bag would cover one and one half square feet.

I have worked on both professional and personal levels with physically handicapped individuals. One of whom is a quadriplegic. In each and every case their work ethic is/was fantastic. Sometimes the physically handicapped are much less handicapped than the able bodied individual.

Today, I opted to go to Big Orange Box store instead.

What is the long-term economic impact of poor service? I am not sure service value can be measured. Economies of scale make it hard for the Mom and Pop stores to compete on product price. The big box stores enjoy discounts from their volume purchases. In my little town the Mom and Pop stores are often almost double or double the price of the big box stores. (Not to mention the online opportunities.) However, if I knew of a Mom and Pop place here in this metropolis I would be willing to give them a try.

I will pay a small amount more to support a local business, but only a small amount. After all I wouldn’t want to negate Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand Theory. This is just one of the theories posited by Smith over 200 years ago.

Specialization

Another random economic thought from this trip is specialization. Adam Smith wrote about the positive impact of division of labor in his 1776 publication Wealth of Nations. In a small town you will find many Jill of all trades (some Jack’s as well.) Because of scarcity of a wide number of services you learn to do more. Specialization occurs, but in multiple areas.

For example, neither one of my parents love the kitchen. My skills came from necessity. Unlike a city where you could dine out for a solid month without ever repeating restaurants, choices in small towns are limited. But I do not even consider my cooking to be in my top three skills. I am thinking in multiples, so there goes the idea of specialization out the window. Perhaps that is why David Ricardo is my favorite economist and not Smith. Although I do describe myself as a capitalist.

So two small town people tried tackling a sprinkler system in defiance of Adam Smith. If we were playing baseball we would be a hit. But I see our fifty percent success rate as a failure. In hindsight, I should have found someone who specialized in sprinklers. Or waited for daylight to return. Of course a little more service from Big Orange would not have hurt either.

Just-in-Time Inventory System

The reliance on Just-in-Time inventory also plays a part. A lack of stored sprinkler parts demanded the trip to the hardware store. I deem items, such as sprinkler heads, as non-storage items. They are easy to purchase, inexpensive, and not often needed. This type of item lends itself to Just-in-Time inventory at my home. Unless one desires their own hoarder’s reality show, replacement inventory for everything under the sun cannot find a place under one’s roof. This is not a contradiction to an early post on National Preparedness Month. Some inventory is needed in the home. Items I categorize as Just-in-Time parts differ from items preparing a home against events such as hurricanes and blizzards.

For those who detested economics or skipped class that day, Just-in-Time manufacturing appeared in the 1970s. The approach, generally credited to Japanese car manufacturers, cut costs by delivering parts as needed. This reduced the footprint needed by production companies by eliminating storage costs. Thus today it would not be unusual to see vertical components within the same industrial complex, For example a factory producing air condition units for buses might be found a few blocks away from a bus manufacturer.

Social Media Regulations

Facebook dominated the news the first few days of my trip. Mr. Z would like you to believe the pop-up ads on Facebook are as random as these random economic thoughts. He took out full-page ads apologizing for a breach to your privacy. Theoretically the breach was unintentional.

This is not the case. Social media needs to sell your data in order to make a profit. The economic model does not work without advertisements. Of course advertisers want their dollars to work efficiently. They need to target their ads to people most likely to use the product they sell. Hence the role of Big Data. Social media platforms are great ways to socialize in the 21st Century. But they come with a cost. (Remember nothing in life is free. Not liberty, not love, not even water, but I digress.) Facebook has expenses so they need revenue in order to operate. Since Facebook users can sign up “free” of charge, the money must come from somewhere else.

So should Congress regulate social media? I think your answer will reflect your politics. My own answer is to use outlets such as Facebook sparingly.

Striking Teachers

Another random economic thought concerns the striking teachers. In general I am not a big fan of strikes. However, I can at least understand why these strikes are occurring. Teachers in the United States are not paid well. Some attribute it to the nine month school year. I think even if they worked twelve months and the pay was increased proportionately the profession would still be underpaid.

But the traditional low pay scale is only part of the story. Violence in the schools is increasing. The media do report the shootings, but other acts of violence occur as well. Fistfights can be everyday occurrences and I know stabbings happen as well. Teachers are handling all of these violent acts. In addition, drug overdoses are occurring during the school day. Education has become a hazardous occupation. Usually jobs that involve a risk to life and limb are compensated with an increase in pay. I believe teaching needs to fall into this category.

In general, I think most kids start school wanting to learn. I also believe most students are good citizens. But we seem to have reached a tipping point. The minority number of trouble makers and in many cases troubled students is now large enough to have a sustained negative impact on the education system. Teachers are on the front line. They need combat pay.

Full Circle on Specialization

Why is there so much violence? What can be done? These questions have many answers. My answers are quite opinionated. I believe we have become over specialized. I doubt Adam Smith ever addressed this and to be honest I will need to reread Wealth of Nations to see if over specialization was discussed other than in terms of the Invisible Hand. In a well oiled economy if too many carpenters exist, some will change careers. This is the theory of the Smith’s Invisible Hand. Equilibrium will occur naturally over time.

As applied to school violence and societal violence, we have tipped beyond a point of balance. I believe we need to re-think our system. We have too much idleness in our youth. This is not a new concept. Devout readers of the Bible as well as staunch fans of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales understand this notion. Idle hands are the Devil’s tools. Of course both the Bible and Chaucer predate Smith.

But how do we achieve this? Do we really want sixteen year olds with no interest in higher education roaming the streets? I am in favor of vocational-technical (vo-tech) education. We need more plumbers and electricians. But both professions need individuals with strong work ethics. Power outages occur day and night as do broken pipes. We need to introduce vo-tech careers as early as grade school.

Vocational-Technical Education

By the sixth grade there can be an indication of which students have lost interest in education. There are a myriad of reasons. Some don’t have the aptitude for book learning, others are hindered by environmental factors. The problem with fixing an arbitrary age to divide children into tracks of learning is the fact some people are slow developers.

Again, a child can be hindered by outside forces. Tara Westover is a prime example. Please read my review of Educated to understand why I am against a set age for kicking individuals off the path to higher education.

Grade school needs to incorporate some career development. Many of you may remember the early reader books on careers. These stories introduced jobs in many fields. Unfortunately, many were out of print by the time my children were learning to read. Children can multi-task by learning to read from books introducing various types of jobs. Maybe the desire of the young to multi-task is a response to over specialization.

Equilibrium Balance one more Random Economic Thought

One last thought on idleness. Some nations as well as some religions require service commitments. I have no first hand knowledge of the parameters of this work. Nor do I have data on the success of these individuals. However, I believe the idea has merit. We need to promote the idea of work and working with others. Two years serving a country or as a mission to a religion seems likely to give an individual time to mature. Of course hard work at a full-time job may also achieve the goal of self sufficiency.

This country needs to regain balance. Teachers are underpaid, in part due to the new work conditions facing educators. Needed vo-tech employees are scarce. Too much violence is a result of mal-adjustment. At the risk of being labeled a Keynesian, somehow the Invisible Hand needs a little help. Individually and collectively a push needs to be made concerning work ethic. We see this in the service industry as well as in the emerging industries of the 21st Century.

Somehow the education system needs to alter so that kids retain that desire to learn you see on virtually every kindergarten face. This is not a task just for the teachers or the parents. The students themselves need to be involved. Work ethic comes from within.

March 2018 Wrap Up

March 2018 has been a busy month. In addition to reading many books and working on garden projects. I traveled. The first trip to New Orleans you can read about here. Currently I am visiting Orlando. March is a busy month for travelling. After all it is spring break for many. The planes are packed and in some cases the airlines are looking for people willing to be bumped from their scheduled flight. I have yet to accept the offer.

Cold mornings lent themselves to reading while waiting for the temperatures to warm up. As a result, I have about half a dozen book reviews waiting for a Friday publishing date. There was a stretch in mid-March when book after book was incredible. I am excited about the reviews (including yesterday’s on Educated.)

I spent the pleasant early spring afternoons creating a new garden area. The raised row garden idea came from Jim and Mary Competti, bloggers at Old World Garden Farms. You can read a review of their new book here.

Zip Ties

Since I had a scheduled trip to Florida at the end of March, I worked diligently to establish the 40 x 30 foot garden. I managed to finish putting a deer fence in place just the day before I left. Zip ties allowed me to get the job done in quick order.

There are pros and cons with zip ties. On the pro side, they are relatively inexpensive. I bought a container of a thousand for $10.00. They are easy to attach. Finally they are strong. On the negative side, they will eventually become brittle when exposed to outside elements and thus have a short life span. They also play havoc on your finger nails.

I used zip ties to attach recycled metal soffit to wire supports for the base of my garden fence. Then, I used zip ties to attach a netting to seven-foot poles (to deter deer.) I also used the zip ties as an additional anchor of the poles to the base fence. Most of the afternoons in March 2018 were spent on this gardening project. See the pictures below for a sneak peek. An extensive post on the how-to is forthcoming.

Readership Community

Readers are a dying breed. On one flight a chatty aisle mate kept interrupting my reading of Kristen Hannah’s latest book The Great Alone. She was quite curious as to what the book was like since I was so engrossed. I wish I had an extra book to give her. I can’t imagine boarding a plane without a book to read.

Once I reached my destination, I was happy to see my copy of Two Girls Down was no longer inside the Little Free Library around the corner from my Florida hang-out. So readers are still out there, we just need to reach out and connect. I would love to have a reading group to share ideas on The Twilight Wife.

The readership community of Econogal is slowly expanding. If you would like emails sent to you each time a post is released, subscribe now or bookmark the page. Generally, I post twice a week as part of my New Year's Resolutions. So far I am on track to keep the 2018 list.

Be sure to share what books you have read this month in the comments below. This is one way we can share  great books even if we cannot meet in person. I know March 2018 was a banner month for my reading. I made some great discoveries of new authors and enjoyed new releases from old favorites.

What did you read in March?

Daylight Saving Time: A Brief History and Argument Against

Once again I am faced with the need to adjust my body to an arbitrary jump in time. Daylight Saving Time began yesterday. For whatever reason it takes me a week at least to adjust. If I am travelling during that week the jump in time zones throws me off even more. Sometimes it is close to three weeks before I feel normal again.

Since I am still out of whack this morning, I decided to do some research. The information out on the internet is rather interesting so I will provide some sources at the bottom. Some of the various websites were misleading through omission of facts. The biggest culprits will be left off the bibliography.

A Brief History

The best information came from a website founded in 1995. Timeanddate.com was complete in their discussion. They even discussed Ben Franklin’s idea that the Parisian’s needed to get out of bed earlier. However, the first formal proposal of Daylight Saving Time was a proposal in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson. He worked in a New Zealand Post Office by day. Hudson posited a two-hour change during the warmer months. His motivation was bugs. The extra two hours would allow him time after his day job to collect insects for scientific study.

In 1906 a British builder, William Willett wrote Waste of Daylight proposing to change the time over a series of weeks by 20 minutes at a time. This effort was criticized by many. Just imagine the difficulties! However, in my case it might work better for adaptation. The British defeated a bill to make the change shortly thereafter.

First locale

The first known location to establish a change was an area in Canada now known as Thunder Bay. This occurred in 1908. Other areas in Canada adopted the time change over the next few years. However, the first countries to adopt the time change were Germany and Austria during World War I. This took place April 30, 1916. Other countries in Europe quickly copied the effort. The switch back to Standard time followed the resolution of the conflict.

World War II brought back the use of Daylight Savings Time. In the United States the time change was known as War Time. After the war ended, America once again ceased observing the custom as a nation. Individual states and even cities set their own guidelines of what clock to use. This resulted in a bit of chaos for travelers.

Uniform Time Act

The Uniform Time Act eased some of the conflict. The United States Congress passed this Act in 1966. The ruling established a uniform time for the change. Daylight Savings began the last Sunday in April and ran until the last Sunday in October. However, states were allowed to opt out and stay on Standard Time.

Over the years, some changes were made to the original act. For example, in 1972 Congress allowed States with multiple time zones to have part of the State opt out. Also occurring in the early 1970’s was a yearlong adoption of Daylight Saving Time as a reaction to the 1973 Energy Crisis. In 1986, Congress moved the start of Daylight Saving Time to the first Sunday in April. The beginning was moved even earlier in the year to the second Sunday in March by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This same action also moved the end of the time period to the first Sunday in November.

Currently, Hawaii and most of Arizona use Standard time exclusively. For both it is a matter of existing amounts of Daylight. Just last week, the Florida legislature voted to keep to one time clock per year. But, in Florida’s case they must get approval from the Federal Government.

Will Florida join the club?

Since Florida would like to remain on Daylight Saving Time so to abandon the changing of times it needs approval to change to the Atlantic Time Zone. This seems a bit convoluted, but apparently it is easier to remake Time Zones. The Uniform Time Act would not need an amendment. Furthermore, the Western most counties in Florida are currently in the Central Time Zone. These residents will have a big adjustment. There are many factors in this decision. As of this writing, the Sunshine Protection Act is awaiting Governor Rick Scott’s signature.

If the Sunshine Protection Act becomes law, there are two ways for the State of Florida to win approval from the Federal Government. The first is through Congressional action. This method is not often used. The more likely scenario is the second method of change. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation has the authority to change time zones. It is interesting to note in the actual Florida Bill that the state legislators include wording that would preserve the law in the event the United States Congress amended the Time Act to allow for the Daylight Saving option. I am unsure if Florida would then choose to revert to Eastern Time.

Against Time Change

From my personal standpoint, I think my body would fare better I a state without an arbitrary time change. I do not own an alarm clock. Nature wakes me up. However, I know that is not a feasible approach for many. The change to Daylight Saving acts as jet lag on my body. Both the spring and fall changes have a negative impact. So losing an hour is not the culprit.

I can appreciate the desire after a long winter to have daylight at the end of the work day. But the change really affects my productivity levels. In some years, I think I lose about a month to this time change lag. In my case staying with just one time would increase output. I don’t have a preference between Standard and Daylight Saving.

Perhaps I identify with the Amish. In the winter I find inside work appealing and probably sleep a bit longer. In the summer, I follow the sunlight. As the sun rises earlier and earlier, I follow the advice of Ben Franklin and get out of bed earlier. Gardening occurs in the cool of the mornings and evenings. Sleep is shorter and perhaps deeper after a long day.

Studies back both views

Many arguments abound for bouncing the hours back and forth. Some studies show fewer accidents. Others a drop in suicide. One article by Web M.D. suggests the adjustment period is only a day. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t agree with that. On the bright side I know I am not a candidate for time travel. Someone else will have to be the guinea pig for that experiment.

I tend to favor the arguments against changing the clocks. Studies in Indiana which did not fully adopt the change until this century indicate little savings. A decrease in lights used was offset by an increase in air conditioning. The real worrier for me is the increase in heart attacks the first few days after springing forward. As I said before my body gets out of whack. I don’t like messing with Mother Nature.

My body really struggles with the time change and if it worsens I may need to relocate. I do have Hawaii, and Arizona on my list of preferred states just because of their common sense approach to the time change. If Florida is successful, they will join the list. This would only happen in an extreme case-like a heart attack scare coinciding with the time change.

I have a long list of references below. Other sites were deleted from the list for their glaring errors. I certainly don’t want to fall into the trap of believing everything I read on the Internet. Nor do I want to be accused of issuing Fake News.  I think you will enjoy reading some of the articles listed below if you have some spare time.

Website Sources

https://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/history.html

https://www.timeanddate.com/time/us/indiana-time.html

https://www.timeanddate.com/time/us/daylight-saving-usa.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/daylight-savings-time-history-george-vernon-hudson_n_1333378.html

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160310-the-builder-who-changed-how-the-world-keeps-time

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/03/0330_040330_daylightsavings_2.html

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2018/1013/BillText/er/PDF

https://www.transportation.gov/regulations/time-act

https://www.transportation.gov/regulations/procedure-moving-area-one-time-zone-another

http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/e.html

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/coping-with-time-changes

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131101-when-does-daylight-savings-time-end-november-3-science/

 

 

Aging Doesn’t Equal Lifestyle Slow Down

Recently I picked up a Time Magazine at a check-out counter. The cover was a maze. The extra content covered longevity. Many of the articles are interesting and a couple seem to be directed toward me. I am aging and my lifestyle has changed but I don’t seem to be slowing down.

This past weekend is a good example. On Friday afternoon, I used spray paint to mark the rows as discussed in the book review of Raised Row Gardening. On Saturday, I oversaw the unfortunate need of rototilling. Only the eighteen inch beds were tilled. I am not one for machinery hence the overseeing.

True Test

Sunday came the true test for my aging body. I engaged in very physical labor from just before nine a.m. until five p.m. with a thirty minute break for lunch. First I made three trips to a Tractor Supply because the local farmer I contacted was out of straw. Three trips with four bales at a time in the back of the Subaru Outback. Each trip ended with hauling the bales to the plot of land lined out for the garden.

Then the real labor began. My location on the High Plains is in the midst of a major drought. To be honest, we have been living with different levels of water restrictions for at least ten years. Thus the ground is not easy to turn even after two passes with a rototiller.

I did not rototill the walkway areas. No need in my mind since no growth is desired there. Because of another ongoing project, I have excess topsoil to work with.

Each of the four growing rows measures eighteen inches by forty feet. Yes, forty feet. I may be aging but I still love working in my garden. I am counting on the folks at Old World Garden Farms and this raised row method to make the work easier with each passing year. But this first year is labor intensive.

I raked the loose dirt up the sides of each row. Then I shoveled the center in order to make a nice even ten inch base within the eighteen inch area. Next, I layered a six inch thickness of straw in the ten inch area. I raked the side dirt back in and then shoveled more topsoil over to form a nice mound. Often, wheelbarrows of dirt were added from one of two nearby piles.

The final step was to put a four inch layer of straw on the walkway areas. Since the wind kicked up in the late afternoon and was predicted to get stronger, I elected to water down the garden instead of lining the final two walkways. Dusk accompanied me into the house.

Stretching

Then, I did something good for my aging body. I stretched. I use Stretching by Bob Anderson as a reference guide. After the long day of work, I followed the stretches recommended for Indoor and Outdoor Work as well as those for Lower Back Tension.

The stretching I think is a key for the aging body. On Monday morning I did a few stretches and went about a normal day. Light housework with lots of laundry and vacuuming. I also wore a brace on the one ankle which has been giving me trouble. But no major pain.

In addition to the stretching, I think the absence of pain is psychological. I really want to expand my garden and I want to lay the groundwork properly. Therefore, the work is worthwhile. Some slight stiffness is expected. Slight is the significant adjective. No painkillers needed.

The articles in Time magazine reflect my weekend experience. The small snippets described individuals actively engaged in living. One anecdote was of a woman who ran her first marathon at the age of 69.  The reporting also discussed the need for community and social relationships.

Each of the five Blue Zones discussed by the Time article stress healthy living. Dan Buettner is the author of The Blue Zones. Ingredients for a healthy life include exercise, healthy food sources (such as straight from the garden), social circles, spirituality, and a good amount of sleep. Individuals in these areas of longevity not only live longer, but as the Time article states, they live better.

Online Communities

Even though the article did not discuss the online community, I believe that blogs and in my case blogging will also contribute to aging well. I follow several blogs and comment from time to time. I enjoy the comments (as well as the likes) on Econogal. I love going to lunch with a friend, but I also enjoy trading successful canning techniques online with individuals I may never meet. The same holds true with the book reviews.

We live in a changing world. People are living longer. Now the challenge is to make those extra years meaningful. Aging is one thing, aging well is yet another.

Aging Doesn’t Equal Lifestyle Slow Down

  • Empty lot
    Plot for future raised bed garden

February 2018 Wrap Up

February 2018 was a short month! I am a few hours late posting this but that is what happens when you only have twenty-eight days. I really needed a leap year! In our part of the world we had a month with little moisture. Just a skiff of snow one morning which began dripping off the roof before mid-morning, I actually hooked up the hoses to water the trees. We had one day of high winds accompanied by fire warnings. This is quite a contrast to those of you who are water-logged.

My New Year’s resolutions are holding up. I added to my skills by learning to prune grapevines. I am a bit worried that I cut them back too far, but all the You Tube videos I watched warned I would feel this way. You Tube is a great tool for visual learners.

February 2018 Celebrations

February 2018 hosted many celebrations including a baby shower, a birthday and an anniversary. The baby shower marked the last time I indulged in any sweets. Ash Wednesday also occurred on Valentine’s Day and in observation of the Lenten season I am abstaining from sugar. This was prompted by my first book review of the month, The Case Against Sugar.

This time of year is usually so cold I limit myself to indoor activities. But February 2018 acted like a yo-yo. Our area bounced back and forth between days which remained below freezing and days that reached the seventy degree mark. As a result, some of my time was spent prepping the garden. Garlic and onions planted last fall are poking through along with the earliest of the spring bulbs. I may have erred on the early side, but rutabaga and potatoes were also planted. Some late snows would be welcome.

On the February 2018 days that were too cold to work outside, the indoor activities included starting a new acrylic painting. Unfortunately, my schedule keeps me from taking classes so I am taking the self-taught approach. In this case I am using a library book. This is my first attempt at painting a scene with water. So far, Creative Acrylic Painting Techniques published by North Light Books has been helpful. The photo below is after three days of painting.

Wild Markets

My reading this month included quite a few articles from the Wall Street Journal during the market sell-off. February 2018 marked the end of a very long run of gains. The volatility was not unlike that of the markets a decade ago. Although markets are unpredictable, I personally don’t feel the doom and gloom I experienced in late 2007 and all of 2008. However, I am keeping a close watch. Unlike the totally insane housing bubble, the markets rise over the past few years has a backbone. A correction is certainly due and perhaps even overdue. But unlike ten years ago, I see real cause for growth.

Technology is changing at a rapid pace and in more than one area. Computers and communications may be a driving force, but the health field is also undergoing great changes. Much of this growth stems from the unraveling of DNA. Much research is occurring. In some cases genetic diseases can be treated. However, the cost is tremendous as you can read here regarding gene therapy.

Even though I am optimistic about economic growth, there are some concerns. The greatest from an economic standpoint is the economic debt of nations. Two articles worth reading are from Statista and Global Finance. Countries with external debt carry a risk. In my opinion, some risk is acceptable. Most of the viable national economies operate with external debt. The concern is reaching the point where the debt is so great, the debt payments cannot be met. This tipping point is unknown. But, as in the case of Venezuela, which you can read about here, once a nation is insolvent things go downhill fast. For those residing in the United States, an up to the second accounting is given by the Debt Clock. The picture is not pretty.

Acrylic painting of water and grasses
Third Day of Progress

Quick Thanks

A quick thanks to Moe for sharing reading lists last month. It can be hard to comment first. I appreciate the involvement in the readership community. Please feel free to share what book you have on your bedside table.
Currently, I am reading New York Station so look for it in a review later this month. I also have a stack of gardening books. February 2018 was a short month so my reading fell behind. What else should I be reading?

One Plucky Survivor Defying Nature

Nature is harsh. Anyone studying the food chains can see just how harsh nature can be. Many of the smallest animals and insects survive by producing large numbers of offspring. However, sometimes survival in nature takes an unusual twist. This is a short tale of one plucky survivor.

One Plucky Survivor

A three-legged doe has frequented our yard for over a year now. The first time I saw her was just after a large buck had to be put down. He had decided my tree line was a good place for his final days. He was unable to hold his head up much less walk. The Division of Wildlife mercifully put him out of his misery. Fortunately for the doe, she was still on the move and eating heartily.

Our local office of the Division of Wildlife knew of her existence when I called. At the time they were taking a wait, watch and see approach for how she coped with the loss of her back leg. We saw her around the neighborhood off and on all summer and into the fall. Then around Christmas time I lost sight of her. To be honest I thought she had become fodder for the local coyotes. Thus, when the deer presents started showing up all over the backyard, I did not even consider her to be the culprit.

However, our weather has been wacky lately and this may be why she is here day as well as night. After a weekend of 70 degree weather, the first part of the work week has arrived with single digit temperatures and cold North winds. Each morning the three-legged survivor grazes next to the house.

She was impervious to Sophie the Cat stalking her under the tree line. Unfortunately, the camera was not at hand because the sight was highly amusing. Hopefully her only stalker will be Sophie. At any rate she is one plucky survivor.

Naming the Deer

I think the doe needs a name. Maybe one that fits with survivor since that is clearly what she is. Right off the bat, all I can think of is Survivor Sally. She is also plucky, so perhaps Plucky Pauline. Maybe you have a better suggestion. Please enter a name in the comment area. I hope the video shows this plucky survivor in a non-upsetting way.

Color Wheel Use in Art and Life

Color Wheel 

My elementary school had an art teacher. Each week the class went to the art room twice for an hour at a time. The art teacher taught us many basic principles. We learned about dimension, texture, line of sight, shading and shadowing, balance and proportion along with many other art elements. But most important, in my opinion, we mastered the color wheel.

Mastery of the concepts put forth by the color wheel is important both in artwork and everyday life. Think about how toddlers dress themselves. Most mix and match with abandon. As adults few can get away with clashing outfits. Homes and workplaces are more pleasant if colors are coordinated. Use of the color wheel can create harmony in our lives.

Basics of the Color Wheel

The primary colors of the color wheel are red, blue and yellow. These three colors combine with each other or with neutral colors to make all known colors. Secondary colors are blends of two of the three colors. These colors are green (yellow and blue) orange (yellow and red) and violet (red and blue.) As kids we used the term purple for violet. The three secondary colors have an equal amount of each pigment.

Tertiary colors are a blend of a primary color with a secondary color. The six colors are yellow-orange, yellow-green, red-orange, red-violet, blue-green and blue-violet. The tertiary colors are placed adjacent to the primary colors on the color wheel.

Values of colors

Value refers to the amount of lightness (or darkness) a color has. This concept is tricky because a color’s surroundings impact its value. The exercise often used in art classes is to use two squares the same color and size surrounded by vastly different colors. The neighboring colors make the squares appear dissimilar. The pictures below illustrate the difference. The orange blocks in the middle are all the same size.

Contrasting three same size orange blocks on black, white and yellow sheets.
The center orange blocks are all the same size.
Orange squares of same size on black and white sheets.
The orange squares appear to be dissimilar in size.
Orange diamonds on black and yellow backgrounds,
Even using to bold backgrounds still creates a difference.

A contrast of color can be achieved by using different values instead of different colors. Thus a monochromatic color scheme (using just one color) can create depth and contrast. One of my favorite artist’s is Quang Ho. In his painting Harmony in Whites, he creates a beautiful stallion. Although there are a few bits of color in the horse tack and some shadowing, the overall impression is one of a white stallion in a white background. Thus a monochromatic color scheme. Yet the horse pops out of the painting as if he is in the room. Both depth and contrast are evident as you can see in the photo.

Warm and Cool Colors

The color wheel divides into warm and cool colors. Yellow and violet are the dividers. The reds stretching from red-violet to yellow-orange are the warm colors. The cool colors are opposite on the wheel and are found from yellow-green to blue-violet. The acrylic painting depicted below is one of cool blue tones with a splash of red for contrast. The warmth of the red adds a spark to the artwork. In the quilt Sophie the Cat is admiring, the overall tone is warm. Again there is some contrast provided with the addition of a cool color.

An abstract painting in blues with a splash of red accent.
Cool colors
A striped cat with a quilt featuring warm orange tones.
Sophie the Cat with a warm quilt.

Color Schemes

In both cases, the tone of the contrasting color was important. This is where the color wheel becomes so useful. Knowledge of how the colors combine is critical. Colors directly opposite one another on the wheel are considered complementary colors even though they are contrasting. For example red and green are complementary; think Christmas. The contrasting colors harmonize. However, in some applications complementary colors are difficult for the eye to process. You would not want books of blue pages and orange ink, even if you are a Florida Gator fan.

Analogous colors are colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. Yellow-orange, orange and red-orange are analogous. This blending of colors can be very soothing to the eye but care must be taken so the result is not boring. On the other hand, contrasting between two sets of analogous colors can be quite pleasing to the eye.

Monochromatic schemes are based on one color altered by tints or shades. Tints are created by adding varying amounts of white. Shades are achieved by adding differing quantities of black. Greying occurs by mixing two contrasting colors together. Thus Easter eggs dipped in all the colors becomes a muddied grey/brown depending on the dye colors.

Resources of Color Theory

Unfortunately, many schools today no longer have art teachers and so the task of teaching art falls on the classroom teacher. Time spent on art is also limited so that often the time spent on art is geared toward creativity. Kids need to have creative expression. However, the time constraint can mean art theory is not covered as thoroughly as in the past. Thus, only students who pursue an art education may fully understand the many nuances of the color wheel.

Fortunately there are many sources available for the motivated self-learner. One of my favorite books is a color workbook for quilters. Color and Cloth by Mary Coyne Penders does go beyond the color wheel to include textures and scales. But there is an abundance of color theory. This is a great book for quilters even if they are confident in there color selection.

Another book I own is Color: A Stroke of Brilliance by Leslie Harrington with Joan Mackie. This paperback published by Benjamin Moore Paints is geared toward use of color for interior designs. This has the basics of color wheel theory and has many sections of questions and answers. I refer to this book frequently when working on interiors in commercial locations as well as in my own home.

Finally, in this age of internet, I like several websites. For color theory, visit Tigercolor which does a nice job covering the basics with an option of purchasing ColorImpact. Another site I like and use is Benjamin Moore. I use their Personal Color Viewer when I am working on projects. Simply upload a photo of the room and then follow the instructions to see how color changes the look.

Color theory is ingrained in my being. I love color in nature, in the home and in my work. Please feel free to share how you use color every day.

 

 

Little Free Libraries

Small glassed in box to hold reading material.
A Neighborhood box to share books.

Twice this year while travelling I have come across freestanding glassed-in boxes holding books. I had heard of such items but before my trip to Santa Fe had not seen one. There is an organization called Little Free Library behind this trend. Individuals can erect Little Free Libraries on their property. Books and other items are left in the boxes with a Take one-Leave one attitude.

Obstacles

I like the idea and would love to put one up. There can be obstacles. According to the Little Free Library organization’s website, some individuals have faced opposition from various entities. Homeowners Associations and some municipalities may require permission to set up Little Free Libraries. The site shares some creative ways to work around obstacles in establishing a library on your property.

Controversy

One of the most interesting thongs to me about Little Free Libraries is some of the controversy stimulated by this free book exchange. A couple of Canadian librarians spent two years researching and writing a journal article which was very critical of the Little Free Library non-profit. They posited the movement was a way for the wealthy to feel good about themselves. Furthermore, they believed there was no need for these neighborhood boxes when so many had access to public libraries. For more of their opinion, click here.

Sturdiness

I have not contacted my city officials to see if they are permissible. If I need to jump through hoops to place one in my yard, I will. Instead, my concern is more of how weather would affect the Little Free Libraries. The second location I spotted withstood hurricane strength winds last fall. However, I do not know if the box was in place at the time. We have very strong winds so I do worry about sturdiness. I do know the containers are rain proof. The night before I left my copy of Two Girls Down, a two inch rain occurred. As you can see from the picture the books inside were nice and dry.

Books on shelves
Leaving a book at a neighborhood Little Free Library.

The argument from the Canadian librarians does not concern me. Even if some experience self-gratification from placing the boxes, the Little Free Libraries serve a purpose. Neighbors sharing books is a positive activity. Too often individuals do not know people living just a block away. I especially liked the one shown in the photo below. The lower shelf is chock full of items for kids. While I can drive to the library anytime I wish, kids in my neighborhood do not necessarily have the same opportunity. What do you think of these book-sharing boxes? Do you use one? Please share below.

Children's reading material on low shelf
Kid Items on lowest shelf.

January 2018 Wrap Up

Books and magazines on a table
Reading material stacking up.

The first month of the year is over. I am still on track regarding my 2018 resolutions which you can read about by clicking here. In January 2018, I entertained at my home twice and enjoyed a lunch with two ladies I had not seen in over a year. So my quest to socialize more is moving in the right direction. I have also kept up with the posting on Econogal. The writing makes me happy so I do not think that particular resolution will be tough. However, I have not learned any new skills yet. But I have an idea for a new raised bed. I am still researching the topic and hope to start on it if the milder winter weather holds out.

Travel in January 2018 included a presence in four states. You might want to read Wintertime Santa Fe if you are thinking about a President’s Weekend getaway. My time spent in the Orlando area yielded some ideas for posts which include this one and another about small neighborhood “libraries” which will be forthcoming.

While in Orlando, my reading included the Orlando Sentinel as well as some periodicals I don’t usually read including Kiplinger, Time and AARP The magazine. Additionally I came across some blogs. These include Always Trust In Books, The Historical Diaries and Old World Garden Farms. I am still adjusting to reading on a laptop, reader or smart phone as opposed to something I can hold in my hand. I think there is a place for both in this world.

A conversation over the lunch table during a nursing home visit sparked this particular post. One of the individuals brought a book with him. California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker started a conversation on good books to read. I have added the book to my list. Additionally, I decided to add a post at the end of each month sharing the various items I have read since not all make it to a Friday book review. Furthermore, I am asking for input from this blogs’ readers.

Readership Community

January 2018 Wrap Up starts a year of monthly posts in an attempt to build a readership community. On the last day of each month readers will be encouraged to share book, blogs and magazine articles they read. For any of the newer blog readers, you do not need to use your whole name and you can have an alias. However, the email must be real. For privacy buffs like me, the emails are not listed and are not shared. Emails are necessary. I realize some blogs do not require an email to comment. I believe requiring an email prevents spamming and robots from attaching a variety of things including ads to this website. Again, I will not sell or share the email and it will not be published.

There are thousands of books, blogs and articles out there. I am interested in what you are reading. Please consider sharing what you are up to in the comment section below. The photo above shows the books received as Christmas presents, library check-outs, magazines and seed catalogs. I have a lot, but I look forward to your recommendations. I am sure I am not the only one who prefers books to television. Happy Reading!

Technology and the Very Young

The Very Young

There are times I wish I didn’t hate biology so much. This is one of them. I took a three-hour flight and in the row adjacent to mine was a 17 month old. She was quite fussy during the extra-long wait in the terminal and a bit perturbed at the start of the flight, but once electronics could be turned on, she became much happier. She touched the screen with purpose even though her language is limited to simple words, i.e. Mama, Dada, dog. How are those brain connectors wiring in her mind? Will this next generation be more comfortable with icons versus the written word? All I know is technology kept her entertained during the flight.

Smart Speakers

Already our machines tell us how much change to give, where to turn right (or left), and control our lighting and temperature in home or auto. I have yet to purchase an Amazon Echo or Google Home because I am leery of what they hear more than what they will tell me. According to this article in Macworld, the soon to be released Apple Home Pod will send less of your conversation on to the big data banks. However, Home Pod will still be listening.

GPS

GPS is treated skeptically because the technology can’t handle the many peninsulas along the Florida Coast. I still remember the tough time Siri or her android counterpart had back in January of 2013 when we flew into Fort Lauderdale on our way to Hallandale Beach. Maybe things would have been better for us in daylight. We would have identified the problem with the lady from GPS much sooner. At any rate by the third loop we knew to turn off the latest technology and go old school, we stopped and asked. Thank Heaven for 7/11.

Technology and Kids

Back to the youngster, I was tempted to ask to take a picture for the blog, but that goes against the grain as well. So I will try to paint a picture. This little one was very serious about her interaction with the I-pad or notebook. I couldn’t tell if she was playing a game or watching a cartoon. But, she was definitely interacting, most times with serious control and precision touch. She did not look like she was randomly touching the screen (although that may have been the case) and her touch was gentle. Yet there were old comforts nearby as well in the form of a much-loved bunny rabbit. When she finally fell asleep she snuggled with the bunny not the tablet.

Of the kids sitting directly behind me, one was a pre-teen and reading an actual book and reading aloud. Her little sister had pretty nice head phones on and was glued to some type of tablet with a curved top playing an animated movie. Again, a field day for the scientists. How does this technology change the hard wiring of their brains? There are many books out there discussing left and right brains and how technology is biologically changing the wiring of the brains. We are definitely at a major change in history, no less powerful or less significant than the industrial age and these young people will hopefully fully function with the new technology.

Economic Impact

The flip side is a dislocation of the working force above a certain age. I am not willing to put a set number on the age as there are always exceptions. However, I think part of the last recession was due to structural unemployment. The technological revolution is already impacting the economies of the world. Many of those pushed out of work did not retrain because their brains are not wired to the new technology, which makes retraining difficult. Face it, those of a certain age grew up to Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room and maybe a few added shows Saturday morning. Quite a difference from this generation who could watch animation 24/7 on a multitude of devices.

Currently, the economy in the United States as registered by the stock exchanges is skyrocketing. While I cannot confirm all Main Streets are also benefiting, I know that our small hamlet has had two commercial buildings completed in the last six months. One from the ground up and the other a rebuild from the shell of a building. This is considerable. In some recent years zero building permits were issued. I believe the growing economy ties directly into the surging technology I see our youth embracing.

Final Questions

There is a great unknown. How will occupations match up with capabilities? Let’s use microwave ovens as an example. Almost everyone can make a microwave heat something up, a simple matter of pushing buttons. However, few individuals could build or repair that same microwave. And how many could explain how one works?

Hence the parallel. Many of the kids learn at a very young age, like the 17 month old above, how to push the buttons. But how many will be able to fix, explain or, one step further, conceive the idea of the next invention to make our lives easier, our world better. Yet they are still ahead of the older generation. Some of us cannot even push the correct buttons needed to integrate the DVR, flat screen T.V. and independent sound system. Or program a Smart whole house climate control linked to a Smart phone.

Some of the remaining structural unemployment will ease each year as more Baby Boomers retire. But will the remaining workforce adapt to the new occupations? What changes will need to be made in training and education? How will Artificial Intelligence compete in the workforce? Will the IOT (internet of things, such as Bluetooth printers) become a security threat? So many questions for the next generation to help answer.

Senator Bob Dole Congressional Gold Medal

Senator Bob Dole

Today, January 17, 2018, Congress honored former Senator Robert “Bob” Dole  in Washington D.C. with the Congressional Gold Medal. Because Kansas holds a special place in my heart and Bob Dole is a great representative of the state and its populace I watched the coverage. I was moved enough by various parts of the ceremony to write this post.

Patriot

First, I almost cried when I realized Senator Dole, who is in a wheelchair, was being aided into a standing position for the presentation of the colors. For me, the flag represents our country. I realize this has become controversial as of late, but I am firm on this position. Men and women died for the freedoms we enjoy. These freedoms are privileges and they come at a cost. Many not only fail to show respect, but also fail to understand the importance of respecting each other’s opinions. This division as I alluded to in my review of Hidden Target may not be entirely of our own making.

Bipartisianship

Second, I welcomed the bipartisanship. Our Congress represents our country. Currently there is much division in both. It is good to see unity. All 100 U.S. Senators voted to bestow this award on Senator Bob Dole. Congressional leaders from both side of the political aisle spoke favorably about the former Senator. One can hope Congress can return to compromise and cooperation without prompting from a disaster. Since we have a large country, we need a functioning government.

Most of the speakers highlighted Senator Dole’s sense of humor in addition to his bravery and devotion to the American public. We were treated to a glimpse of his personality with his personal address. Senator Bob Dole spoke with effort and handed the rest of his response to his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole by “yielding the remainder of his time.” This phrase brought a smile and memories as one who spent much time in the galleries of the Capitol chambers.

If you were unable to watch this momentous occasion, consider searching for the video. You will find both small segments as well as the full length which was well over an hour. I believe the time would be well spent.

Fact Checking Ground Rules

Tree in full bloom with white blossomsIn the classroom, I insisted the students used good sources for fact checking. Some colleges frown on Internet sources but I think facts found on the web can be valid. The self-publishing trend incorporates non-fiction as well as fiction so the printed word now has the same pitfalls as computer research.

In an attempt to make Econogal a good source I have created some fact checking ground rules for the website. I plan to share those rules in this post so the reader gains some insight in my methodology. Naturally, a site like Econogal contains the opinion of the author. But I differentiate between facts and opinion.

In The Library Book Reviews

The book reviews are my opinion. Long time readers may have picked up on the fact that I do not write negative reviews. If you see a book reviewed on this site, I liked reading it. There are books I dislike and I see no reason to give the authors any publicity.

In The Kitchen

Recipes are factual. If the recipe is adapted from another source, credit is given even if the recipe is a variation. Some recipes I use have been handed down from one generation to the next. New recipes are tested before I share them. Much like science experiments, multiple trials are required.

In The Garden

Much of what I do in the garden is experimental. The reports are as accurate as possible. The produce is weighed in order to report the yields. I live in Zone 5 A and the average rainfall is in the mid-teens. Pictures help record the outcomes. There are crop failures from time to time and those are shared as well.

Hobbies

This section helps encompass the various creative outlets I engage in. Since it is winter, quilting is at the forefront. Any quilter can tell you the importance of precision. I am currently working on a panel quilt I call The Love Quilt and have already encountered a problem with inaccurate seam allowances. While not the exact case of fact checking, the preciseness runs along a concurrent theme. Furthermore, any quilt pattern or kit needs to have all measurements verified before presented as fact.

Travel

My travel posts are a combination of fact and opinion. Therefore, I try to clearly express when I share my opinion about a place. Fact checking is also an important part of travel. Distances between points can be verified through traditional maps as well as online websites. The availability of food, gasoline, and places to stay combine fact and opinion. Both are important.

Before hiking Diamond Head in Honolulu, I read several online sources that gave accurate descriptions of the trail. More than one gave an exact number of steps (yes I counted as I climbed) and good tips on the heavily crowded tourist site. My goal is to share accurate descriptions of the sites I visit. Then you will be ready for any steep climbs.

Econogal’s Tips to Keeping 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

Resolutions are tough to maintain. Often the same ones are made each year and seldom last more than a month. Of all the resolutions I have made over time, only one has lasted years. In 2010, I gave up drinking colas. This particular resolution may not seem like much, but I drank cola the way others drink coffee. I think it is a Southern thing, some of my cousins also opt for a coke each morning.
In my case, I had two compelling reasons to keep this resolution. First, my insides were finally showing signs of no longer handling the ingredients. Second, and more persuasive, the carbonation gave me problems whenever I ran more than ten miles. Since I was training for the 2010 Marine Core Marathon, I regularly ran long distances. Thus, it is possible to conclude resolutions can be kept if there is a concrete goal and a reward for fulfilling the pledge.

Specifics Help

The more specific one is about the resolution, the more likely the goal can be attained. A popular New Year’s resolution is losing weight. People who are successful at this tend to have more specifics tied into the goal. For example a certain amount of weight, or an action plan such as giving up desserts or increasing the number of workouts. Those who are unsuccessful often try to go to an extreme. For instance, it is hard to transition from a couch potato to someone working out 8-10 hours a week. Furthermore, a radical change in exercise habits should be supervised by a health provider. Specifics help the most when they provide realistic goals.

Sharing Resolutions

While each individual will have distinct goals, sharing those goals leads to greater success. For example, if you want to increase the time you spend exercising, it helps to have a work out partner. Even verbally sharing goals with a friend or relative helps. Posting the list on the refrigerator or besides your computer is also beneficial. However, the best way to keep your resolutions is to make them meaningful.

Econogal’s 2018 Resolutions

1. Post a minimum of twice a week to Econogal. This is a very specific goal that I am sharing with all of you. The difficulty will be staying ahead on the book reviews. Not every book I read do I want to recommend.
2. Learn at least six new skills. This resolution ties into the goal of maintaining a healthy brain. My concern is not knowing in advance what skills I will learn. However, as you can read in my original post, keeping my brain cells as active as possible is of utmost importance to me. Six skills translates into one every other month. Since I have a new pressure canner which I need to learn how to use, I really only need to discover five skills.
3. Socialize more. I realize this is a strange resolution. But I have noticed I do not get out as much as I did when I had a house full of kids. I am a bit of a homebody with quite a few hobbies which tend to be solitary; gardening, quilting, reading and running. However, it is also important for brain health to interact with others. I am not sure how to make this a concrete goal so if you have any ideas please leave them in the comment section.

Good luck to all in creating and keeping resolutions for 2018! Feel free to share your goals.