Spring and Summer Trail Running Tips

Technical Off-Road Workouts Offer Shade, Require Special Gear

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith; © 2022

Seabrook, TX running and hiking trails
Seabrook, TX running and hiking trails
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When you consider running in the summer heat and humidity here in South Texas, it makes sense to leave the pavement behind and hit the softer trails. If you are running as part of a weight loss program, you can’t just take up an intermittent fasting diet and bail on your workouts, but you can make it more comfortable.

If you can find a shady area, and stay properly hydrated, you’ll have a much more satisfying workout for a short run or a weekly long run. If you’re not yet a trail running aficionado, know that there is a slight but interesting learning curve when coming from a road or track background. Here’s a few handy trail running tips.



Be alert! Pay close attention to the trail surface, even on a seemingly-benign crushed rock trail. Things like exposed tree roots, partially-embedded rocks, and pesky gravel on steep declines can sideline you in a flash. I’m not saying you have to constantly stare at your flying feet; rather, pay attention to what’s coming up. Anticipation is the name of the game. Then you can make adjustments as you go along. I generally scan about ten feet ahead with short glances as needed.

Run Softly and Carry a Big Stick

The unsung running stick is an important tool if your trail is at all wooded, like parts of the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail. So what’s the purpose? Spider web control. They spin their webs across the trail, presumably because that’s where the bugs fly. You’ll find most of them in the morning and in shaded areas.


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Bigger webs means a bigger bug harvest for a hungry spider. I can’t think of many things to get less excited about than a mouth full of viscous spider innards or a web clinging to my sweaty body. That stuff just won’t let go. Running with a group? In theory only the lead runner needs a stick. What kind of stick works best? I like one with a “Y” shape on one end, similar to a dowsing rod. Hold it up in front of you keeping the “Y” at face level. That won’t help your legs too much, but most of the webs are higher anyway, torso and face, specifically.

Use an Insect Repellant

Keep a small spray bottle of insect repellant in your water belt. Mosquitoes are attracted to trails just like runners are. The incubation period after a recent rain is seven days. They’re not a big problem while you are in motion, but they’ll be on you like white on rice when you pause to climb over a log or take a break.

Use Trail-Running Gear

If your trail is at all technical, trail shoes are a good investment. I run in Kahtoola running gaiters“>Kahtoola INSTAgaiters. They are easy to use and effective since they offer an offset locking zipper and a top drawstring.

Obviously, have fun! It’s no surprise that running trails are dirtier than city streets by nature Well, unless you are running the streets of San Francisco. Then you have to avoid random junkie’s used needles and piles of fecal matter. Getting dirty on the trails is unavoidable if you’re doing it right, so just go with the flow. Mud puddles? Not so much flow but go ahead and enjoy them like your inner kid wants you to.

These are just a few spring and summer trail running tips to bring trail nubes up to speed. There’s a great selection of trails in Texas and elsewhere, so take advantage of them and catch some shade.


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Further Reading

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Full-Spectrum CBD, Delta 8 THC, HHC

Federal Law Now Allows the Sale and Use of THC-Infused Industrial Grade Hemp — a Product Review

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith; © 2022

Hemp plant flowering
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No matter where you turn today it is CBD this and CBD that. Rub it! Wear it! Eat it! Be it! So what, pray tell, is this hemp, this miraculous, salubrious thing? Are the claims of its great efficacy in treating ills of the body and mind real or simply the hand wave of well-compensated mountebanks of all stripes?

The current popularity of the CBD industry is linked to the rise of medicinal cannabis, or medicinal marijuana, as a therapeutic approach to cure what ails us. This approach to medical care has received some rather less-than esemplastic official opinions.

Medicinal cannabis, or medicinal marijuana, is a therapy that has garnered much national attention in recent years. Controversies surrounding legal, ethical, and societal implications associated with use; safe administration, packaging, and dispensing; adverse health consequences and deaths attributed to marijuana intoxication; and therapeutic indications based on limited clinical data represent some of the complexities associated with this treatment1 (Bridgeman, 2017).

Deaths attributed to marijuana intoxication? As opposed to alcohol intoxication? I must call foul; my entire life must be anecdotal because I have never seen or heard of this deadly result. Can an individual OD on cannabis? That would be somewhat ironic given the number of U.S. states that have greenlighted its medical use. Indeed, it was time for the federal government to step up with some clarification. At some point, the federal Supreme Court will likely be called into play.



The 2018 Farm Bill

December, 2018 — the 2018 Farm Bill2 is signed into law. Its result was to remove hemp, which is defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.), and derivatives of cannabis with comparatively low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis), from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This separated the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.

It was the “0.3 percent THC” that opened the door for commercial companies to begin production of recreational hemp products in the form of edibles (gummies, candies, caramels), vapes, tinctures, and even THC and HHC-infused flower buds.

Helpful Cannabis, Hemp, and CBD Definitions

  • CBD. This is the product that gets the most press. It is mostly marketed for pain relief for people and pets. Harvard Medical School says, “CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana, or manufactured in a laboratory. One of hundreds of components in marijuana, CBD does not cause a ‘high’ by itself.4
  • THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of more than 100 cannabinoids encountered in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are this plant’s active compounds. As an analogy, ponder about how caffeine is one of the desired, active compounds in the coffee bean.
  • Full Spectrum CBD. This formulation retains all of the compounds found in fresh, unprocessed hemp plants. It is considered by most enthusiasts to be the most effective because it offers the compounds and effects of the natural hemp flower. Its use results in what is known as the Entourage Effect (the idea is that all these compounds function with maximum efficacy when present together). Be advised that for those folks who are sensitive to THC, or who are looking at a prospective drug test in the near future for employment or another reason, the presence of even minimum amounts of THC can be problematic.
  • Broad Spectrum CBD. This is the same product as full spectrum CBD, minus any trace amounts of THC remaining. You will still get a number of the beneficial effects associated with whole-plant extracts, but without any risk of testing positive for THC. This might also be a good option for pets, children, or anyone else who needs to avoid THC.
  • Delta 9. Delta 9 THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid associated with the cannabis plant. However, it isn’t found in raw cannabis. To produce it, a process called decarboxylation (heating the cannabis flower) is utilized. The existing THCa experiences a chemical reaction and morphs into Delta 9 THC.
  • THC-O. This is a newer derivative. It is considered stronger than Delta 9.
  • Delta 8. According to leafly.com, “Delta-8 is a cannabis compound that has become popular because of its similarity to delta-9 THC, the main compound in cannabis that gets you high, causing euphoria, happiness, sedation, symptom relief, and much more. Delta-8 will get you high, albeit not as high as common delta-9 THC.”3 Some conditions delta-8 can help with include pain relief, insomnia, anxiety, and nausea. Is it legal? The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has proposed a new rule to indirectly classify delta-8 THC as a Schedule I controlled substance. This would make it illegal on a federal level. But, to date, that rule is not yet final.
  • HHC. American chemist Roger Adams added hydrogen molecules to Delta-9 THC first in 1944. This process, which is called hydrogenation, converts THC to hexahydrocannabinol (HHC). If the term hydrogenation sounds familiar, it is because it is used to transform vegetable oil into margarine. Viola! Since it’s not technically a THC compound, it may not be flagged in drug tests, but the jury is still out so don’t take that as gospel.

Discover your buzz with Delta-8 THC vapes!

Will These Hemp Products Get You High?

Everybody’s favorite question, right? Asking for a friend. Well, other than CBD and Broad Spectrum CBD, the formulations listed above are mood/perception/cognition altering. Many producers and marketers do not use the actual term high for obvious reasons, but instead might tout euphoria or relaxing. A rose by any other name… but I digress. Semantics aside, it seems that the federal law is gradually setting the stage for a type of marijuana legalization, traditionally a purview of state government.

Typical Hemp Products

For the purpose of this article, your humble blogger took it upon himself to try various products. This is what I found, but keep in mind that since all effects are closely tied to individual body chemistry, results may vary.

Vida Optima Hemp Products

I found these Delta 8 THC Gummies to be tasty and effective. No chemically-tinged taste. The 10mg serving was just right.

Delta 8 THC Hard Candies are slow-dissolving and delicious. At 50mg, they are more euphoric than the gummies. These are also available in 10mg and 25mg.

Delta 8 THC Oil is a liquid that comes with an eyedropper so you can administer it directly by mouth or add it to your favorite beverage.

Gorilla Glue Delta 8 THC Hybrid Flower is a premium product, a hand-trimmed CBD Flower, directly sprayed with Delta 8-THC distillate for a completely new experience for cannabis users. This item is especially suited to traditionalists who enjoy trimming up a big bud and indulging in the earthy smell.


July 4th Sale Discover your buzz with Delta-8 THC gummies, vapes and oils!

Dharma Hemp Products

Hemp Flower Strains are one of their main products. At this time, 14 strains are offered, each providing a unique experience. These buds are similar to the Gorilla Glue version detailed above.

HCC Caramels are large, chewy, and offer a pleasant euphoric experience at 20mg per treat.

Delta 8 THC Nano Caramels (and other products with Nano in the name) have, “undergone our proprietary nanotechnology process in order to break down the compounds to the nanometer level in order to arrive at the final product which is both water soluble (dissolvable in water) while also being more bioavailable in the body.5″

The Dharma Delta 8 Nano Water Soluble THC Tincture is similar in effect to the Vida Optima THC Oil covered above. The first obvious difference is that it is milk-colored as opposed to a light copper color. The viscosity is comparable. Another difference is that even when I sampled a dose in a 10-oz. tumbler of water, fruit juice, or iced tea (unsweetened, thank you very much), it left a slight burning sensation in the back of my throat which manifested for about 45 seconds. Not overly unpleasant.

The Dharma Delta 8 Pre-Rolled Joints offer the same traditional smoking tradition as the Flower Strains without the bother of cleaning the buds and rolling one up. They come nicely packaged in a sealed plastic tube to prevent damage by wayward delivery folks. (No, far be it for your humble blogger to hold a grudge, but I still remember my crushed and soaking wet coffee bean delivery, UPS dude or dudette.)



The goal of this product review of various full-spectrum CBD, Delta 8 THC, and HCC hemp products was twofold. Firstly, I wanted to showcase and set out impressions and findings like any of my product reviews. Secondly, I wanted to test the waters about this almost stealth societal shift regarding the ethics and legality of using hemp attitude-adjusting products.

Further Reading

Endnotes

  1. From the article, “Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting,” in The National Library of Medicine, by Mary Barna Bridge, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, et al. (PubMed Central, 2017), Introduction
  2. From Section 297A <> DEFINITIONS, H.R.2 – Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 115th Congress (2017-2018), https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2/text
  3. From the article, “What is delta-8?,” in Leafly, by Leafly Staff
  4. From the article, Cannabidiol (CBD)-what we know and what we don’t, in Harvard Health School, by Peter Grinspoon, MD
  5. From the webpage Delta 8 THC, DHARMAD8, https://dharmad8.com/shop/delta-8-thc

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Sourdough Peanut Butter Ball Recipe

Made Interesting With Organic Pumpkin and Whole Wheat and Rice Flour

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith; © 2022

Sourdough peanut butter balls, complete with ballerina
Sourdough peanut butter balls, complete with ballerina
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I’ve been enjoying the world of sourdough baking lately. I enjoy the classics but what I really love is coming up with my own creations, quite often to the dismay of my wife — She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. Come on; I jest. Earlier this month I unleashed my Sourdough Focaccia recipe. Yesterday I came up with this sourdough peanut butter ball concoction.

It all started as a brain-storming session for a dog treat variation. I already make my own chicken jerky for dog treats. One similarity betwixt that one and this is that they are both suitable for both human and canine consumption. Win-win!!

Our vet had recommended adding canned pumpkin to our homemade dog food both the nutrition value and to maintain peak “regularity” if you get my drift. And the peanut butter? Loads of nutrition and protein. Not to mention flavor! Approved by all our rescue dogs.

If you make these balls 1″ to a quarter inch larger, like I do, this one batch will yield about 60 servings. Yes, you and the kids will love these, but so will your dog. But, tell me again, how much are you paying per paltry ounce for dog treats? (Forehead-slapping moment.)



Sourdough Ball Ingredients

Use organic ingredients when possible.

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup organic steel cut oats
  • 3/4 cup canned organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • Approximately 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 large eggs

Preparation

  1. Mix sourdough starter and oats in a large mixing bowl. This allows the oats to absorb liquid from the sourdough starter.
  2. cover the bowl with a damp washcloth and let the mixture rest for at least 3 hours. You could do this before going to work and do the baking this afternoon.
  3. Stir or whisk in the pumpkin, peanut butter, eggs, and coconut flour.
  4. Start mixing and stirring in the whole wheat bit by bit. You know the drill; it’s like preparing bread dough. When it gets hard to stir, cease and desist. Time to move on.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  6. Get out your pizza pan and a medium-sized sheet pan.
  7. Roll ball of dough in the palms of your hands and place them on the parchment paper, one by one. Each ball that I make is 1″ to a quarter inch larger, but you make it to suit you. They don’t rise much so they can be neighborly and sit close.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove (after passing the toothpick test) and set aside to cool.
Frankie dog waiting for a homemade treat.
Frankie doesn’t see much sense in the cooling-down phase

More Recipes and Related Content to Explore



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Tecnológicas Claves Post-Pandemia

Cómo Adaptarse a la Vida Despuės de Covid-19

Por Valentina Riera; © 2022

Post-pandemic business reopening
Post-pandemic business reopening
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En muchos casos, los tiempos de crisis son sinónimos de innovación, y la crisis del COVID-19 no es una excepción. No solo ha alterado la forma en la que trabajamos y vivimos, sino que ha puesto en evidencia la importancia de la preparación digital con la aparición de nuevas tecnologías que han hecho que las empresas se vean en la obligación de adaptarse rápidamente. A raíz de esto, muchas de las compañías han cambiado la forma en que se propósito de la inteligencia artificial es crear máquinas que muestren las mismas capacidades que los seres humanos. Pero no se refiere solamente en un sentido figurado, sino que muchas empresas y líderes empresariales están utilizando sistemas de inteligencia artificial para guiar la toma de decisiones, la resolución de problemas y aprendizaje.



Realidad Virtual

Puede parecer una tecnología muy futurista, pero la verdad es que está muy integrada en nuestro día a día. Estar encerrados durante un par de meses hizo que muchas personas empezaran a utilizar equipos de realidad virtual para satisfacer sus necesidades de interacción social: videojuegos, programas de entrenamiento, turismo virtual, entre otras aplicaciones.

Pero no solo los ciudadanos lo han estado utilizando, sino que también han sido las empresas quienes la han estado probando para reuniones, colaboraciones, conferencias y como una herramienta para comunicarse con sus empleados. 



Redes 5G

El concepto de 5G hace referencia a la quinta generación de redes móviles que conocemos. Estas redes nos permitiran la conectividad de distancia cero entre la gente y los dispositivos de una manera mucho más rápida. Cada vez estamos más cerca de que se convierta en una realidad y en el futuro de la comunicación. 

Esta tecnología va a revolucionar todo el sector móvil y parece ser que la pandemia ha avanzado mucho este proceso. Además, también posibilitará que los objetos de uso diario como, por ejemplo, las neveras puedan conectarse en tiempo real y desde tu dispositivo móvil controlarlo.

Tecnología Blockchain

El blockchain es aquel conjunto de tecnologías que permiten almacenar datos de cualquier tipo llevando un registro seguro, descentralizado y sincronizado sin necesidad de un tercer intermediario. Es el usuario quien tiene el control del proceso.



Una crisis puede llevar a la innovación, pero también poner en evidencia las carencias generalizadas con respecto a estas tecnologías y esto es lo que ha pasado con la pandemia que ha puesto de manifiesto la falta en materia de conectividad y de posibilidades de intercambio de las cadenas actuales de suministro globales.

El Internet de Las Cosas (IOT)

El Internet de las cosas describe el conjunto de objetos físicos cotidianos que llevan incorporado softwares, sensores, entre otras cosas, con la finalidad de conectarse con otros dispositivos. Desde bombillas de luz, hasta máquinas médicas para poder salvar vidas.

El IOT nos permitirá pronosticar y resolver problemas de salud a través de dispensadores de medicamentos inteligentes, direcciones IP para que los médicos puedan acceder a cada parte vital de nuestro cuerpo o hasta predecir si lo que estamos comiendo está en buen estado o no gracias a tenedores inteligentes.

Más Artículos Populares

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Sourdough Focaccia Recipe

This Spiced Italian Comfort Food is Excellent as an Appetizer, Side Dish, or Main Course

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith; © 2022

Sourdough focaccia in a skillet
Sourdough focaccia in a skillet
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Sourdough focaccia is one of those wonderful Italian dishes that is enjoyed by itself as an appetizer or as a meal unto itself. In our home, we do either, depending on our mood, just like my guacamole recipe. With this recipe, it emerges with a delicious, chewy tang and a mouth-watering golden crust. It all starts with your beloved starter. Don’t have one yet? Here are three ways to get your sourdough starter going.

Is focaccia the same as pizza crust? No! However, it is thought to be a precursor of pizza when it was a flatbread known to Romans as panis focacius, to which toppings were then added. Modern pizza evolved from similar flatbread dishes in Naples, Italy, in the 18th or early 19th century.



Sourdough Focaccia Ingredient List

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespooln honey
  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • Approximately 5 cups of flour


Preparation

  1. Mix the starter, honey, and water in a large mixing bowl. A cast iron skillet is perfect. It will look like a big blob, and that’s okay! Us your hands to pull the edges out to gently stretch them. Your dough should be about 1 1/2 inches tall. Don’t stretch any more. Let it rise in a warm spot. Cover it with another piece of cookware, upside down, so it has room to rise for 2-3 hours hours until it is puffy and very bubbly.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Drizzle the top of the dough with olive oil Press your fingertips using your whole hand into the risen dough. Your fingertips should go all the way down through the dough until you feel the pan.
  4. Put your pan in the oven on middle rack. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove it for a moment and brush the top with melted butter, garlic, and oregano. Turn your oven down to 400 degrees F. Bake it for another 10 or so minutes until the crust is golden brown and bounces back a wee bit when you press down on it. Let it cool for 15 minutes, cut. and enjoy.


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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

How to Make a Sourdough starter

If You Love That Tangy Sourdough Taste And Love To Bake, Here is How to Get Started

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith; © 2022

San Francisco style sourdough starter culture
San Francisco style sourdough starter culture
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Who doesn’t like the tangy taste of freshly baked sourdough bread? How about pancakes, cupcakes, bran muffins, focaccia, and buttermilk biscuits? The actual baking part doesn’t differ much from the traditional yeast-in-a-package process, but now you’ll need a sourdough starter to replace the yeast.

What is a Starter?

Although the concept may seem a bit esoteric, a starter is a mix of flour and filtered water that provides an environment for a stable blend of beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts. The baker must continually maintain the mixture is with regular refreshments (or feedings) of water and flour. There are basically three ways to get it going.

  • Hit up a friend for a cup. This is the easiest way, if you know someone who is an avid sourdough baker.
  • Buy an affordable packet of wild yeasts all over the place.


You will need:

  • A glass jar; don’t use metal. Silicone spatula“>silicone spatula. This is used for stirring and scraping the inside of your jar.
Sourdough English muffins
Sourdough English muffins

Whichever way you go, use filtered water. Tap water contains chlorine or chloramine, which are disinfectants used to clean tap water. This can impede fermentation. If you go with the first method, you will just need to feed it every day with equal measures of organic white flour and water until you have more than enough for your recipe.

If you go the packaged route, the instructions will be on the package. This usually entails feeding it more every day for a week or so.

Starting from scratch is a bit different. Here’s a basic recipe.

  1. Day 1: The starter adventure begins. Combine 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) and 4 ounces water (1/2 cup) in your jar. Stir well until it is combined into a smooth batter. Scrape down the sides with your spatula and loosely cover the jar. Place your jar somewhere with a consistent room temperature of 70°F to 75°F. Let it sit for 24 hours.
  2. Day 2: Feed your starter. For this, use 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) and 4 ounces water (1/2 cup). You might see small bubbles here and there. Bubbles mean that the wild yeast have began being comfortable and active in your starter. They eat the sugars in the flour and continue to release carbon dioxide and alcohol. Additionally, they will increase the acidity of your starter, which assists in fending off any unwanted bacterias. At this point, your starter should begin to smell fresh, mildly sweet, and yeasty.
  3. Day three: Feed your starter again. This time, use the same quantities as day 2. By now, the surface of your starter might be speckled with bubbles and be larger in volume. If you stir the starter, it will still feel thick and batter-like, but you’ll hear bubbles popping. It should also start smelling a little sour and musty.
  4. Day 4: Feed your starter again. Use the same amounts of water and flour. The starter will feel looser than day 3 and have embeded bubbles.
  5. Day 5: Your starter should be ready to begin using. It should be doubled in bulk since day 4. It should also be very bubbly. If not, it can still be used but it won’t have the same leavening power. Feed it again.
  6. Day 6 and going forward: Maintain the starter. Discard (or use) about about 1/3 of the starter and then feed it with new flour and water; you know the drill by now. If you’re using the starter every few days, leave it out on the counter and continue discarding half and feeding it daily. But, say, you are only using it on the weekend, cover it tightly and place it in the refrigerator. You must still take it out and feed it once a week; let it sit out overnight to give the yeast time to gather strength before returning it to the fridge.


There will be times when you go out of town on business or on vacation and you won’t be able to tend to it properly. When this happens, you can feed the starter double the amount of flour to make it thicker and dough-like before you store it in the refrigerator.

Now you know how to make a sourdough starter. It’s not rocket science but it may seem like a lot of work. But, like shaving or brushing your teeth, the process soon becomes just another small effort in life, albeit one with palatable rewards.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Organic Foliar Feeding with Garrett Juice

Spray Fertilization Will Take the Health and Yield of Your Garden to the Next Level

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith © 2022

Lemon balm and tomato plant
Lemon balm and tomato plant
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Many gardeners unknowingly miss half of their fertilization schedule because they focus on the ground, which is understandable. Roots, right?. But, foliar feeding with a product such as Medina Hasta Grow Plant Food will increase your harvest. Why? Because plants also uptake nutrients through their leaves.

Medina Hasta Grow is one of the best sprays on the market, but perhaps you might be the DIY sort? In that case, Garret Juice is your answer. In addition to stimulating plant growth, this organic concoction will also protect against some garden pests. Why add foliar feeding to your schedule when you already fertilize on a regular basis? Because it offers yet another, safer avenue to getting nutrition into your vegetable garden, fruit trees, and rose bushes rather than using chemicals and neurotoxins.



If you have chosen backyard homesteading and self-sufficiency, or prepping as a lifestyle, or just want to get a better return on your labor and investment, then organic foliar feeding with Garrett Juice is a given. Enjoying better, healthier yields relies on this type of horticultural strategy.

Basic Garrett Juice Ingredients

Be sure to use organic ingredients and methods whenever possible.



Additives for Pest and Insect Control

Want to boost it up for insect control? Add 1/4 cup garlic tea/pepper spray. To make this, use a blender. Liquefy 1 clove of peeled garlic, 1 quartered habanero pepper, and 16 ounces of water. Everyone, but especially those wearing contact lenses, needs to wear disposable gloves when cutting the habanero or when you take your lenses out for the night, you’ll never be able to use them again. Been there, done that. Great balls of fire!

You’ll need to strain the solids out of the resulting liquid. Since the particles are so small, you’ll need a very fine strainer so you won’t clog up your spray tip. A good choice is the small fuel strainer for Coleman lanterns and camping stoves. You will have some leftover but you can save it for spot treatments later with a hand bottle sprayer. For spot treatment, mix it with 3 parts water.

Foliar Feeding Procedure

Add all ingredients to a pump-up garden sprayer and mix well by shaking. The molasses is a very thick liquid so give it a little extra shake than you normally would. Pump up your sprayer and adjust the tip to a wide mist, not a jet spray. Just lightly coat the leaves; a little goes a long way. If you have any left over, go ahead and use it up on your ornamentals. I always make enough to spray my magnolia tree, for example. For tall trees like these, you will need to adjust the sprayer tip to a stronger stream in order to reach the higher leaves. Or, conversely, drag out that ladder.

Using Garrett Juice for foliar feeding on a monthly basis will give your plants and trees a new zest for life. And of course, your vegetable garden will put more on your table.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Creamy, Zesty Guacamole Recipe

My Take on This Mexican Food Classic For an Appetizer or Main Course

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith © 2022

The blessing of the guacamole
The blessing of the guacamole
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Who doesn’t like Mexican (or Tex Mex, if you prefer) guacamole? I know everyone in my home does! I set out to make a batch the other day. Love to cook, love to explore. When I enter my experimental kitchen, anything can happen.

The avocado is the base ingredient, of course; it is one of God’s greatest gifts. In my opinion. This fruit was originally called the alligator pear. I don’t see any correlation between the critter and the food, but still, interesting trivia. The nutrition is solid ― one cup supplies 21.4 g fat (mostly the good kind), 12 g carbohydrates, 2.9 g protein, 14.6 mg Vitamin C, 0.4 mg B-6, 708 mg potassium, and 42.3 mg magnesium. This recipe just adds to the nutritional spectrum. By the way, it pays to grow your own avocado tree when the fruit gets pricey.



Zesty guacamole ingredients
Zesty guacamole ingredients

Ingredient List

  • 4 or 5 large avocados
  • 2 packages of guacamole seasoning mix; I used the Kroger brand
  • 1 package cream cheese; again, Kroger brand. Yay, frugality!
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onions
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • Pink Himalayan salt to taste
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 4 diced roma tomatos


Preparation Steps

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mash the avocados. Use your device of preference; I just used a fork. Throw the husks in your compost pile.
  2. Mix in the seasoning packets.
  3. Mash in the cream cheese. You did let it come to room temperature, right?
  4. Mix in salt, pepper, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Mix in the tomatos.
  6. Chop and mix in the red onions.
  7. Break out the chips and enjoy!

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Biden’s Pork Barrel Spending Bill

Calling it Build Back Better or the Reconciliation Bill; it is Still Redistribution of Wealth

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Federal Pork Barrel Spending
Federal Pork Barrel Spending
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This article was updated on 02/18/22.

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First, let’s look at what pork barrel spending is. Investopedia.com defines it this way, “Pork-barrel spending, or earmarking, is the controversial practice of directing government funding in a way that serves local businesses or other special interests. While the term has strongly negative connotations, there is no clear distinction between pork-barrel spending and funding legitimate local projects. Although House Democrats temporarily prohibited the practice in 2011, they are now revisiting the practice.1

One obvious problem is that pork spending leverages an economic benefit to one or more particular regions involved, with the money typically going toward infrastructure and other projects that create jobs and improve quality of life. However, the effect on the rest of the country is negative, with taxpayers shouldering the cost of these pork barrel projects without receiving the benefits.



Biden’s $3.5 Trillion Build Back Better Plan

As of this writing, the “Reconciliation” package is writhing in turmoil. I don’t know about you but I can’t even conceptualize that number. When and if this behemoth financial folly passes, it will be in a trimmed-down version. There’s just too much self-serving and progressive fecal matter involved. For example

Biden’s scheme to inflate government spending by about $3.5 trillion over the next 10 years—paid for with a merging of massive tax increases and up to $1.75 trillion in new borrowing (from who, the Chinese?) will decrease future economic growth and hammer private wealth, according to a new analysis from the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), a macroeconomic forecasting project based at the University of Pennsylvania.

A CBS poll determined that a meager 10% of Americans knew “a lot of the specifics” about the Build Back Better plan (also known as the budget reconciliation bill). 29% did not know what was in it at all. Surprise!

Liberals believe an inexhaustible fund exists that can be tapped endlessly to pay for government social programs. Tax the rich and give it to a long line of moochers, pork barrel hustlers and ne’er-do-wells. These funds would otherwise have been employed as additional capital indispensable to economic progress.

James Cook


What is in the Reconciliation Bill?

Build Back Better concentrates on a long laundry list of progressive social policies and programs including education healthcare, housing, and climate. Republicans are unified in opposition so Democrats are using a special, roundabout budgetary gambit known as “reconciliation” in order to avoid the 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass the bill on a party-line vote. Why are fiscal conservatives in opposition? Here are the included provisions:

  • Universal preschool for children. This is aimed at children aged three and four. Parents can either elect to sign up their children to a publicly-funded preschool program or to any number of the privately run preschool programs already available. Indoctrination begins early. Hello, Critical Race Theory.
  • Expanded Medicare services and Medicaid. It will expand Medicare services to take care of vision, hearing and dental health needs. As far as Medicaid goes, it will remove specific income and health limitations to allow more people to qualify for the first time.
  • Lower prescription drug costs. The U.S. stands first in the cost of prescription drugs such as insulin and lisinopril. The reason? Right now, pharmaceutical companies can determine the price of drugs because the US lacks price controls. In addition to expanding Medicare services, Build Back Better would give Medicare bargaining power to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs with pharmaceutical companies for the first time to bring prices down.
  • Tax cuts for families with children and childcare support. Build Back Better (here BBB is not the Better Business Bureau) would raise the current child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 for kids ages six and older. The new tax credit for children under the age of six would be $3,600. The credit arrives in the form of monthly checks, so that parents don’t have to pay the cost of childcare all at once. This is the intent but there is no oversight to be sure that is where the money goes.
  • 12 weeks of paid family leave. Currently, the United States is the only industrialized country to not offer paid family leave, or financially compensated time off after adopting, fostering, or birthing a child. Some private companies offer this as part of a compensation package to their employees, but Biden’s plan would make sure all new working parents (and caregivers) enjoy job security and almost three full months of at least partial paid time off.
  • Housing investments. This involves investing in the production, preservation and upgrading of an excess of a million affordable rental housing units and 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income aspiring homebuyers, as well as increase rental assistance agreements. How is this problematic? It puts the government in charge of a segment of the economy that rightfully belongs to private investors. Clearly, using your tax money like this is a Marxian redistribution of wealth.
  • It establishes a taxpayer-funded climate army. The Civilian Climate Corps would be the largest mobilization of federal government labor after the New Deal, a massive and most likely permanent bloat of government power entrenching the radical progressive climate agenda in the bowels of our government. It would saddle taxpayers with a gargantuan debt — without any impact at all on the global climate — and allow unelected apparatchiks to shuffle your taxpayer dollars to overtly political organizations with nearly no oversight. In fact, it explicitly endorses racially oriented decision-making. This is the opposite of both equity and transparency.
  • Tax cuts for electric vehicles and other climate incentives. Well, you knew this one was going to be in it, didn’t you? The term “New Green Deal” is toxic on so many levels. This is a way to sneak some of AOC’s key tenets in there. A tax credit of a minimum of $4,000 would be offered to those buying an electric vehicle (again, your tax money, Mr. and Ms worker bee). If the car is bought before 2027, enjoy an additional tax credit of $3,500. If the car was made in the U.S., there would be $4,500 added on top of that. When it’s all said and done, a taxpayer in the US can reap a maximum of $12,500 in tax credits for buying an electrical vehicle under these conditions. When Obama gave an incentive for electric vehicles, people in my neighborhood rushed out and bought golf carts.
  • It penalizes reliable electric utilities for doing their jobs. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “By far the furthest-reaching proposal in the bill, the Clean Electricity Performance Program aims to place financial penalties on utilities who do not meet arbitrary increases in renewable electricity generation. The plan has no provisions to ensure reliable electricity even though history has shown time and time again that increasing variable generation on the grid leads to an unstable and expensive power supply.2


That’s Joe Biden’s pork barrel spending bill in a nutshell. You can put lipstick on that pig by calling it Build Back Better or the Reconciliation Bill but at the end of the day it will just drag the country deeper into the financial morass that we already find ourselves it. But that’s what the Marxist progressives do so well. “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

References

  1. The Investopedia Team, Investopedia.com, How Does Pork Barrel Spending Hurt the Economy?, How Does Pork Barrel Spending Hurt the Economy? (investopedia.com)
  2. Texas Public Policy Foundation, Five Things You Should Know about the Reconciliation Bill, www.texaspolicy.com/five-things-you-should-know-about-the-reconcilliation-bill/

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

All Saints’ Day Around the World

An International Holiday Commemorated by Different Countries in Different Ways

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

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Crosses in the sunset
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All Saints’ Day is generally celebrated on 1st November as a commemoration day for all Christian saints. It may also be known as All Hallows’ Day, Post-Halloween, Solemnity of All Saints, Hallowmas, or Feast of Saints. It is observed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, and other Protestant denominations. It is generally not observed by for-profit pseudo church/cults like Scientology.

History of All Saints’ Day

The origin of All Saints’ Day cannot be traced precisely, and it has been observed on different days in various places. A feast of all martyrs was observed on May 13 in the Eastern church as told by Ephraem Syrus (died c. 373). This may have determined the choice of May 13 by Pope Boniface IV when he designated the Pantheon in Rome as a church to honor the Blessed Virgin as well as all martyrs in 609. The original evidence for the November 1 celebration date and of the expansion of the festival to include all saints, and all martyrs, occurred during the Pope Gregory III’s reign (731–741). He dedicated a chapel in St. Peter’s, Rome, on November 1 in honor of all saints. In the year 800 All Saints’ Day was observed by Alcuin on November 1, and it also showed up on a 9th-century English calendar on that day.

In 837 Pope Gregory IV mandated its general observance. In jolly old medieval England the festival was designated as All Hallows, and its eve is still known as Halloween. The period from October 31 to November 2 (All Souls’ Day) is sometimes known as Allhallowtide.



How is All Saints’ Day Celebrated?

  • Italy. All Saints Day is a public holiday and so most public institutions and businesses will be closed. Many people enjoy spending the day with their family and friends. Some traditions include gift giving and attending church services. In particular, in Rome, the pope conducts a large mass (is that a mass mass?) that is open to the public.
  • Spain. It is known as Día de Todos los Santos. Families, especially those of older generations, congregate in cemeteries bearing bouquets of fresh flowers to visit their deceased loved ones and keep their memory revered and alive. Holiday treats and snacks are also traditional. Saint’s bones are made of marzipan and fashioned into finger-sized tubes. Panellets (small cakes or cookies in different shapes) are made of almonds, potatoes, sugar, and pine nuts.
  • France. Here it is called Toussaint which is an abbreviation of ‘Tous les saints’ and began as a catholic festival to honor saints, those both known and unknown. It’s an equal opportunity holiday for a change. Lunch on All Saints’ Day is traditionally lamb or game. At midnight they often partake of a supper of bacon, black grain, pancakes, and cider in honor of the dead.
  • United States. Since the U.S. is a secular country and so diverse, traditions are not nailed down on a national level. For example, in New Orleans folks gather in their local cemeteries and decorate the graves with fresh, aromatic flowers. The descendants of French Canadian settlers around St Martinsville, Louisiana, mark the day in the more traditional French way by laying wreaths and bouquets and lighting candles on even the most obscure of graves.
  • Venezuela. It is not a public holiday. Venezuela is both secular and socialist. Businesses have normal opening hours. It is a day of alms giving and prayers for the dead. The intent is for the living to assist those in purgatory.

To conclude, this is a glimpse of how All Saints’ Day is observed around the world with a bit of history thrown in for good measure. Holidays like these are a good reminder of things we should be grateful for and the niches we as individuals occupy in this world.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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