History of and Rationale for the Electoral College

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Electoral College Results for the 2016 Election
Electoral College Results for the 2016 Election

With the 2020 presidential election campaigns looming, it’s a good idea to take a look at what the electoral college is and what it isn’t. Typically, following the election, the losers go on a frenzy crying, “It’s not fair! Abolish it!” Well, until the next time it helps them win. Then, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. This latest time, it is the liberal left that are gnashing teeth and rending garments.

A Brief History of the Electoral College

When the founders were working out the details of national sovereignty and the Constitution in 1787, the question of how to elect the president was a contentious issue. In fact, it was one of the last issues to finalize.

Some of the suggestions seem downright bizarre today. The Virginia Plan opined that the National Executive should, “be chosen by the National Legislature.” James Wilson of Pennsylvania was more rational by favoring a popular election. Another suggestion put forth recommended that the election be determined by the Senate alone.

The next day Wilson suggested that districts be created where popular elections would be held to choose electors. These electors would then alone determine the next executive. Later, Elbridge from Massachusetts opined that only state governors have a vote. James Madison preferred a popular vote but was concerned that heavily-populated states would hold an unfair advantage. Therefore, he surmised that a committee with one representative from each of the eleven states should elect the President. That’s the electoral college as it went into the Constitution.

That is what many of the frenzy-criers do not realize; we do not actually directly vote for the president directly, we vote for electors to represent us. If we really had a popular vote, the voters in states like North Dakota would not have a say at all but California certainly would. In my humble opinion that would be a bad idea; most of the rest of the country isn’t as ready for Democratic Socialism as the west coast is.

Advantages of the Electoral College

The election is decentralized, that is, it takes place in individual states. The states have some say over how their voting process takes place. Some career politicians such as Elizabeth Warren oppose the college because she thinks the federal government should control the entire process and individual states should have no voice. So much for claiming to be for the common man and woman.

Why is this important? For one thing, if an individual state wants a recount, they can do it. If the Feds had all the power, one state could trigger a national recount. What a mess that would be. Remember what a nightmare Florida was with the “hanging chads?” Imagine going through that with all the states.

The electoral college also helps presidential candidates by giving them a way to organize their campaigns. They know the sway that each state has so they can plan how much time to spend campaigning there and how to allocate funds.

Disadvantages of the Electoral College

It can be a bit disheartening to think that individual votes don’t matter as much as we think they should. A faithless elector is one who has been chosen to represent their state in the electoral college but decides to cast a ballot against their state’s popular vote wishes. This has only happened a handful of times, but still.

It can actually depress voter turnout. For example, in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton had a solid 15- to 20-point lead on Donald Trump in the polling several weeks prior to the election. The final outcome resulted in a difference of 16.2 points. For Republicans and Independents, casting a ballot could seem pointless because Clinton’s win seemed like a foregone conclusion.

It may not accurately reflect the national popular will. This is the main complaint made by Democrats today. Although Hillary won the popular vote, Trump won by virtue of the designated electoral vote. In my opinion that was a blessing. This way we are getting a border wall. If Hillary had of won it would be a free-for-all at the open borders. But having the system or not is really a trade-off; without the election system we currently have, small states would consistently be disenfranchised.

I hope this article on the history and rationale for the electoral college helps you as we roll into yet another presidential election cycle. If it did, pass it onto your friends. In the long run, every vote really does count, just not in the way some think it does.

Lens.com

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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Enjoying Cold Brew Coffee Makers

Soulhand Cold Brew Coffee Maker
Soulhand Cold Brew Coffee Maker
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“Cold brew coffee” is a trendy item nowadays but the term itself is different from what it was back in the day. My mother used to drink it, but back then it was percolator-brewed coffee that had gone cool and then had ice added.

It’s something quite different today. It’s trendy and gourmet, in other words, pricey. Since it has been going mainstream in local grocery stores in the refrigerated section, and was so expensive, I had to try it. I mean, I’m a coffee fiend, right? Just see my post on making the perfect cup of coffee.

How Cold Brew Coffee Differs from Hot Brew

The first observable difference is that cold brew takes so much longer to make. It’s slow but if you are going to enjoy it on the drive to work, or sitting around in the home office, just start it before you go to bed the night before.

The next thing to note is that it can be strong and caffeine-heavy without the bitterness of a hot brew. This is because the grounds haven’t been hot-water “burned” which results in a cuppa where you can really get the true taste of the beans. It’s slow but the drip is just about one per second so the ice water really does have time to extract all the goodness.

How Much Does Cold Brew Coffee Cost?

The short answer is: whatever you want it to. What I mean to say is that if you have a quality burr-grinder and use whole beans anyway, your day-to-day expense is going to be the same. You should always grind whole beans as you need them because the essential oils that yield the flavor begin to degrade as soon as the grinding is done. This is why commercial ground coffee is vacuum-sealed. But, how long ago? How long has it sat on the grocery store shelf?

As far as the cold brew coffee maker is concerned, the cost is all over the place. The functional parts are negligent price-wise but it goes up from there. I suppose some people like to showcase their brewer as a work of kitchen art (and I can appreciate that as a woodworker) but I just want a good cup of Joe. So as a reference, the one I use (pictured above) is thirty-some-odd dollars, but the fancy tall wooden-frame ones with artistic looking flasks get into the hundreds of dollars.

What Coffee Blend to Use?

That’s up to individual taste and I would suggest experimenting. For myself, I use dark or espresso beans and set the coffee grinder to fine. I have experimented with pre-flavored beans. I have also added ground cinnamon and/or chocolate extract. I commonly add some fresh mint from my herb garden which is the perennial part of my raised bed garden.

Keep in mind that additives don’t always have to be just for flavor. Many also offer health benefits. The cinnamon and mint are good examples but I am planning to try some fresh-grated ginger in the near future.

The bottom line is that if you enjoy your coffee, a cold brew coffee maker could be just the thing during the hot summer months. For my experience, buying it off the shelf at the grocers is just wrong, financially. And doing it myself I can customize it as I like.


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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


The Trails at Countryside Park, League City, Texas

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Countryside Sports Park, League City, Texas
Countryside Sports Park, League City, Texas

I recently wrote about the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail. Today I’ll tell you about the Countryside Park here in League City, Texas. Both trails are excellent for hiking, biking, walking , and running. One of the best things about both trail systems is that they are long enough to get some good mileage in.

There are a couple of other things to recommend Countryside. First, the trail is never crowded. Secondly, most of the trail is well-shaded, a real benefit now that we are experiencing the scorching days of summer.

The trail itself is concrete so it’s not as forgiving on the knees as the crushed granite trail in Seabrook, but the shade and scenery more than makes up for that. There plenty of wooded streams which makes for a pleasant view.

How to Get to Countryside Park

Getting there is easy. From I-45, turn west on FM 518 (which is Main Street in League City). Drive about 5 minutes and turn right on Bay Area Blvd. Approximately 1 mile down the road the entrance will be on your right.

Water flowing by the trail.
Water flowing by the trail.
Wildflowers are abundant.
Wildflowers are abundant.

Look for the Wildlife

A turtle catching some morning sun.
A turtle catching some morning sun.
Sub-tropical creek in the woods
Sub-tropical creek in the woods
The trail goes under the highway.
The trail goes under the highway.
A wooden bridge, about 1 mile into the hike.
A wooden bridge, about 1 mile into the hike from the parking lot.
Want to go off trail? There are many rustic side-trails.
Want to go off trail? There are many rustic side-trails.
Clear Creek flows past Countryside Park
Clear Creek flows past Countryside Park (It’s not so clear, is it? What a misnomer.)
The park benches may seem a bit eclectic.
The park benches may seem a bit eclectic.
Park trails amble off into the distance.
Park trails amble off into the distance.
Countryside Park basketball courts
Countryside Park basketball courts
A wooded ravine
A wooded ravine.
Recommended field attire for adventure.
Recommended field attire for adventure. Excuse the perma-stubble; I’m being trendy, OK?
No idea what these wildflowers are.
No idea what these wildflowers are. But I like them.

So there you have it. This (Countryside Sports Park) is another very un-utilized park in our area. That’s a good thing because we can enjoy it without undue crowding. Take time to unwind 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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Exploring the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trails

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A Park Bench along the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail System
A Park Bench along the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail System

Seabrook, Texas was founded in 1832. It is just on the north side of the Kemah Bridge on Highway 146. Like most municipalities, as the years went by it added parks to the community. The real stroke of genius was connecting many of these parks with a crushed granite trail. This became the Seabrook Hike and Bike trail.

Parking at the Seabrook Trails

There are three convenient places to park safely. The easiest is the swimming Pool parking lot at Miramar Park, halfway between Todville and Meyer. The second is where Hester Park meets with Todville. The third is at the intersection of Todville and Red Bluff Road.

This trail system is one of my go-to spots for running and hiking. Depending on which options you choose, it is easy to get in ten miles. It doesn’t hurt that trails are so much more forgiving on the knees than concrete. Any kind of exercise is beneficial, whether you take health supplements or not.

Hester Park Bamboo Forest
Hester Park Bamboo Forest

Many, many years ago Hester Park was a working nursery. The land got donated to the city and many of the plants and trees that had been for sale just stayed where they were and thrived, like this bamboo.

Hester Park Crepe Myrtles
Hester Park Crepe Myrtles
Lilies Along the Trail
Lilies Along the Trail
A Massive Oak Tree has Its Limbs Supported
A Massive Oak Tree has Its Limbs Supported
Oak Tree
Same Oak Tree, Different View
Wild Muscadine Grapes
Wild Muscadine Grapes are Abundant Along the Trail (Yum) and are Ripening Now (Late June)
Pine Gully Along the Seabrook Trails
Pine Gully Along the Seabrook Trails

Every now and then an alligator can be spotted in Pine Gully. Other wildlife such as herons, hawks, egrets, turtles, rabbits, javelina, and deer are abundant.

A Heron Waiting for Lunch
A Heron Waiting for Lunch
The Old Iron Bridge
The Old Iron Bridge
The Bridge and Pine Gully
The Bridge and Pine Gully

Seabrook Lucky Trails Marathon

The trails are also the location of the Lucky Trails races each March. An entire weekend is a flurry of activity with a full marathon, half-marathon, relay marathon and 5K. The weather is almost always perfect and these events have no problem selling out.

The Bridge Leading to Pine Gully Park
The Bridge Leading to Pine Gully Park
A Racing Firefighter at the Lucky Trails Marathon.
A Racing Firefighter at the Lucky Trails Marathon.
Passing the Gazebo at Todville Road and Red Bluff Road
Passing the Gazebo at Todville Road and Red Bluff Road

The bottom line? If you are looking for a good way to spend the day, why not explore the Seabrook Hike and Bike Trail System. As an added bonus, the Kemah Boardwalk is only a couple of miles away.


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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole Recipe

Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole
Tater Tots Cheeseburger Casserole
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There’s something to be said for All-American comfort food. What could be more representative of that culinary niche than the humble cheeseburger? Well, this recipe for Tater Tot Cheeseburger Casserole fits the bill nicely, especially on those summer days when it is raining to much to go out on the backyard deck and fire up the grill. One thing it is not is low-carb.

You’ll notice that this recipe doesn’t really go into all the possible condiments and spices that you may prefer. That is because we believe that burgers should be individually tailored; make this meal your own by throwing in what you are craving. There are things you can add after the fact as well. For example, I’m fond of shaking on some homemade habanero hot sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 3/4 cups chopped onion (1 1/2 medium)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (12 oz)
  • 1 cup Original Bisquick™ mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 bag (32 oz) Ore-Ida™ Tater Tots™ frozen potatoes

Meal Preparation Steps

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with your favorite cooking spray.
  • Use a 12-inch nonstick skillet to cook beef and onion over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the mixture frequently until beef is brown. Drain. Stir in salt and pepper and spread the mixture in the dish. Sprinkle mixture evenly with 2 cups of the cheese.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir Bisquick™ mix, milk, and eggs using a whisk until well-blended. Pour over the cheese layer in the baking dish. Arrange the frozen Tater Tot potatoes on top of casserole.
  • Put dish in oven and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese evenly on top of the casserole. Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Finally, remove the pan from the oven and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Modifications

As I mentioned above, this is a bare-bones recipe yearning for your modifications. Although this is great for kids that are finicky diners, adults are more likely to tweak the basic. Here are some of the possibilities.

  • A layer of tomato slices between the cheese layer and the Bisquick™ mixture.
  • Jalapeno or Serrano peppers anywhere.
  • Powdered ranch dressing mixed into the hamburger meat.
  • Bacon (of course!).
  • And the list goes on…

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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


9 Essential Programs for Your Computer

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Computer software -- binary tunnel
Computer software — binary tunnel

Everything is online now; it’s been growing for years. As technology advances our computers get more powerful and more sophisticated. Bigger, faster, flashier. A couple of the downsides of this inevitable progress are that it presents an open field for online scammers and the fact that one hard drive crash can make years of work and data evaporate.

The good news is that these risks can be mitigated by taking advantage of software that addresses these issues. The ones below, in no particular order, are my personal picks. Disclaimer: I personally use these apps but I am not compensated for the reviews. Too bad, eh?

  1. Password Safe. This app is a very easy to use password manager. It allows you to define your own categories of sites and their related passwords (Development, Media, Shopping, Bills, you get the idea). Create a new entry and Password Safe will generate a secure password for you to use. Highlight a site entry, click the Browse to URL icon and the site will open in your browser with the password on the clipboard, ready to paste. Best of all, this program is open source, so, free. We like free.

2. System Mechanic. This is an overall system maintenance tool. It’s designed to scan your computer and find issues with available memory, internet junk files, Windows junk files, registry issues, security vulnerabilities, and more. Choose to fix all issues found and your computer will speed up. It also has a defragmentation tool and lists unnecessary start-up programs that sloooow you down. As of this writing it costs $24.95/year.

3. CyberGhost VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) makes you virtually invisible on the web. How does it work? In their words, “You send the data at one end and we receive it at the other end, to encrypt and safeguard it from unwanted prying eyes. You are assigned with a new IP address which doesn’t allow you, the original sender, to be identified. We will then send your Internet requests as usual.” The pricing depends on the package you choose; I opted for the 3-year plan.

4. f.lux. This app is designed to fix the problem of your computer monitor screen looking different at night than it does during the day, which can lead to eye strain and sleep problems. From their site, “f.lux fixes this: it makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.” It’s free for personal use.

5. IDrive. This is a cloud back-up app for all your data. Once installed, it will do an initial complete back-up of all the data that you specify. Next, just set a time of day and it will perform an incremental back-up and post a pop-up detailing how many files it backed up and how much total space you have stored. I had a hard drive crash a few years ago and my recovery to my new machine went off without a problem. Prices vary. As of this writing, Basic is free, Personal is $52.12/year, and Business is $74.62/year.

6. Tor. Their site says it all, “Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security.” It works by bouncing communication packets around a distributed network of relays that are run by volunteers located all around the world. In doing so, it prevents snoops watching your Internet connection to learn which sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you do land on from learning your physical location. Your computer security is every bit as important as your home security.

7. SUPERAntiSpyware. This app, once installed, scans your files on your hard drive to identify spyware, adware, trojans, ransomware, PUPs, hijackers, and more. Its database is updated on a regular basis (2-4x a day ) in order to keep up with the bad guys. When an update is available it will prompt you to download it. The price? Choose either the free edition or the paid professional edition.

8. CoffeeCup. This isn’t a single app; it is a range of apps that address all things that are web development. I personally use the HTML editor on a daily basis and have for about 10 years. They also offer a Site Designer, a CSS Grid Builder, a Responsive Email Designer, and more. The benefit here is that since all this affordable software is from the same company, all apps play nice together, whether you are just doing a newsletter or a full-blown commerce site.

9. FonePaw iOS Transfer. This app comes in handy if you want to transfer almost anything from your computer to your iPhone without having to delve into the nightmare that is iTunes. Just a couple of clicks will get you what you need. The trial is free; the single-user license is $34.95.

Create iPhone Apps in Minutes.

These are just a few essential programs for your computer addressing security, productivity, and keeping your system healthy. If this info helped you, please share the link with your friends and social media. Thanks for visiting; we’re all in this together!


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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Raw Tuscan Kale Salad Recipe

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Raw Tuscan Kale Salad
Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Yes, kale is trendy nowadays, but you don’t have to be a hipster to enjoy this simple dish. It is actually a very versatile dish; how it’s made depends on where you order it. Or, if you’re like me and make it at home, you can add or subtract ingredients. The two constants you will find across the board are kale (of course) and a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. The recipe presented here is the one we had last night.

Kale Salad Ingredient List

  • 5 oz. package of organic kale
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Himalayan pink salt (to taste)
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • Diced garlic (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste; I used about 3/8 cup)
  • Pine nuts (to taste; I used 1/4 cup)
  • Golden raisins (to taste; I used 3/8 cup)

Preparation

Easy peasy. Starting with the first ingredient listed, add the others in one by one. Toss the salad after each addition. This makes mixing easier and helps with experimenting with the “to taste” ingredients. There’s really no wrong way to do this. If you find you’ve gone overboard on something you can always add more kale.

Some additional ingredients that I would like to make (but will likely be vetoed by She Who Must be Obeyed are, in no particular order, crumbled bacon, feta cheese, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, jalapeno peppers, etc. Not all at the same time, of course; use your imagination.

Other Recipes to Try

I hope you try and enjoy this raw Tuscan kale salad recipe. If so, please pass the link on to your friends and social media. We’re all in this together!


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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Killing the SS — A Book Review

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Killing the SS -- a book review
Killing the SS — a book review

Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History (ISBN: 9781250165541) is the latest in the Killing series of books by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Whereas there are a plethora of books about what happened to the Nazi SS during the war, this book puts the focus on what transpired after the war. Specifically, tracking the SS down and bringing them to justice.

Who Were the Nazi SS?

To understand why it was so important to bring these men to justice, it is key to know just who they were. Officially they were the Schutzstaffel or Protection Squadrons. They were a military arm unto themselves in the military of Nazi Germany and were comprised of men who thought of themselves as the “racial elite” of the Nazi future.

They held the responsibility for party security, ethnicity identification, settlement and population policy, as well as intelligence gathering and analysis. The SS also controlled the German police forces as well as the concentration camp system. They were tasked with conceiving and implementing plans to restructure the ethnic composition of eastern Europe as well as the occupied Soviet Union. They were the strong arm of the democratic socialist Nazi party as Hitler envisioned it.

For the most part, it was their brutal and inhuman work in the concentration camps as they did their best too carry out the “final solution” for the Jews in the typical efficient German style. This is the reason that post-war justice had to be sought. Many met their fate at the Neurenberg trials. Others went on the lam; mostly to South America.

Enter the Nazi Hunters

The book goes into exciting and factual detail regarding the exploits of the Nazi hunters; many of them were members of the Mossad. Their mission was to track down and eliminate SS members wherever they were found. Once found they were not hard to verify; their blood type was tattooed high up the underside of their arms.


Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History is a good read and I give it a 9 out of 10. It presents a well-researched, factual account while still reading like a spy novel. It’s best to know the history of monsters such as the SS lest we repeat it. If this book review helped you please pass the link on to your social media friends.


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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


How to Lower High Blood Pressure Naturally

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Omron Evolv blood pressure monitor
Omron Evolv blood pressure monitor

They call high blood pressure, or hypertension if you will, the silent killer. That’s because there are no outward symptoms. If you have it you’ll only know if your doctor slaps the arm cuff on and tests it. Your dentist might do it as well.

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, the first thing your doctor will do is tell you not to smoke, exercise more, and possibly lose weight. And then comes the inevitable medication. The problem with BP meds is that they all have side effects.

For example, I take Lisenopril and one of the side effects is that it makes me lethargic. I could tell you a thing or two about blood pressure meds and running. It also gives me a persistent cough. Luckily, there are some non-med things you can do to bring down your BP naturally.

Lower Blood Pressure by Slowing Your Breathing

Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? Well it’s not. The Resperate device has been proven to lower blood pressure. The idea is that using ear buds , a chest sensor strap, and the small device, it guides the user to breathe ever more slowly using guiding tones. The sensor monitors breathing and slows the tones accordingly. This has the effect of relaxing the blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. Using the device over time has a cumulative effect. It is the only FDA-cleared device on the market to do this.

Foods to Lower High Blood Pressure

  • Watermelon. The important component here is citrulline . Once consumed, it’s converted to  L-arginine which is the precursor to nitric oxide. In the body nitric-oxide relaxes the blood vessels which causes the blood pressure to decrease.
  • Ginger- Cinnamon – Cardamom Tea. Ginger and cinnamon are both warming spices that improve circulation. Cardamom is an herb used to treat many conditions. In addition to high blood pressure, it is also effective with liver and gallbladder issues, bronchitis, urinary issues, and more.
  • Onions. The key ingredient is a powerful antioxidant known as quercetin. Quercetin helps lower blood pressure. It also helps to treat chest pain, and angina. It effectively lowers the risk of stroke and heart attack. The best way to get as much of this enzyme as possible is eating your onions raw or lightly cooked.
  • Hibiscus Tea. And you thought it was just a pretty flower! Tufts University conducted a study during which participants sipped three cups of a hibiscus tea daily. They lowered systolic blood pressure by 7 points in a 6 week period on average. These results are on par with many prescription medications.
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  • Pomegranate Juice. This fruit contains natural ACE inhibitors. These prevent those enzymes from damaging your circulatory system. The juice of the pomegranate performs like the medications doctors prescribe for high blood pressure.
  • Dark Chocolate. Good news for me and perhaps for you too! A Harvard study found that consuming just one small square of dark chocolate daily can assist in lowering blood pressure. The higher the cacao percentage the better. Look for over 70%. This study concurs with the growing body of research into the heart-healthy benefits of flavonoids. These compounds present in unsweetened chocolate cause dilation of the blood vessels.
  • Flaxseed. In 2013 a study was published in Hypertension that reported that flaxseed consumption lowers blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Over 100 patients that had been diagnosed with peripheral artery disease were in the study. This condition is associated with hypertension. The patients were assigned to either the flaxseed group or the placebo group. The former ate 30 grams of flaxseed every day for 6 months. There are many ways to add flaxseed to your diet. I even add it (milled of course) to my homemade hot sauce. Omelets? Oatmeal? Salad dressing? Yes, yes, yes.
  • Beetroot Juice. Although some of pressure-lowering effects are due to the minerals it contains, like potassium and magnesium, the real powerhouse here is the high concentration of nitrates. Consuming beetroot juice results in these nitrates being rapidly converted into nitrites by bacteria that live on the surface of the tongue, and in saliva. Next the nitrites are absorbed into the circulation system. Here they make a gas called nitric oxide (NO). This is a cell-signaling molecule which has a powerful relaxing effect on the small muscle fibers in your blood vessels. Consequently, the blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure falls.
  • Nuts. Who doesn’t like nuts? Pistachio nuts seem to have the strongest effect when it comes to reducing high blood pressure. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 21 clinical trials, all carried out between 1958 and 2013 bore out this conclusion.

This list will get you started on a delicious way to control your high blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with it (or just are interested in tracking your health, like you do your weight), it’s a good idea to monitor it on a regular basis. Personally, I use the Omron Evolv Blood Pressure Monitor

It is very accurate and eliminates all the hoses and units. It’s just the cuff that has its own readout. It communicates to your phone by a Bluetooth app if you want to keep a running record of your results.

I hope you enjoyed this article on lowering high blood pressure naturally and found it helpful. If so, please share the link with friends and social media. And if you have some related ideas please share them with our readers in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting!


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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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


Companion Planting Guide for Your Veggie Garden

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Swiss Chard Garden
Swiss Chard Garden

Many people put in their vegetable gardens every year and do their best to do the proper fertilization, watering, and weeding. Yet, no bounty for the table. It might be that the neighboring plants are the wrong types.

Some vegetable plants will benefit their neighbors; others will hinder their growth and yield. The answer is to plant correctly paired species. Sometimes even certain flowers will provide great benefits. This applies to both traditional and raised bed gardens.

First, Plan Your Garden

To take advantage of companion agriculture in order to get more bang for your buck, you first need to choose which vegetables and then mate them up with something else you want to bring to the table.

Personally, I choose the things that I love to eat but are either hard to find or expensive. For example, so far this year I’ve put in tomatoes, basil, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, rosemary, and chocolate mint (goes great in my espresso grounds).

As a side note, it never hurts to have fruit trees. When they are blossoming, that means more bees which will also pollinate your vegetables. My “mini-orchard” contains two fig trees, a plum tree, a Republic of Texas orange, a mandarin orange, a Sam Houston peach, a mulberry tree, and an improved Meyer lemon. All organic.

Recommended Companion Plants

There are a lot of popular plants that have plant friends. Let’s look at some of the most popular.

Asparagus. Good with basil, tomatoes, and parsley. Asparagus in the home garden is a good investment, it is low-maintenance, less expensive than at the store, and a bed will produce for years.

Basil. Good for most garden crops except rue. It improves the growth and flavor of many vegetables, especially tomatoes and lettuce.

Beets. Plant with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage bush beans, onions, cauliflower, chard, and kohlrabi.

Bush Beans. They like cauliflower, cucumbers, corn, beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, strawberries, catnip, marigolds, and savory. Why catnip if you don’t own a cat? It repels flea beetles.

Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli. Good friends of thyme, mint, chamomile, dill, hyssop, beets, buckwheat, onions, rosemary, sage, wormwood, marigolds, nasturtiums, calendula, carrots. But not strawberries.

Cantaloupe. Likes sunflowers and corn, but not potatoes.

Carrots. Plant near cabbage, chives, early potatoes, leeks, salsify, wormwood, peas, radishes, rosemary, lettuce, onions, and sage.

Corn. Compatible with early potatoes, melons, beans, cucumbers, soybeans, squash, peas, and pumpkins .

Cucumbers. Plant near cabbage, corn, radishes, sunflowers, early potatoes, and beans. Not compatible with late potatoes.

Eggplant. Pair up with beans and marigold. Avoid potatoes as companions.

Onions. They like the companionship of beets, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, summer savory, and cabbage. Avoid beans and English peas.

Parsley. Great with asparagus and tomatoes.

Soybeans. The ideal plant. They work with and help anything.

Squash. Good with corn, radishes, marigolds, and nasturtium. Not friendly with Irish potatoes.

Tomatoes. Works well with onions, marigold, asparagus, cucumbers, basil, carrots, and parsley.

Use marigold flowers for pest control
Use marigold flowers for pest control and beneficial companionship

More gardening tips

There are many other things to tip a generous harvest in your favor. This spring I took up rainwater harvesting for garden and tree watering. There are two main reasons that this is a good idea in my humble opinion. First, rainwater is free. Secondly, plants prefer the Ph in rainwater as compared to tap water.

Another good tip is to apply beneficial nematodes to your lawn and garden during the spring. On your lawn they will eliminate fleas without using pesticides. In your garden they will organically control sod webworms, cutworms, maggots, various types of ants, and many more. Pesticides are a bad idea; they kill beneficial ladybugs. They will also kill the earthworms that keep your garden soil aerated. Also, pesticides are taken up by the plant roots and kill the microscopic microbes that keep the roots healthy. Eventually, those toxins will make their way to your dining room table.

Did this post on companion planting for your garden help you? If so, feel free to share the link with your friends and your social media contacts.


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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.


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 and 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 I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.