Live Free or Die by Sean Hannity — a Book Review

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Sean Hannity -- Live Free or Die
Sean Hannity — Live Free or Die

My book review of the new Sean Hannity book — Live Free or Die; America and the World On The Brink (ISBN-10 : 1982149973). I’ve got the Audible.com version which I enjoyed on my 5-mile daily dog-walks, but the hard copy is also available.

So. Sean Hannity. People either love him or hate him, they are rarely on the fence. What I like about him is that like me, at the end of the day, he’s just a working class stiff. 20+ years as a carpenter will do that to you. He was a painter and waiter among other things. Contrast that with Joe Biden who likes to project the image but has no gravitas. Hey, Man!

What the Book Covers

The title is not all that descriptive of the content in my opinion. But, in a broad sense it does describe what’s going on. The book is reminiscent of an extended Sean Hannity radio show, minus the commercials and weather reports. In other words, he gives his conservative opinion but all backed up with hard facts. In my view, this work is just as important as The United States of Trump by Bill O’Reilley. Opinion backed up with hard, documented facts.

This book is a timeline history, compare and contrast, with previous administrations and Trump’s. So how are all these facts a clarion call to Live Free or Die, you might ask yourself? The answer of course, is Trump’s vision to make all citizens more free and prosperous.

Forces Dragging America Down

Yes, there are forces dragging America down even as Trump’s economy is building up employment and home ownership. As Hannity points out, these forces are deeply embedded in and guided from the far left.

Don’t take my word for it. Hannity lays it out in excruciating detail in this book, fact after fact. If you are not a fact and trivia junkie like me, this book might not be for you. On the other hand, if you seek verifiable truth, dig in.

I really found Live Free or Die to be very informative and entertaining but it’s not light reading/listening. Take your time with it and allow time to look up references, if you like. This book is particularly timely considering tat the general elections are almost upon us. Vote Socialist or American traditional values. You have a choice.

What is Covered by Standard Homeowners Insurance?

by Kelly R. Smith

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Home damage from Hurricane Harvey in Seabrook, Texas
Home damage from Hurricane Harvey in Seabrook, Texas

Homeowners insurance is essential for all homeowners. It doesn’t matter if you own outright or still hold a mortgage. Dictionary.com gives the origen of the word mortgage as, “Old French mortgage, equivalent to mort ‘dead’ (from Latin mortuus ) + gage ‘pledge.’” That’s about as morbid as it gets. It’s certainly not a witty phrase, is it? But I digress; what is covered by standard homeowners insurance?

Coverage for Your Personal Belongings

Your personal belongings include things such as sports equipment, clothing, furniture, appliances, ect. You get the idea. They are covered in the event that they are stolen or destroyed by insured disasters such as fire, hurricane, and others. Generally, the coverage is going to be 50% to 70% of the insurance you carry on the structure of your home, depending on the company that carries your policy.

The preferred way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory. Take pictures, make entries in a database, etc. The more detailed, the better. Your belongings coverage includes items that you store away from your residence; this means that you have coverage anywhere in the world. There are some companies that limit the amount to 10% of the amount of insurance you have for your possessions. You may also have up coverage for unauthorized use of any credit cards.

Items on the higher end such as jewelry, furs, art, collectibles, and silverware are covered, but usually there is a monetary limit if they are stolen. There is a way to insure these items for their full value; buy a special personal property endorsement (or floater) and insure the items for their officially-appraised value.

Coverage for Your Home’s Structure

Your homeowners policy will pay to renovate or rebuild your home in the case that it is damaged or destroyed by incidences of fire, hurricane, hail, lightning, or other disasters that are enumerated in your policy. Most policies cover detached structures as well, such as your tool shed, garage, or a gazebo. In most cases, for about 10% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. A good rule of thumb is this–buy enough coverage to rebuild your home. Revise this yearly.

Liability protection

What does liability cover? It protects you from lawsuits citing bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to others. Additionally, it covers damage caused by your pets.

In many cases, limits begin at around $100,000. That being said, it’s prudent to palaver with your agent whether you should purchase a higher level of protection. You may have significant assets and therefore need more coverage than is available under your policy. If this is the case, consider purchasing an umbrella or excess liability policy, which provides broader coverage and higher liability limits.

Your policy also provides no-fault medical coverage. If one of your friends or a neighbor is injured in your home, he or she can submit the medical bills to your insurance company. So, expenses can be paid bypassing a liability claim being filed against you. Note that it doesn’t pay any of these bills for you or your family.

Additional living expenses (ALE)

This is for the the additional expenses of residing away from your home if you can’t live there because of the damage from a disaster that is insured. It covers restaurant meals, hotel tabs, and other miscellaneous costs that are over and above your normal living expenses. These are paid while your house is being restored. ALE is not open-ended; it has time and cost limits.

Other Circumstances

Your standard homeowners insurance policy will not pay for damage caused by an earthquake, flood, or routine wear and tear. These all require separate policies. Let me use myself as an example. During Hurricane Harvey, we flooded due to the city mismanaging drainage issues. We got about 2 feet of water inside the house.

Flood water rising in the street
Flood water rising in the street

Luckily, we have always carried flood insurance ever though the mortgage company did not require it since we are not in the flood plain (or zone if you will). But, as I tell my wife, “God doesn’t care about those maps.” So we ended up getting 100% on personal belongings and what the insurance adjuster estimated for structure. That only paid for material, not labor. That’s like getting 50 cents on the dollar. So, the majority of the reconstruction became a DIY project for me.

Neighbors without flood insurance just got the bare minimum from FEMA, and let me tell you, that ain’t much. Let that be a lesson–invest in appropriate insurance policies.

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

Our American Society is Now All-Black, 24-7, a Cultural Shift

by Kelly R. Smith

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Martin Luther King and Barack Obama
Martin Luther King and Barack Obama

As the COVID-19 pandemic rolls along so does another social phenomena — the machine that is the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and their partners, Antifa. It might seem like this is a recent development, but in fact, it has been fomenting for quite a while.

Long before white people were only acceptable if they were “woke,” and you might notice that’s woke not awoken or woken up (incorrect grammar is NOT cool), things were not as revisionist history portrays it today.

Which Party is Socially Progressive?

That’s a good question and one that has been decided. The Democrats are for the crazy stuff (does the New Green Deal strike a nerve?). It should. The spearhead are the so-called Democrat Socialists, people like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. Just prefixing democrat to socialist doesn’t change anything. Socialism is Socialism.

It’s true that people like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Joe Biden are still wandering the halls but they are not leading anymore. They’re mouthpieces and fund-raisers.

The term progressive is misleading anyway. Returning to Marxist ideology and Saul Alinsky mob tactics is not making progress. Job growth, prosperity, and a renewed military presence under the leadership of President Trump is progress.

Enter Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick, and Antifa

All the rioting, burning, and looting have very little to do with the death of George Floyd, although that was clearly a tragedy. The chaotic domestic terrorism is a means to push a social agenda. Part of that agenda, from blacklivesmatter.com, says, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Sound familiar? It should. Disrupting the family unit and transferring allegiance to the central state is what the Soviet, Chinese and North Korean communists did too. How did that work out?

Colin Kaepernick entered the game focused on shining a bad light on the police when he showed up to football practice wearing those cute cops-are-pigs socks. There is some credibility to the theory that this was the impetus to the defund-the-police movement. As a side note, although he riles against the ills of slavery in the past, he stills shills for Nike (paycheck!), who uses child labor in sweatshops to make their shoes. Oh, the hypocrisy is under-whelming.

Antifa is the cadre of domestic terrorists in all this. They are much more organized than many people think, as this article on the history of Antifa shows.

Being All-Black in a Capitalist System

I liken this to curbside grocery pick-up, at least where I live. Once one grocery store chain started doing it, the rest scrambled to get in the game. It’s understandably about market share. And, this was before the COVID-19 pandemic with its social-distancing woes. As one of the order-fillers at Kroger told me, “It’s a blessing for moms with 2 screaming kids. Why would they come in?”

Commercial companies across the board are imitating this model with their pandering to black interests and customers as well as social warriors of all stripes. Just the other day, Discover card announced that they are gifting $5,000,000 to black-owned restaurants, saying, “In an effort to support the restaurant industry as it rebounds from the impact of COVID-19, Discover announced today that it will be giving $5 million to Black-owned restaurants.”

Wait — did I read that right? How is this social justice? What about Mexican restaurants? Chinese? White-owned diners? How about Thai and sushi shops? And Lord help me, pizza shops. I assumed all businesses were on the COVID-19 pandemic chopping block. No sir, only blacks qualify; this is pandering at its lowest.

If you’ve got Discover plastic in your wallet, you’re the patsy here. That $5 million is coming out of your 25% monthly high interest rates, not the CEO’s annual bonus. It doesn’t matter where you stand on non-blacks losing their livelihood while only blacks get the lifeboats. This is life as we know it in the new all-black, 24-7, cultural mode.



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

Can Climate Change Be Minimized Using Air Conditioners?

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Air conditioner farm on a rooftop
Air conditioner farm on a rooftop

What a question; it’s the proverbial killing of two birds with one stone. On the one hand, we could enjoy all the interior comfort we want and on the other hand, we could save the planet. Of course that would mean Al Gore would experience a loss of income as the Reigning King of climate change.

The Concept Of Generating Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuel From Air

Roland Dittmeyer, a chemical engineer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany posited this theory, recognizing that HVAC systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) move a huge quantity of air. Consider this — they can recycle the entire air volume in an office building 5 or 10 times each hour. Besides obviously cooling the air, they also remove carbon dioxide and humidity from the air. It’s the carbon dioxide, the reputed villain of climate change, that we are concerned with from the global warming point of view.

The moisture is important as well. When both of these things are captured, the idea is to convert them first into hydrogen, and then perform a multi-step chemical process to convert the hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Dittmeter’s team calls this, “Personalized, localized and distributed, synthetic oil wells” in buildings or neighborhoods.

Although the science is promising, the team’s tone strikes me as somewhat utopian and Marxist as they go on to say this will enable people, “to take control and collectively manage global warming and climate change, rather than depending on the fossil power industrial behemoths.”

Problems With A/C to Hydrocarbon Models

  • The cost. A chemical engineer at Worcester Institute of Technology, Jennifer Wilcox, says, “The dominant capital cost is the solid adsorbent materials.” These are substances which carbon dioxide adheres to. In addition to the capital cost (equipment purchases), the primary energy cost is the heat necessary to recover the carbon dioxide from these materials post-capture.
  • The process is dangerous. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen are toxic and explosive. Producing and holding quantities of the resulting petrochemicals in business and/or residential areas poses its own problems. There is a reason why petroleum and natural gas is stored in tank farms behind fences.

Is this promising technology? Certainly. But presently, it’s in the pie-in-the-sky development phase. The problems listed above will have to be solved before the process of using air conditioners to minimize climate change is feasible.



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

Why Pandemics Like COVID-19, or Coronavirus Persist

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Spanish flu pandemic of 1918
Spanish flu pandemic of 1918

Pandemics and epidemics are nothing new; the only constant seems to be that we are never adequately prepared for them. The “expert doctors” can’t seem to agree on symptoms, courses of action, which vitamins help, and what to do about social interactions. That’s just one reason why pandemics like COVID-19 persist. It’s like eggs; we better enjoy them today because next week another panel of “experts” will say they’re killing us.

Reasons why Pandemics Persist

  1. The virus is easily transmissible in the air we breath and the surfaces we touch. We are highly-mobile lifeforms.
  2. It may take several waves to create a herd immunity.
  3. Vaccines, like any prescription medicine, take time to develop and will likely not create 100% immunity from the virus. While it’s being worked on, the virus is mutating; it is a moving target.
  4. The various government entities (federal, state, county, city) don’t coordinate or play well together.
  5. Citizens are advised to self-quarantine, but groups like Antifa and BLM use the situation to get up in everyone’s faces and cause chaos and confusion and push radical agendas.
  6. Many individuals and even entire communities don’t take it seriously. They may continue to spread it as others curtail it. Don’t be a jobbernowl; put on the damn mask already!
  7. People get tired of lockdowns and closed businesses. They get cabin fever and let their guard down. The case-count goes back up.

Pandemics and Epidemics Throughout History

  1. Prehistoric epidemic: Circa 3000 B.C.: China.
  2. Plague of Athens: 430 B.C. (maybe typhoid or ebola).
  3. Antonine Plague: A.D. 165-180: Roman Empire (thought to be smallpox).
  4. Plague of Cyprian: A.D. 250-271 (cause unknown; Cyprian wrote, “The bowels, relaxed into a constant flux, discharge the bodily strength [and] a fire originated in the marrow ferments into wounds of the fauces (an area of the mouth).”
  5. Plague of Justinian: A.D. 541-542: (Byzantine Empire; bubonic plague).
  6. The Black Death: 1346-1353: (Asia to Europe; caused by a strain of the bacterium Yersinia pestis spread by fleas on infected rodents).
  7. Cocoliztli epidemic: 1545-1548: (Mexico and Central America; caused by subspecies of Salmonella known as S. paratyphi C, causes enteric fever, a category of fever that includes typhoid).
  8. American Plagues: 16th century: (caused by an assortment of of Eurasian diseases including smallpox. There goes those privileged white imperialists again)!
  9. Great Plague of London: 1665-1666: (the Black Death again; transmitted by plague-infected rodents).
  10. Great Plague of Marseille: 1720-1723: (a plague brought by a ship with fleas on plague-infected rodents).
  11. Russian plague: 1770-1772: (another plague).
  12. Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic: 1793: (transmitted by mosquitoes; the “experts” at the time wrongly believed that slaves were immune).
  13. Flu pandemic: 1889-1890: (worldwide; killed ~1 million people).
  14. American polio epidemic: 1916: (started in New York City; flared up intermittently until 1954 when the Salk vaccine was developed).
  15. Spanish Flu: 1918-1920: (worldwide; ~500 million people died).
  16. Asian Flu: 1957-1958: (worldwide, started in China, sound familiar? Killed over than 1.1 million).
  17. AIDS pandemic and epidemic: 1981-present day: (worldwide; 35 million deaths so far).
  18. H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic: 2009-2010: (worldwide; between 151,700 and 575,400 dead says the “experts” at the CDC; can you narrow that down a bit, fellas?).
  19. West African Ebola epidemic: 2014-2016: (primarily in West Africa with 28,600 reported cases and 11,325 deaths).
  20. Zika Virus epidemic: 2015-present day: (primarily in South America and Central America; spread through mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, but can also be sexually transmitted).
  21. COVID-19 pandemic: December 2019-present: (worldwide; originated in China).

To do your part to slow or stop COVID-19 from persisting, keep your guard up, self-quarantine, and wear a mask (we can discus the constitutionality of it later). In short, you don’t have to live off the grid, just use common sense.



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

Theodore Roosevelt: The Man in the Arena

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Theodore Roosevelt building the Panama Canal
Theodore Roosevelt building the Panama Canal

On April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave a moving speech at the Sorbonne in Paris. It was titled the “Citizenship in a Republic” speech but the real takeaway, what it is famous for, is what is now known as Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” quote.

The speech was well-attended. Edmund Morris, in his biography Colonel Roosevelt, tells us, the crowd included “ministers in court dress, army and navy officers in full uniform, nine hundred students, and an audience of two thousand ticket holders.” The quote has become for some a daily affirmation, that is, said habitually on a daily basis. The quote is:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Teddy Roosevelt’s Accomplishments and Highlights

  • He devised the domestic Square Deal program which had three basic ideas known as the “three C’s”: conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection.
  • Working with Army Colonel Leonard Wood, Roosevelt formed the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry. Known as the Rough Riders, their greatest victory came at the Battle of San Juan Hill, which was the decisive battle of the war.
  • Following the assassination of President William McKinley in September 1901, at 42 years of age he became the 26th President of the United States. As of 2015 he remains the youngest person to assume the office of the President of U.S.
  • In 1902 by the United Mine Workers of America engaged in a strike that threatened the home heating supplies of tens of millions of Americans. President Roosevelt rolled up his sleeves and organized a fact-finding commission. He then threatened to use the U.S. Army to mine the coal and take over the mines. He convinced both the miners and the mine owners to accept the findings of the commission. The strike was suspended and never resumed. The miners got a 10% increase in wages and their working hours were set from 10 to 9 and as a concession to the owners, they didn’t have to recognize the trade union as a bargaining agent from that point on.
  • He imposed railroad regulation by pushing through the Elkins Act of 1903 and the Hepburn Act of 1906 to curb monopolistic power of the railroads.
  • He directed his Attorney General Philander Knox to bring a lawsuit on antitrust grounds against what was known as the “Beef Trust” that monopolized half or more of beef sales in the country. As the trial progressed it was shown that the “Big Six” leading meatpackers had formed a conspiracy to fix prices and divide the meat market among themselves resulting in higher profits.
  • He directed Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, in 1906. The first banned food and drugs and medicine that were not pure or labelled falsely from being manufactured, sold, and shipped. It also mandated that active ingredients be placed on the label of a drug’s packaging and that drugs couldn’t go below the purity levels established by the U.S. Pharmacopeia. This was a huge win for consumers and reduced the likelihood of getting taken in by a scam.
  • He championed the conservation movement. The intention was to protect natural resources inclusive of animal, fungus, and plant species as well as their habitat for the future. He was the first president to put conservation far up on the national agenda. Roosevelt set aside and designated more Federal land for national parks and nature preserves than all prior presidents combined. He went on to establish the US Forest Service. It was signed into law and allowed for the creation of 5 National Parks and established the first 51 Bird Reserves and 150 National Forests.
  • Under his direction the Panama Canal was constructed. At first Colombia controlled Panama and objected to U.S. involvement. Roosevelt sent war ships to block the sea lanes from Colombia and insured that Panama got its independence.

It is clear that Theodore Roosevelt was a visionary, a man of action who stood up for American citizens, and protected their rights. His sense of what we should all strive for is encapsulated in his The Man in the Arena quote. We would all do well to focus on it habitually.



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

10 Popular Home Renovation Trends in 2020

by Kelly R. Smith

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Home floor and walls renovations.
Home floor and walls renovations

Remodeling, whether done for contemporary style, preparation for sale, or just general repairs continues as usual. The most popular home renovation trends vary from year to year depending on a number of factors. Renovation budgets are always high on the list. Going green not only lowers your bills but helps the environment. Other factors can influence decisions but let’s look at how 2020 is shaping up thus far.

  • Floors, ceilings, and walls. Traditionally, these surfaces get a lot of attention and 2020 is no exception. The Joint Center for Housing For Housing Studies says homeowners average $3,282 per year on these surfaces.
  • Prioritizing on saving money. This trend is not specifically tied to aesthetics. Rather, it is focused on frugality. Migrating to lower operating-cost lighting like LED bulbs, for one. Beefing up attic insulation and adding radiant barrier foil may not boost curb appeal, but oh, what a difference when the power bills come due each and every month.
  • Slapping on another coat of paint. This is always one of the most popular weekend DIY projects. The cost of paint is reasonable and the outlay of cash for tools is minimal. You can even employ paint illusions to make a room look larger.
  • Be a DIY weekend warrior. This is the best way to stretch your budget. Plus, who doesn’t love that sense of pride? DIY varies in the level of difficulty but with the help of sites like this one, I Can Fix Up My Home, you might be surprised at what you can accomplish. The Senior Director of Customer Insights at Lowe’s, Amy Anthony, says, “Seventy-four percent [of consumers] do research to get as much information as possible before making a purchase.”
  • Preparing for climate change. Whether you are an ardent believer in global warming (now called climate change) or believe Al Gore is just out to make a buck preaching about it, there’s no doubt that the preparation steps saves money. So, weatherstrip, caulk, upgrade your windows; all changes are cumulative.
  • Home sanitation and wellness is moving up. This is understandable and goes hand in hand with many other home improvements because the topic of off-gassing is more well-known that ever. Forbes.com puts it this way, “Wellness-focused changes can include paint, flooring or cabinetry with non-toxic materials, touchless faucets that reduce germ spread, circadian lighting that improves sleep, water and air purification systems, bidet style toilets for enhanced hygiene, and many others.”
  • Focus on lower budgets, bigger consequences. Smaller projects encompassing a big wow factor are becoming more popular and are expected to continue. For example, instead of gutting the bathroom and re-doing it, why not have your tub re-finished, update all faucets, put in a new recessed medicine cabinet, and re-paint?
  • Smaller brand names are becoming more competitive by adding luxury features. Kitchen cabinets are a good example of this. After Hurricane Harvey, when our home flooded, one of the things we needed to replace were our cabinets and countertops. Home Depot gave us a lot of modular options with freebies like self-closing doors and stainless steel sinks thrown in.
  • Home automation is going mainline. Once the purview of science fiction novels, it’s coming at us fast and furious now. I recently installed a Ring Doorbell. It not only responds when someone rings it, but also when someone just approaches it.
  • More services are becoming negotiable. When emergency repairs are called for instead of long thought out projects, it would seem that the repair person has you over the barrel. Not always the case. Since our economy has shifted to being service-based (some hands-on crafts still can’t be outsourced to China), the competition for your business has become fiercer. Good news for the homeowner.

These 10 popular home renovation trends for 2020 are likely to continue as the COVID-19 lock-down continues. It’s just the new-new. Many employers are not only accepting work-from-home staff, but embracing it. It saves on the overhead. And I might say, as a writer I am used to working from home but it has been really nice having my wife working from home rather than in her downtown high-rise office.

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

Checklist of Must-Have Tools for Living Off the Grid

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An urban homestead with vegetable garden.
An urban homestead with vegetable garden

Homesteading has become a buzzword du juor and an increasingly-popular lifestyle. But what is it exactly? Dictionary.com gives this somewhat legal definition, “a dwelling with its land and buildings, occupied by the owner as a home and exempted by a homestead law from seizure or sale for debt.”

More popular usage means living in a self-sufficient manner as much as possible. This means growing your own food, keeping livestock and fowl, and living off-the-grid in as many ways as you can. This includes generating your own electricity with wind turbines or solar panels, etc. This also means acquiring some must-have tools and supplies for living off the grid. Here are some essentials.

General Repair Tools

  • Duct tape. You already know — a million different uses. My Grandpappy swore by Scotch tape but I prefer to go industrial-grade.
  • Heavy-duty scissor car jack. Not just for changing flats anymore. This all-around tool will be a willing helper that won’t talk back or complain.
  • Belt sander. When building or repairing/refinishing furniture this is an invaluable tool.
  • An assortment of rope and tie-down straps. These will find a use on a day-to-day basis on your homestead.
  • Cordless drill, sawzall, circular saw, etc. Cordless is the way to go because you won’t always be working where an outlet is available. Just be sure to buy all your cordless tools from the same family (manufacturer) of tools so the batteries are interchangeable and you only have to keep up with one charger. I use and recommend Ryobi but Milwaukee and Makita are good as well.
  • Chainsaw. Useful for clearing brush, cutting up firewood, and heck, your artistic endeavors, if you are into that kind of thing.

Gardening/Farming Tools

  • A set of gardening tools. This comprehensive set should ideally be kept in a container that can be transported to to the garden/field as one unit so you won’t be making multiple trips. It should contain at least a kneeling mat if you use one, a shovel, gloves, limb trimmer, a basket to carry your daily harvest, and pruning shears.
  • Rotary tiller. If you have a good sized plot of land to work, this tool is essential for good root growth. You can rent one but it will be more cost-effective to buy your own in the long run.
  • A bucket or two. This is a multiple use tool, as simple as it is. I usually use one for mixing soil and amendments when planting.
  • Rain barrels. While a rain harvesting system might not technically thought of as a “tool,” it is essential for irrigating your crops close to the house. In general, plants prefer the pH (a figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity) of rainwater to tap water. And what would happen if your public water supply is cut off or contaminated?

Health-Related Tools and Supplies

  • Tweezers. Handy for close work and removing splinters. Keep one in your medicine cabinet and another in the glove box of your truck.
  • Antiseptics. You will need to apply this lickety-split, quick, and in a hurry when you get any cut or abrasion.
  • Bandaids. Keep an assortment of sizes and shapes on hand.
  • Moleskin. Take care of those inevitable blisters on your feet.
  • Safety glasses. This is one that many people ignore but do yourself a favor. The good Lord only gave you two eyes; replacements not currently available.
  • Soap. Yes, we’ve all got some but do we use it often enough? It should be a habit with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic or the Coronavirus as it is also called, but you can also pick up undesirable things in your soil and mulch in your vegetable garden.
  • Hearing protection. Save your hearing! The ones I use are headphones with a built-in AM/FM radio.
  • Fire extinguishers. Keep one in the kitchen, one in your pantry, one in your wood shop (next to your wood shop dust collector is a good spot), and one in your truck. They are cheap; there’s no excuse.

This is not an exhaustive list of must-have tools for living off the grid in the homesteading mode but it’s a good start. When the SHTF you will be glad that you prepared in advance. And you don’t have to live out in the country; we have a modest 1,200 square foot home but over the years I’ve surrounded us with fruit trees and my vegetable garden and my herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes. My latest addition is a Don Juan Avocado tree.

References:

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

The History of Antifa

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Antifa Thugs Facts
Antifa Thugs Facts

This article was updated on 07/30/20.

Although the term Antifa may be relatively new to many people in the U.S., as an organization its many composite factions stretch far back. All of these factions have contributed to the history of Antifa. They strive to project an image of being disorganized because that’s what has always worked for this type of organization. They do not wish to be seen as a secret society such as the Illuminati. Such would lead them to be seen as kooks rather than randomly angry youth.

The pro-Antifa website CrimethInc puts it this way, “This leaderless format has proven effective for guerrilla activities of all kinds, as well as what the RAND Corporation calls “swarming” tactics in which many unpredictable autonomous groups overwhelm a centralized adversary. You should go to every demonstration in an affinity group, with a shared sense of your goals and capabilities. If you are in an affinity group that has experience taking action together, you will be much better prepared to deal with emergencies and make the most of unexpected opportunities.” Swarming notifications are regularly transmitted on social media, who are glad to do their bidding.

Regardless of whether you believe that they have a kind of central organizing structure or not, one thing is certain — they have habitually convened en masse to protest, burn, loot, and beat up opponents, journalists, and bystanders. They may not be directly getting marching orders from Obama’s shadow government, but to some extent their goals are the same. The same can be said of the party-on-the-left today. Antifa acts out the Democrat party anger.

Early Origins of Anti-Fascism

They initially took form during during the street-fights of the 1932 Weimar Republic and called themselves Antifaschisitsche Aktion. The Stalinist Communist Party of Germany (KPD) formed them. This wasn’t the KDP’s first foray into this arena; various Communist “anti-fascist defense” organizations were associated with the KPD much earlier. Under the KPD their task was to fight other political parties to gain control of the streets in the revolutionary politics held by the rapidly failing Weimar Republic.

Ostensibly, their directive was to fight the Nazis but their role was malleable; they also sought conflict with liberals, conservatives, and any other opposition that presented itself. They were a tool of their masters. As today, the very definition of idealistic, useful idiots.

As that struggle floundered and the movement faded away and, these radicals also melted into the background. But in the early 1980s, they resurfaced Germany. This time they fashioned themselves in the image of Communist urban guerilla units of ’70s and ’80s like Red Army Faction and the Red Brigade who operated in Europe. The central ideology this time was autonomism. Autonomist Marxism focuses on the ability of the working class to impose changes to the organization of the capitalist system independent of the state, trade unions or political parties.

Antifa in the United States

When the Antifa movement came to America, it began as an effort of young punks to expel neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the music culture. This coalesced into the Anti-Racist Action (ARA). Surprisingly, it started in the Midwest rather than on the more liberal east or west coast, and once established, spread outward. Soon chapters formed in numerous cities, and regional councils and networks were conceived. Notably, one was called the Midwest Anti-Fascist Network (MAFN), founded in 1995.

Some members of the ARA were the remnants of the domestic terror group Weather Underground. Guiding the young anti-racist punks in the formation of the ARA were members from the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (JBAKC). Some separate ARA units endeavored to put together one of the largest Antifa networks in the country called Torch Antifa.

JBAKC itself was conceptualized as a front for the May 19th Communist Organization (MCO). This organization was founded from what remained of the Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army, the FALN, and various other terrorist groups that formed in the ’60s and ’70s. How appropriate that the date May 19 was picked for the name. That was the birthday of both Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh.

The central philosophy of both JBAKC and the May 19th Communist Organization is the same which Antifa embraces today: at its core the belief that the U.S. was founded on white supremacy, and therefore needs to be destroyed.

The Antifa Movement Today

Earlier we mentioned Antifa’s loose but well-connected organizational structure. The primary units are called “affinity groups.” Moving up the structure, multiple affinity groups form “clusters” of affinity groups. A member of any one affinity group can be a member of other radical left organizations. Protocol allows them to call upon them for assistance. Antifa thugs are likely to have connections with political organizations that support Antifa committees. Examples are the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), The International Workers of the World (Wobblies), and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). Antifa accepts resources and recruits from them as needed.

Now that we know the history of Antifa, the question remains — what will its future bring? Already both Congress and local political bodies are assimilating their supporters. The Democrats have become so polarized that they have developed a tunnel vision of hate and rage, manifested by three years of trying to impeach President Trump rather that doing any meaningful work. Large capitalist companies have “taken a knee” to Antifa and removed their brand identities. The thugs are now in charge.



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

Know the Difference Between “Epidemic” and “Pandemic”

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Main differences between an epidemic and a pandemic
Main differences between an epidemic and a pandemic

The words “epidemic” and “pandemic” have been used interchangeably by many news outlets during the Corona Virus (CORVID-19) outbreak. The fact is that words matter and should be used more cautiously so that the population gets the correct updates. Since the primary difference between the two words is the geographical scale of the outbreak/illness, a confusion of perception is possible. You need accurate information since CORVID-19 is much more serious for those with pre-existing conditions, such as high blood pressure.

Epidemic

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) specifies an epidemic as occurring at the level of a region or community.
  • As a metaphor, an epidemic is “a rapid spread or increase in the occurrence of something,” according to dictionary.com.

Pandemic

  • As opposed to an epidemic, “a pandemic is prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world,” according to dictionary.com. As such, the consequences can be devastating to both populations and intertwined economies, as we are seeing with CORVID-19.
  • A pandemic is what an epidemic becomes once it reaches a far wider number of people, especially across continents or even the entire world (reference the image at the top of this article).

Related Definitions to Know

As you try to understand what local officials, the talking heads on TV, and the gaffe-master Joe Biden are telling you keep these other terms in mind.

  • Outbreak: a sudden breaking out or occurrence or eruption of illnesses. With respect to an infectious disease, an outbreak is specifically a sudden rise in cases, especially when it is only or so far affecting a relatively localized area so it is more applicable to an epidemic than a pandemic.
  • Epicenter: a focal point of activity. If you are told a country, city, or region is called the epicenter of a pandemic disease, that means more or an accelerating number of cases are being confirmed there than other places in the world.
  • Hotspot: roughly equivalent to an epicenter but on a more localized scale such as a particular nursing home. The good news is that medical insurance companies can be more responsive in these cases.
  • Bubonic plague: ravaging Europe in 1720 and 1920, the bubonic plague was caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The bacterium is found in fleas and wild rodents such as rats, squirrels, chipmunks or prairie dogs. Hopefully this one is behind us with effective methods of flea control.

Politics in Pandemic Names

  • The China virus: The WHO has issued guidelines for labeling diseases and called on scientists, journalists, and elected officials to follow the rules “to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies, and people.” Since the WHO is affiliated with the UN it is not surprising that their take is politically correct. That hasn’t stopped President Trump from calling it the China virus. Because that’s what it is. Let reality prevail over hurt feelings.
  • The Spanish Flu: This pandemic, one of the worst ever, most certainly did not start in Spain. They got the name because of wartime censorship. Spain was not involved in WW1 and so their press reported on the flu whereas the combatant countries did not in order to boost morale.
  • Hong Kong flu: A pandemic of influenza A (H3N2) in 1968-69. This virus was first detected in Hong Kong in early 1968 and spread to the United States later that year.

Do you feel sick? There is some evidence that the same way you manage cold and flu symptoms may help with the Corona Virus. While this is not a proven cure if you suspect COVID-19, it can lessen the pain. Meanwhile, see your doctor.

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