The Richard Feynman Learning Method

How to Learn Anything Quickly and Commit it to Memory

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Richard Feynman, physicist
Richard Feynman, physicist
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Richard Phillips Feynman, ForMemRS (Foreign Member of the Royal Society), was an American theoretical physicist who was well known for his classic work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, and particle physics for which he proposed the parton model. For contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. For the random layman, he was as well known as Einstein and Hawking. He was a very colorful fellow who had a penchant for his logic and thinking out of the box. If all that isn’t enough, he also came up with his signature learning method, which we will look at here.

The Problem With Traditional Learning Methods

Most people learn by rote, meaning we simply repeat something enough times to memorize it. Next, we are tested on it. The problem is that if we don’t use it, we lose it. It simply doesn’t remain in our memory. Another way is to associate a fact with something else, like using mnemonics to remember someone’s name. So, what’s missing here? These traditional learning methods don’t address understanding a subject.

This is at the core of Feynman’s method. Don’t be that guy that simply spouts jargon. When you really learn something, internalize it, you’ll have acquired a tool that you can use for the remainder of your life. The more you really know, the fewer surprises you will encounter, because most new things will connect to something you already understand.



Feynman’s Learning Technique: 4 Easy Steps

The beauty of this method is its simplicity. Well, that, and the logic of it. You’ll wonder why nobody nailed this sooner. How much can we really commit to memory? Like the limit of human sports endurance, we don’t really know. Someone always moves the goal post.

Step 1. Define your topic and conceptualize teaching it to a child. Start with the topic you want to absorb. Write it down. Then write down everything you know about it, noting any gaps in your knowledge as you imagine explaining to a child, with, say, a sixth grade education. This will ensure that you get it in simple terms.

Step 2. Fill in the gaps in your understanding. If you don’t have gaps after explaining things to your imaginary friend, you’re not doing it right. You are running the risk of being the jargon and trendy catchword phrases-spouting guy. Check other sources. Investigate definitions. Keep it up until you can explain everything in basic terms. Continue to write it down and keep it simple. If you need nerdy terms to explain what you know, you are lacking in flexibility. When someone questions your understanding, you can only regurgitate what it is that you’ve already said.



Step 3. Compile all your notes and simplify them. Now that you’ve got a firm grasp on all the finer points of your topic, re-write them into a single document that you can file away. This isn’t just make-work; this step will aid in understanding and retention. A lot of people find it helpful to keep a permanent binder of all researched topics, ready to review at any time.

Step 4. Put your new expertise to the test. You’ve done the work; it’s time to spread your wings. Find a willing friend and communicate your knowledge of your topic. Encourage questions. Not only will this solidify your knowledge, it will most likely generate further topics of interest.

How Feynman Saw In-Depth Knowledge

Feynman didn’t just wonder about things; he wanted to know what made them tick. Unlike many scientists, he did not embrace jargon-spewing. He put it this way:

“See that bird? It’s a brown-throated thrush, but in Germany it’s called a halzenfugel, and in Chinese they call it a chung ling, and even if you know all those names for it, you still know nothing about the bird. You only know something about people: what they call the bird. Now that thrush sings, and teaches its young to fly, and flies so many miles away during the summer across the country, and nobody knows how it finds its way.”

Richard Feynman

That’s how Feynman saw knowledge. Life is not just an encyclopedia. To really understand something and have that knowledge in usable terms, it is necessary to break it down in simple terms that can be used in real-life ways. He gave us that with the Richard Feynman learning method.


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

The History of Cancel Culture

History and Present-Day Deniers Seek to Modify Society, Generally to Totalitarian Class-Specific Ends

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Nazi book burning; an act of cancel culture
Nazi book burning; an act of cancel culture
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What does the term “cancel culture” mean today? Dictionary.com says it is, “the phenomenon or practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups because of their socially or morally unacceptable views or actions: Cancel culture can ruin careers, but it can also make a public figure think twice before posting controversial comments,” and “the phenomenon or practice of publicly rejecting, boycotting, or ending support for particular people or groups because of their socially or morally unacceptable views or actions: Cancel culture can ruin careers, but it can also make a public figure think twice before posting controversial comments.1

So, you should be concerned, very concerned. We have this “new face” of this form of social engineering and revisionist history, but consider this tidbit from the World War II-era:

First they came for the Communists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews

And I did not speak out

Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me

And there was no one left

To speak out for me

Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian opposing the Nazi rise to power

History of Cancel Culture

It has always been used by the powerful to control and isolate the elements of society that they disapproved of. Ironically, today the tables have been somewhat turned via the tools of the internet and social media in particular. Fake news is a particularly efficient vehicle. Here are some examples from a historical perspective.

Where did it all start? Most likely it has been with us from the beginning when a caveman was ostracized from the group for some slight or inability to contribute to the survival of the group. As historically documented though, American Thinker tells us, “Cancel culture has its roots in intolerance dating back to the French Revolution (1789-1794), when Robespierre’s Reign of Terror resulted in some 30,000 deaths — a period accompanied by a concerted effort to erase and destroy Christianity and its traditions and institutions.  The culmination of that phase of the French Revolution was marked by the regimes’ installation of a prostitute as head of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  With that affront to decency and elimination of God, Robespierre and his successors thought they could rule without moral constraints. “2



Russia introduced a kind of Photoshop mentality to the concept. As the head of Red Army, Leon Trotsky was instrumental in making the communist revolution come to fruition for Vladimir Lenin, and for his successor Stalin after the former died in 1924.  However, by 1927, Stalin had purged Trotsky from the now-powerful Communist Party and Soviet politics. He expelled him from the country in 1929. Then Stalin assembled a team to erase all photographs as well as references to Trotsky in each and every historical record. When the order ultimately went out to have him assassinated years later, the cancellation had been done and there was hardly an official record or photograph left showing that Trotsky ever even graced Russia with his presence.

China was hardly different. Mao Zedong’s communist revolution was founded on historical determinism. This was a fundamental tenet of this flavor of Marxism that required the cancellation of past history and the subordination of its citizens to the collective identity of the communist state. During the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, Mao instructed his Red Guards to unify the country’s populace to cancel and rid itself of what he held to be the so-called “Four Olds”: Old customs, Old culture, Old habits, and Old ideas. The result was devastating, with Chinese people turning on each other and confused, brainwashed youth betraying their own siblings parents, and grandparents. At the end of it all, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Chinese Cultural Revolution were responsible for at least 40 million deaths, both those for which Mao was ultimately responsible and those that sprung from the draconian, disastrous policies he obstinately refused to change.



The Current American Cancel Culture

Until recently, most Americans were rolling right along, prospering financially, advancing technologically, and seemingly happy as the proverbial clam. All was not so with the government apparatchiks in Washington. The mainstream media, in their own bellicose style, were alternately promoting the far-left agenda, and “reporting” (rather, chopped, pressed, and formed; just like your favorite pseudo-food) events with such a spin that fact-checkers couldn’t keep up. No matter, the fact-checkers in their employ were hardly non-partisan anyway. Classic smoke and mirrors.

Black Lives Matter and Antifa entered the fray, orchestrating and participating in “peaceful” rioting, looting, destruction of both public and private property, and mercilessly beating anyone wearing a red MAGA hat. Others eagerly began to participate. Colin Kaepernick fanned the flames of the abolish-the-police faction of the movement with his infamous pig socks which he gladly flaunted to the press. Nike corporate capitulated and responded by signing him as their flagship lackey. College students were rallied in their legions by progressive tenured professors who had been roused from the slumber of their dotage by all the hoopla. The stage having been set, the left began making damnfools of corporate America and dismantling or renaming (taming) these icons of industry:

  1. The Muppets. Inanimate puppets which PBS saw as racially diverse are now seen by the far left as insulting. How does one meander further left than PBS?
  2. Aunt Jemima. Because you have to slave over a hot stove to get those pancakes out.
  3. Mrs. Butterworth’s. The same as her colleague Jemima but with the added slur of using a pronoun that is not LGBT-approved. Also, “Mrs.” rather than “Ms” is supportive of the ersatz concept of patriarchy.
  4. Uncle Ben’s Rice. Lawd no!
  5. Cream of Wheat. There’s a tiny picture of a Chef-of-Color on the box. Real black men aren’t stereotypical cooks unless it’s barbecue in a beer ad.
  6. Eskimo Pies. I get it — Associating indigenous peoples with a frozen confection is racist.
  7. Land O’ Lakes Butter. Lose the Indian maiden logo; alert all dictionary publishers to red-line the word “squaw.”
  8. Gone With the Wind. No longer a valid historical drama and brilliant cinemagraphic presentation because it not only portrays not only slaves-of-color but female slaves-of-color. You damn misogynistic bigots! Two strikes, damn your eyes!
  9. Cleveland Indians baseball team mascot. Because they don’t win enough?
  10. Washington Redskins team mascot. See number 9.
  11. Mr. Potato Head. Just because of the pronoun “Mr.” Company representatives actually said they didn’t want to limit its gender choices. #tubersaregenderfree
  12. Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. They are saying it’s because he’s a bully. The way I remember it, he was the one excluded from the reindeer games and therefore, the victim. Besides not even getting the story line straight before passing judgement, it’s fiction, you progressive bullies!
  13. Dr. Seus. Oh, for crying out loud. They say the author may have had some racist tendencies which he evolved from post-puberty. When in doubt, pillory and convict.

Did Speaker of the House Pelosi Attempt to Cancel Trump in Violation of the U.S. Constitution?

Judicial Watch, a constitutional watchdog group working in the public interest, has filed a FOIA suit against the U.S. Department of Defense for records of Pelosi’s January 8, 2021, telephone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Defense (No 1:21-cv-00593)3 to answer this question.

At the heart of the matter is a phone call that Speaker of the House Pelosi made to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley regarding President Trump. She acknowledges that the call was “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike. The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.”

The problem, as the Wall Street Journal editorial page sees it is, “Mrs. Pelosi’s call to Gen. Milley is itself a violation of the separation of powers by seeking to inject herself into an executive-branch military decision. She can offer advice all she wants, but this call at this time has the sound of an order. It might even be construed by some as its own little coup—conniving with the military to relieve of command the person who remains the elected President.”4

Did the CDC Communicate with Big Tech about COVID-19?

Big Tech has taken upon itself the mantle of Ministry of Health Truth by censoring users and doctors with which its opinions disagree. It demands that everyone march in lockstep. To what extent has the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) been involved in this?

Judicial Watch has filed another lawsuit to get to the bottom of this to which they say, “The public has the right to know about CDC’s involvement in Big Tech’s outrageous censorship of Americans, including doctors, who raise questions about the COVID-19 response. The Biden administration should stop stonewalling and release the records about the CDC’s role in suppressing the free speech of Americans.”

The bottom line is that the history of cancel culture and denial of truth is as old as mankind itself but is perhaps more dangerous today than it has ever been. Totalitarianism? Do you think it can’t happen here? The very fact that so many people are willing to accept erasing and banning from society something as mundane as a cartoon character because a manipulative minority finds it offensive (or contrary to a radical political agenda) speaks volumes. Inevitably, the pendulum swings, as it always does.


Further Reading


Resources

  1. Dictionary.com, Definition of Cancel Culture, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/cancel-culture?s=t
  2. Scott S. Powell, American Thinker, Cancel Culture: Its Origins and Implications for America, https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2021/03/cancel_culture_its_origins_and_implications_for_america.html
  3. Judicial Watch, JW v. HHS CDC Social Media complaint 00625, https://www.judicialwatch.org/documents/jw-v-hhs-cdc-social-media-complaint-00625/
  4. The Wall Street Journal, A Coup of Pelosi’s Own, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-coup-of-pelosis-own-11610148740

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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.

Endless Crop of Green Onions, Chives

How to Propagate Organic Green Onions, Scallions, and Chives

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Green onions grown from cuttings
Green onions grown from cuttings
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Do you like to use green onions or scallions in your recipes? Do you like them as fresh as they can be? Do you prefer organic produce? Do you like to save money? Are you really big on convenience? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need this gardening tip! It applies whether your vegetable or herb garden is outside or if you rely on hydroponic gardening for those fresh edibles all year round.

Green Onions, Scallions, and Chives, What’s the Difference?

To begin with, green onions and scallions are the same thing, different name. That one and chives look and taste quite similar, but they are different plants. They have different practical uses as well as different nutritional profiles.

The primary difference from a botanical point of view is that green onions are a vegetable but chives are considered an herb like basil is. Surprisingly, chives also have a higher nutrient profile than green onions do. This makes sense because since herbs in general usually have a denser nutritional content.

Botany can be perplexing and befuddling for us mere mortals. For example, quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, or goosefoot) is not in actuality a true cereal grain, but rather a “pseudo-cereal.”



How to Get Your “Free” Produce

You will be amazed at how simple this is! When most people (almost all, actually) cut off the root section, they throw it in the trash; they don’t even compost vegetable scraps including these gems. Composting is important, especially if you are a prepper, homesteader, or just living off the grid.

So, here’s the process. Cut off the root section as usual, leaving about 1/2 inch of the bulb on it. Plant it, root section down, about 2 inches deep. As you can see from the picture at the top of this article, a simple ceramic pot works for my needs. Yes, I’m ready to put some fresh hardwood mulch in there. A top-dressing of compost periodically is a good idea. The idea is to harvest the biggest one, plant its root section; it’s a two-minute operation, easy-peasy. Water daily. Check out the size of my home-grown organic scallion (I’m making Panamanian-style ceviche today).

A huge, home-grown organic green onion, or scallion
A huge, home-grown organic green onion, or scallion


Well, that’s just about all there is to generating and enjoying an endless crop of green onions (scallions) and chives. Do it in your herb garden, kitchen window, or hydroponically. It’s all good in the culinary universe.

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

Getting Enough Minerals in Your Diet?

Insufficient Nutrition Can Be Robbing Your Optimal Health

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Forms of Nutraceuticals
Forms of Nutraceuticals
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So what exactly are nutraceuticals? According to Dictionary.com, they are, “a bioactive compound occurring as a food component, additive, or product, including vitamins, dietary fiber, herbal extracts, carotenoids, and probiotics: nutraceuticals are said to promote health and well-being, allegedly helping in the prevention and treatment of disease.”1

So basically, these include dietary supplements as well as basic foods. Ideally, we would get all necessary minerals and nutrients via the food groups but this is rarely the case due to lifestyle. You may have assumed that since minerals are in so many foods you are in the safe zone. Not so; in many cases strict vegans and even borderline vegetarians may be missing out on important trace minerals and the ones in your multi-vitamin may not be as high-quality as you suppose.

Calcium for Strong Bones, Teeth, and Heart

Calcium is one of the most important and abundant minerals in our bodies. WebMD.com says, “Calcium is a mineral that is an essential part of bones and teeth. The heart, nerves, and blood-clotting systems also need calcium to work. Calcium-rich foods include milk and dairy products, kale and broccoli, as well as the calcium-enriched citrus juices, mineral water, canned fish with bones, and soy products processed with calcium. Calcium is also taken as a supplement.”2 Which foods are calcium-rich? According to Kidshealth.org,3

  • Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, cereals and, crackers
  • Canned salmon, anchovies, and sardines with bones
  • Green leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli

Potassium for Your Nervous System

Potassium keeps your muscles and your nervous system working properly and minimizes the possibility of cramps. Your blood and bodily tissues, including muscles, contain water. Potassium helps ensure that the quantity of water is optimized between cells and body fluids; it performs a balancing act. You can find it in:

  • Legumes, such as beans, split peas, lentils
  • Bananas, tomatoes
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes, with skin intact
  • Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli

Zinc for Your Immune System

We all know the importance of our immune systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, this mineral gives a powerful boost to your immune system. This system fights off common illnesses and infections. It is also involved cellular growth and assists in healing wounds, such as cuts. It is found in:

  • A variety of nuts including cashews, pecans, walnuts, and almonds
  • Legumes, such as peanuts, split peas, and lentils
  • Cuts of meats such as beef, pork, and chicken

The Strength of Iron

Our bodies utilize the mineral iron to transport oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our bodies. This is a critical function because our bodies depend on oxygen to maintain life. Iron also assists in the production of hemoglobin. This is the component in our red blood cells that moves oxygen throughout our bodies. Get your iron in:

  • Eggs
  • By cooking in cast iron cookware
  • Dried fruits like apricots and raisins
  • Whole and enriched grains like quinoa, wheat, and oats
  • Various cuts of meat, particularly red meat like liver or beef

Steps for Good Health

All the minerals listed above originated in the earth and seas and got into the food chain that way. Research shows that the mineral depletion in the soil was about 85% during the years from 1900 to 1940.

Adding specific soil amendments in organic farming programs has made a measure of progress in bringing soil health back from the brink. Unfortunately, chemical techniques are still applied to most crops and meats found in your local grocery store. To maximize your health goals:

  • Take your supplements daily.
  • Purchase organic produce and free range meat whenever possible. Yes, you’ll pay a bit more but mineral and nutrient deficiencies cost even more in the long run.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity puts stress and strain on your body and impacts your overall health. Intermittent fasting for weight loss and maintenance is a great strategy for most people.
  • Consume fresh, local fruits and produce. They generally taste better and as a bonus they support your local economy which impacts you directly.

Getting enough minerals in your diet with healthy foods and supplements is not difficult. It might take a slight alteration in your lifestyle but you’ll be happier in the long run.

References

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nutraceutical?s=t
  2. WebMD.com, Calcium, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-781/calcium
  3. Mary l. Gavin M.D., Kidshealth.org, Minerals, https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/minerals.html

Further Reading and Relevant Recipes


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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, 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.

Insomnia – Symptoms, Causes, Myths

Sleep Depredation Adversely Affects Your Body, Brain, Mood, Cognitive Function

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Sleep deprivation -- asleep at the wheel
Sleep deprivation — asleep at the wheel
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What is insomnia? Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder. It makes it hard to drift off to sleep, difficult to stay asleep, or lead you to waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep. It is not uncommon to still feel tired after you wake up. Insomnia can diminish not only your energy level and your mood but also your health, work performance, and your quality of life.

How many people suffer and what is the probable cause? The Mayo Clinic says, “At some point, many adults experience short-term (acute) insomnia, which lasts for days or weeks. It’s usually the result of stress or a traumatic event. But some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia that lasts for a month or more. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be associated with other medical conditions or medications.”1 Some cases may be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic isolation.

What causes insomnia?

Symptoms of Insomnia

  • Waking up too early
  • Increased errors or accidents at work and at home
  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up in the night
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
  • Difficulty paying attention consistently, focusing on tasks, or remembering things
  • Ongoing worries and concerns about your sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness (nodding off at your desk, or worse, in your car)
  • Irritability, depression, confusion, or anxiety


Causes of Insomnia

This is not a one-size-fits-all ailment. It may just be happening on its own, other conditions can contribute to it, or be the primary cause. Medical treatment can be elusive as well. Melatonin can help. Treating the underlying cause may resolve your insomnia, but on the other hand, it can last for years. Possible causes include:

  • Travel or work schedule. Circadian rhythms function as an internal clock, managing such things as your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism, and your core body temperature. Disrupting these circadian rhythms can well result in a case of insomnia. Causes include jet lag from traveling across multiple time zones, exposure to too much blue light, working a late or early shift, or often changing shifts.
  • Eating too much too late. Having a light snack before bedtime is just fine, but compulsive overeating may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down. You might also experience heartburn, a nauseating backflow of acid and food from your stomach into your esophagus following eating, which can leave you wide awake.
  • And of course, Stress. Concerns about your work, grades at school, health, financial situation, or family circumstances can keep your mind alert during the night, making it difficult to sleep. Stressful life events or trauma like the death or illness of someone close to you, a pending divorce, or a job issues are recognized causes of insomnia.


Myths Regarding Insomnia

Like other medical conditions, there are pervasive myths about this one. WebMD2 has put together a list of the more common ones.

  • A drink will help you sleep. This myth probably persists because drinking alcohol can help you fall asleep. But as it moves through your body it may lead to disturbed, restless sleep, or it may make you wake earlier.
  • Insomnia Is strictly mental. It’s true that psychological issues can cause insomnia. As a matter of fact, stress is the No. 1 reason people report a lack of sleep. But it’s not the only insomnia trigger. Many things can cause insomnia, including poor sleep hygiene, illness, drug side effects, chronic pain, restless legs syndrome, or sleep apnea.
  • Screen time winds you down. You might want to try to wind down by reading on the computer or perusing TV before retiring, but that can actually stimulate you. The blue light and noise of TVs and computers can be overwhelming at a low level and can reduce brain melatonin levels. You want your melatonin levels to increase around bedtime to help you fall asleep. Need just a little noise to help you drift off? Try listening to relaxing music or download a relaxing, sleep app.
  • Sleep aids = risk-free. Yes, today’s sleeping pills are safer and much more effective than the older variety. But all meds have potential downsides, including dependency. Always talk to your primary care doctor before you reach for sleeping pills. Some help relieve insomnia symptoms temporarily but by themselves they can’t banish insomnia permanently. Fixing underlying health problems and fixing your sleep environment is usually the surest approach to insomnia.
  • I’ll just make up for lost sleep. Nope, it’s unlikely that you can really catch up on sleep you’ve mislaid. In fact, sleeping in one or two days per week or during the weekend may upset your natural body clock. The disruption may make it harder to get to sleep the next time. The only sure method to make up on your lost sleep is to get right back into a consistent sleeping schedule.
  • A nap will help offset insomnia. Naps are lovely, aren’t they? They affect everyone differently. For some, a short 10- to 20-minute cat nap siesta can be refreshing and put fuel in the old metaphorical tank. For people with insomnia, however, an afternoon snooze will decrease the brain’s sleep drive.
  • You can teach yourself to need less sleep. Believing this hocus-pocus can end you up with some serious consequences. We are all born with a fixed sleep need. Most adults fall into the 7-8 hour category. While you can learn to get by on less, you can’t teach your body to need less sleep. If you find yourself sleep deprived, it’s much more difficult to pay attention and remember things both important and trivial. Being consistently tired has some serious consequences. These include lowered work performance, a higher risk of mishaps, and of course, poor health.

If you have insomnia (as I occasionally do, by the way), don’t worry; you are not alone. Just knowing and understanding these insomnia symptoms, causes, and myths will go a long way towards understanding your condition and finding a solution that works for you. Me? I do just fine with late night melatonin and using blue light blocking glasses as I labor at my computer screen all day.

More Trending Articles to Enjoy

References

  1. The Mayo Clinic, Insomnia, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355167
  2. WebMD, Insomnia Myths and Facts, https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-insomnia


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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.

8 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

And How to Grow Hibiscus for Tea at Home

by Kelly R. Smith

Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
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Hibiscus tea (sometimes called “sour tea”) might not be so well known in the USA but it certainly is in other parts of the world. I’ve been drinking it for a few years now, both for the taste and the health benefits; it’s another item in my toolbox to keep my blood pressure in a reasonable range.. I add it to the grounds of my cold brew coffee maker, sometimes with fresh mint from my garden. Yeah, I know; wild, living on the edge. There are several hundred species of hibiscus plants that vary by the location and climate they are grown in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselles is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea. As a bonus, they are stunning in tropical landscape plantings. But we are here to talk about the health benefits of hibiscus tea.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

  • It lowers blood pressure. This is a big one for me. All blood pressure medications have side effects. For me, I take lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor. It causes coughing and the feeling of being lethargic. Rebekah Edwards says, “A 2013 review by the University of Arizona discovered that hibiscus tea is used in 10 or more countries as a normal hypertension treatment without any reported adverse events or side effects — except in extremely high doses.”1
  • It’s packed with antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are molecules that help fight compounds we call free radicals, which inflict damage to your cells. The National Library of medicine noting their study says, “Hibiscus anthocyanin extract has reducing power that is approximately 2-fold that of the synthetic antioxidant, butylated hydroanisole.”2 Other than hibiscus, many other foods contain them; tart cherries are a good example.


  • It supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides. Dyslipidemia is a type of disorder that is characterized by noticeable changes in plasma lipids or lipoproteins, including two you are probably familiar with: cholesterol and triglycerides. As with blood pressure, hibiscus tea’s ability to reduce high “blood lipids” also extends to those with diabetes. A 2009 study had diabetes patients drink hibiscus tea two times a day for a full month and they found a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a marked decrease in total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • It may help to lower blood fat levels. The National Library of medicine citing a study of sour tea (ST) and black tea (BT) says, “The results of the present study showed that ST has a significant effect on blood lipid profile in patients with diabetes.”3 Many studies have shown that hibiscus tea reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides in people suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. That said, other studies have shown conflicting results. Obviously, more research is needed in the general population.
  • It prevents oxidative stress. Like most healthy teas on the market, hibiscus is chock full of antioxidants that combat free radical damage caused by substandard nutrient diets and frequent exposure to dangerous chemicals. These antioxidants are found primarily in the anthocyanins of the plant, the natural pigments that give this flower its brilliant red color.
  • It may boost liver health. Your liver is essential to your overall health. Some of its jobs include producing proteins, secreting bile, and breaking down fat. One small human research study found that supplementing with hibiscus tea raised the antioxidant load in the bloodstream as well as reducing compounds that contribute to oxidative stress that damages cells.
  • It shows promise in fighting certain cancers. Although this idea is only starting to gain traction, there is already some evidence to support hibiscus tea’s anticancer power. It has been shown that hibiscus extracts cause apoptosis, or cell death, in leukemia cells. Although the exact mechanisms behind this aren’t clear as of yet, this could be a promising step in the ever-going fight against leukemia, which affects about a quarter of the children and adolescents currently struggling with cancer.
  • It reduces obesity and related risks. How? Human and animal studies have found a link between hibiscus tea and an elevated metabolism. Hibiscus extract may even inhibit you from absorbing as much starch and sucrose as you might from a typical meal. One study in particular gave 36 overweight participants either hibiscus extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, body mass index and hip-to-waist ratio


Growing and Preparing Hibiscus for Tea at Home

Test your soil pH in a well-draining area that receives full sun at least six months before planting if possible, and, if needed, amend it using elemental sulfur or dolomitic lime to adjust the pH to between 6.1 and 7.8. The do best in humus-rich soil and full sunlight.

Harvest your flowers after they have bloomed. You want the calyxes (the main body of the flower). They should snap right off. Once you have your harvest, complete the steps to prepare and dry them. This video explains it in detail.

How to process hibiscus flowers for tea

Can you benefit from hibiscus tea? Of course! There’s something for everybody and if you grow your own supply you will save money and be certain it is organic.

Others are Reading

Reference

  1. .Rachael Link, Dr. Axe, Hibiscus Tea: The Antioxidant ‘Therapeutic Agent’ You Should Be Drinking, https://draxe.com/nutrition/hibiscus-tea/
  2. Taofeek O Ajiboye, et al, National Library of medicine, Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21314460/
  3. Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, et al., National Library of medicine, Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19678781/


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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.

Philosophy of Martin Luther King

Non-Violence in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi

by Kelly R. Smith

Martin Luther King and Barack Obama
Martin Luther King and Barack Obama
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Martin Luther King Jr., whose birth name was Michael King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He died on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. The central theme of his teachings and leadership was his philosophy of non-violence in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi.

The King Center explains the Triple Evils that MLK defined, “The Triple Evils of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils. To work against the Triple Evils, you must develop a nonviolent frame of mind as described in the ‘Six Principles of Nonviolence’ and use the Kingian model for social action outlined in the ‘Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change’.”1

The Triple Evils

  1. Poverty. This Evil encompasses unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, and slums. Poverty is not something new but we now have the resources to get rid of it. “The well off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for the least of these.”1
  2. Racism. This Evil refers to prejudicial mindsets, South Africa style apartheid, continuing ethnic conflict, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism (the one that Obama is frenetic about), homophobia, ageism, discrimination against disabled groups, stereotypes.
  3. Militarism. This Evil concerns war, imperialism, domestic violence, rape, domestic terrorism (Antifa, BLM), human trafficking from undocumented illegal aliens to sex workers, media violence, drug proliferation, child abuse, and violent crime.


King’s Six Principals of Non-Violence

MLK defined these fundamental principals in his book Stride Toward Freedom.

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil. It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and like happiness, emotionally.
  2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.
  3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people. The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil not people.
  4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation. Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.
  5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body. Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
  6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win. Nonviolence believes that our righteous God is a God of justice.


Fact: Today over 700 streets in the Unites States are named after Martin Luther King Jr., with one such street in almost every major city.

King’s Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change

  1. Information gathering. To understand and articulate an issue, problem or injustice facing a person, community, or institution you must do research. You must investigate and gather all vital information from all sides of the argument or issue so as to increase your understanding of the problem. You must become an expert on your opponent’s position in order to have empathy.
  2. Education. It is essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.
  3. Personal commitment. Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Eliminate hidden motives and prepare yourself to accept suffering, if necessary, in your work for justice.
  4. Discussion/negotiation. Using grace, humor and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices. Look for what is positive in every action and statement the opposition makes. Do not seek to humiliate the opponent but to call forth the good in the opponent.
  5. Direct action. These are actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. These actions impose a “creative tension” into the conflict, supplying moral pressure on your opponent to work with you in resolving the injustice.
  6. Reconciliation. Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. Nonviolence is directed against evil systems, forces, oppressive policies, unjust acts, but not against persons. Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve the injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step close to the ‘Beloved Community.’

The philosophy of Martin Luther King is sound and timeless. Unfortunately, his concepts are sadly lacking in today’s society. Instead, the mainstream media, social media, and the monied few seek to indulge in social engineering through fake news, censorship, and rigged elections. We can do better, can’t we?

Others are Reading

Reference

  1. The King Center, https://thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy/#:~:text=Fundamental%20tenets%20of%20Dr.%20King%E2%80%99s%20philosophy%20of%20nonviolence,to%20evil.It%20is%20aggressive%20spiritually%2C%20mentally%20and%20emotionally.


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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.

Benefits, Side Effects of L-Arginine

A Dietary Nutraceutical Supplement for Better Health

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Nutraceuticals--ways to get your dietary supplements
Nutraceuticals–ways to get your dietary supplements
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What are Dietary nutraceutical forms of consumables? From Dictionary.com, “a bioactive compound occurring as a food component, additive, or product, including vitamins, dietary fiber, herbal extracts, carotenoids, and probiotics: nutraceuticals are said to promote health and well-being, allegedly helping in the prevention and treatment of disease.”1

Well now, that’s a mouthful. The particular supplement we are interested in this article is L-Arginine. It may not be as commonplace as vitamin C or CoQ102 but the list of health benefits is impressive.

What is L-Arginine?

Under normal circumstances your body naturally produces L-arginine. You can also acquire additional L-arginine as part of your regular diet. But at times, your need for L-arginine may exceed your body’s ability to produce and/or consume it naturally. This nutrient deficiency is often the case for older adults or people with some medical conditions. This is when supplements are helpful, either prescribed or purchased over the counter.

In these cases, you might be prescribed artificial (lab-produced) L-arginine in the form of an oral medication, injections, or skin creams. A number of potential health conditions may benefit from a supplemental intake of L-arginine. It is generally considered safe in moderate and recommended doses, however too much L-arginine carries the potential for severe side effects, up to and including death. Therefore, it is key to consider how the supplement can interact with your body and with other medications prior to taking it. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a regimen.



The Benefits of L-Arginine

It offers two primary effects; First, it turns into nitric oxide and secondly it aids the body in building protein. According to Medical News Today, “These effects give L-Arginine an array of potential benefits that range from heart health and chest pain to helping to build muscles, repair wounds, and improve male fertility. Although there are many claims about the benefits of L-Arginine, not all of them are supported by scientific research studies.”3

However, the following benefits and uses of L-Arginine have been researched:

  • Growth hormone reserve test (a test used if a growth hormone deficiency is suspected.)
  • Correcting inborn errors of urea synthesis
  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Treating erectile dysfunction (ED)
  • Treating heart disease
  • Easing inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants
  • Controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes

The Side Effects of L-Arginine

  • Gout
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood abnormalities
  • Worsening of existing asthma condition
  • Bloating
  • Airway inflammation
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Allergies

As with any drug or supplement, L-Arginine has its own benefits and side effects. It always pays to be in the know about what to expect. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not, nor does it claim to, monitor the safety or effectiveness of any supplements, so it is important to choose a reputable brand that you know and trust.

More Trending Articles:

Resources

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nutraceutical?s=t
  2. Kelly R. Smith, I Can Fix Up My Home Blog, Should Runners and Others Supplement with CoQ10?, http://www.icanfixupmyhome.com/WPBlog1/2018/12/05/should-runners-and-others-supplement-with-coq10/
  3. Jenna Fletcher, Medical News Today, The benefits and side effects of L-arginine, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318174#_noHeaderPrefixedContent



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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.

Happiness is Not an Emotion

It’s a Moral Obligation; Another Wise Insight from Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager explains why happiness is important
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Happiness is such an important concept that it is written into the U.S. Constitution. Firstthings.com says, “The right to “the pursuit of happiness” affirmed in the Declaration of Independence is taken these days to affirm a right to chase after whatever makes one subjectively happy. Further, the Declaration doesn’t guarantee the right to happiness, the thought usually goes, but only the right to pursue what makes you happy.”1

But of course saying, ” taken these days,” implies that this this is subjective. Dictionary.com defines happiness as a noun meaning, “1. the quality or state of being happy, and, 2. good fortune, pleasure, contentment, joy.”2

Dennis Prager takes the importance of happiness and drills down much deeper. The importance of it turns out to be much less than simple self-interest. Let’s have a look at his concept as I see it.



Happiness is Not for You, It’s for Others

Individuals that are unhappy shouldn’t inflict that moodiness on others. Doing so is not a right; in fact it is quite a disservice. Case in point — I once worked as the maintenance supervisor at a certain hotel. The corporate name is not important. My immediate boss was a very uncomfortable fellow to be around. He had temper tantrums and was verbally abusive. I ended up being the buffer zone between not only him and my crew, but also between him and the housekeepers since I speak Spanish and he didn’t. And, he always had something to say about their work even though those women were dramatically underpaid. I eventually quit when he cursed me out in the public lobby. I have hypertension (high blood pressure) and don’t need the grief.

What was his issue? The two common thoughts were that he was on some serious steroids (big-time weight-lifter), or he was off his medications for a condition that smoothed out his mood and attitude. The bottom line? He made everybody miserable just by walking into the room. The take-away is that attitude is contagious. If you can’t be happy, make an effort to seem happy.

As an aside and interesting observation, Prager states that, “In most cases, marriages are between a moody and a non-moody. Most are; here’s the proof. Where I have met a couple of non-moodys married to non-moodys, I have never once met a moody married to a moody. Know why? I’ll tell you why. Because the moody may be moody, but they’re not stupid. They never marry one of their own.”

Acting Happy Can Make You Happy

It may seem like a contradiction but acting happy can make you happy. More importantly, unhappiness, if left unchecked, feeds on itself like a malevolent leech. To avoid this, get out of your state of thinking. Psychologytoday.com says, “How to stop the misery: Instead of putting yourself down for your mistakes and failures, make the conscious decision to grow from them. ‘Oh, now I see what I need to do in the future. I’ll look at this as a challenge rather than as a problem.’ This self-talk will help you develop a ‘growth mindset,’ to use the phrase of researcher Carol Dweck. People who can grow from their setbacks are more likely to succeed and to feel better about themselves.”

Fake News Begs for an Attitude Adjustment

Whether you think fake news has an effect on you or not, it does. This is true whether you are on the right, the liberal left, or somewhere in the center. The media has an agenda and intends to change (or affirm) your views. This polarizes us. Question everything. When you find the truth, adjust your attitude. Not necessarily your opinion; that might be a bridge too far. But, don’t take the attitude to work.

So that’s it. If you are an unhappy person, work on losing the attitude. Show a happy face to the world and your family. You will have fulfilled a great moral obligation and made yourself happier in the process.

More Trending Articles:


Resources

  1. James R. Rogers, Firstthings.com, The Meaning of “the Pursuit of Happiness,” https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/06/the-meaning-of-the-pursuit-of-happiness
  2. Dictionary.com, Happiness, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/happiness?s=t
  3. Meg Selig, Psychologytoday.com, 10 Ways You Are Causing Your Own Unhappiness, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201701/10-ways-you-are-causing-your-own-unhappiness




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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.

Grow Your Own Orange Tree, Harvest Citrus Fruit

When Life Gives You Oranges, Make Orange Juice!

by Kelly R. Smith

Making fresh orange juice
Making fresh orange juice
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This article was updated on 12/31/20.

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When my daughter Shannon was very young, she had an appetite for oranges that the local grocery store markets as “cuties.” In reality, they are a type of Mandarin orange. Just easy to peel. This caused me to embark on a journey to plant one fruit tree each year. Year one was that Mandarin orange tree, planted in the back yard.

The next year it was a Republic of Texas orange tree (pictured below). In the photo above, you might notice that the rinds darkened a bit from a slight freeze, but the insides remain fine. This tree bears fruit in the summer and by early December it’s ready for picking. No rush though; the fruit will hang there in suspended animation for months.



Choosing Your Fruit Trees

Many people make the mistake of seeing a tree at Walmart, Home Depot, or some other big box store, buying it, planting it, and then wondering why they never get any fruit. Well, it’s because these trees are sold irrespective of customer location. What works in upstate New York does not work here in south Texas. It is all about the growing zone — how freeze-tolerant the tree is. For example, consider the avocado tree. It is a southern tree but some species do well in moderate freezes.

Republic of Texas orange tree
Republic of Texas orange tree

The best bet is to go to a local nursery, after you do your initial research. They have a vested interest in the community and will likely want to keep a customer base. There are other resources to consider. Here, we have Randy Lemon, graduate of Texas A&M, who does a local radio show. I’ve listened to his weekend show for years and I have to admit, I wasn’t totally onboard initially because he poo-pooed organic, but now that his advertisers have began offering organic products, it’s all good. Imagine.

The bottom line here (I know you’ve been waiting for it) is that it is always a good time to put in your own fruit trees. You might be a prepper or not. You might trust organic produce at the grocery store or not. You might just want to save money. Regardless, there is a lot to be said for self-sufficiency. And, if you’ve got the real estate, why not?

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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, 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.