11 Types of Woodworking Joints

Carpentry Joinery for Strength and Aesthetic Appeal

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade woodworking putty
Homemade woodworking putty
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There are many types of woodworking joints to choose from. Which to use on your current carpentry project? In my opinion, there are three main considerations.

  • Joint strength is the most important. Some things you build will be more subject to wear and tear than others.
  • Do you have the right shop tools and skills? Some joints, like the dovetail joint, can be made with a jig or with hand tools. Skills? You can always learn them.
  • Aesthetics, or the beauty of a particular joint should be considered after you have satisfied the first to points.

Types of Woodworking Joints

  • Pocket Hole Joinery. This is basically a butt joint with pocket hole screws.; it’s very popular for furniture building and repair. Two drilling steps are called for. First, counterbore the pocket hole itself. This is where the screw head is contained. Second, drill a pilot hole so the centerline is the same as the pocket hole. This allows the screw to go through one piece and into the adjoining piece. You use two different sized drill bits for this operation in most cases although step-bits are sometimes used. Kreg is the most popular brand of jig for this joint.

A dovetail joint
A dovetail joint

  • Dovetail Joint. This is a very strong woodworking joint. It’s known for tensile strength (resistance from pulling apart). The woodworking dovetail joint is often used to connect the sides of a drawer to the front. A number of pins are cut to extend from the end of one board and lock with a number of tails cut into the end of another board. These pins tails have a trapezoidal shape and can be cut by hand or with a jig. I use a Porter Cable dovetail jig. Once glued up, your joint is permanent without any mechanical fasteners. See the video below where I show you how to make glue that matches your project wood perfectly.
How to make homemade wood putty
A woodworking butt joint
A woodworking butt joint
  • Butt Joint. The Butt Joint is a simple woodworking joint. It joins two pieces of stock by just butting them together. The butt joint is the simplest joint to make so in that respect it might be the correct choice if you don’t have many tools at your disposal. It is also the weakest wood joint unless you use some form of reinforcement (like dowels, which can add a decorative touch). Otherwise, it depends upon glue alone to hold it together. Because of the orientation of the pieces, you have an end grain to long grain gluing surface. The resulting wood joint is weak, as you might expect because glue alone doesn’t provide much lateral strength.
  • Biscuit Joint. A biscuit joint is nothing more than a reinforced Butt joint. The biscuit is an oval-shaped piece. Typically, a biscuit is made of dried and compressed wood, such as beech. You install it in matching mortises in both pieces of the wood joint. Most people use a biscuit joiner to make the mortises. Accuracy is important for the mortises. You design the biscuit joint to allow flexibility in glue-up.
A double biscuit joint ready for glue-up
A double biscuit joint ready for glue-up
Biscuit joiner for woodworking
Biscuit joiner for woodworking
  • Bridle Joint. This is similar to a mortise and tenon; just cut a tenon on the end of one piece and a mortise into the other piece to receive it. Cut the tenon and the mortise to the full width of the tenon piece. The result is only three gluing surfaces so it is imperative to use a very high-quality woodworking glue. A mechanical fastener or some sort of through-pin is required.
A bridal joint
A bridal joint
Finger joint or box joint
Finger joint or box joint
  • Finger or Box Joint. This one is much like a dovetail joint except that the pins are square and not angled. It is easy to make if you know how to use a table saw or a wood router with a jig. The Porter Cable 4216 12″ Deluxe Dovetail Jig Combination Kit comes with a box joint template. This finger/box joint was invented as a better way to construct simple boxes for produce from field to market. That, my friends, is capitalist ingenuity in action.
A dado joint
A dado joint
  • Dado Joint. OK, funny name but a dado is simply a slot cut into the surface of a piece of wood. When seen in a cross-section, the dado has three distinct sides. Cut a dado perpendicular to the grain of the wood. Technically, it’s different from a groove, which is cut parallel to the grain. This joint is a good choice for bookcase shelves.
A typical lap joint
A typical lap joint
  • Half Lap Joint. With the half lap joint, remove material from each piece such that the finished joint results in the thickness of the thickest piece. But in the majority of half lap joints, both pieces are of the same thickness. Just remove half the thickness of each piece.
A mortise and tenon joint
A mortise and tenon joint
  • Mortise and Tenon Joint. This is a very strong woodworking joint. In the majority of situations its used to join two pieces at a 90° angle. One end of a piece fits into a square hole in the other piece. The end of the first piece is the tenon; the hole in the second piece is the mortise. The tenon is glued in but if you require additional strength, you can also pin it. This is sometimes done for decorative reasons. It is a generally accepted practice to make the tenon about a 1/3 the thickness of the piece. The mortise can be cut by removing as much wood as possible with a plunge router then cleaning up the edges with a chisel.
A rabbet joint
A rabbet joint
  • Rabbet Joint. This a recess that’s cut into the edge of a board. Seen in a cross-section, the rabbet is two-sided and open to the end of the surface. It can be used in the back edge of a cabinet to allow the back to fit flush with the sides. It can also be used to insertion of a glass pane in a picture frame.
Tongue and groove joint
Tongue and groove joint
  • Tongue and Groove Joint. This is another very strong joint because of all the open grain on both pieces of wood. It’s used in many applications. For example, to make wide tabletops out of solid wood. Other uses include wood flooring, parquetry, paneling, etc. You can cut the tongue and groove in a number of ways. An effective way to make this joint is on a router table.

Knowing these 11 types of woodworking joints, you’ll most likely find one or more to fit the needs of your woodworking project.

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About the Author:

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

Why Grow Sage in Your Garden?

This Medicinal Herb is a Must-Have in Your Garden or Flower Bed

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

The many health benefits of sage
The many health benefits of sage
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Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a medicinal herb that offers a powerful effect against both viruses and microbes which makes it important in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been used for centuries by herbalists worldwide. The name Salvia comes from the Latin word “salvus” which can be translated as “I save” or “I heal.”

Many plants in your garden perform more than just providing food. Whether you are a prepper or not, you likely grow some of these plants to repel mosquitos, for example. Some herbs, like mint, do double-duty. Sage is primarily medicinal. The Romans were the people who began using sage extensively so it has a long history.

The Medicinal Benefits of Sage

  • A Powerful Disinfectant. A sage decoction (boiling in water to extract the benefits) and gargle to clean your mouth and treat various inflammation of the mouth. Use it externally to treat skin wounds and inflammation. Rub it on or add it to your bath.
  • Sage as an Anti-Inflammatory. It can treat inflamed gums, mouth ulcers, and many other irritations. Chew fresh leaves or make a poultice and apply it to your cold sores on your lips or nose. It’s no wonder that sage is one of the most common ingredients in toothpaste.


  • Use it to Eliminate Indigestion. Do you suffer from indigestion? Like the medicinal herb lemon balm, sage is your friend. Just add it to your line-up of bread baking ingredients or to your cooking.
  • Gallbladder Booster. Adding sage to your daily meals will stimulate the gallbladder.
  • Sage Tea for Cleansing. Some believe that half of a gallon of a mild sage decoction can cleanse your intestinal wall, helps cure polyps, and kills harmful parasites. That’s a lot of curative power. Some believe it is effective as a liver detox method.
  • Cell Protection. Sage can help protect your body’s cells from damage resulting from free radicals due to its high antioxidant capacity. Free radicals often cause cells to die and can lead to impaired immunity and chronic disease. They can be formed either naturally in your body by means of your normal metabolic processes or from external factors like X-rays, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, and exposure to industrial chemicals.


  • Alzheimer’s Treatment. An article in the US National Library of Medicine reports, “In vitro and animal studies have confirmed that several Salvia species contain a large array of active compounds that may enhance cognitive activity and protect against neurodegenerative disease.” It goes on to say, “In this 4-month study, participants allocated to the active-drug condition (60 drops of S. officinalis daily) experienced significantly greater improvements in cognitive function as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, and the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale.”
  • Lowers Blood Glucose and Cholesterol. Another article in the US National Library of Medicine reported, “Conclusions: S. officinalis leaves may be safe and have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid profile improving effects in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients.”

Growing Sage

  • Sage is resistant to both cold and heat; its cold hardy to -30°.
  • It flowers during the summer.
  • Plant it in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade but the flavor will be reduced.
  • Cultivate it in well-drained soil. Sandy loam is preferable but it will grow in average soil too. It prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.7.
  • You can start sage seed indoors as early as 6 to 8 weeks before the average last frost date in your growing zone.
  • Or, sow seed in your garden during late spring after the last frost. Sow seed shallowly, ¼ inch deep.
  • For companion planting, grow sage with chives and calendula, cabbage, carrots, strawberries, and tomatoes. It is believed to deter cabbage-family pests such as imported cabbage worms and root maggot flies. The flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden. Sage will stunt the growth of cucumbers and has a negative effect on onions.

It’s easy to see why you should grow sage in your garden. Whether you plan to use it for natural medicine, as an ornamental, or for companion planting, it will enhance your property. Always grow organically; what you put in your soil ends up in your body.

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About the Author:

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

Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Recipe

How to Make These Popular Store-Bought Cookies at Home

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies
Copycat Lofthouse Sugar Cookies
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Although I love to cook, develop bread recipes, and eat copiously, I’m not real big on “sweets.” My wife, (She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed), on the other hand, enjoys her special treats. In particular, she likes Lofthouse Sugar Cookies. I do have a thing for dark (unsweetened) chocolate, and that dovetails nicely in my blood pressure control program because it’s good for that.

Normally, I buy them at the local Kroger when I’m out hunting and gathering. For the past few weeks, they haven’t been selling them. Unfortunate, right? So I decided, hey, why not make them myself? I found many copycat recipes on the internet, took the best of the elements, rolled up my sleeves, and went to work. Here’s what I came up with, and I hope you try it as well. Share the good news, I always say.



Lofthouse Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup organic pure cane granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract (more than other copycats specify, but yum)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour (some copycats specify cake flour; your call)


Salute to Baking Experimentation

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line one or more baking sheets with parchment paper. I used 2 baking sheets for some really big cookies, seen in the photo above, and that only used up 3/4 of the dough.
  3. Use your mixer in a large mixing bowl to cream together the butter and sour cream until smooth.
  4. Add in the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix until just combined.
  5. In a much bigger mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (if you are using it). Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three additions, mixing well after each.
  6. Keeping your hands wet with water, form drop cookies. Roll dough into 2″ balls and place 2″ apart on the prepared cookie sheet/s. Using a flat-bottomed glass dipped in water, press the cookie balls flat.
  7. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the cookies just begin to set up and the bottoms are lightly brown; this is really the critical step. After the first 5 minutes, check every minute. Immediately remove them from the cookie sheet/s and let them cool completely on a cooling rack before applying the frosting of your choice.


I hope you enjoy this copycat Lofthouse sugar cookie recipe as much as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed did. Let us know in the comment section and vote in the survey on the right.

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About the Author:

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

How to Use a Multimeter

Use an Analog or Digital Multimeter (DMM) to Diagnose Circuits, Measure Voltage and Current

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

A typical digital multimeter and leads
A typical digital multimeter and leads
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I’ll be the first to admit it – electrical troubleshooting is not my favorite DIY task. Give me a woodworking project, give me a wall to tape and float; ahh, now you’re looking at a happy camper. But when I do have to jump in there chasing electrons, the first thing I reach for is my digital multimeter.

Digital VS Analog

Multimeters are also called multitesters, which is perhaps a more descriptive name. The digital models might be newer than the analog ones but the concept is the same. Like analog watches and clocks preceded digital ones, the same is true with electrical testing meters. The same might be said of aneroid vs digital barometers.

Is one better than the other? Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been told that the digital is more accurate than its analog cousin. I don’t really care though. I’m not likely to be measuring anything down to the nana-micro-tinyvolt level of granularity. Besides, I really like that little needle flicking around. I guess it reminds me of those old science fiction B movies. But alas, my old analog doesn’t work anymore so I’ve gone digital.



Multimeter Functions

For such a small gadget, the multitester really packs a punch with respect to functionality. Check out some of the things this little gizmo will do for you:

  • Continuity Testing: This is probably the simplest function. No mystery here, it’s just what it sounds like. It checks to see if the electrical current is continuous from point A to point B.
  • Voltage Testing: Again, very straightforward. For example, to test a light switch or an outlet, set the meter to AC (Alternating Current), set it to the voltage closest to what you’re measuring (110 – 120 for an outlet), and put one probe in each slot. Almost all portable electronics use DC (Direct Current). As a simple example, consider an AA battery. Connect the black probe to the meter’s ground or COM port and the red probe to mAVΩ (the 10A port is for large currents (greater than 200mA). Touch the probes with a little pressure against the positive and negative terminals of the AA battery. If you’ve got a new battery, you should see around 1.5V on the display (this battery is brand new, so its voltage is slightly higher than 1.5V).
  • Measuring Resistance: It also tests resistance in a circuit or device. Your instruction manual will go into detail for your specific model, but basically just set the knob to Ohms, plug the black lead into COM jack, the red into the OHM jack. Then put the leads across the device in parallel and read the resistance. Note: If it reads 1 or -1, try testing in a larger range.


  • Measuring Current: Reading current is one of the trickiest and most insightful readings in the world of embedded electronics, such as you might find in a smart Wi-Fi weather station. Why is it tricky? Because you have to measure current in series. Where voltage is measured by poking at VCC and GND (in parallel), to measure current it is necessary to physically interrupt the flow of current and then place your meter in-line.


Using a multimeter is not something that most of us will use every day but having one and knowing how to use it will come in handy time and time again. When choosing one, everyone has his preference, generally speaking, multimeters that have continuity are preferred. Every other feature is just icing on the cake.

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About the Author:

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

How to Use a Barometer

Using Atmospheric Pressure and Short-Term Changes for Weather Prediction

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

An aneroid barometer
An aneroid barometer
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Getting the weather forecast or current conditions these days is easier than ever and we have become somewhat complacent about it (yawn, yawn). Just check one of the many sites on the internet. One hour from now, no problem. 10 days from now, likewise. If you want conditions and a forecast for a very specific area, such as your home or neighborhood, go with a personal weather station (PWS).

In the old days, tools like the barometer had to be used to anticipate rain or storms in the near future. Your PWS, in fact, has barometric functionality. Electronic pressure sensors measure pressure utilizing a force collector which measures the strain resulting from an applied force over an area. Changes in electrical resistivity of a semiconductor or metal are measured when a mechanical strain is applied. The resulting voltage output may be analog, which can be converted to digital.



What is Atmospheric Pressure?

First, a little conceptual science. Atmospheric pressure (barometric pressure) is just the weight of air at ground level. Consider the concept of water pressure as an analogy. The deeper you get in the water, the more the pressure increases because as you go down, the built-up weight of the water above you increases.

Consider land as being the bottom of your atmospheric sea. Air is actually not weightless although in daily life it seems so. Atmospheric pressure is the weight of the air from the top of the atmosphere straight down to you; a column, if you will. As you might imagine, pressure is lower as you get higher in elevation because there’s less air on top of you.

This pressure measurement is usually made in hectopascals which is in effect a measure of pounds per square inch. On any modern consumer barometer, the measurement will be indicated in either inches or millibars.

Forecasting the Weather With a Barometer

If you have an aneroid device, you’ll need to manually calibrate it. It’s easy; all this entails is adjusting a small screw on the back to set the hand, like on a clock, to match the current barometric pressure where you are. weather.gov is very comprehensive by zip code. Once you’ve done that, it’s all set. Digital barometers do this step for you.

Barometer measurements are either in inches or millibars. Your readings will usually be between 28 and 31 inches, generally measured to the hundredth decimal. However, the number itself isn’t going to help you much. The thing to focus on is which direction the numbers are moving. You’re looking for the change in barometric pressure to forecast the weather. What does this mean? The static numbers that exhibit no indication of rising or falling aren’t very useful. So, you need to keep up with the change.

Aneroid barometers have two hands. One shows the barometric pressure reading The other one is a manual dial that you align with the pressure reading at the time that you take a measurement. This way you can quickly and easily see which direction and how far the needle has moved between your readings.

Digital barometers usually have indications of “rising” or “falling,” and some models even display a graph called a barograph showing earlier readings and trends. This is more helpful and accurate for you, the amateur meteorologist. Instead of having to write down or memorize previous readings, your device does it for you.



A wind/barometer table
A wind/barometer table

Those are the basics of using a barometer. The more you use it, the more adept you will become at understanding weather patterns in your location. Other than just doing it as a hobby, knowing how conditions are changing is very useful for work and outdoor recreational activities.


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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 Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Recipe

Traditional HomemadeTex-Mex Comfort Food

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade chicken enchiladas
Homemade chicken enchiladas
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Enchiladas are originally from traditional Mexican cuisine, but the ones I make have sort of crossed the border to Tex-Mex. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, or usually, a combination. The sauces are usually chili-based sauces, like salsa roja, various moles, or cheese-based sauces, like chile con queso. The recipe I present here is the one I made a couple of nights ago, but feel free to indulge in modifications!

Chicken Enchilada Ingredients

  • 6 – 8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 lb. cooked, shredded chicken; I simply used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store to expedite the process.
  • 3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 – 4.5 oz diced green chilis with their juice
  • 1 14 oz. can oz mild red or green enchilada sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup diced red onions
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Mexican, Four Cheese, or Colby Jack)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives
  • Optional: chopped jalapeno, serrano, or (whew) habanero peppers to taste


Chicken enchiladas in the pan
Chicken enchiladas in the pan

Enchilada Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.
  3. Add all ingredients except for the cheese and the chicken into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Mix completely.
  5. Transfer 1/3 of the mixture into another mixing bowl.
  6. Add the chicken and 2 cups of your cheese to the 2/3 bowl and mix in well.
  7. Generously add contents of the 2/3 bowl to the center of each tortilla and roll up tortillas tightly. Arrange them in your dish as you go.
  8. Pour the reserved 1/3 of sauce over the tortillas, spread well, and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese (you can add more cheese if you desire).
  9. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400˚F for 35 minutes.
  10. Remove and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this Cheesy Chicken Enchilada recipe as much as we do. I always get an opinion from She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and this dish got two thumbs up! Next time I’ll experiment a bit more. The basil in my garden is really taking off now so…



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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 Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ambient Smart Wi-Fi Weather Station

Model WS-2902C WiFi Product Review

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
Ambient WS-2902C Wi-Fi Weather Station
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So, this Ambient Weather Wi-Fi Smart Weather Station is my latest project. I’ve always been interested in weather conditions and here in South Texas it’s always a good thing to stay informed of. I do a lot of running and dog-walking so knowing how to dress before venturing outside is always a good idea. It gives me a bit more freedom as I go about my day.

I bought it from Amazon.com. Yes, Walmart sells small sensor units, of which I have had one for years. It was just time to ramp up my game. This model is mid-range in price for Ambient stations, but it does everything I need it to do. For example, knowing how barometric pressure works is imperative; I do live in a hurricane zone.



Weather Station Installation

Right out of the box, putting this gadget together is a simple task. Just a few basic assembly steps and viola! You will need to procure and put up a mounting pole. I used:

  • A 10′ length of electrical conduit, about $10 at Home Depot.
  • A post-hole digger.
  • About 4 cups of Quikrete. No mixing, just pour it into the hole and pour water over it. This is definitely DIY concrete, mixing not required.

Ambient Features

  • It comes with the unit and a tablet-sized display console suitable for setting on your desk or table or mounting on the wall.
  • Solar-powered.
  • Wireless all-in-one integrated sensor array measures wind speed/direction, temperature (indoor/outdoor), humidity (indoor/outdoor), rainfall, UV and solar radiation, barometric pressure, time and date.
  • Supports both imperial and metric units of measure with calibration available.
  • Enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity option that enables your station to transmit its data wirelessly to the world’s largest personal weather station network.


Predicting weather with the barometer
Predicting weather with the barometer

Do I recommend this Ambient Weather Smart Weather Station? Yes, I do. For my purposes the data reported is all that I could ask for. Assembly was easy, about an hour and a half including installing the pole mount. Finally (for a very rare occurrence with today’s products), the instruction booklet is comprehensive and detailed.


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

Lemon Balm: Uses, Benefits, Growing

A Medicinal Herb That Does Double-Duty as a Pest Control

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Lemon balm next to a tomato plant
Lemon balm next to a tomato plant
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Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a lemon-scented herb that comes from the mint family. It is a perennial and its leaves have a light lemon fragrance. The herb is native to Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, but it’s cultivated around the world today. As with many popular herbs, it is highly regarded for its medicinal qualities. But don’t worry, you won’t need a shaman to administer it. Keeping a plant in your garden provides a steady supply of tea.

Here’s another important use — it doesn’t just have to be relegated to your herb garden, it can be planted anywhere because it offers a fringe benefit. In addition to its health properties, it acts as pest control because it repels mosquitos. Hello, outdoor barbeque!

Benefits of Lemon Balm

  • Stress Relief. Lemon balm is said to soothe symptoms of stress, boost your mood, and help you to relax. Just the thing after a day of dealing with proponents of Critical Race Theory. In a study, the National Library of Medicine found that, “The results showed that the 600-mg dose of Melissa ameliorated the negative mood effects of the DISS, with significantly increased self-ratings of calmness and reduced self-ratings of alertness.”1
  • Treating Insomnia. Combining lemon balm with valerian may help alliviate restlessness and sleep disorders such as insomnia. In addition, drinking lemon balm tea can help with disturbing dreams such as Corona Virus dreams.
  • It May Boost Cognitive Function. MDPI.com published a study that concluded, “active lemon balm treatments were generally associated with improvements in mood and/or cognitive performance, though there were some behavioral “costs” at other doses and these effects depended to some degree on the delivery matrix. The results indicate that Lemon balm delivered in foodstuffs can have positive behavioural effects which may be used in applied health settings.”2

  • Healing Cold Sores. According to WebMD.com, “Lemon balm ointments have been found to help heal cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).”3 Using lemon balm cream may help prolong the intervals between cold sore outbreaks.
  • Soothing Digestive Problems. Compounds in lemon balm may help with gastrointestinal problems like bloating and indigestion. Try adding 1 teaspoon (tsp) of lemon balm powder to a bowl of ice cream or smoothie.
  • Help With Menstrual Cramps. A study reported in the US National Library of Medicine concluded that, “the results of the current study showed that M. officinalis capsules were effective to reduce the intensity of PMS symptoms.”4


Health Risks

Although lemon balm is considered safe; the American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook lists lemon balm as a “class 1” herbal product. Some sources recommend limiting it to 3 weeks use, 1 week off. Here are some interactions:

  • HIV Medication. Lemon balm may interact with HIV medications, but sufficient studies have not been conducted.
  • Sedatives and Thyroid Medication. There may be some interaction; consult with your doctor.
  • Glaucoma. Some reports say that lemon balm may increase eye pressure, impacting glaucoma.

Growing Lemon Balm

Plant lemon balm during the warm weather of late spring, once all chances of frost have passed. Space plants 20 to 24 inches apart in an area with partial shade and fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. I only have one plant so spacing is not an issue.

Begin by mixing several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil. Check your soil moisture every few days and water when the top inch becomes dry. You’ll be doing your garden a favor if you install and use a foliar feeding with compost juice or Medina Hasta Gro. Harvest the leaves once your plant is 6 to 8 inches tall; avoid harvesting any more than one-third of the plant at a time.

Lemon balm is a must-have plant in your herb garden (in my opinion). For a small purchase price, you will reap a wealth of health benefits. It is so easy to grow, like other members of the mint family, that not green thumb is necessary.

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About the Author:

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

References

  1. David O. Kennedy, Wendy Little, Andrew B. Scholey, National Library of Medicine, Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15272110/
  2. Andrew Scholey, et al., MDPI, Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods, https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/11/4805/htm
  3. WebMD.com, Health Benefits of Lemon Balm, https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-lemon-balm#1
  4. Marzieh Akbarzadeh, US National Library of Medicine, Effect of Melissa officinalis Capsule on the Intensity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms in High School Girl Students, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557408/

History of Mother’s Day

Celebrating Mom in America and the Curious Case of Anna Jarvis

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Happy Mother's Day
Happy Mother’s Day!
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Mother’s Day here in the U.S. is celebrated at just the right time of year — spring, a time of hope, renewal, and new life. In the United States, Mother’s Day 2021 will occur on Sunday, May 9. Many other countries around the world celebrate their version of Mother’s Day on traditional dates with their individual customs.

Early History of Mother’s Day

Those in the know tell us that the origins of Mother’s Day stretch back to the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations. They staged festivals to honor the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The most modern precedent for our model of Mother’s Day is the old Christian festival called “Mothering Sunday.”

This was at one time a major celebration in the United Kingdom and some areas of Europe. This celebration was held on the fourth Sunday during Lent. It was viewed as a time when the faithful folks would visit their “mother church.” This was the main church closest to their home. There, a special service would be held.



Evolving over time, the Mothering Sunday tradition became a more secular holiday, much as St. Patrick’s Day has. Children would gift their mothers flowers and a variety of other tokens of their appreciation. Eventually, this custom bowed out of popularity before forming the basis of the American version of Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.

Mother’s Day in America

The traditions of Mother’s Day as celebrated in the United States date back to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped create what were called “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children.

The clubs turned out to be an important unifying force in an area of the country that was still at odds over the Civil War. Then in 1868 Jarvis created “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers joined with prior Union and Confederate soldiers in order to promote reconciliation.

Another player in the development of the holiday was the abolitionist and suffragette Julia Ward Howe. Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870. It asked mothers to unite to promote world peace. (Sound familiar?) In 1873 She pushed for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated on June 2.

There were others. Juliet Calhoun Blakely, for one. She was a temperance activist who conceived of a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering collaborated to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hering has been dubbed “the father of Mothers’ Day.”



Enter Anna Jarvis

What we know today as the official Mother’s Day holiday came about in the 1900s resulting from the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. After her mother’s death in 1905, Anna Jarvis developed Mother’s Day to commemorate the sacrifices mothers typically make for the sake of their children.

She organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. She funded this by securing financial support from Philadelphia department store owner John Wanamaker in May 1908. Coincidentally, on that same day, thousands of people attended another Mother’s Day event held at one of Wanamaker’s stores located in Philadelphia. Should this use of a department store have been a foreshadowing event for Jarvis?

After the overwhelming success of the first Mother’s Day, Jarvis was determined to see that her holiday was appended to the existing national calendar. She contended that U.S. holidays were skewed toward the achievements of men. She initiated a huge letter-writing campaign to newspapers and politicians recommending the adoption of a unique day to honor motherhood.

A great number of states, towns, and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday by 1912. Jarvis had put in place the Mother’s Day International Association as a means to promote the cause. Her persistence bore fruit in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed off on a measure that officially established the second Sunday each May as Mother’s Day.



Jarvis is Conflicted

Jarvis had imagined Mother’s Day to be a day of happiness between mothers, children, and families. Wearing a white carnation as an emblem was to be part of the tradition. Visiting with one’s mother or going to church services were to be standard protocol. However, as soon as Mother’s Day was recognized as a national holiday, florist vendors, greeting card companies, and other commercial interests jumped on its popularity. This all went against Jarvis’ grain.

Ironically, Jarvis had worked with the floral industry initially to assist in promoting the Mother’s Day’s concept. Now she had become disillusioned with how the day had been turned into such a commercial machine. She outspokenly repudiated the way things had turned out and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards, and candies.



Eventually, Jarvis mounted an open campaign against these interests. She spoke out against candy companies, florists, and yes, even charities. Additionally, she launched a slew of lawsuits against organizations that used the term “Mother’s Day.” In the end, she exhausted the bulk of her personal wealth in legal fees. By the time she died in 1948, Jarvis had disowned the holiday lock, stock, and barrel, and she even lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar. Altogether a sad bit of American history.

On the bright side, we still have a wonderful Mother’s Day holiday, commercial warts and all.

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About the Author:

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

What is Critical Race Theory?

An Historical Look at the Social Justice Movement in American Society

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Critical Race Theory
Critical Race Theory
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Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a term that is much bandied about on social media and in the press today, but the average citizen is likely to be unsure about what it is. After all, the term is non-specific in meaning, the very definition of a specious term. We know it’s got something to do with race (in America), it’s a theory (OK, an academic concept), and it’s critical, so it’s a make-or-break thing. But, put those parts together, and it’s meant to convey… nothing of any substance. So, to go beyond pundit-spout, we must look at the roots of the movement. Which the mainstream media does not (will not) cover.

The History of Marxism

The Marxist Left structured its political program based on the theory of class conflict. Karl Marx thought that the basic characteristic of his day’s industrial societies was an imbalance of power between the few capitalist have-alls (the 1% in today’s terms) and the many workers. His solution to that imbalance was revolution: the workers would at some point gain consciousness of their situation, secure the mechanisms of production, overthrow the capitalists, and thrive in a new socialist society.

Since then, many societies have enacted Marxist-themed revolutions. Each and every one concluded in sheer disaster. Socialist/communist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere ended up killing nearly 100 million of their own (expendable or non-cooperative) citizens. Theory generated from the comfort of a London library was one thing, but in practice, Marx’s ideas brought about utter societal destruction.

Fast-Forward to the Mid-1960s

Marxist intellectuals in the West had finally begun to acknowledge these catastrophes. They wanted to close their eyes to Soviet butcheries and ultimately realized that worker’s revolutions could never happen in classic Marxist fashion in Western Europe or in the US, where there were already predominant middle classes and the standards of living were constantly improving. Americans had never really developed a sense of class consciousness or class division in the same sense as those in the Old World. Americans were brought up to believe in the American dream, the concept that they could rise above their beginnings via education, working hard, and practicing good citizenship.

With this realization, Marxists simply adjusted their revolutionary theory to work with the social and racial unrest happening in the 1960s. They discarded Marx’s economic theory of capitalists and workers and substituted the term race for class and initiated a revolutionary conglomerate of the abused based upon racial and ethnic categories, a move where they acted as the cancel culture on themselves! But, Americans preferred the concept of improving the country rather than overthrowing it. The Marxists needed a new strategy.



Critical Race Theory is Born

It was conceived in the 1990s, constructed upon the intellectual skeleton of “identity-based” Marxism. For many years it remained in universities and obscure academic journals. But insidiously, over the past decade, it has solidified into the default ideology in many of our public institutions. It’s been instilled in government agencies, public (and some private) schools, and human resources departments. You’ve probably seen it in the guise of diversity training programs, public policy guidelines, and school curricula. The accepted over-reach is mind-boggling. Writing for Imprimis, Christopher F. Rufo gives some examples:1

  • In the name of equity, UCLA Law Professor and critical race theorist Cheryl Harris has proposed suspending private property rights, seizing land and wealth and redistributing them along racial lines.
  • Critical race guru Ibram X. Kendi, who directs the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, has proposed the creation of a federal Department of Antiracism. This department would be independent of (i.e., unaccountable to) the elected branches of government, and would have the power to nullify, veto, or abolish any law at any level of government and curtail the speech of political leaders and others who are deemed insufficiently “antiracist.” This is the cancel culture at its finest.
  • The Department of Homeland Security was telling white employees they were committing “microinequities” and had been “socialized into oppressor roles.”
  • The Treasury Department held a training session telling staff members that “virtually all white people contribute to racism” and that they must convert “everyone in the federal government” to the ideology of “antiracism.”
  • The Sandia National Laboratories, which designs America’s nuclear arsenal, sent white male executives to a three-day reeducation camp, where they were told that “white male culture” was analogous to the “KKK,” “white supremacists,” and “mass killings.” The executives were then forced to renounce their “white male privilege” and write letters of apology to fictitious women and people of color.
  • In Cupertino, California, an elementary school forced first-graders to deconstruct their racial and sexual identities, and rank themselves according to their “power and privilege.”
  • In Springfield, Missouri, a middle school forced teachers to locate themselves on an “oppression matrix,” based on the idea that straight, white, English-speaking, Christian males are members of the oppressor class and must atone for their privilege and “covert white supremacy.”
  • In Philadelphia, an elementary school forced fifth-graders to celebrate “Black communism” and simulate a Black Power rally to free 1960s radical Angela Davis from prison, where she had once been held on charges of murder.
  • In Seattle, the school district told white teachers that they are guilty of “spirit murder” against black children and must “bankrupt [their] privilege in acknowledgment of [their] thieved inheritance.”

“The climate crisis is a crisis born of injustice. A crisis born at the pursuit of profit… The trampling of indigenous rights is a cause of climate change. The trampling of racial justice is a cause of climate change.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Terminology

Some of the terms employed by its supporters to describe critical race theory are “equity,” “social justice,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “culturally responsive teaching.” Equity sounds benign. It’s easily confused with the American principle of equality. And really, who among us would object to more home equity? That’s got to be a good thing, right? But the distinction is important. Equality, the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, defended in the Civil War, and codified into law with the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965—is explicitly rejected by critical race theorists. To them, equality represents “mere non-discrimination” and provides “camouflage” for white supremacy, patriarchy, and oppression.



Critical race theorists and their sycophants like to project the image of themselves as benign social justice warriors, seeking only to improve the condition of society. Nothing is further than the truth. Like Antifa thugs and the more radical arm of BLM, they are Marxists who are determined “by any means necessary” to shift all the power to their control. Unfortunately, the media is only too happy to be complicit and corporate America pays them more homage than they do to consumers. That is capitalism turned on its head. Perhaps it is working after all.

Further Reading


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About the Author:

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


References

  1. Christopher F. Rufo, Imprimis, Critical Race Theory: What It Is and How to Fight It, https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/critical-race-theory-fight/