Archive for category On a Budget

Most Californians Don’t Know What a Water District is; as the drought gets worse they soon will.

Winter months are when California gets the majority of rainfall it needs to replenish the state’s water supply. That hasn’t happened this year. Both the State Water Project Resources and Colorado River Resources are reporting record low numbers of water for this current rain season. And there’s little hope of catching up as this rain season is coming to an end. The Northern Sierra Snowpack is at 4.30 inches, only 19 percent of what it should be.

State statsIt would be hard to find a climatologist or research scientist who would claim this drought is going away any time soon. According to recent studies published by Scientist at Stanford University, this drought will be around for a while and will get worse.

It’s not just a matter of no rain. Something else is happening in California that is not causing the drought, but will certainly contribute to it, and that’s the state’s increasing population.  The State of California already has the highest population of all western states and it’s increasing at a steady rate. According to California’s State Department of Finance the state’s population will increase in fifteen years by 14 percent to an estimated 44 million people. This increase in population will mean an even higher demand on an already dwindling water supply.

garden GraphicIf you did a poll and asked Californians what a water district is most wouldn’t know. But that’s about to change real fast. These agencies will soon be featured on evening news reports and documentaries. Many Californians will soon begin contacting or even protesting water districts.

A simple definition of a water district is a municipal organization that provides water to customers in a service area. With the exception of rain, water districts supply all water used in cities, on farms, in manufacturing, and water for residential use. This is why water districts may not have much significance to Californians now but they soon will; these are the agencies that control water and as that water becomes scarcer, these agencies will become more important to Californians.

car wash graphicAs the current drought situation worsens, and that’s inevitable, Californians are sure to be faced with things like statewide mandatory water conservation. If mandatory conservation doesn’t work these water districts, the municipal organizations that have jurisdiction over all water use, will have no choice but to start rationing water. This could mean that when Californians uses their rationed amount of water; they’ll turn on a facet and see nothing. Once this happens many will be forced to purchase bottled water for personal consumption, cooking, personal hygiene, even flushing a toilet. They’ll also be paying a premium price for that bottled water.

This scenario may sound like a script from a movie but the truth is; it could start happening very soon. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is already considering water rationing by the summer unless conditions improve. A recent Op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times calls for state wide water rationing because Californians have about one year of water left.

 

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Super foods are not just a cliche.

 

Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body's detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale's glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.

Evidence has shown that Kale helps to clean and detoxify your body. Kale also helps to reduce the risk of five different types of cancers.

If the term “you are what you eat” is true, a new and improved you is definitely possible.

The term “Super Foods” needs some clarification. It sounds like some type of natural elixir that can bring you vitality and good health. Actually that’s no exaggeration, according to the website WebMD that’s exactly what super foods do. For an item to be considered a super food it must be natural and unprocessed, nutritionally dense with plenty of vitamins and minerals, and also can help to reduce the risk of illness with no side effects.

Some of the qualities that put super foods in a category of their own: they are whole foods in their natural form that have ability to help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of both heart disease and cancer, stop inflammation, and put you in a better mood. These super foods can also help fight diabetes and hypertension. WebMD also states that super foods are actually life altering. Keep in mind we’re talking about food items and not prescription medication.

 

There is new evidence that suggest Blueberries may help the nervous system and brain health. Blueberries may also help to improve memory.

There is new evidence that suggest Blueberries may help the nervous system and brain health. Blueberries may also help to improve memory.

These items are relatively inexpressive compared to processed foods, especially when you consider the nutritional content. You are not going to find naturally occurring antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory agents in soda pop, candy, or potato chips. Here are some examples of the most popular super foods: Blueberries, Beans, Broccoli, Oatmeal, Kale, Salmon, Yogurt, Walnuts and Pistachios, Tomatoes, Spinach, Turkey, Green Tea, Oranges, Garlic, and Pumpkin.

Let’s be honest, there are motives here; the goal of this article is to get you to stop eating junk food start eating healthy. This is easier said than done, but is possible. You may want to make small changes over a period of time. Modifying behaviors gradually can help to change your perception of what is normal and over a period of time eating healthy will be effortless. It’s a matter of making choices; start out by making one or two choices to get healthy and build on that. For some individuals this may be easier and more effective than a “cold turkey” method of change.

 

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Water; our new liquid gold

 

According to the United States Geological Survey a bathroom faucet that drips one drop of water per minute will waste 104 gallons of water per year

According to the United States Geological Survey a bathroom faucet that drips one drop of water per minute will waste 104 gallons of water per year

Water conservation is our new reality and we have no choice. Prior to California’s drought saving H2O was a green thing. It’s still a green thing but that green now stands for money. Here is a sobering fact that may bring things into perspective; according to the website quench.com, on a global scale only 1% of this planet’s water is drinkable. Of course we can clean and filter water through technology and nature, but we cannot replenish water at the rate we are consuming it.

Now to bring this closer to home, we here in California are facing a serious situation when it comes to water and this is something we must come to terms with soon. When you conserve water you do your part to respect the environment. That’s all very nice but the hardcore truth is you can either start to conserve water or start paying even more of your hard-earned money. Money is a great motivator so keep in mind, when you conserve water

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American Family consumes over 300 gallons of water a day. And that’s just for indoor use. About 30% of water consumed in America is for outdoor use. To break it down on an individual basis, the average person in America uses about 70 gallons a day. Here are some tips that could help you to cut down on an amount of water you consume in the course of a day that just might help you to save money:

  • Don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth. Just get the toothbrush wet then shut the water off. Then put it back on to rinse.
  • When shaving, fill the sink with water and swirl the razor in the water to rinse it.
  • Take a military shower, the water runs no longer than three minutes and that’s it. Yes this is possible; ask anyone who has served in the military.
  • When taking a bath do not let the water run until it reaches the desired temperature and then close the drain. Close the drain off first then get to the correct temperature while the water is running. And unless you’re a hippopotamus, you can use less water to take a bath.
  • Wait until you have a full load until you do the laundry.
  • Be diligent about looking for dripping faucets or leaks in the bathroom
  • When doing dishes, soak pots and pans in hot soapy water before washing them. This will also make it a lot easier to clean the stuck on food residue.

We have just scratched the surface of this issue. Unless California sees a lot of rain, enough to get Noah scrambling for wood, this problem is not gonna go away anytime soon. This is now a part of our new reality and we have no choice but to conform. Here is the best way to conserve water; every time you hear water running, just imagine your bank balance decreasing at an accelerated rate, because that is exactly what is happening.

 

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Homeless in America; we can fix this

The National Alliance to End Homelessness claims on any night in the United States 640,000 people experience homelessness. To better understand “Homeless” we must first define the term. That is not an easy task because homelessness is a complicated issue. Certain criteria must be met for a person to be considered homeless. To best define the term in simple words, homelessness means an individual or family must sleep in a structure not suitable for human habitation, such as cars, sidewalks, parks or abandoned buildings. This also includes individuals who are scheduled to be released from an intuition, treatment program, or hospital within 30 days and no plan for housing in place. This definition is brief at best. For a more information you can go to the US Department of Health and Human Services website.

Do these people look homeless? Actually some of them may be. A segment of America's homeless population are facing the challenge of not looking homeless

Do these people look homeless? Actually some of them may be. A growing segment of America’s homeless population are must face the challenge of not looking homeless while searching for employment.

We can’t talk about the topic of homelessness without first mentioning the Homeless American Veteran. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reports close to 60,000 veterans are homeless. Nearly half of them served in Vietnam. Many other homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. At this point in time, younger homeless veterans make up about eight per cent of the homeless veteran population, but that number is increasing.

There are several circumstances that cause homelessness, but those who become homeless fall into one of two categories; transitional and chronic. It’s estimated that the chronically homeless make up the largest portion of America’s homeless population. The majority of these individuals surfer from some type of mental health issue. Mental health also includes addiction.

Those who are transitional homeless are currently experiencing homelessness for the first time and make up smaller number of America’s homeless. On average, they can regain some type of suitable housing within 12 to 18 months. One of their biggest challenges is trying to not look homeless. It is typical for them to bathe in public restrooms to prepare for appointments and job interviews. This segment of America’s homeless population has the ability to be retrained and acquire marketable skills.

Homeless graphWhile those who are transitional homeless make every attempt to not look homeless, those who are chronically homeless are highly visible on American streets and present with the biggest challenge in attempting to overcome homelessness. These individuals need additional resources that would include some form of treatment to address issues that made them homeless. It is important that our society address the issue of the chronically homeless, but if we also turn attention to the transitional homeless with a different goal in mind, we could reduce homeless statistics and better improve America’s standing in the world in manufacturing and technology.

Children homelessThere is no doubt the United States needs to retrain its workforce. Once a world leader in manufacturing, America now trails behind several other countries. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that America imports more than it exports. America needs to develop and manufacture products the world needs and we have the potential to do that.

Here is just one example of an opportunity the United States has to increase manufacturing and technology within its own borders; Rare Earth Metals are used for making anything electronic from cell phones to TVs. The continental United States has about 14 rare earth mines, some of the largest deposits of rare earth metals in the world are right here. Once we mine rare earth metals, the United States has to ship them to China to be manufactured because we don’t know how. Yet we have so many people who have the ability and desperately want to be retrained and gain long-term employment.

Shelter useAddressing the Homeless issue in America will require more than a quick fix because it is a complicated issue. However, it is possible to significantly reduce homeless statistics in general if we create resources for those who have the ability to be retained. We can’t expect the government to do all of the work; we must also look to American corporations to institute programs, maybe even with tax incentives, which will hire and re-train the American worker. “Investing in America” is not just a cliché. It appears we have not been doing that lately and look where we are.

This proposal of identifying the employable segment of our population and retraining them with marketable skills is not a new concept; America has done this before with a high degree of success. We must look at our history and examine those programs that did work to re-employ people, update them and make them adoptable to the needs of a modern-day economy, and reinstitute them. When we Americans reduce our homeless population, we will strengthen our middle class and enhance our own sustainably.

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Its a matter of change; 3 things we do that affect our health

Chioce Article Fig 1Three lifestyle activities we do everyday affect our health and the money we Americans must spend in health care dollars. If we were to change these behaviors, we could live longer healthier lives. Changing these activities would also have other far-reaching benefits; it would save money in health care dollars, which also help to reduce the national debt. We Americans spend more money for healthcare than any other country in the world.

It’s up to each individual to change these behaviors. By making these changes, Americans would begin a process that will improve and enhance the quality of their lives, and significantly improve the financial health of America. These three activities are part of a simple equation.

Smoking + Exercise + Nutrition = 50 percent of all deaths = 90 percent of the healthcare cost in the United States

The top three causes of death in the United States are Heart Disease, Cancer, and Lung Disease or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Each of these activities plays a major role in causing each of these diseases. Since these behaviors are a factor in the cause of diseases that kill us; changing these behaviors would yield results that could save both lives and money.

Smoking

English: A chest X-ray demonstrating severe CO...

Little explanation is needed for smoking and it plays a major role in all three of the top causes of death in the United States, it’s pretty obvious. According to the National Institutes of Health, Cigarette smoking causes about 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States each year. It’s the main preventable cause of death and illness in the United States. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, mouth, reproductive organs, bones, bladder, and digestive organs.

Nutrition

Good nutrition is paramount for good health and well-being. Nutrition is also directly related to all three leading causes of death. According to the website healthypeople.gov, nutrition directly affects the development of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A healthful diet will keep people healthier and also help to manage health conditions so they do not worsen over time.

Exercise

Exercise can boost the immune system, which may help the body to respond to viruses, bacteria, and the onset of disease. Exercise helps to reduce High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Obesity and Diabetes, which are all factors in the development of illness that result in the leading causes of deaths. According to the National Institute of Health People who are active live longer and feel better. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can delay or prevent diabetes, some cancers and heart problems.

Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. Examples include walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming for recreation or bicycling. Stretching and weight training can also strengthen your body and improve your fitness level.

Causes of Death

According to 2011 statistics from the centers for Disease Control, Heart Disease was the leading cause of death that claimed 597,689 lives. Cancer came in second with 547,743 deaths. Chronic lower respiratory disease was third with 131,080 deaths. These three leading causes of death in the United States all have one thing in common; they can all be prevented by changing the three lifestyle activities mentioned earlier: Smoking, Exercise, and Nutrition.

How much money do we spend for health care?

Healthcare has a hefty price tag and that cost is rising significantly. The cost of healthcare in the United States neared $2.6 trillion in 2010, over ten times the $256 billion spent in 1980. According to a recent PBS article we spend $8,233 per person for healthcare in the United States each year. That’s almost three times more than other developed nations in the world like Britain, France, and Sweden. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

Making Modifications

Choice Fg 3It sounds simple but these activities are behaviors that can be difficult to change. Making changes can be difficult but not impossible. There is not one simple solution that can help every person change behaviors, but there is help.

We know about the dangers of smoking, and the benefits of quitting. But quitting smoking is no easy task because it is both a physical addiction and a pattern of behavior.  The Centers for Disease Control is a great place to start if you are thinking about kicking the smoking habit. Their website http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/ offers tips and information.

The American Cancer Society’s web site http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/quitting-smoking-help-for-cravings-and-tough-situations also gives information on how to deal with cravings for a cigarette during difficult situations.

Nutrition is more than a matter of choice. If eating right was just as easy as making a choice there would be no obesity. Truth is eating healthy foods becomes complicated when the demands of a busy schedule and cravings for sugar begin to play a role in making these choices. Sometimes making small changes can lead to healthy habits. The website http://www.nutrition.gov/whats-food offers good information to make informed choices about what you eat. Getting accurate information can help you to make better choices.

Some people seem to think you must wear athletic clothing or join a gym to get more exercise.  Well, than may help some people and that’s good, but there are simple things you can do in the course of your day-to-day life that can help you achieve your exercise goal. These things could include taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Park your car further from your destination so you can walk further. The Mayo Clinic website has some good information on the benefits of exercise. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676. There you will find out how exercise can also help to improve your mood and decrease depression.

 

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Nature’s devastating force is a real threat; will you be prepared?

English: Map of regions of the Federal Emergen...

English: Map of regions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s often been said, “It’s not a question of if, but a question of when.” Never before has this adage been more appropriate when referring to a natural disaster.  No matter where you live in the United States, it is likely you will endure the fury of nature. Different regions of our country must contend with the threat of potential catastrophes that are very real possibilities but rarely considered. The wrath of nature may come in the form of a hurricane in the Southeast, a tornado or flood in the Midwest, or an earthquake in the Southwest. Whatever the threat may be; knowledge, preparation, and a plan of action are paramount in terms of your survival.

 

The first thing you can do in preparation for when nature unleashes a violent fury is to learn specific details about whatever peril you could possibly face. Each emergency is unique and knowing what you should do will chart the course of action you can take. It is recommended that you must have an emergency action plan that you and other members of your family can implement after the event occurs. Then prepare by gathering food, water, a first aid kit, medications, and other things you and your family will need to survive for at least 72 hours. This is very important because it may take three days before emergency rescue personnel can get to you.

 

There are some simple guidelines that can help to gather the necessary emergency supplies you will need for you and your family. According to the web site ready.gov, they recommend one gallon of water per person each day for drinking and sanitation. This may vary depending on the climate where you live, warmer climates may require you have more than one gallon per person. Also, children, nursing mothers and people with chronic illnesses may require more water.

 

If the electricity is out it is important that you reduce the number of times you open you refrigerator door. The general rule is the food in your fridge will be the first to spoil, so it should be eaten first. Things in your freezer will have a longer period of time because their frozen. However unless you have additional ice you can pack food in, you should probably eat the food in your fridge first, then the food that was in the freezer.

 

The  non-perishable foods that you should include in your emergency preparedness kit should be easy to eat foods that do not require cooking. Ideal food choices should include salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty like salted nuts and potato chips. Snack bars that are high in protein, and fruits you must peel and good choices.

 

Supplies that include tools will be very helpful in the event of a disaster. You may want to include screw drivers, a hammer, handsaw that doesn’t require electricity, a flashlight with batteries, and a transistor radio. It air quality is compromised due to dust; you may want to include plastic sheets and duct tape. With no water you will not be able to flush your toilet. It is recommended you have moist towelettes and kitchen sized plastic bags with twist ties for personal sanitation.

 

FEMA seal before 2003

Keep in mind during a natural disaster, communication will be compromised not just because of electrical outages. Phone lines will become overloaded with those calling out of the area and those calling into the area to check on loved ones. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends people text loved ones to let them know you’re ok instead of trying to call. With land lines down cell phones will be overwhelmed with the volume of calls. Texts require less space than phone calls do. This will also free phone lines for law enforcement.

 

No matter where you live in the United States, odds are, at some point, you and your family could be in an emergency situation due to the forces of nature.  Understanding, preparation, and a plan for the worse possible scenario during a natural disaster could be lifesaving measures you can take now.

 

 

 

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Employers fear “Grey Hair” even though we’re living longer and more active lives.

Employment Exhibition

Employment Exhibitions like this may be the best bet for the “over 50” job seeker. They give a face-to-face opportunity to show prospective employers even though you’re older, you’re productive and in good health..

You may have heard the term recently, “50 is the new 40.” Although this may be a humorous antidote to comfort those who are getting older, there is a great deal of validity to that statement. The fact is; thanks to the efforts of medical science, we have extended the span of human life. However its apparent most corporations and employers that are hiring are reluctant to accept this fact. You want proof; ask anyone over 50 who is looking for a job.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published the latest statistics in regards to how long we live. Their findings yielded some really good news “The life expectancy of Americans is higher than ever, at almost 78.” This presents a new challenge for the medical community; that is to improve the quality of extended lives. According to a recent report in the September 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, it looks like Medical science is meeting that challenge. “The clinical ramifications are far-reaching,” this JAMA report claimed. “As this rapidly growing sector of the population assumes a prominent position in preventive and public health measures, our findings clearly support the continued encouragement of physical activity, even among the oldest old. Indeed, it seems that it is never too late to start.”

There are several more statistics that prove we’re living longer, healthier, and more active lives. Yet, it’s a well known fact that most employers are very reluctant to hire a qualified individual with years of experience for fear that they do not have that many “good years” left to be productive in the workforce.

According to the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the definition of Age Discrimination is very clear cut and simply stated. “Age discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) less favorably because of his or her age.’ In accordance with the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA), federal laws clearly state “it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.”

It is very easy for corporations and employees to ignore the ADEA and federal laws that prohibit age discrimination. There is proof they often do. Age discrimination cases have shown a steady increase of almost 40 per cent and continue to increase. According to statistics from the EEOC website; Age discrimination charges have increased from 15,785 in 1997 to 23,465 in 2011.

A significant percentage of the population in the United States has reached, and is over the age of 50, especially when you include “Baby Boomers”. These people, whether they’re unemployed or wish to change careers, have tremendous difficulty finding employment despite years of experience. Currently, this is a problem for job seekers over 50, but this will soon present a bigger problem for all Americans.

The average age of retirement is 64.6 for men, and 62.3 for women. Chances are that’s about to change, with little choice in the matter. Many individuals who are members of the “Baby Boomer” generation are now reaching the age to become eligible for Social Security benefits. This is going to place even more of a burden on an already struggling Social Security system. In the years to come, we may have no choice but to extend the retirement age for two reasons; Americans are living longer, healthier, and more productive lives, combined with the fact that many can’t afford to retire.

Given the present mind-set of most employers and corporations, it will be even harder for those over 50 who are seeking employment, and those at retirement age who wish to keep working. Many older Americans, still active and in good health, have years of experience and dependability to offer companies. Yet this resource is literally ignored because employers accepted the accomplishments of medical science and still harbor a fear of “Grey Hair”.

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Is the Economy Recovering?

united states currency seal - IMG_7366_web

united states currency seal – IMG_7366_web (Photo credit: kevindean)

Prior to 2008, everything seemed ok. Everyone I know had a job and was doing well. The majority of people I knew took vacations and drove new cars. Then came the economic downturn and things have not been the same since. Currently, many Americans are wondering how long is this economic climate going to last? Some of the leading economists have said we’ll soon see light at the end of the tunnel. According to Jan Hatzius, a Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, “We do expect another relatively weak year for growth in the global economy. But I think there are, underneath the surface, some important reasons why 2013 might feel a little friendlier than 2012.”

How ironic Hatzius would use the term “friendly” in that same sentence about the economy. Americans have been through a lot and I hardly think the term “Friendly” could be used to describe it. It’s now been five years, and here are some facts that can indicate just how slow our recovery is;

• There are about 400 million people living in the United States. 46 million of them are on food stamps.

• One out of every four children in the United States are living on food stamps.

• According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 per cent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that

pay poverty level wages.

• Approximately 48 percent of all Americans are currently considered to be low-income or living in

poverty.

• Today, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.

• In the middle of the last century, the United States was #1 in the world in GDP per capita.  Today, the

United States is #13 in GDP per capita.

• The median price of a home in the city of Detroit is now about $6,000.

• The U. S. national debt is now more than 22 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter was president.

• According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 167,000 Americans have more

than $200,000 of student loan debt.

Throughout this entire economic crisis not one economist used the term “depression”, while it felt like one to many people who lost houses, jobs, and most of what they had. According to behavioral scientist, it’s human nature to acclimate and accept things even during the worst of times. Humans also have the ability to be resilient. Maybe there are some benefits to the conditions we’ve had to endure in the last five-year. Now many are less wasteful, recycle instead of buying new, and operate in a leaner fashion.

Still, the question remains; is there light at the end of the tunnel? If economist claim we are in an economic “recovery” its quite obvious that “recovery” seems to be moving at a snail’s pace, if at all.

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What if Benjamin Franklin were alive today; how would his twelve virtues apply to a modern-day setting?

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The next time you go into a tall building you may want to thank Benjamin Franklin. Had he not flown a kite during that storm we wouldn’t have tall buildings. Franklin’s experiment and his discovery that electricity is actually a current, lead to his invention of the lightning rod. Prior to that, many people died in buildings that caught fire after being struck by lightning. This just one example of how we, in our modern age of technology, still benefit from the brilliance of Benjamin Franklin. Many of Franklin’s inventions could have made him a lot of money. Yet he chose not to patent his inventions; his motives were to benefit a greater good.

Many historians and biographers have written extensively about Franklin and his many accomplishments, but there was one historical piece of information that is not widely known or as popular. Franklin attributed much of his success to guidelines for living life that he wrote. Franklin called this his twelve virtues. These twelve virtues were comprehensive rules he prescribed for leading a successful and content life. Keep in mind Franklin wrote these twelve virtues in a time when there was no television, internet, cell phones, or satellite communication. The following is a review of those twelve virtues, and a simple interpretation of how they may apply today.

Temperance

Temperance calls for a person to avoid overindulgence in food or drink. By conquering your primal urges for food and drink, you’ll have the confidence to start making improvements in other areas of your life. The term “ Super-size” sure does ring a bell here. If you look at current statistics you’ve heard it said; we are an obese nation. Too much of anything is not good.

Silence

A person must learn when and when not to open their mouth. It’s ok to say nothing if what you’re going to say is inappropriate or makes no sense.  Not only is it better to be silent that look like a fool, but this applies to friendship as well. Often times being silent can be constructive because it gives the other person a chance to talk and increases your listening skills. Shut up and listen; most often people don’t want advice, they want to be heard. The best thing you can do is just listen to them vent or talk about their problem. Most of the time when people talk like this they’ll work it out on their own without your wonderful words of wisdom. Just be silent and listen.

Order

If a person wishes to thrive in this world they must develop order. But the laws of physics tell us that the universe and everything in it tends towards chaos and disorganization. A person must fight against these natural laws and the path of least resistance. Yet taking on complex organization will only cause more imbalances in your life. Instead make small changes by rectifying each slip in to disorganization the moment it happens. Wouldn’t life be wonderful if you could change everything, but the reality is; you can’t. But you can change, organize, or make sense of one thing at a time.

Resolution

Resolution is the firm determination to accomplish what you set out to do. For example, look at how Alexander the Great conquered the island of Tyre. An easy way to do this is have a main goal, then set smaller daily goals that will lead up to the main or long-range goal. At the end of each day reflect “What have I done today”. This sounds easy but is not. If you have to answer that question with “nothing”, the next day it will be in the back of your mind and you will accomplish something. Even if it’s something small, it will be an accomplishment.

Frugality

Credit cards and charge accounts are a double edge sword. They allow a person to purchase something they need now and pay later, but they also have many consequences. One good thing about the recent recession; it has forced our society to back off on spending habits just as our grandparents learned do to from living through the great depression.  This is why frugality has made a comeback. To put it simply; Spend less money than you earn.

Industry

Hard work is paramount to success. But has being industrious become no longer trendy with today’s “get rich quick” or “easy payout” temptations? The truth is the rich didn’t get that way with minimum effort. Well, not legally. Ask any millionaire and they’ll tell you it took goal setting, planning, and determination. Recent studies suggest winning the state lottery is not always a good thing. A majority of Lotto winners go bankrupt within five years of winning. Perhaps the term “easy money” is an oxymoron.

Sincerity

This electronic age with the quick exchange of information and anonymity has had a profound our society at large. I’m sure you’ve noticed on blogs and social network websites a prevalence of gossip, lying, and sarcasm. With this in mind, let me a couple of questions; what influence has this had on our society at large? Has this become a social norm or status quo that has infiltrated our real life as well? We are the ones that define the rules of our society. It seems there are more “gray areas” in terms of social acceptance than there were before. Is this a good thing?

Justice

In addition to standing up for those who are disadvantaged, there is another facet to justice; when you feel strongly about a topic or involved in an argument, try to consider the other point of view. Theses no doubt there are an abundance of apathy and ignorance in our society, but we can work to change that one person at a time. Let’s start with ourselves. Find out how you can develop the virtue of justice in your life as well as areas that you can implement the virtue.

Moderation

The easiest way to define moderation is use it as the opposite of greed. We all want more in our lives. More material items like the newest car, the latest electronic gadgets, computers, clothes, jewelry and other trappings do not define the person we are. Living a good life and having what you want is one thing, but are you crossing a line when it causes you stress to get it? Sometimes “Keeping up with the Jones” is not a good thing.

Cleanliness

This virtue tells other people a lot about you, and it also tells you a lot about yourself. Not only does this have a profound effect on a person’s self image, but it also includes a discipline that helps to increase attention and order. Cleanliness includes more than just appearance; it also includes your surroundings as well. In a clean environment, you’ll function much better in it.

Tranquility

The ability to control anger is just one aspect of tranquility. Making sure your living space is tranquil is also important. Another way to achieve tranquility is to “weed out” or do not give power to those toxic people in your day-to-day lives. You know the ones I’m referring to; the acquaintances in your life who are stressful and invoke that in others by being argumentative or constantly focusing on the negative. They’re draining energy from you, get rid of them, you don’t need them. Focusing on tranquility has more benefits; it can give you a sense of well-being and improve your health. You can look inward for tranquility as well; do you ever keep thinking things like “what if this happens, or what if they do this”? That’s called Mental Masturbation and is not at all constructive.

Chastity

Today, in a society where we’re constantly bombarded by sex in movies, TV, commercials, and almost everywhere else we look. This virtue seems to be outdated. Perhaps this is why one hundred years ago, people married for life. Currently, fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. If I may ask; have we cheapened the act of sex by turning it into a conquest instead of an exchange of love and emotions on several different levels? Recently there was a trendy question; “What is your number?” The higher your number gets could that possibly make it harder for you to love just one person and experience a true and fulfilling love?

    It’s amazing to thing a man sat and wrote these guidelines over two hundred years ago and they’re just as relevant as they were then. Maybe this is a testament to Benjamin Franklin’s keen insight into human nature. That’s pretty impressive for a man who had never taken a psychology class. There’s no doubt we needed Franklin to live in the time he did; we needed that progress to take place at that time. But just think of how he could influence and shape mankind if he were alive today. Something old with something new; maybe we could better handle our marvels of technology if we combine them with ideologies of the past.

 

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The Twinkie; your tax dollars at work!

You may never eat a Twinkie as long as you live, but your still buying them!

It’s not exactly an American Tradition, but whether you want to admit it or not, the Twinkie is somewhat of an American Icon. Almost everyone in the United States has had a Twinkie at some point in their lives. In spite of the fact that very few people actually admit to eating a Twinkie and liking it, each year over 30 million packages of Twinkies are sold around the world. This infamous snack cake has been the subject of many controversial rumors, urban legends, and has earned a rightful place in pop culture. A little known fact that some may find shocking, each year the United States federal Government spends hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to ensure the manufacturing, production, and longevity of Twinkies.

The Twinkie was born in Schiller Park, Illinois in 1930, and is currently manufactured by Hostess, the largest wholesale baker and distributor of baked goods in the United States. Other snack cakes manufactured by Hostess include Ho-Hos, Ding Dong’s and Zingers, but none have surpassed the Twinkie in terms of longevity and shear controversy. The Twinkie was even used unsuccessfully in the defense of the criminal trial of Dan White, the man convicted of fatally shooting San Francisco Mayor George Mascone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. In the course of the trial, defense attorneys called a psychiatrist as a witness who testified the defendant ate junk food that included Twinkies. His testimony claimed the Twinkies caused depression, which was a major factor in the shooting.

The shelve life of a Twinkie has been the topic of urban legend and controversy for many years. According to rumor they can last fifty to one hundred years, some say even survive a nuclear holocaust. It was reported in the New York Times in 2000, “Even though the Twinkie is made with no unstable dairy products, it will spoil more slowly than other baked goods, but Twinkies are only on shelves for 7 to 10 days.” The spokesperson for Hostess who was interviewed for the article also said a Twinkie can be eaten with no fear of expiration up to 25 days after it is manufactured.

The Twinkie has even been the subject of scientific experiments. According to the website The Twinkies Project, several very scientific experiments were conducted that proved some interesting but useless facts about this famous snack cake. To test the resistivity of a Twinkie, a 110 volt standard AC Household current was run across it. This experiment proved they have no ability to pass an electrical current. To document the total volume of a Twinkie, they measured its volume which was 101.6 cubic centimeters. The volume after it was totally compressed is 31.99 cm. This experiment proved that the Twinkie is 68 per cent air by volume.

Twinkie the Kid

Twinkie the Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The same website conducted a Gravitational Response Experiment using a Twinkie as the subject and dropped it from the sixth floor of Lovett College at Rice University, it survived the fall almost undamaged. This was a hypothesis I had to test for myself. With nothing to do on a Sunday Afternoon, and more importantly in the interest of Science, I dropped a Twinkie from the tenth story of the Park Manor Building in San Diego. After the fall, the Twinkie actually retained almost all of its structural integrity with only one small split on the bottom between the points where the crème filling is injected.

To do this experiment without causing personal injury to anyone, with the exception of the Twinkie, we blocked off the sidewalk to ensure the safety of passing pedestrians. What I found amazing, once people found out what we were doing a crowd gathered. After the Twinkie hit the ground and was examined by impartial inspectors who determined the structural integrity was maintained, there was a thunderous applause from the crowd.

The Twinkie contains 37 ingredients; they include cellulose gum, Polysorbate 60, and calcium sulfate. What other products contain these same ingredients: sheet rock, hair shampoo, and rocket fuel. According to the labeling on the package, each Twinkie has 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day, eight Twinkies would exceed your daily allowance of saturated fat.

Whether or not you ever purchase or eat another Twinkie in your lifetime, your actually paying to ensure their production and prolonged existence. The truth is; don’t like it, too bad, you have no choice in the matter. No doubt your wondering how this could be possible; each year Americans pay taxes to the United States Federal Government. Those tax dollars are then used to fund various programs throughout the United States.

One such program is the federal government paying subsidies to American Farmers. Fewer than four per cent of farmers actually see those payments. In reality those subsidies go the largest agribusinesses, these are major mega conglomerate corporations that have gone into the farming business, but not for the purpose of farming.  These large agribusinesses spend those subsidies mostly to produce corn and soy, which are processed into junk food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils that are the main ingredients in… oh yeah, here it comes, TWINKIES! So eat up, it doesn’t matter if you like ’em or not. Or, you could always send a Twinkie to your congressional representative to voice objection. But if you should choose to do this, may I strongly suggest you send them Twinkies in an unopened box purchased directly from the supermarket.

 

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