Saturday, January 31, 2015

Remembering Kenji Goto

This picture shows Kenji on the left and Haruna on the right.  


  Today, persons claiming to be ISIS, uploaded a video of the purported decapitation/execution of Kenji Goto.

                 Kenji Goto is known to me only as a freelance journalist whose work was shown on NHK News.  He worked to show the impact that war and conflict had on children.  He has reported on blood diamonds,on HIV afflicted single mothers in Ukraine, child soldiers in Sierra Leone, the education or lack thereof for girls in Afghanistan, and poverty. He also has written an award winning children's book, and had penned four other books. He did not fear the helpless and hopeless places on Earth.   This is probably a part of why he was able to risk his own life in October of last year to try to aid his friend, 42 year old Haruna Yukawa, who had already been captured by ISIS in Syria.    Today it has been reported that both of them have been have executed by Muslim extremists.

                  Kenji Goto is one of those rare individuals who knew that our time on Earth is limited and that one man's actions can do great good. He proceeded in his work and in his life with this rare courage and pure focus. If you have a chance, please read or watch videos containing his important reports.

                 Kenji, 47,  had been an owner of his own media company for many years.  He is a Japanese citizen and is a father of three children. (Two children with his wife, Rinko, and a daughter from an earlier relationship.)  He converted to Christianity in 1997. Rinko understood well her husband's role in the world, and she is proud of him.

                   My family and I also send prayers to Kenji's mother, his wife, his three children and his many friends and co-workers. May they feel God with them in these difficult days.  Kenji Goto's light by virtue of all of his contributions to Earth will not be forgotten.     We also send similar condolences to the family of Haruna Yukawa, who must have been an exceptional human being in order for Kenji to make such a journey on his behalf.  We also send condolences to the Japanese people for the loss of this exceptional human being.

                    We have the power to focus and remember all the achievements, the humanity, and exceptional courage of this man which should dwarf the horrendous action of simple terrorists. Japan and the rest of the world lost a true hero yesterday.


                       In Kenji's last video to us that was not orchestrated by his captors, he asked that we not hate anyone or that we understand that whatever would befall him in his dangerous journey to rescue Haruna, that he knew he was taking the risks and not to blame the Syrian people.  Perhaps this call to "Love One Another" is what we should most remember of him.

This song, "Flowers Will Bloom" was written to remember all of those who were lost following the Great  Earthquake and Tsunami of East Japan (2011), however the songs clarity and innocence seems appropriate in remembrance of Kenji Goto as well.    Kenji was born in Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture which was hit so badly during the earthquake.

This is a link concerning the composers of the song and other information

The singer is Hayley Westenra of New Zealand who is also of Celtic Woman fame.

 This is an approximate English translation of the song:

"Flowers Will Bloom"

My heart goes out to you
When the winter snows give way to spring
My heart is longing now
Longing for the town where the happiness had been.
Been a place of hope and of dreaming too
Been a home when my heart always went back to you
But for now I only dream
Of the people who I loved and knew.
Someone is singing I can hear singing now
Someone is weeping I can feel their tears
Someone is smiling showing me why and how to go on living for years and years
Flowers will bloom, yes they will yes they will
For you who are here or yet to be born.
They'll bloom, yes they will and they bloom again until
There's no missing sorrow and no reason left to mourn
My heart goes out to you
Goes out to you
When the morning sun lights up the pale blue sky
The pale blue sky
My heart is heavy now
With the grief I tried so often to deny
I regret mistake that I sometimes made
But I know our love will never fade
And that you'll live on instead of me
Instead of me
And that you will have whatever love can be
Someone is thinking I can read ev'ry thought
Someone is shedding tears for all that was lost
Someone is leading you to love that they sought asking you to love all that you love the most
Flowers will bloom, yes they will yes they will
For you who are here or yet to be born.
They'll bloom, yes they will and they bloom again until
There's no missing sorrow and no reason left to mourn
Flowers will bloom, yes they will yes they will
For you who are here or yet to be born.
They'll bloom, yes they will and they bloom again until
There's no missing sorrow and no reason left to mourn

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Remembering the Murder of Alexander Litvinenko


Alexander Litvinenko, prior to polonium poisoning.


              I have happy memories of my times in both Vladivostok and Moscow in Russia.  I was there for about a month after 9-11 during Winter.  I have nothing but admiration and positive things to say about the Russian people themselves.  As a general rule, they are a creative, kind, and generous people who reminded me of the way most Americans were while I was growing up.  Russia has enormous natural resources, even oil and gas aside. If they ever begin to consistently use these, they are likely to become even more of an economic power house.   We should be very careful though, not to attribute the actions of the leaders of a country to reflect the wishes of its citizens.  Just as Barack Obama does very very little with which I am in agreement, I am sure that Mr. Putin does not please all of his Russian constituency.

                    This week I was on my Linkedin when a young woman was prattling about Mr. Putin and claiming his praises along with saying that he is misunderstood.    She had never heard of Alexander Litvinenko or the sixteen others who have died under suspicious circumstances after voicing clear opposition to Mr. Putin, a former head of the former KGB.

                      In the interest of others who fancy themselves as journalists yet who don't research prior to offering an insular opinion, I thought I might tell the story as we know it, of the tragic death of Alexander Litvinenko.

                      Alexander Litvinenko was born in August of 1962 and as an adult, became a KGB officer who specialized in limiting or taking down organized crime.   The KGB in Russia, no longer exists and is now known as the Federal Security Bureau or FSB.   Litvinenko and Putin worked for the organization in both of its incarnations. From all accounts, Litvinenko is reputed to have been an honest officer.   In 1998, Litvinenko and others accused his superior of ordering the execution death of Russian tycoon Boris Bereszovky.   Litvinenko was subsequently charged with exceeding the authority of his position, and he found it necessary to flee Russia with his wife Marina and children, to London.   The British granted him asylum, and then the Russians dismissed the charges against him.  He made his living in London as a journalist and also as an intelligence consultant for British Intelligence.

                       Litvinenko wrote two books which are said to be fairly factual accounts of  some of the internal workings of Russia. One of them is:

Blowing Up Russia                     
Can be bought at this link                                 Of course, this book has been banned in Russia

There are many other books in the marketplace concerning this and related topics.

                    Litvinenko also accused Putin of being involved in the execution death of journalist Anna Politskovkaya.

                    On November 1, 2006 Litvinenko became very ill, after having tea with two Russians at a tea room in London.  He deteriorated rapidly and British doctors detected that he had been poisoned using radioactive polonium 210, a formulation used only in Russia.   Countless British citizens on the street, working in the hospital, and ultimately performing the autopsy were exposed to this isotope.  A British investigation suggested that the two men with whom Litvinenko had lunch were implicated.   Andrey Lugovoy is one of those men.  His extradition to stand trial in Britain was refused by Russia.   Lugovoy has gone on to become a member of the Russian duma and to have his own television series.   There is signifcant radioactive evidence implicating this man.   This week, some foreign news sources have announced the trial of Lugovoy and another with both of them in absentia.    This is information on Lugovoy.

Litvinenko at University College Hospital prior to his death


    This is information concerning the Litvinenko investigation from the British perspective

   This is the link to the Litvinenko Justice Foundation run by his wife Marina

                I realize that all nations spy, and that all nations have chosen to vanquish what they consider to be a clear threat, sometimes by execution.   However, the execution of Litvinenko was the murder of a naturalized British subject which subjected countless British subjects, nurses and physicians, as well as Litvinenko's wife and children to high levels of radiation.   A Russian regime that would do this, would do anything in Ukraine, and almost anything anywhere else.

               Vladimir Putin is a brilliant, focused, leader who uses public relations and media very skillfully.
He is the funding arm of Russia Today, which although it is fascinating journalism, often carries a Putinesque bias.

                 We can care about our Russian friends and not embrace their current leader, just as I am grateful that they do not hold Barack Hussein Obama's actions in the world, against me.

This is an article which was printed in London and was penned by Litvinenko himself before his death as to why exactly he believes that Putin wanted him dead.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Fatal Shooting at Home Depot

  About forty-five minutes ago, an employee of a Manhattan Home Depot entered the store on his day off, asked to see his supervisor and then shot him to death. A moment later, he turned the gun, killing himself.

    New York City is one of the most difficult places in the US to obtain a handgun legally.  Obtaining a concealed weapons permit there is almost impossible and is getting more difficult all  the time.  The fact is that making weapons illegal does not deter those who would kill or commit crimes, murders or suicides with one.  It does however, make it more difficult for people who might wish to defend themselves, their coworkers or their families from an active shooter.  There is significant evidence that when an active shooter encounters someone with a weapon, that they usually surrender or shoot themselves. The overwhelming evidence is that they stop killing others.

      It doesn't take any great mind to predict that terrorists are incoming.   Public places in the US may see active shooters in public places as ISIS and other militant Islamists, and non-Islamists decide that violence and anarchy might get their cause on the news. We need more people trained and vetted who carry concealed handguns in public places in order to defend themselves and others.

       My prayers and condolences go out to the families and the employees of Home Depot who have been impacted by today's sad events.

         Spencer Coursen is a connection of mine from Linkedin who runs a security company and has an impressive background in protection.    He makes some excellent points regarding threat assessment.

Spencer Coursen on Threat Assessment

Friday, January 23, 2015

Revisiting Why Many Foreign Citizens Do Not Understand US Gun Culture

 I first penned the following post in December of 2012.   Although it did not draw a lot of commentary of attention when it was first written, it has recently.  I have chosen to reprise it in order to disseminate a number of the points I made then, which are even more valid now.

My family and I have spent a great deal of time acquiring excellent skills including firearm safety.

   It must be really difficult for people who live in other nations to understand the United States and why we have a Constitutional Amendment which allows us to own and use guns.  When I have traveled to other nations, I was struck by how little most Americans understand about different cultures in other lands, but also how little even educated people in other lands, understand about the culture of the United States.    First of all, the United States is quite vast, and many states have vastly different populations, educational levels, climates, problems and issues.   People in Hawaii have different problems and different challenges, than people in Massachusetts. People in Florida can't fathom some of the challenges in Alaska !  California is almost it's own little country with coastal citizens living very differently than those in the agricultural areas and differently still from those in Northern California.  Puerto Rico might be joining us soon, and their inhabitants would find culture shock in Virginia, North Dakota or Wyoming.      In some ways, we share some similarities with Russia. We are home to many different cultures and in different parts of our country, things are done very differently.  For example, in Moscow, which is European Russia, motorists drive on one side of the street, and in Vladivostok, Asian Russia, motorists drive on the other.   Our Northern neighbor Canada also has such diversity.  Alberta has different challenges than Nova Scotia, for example.

                   Last time I was in London, I remember some Londoners questioning why anyone would ever have a weapon of any kind anywhere.  They forget that the Swiss and the Israelis all train in the military mandatorily, and they do retain their weapons afterward.

                   I can't hope to be anything as approaching as knowledgeable or as interesting  on the subject as Larry Correia, but I can tell you why I am a gun owner.   First, although areas like mine don't get much television airtime, there are lots of areas in the US just like my own.   Our farm is intensely rural, and then heavily forested beyond the pastured areas.  Although all of our personally owned mammals are immunized in accordance with law for rabies, wild animals are not,and in such a vast nation,  rabies is endemic here. For those of you who aren't familiar, rabies is a viral infection that is generally considered to be fatal to animals and humans 100% of the time.  In the past couple of years, a  rabid ground hog attacked a county official within a short distance to our courthouse.  My eldest son has been challenged by a rabid fox as we walked out our front door.  We do have coyotes here, and occasionally packs of wild dogs.  We presently have the largest bobcat we've ever seen (larger than many fairly large dogs) who stays pretty much on our property, that we have ever seen anywhere.  One of our vets saw a mountain lion near here, and the official word from Game and Inland Fisheries of Virginia is that "we don't have those here".  They had to rethink that stance when the local taxidermist got one from a farmer who shot one about three miles from here.  In the summer, we have aggressive large black snakes, poisonous and numerous copperheads, and the occasional rattlesnakes.   We also have no less than 17 known black bears very close to us, some of which we see with fair frequency. We coexist with these beautiful large animals, who move much more quickly and smoothly than their size would suggest.  Most of the time, we live in our home, and we care for our livestock which include dogs, rabbits, ducks, chickens and alpacas, and soon a horse.  Sometimes a dangerous animal threatens us close to our farmhouse.  Animal control personnel here handle only big issues, and cover a huge area. Many times, they are simply unavailable. Citizens are encouraged to learn to use firearms correctly and to have them properly maintained on farms.  To get an idea of the scale of things here, our own farm is larger than the entire village/town in England, outside London, where I attended school as a teen.

                 Each year, several of us make it an expedition to walk out a section of the farm and forest which we own.  We make sure that no one has come here to plant marijuana trees. (Yes, they can grow to tree size) and that no one has been altering property boundary markers, or setting up illegal hunting tree stands here.   One year we found an illegal timberer stealing valuable trees from our neighbor.  Had my son and I each not been armed, we could likely have been killed at that location, and probably never found again. The illegal timberer has been imprisoned by local authorities.  Several people from this area, have in fact, disappeared never to be seen again. It may be wild animals or it may be the two legged kind of predator.

                We have a sheriff and deputies in this county, but they handle many things including rural car accidents. There have been times over the years, like the time some citiots thought our farm road might be a nice place for a high level, high volume, drug deal, that we could not have gotten a law enforcement officer out to even take a report before next Thursday.   We have since developed working arrangements with the DEA, the State Police and we stay in touch with our sheriff and his deputies.   We were encouraged to train and receive Concealed Weapons Permits by our sheriff.  He knows that we, like most rural landowners, are good stewards to our land, the animals, our farm, and that we are trained and safe with our firearms. Many localities won't come out anymore for anything but what they call a "blood crime".    

               Several years ago, a realtor was murdered in our county. She was not armed.  In rural areas particularly, robberies, home invasions, abductions, child snatchings by known sex offenders, stalkings by the insane, all occur.  When we lived in another part of Virginia, and our youngest son Daniel was an infant, people with an out of state license plate tried to abduct him.  Like it or not, having a gun and being competent in its use, as all of our adult family members are, may be all that prevents anyone from becoming a murder or robbery statistic.  The law here allows me to shoot to stop anyone who breaks into my house.  This makes sense because anyone who walks fifty acres in to us, locates a wooded glen where a house exists, defeats a security system, in an area of farms where home invaders have been shot, is not here to have tea or get an autographed copy of my book.  They are here to rob, rape, torture, kill or maim, and I am not going to allow an invader to do that to me in front of my children.  Keep in mind, that most of the psychiatric hospitals in the US have been closed years ago due to budget cuts and a philosophy that "everyone deserves to be free" even if they have schizophrenia and a documented history of violence as well.   Although no gun proponents are fond of quoting the number of people injured or killed with guns in our huge nation, they fail to indicate that annually, many many shootings, abductions and killings are prevented by law abiding citizens holding guns, both with and without concealed weapons permits. The news does not report all of these, and so Europe doesn't hear them, and therefore lacks this perspective in a major way.

                 Lastly, here in the United States we are, and have always been mindful that the reason that our nation was freed from the English king, and the reason that the United States was a part of rescuing the world from the likes of Hitler is that all over our nation, we have perfected the ability to use firearms competently.  The second amendment which allows us to bear arms, exists so that we can prevent tyranny when it once again raises its ugly head.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and others all knew that to live in this land, we would have to have access to personal protection of our land, our animals and our families.

                So, in future, just as I would not tell the Russian orphanages what to do with their children with regard to forest walks as they seek to avoid being eaten by the remaining Siberian tigers, and I would not tell the British what to do with their immigration, I would appreciate the consideration of your knowing as a European that I live a very different life than you.  I have carved out a life in an intensely rural region where there is no mail delivery, because spending gas money to deliver mail daily to so few people, would be unreasonably cost ineffective.  I can't walk to a store or a police precinct.  I am fifty miles from most things.  When someone is badly hurt here, a medical helicopter is called, generally at the expense of the person who will use it.  If you can't fathom what it's like to make your own bread or to freeze store bought loaves from fifty miles away to keep through winter, how can you possibly have any understanding of the challenges with regard to independent farm living ?   If you have never been without power for three weeks after a storm then you have no conception of the challenges here.  In addition, there are many places in the US which are far more difficult and more complex in which to live than this one.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Important Thoughts Concerning Your Feet and Preparedness

( Rendering from: )

            Many of us don't think much about our feet. Men buy the shoes they like or that are dictated by work, and the socks they like and then, beyond that, they don't think much about them.  Many women own shoes that actually produce challenges for their feet and legs, and they also don't give consideration to socks, tights or panty hose which actually should protect their feet from the friction of many of today's shoes. Many of the most popular shoes for men and for women, don't protect feet at all.  Man-made "plether" shoes may also exacerbate the problem.   Either sex should never wear shoes which would make running impossible.

                   If an emergency were to occur, then all of us could be faced with a situation in which we needed to walk a number of miles in which to gain safety. Remember that many of the bystanders who survived the collapse of the World Trade Center were people who were able to put distance between the building and themselves, quickly.  This leads me to my next question.  How are your feet ? Keep in mind that if you found yourself in an emergency that lasted several weeks (like a weather emergency in which your living arrangement changed drastically for a time) that your feet would endure some challenges more quickly than it could compensate for them.

                   Most people mistakenly think that foot callus formation is a positive thing.  They mistakenly believe that a callus will protect their foot from friction and additional discomfort.  The first group of people for whom this is absolutely not true are diabetics.  Both Type I (autoimmune/juvenile) Diabetes Mellitus patients, and Type II Diabetes Mellitus (usually acquired in adulthood) should take great care not to develop calluses on their feet.  (These as two different disorders with differing pathophysiologies and causes)  In diabetics, the callus can prevent the patients noting ulcerations and injuries below the callus. Since many diabetics don't have the foot sensitivity they should due to gradual nerve damage due to higher blood sugars, they may not realize that they have a foot ulceration which threatens their foot. This may occur during an emergency when they are least able to obtain a hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. A blister near a callus on a diabetic individual this morning, can be an infected ulcer with red lines on it, this afternoon.   Prevention is key, especially for this particular group of people. 

                 The second group of people who may have difficulties with runaway callus formation are those with hypothyroidism.  Women in middle age who may be experiencing a decrease in thyroid function may find they have foot callus formation to a degree to which they never have previously. This is an important sign.  If you have unexplained foot callus formation and you never had this before, then you should ask your primary care physician to run a TSH on you to rule out a failing thyroid gland.   Secondly, new and severe foot callus formation is not a normal part of aging.  Please look for what has changed which is contributing to such formation.

Dr. Scholl's Product Line for Calluses
                If your need to use your feet in a manner in which you had not prior, occurred during an actual emergency, you could develop calluses rather quickly.   Calluses are hard material and as you walk or hike, they can cause pain, irritation, actual bruising, and actual injury to the fragile skin below the callus.  Cracked heels are also an important and potentially painful problem which can lead to infection.   If you and your family had to walk forty miles to get out of an area in an impending disaster, could you ?   Do each of you own the correct socks, the correct boots ?     Do you have adequate padding, gauze, moleskin etc. to treat the minor irritations which clearly would occur even with healthy feet on an impromptu but protracted hike ?

               Diabetics should have their feet inspected by a podiatrist who will give them guidelines as to how best to maintain their own feet and prevent calluses.  Some endocrinologists will do this also.     The rest of us should make sure that our feet are as smooth and as callus free as is possible.   If you do develop a foot callus, Flexitol cream might be an important investment in your emergency kit.  It should be used as a preventive measure in keeping your feet mission ready at a moment's notice.   Flexitol    ( is marketed as Flexitol heel balm ) an over the counter urea preparation which softens calluses and allows you to soak them or scrape them off over time. It is available at almost any US and Canadian pharmacy and is available at Wal-Mart and online.    Diabetics or those with resistant calluses can buy a prescription strength urea based callus cream if ordered by your general or your podiatric physician.

I receive absolutely no personal benefit from mentioning or in essence, advertising Flexitol.  It simply works when used exactly as directed.

               When using Flexitol, it is important to keep it away from faces and eyes.  I apply it using vinyl gloves to avoid irritation to my hands.  You should wash your hands after application, particularly if you could not use vinyl gloves for application.  Children should have this applied for them.  It may sting deep cracks in heels.

   Important points for your entire family:

1.  Make sure that each member of your family has ankle boots or longer types which are well fitting and comfortable enough to endure a five mile "emergency hike".  These should be in close proximity to your evacuation kit.
2. Make sure that if a tornado is imminent that each of you put on clean socks and the boots mentioned above.  Walking through broken glass with the correct footwear is very important.
3. Consider white cotton socks for everyone in your evacuation kit.  These are more likely to wick moisture away, and less likely to result in athlete's foot (a fungal infection of the feet and toes) if you had to wear your boots for a protracted period in an emergency.
4. Attend to any difficulties, calluses, corns, etc. well in advance of an emergency.  Learn to care for your feet before you have a problem.
5. Consider creating a "Foot Kit" in your emergency evacuation kit.
    It should contain:
                   A.) One or two tubes of Flexitol.
                   B.) Package of Molefoam Padding*
                   C.) Package of Molefoam Cushion*                     *All sold by Dr. Scholl's and online
                    D.) Package of Moleskin Plus Padding Roll *
 6. The formation of new calluses can be a sign of a new health problem.  Mention this to your doctor.
7. Make properly fitting comfortable shoes and socks a priority.
8. Don't surgically or semi-surgically remove calluses.  Gradual removal using Flexitol or prescription urea creams will do the job without giving you a nasty infection where you, or the scissors slipped !
9. Manage diabetes well.  The better your blood glucose levels are managed, the less of a problem this is likely to be.
10. Investigate orthotic inserts for your shoes that will help distribute weight better over your entire foot rather than selected areas which eventually form calluses.  Traditional orthotic shoe inserts are provided by podiatrists or sports medicine physicians or orthopedists.  Increasingly, partially customized orthotic inserts are available over-the-counter and these will help and awful lot of patients, not only with walking and longer term comfort in their shoes, but with reducing foor callus formation as well.

                    Your survival from certain disasters may well hinge on the health of your feet.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

How Will the Swiss Francs Change Impact You ?


       The Swiss have long had a sensible yet alternative view of life and their place in the world.  They take mandatory military service seriously, and in a continent in which almost no one else values guns, they train all their able bodied citizens who keep those weapons for national defense after their service is over.  Swiss disaster preparedness is legendary.

                    Financial security is also a part of preparedness.  In September, 2011, the Swiss who have retained the use of their own franc, pegged its value to the euro.  This means that they fixed its value at 1.2 francs per one euro.  This was supposed to result in some measure of stability for both currencies, which of course is important because it stabilizes trade, markets, and eventually jobs.
                     In the past few years, without going off on a verbose tangent, as is so often my inclination, the euro has had some difficulties.  A number of European nations have suffered financial instability and have required assistance and buy outs of their problems. This has caused fluctuations and concerns for euro stability.  
                    The Swiss are great bankers, and yesterday they announced that they were going to "unhook" the Swiss franc from the euro because longer term linkage to it would be unsustainable. This was quite a surprise. The first result is that the franc surged to being worth 30% more than it had been.   This is going to have some negative effects in the marketplace even worldwide.   For the Swiss, their goods are going to become more expensive for other nations. This will decrease exports and it may cost them jobs, even though they may be more secure in the long term.  For everyone else, Swiss watches, chocolates, technology and anything else are going to become more expensive. Any Swiss francs you are holding are likely to become worth more. The euro may fall as a result of this change.

                     Some of the results of this change cannot be foreseen. There will be unexpected market volatility.   Already, a brokerage house in New Zealand announced this morning that it was going out of business, the result of losing "all of its assets" as a result of this currency change.   With the price of oil descending, jobs being lost, Russian financial losses, and other signs of world economic instability, there is no way to fully assess the unintended consequences of the Swiss move.  We can expect market volatility across the board for some time.

                     If you read this and think you will remain untouched, let me remind you that there are a number of drug companies in Switzerland.  Some of the drugs they make are not made by any other companies in the world. Some of the research they do is not being duplicated anywhere else.  For some, an increase in the price of Swiss goods will be a problem and it may not be felt for some time.

                      My conclusion is that you should continue to save a cash cushion in your own currency.  We are all connected to one another financially in both ways which benefit us, and ways which make us all vulnerable.  You should consider amassing some gold or silver if this is possible for you.  You should stockpile long term food for interruptions in supply or for periods of inflation. You should assemble an excellent first aid kit and you should address any known medical or dental issues in advance of an emergency.  You should take reasonable measured steps to prepare for reasonable emergencies and disasters in your region.  The financially uncertain ride for most of us will continue for some time.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Building LED Soda Bottle Lights

Illac Diaz with a bottle bulb  (Picture: )

   The lights in the post below are excellent for the type of construction I have mentioned, and work very well during daylight.   However, most of us need light when the sun goes down.  In addition, LED soda bottle lights may be able to be modified and used for different types of construction.  In addition, these lights may be used for barns, animal housing, and emergency shelters following disasters.
                    I generally prefer step-by-step directions with photographs which I can post here, but Illac Diaz, the founder of Liters of Light made a video himself which explains the construction and implementation of LED bottle lights quite well.

           Illac Diaz and Liters of Light's Directions for LED Bottle Light Construction and Use

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Construction of Solar Bottle Lights



  I have no idea what a social entrepreneur really is, but if this is what they do, then the world needs more of them.  Illac Diaz is just such a person. He is the founder of Liters of Light  After completing his own university degree, he set out to help thousands of Filipino families who are living in substandard housing following the terrible storms and tsunamis of the past few years.  In a number of coastal housing settlements in the Phillipines, there is no electricity and no light by which to make food for the evening meal or do homework afterward.  This is Illac's simple and brilliant way of addressing the problem.

                   This method works on metal roofing both corrugated or otherwise. It can also work on outbuildings, barns, or for growing sheds.  Multiple bottles bring a great deal of daylight light into a structure.

Building a Solar Bottle Bulb

*PET soda bottle
*Galvanized Iron (GI) sheet
*Rubber sealant
*Filtered Water

Step 1: Cut approximately 9 x 10 inches of GI sheet (corrugated or flat)




Step 2: At the center of the GI sheet, draw 2 circles


 cut out the center circle, carefully.

Cut the 1 cm difference radially, making strips and bend upwards, perpendicular to the GI sheet



Using sandpaper, scratch the surface around the upper third portion of the soda bottle where the GI sheet will be placed, to allow the rubber sealant to stick better



Insert the bottle into the GI sheet until the upper third. Apply rubber sealant on the strips above and around the area below. Wait to dry




Fill the soda bottle with filtered water and ~10 mL (2 capfuls) of bleach. Cover with its original cap


Cut a hole on the roof, similar to the bottle circumference



 See more detail and installation instructions at:


Even modest donations sent to this organization can help people living in darkness, as Illac himself works to put this, and other inexpensive lighting means in the homes of those who have endured significant disasters:


Friday, January 9, 2015

With Compassion and Solidarity for France


        In view of the two additional hostage crises  related to the terrorist attack in Paris earlier in the week, I would like to tell our readers in France that we stand in solidarity with them.  We send condolences to them and to those who were directly affected by these terrorist attacks.

              Following the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, America traded a number of its freedoms in exchange for imaginary enhancement of safety, by way of The Patriot Act.   Please, don't allow your leaders to make the same mistake.   France should remain as free a society as is possible.    No society can ever be completely safe, and the promise of a completely safe society is simply illusory.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Have No Illusions....We Should Be At A Higher Level of Alert

This is the actual car of the three men who stormed the offices killing employees, and then exchanging fire with police prior to leaving.     (Photo: )

         Just before lunchtime, Paris time,  three men wearing black hoods stormed into the  offices of a French newspaper with automatic weapons and potentially a rocket launcher, and proceeded to mow down the employees and principles of the business during an editorial meeting. There have been at leave twelve deaths  and many additional injuries. Two Paris policemen who were guarding the newspaper have also been killed.  Four people are in critical condition.  The death toll is likely to rise as some of the injured people are likely not to survive. Witnesses say that when the three gunmen had completed their task, they shouted something amounting to "The Prophet Has Been Avenged."    The newspaper was Charlie Hebdo, which is well known for its satirical treatment of many things, the most recently of which was a satirical treatment of Muslim extremism and jihad.   Francois Hollande, the French president,  has raised the terror alert in France to the highest possible level. A diligent manhunt for the perpetrators is under way.

              Here in the US, our president has Muslim friends to lunch.  He frequently states that "We are not at war with Islam".   We might not be, but extremist Muslims, ISIS, ISIL or whatever they wish to be called this week, are at war to the death with the western world, the Christian world, and anyone else who might call attention to their own insanity.   When will our leaders understand and accept that extremist Muslims are as big a threat to Europe and the Americas as Hitler was ?

            Until then, as an individual family in the United States, Europe, or wherever you are, be on alert.  I wonder if the offices of Mad Magazine have security ?      Make plans for your own defense.  Stay ahead on foods and medications.  Understand that we are under attack, along with our entire way of life.  If your region permits, get a concealed weapon.  Your own life could depend upon it.

             We send our most sincere condolences to the people of France and particularly the families of those attacked in this terrorist act.  Those who died became martyrs in the continuing fight for free speech in a world where such speech continues to be modified and limited.

UPDATE:   The original French news reports of this matter indicated that there were three perpetrators. Now, most news outlets are quoting that most witnesses saw two.   Still, our information above was correct when it was posted.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pearls of Wisdom: Self Defense: Pearl One

Our best weapon in self defense is, and always is, our brain.

    With less time available to the internet, and to blogging in general, I have needed to focus my posts a little better.  This begins an episodic series which I believe will run for some time with regard to practical and psychological aspects of self defense.  When I say self defense, I am extending this to mean self defense as it applies to your family also.

                     When the shooter at Virginia Tech killed and injured so many, some mistakenly said that "he just snapped".    When employees come in to the office where they have just lost a job and fire a weapon on those who still have one, the news crews will often say, "He just snapped".   Yet, there really is no such thing.   If we were to thoroughly investigate the interviews with family, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, teachers etc. and guaranteed them anonymity,  we would learn that almost all of the people who took egregious homicidal actions showed erratic behavior or signs of overt mental illness, often for many years prior to such an event.  Some of them had attempted treatment, but many had not.

                      In point of fact, truly "warningless" attacks on companies, and on individuals are quite rare.   Most people with some form of mental illness have indicated that they are disgruntled, and many have actually threatened others, and yet those of us with a "normal" mindset are more comfortable discounting the warnings.   Most of us with a healthy normal mindset have our attention taken each day by a variety of professional relationships and activities.  We don't think much about those who are angry with us.  We move through life just getting everything done, and hoping for enough time to have fulfilling interactions with our families..  However, many of the mentally ill people who fixate on corporations, smaller companies or individuals whom they mistakenly believe have caused their difficulties, don't have as much going on.  This leaves room for mental energy to be focused on the obsession of those who, in their minds, "deserve to be taught a lesson".   Healthy people don't see this because life keeps them busy, and obsessive people of this type, see little else.  They become enmeshed with a system of disordered thinking which allows them to blame their object of blame for everything from the weather to inflation, or their most recent parking ticket.  Since they tend not to share their thinking with others as much as others do, there isn't anyone to call attention to how disordered their thinking might be. There are no reality checks, which are so frequent for you and I who are involved in a professional or personal networks of some type.

                      In addition, people who exhibit bizarre behavior often frighten physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners or physician assistants.  They often think that the person is a little odd and might have been having a bad day.  Even psychiatrists can miss a person who is on a fast track to being homicidal. Most of us are happy enough just to have such a person out of the office. Many health care practitioners don't take the brave action needed to place someone on an evaluative psychiatric hold.   If our mental health systems were truly effective then far fewer of the attacks on schools, colleges, employers, and family members would occur.   Sadly, in the US, the newest strategy is to blame the guns and let the people who are ruled by disordered thinking run free.  The reality is that a mentally ill person can kill with rope, steak knives, hammers, tire irons, motor vehicles, or a myriad of household products added to food without the recipient's knowledge.

                      How can we as individuals avoid becoming a statistic ?    First of all, place denial aside and think about your relatives and then your friends.  Most of us know someone who has "lost all their friends" in the past few years.  Most of us know someone who lost a job and then has exhibited behaviors which made getting a new one unlikely.   Most of us know someone whose behaviors have become more extreme or bizarre, sometimes following a genuine or a perceived loss of some kind. These are all risk factors for either a suicidal or a homicidal event.  Most of us ignore these risk factors, just hoping that the person involved chooses to get help.  Most often, because their thinking is already disordered, they won't. Their paranoia will prevent them from trusting the systems in place enough in order to get help from those sources.  You may need to talk to their spouse. You may need to talk to their parent and suggest that they get some help because you have seen how unhappy they are.  Certainly, an economy off the tracks has made the stress on such individuals far worse, and it has accelerated the descent of some into madness. There are effective treatments available for many people and yet many of the sickest people have never tried them.

                    Sometimes by "doing the right thing" and noticing that your cousin, your father-in-law or best friend is having a mental health issue, you will become a target yourself.  Sadly, this does come with the territory of doing the right thing sometimes.  "No good deed goes unpunished" should be a mantra for me, and many others, yet we still must do the right thing.

                    Once we have tried to get help for those who need it, then we have to ask ourselves reasonably,  who would like to kill us if they had half a chance ?     The reality is that more people would probably like to do you harm than you realize.   People often don't hate you, for you.  They hate you because you remind them of their ex-wife, or their mother, and they hated those people with passion. Sometimes you simply fit within the box.    Sometimes your husband's ex-wife hates you because she thinks her kids share more with you than with her.   Sometimes the person you work with who was not promoted when you were, hates you.  Many women (and now men also) have been the object of the affections of an obsessive lover who was either rejected, or who never really was a love interest of ours.  Sometimes, we have to assess who has exhibited bizarre behavior and who would do us harm if the circumstances allowed this.

                    In order to prevent becoming a statistic ourselves, we need to being mental health issues to the attention of the family member who is in the best position to induce the individual in question to get help.   If this doesn't work, document everything you are seeing.  Sometimes, the police can be helpful.  Most of them know that a household that has a bevy of domestic disturbance calls down the road becomes a call for a homicide.  Many of them are willing to arrest such individuals and in essence, force a mental health intervention.  Next, you should always be in your very best physical shape. This means that you are more likely to notice someone waiting outside your place of employment. You are more likely to be able to run or fight off a known, or an unknown attacker.   Lastly, if you are located in a place in which a concealed weapons permit is permitted, consider one.   A weapon, such as a firearm is a big responsibility.  You must train in order to be comfortable with one, and to ensure that no one could ever rush you and take it from you, allowing them to use it on you.  You need to be able to keep your weapon secured at home sufficiently to avoid children or anyone else from accessing it.  You need to be competent enough to handle your weapon to avoid accidental discharges.

                 A professor I once had in college who taught me self defense once said that the most important aspect of self defense is in fact, situational awareness.  Without being paranoid, start noticing the cars and license plates which accompany you each day on your drive to work.  Notice who is around you in the grocery store.  Noticing what is normal around you will help to go a long way to helping you recognize when someone, and most importantly, when something isn't.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

In Recognition of "The Book of Barkley"

This post first appeared on one of my other blogs  (Life After the Rescues) in August of 2014.  Please take a look.

      To those of you who have ever really loved a dog, this is a beautiful book.   It was beautifully penned by one of our readers who weaves so beautifully how a particular dog became a truly important part of her life, during its own twists and turns. The author herself is a remarkable woman.   This book is a lovely treat for yourself and a lovely gift to anyone who has ever loved a dog, and even for those who have not yet had that resounding and life changing pleasure.  I give this beautifully written book an unconditional recommendation.

The "Book of Barkley" in paperback

The "Book of Barkley" Kindle Edition

The "Book of Barkley" via  itunes

Other means will soon follow...


Update:       This book has been recognized as one of the most promising Indie books of the season: