Record number of calls to deal with moth problems

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

moth_web A pest control company in the British county of Surrey has been deluged with calls about clothes moths causing havoc.

Managing Director of Cleankill (Environmental Services) Ltd, Paul Bates said the company has had more calls about moths in the last few weeks than ever before, and I am not surprised because I have seen masses in my home as well.

“I’ve been working in the pest control industry for nearly three decades and the current levels of moth activity are highly unusual. We are getting calls from offices who are finding them in common areas and also homeowners who are worried about damage to clothing and carpets”.

Mr Bates continued: “Part of the problem in recent years has been a combination of the withdrawal of some of the most effective insecticides, such as Dichlorvos, and the return to fashion of many natural fiber clothes, such as Cashmere, which has also seen a dramatic reduction in cost to the consumer – Cashmere is a favorite foodstuff of clothes moth”.

People can identify adult textile moths – which look like the stored product moths that are found in dry foodstuffs in kitchens – as will often be seen running rather than flying. They are unlike the common garden moths that will come in and fly towards lights and windows. Their favorite diet is the detritus found at the bottom of birds’ nests – a rich source of protein – but they are equally at home in the bottom of a chest of drawers, the darker, warmer and dirtier the better!

The best advice is for people to be careful when storing winter woollies away for the summer, when it arrives, which we all are beginning to doubt. Clothes should be hot washed or dry cleaned prior to being put away and clothes, drawers and wardrobes should be checked before winter storage.

There are good quality bags available from department stores such as John Lewis which clothing is put into – the air is then sucked out using a standard vacuum cleaner hose – these bags give a good level of protection against moth infestation. If bagging is not possible then clothing in drawers should be turned over and moved at least once a month as the moths dislike disturbance and light.

Textile moths are often associated with birds’ nests in loft spaces where the damage causing larvae will feed on bird feathers – from here they will quietly spread unnoticed to other areas of the house.

Mothballs, as far as I concerned, and bits of cedar wood, also might be a good idea to place into drawers and other places where you are storing your (winter) woolen clothes, and clothes made of other natural fibers, in general.

© 2012

German solar city (Sonnenschiff) produces four times more energy than it consumes

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Sonnenschiff_web This proves that it can be done even in a country where the sun does not shine as much as in southern Europe and proves that the British government simply does not have the political will to get solar (and other renewables) going.

Although net-zero projects have been creating a lot of buzz lately in the field of green building, the Sonnenschiff solar city in Freiburg, Germany is very much net positive. The self-sustaining city accomplishes this feat through smart solar design and lots and lots of photovoltaic panels pointed in the right direction. It seems like a simple strategy – but designers often incorporate solar installations as an afterthought, or worse, as a label, and that is not an efficient way of doing it. Those installations that then don't bring the promised results are then used by the advocates of fossil fuel and nuclear energy as proof that renewables don't work and could not supply all our needs.

If, in fact, we would change the supply in our homes and would, predominately, use the 12V DC produced by PV panel and small wind turbines, etc. we would be able to run things even more efficient.

Designed by Rolf Disch, the Sonnenschiff (Solar Ship) and Solarsiedlung (Solar Village) emphasize power production from the start by smartly incorporating a series of large rooftop solar arrays that double as sun shades. The buildings are also built to Passivhaus standards, which allows the project to produce four times the amount of energy it consumes. A great result, I should say, proving that with design and vision it can be done, and it can also be done as retrofit, though maybe a little less efficient.

The project started out as a vision for an entire community and the medium-density project balances size, accessibility, green space, and solar exposure. In all, 52 homes make up a neighborhood anchored to Sonnenschiff, a mixed-use residential and commercial building that emphasizes livability with a minimal footprint. Advanced technologies like phase-change materials and vacuum insulation significantly boost the thermal performance of the building’s wall system.

The homes are designed to the Passivhaus standard and have great access to passive solar heating and daylight. Each home features a very simple shed roof with deep overhangs that allows winter sun in while shading the building from the summer sun. The penthouses on top of the Sonnenschiff have access to rooftop gardens that make full use of the site’s solar resources. The rooftops feature rainwater recycling systems that irrigate the gardens and while supplying the toilets with gray water. The buildings also make use of wood chip boilers for heat in the winter, further decreasing their environmental footprint.

If one would consider now adding to a settlement such as this methane gas production and the use of boilers fitted with Sterling engines further energy could be produced. Furthermore, if the 12V DC power created by those electricity systems all be stored in battery banks for use when there is a drop in production for some reason any area could become energy self-sufficient and even become energy exporting.

The project’s simple envelope design is brightened by a colorful and dynamic facade. Gardens and paths cross through the development as well, linking the inhabitants. Offices and stores expand the livability of the community while contributing a sense of communal purpose.

While the Sonnenschiff village was designed and created on a blank sheet of paper, so to speak, we must find a way, and the right kind of visionaries designers will be very much required here, to make our existing city blocks, towns and villages equally efficient and energy producing.

© 2012

UK economy has shrunk again

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

UK is now in a second recession say the experts. Now what a surprise, NOT. It was obvious to anyone in the real world and negative growth is but a spin word.

Output shrank by a 0.7% in the second quarter and Britain is now deep in a double-dip recession. The economy hasn't just stalled, it has gone into reverse.

The spin doctors, however, are still banding the “negative growth” term about and also blame this and that for the fact that the economy has shrunk further. The weather, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee bank holiday, etc., and so forth.

The fact is that the economy, and not just that of the UK, is in a mess and this is also due, primarily more like, to the fact that we no longer make anything in Britain (and we are not alone there either).

Jobs are being outsourced and still the morons in government expect people to be able to spend money on goods, especially on homes and such.

Furthermore the powers that be also need to come to the realization that we cannot spend our way out of the recession and that growth cannot be sustained on a limited Planet.

We need to reduce consumption in order to be able to keep and maintain the Planet, our Earth, at a livable level and then, slowly, but surely, reverse some of the damage that we have done to Her.

Our governments have created an economy the growth of which is dependent on consumption and ever more consumption. One can but wonder how it was that the economic world did not collapse in the “old days”. The truth is that repair of products was part of the economy and that kept things on a level.

The boot maker also repaired them, the clockmaker did the same, and so on and so forth, and many people made their own things and repaired their own goods and still the country ran, and ran well. Then again, no one was looking for several thousand percent profit and bonuses of up to hundred times their salaries either.

Returning to the values of the economy of the early 20th century would not be a bad idea and also, in some ways, to the way we traveled then and lived then.

I am not advocating that we abandoned the modern things of today but I am advocating to return to living closer to where we work and to traveling again by bicycle, on foot, and on public transport, rather than by car.

That also means that shops, post offices and small businesses must return into the villages and towns so that people are not dependent on cars to get to the stores.

We must return to sanity or we will face dire consequences.

© 2012

Growing weeds in your garden

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Yes, I do, and that on purpose and no, I am not mad.

Wild Spinach (Chenopodium album)_web I do grow a number of “weeds” in pots (no, I do not grow pot, I grow them in pots) and in my garden, where they are also grown in containers of sorts and planting bags so as to control their spread.

Explaining this to people, however, is the funniest experience you can ever have if you follow my example, and I am not the only one doing it. The confused looks that come over people's faces when you explain to them why and the fact that this or that plant that they exterminate on a regular basis in their gardens is actually edible and a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

I have the greatest of fun with the expression that people give me when they ask me as a professional gardener as to what I would suggest they'd do with the dandelions growing in their gardens or lawns and I tell them “eat them”.

I grow “weeds” for food, such as Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and currently are looking to get some seeds for Common Purslane and some other “weeds” that are good eating.

In addition I grow others for medicinal uses such as Ribwort, aka Narrow Leaved Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), though the ordinary Plantain, aka Broad Leaves Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) can also be used for the same purpose, namely that of would dressing. Plantain leaves are also edible and can be made into herbal teas. This is not a relation to the “banana” plantain of the Caribbeans.

So next time someone looks at you strangely and ask why you grow weeds in pots, just smile and give them a taste of your “weeds” and enjoy the reactions.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about this subject I recommend they get the book “The Weeder's Digest” by Gail Harland. A 192 pages paperback costing £12.95 and published end of June 2012 by Green Books.

© 2012

From cranberry pomace to potting mix

Cranberries, and especially the sauce and the juice, may not be as green as you may think

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Cranberry Both cranberry sauce, which is a staple at many Thanksgiving meals and also for the Christmas turkey in Britain, and cranberry juice, thought to ward off urinary tract infections, require that the skins of the cranberries they are made from, be removed.

So, if that is the case, what happens to the skins? For the most part, they are shredded and end up as organic waste deposited in a landfill – five tons of them in fact from Ocean Spray alone.

One man, a waste hauler by trade, decided to see what could be done about using the shredded skins, referred to as pomace, for something other than landfill waste. It turns out the answer may be yes as researchers at the University of Massachusetts have determined. They have found that pomace, when composted is quite similar to peat moss, a staple of potting mix and over the past few years pomace has been sold as mulch to some local wholesale mulch companies.

Several commercial flower growers in Massachusetts have agreed to be guinea pigs for the University of Massachusetts researchers and to experiment with various potting mixes containing pomace to see whether it is beneficial or not. So far the results are positive, with the winner being that of a 50:50 mix of peat moss to pomace. Too much pomace added to the mix makes it too acidic for most plants.

The other, simple answer, would be, and no research would have been required which may have cost a lot of money, tax dollars more than likely, to simply compost the pomace with other organic matter.

Once properly broken down and mixed, during the process of composting, with other matter, in the same way as coffee grounds are used, it just becomes simple compost for use in the garden.

It is amazing how often researchers try to reinvent the wheel.

On the other hand it is time that all that pomace was recycled into compost rather than dumped into landfill where the process of decomposition will add to emission of methane gas, a greenhouse gas far more dangerous than carbon dioxide.

Then again this methane gas could be used as natural gas for heating and cooking and for powering electricity generating plants. All that is required is to draw it off the landfill sites. Too simple, I guess.

© 2012

Potentially toxic tomatoes and other vegetables

Potentially toxic tomatoes and other vegetables – What urban gardeners should know and be aware of

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A report published in the journal "Environmental Pollution" once again reminds us that, as the urban gardening boom continues to grow, it is important to give people tips on how to ensure the food they grow is safe for eating after all their labors of love.

Researchers from the Technical University of Berlin tested vegetables of various types from gardens across Germany's capital city. Although the risks of contamination of urban gardens has been discussed before, this study attempts to determine what factors favor siting of a safe urban garden and what vegetables might be less susceptible to contamination.

The results of the study confirm the potential for vegetables to extract heavy metals from the soils in which they are grown, indicating that merely washing vegetables free of the local soil may be insufficient protection from the toxic effects of high levels of soil contamination. Some of the vegetables tested were found to have lead concentrations above the levels set by European law as safe for foodstuffs. Lead accumulates in the body and can lead to developmental disorders and neurological damage, as well as harm to other organs.

Vegetables sampled include: tomatoes, green beans, carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, white cabbage, nasturtium, parsley, chard, basil, mint, and thyme. Wide variations in contamination concentrations were seen, so the study does not support the idea that some vegetables may be safer than others for urban gardening.

What the study does conclusively show: gardens nearer to areas with heavy traffic have higher levels of contamination. Barriers between the traffic and the garden, such as thickly vegetated areas or buildings, reduced the levels of cadmium, chromium, lead, and zinc found in the vegetables.

The researchers warn against panic, pointing to the need for more studies before anyone gives up the beneficial effects of an urban garden to go back to supermarket produce. But there are some steps that urban gardeners can take to minimize the risks when growing food in the city.

Learn about the land where you intend to garden before you plant the first seed. The city land planning office should be able to help with records of past use. And local health or environmental agencies, or the agricultural extension of a local university, may be able to help with soil testing.

If there is any indication of prior land contamination, or the location of your garden lies in highly trafficked areas, or near buildings where leaded paint flakes may have accumulated, try a raised bed garden. Place a sturdy liner on top of the native soil before building the beds, and bring in clean soil for your garden.

Follow the science of this study by planning a wall or thick hedge to help block the potentially contaminated dusts that might otherwise be blown up by traffic.

I would suggest that all derelict land in urban areas that is intended for urban gardening, community gardens, and such, is treated as potentially contaminated and thus I would say not just raised bed garden with a membrane between original soil and new soil but container gardening and the so-called builder's bags, aka construction debris bags, are a great idea. They make brilliant planting containers and at the same time you stop them from being thrown away as today they, predominately, end up in the waste stream and often in landfill; they are no longer being reused as they once were.

This also goes as a reminder NOT to use steel belted radial tires for planters. They leach cadmium. And that also goes for using them in your own garden. It is a NO, NO. Tires that had inner tubes in them are fine for use as they do not have the metal in the rubber material.

© 2012

It is madness that waste is not a bigger international priority

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The talk is about CO2 and no one talks about “other” pollution and about waste... especially about waste.

Our oceans are full of plastic waste and landfills leach chemicals all over the place and still everyone in power and in the NGOs has nothing else to think about than CO2.

Even when we have separate bins so to enable recycling people are far too wrapped up in themselves that they will just, without thinking, toss the wrong stuff into the wrong bin, and by their action nullify the actions of hundreds of others who did the right thing.

If people with access to proper recycling and waste management services aren’t using them properly, what about countries without those services?

But recycling is NOT the answer to our waste problem, and neither are the ways that went before, such just putting the stuff into a hole in the ground. We have to find other ways to tackle our waste, and reduction of packaging, repairability of products, and reuse must be primarily on the list.

According to experts at Rio+20, the greatest waste of time in recent history, probably, the problem with waste is far greater than the international community is recognizing. With global municipal solid waste set to double in by 2025 – mostly in developing countries without the capabilities to manage that waste – many say it’s one of the most pressing environmental problems of our time.

We are creating an environmental disaster that developing countries are ignoring at their own peril, but I would say not the developing countries alone. The developed world has a a huge waste problem but we make it easy on ourselves. Our hazardous waste and e-waste, etc., we just ship to the Third World.

Less than half the world’s population has access to proper waste disposal, causing mountains of hazardous trash – including a growing amount of e-waste – to pile up. By 2020, e-waste from consumer electronics will jump 500% in some countries. That’s causing toxic chemicals to leach into groundwater and putting a financial burden on economically-constrained countries.

Fact is, however, that most of that e-waste would not be there in those developing countries, which I will continue to call the Third World, were it not for the fact that the developing countries ship that waste for “reprocessing” to countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, etc.

And the same goes for other waste, including old ships, which end up in places such as Bangladesh to be broken up, often without any protection measures in place.

The only way, however, to tackle the waste problem is to reduce it and while it is true that waste has always existed, as we can see from the rubbish tips of bygone ages, in those days things were, however, much more repaired, reused, repurposed, and upcycled than today. Things were, in fact, often repaired until they no longer could be fixed. Today we just toss things away.

Only when we change our mindset can we get to grips with the waste problem and this also means that products must be repairable again, designed and made thus, and ideally repairable by the user even.

On top of that we must reduce the amount of packaging that products and produce are wrapped up in and it would also be good if designers of packaging would design a second use into their products. Thus people could make use of the packaging and it would, maybe, not tossed out.

If we do not tackle the waste problem tackling climate change will not longer matter for what can we do with a cool but poisoned Planet. About as much as with one that has overheated.

© 2012

German visitor giving Nazi-style salute to athletes at Olympic opening

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

During the Opening Ceremony to the 2012 London Olympiad, when the German team was marching in, an elderly visitor could be seen making a Nazi-style salute, albeit with his left  arm.

Nazi salute at 2012 Olympics openingThis man, in his eighties, is, supposedly, a German former official of the Olympic Committee who has only limited to no use in his right arm. Hence he uses his left arm.

It has been claimed that he is not a Nazi, by some supporters of his and of the right-wing, no doubt, and that that was a simple wave.

It was no simple wave from where I am standing who watched this happen and actually took the screenshot on purpose to prove that what this man, who needs to be held accountable for his action on British soil, was in fact making a Nazi salute to the German team.

This is totally unacceptable in ordinary circumstances but even more so in the setting where it took place.

However, personally, I am not surprised at all at this man's actions as the Brown Menace of Fascism is very much rising its ugly head again, in Germany, and in other EU member countries, such as Hungary.

The EU bodies are either powerless to do anything against those happenings or have no intention of doing so and if this man was, once, part of the IOC, the that committee neither.

This was also no ordinary visitor to the Games but a VIP for he was in the VIP area with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, seated behind him and seemingly giggling at the sight of this German making the Nazi salute.

555555_340578846024874_511340208_n I am sure that had any ordinary member of the audience committed such an act the security at the venue would have swooped on him and arrested him. This man, however, does seem to be getting away with it. We must not allow that to happen.

Time to stomp out all Nazi behavior, in whichever form!

© 2012

Keeping your (garden) tools clean & sharp

by Michael Smith (Veshengro

Keeping Tools Garden Clean & SharpWith the gardening season now in full swing it is important to remember that you must keep your tools clean and sharp in order to be efficient in your tasks. Also, it is good practice to clean any cutting tool between dealing with different plants as to not to spread diseases.

Here is a short guide as to how to keep your garden tools clean and sharp.

Cleaning your tools

Always immediately clean your tools after work in the garden. I know that this often is easier said than done and there are times when I too put tools away dirty.

But best practice is not to do that. This goes for all tools and not just cutting tools and it is more important if the blades, etc. are carbon steel and not stainless steel.

Remove any dirt with water – hot water, if you think necessary – and immediately after dry tool and apply oil to all metal parts.

Sharpening shovels, spades, edging knives and similar

Sharpen the metal edges on shovels, spades, edging knives, and similar tools using a mill file.

Follow the angle of the original bevel and move the file along the edge and away from your body in long even strokes (not short choppy ones) to achieve a smooth but sharp edge. Hint: Place the tool in a vise to add an extra pair of hands. This also keeps the tool much steadier than holding it with one hand.

Caring for and sharpening secateurs/pruning shears

Cleaning: The blades should be wiped after use in order to remove sap buildup as this can lead to the secateurs/pruning shears (loppers) to be damaged.

Often a product called “Sapex” is being recommended but that is (a) rather expensive and (b) unnecessary. Use cheap baby wipes or simply a rag with easing and lubricating oil such as WD40.

In fact wipe all (metal) parts of your pruning shears to clean them and to protect them.

Sharpening: Often people will tell you that you should use and oil stone or whetstone to sharpen your pruning shears. This is a load of baloney because it would require, in most cases, the disassembling of the shears. You also want to be able to resharpen “in the field”, so to speak.

Use a small mill bastard file for the purpose of sharpening your secateurs/pruning shears. File in the direction of the original bevel and towards the blade taking care not to cut yourself. Alternatively, take your pruning tools to be sharpened professionally.

A word about “oil stones”... this term is the most misleading thing as sharpening stones should never, ever, be used with oil, not even honing oil. It clogs up the stone's pores and thus makes it ineffective for sharpening.

India, Wichita, and carborundum stones all are best used with water only and I vouch for that for sharpening knives and other cutting tools was once my bread and butter.

Storing tools

When you have finished using your tools, at the end of the day, rinse and dry them and then wipe them down with oil (olive oil works fine) and store in a 5- gallon bucket of sand, or hand them up off the ground. Some gardeners add oil to the bucket of sand and use the coarseness of the grains to clean the metal.

As to the oil with which to wipe down your tools I have a little tip here: you do not have to use your olive oil directly from the kitchen. There is always some oil dregs left in a bottle of (olive) oil in your kitchen when it is considered empty. Drain that – it may take a couple of hours – into a glass jar and keep. Over time you add to this and you will end up with a nice collection of free oil with which to wipe down your tools.

Tools cleaned and maintained in this or similar manner will remain serviceable for many years, even decades and more. Look after your tools and your tools will look after you.

© 2012

Chicago gives green light to "smart" signal system

by Grady Winston

Although they were built with good intentions, street light signal systems have long drawn the ire of drivers everywhere. Fed up with seeing green lights go to empty streets while traffic backs up behind a never-ending red, many drivers have wondered whether their lives will be perpetually slowed by inefficient traffic signals that can't adjust to changes in traffic.

Those frustrated parties will be delighted to hear that such improvements have already been developed. Engineers at Purdue University have already tested out their smart street signal system in Lafayette, Indiana, which has seen an uptick on roadway efficiency thanks to the new system.

Soon, the same street light system may be implemented in parts of Chicago. If the system can prove effective at easing roadway congestion in a city known for its gridlock, communities and cities could adopt the new system on a large scale across the United States.

And while easing driver tension is an obvious benefit to the system, increased fuel efficiency and reduced air pollution could be even more significant. It's one of several ways professionals are using an engineering degree to bring efficient solutions to our daily lives.

Improving traffic flow to cut down on fuel consumption

Every day, millions of Americans trudge slowly through daily commutes that are slammed by traffic. The more traffic on roadways, the less efficient each vehicle becomes in its fuel consumption, because it means more time spent waiting at lights as other vehicles take their turn. The traffic signal technology works through an interconnected network allowing each signal to communicate with those around it to essentially manage the flow of traffic, adjusting light intervals accordingly to compensate for traffic fluctuations.

The engineers behind the new traffic signal technology understand that traffic congestion is one of the hazards of getting behind the wheel in the first place. But they insist it can be improved by as much as 30 percent in some parts of Chicago, drastically cutting down the time each vehicle spends waiting at lights. That means less time spent driving and less time chugging gasoline.

If traffic flow in a major city could be improved by up to 30 percent, the daily expulsion of fossil fuel exhaust would be enormously reduced, drastically cutting down pollution in those metropolitan areas. And because less fuel would be consumed, drivers would save on fuel expenses. The reduced demand for fuel could even affect fuel prices, affecting all automobile owners even if they rarely grapple with congested traffic.

Predicting large-scale success

While the designers behind the advanced traffic signal technology admit that heavy rush hour traffic may not be easily mitigated by the new system, they do believe that increased efficiency can have significant gains outside of non-peak traffic hours.

And the University of California Transportation Center has published research supporting the environmental benefits of such measures. According to its research, traffic-smoothing strategies that "reduce the number and intensity of acceleration and deceleration events"—which is exactly what the new traffic technology purports to do—could reduce CO2 emissions by seven to 12 percent.

In a time when resources are limited and efficiency is highly valued, engineers around the world are finding ways of not just reducing carbon emissions, but lowering costs for consumers as well. Those solutions are frequently being found through smart technology that uses network data and integrative solutions to inform and guide automated processes. And if drivers happen to spend less time waiting at red lights, then all the better for everyone involved.

© 2012

About the Author: Grady Winston is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing and advertising, implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients. To see more of his work, visit his website,

Does weed barrier fabric work?

Does weed barrier fabric or weed barrier cloth work?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Weed-barrier-fabric In my experience and that of many other horticulturists, weed barrier fabrics, whether brand names such as Ninex or other, and weed barrier cloths do not work and neither does black plastic.

I have seen what happens to weed barrier fabric, or whatever you may wish to call it, over the years, and it is not fun to deal with it then afterwards fro re-landscaping or such.

Such fabric, over time, ends up practically welded to the ground because there were so many weeds growing through the fabric that removing the weed barrier fabric becomes a nightmare of a job.

Weed barrier fabric and black plastic do not work for very long for weed control. You put down the weed barrier fabric or plastic, then over that you put mulch or stone but usually it is mulch or wood chippings. The mulch breaks down over time and eventually becomes the best topsoil you’ve ever seen. Weed seeds blow in, and because you now have topsoil on top of the weed barrier cloth, the weeds grow like crazy, on top of the weed barrier cloth. But they don’t just grow on top of the cloth, the roots actually grow through the cloth into the soil making a huge mess of your planting beds.

The result is that you now have a bed full of weeds, and weed barrier cloth that is trapped between the weeds and the soil. You really can’t use tools to remove the weeds because the weed barrier cloth interferes with your ability to dig into the soil.

Often you won't even be able to remove these materials because they deteriorated to the point that if you pull on them they just break. And you cant then dig the beds for the rest of the material is still below the surface just waiting for you to try and stick a shovel in the ground.

Even if you put stone over the weed barrier fabric you still get weeds. Eventually dust and dirt will find their way between the stones and along come the weeds and you end up with the same situation as with mulch. Only with stone it usually takes a little longer, but it will happen.

There is only one – aside from chemicals – sure fire way of dealing with weeds and that is removing them early enough before they have time to go to seed. And that, more often than not, I am afraid to say, means doing it by hand, literally.

If you are lucky enough and the weather is warm and sunny then you may get away with just hoeing them and leaving them on the surface to die. But if you have the kind of summer that we have had in Britain in 2012 with rain day in day out you have no chance in that department and hand weeding is then the only answer.

© 2012

Apple has decided to walk away from green certification

Apple-LogoTime for customers to walk away from Apple, methinks.

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In the beginning of July 2012, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), a certification program for electronics that requires participating companies to meet certain environmental standards, announced that Apple had pulled all 39 of its laptops, monitors and desktop computers that had been certified from the program (the program does not yet cover mobile technologies like the iPhone and iPad).

By leaving the program, the Apple computers and monitors can no longer be purchased by the federal government and its agencies, which require that 95 percent of the electronics purchased be EPEAT certified. Talk about cutting off your nose in spite of your face.

Apple has decided to be designing away from green standards and I would suggest that those of us who are truly concerned about the environment find a different computer manufacturer and software that can be used on older models.

Robert Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT said that Apple had said that their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements. He continued: “They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don’t want their products measured by this standard anymore”.

EPEAT is designed to mitigate the negative environmental and social impacts of electronics manufacturing by requiring that products meet eight environmental 'performance categories,' including product lifetime, toxic materials, and recyclability of components and packaging materials. But even EPEAT, as far as I am concerned is not going far enough in its standard as repairability is not one of the requirements.

One major requirement for EPEAT certification is that a product must be easily disassembled with common tools for recycling but Apple, so it would appear, is turning away from easy recyclability. The new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, for example, is almost impossible to disassemble, which is necessary for both repair and recycling. Instead of using screws, Apple is now using industrial-strength glue to hold the battery and screen in place.

“If the battery is glued to the case it means you can’t recycle the case and you can’t recycle the battery,” Frisbee said and noted that the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display would not have been eligible for certification.

One important thing to note is that while this new design does make it difficult, if not impossible for many recyclers to disassemble its products, Apple does have its own recycling program. The company has a long-standing contract with Sims Recycling, which would likely have the necessary tools to disassemble its products and properly recycle them. And they offer electronics recycling for free to anyone, regardless of the brand of electronics anyone might wish to be sending to them.

Apple products now appear to be designed for disposability, not repairability which is, unfortunately, so very common nowadays. If it is not a fact that things are glued in such a way that they cannot be opened and repaired they are fitted with screws that cannot be removed.

While there may still be a reliable way to recycle Apple products, the equally important issue is that by using this glue-it-down approach, the company is making its products unrepairable. As much as one can tout the quality and generally long lifetime of Apple products, if a user cannot replace things like the battery, screen or other parts when they die or break, ultimately forcing the consumer to buy something new instead of just replacing one part, then this is still a major environmental fail on the part of Apple.

Repairability is something that we must be aiming for with all products, the way it used to be in the “good old days” and we, as consumers, can force the companies to come up with the goods.

© 2012

Does the Co-op not like British farmers?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Co-operative logo While the Co-op talks a lot and make a great deal about how they support Fairtrade to farmers in Africa and elsewhere when it comes to British farmers they try to rip them off.

Fairtrade should start at home, the same as charity, and not in far away fields but it is obviously much easier to play with the Fairtrade label than to actually give British farmers a real deal.

Fairtrade is about as tainted as the Forestry Stewardship Council for forest products and that is the very reason why so many coffee companies and others have started their own programs. Not because it is easier but because they found that Fairtrade is not, actually, giving as much as claimed, and, like with so many charities, too much money is used in administration.

Personally I used to support both the Co-op and Fairtrade (as a label) but I am beginning to rethink my position, and I have done the same as regards to the FSC label, which is another rip off.

We have also just heard on July 26, 2012 that, so it would appear, the EU have started to blow its horn as to Supermarkets, such as Sainsbury's, paying above and beyond the “official” price for liquid milk. It would appear that the EU reckons that this is against the EU laws about cartel and competition. Sorry, what was that about “free trade”?

© 2012

London 2012 Olympics’ big bread bloomer

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Real Bread Campaign believes that, by ignoring Campaign recommendations, London 2012 organizer LOCOG has let down small independent food businesses, games visitors and Londoners in general.

In summer 2009, the Real Bread Campaign made a submission to LOCOG’s food standards consultation process1. None of the recommendations appears in ‘Food vision for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games’2. Despite setting standards for may other food types, and outlining the challenge of serving 14 million meals during the Games and 25,000 loaves in the athletes’ village alone3, LOCOG has not set any standards for bread or baked goods.

Missed opportunity

Real Bread Campaign Coordinator Chris Young said ‘This is a huge missed opportunity for the Games to have given London a lasting loaf legacy of Real Bread. Why did they choose not to support the creation of skilled jobs at small, local, independently owned bakeries? How could they simply ignore this staple of our diet when they have set standards for chocolate and cheese?’

In July 2012, the Campaign asked Jan Matthews, LOCOG’s Head of Catering, what percentage of loaves served will meet one or more of the following criteria: produced by independently-owned SME bakeries; baked from scratch in a London borough; made without the use of any artificial additives or processing aids; or be choices that are representative of the cultural diversity of Londoners, London bakeries, and our Olympics guests. Her reply was ‘sorry, we can’t provide that information.’

Additive-laced burger buns

Recently, LOCOG boasted of 'sourdough bread from Tower Hamlets made in a traditional brick oven lined with peat from the Thames' being served during the Olympics4.

Chris Young said: ‘We love the idea that everyone attending the Games would have the chance to enjoy such Real Bread, but we believe this is really just PR spin. Given that both the Games’ Head of Catering and press office have avoided our questions, we strongly suspect that only a handful of VIPs will have the opportunity. The rest of us will probably have few choices other than additive-laced burger buns from a grinning clown.’

The Londoners’ Loaf

To help compensate for the Games’ apparent lack of support for small London bakeries, the Campaign has joined forces with London Food Link’s Jellied Eel magazine to find the capital’s favorite Real Bread. People can find The Londoners’ Loaf competitors and vote at

Part of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, the Real Bread Campaign champions locally-produced, 100% additive-free loaves, and finds ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Membership of the Real Bread Campaign is open to everyone who cares about the state of bread in Britain.

What I find very worrying is also that, basically, the only “food” permitted to be consumed, we understand, will be “food” from the sponsors, such as McDonalds.

Also, so it is understood, that no one wearing clothing branded with the logos of other companies which are not sponsors of the 2012 London Olympics will be permitted into the grounds.

The Games have been so commercialized that, in my opinion, it is no longer fun and it is millions of miles away from what they had been relaunched for in the early part of the 20th century.

Aside from that they have, in London, as in other cities before, such as Athens and Barcelona, many established (minority) communities by forcibly relocating them well away from the Olympic venues to keep them out of sight.

And, to top it all, London, and we are talking here basically the entire London area, has been turned into an armed camp for the duration of the Games. Or are the games being used as a pretext for continuing this armed occupation of the British capital. One can, I guess, but wonder.

The Olympic Games have been turned into a sham and a commercial sponsor free for all. It definitely is not benefiting London and the UK at all as, to it would appear, also the ordinary tourists have stayed away this year and, instead of giving hoteliers and others a boost it is doing the opposite. So much for all the benefits the Games were going to bring.

© 2012

1 The Real Bread Campaign’s 2009 submission to LOCOG’s London 2012 Food Vision consultation:

Procurement of locally-baked Real Bread for the London 2012 Olympic Games

Greater London boasts an almost unrivalled variety of specialist bakers of the traditional breads of dozens of countries and cultures. Procurement of this staple food from a number of such bakeries will allow the London 2012 Olympic Games to reflect not only the baking heritage of the host nation but also the diversity of London food culture.

Supply of 100% natural breads from independent local bakeries will ensure the provision of genuinely fresh, high-quality, authentic versions of breads to cater for the diversity of taste preferences of athletes, guests, staff and spectators alike. Providing a valuable link between the London 2012 Games and local business, the arrangement will reduce food miles and provide a peerless showcase for local independent bakeries.




Britain becoming a totalitarian state

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

We already have indefinite detention, whatever name it may have been given it, and secret court trials are also being considered and the legislation for this is being prepared.

In addition to that the British people are the most watched ones in the entire world by means of CCTV and other means and the story is now that we will be having scatter radar and CCTV with microphones placed in street furniture.

Most street lamps, on the main roads at least, already have cameras with 360deg vision and, so it is rumored, the majority have microphones already.

What do they hope the hear? Traffic noise? Or do they really expect that conspirators will be gathering under such lamps so that they can hear what they are saying?

In addition tho that we already have CCTV cameras that also have loudspeakers with which the control room can address the people. Rather Orwellian, wouldn't you say.

Now Britain is introducing a bill to parliament that will allow the security services to monitor and record all email traffic, all cell phone conversations, all web searches, and more, and mention has been made, though it is not, as yet, in the bill, that also all mail could fall under the same scrutiny. And they dare to condemn East Germany and what happened there.

The Summer Olympics in London have turned Britain's capital city into an armed camp with missile batteries stationed on rooftops, warships moored on the Thames and thousands of soldiers on the streets. Fighter jets are in readiness to be used and military helicopters fly daily sorties well to the outskirts of London even.

Protests, so it was said before the games even began, of any kind but especially against the government, etc., are outlawed during the duration of the games and can, and will, be considered acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000 if they go ahead.

Somewhere along the line I must have missed the official declaration of martial law but I would not put it past them that that might have been done in secret. Best stay well clear of the city during those days and weeks.

© 2012

Four reasons why Rio + 20 was never the answer

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The four Reasons why Rio + 20 was never the answer seems obvious now, but the hand wringing continues. As Anthony Morris, Australian QC stated in his 2010 address to the Cook Society. “Those (in government) who are empowered to act decisively can’t or won’t do so, and those who would act decisively are not permitted to do so.” Which is, unfortunately, so very true indeed. The powers-that-be do nothing bar having a gab fest that cost millions of dollars and polluted the Planet just a little more while those of us who would like to do things are not allowed to do so.

Many people, myself included, are not surprised by nor impressed with either the 50,000 people at the Rio +20 conference.

For most of us who are trying to fully understand sustainable development, the lack of direction and commitment from Rio was always on the cards for a number of reasons:

  1. The Arrogance of Ideas - The proliferation of special “sustainability” branches of Governments, “NFPs and NGOs all add to the noise not the solution. Once an organization gets on the trajectory of promoting and concentrating on its own idea of “the answer” it becomes the only idea worth consideration. Add the competition for sponsorship and government money and the arrogance associated with ideas becomes very much part of the problem of achieving meaningful change.

  1. Specialists who specialize – Systems are complicated and effective problem solving requires a systems understanding. When specialists concern themselves with only a small part of the organism the full picture and indeed the essential understanding of what is really happening is overlooked. It will only be through looking at the system that the system can be understood and addressed.

  1. Governments only lead on difficult decisions when they are sure of the support of those who are led. After all a government is just made up of people trying to keep their jobs.

  1. Us – It is nonsense to expect the world’s leaders to effectively lead the world into a sustainable future without the vocal support of those they lead. We all want to continue living, what we know to be, an unsustainable life, but our attitude is: let someone else sacrifice and pay the price to fix it.

Point 2 above makes things rather crystal clear as to the specialization issue and that includes to continuous hammering on about CO2 and carbon reduction, carbon credits and carbon trading. There is much more to our problems on this Planet than just carbon and always has been.

The hippies of the 1960s and 1970s who, basically, laid the foundation of the Green Movement of today, which seems to have lost all but direction, were concerned, as were we all who were involved with them, about all manner and forms of pollutions, and all the other issues. Today the only word on the lips of everyone is carbon. Why?Because one can create a nice industry out of it.

What is required is not government statements (or the continuous criticism from the vaguely defined NFPs). Instead let policy and grand statements from government follow our actions, let government announce that we, the business community, local government and highly effective sustainable development groups, are solving the problems.

We no longer require permission to act, because our leaders, in government and in the NGOs have failed and are failing us and the Planet. Those of us who do, can just get on with doing, and must get on with doing.

It is also not the big things that will make a difference. Everyone's small actions, together, will bring about change. So, let's get to it.

© 2012

Thinkers and Tinkers

Thinkers and tinkers are needed in equal measure

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In order to create a new society, as we must, both thinkers, the theoreticians, and tinkers, the doers and experimenters on a practical level, are required.

With the people willing and able to think this new political and Earth-friendly society into being and the tinkers on all levels prepared to build it and the new kind of “infrastructure” necessary there is very little chance of success.

The (present) capitalist system, and there is no such thing as green capitalism, let no one deceive you, is a broken system. That is why a new system is required. No tinkering around on it is going to fix it. It is broken, beyond repair, period!

Capitalism will never consider people as anything else but expendable (wage) slaves and it will not consider the environment and Nature as anything but a storehouse of “free” resources which it can turn into profit without any regard for the future.

There are so-called green entrepreneurs and philanthropists (Cadbury and Rowntree were two of them in the 19th century) that tinker around at the edges of the capitalist system to give it a more human face and to make things better for their workers and a little greener but in truth this takes us nowhere bar to destruction, only a little slower.

What we need is not an overhaul but a total change of system, politically and economically, in order to save the Planet and ourselves.

No, so-called socialism and communism that we have had in the mid-20th century, which was all but state capitalism is not the answer. Real communism that considers both people and Planet, however, is THE answer.

It is, however, a system that, on the whole, does not, as yet, exists and thus requires thinkers to bring it about, on a theoretical basis. Then it needs people to set about putting it into practice, and those are the tinkers of one kind.

Furthermore it requires those tinkers that can invent and implement the practical aspects and the technology required to run this new society in individual communities.

This new society also and especially requires the total abandonment of the nation state.

The Earth, seen from space, has no national borders, no frontiers, only natural ones, in the form of oceans, rivers, mountains, and such like. National borders are all created by men intent on control; control of people, of property, and even of Nature itself.

Participatory democracy, which is real communism, is what this new society must be built upon and this only on a small scale, in small groups. It cannot work in a nation state. The notion of nation and nation state is also one that is alien to Nature.

The nation state was never a good idea in the first place and expansive empires such as the Roman one, and those before and after, even less so.

Man is not an animal that works very well in large groups, at least not to the point of realizing his full potential, as the monasteries of old have found out and that was the very reason why, as soon as one reached a number over 120 monks were sent out to establish new ones elsewhere.

Expanding individual potential is not what the rulers, however, have intended for the masses. The people, as far as the powers that be are concerned, must be controlled and led, and taught what to think and made into subjects who obey every command from above. And they also used the “above” as a means too. Thinking would be outlawed if they but could find a way to do it and police it. But I digressed somewhat.

Without the right kind of brave thinkers and tinkers this new society, which we must create, is not possible. And without this change we are doomed; the entire human race is.

The problem is that the majority of people are asleep and they behave like zombies having been brainwashed by the powers that be into believing that any other bar the capitalist system of “free” market economy is of the Devil and thus evil and against the individual and against freedom.

But only a total change can liberate mankind and the Planet from exploitation and thus we must create a new system that takes people and Nature into consideration and which puts the well-being of both before profit.

A little tinkering with the exploitative system of “free” market capitalism, or even state capitalism, is not going to bring about a system that will do that.

A completely new system, a totally new society, is what is needed and thinkers and tinkers are required to bring it about, in both theory and practice, for the good of all mankind and the good of the Planet. The two go hand in hand.

© 2012

Facebook takes “keeping up with the Joneses” to a whole new level

‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is now at a whole new level thanks to Facebook

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This about all we needed in this age where we should be returning to being content with what we have rather than buying new just to keep up with those next door or, now, even people further afield.

Do your friends’ Facebook and Twitter pages make you feel inferior?

One in five Facebook and Twitter users admit they now constantly compare themselves to others based purely on the status updates, pictures and messages from their ‘friends’ on social media sites.

‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is now a high-tech affair, with the constant stream of pictures and status updates of holidays, purchases, weddings, babies, new homes and other boasts leading to the rest of us questioning our own lifestyles.

While these comparisons are hugely affecting the younger generation, with more than half of 16-24 year olds admitting they spend much of their time trying to measure up to the lives lived by others on Facebook, the phenomenon is not purely reserved for the young.

A third of social media users between the ages of 25 and 44 admit they do it too, while more than one in ten 45-54 year olds do the same.

Whilst one in five of us are increasingly spending more time in our own homes, the current economic climate has prevented a quarter of people from making those all-important home improvements that their house needs or that they may want to make.

Dr. Sandra Scott, a psychological consultant, said: “The rise of social networking means there are so many more ‘Joneses’ to keep up with in today’s society. We are all sharing more information about our lives with more people and can end up comparing ourselves to lifestyles projected by others through social media.

“We all have a tendency, to varying degrees, to be concerned about how other people view us and this can lead us to compare our lifestyles unfavorably to others who appear more affluent. The key is to keep perspective and to focus on the positives of who we are, and what we do have.”

Almost 30% of people say they feel envious of friends, family members, colleagues and neighbors who have more than them, over 40% say they don’t like to think they’re missing out, while one in seven say they feel stressed about trying to keep up with others.

The need to feel as though we’re having as much fun, and living a life which is just as exciting as our friends and families could be having a financial impact for some of us. Only 30% say that the current economic environment has made them feel less pressure to measure up to the lives of others.

The most desired items for Britain’s to invest in this year to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ include:
1: Holiday
2: New Kitchen or Bedroom
3: New Car
4: Conservatory / loft conversion
5: New Bathroom

As I said before, this is about all that we needed, NOT. We need to rediscover being happy with what we have and making what we have last. It can be done. I do it all the time.

There are more important things in like than keeping up with others as to possessions and such like; much more. And we also must consider the Planet and the fact that we live on a finite one and that there is no such thing as sustainable growth.

Sustainable growth is a myth that is being perpetuated by the powers that be who want us to buy more and more so that there can be more and more economic growth. But we cannot grow more than what the Planet, our Earth, can support, be it in numbers of people or in products and all that jazz.

Time to rethink and stop the game of “keeping up with the Joneses”.

© 2012

Sustainable Economic Growth and a finite Planet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Considering that the Earth is finite, it can't grow, and so are all of her mineral resources, which don't regrow either, talking about sustainable and growth in the same breath is an oxymoron and a fallacy.

Sustainable economic growth is not possible as more and more growth is NOT sustainable regardless of what the powers that be try to claim.

With an ever growing population the Earth has a problem maintaining even the status quo. And we are to blame for the growth in population in that we almost permanently interfere in Nature's self-regulation mechanism.

Famines and natural disasters are a way of how the Planet self-regulates the population, human, other animals, etc., and we interfere at our peril.

But each and every time famine strikes in Africa or elsewhere the like of Oxfam beat the drum and rattle the tin for funds to help the poor starving people. I am sorry but that is Mother Nature's way of regulating life, and has done though the ages.

When it comes to economic growth it is a fact that more, more and ever more cannot work with our finite Planet and its resources.

We have already overfished the seas, created deserts of what once was farmland by overuse of chemicals, and ravaged the Earth for coal, oil, natural gas, metals, etc., and believe we can carry on doing that in a sustainable way.

Those that do believe that do not seem to understand the very world “sustainable” and live in cloud cuckoo land.

We must get back to a slower kind of life; a life with less rather than looking to continue with business as usual and call it then, because we do a little “carbon trading” (another con) sustainable.

How stupid are we, or better, our leaders, actually?

A finite Planet means that sustainable economic growth cannot be. Either we begin to really live and work sustainably, which means changing our ways in a multitude of aspects and live, or we continue with economic growth, growth for the very sake of it, and in the end completely destroy the Earth, the only Planet that we have that will support (human) life. The choice is ours!

© 2012

Keep children occupied on wet school holidays with Popagami characters

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Keep children occupied on wet school holidays with Popagami characters_page1_image1 Parents panicking at the thought of long wet school summer holidays need fear no longer – Popagami Pop-ettes (created by folding sheets of paper) will keep the little monkeys occupied.

The latest Pop-ette characters come from Philip Craik, author of “The World of Popagami” – a fun activities book, packed with a dozen easy-to-fold colourful animals . . . and even a robot.

Philip Craik is a former chemistry teacher and engineer and has been a science technician at Ardingly College in West Sussex for nearly five years. He is the creator of Popagami.

“We have had tremendous success with the book of Popagami characters,” he says. “I know what a challenge it can be to keep children occupied, but folding these little characters will create fun and interest.

“The folding instructions are easy to follow and the little characters will be popular on children’s bedroom shelves.”

The book is ideal for long car journeys and holidays and is suitable for children from age six upwards.

The World of Popagami is on sale at just £4.99 and available both online and in some major bookshops, including branches of Waterstones.

Visit to see the range of characters.

All characters are the copyright of Pop-ettes Ltd and Ettes Publishing.

The characters in The World of Popagami include a robot, rabbit, meerkat, leopard, mouse, tiger, bear, cat, mountain lion, cow, giraffe and horse.

When I was a child this was exactly what was on offer for kids to do when the weather was inclement during the holidays.

I, personally, had many other things to do, being from a Gypsy background, such as making pegs from wood and knives from old ones (yes, already at age six or so) when the weather was not suitable to be outside.

On the other hand I also have had the opportunity to make models with paper, and in my case this material was, in those days, kindly supplied by members of the US Forces amongst who I grew up to a large degree.

I made paper models of jeeps, tanks, warplanes and warships, etc. and had great fun doing so.

Much better, as it trains dexterity and other teaches many other skills, than playing games in the virtual reality on the computer, or the cell phone, or what-have-you.

© 2012

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

The bicycle, the new “old” way to travel

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

bicycle-benefits-image The bicycle, the new “old” way to travel is becoming more and more popular again these days, including “bike share” schemes in many cities around the globe.

While those schemes do have their merits the bikes often are not the greatest to use and appear to me to be rather strange things to boot.

However, bicycles are, once again, becoming a popular mode of transportation and this is a good thing, and not just for bicycle manufacturers, bike shops, and cycle mechanics. It is the most environmentally friendly way to travel besides walking.

City bikes distributor and manufacturer Linus Bikes, an American bicycle manufacturer, based in California, became aware of Charlotte’s newest initiative in “going green” through the introduction of bike sharing stations, and believes to be a testament to the reemerging popularity of bicycling as a popular mode of travel.

According to an article from WCNC, bike sharing programs have become increasingly popular in the United States, taking after many countries across the Atlantic in Europe. It is because of this that Charlotte decided to get with the times and enact a bike sharing program of their own. Like in many other places, these bikes will be set up in stations around the city and will be available for those people to rent.

“New York City will launch a bike sharing program with 10,000 bikes later this month, which will make it by far the largest in the nation,” states WCNC.

Charlotte’s new bike sharing stations will provide 200 bikes available at 20 different kiosks. The will allow people to pay a fee at a self-service kiosk in order to rent a bike for short trips.

The reemerging popularity of bicycles as a mode of travel emphasizes the belief of Linus Bikes that cycling is essential for the environment as well as to promote healthy lifestyle amongst commuters within cities.

It is a belief that is very much shared also by myself, but then, as I keep saying, I am biased, as I do not drive and only cycle and also build my own bikes from old ones.

As to Linus Bikes; they are a California-based bicycle manufacturer that specializes in creating vintage style city bikes and commuter bikes. Not simply a bicycle company, Linus Bikes sells a complete line of accessories for the environmentally conscious and for those who have a fondness for European style bicycles and the great tradition of European cycling.

It is those kind of old style European bicycles, as well as the old style Cruiser bikes, that are, in fact, the best kind of bikes for communing and general cycling, such as to the shops, to visit friends, etc.

When choosing a bicycle for commuting, shopping and general, including for cycling long distances, ensure that the seat is not of the racer style, as this is considered now to be a factor, if not actually the factor, of the problems many male cyclists are encountering.

Look at what the bicycles and seats, bar those of racers, looked like in the 1930s and 1940s, and chose those styles as they are proven ones.

I have rebuilt my bikes (aside from converting them all to single speed freewheel) with the old-style handles and the bigger seats. Both the sitting position and the seat must be right so as to reduce, or alleviate altogether, the pressure on the genital region, and not just by men.

Looks like the old ways, even in cycling, were still the better ways.

© 2012

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

It’s Lammas, so ready, bready, dough!

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

RealBread_lammas12_short_page1_image4 On and around August 1st the Real Bread Campaign is helping people across the United Kingdom to celebrate Real Bread by baking or buying delicious Local Loaves for Lammas.

This is the fourth year in which the Campaign has rallied Britain’s Real Bread champions around this ancient harvest festival to help more people discover or rediscover the joys of local loaves.

As a mere 13% of us make Real Bread at home1, this Lammas the Campaign is focusing on encouraging more people to roll up their sleeves and get baking, preferably with locally-produced flour. To get them started, Campaign co-founder Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters has created a special recipe for a Lammas loaf. People can find this and more Real Bread recipes at

Andrew said: ‘The word Lammas might be old, but locally-baked Real Bread is the future! Every week, we hear from more and more people who have turned their backs on bland, additive-laced industrial loaves from distant factories in favour of flavoursome all-natural bread from local bakeries or their own ovens.’

  • Local loaf lovers can also visit the Campaign website to find details of:

  • Lammas events, activities and offers run by Real Bread bakers and traditional mills

  • Real Bread making classes and courses

  • Local places to buy Real Bread

The Real Bread Loaf Mark. Want Real Bread? Then look for The Loaf Mark, the at-a-glance assurance from a baker that a loaf is what the Campaign calls Real Bread.

  • Independent flour millers

  • Competitions to win bread making classes, books and more

Part of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, and funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Local Food programme, the Real Bread Campaign champions locally-produced, 100% additive-free loaves, and finds ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Membership of the Real Bread Campaign is open to everyone who cares about the state of bread in Britain.

Taking its name from the Old English word for loaf mass, a traditional Lammas highlight was eating bread baked with grain from the year’s first harvest.

Key current initiatives from the Real Bread Campaign:

  • The Real Bread Finder: the only online directory dedicated to helping people find where to buy Real Bread locally. Free for bakers to add, and people to search for, local places to buy Real Bread.

  • Lessons in Loaf: A FREE download for teachers on planning hands-on Real Bread making sessions for any age, plus lesson plans to tie the topic of bread in with a range of curriculum subjects at Key Stage 2.

  • Real Bread on The Menu: the Campaign’s scheme encouraging more public sector institutions (including schools, care homes and hospitals) and food access projects (e.g. co-operative buying groups, community

  • cafes, box schemes) around Britain to offer Real Bread.

  • Knead to Know: the Real Bread starter: the guide to starting a Real Bread enterprise in your local community. Available as a PDF download.

Local Food has been developed by a consortium of 15 national environmental organisations, and is managed on their behalf by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT). Supported by the Big Lottery Fund's Changing Spaces programme, Local Food has distributed grants to a variety of food related projects to make locally grown food more accessible.

The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) is a registered charity, incorporated by Royal Charter, to promote conservation and manage environmental programmes throughout the whole of the UK. It has established management systems for holding and distributing funds totalling more than £20 million annually to environmental projects across the UK.

The Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme was launched in November 2005 to help communities enjoy and improve their local environments. The programme funds a range of activities from local food schemes and farmers markets, to education projects teaching people about the local environment.

The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out £2 million in Lottery good cause money every 24 hours to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK.

The Sheepdrove Trust also provides generous annual funding to the Campaign.

The Campaign further relies upon membership fees and public donations to continue its work leading the rise of Real Bread in Britain.

Very few things are better than real bread; bread that is made with “real” flour and not with stuff that is “enhanced” with this and that (mostly chemicals) and it is not difficult to make your own bread at home.

Unless you buy from a local artisan baker who uses “pure” flour then even from a bakery your loaf may have the same chemical ingredients as the sponge stuff you buy in the supermarket. Flour improver is listed in many bakeries as an ingredient and, at times, also preservatives. What for?

I invested in a bread machine – and it was but a small investment as it was one from Lidl – and I have never looked back since and not bought a loaf of bread since either.

However, I have to say that I no longer bake the bread in the machine but just use it for kneading and the proving process and then transfer the dough into a loaf tin and bake it in the oven. Much better result. And real bread from which I know that it has no chemicals in it, just flour, even though the latter is store bought. The ingredient list does state, however, only flour and no other things.

If one would really want to go all the way then either locally milled flour and even real yeast would be the way to go, but the simpler way of buying the flour and the yeast also results in great tasting and nutritious bread. Give it a try!

© 2012

1ICM online poll of 2038 British adults aged 18+, conducted 16 – 17 May 2012 for May Gurney.

Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.

Why is the US Homeland Security buying Russian ammunition?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

AK-47_sml According to a list that I have seen the US DHS has been purchasing thousands of rounds of Russian ammunition for the AK47 (7.62x31), the Dragunov sniper rifle (7.62x54R), and also 9mm Makarov.

dragunov1_sml In my mind, unless they are up to something on the false flag front, such ammo does not make sense as the US government agencies do not, in general, carry AK47s, Dragunovs or PMs, as in Pistolet Makarov, that is to say, Makarov pistols, pistolet_makarov not even the DHS.

So, therefore, the question as to why then buy such ammo?

If I clamp my conspiracy theorist hat firmly in place I would suggest that this ammo is intended for some sinister operations when then another entity or even country is to be blamed.

Maybe it really would be a good idea to stay well clear of London on 7/27/12 just in case some predictions are true and something is being hatched at certain agencies in order to create mass casualties to then blame that on, say, a certain oil-rich country next door to Iraq.

Just saying, mind... Something to think about, though...

© 2012

OMG! Thomas Jefferson was a Communist

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Thomas_Jefferson THOMAS JEFFERSON on "EQUALITY". Extended excerpt from letter to James Madison:

The property of this country is absolutely concentered in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not labouring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers, and tradesmen, and lastly the class of labouring husbandmen.

But after all these comes the most numerous of all the classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason that so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are kept idle mostly for the aske of game.

It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be laboured.

I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind.

The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a practicable one.

Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right.

The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed.

It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.

28 Oct. 1785

While to say that Jefferson and other founding fathers may have been, aside from being Deists, Communists may fetch it a little far, but, in truth, just a little.

Their beliefs in equality, and especially those of Thomas Jefferson, are much more akin to those of the socialists and communists, such as those of the Paris Commune, before it all went down the tube, than of any of the politicians in America today, regardless of party.

The above is just an extended excerpt from the letter by Thomas Jefferson to James Madison and he, Jefferson, speaks of this in many other letters to other members of the American Revolution of 1776.

It was this very belief that brought about the statement that “all men are created equal” and they did not insert the clause that seems to be – invisibly – there today that seems to say that “all men are created equal, but some more equal than others”.

However, it is the latter that seems to be the motivating factor of politics in America today and also which has been indoctrinated into the American public.

To all intents and purposes, when one reads Jefferson's letters, he is advocating a sharing of wealth. Something that today's Americans, and not just the politicians, seems to see as an anathema and decry as socialism.

It is amazing how far today's America has moved away from the ideals of the founders of the United States.

It has to be said that the ideals were being usurped already when the illegal Constitution was put together and then, in more than one case by force of arms, forced upon the thirteen states. The fact is that the delegates at congress where the Constitution was created actually only had the brief to make amendments to the Articles of Federation and not to create a new document, and one at that that was different to what the Articles actually entailed.

It was after than when, in all honesty, the United States, moved from the path that it had been put upon by the founders to a different one. One with an elected king (albeit called president) and one where the equality upon which it was supposed to be founded to one where only some people were suddenly equal and others not. Some, methinks, forgot to read the script.

But, even the Constitution makes certain provision that today are being ignored such as the fact that defense of the USA is supposed to be guaranteed by a militia, by minutemen, and a standing army and air force (not that the latter had been envisaged then) were, in fact, disallowed.

Only a naval force, a coast guard, was to be established to protect the country against problems from the sea and it was, in fact, made clear that force was only used to defend and not for aggression and defense of the realm only. Thus every conflict the USA currently and before, when forces went abroad are, is and were involved in, are and were, in fact, unconstitutional and thus illegal.

The United States of America went so far off it course and ideals and the people are not even aware of it that it is no longer even funny. The same, it must be said, is also true for what happened to the original ideals of the Soviet Union and the principles upon of which it was founded.

Thomas Jefferson and others of the founding fathers, much like many of the leaders of the Labor Party of Britain, had great ideals but what they built up was hijacked by people hungry for power and wealth. We must, however, for the sake of all mankind and the Planet get back to those great ideals.

© 2012

Choosing an ax and caring for it

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people, even homesteaders, and here, obviously and especially the beginning homesteaders, seem to have little to now idea as to what makes a good ax and how to actually use it and care for it.

14707136253286325_coJBDjCm_f Especially sharpening of one, in the same way as sharpening a knife or other cutting implement, seems to be something that they think they know but actually don't and the same goes for caring for an ax or knife.

Axes are not made – generally – of stainless steel and thus do need keeping clean (but even a stainless steel blade does) and should have, as far as I am concerned, oil applied to the head every now and then.

The same, as to oiling, goes for the handles of wood. However, you don't use the same oil there as you would for the metal. Having said that, on the other hand, you can use vegetable oil for oiling the metal and the wood, only never use metal oil on wood.

The ideal medium for oiling is vegetable oil, any type, and I, personally, drain the oil that is left in bottles and which one normally cannot get out and keep this for treating wood and also the metal parts of garden tools.

The US Forest Service has a small valuable manual as to the ax, it's uses and care, called “An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual” and it is available free as a PDF at the link given below.

Right-click the link and “save link” to your hard drive. It is less than 70 pages and well worth a download.

© 2012