Monday, March 29, 2010

End Hunger Through Gardening

Here's a great site dedicated to ending hunger through gardening.

The Dinner Garden

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow piles up - Thousands without electricity

"Thousands without electricity" This is a perfect example for the need to prepare for the unexpected. Weather is no respecter of persons. Whether you are rich, poor, healthy, sick, young or old, etc. the unexpected can take a tole on you and your family worse if you have no back-up plan, reserves or education. It's better to be prepared for emergencies and know that you've done what you can, than to be found struggling because of denial. Here is an article with an excellent example. What could you do to prepare for this?

Find original article Here

Snow piles up, paralyzing nation's capital (AP)

AP - A blizzard battered the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday, with emergency crews struggling to keep pace with the heavy, wet snow that has piled up on roadways, toppled trees and left thousands without electricity.

Officials urged people to huddle at home and out of the way of emergency crews. Forecasters said the storm could be the biggest for the nation's capital in modern history.

A record 2 1/2 feet or more was predicted for Washington. As of early Saturday, 10 inches of snow was reported at the White House, while parts of Maryland and West Virginia were buried under more than 20 inches. Forecasters expected snowfall rates to increase, up to 2 inches per hour through Saturday morning.

Blizzard warnings were issued for the District of Columbia, Baltimore, parts of New Jersey and Delaware, and some areas west of the Chesapeake Bay.

"Things are fairly manageable, but trees are starting to come down," said D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer, whose agency responded to some of the falling trees. No injuries were reported.

Airlines canceled flights, churches called off weekend services and people wondered if they would be stuck at home for several days in a region ill-equipped to deal with so much snow.

"D.C. traditionally panics when it comes to snow. This time, it may be more justifiable than most times," said Becky Shipp, who was power-walking in Arlington, Va., Friday. "I am trying to get a walk in before I am stuck with just the exercise machine in my condo."

The region's second snowstorm in less than two months brought heavy, wet snow and strong winds that forecasters warned could gust near 60 mph in some areas along the coast.

Hundreds of thousands of customers across the region had lost electricity and more outages were expected to be reported because of all the downed power lines. A hospital fire in D.C. sent about three dozen patients scurrying from their rooms to safety in a basement. The blaze started when a snow plow truck caught fire near the building.

Authorities blamed the storm for hundreds of accidents, including a deadly tractor-trailer wreck that killed a father and son who had stopped to help someone in Virginia. Some area hospitals asked people with four-wheel-drive vehicles to volunteer to pick up doctors and nurses to take them to work.

The country band Rascal Flatts postponed a concert Saturday in Ohio, but the Atlanta Thrashers-Washington Capitals NHL game went on as planned.

In Dover, Del., Shanita Foster lugged three gallons of water out of a Dollar General store.

"That's all we need right now. We've got everything else," said Foster, adding that she was ready with candles in case the power went out.

Shoppers jammed aisles and emptied stores of milk, bread, shovels, driveway salt and other supplies. Many scrambling for food and supplies were too late.

"Our shelves are bare," said Food Lion front-end manager Darlene Baboo in Dover. "This is just unreal."

Metro, the transit system the Washington area is heavily dependent upon, closed all but the underground rail service and suspended bus service.

Maryland's public transportation also shut down Saturday, including Baltimore's Metro. Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman Jawauna Greene said the underground portion of the Metro could reopen later Saturday but it depended on the weather conditions.

"We have trees on the overhead wires, trees on train tracks. We can't get anything out," she said.

Amtrak also canceled several of its Northeast Corridor trains Saturday, and New Jersey's transit authority expected to suspend bus service. As much as a foot of snow was reported in parts of that state.

Across the region, transportation officials deployed thousands of trucks and crews and had hundreds of thousands of tons of salt at the ready. Several states exhausted or expected to exhaust their snow removal budgets.

Maryland budgeted about $60 million, and had already spent about $50 million, Gov. Martin O'Malley said. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has been in office less than a month, declared his second snow emergency, authorizing state agencies to assist local governments. As of early Saturday, some parts of Virginia had already seen more than 18 inches of snow.

The snow comes less than two months after a Dec. 19 storm dumped more than 16 inches on Washington. Snowfalls of this magnitude — let alone two in one season — are rare in the area. According to the National Weather Service, Washington has gotten more than a foot of snow only 13 times since 1870.

The heaviest on record was 28 inches in January 1922. The biggest snowfall for the Washington-Baltimore area is believed to have been in 1772, before official records were kept, when as much as 3 feet fell, which George Washington and Thomas Jefferson penned in their diaries.

In Washington, tourists made the best of it Friday, spending their days in museums or venturing out to see the monuments before the snow got too heavy.

A group of 13 high school students from Cincinnati was stranded in D.C. when a student government conference they planned to attend was canceled — after they had already arrived. So they went sightseeing.

At the Smithsonian's natural history museum, Caitlin Lavon, 18, and Hannah Koch, 17, took pictures of each other with the jaws of a great white shark in the Ocean Hall.

"Our parents are all freaking out, sending texts to be careful," Koch said. "Being from Ohio, I don't think I've ever seen that much snow at once."


Associated Press writers Brett Zongker and Sarah Karush in Washington, Kathleen Miller in Falls Church, Va., David Dishneau in Chantilly, Va., Ben Nuckols in Hanover, Md., Randall Chase in Dover, Del., and Steve Szkotak in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of band 'Rascal Flatts.')

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's In Your Trunk Could Save Your Life

Read entire article here.

Last week a couple from Medford, Oregon bought a permit to cut a Christmas tree on National Forest land, and their short trip into the woods lasted 2-days in freezing temperatures because their all-wheel-drive car became high-centered in the snow. Even though they had a cell phone, they were out of range, and apparently up a very deserted back road with no traffic. Fortunately, they could eventually drive themselves to safety (nobody was able to find them, because they failed to leave word where they were going).

None of us plan to get in trouble, but for the unfortunate or careless, trouble finds them anyway. A student driving home for Christmas at the end of fall semester takes a wrong turn and ends up stranded on a dark freezing night. Or a family who cannot leave for Grandma’s house until Christmas Eve because the breadwinner has to work until the last minute, heads out into a snowstorm with the kids in the back seat. Does this sound like you, or someone you care about? Take time now for serious thought about what is in your trunk that can save your family’s life if you are caught by extensive traffic delays, spin out and land in a snowbank, or just run out of gas on a cold lonely road.

Let’s take inventory and clear out the "junk in the trunk”, so we can bring out the stuff that will save your life – the things you need in your Winter Auto Kit.

Winter Travel

Here is an excellent article to prepare for the harsh winter weather while traveling.

(Read the entire article here)

Carry-On Essentials

Carry your cell phone charger . There are not many, but there are wall plugs throughout the airport. Being stuck in an airport overnight is bad enough, but when you cannot communicate with loved ones, mere trials become ordeals.

Emergency ID Card : Always carry an emergency card with your name, home address, allergies, and medical conditions, in your carry-on bag. Also, carry phone numbers for family and friends. When stressed, we can forget these numbers.

Carry cash . Small bills are best. Retailers may not accept large bills in an emergency, so be prepared with ones, fives, and tens. Consider what it might cost to eat, buy supplies, or even a magazine, and multiply by two or three days. Don't be caught short.

Carry some food for backup . Cait was stranded for four days and only had two candy bars and a cookie. Carry a few high-calorie bars like those in a 72-hour kit. Some of these bars taste terrible, but others are really good and taste like shortbread cookies. Buy some and have your family test them first. For your travel day, pack a lunch with a sandwich, a few carrot sticks, an apple… if you don't need them, well you were prepared, but if you do need them they will be priceless. Avoid salty foods that will make you thirsty, like chips, beef jerky, and such.

Drinks . With the new flight regulations it is difficult to carry drinks, but as soon as you get through security, if you think there may be any chance your flight will be delayed or canceled, purchase a bottle of water. You can refill these as often as you need at a water fountain. Hard candy and lifesavers help to keep your mouth moist, too.

Vitamins . One of the first things the Red Cross brought in after three days was a baggie with vitamins for each passenger.

Medications . Always carry your prescriptions in your carry-on bag. Add pain relievers, stomach medication, cold relievers — you know the drill. All of these come in various forms so you don't have to worry about liquids at security.

Change of clothing . Include a change of underwear and a clean shirt in your carry-on. It is amazing how much better a change of clothes makes you feel.

Personal hygiene items . Folks in Denver were longing for their toothbrushes. You can get toothpaste, bars of soap, shave cream, deodorant, almost anything, in travel sizes now. All of these will be some of the first things to sell out at the shops, not to mention feminine supplies. Anything you couldn't live without goes in the carry-on. While you are at it, include a washcloth.
Mark your luggage in a unique way . If you are competing with hundreds or thousands of others with look-alike bags, attach a crazy luggage tag, colored duct tape, or a wild sticker to your bag to distinguish it from all the rest.

Insect repellant . Sounds crazy, I know, but I would really rather not be bug bait.

Pack a diversion . If you are traveling with young children, pack books, crayons, paper, or a favorite stuffed animal. In our 72-hour kits we include a small inflatable beach ball and styrofoam airplanes. These are cheap, practically weightless, and could be fun for a long time. If they happen to hit someone nearby they will not injure or make tempers flare. For adults, include a book, magazines, crossword, sudoku, or a travel game.

Mylar survival blanket . If you are lucky enough to get a blanket you will want to use it as a covering and that leaves you sleeping on a filthy floor. Place your mylar blanket on the floor and even though you may still be visited by insects, the surface under you is clean, and the foil side of your blanket will reflect and retain your body heat.*

Travel soft . If you are traveling with two carry-on pieces, put your soft items in one bag, like your backpack, and keep bulky shoes, camera, etc. in the other bag. Now your backpack is ready to be used as a pillow if the need arises. There were no pillows provided to passengers during the Denver airport shutdown.

Moist towelettes . When you are stranded like passengers in Denver, help and supplies can't get in. Restrooms run out of supplies, food courts run out of napkins, and Kleenex — forget it.
These tips also apply to traveling by car, however, you may also want to add the following to your trunk for a road trip:

Glow sticks for light during the nighttime hours for you and to make you more visible to rescuers. I love the 10-inch glow sticks that are sold with a bipod. These are great to use in place of flares, to mark a path, to direct traffic after an accident or during an emergency or to signal rescuers at night. They can be seen for a mile.

Work gloves to change a tire or put on chains.

Snow chains .

Sand or kitty litter to help with traction if your car spins out in the snow.

A small shovel to build a snow cave or dig out a car.

Waterproof matches or lighter.

A metal container to melt snow.

A mirror or extra mylar blanket to signal rescuers.

An umbrella . Instant shelter. Eric, from Vale, Arizona, tells us that Ray Jardine, in his book Beyond Backpacking, says an umbrella is one of the most useful tools in his arsenal for long distance hiking. It allows him to keep hiking when unfavorable weather has other hikers holed up for the duration. He goes on to say that when hiking in the desert in summer, covering his umbrella with a space blanket allows him to hike in the daytime when it would otherwise be infeasible. It places the entire body in the shade, which no hat can do. Consider these possibilities for umbrella and mylar blankets in summer.

Safety vests to be worn so you can be more easily seen by rescuers or while near the roadway (bright orange vests, cheap ones). You will all be safer if you need to leave the car, and each passenger wears one. These can also be attached to your car as a distress signal.

Cell phone charger for the car.

Small candle . If placed on the dash this will help keep the air in the car above freezing. Don't go to sleep and leave it lit. You can also run your car engine for 10 minutes every hour to warm the car and charge the phone. Make sure before running the engine that the tail pipe is not blocked. Also, leave a window, which faces away from the wind, open very slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Wool blanket .

Knit cap and mittens .
Most of your body heat is lost through your head, so the cap is important. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Remember wool or manmade fibers are better in cold/wet weather than cotton.

Body warmers , the instant heat type. Make sure when purchasing these that you buy the ones rated for 20 hours, not 20 minutes. These are small and easy to stash in your auto emergency kit.

A whistle can be heard much further away than the human voice. I would have at least 2 in the car. If one member of your party needs to leave to look for help you can signal each other every few minutes and help guide them back to the car. It is not wise for anyone to leave alone, and go further away than “whistle distance.” It is just too easy to become disoriented and lost.
Flashlight with extra batteries and an extra bulb.*

A portable radio is great to hear news and weather reports without draining your car battery. Make sure you have both AM and FM bands. Look for the ones that are also a flashlight and siren. Handcranked power is also good.

Tool kit. How sad to be stranded for lack of a screwdriver or wrench.

Tow rope . Some people who could help pull you out of the ditch are not equipped with a rope. Think of how smart you will look, when you say “I've got one!”

Maps . Do you pay attention to where you are when traveling? If you don't know where you are, how will you find where you want to go?

Compass . A Scout would know what to do with it.

Roll of TP . Essential.

Fire extinguisher . What good is your emergency gear if it's burning up with the car? More than once, we've seen cars fully ablaze at the side of the highway, and not from a traffic accident. Gasoline + heat + leaking fuel line = fire.