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Archive for the ‘News You Can Use’ Category

I am taking a detour from my usual nonsense to report on an important issue for Floridians and individuals in states that have not yet voted on legalizing marijuana for medical needs.

I was recently made aware, through interests I follow, that Carol Jenkins Barnett, daughter of George Jenkins, the founder of Publix Super Markets, donated $800,000 to Drug Free Florida to fight Amendment 2 in the 2016 election. This donation was made through the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust to make it “personal” rather than on behalf of Publix. Regardless, Publix is answering customer inquiries on the subject. According to Erin at Healthnutnews.com, this response was given by an employee named Sasha:

“Carol Jenkins Barnett has long supported efforts to protect Florida’s families and children against the perils of drug abuse. As such, she feels that Amendment 2 would usher in an unprecedented era of legalized marijuana in Florida as opposed to only helping those who suffer from debilitating illnesses.”

Ms. Barnett first donated $500,000 in 2014 to Drug Free Florida who, in turn, spent $6 million on scare-tactic campaigns prior to the election. Amendment 2 fell two percentage points short of the 60% needed to become state law.

The 2016 Ballot Summary specifically prohibits non-medical use:

BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Debilitating medical conditions were defined as follows: “Cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

Read the full text of Amendment 2 here:

http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/fulltext/pdf/50438-3.pdf

One has to wonder if Ms. Barnett did ANY of her own research before writing that $800,000 check to Drug Free Florida. I particularly liked the YouTube video entitled “Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Weed – CNN Special Documentary,” published March 11, 2015.

Cannabis was actually prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies prior to 1937 when it became illegal because of our first drug czar, Henry Anslinger. The video barely touched on this history but I found an article adapted from Johann Hari’s New York Times best-selling book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.  In short, Anslinger knew cannabis was not a problem but after prohibition ended, the Department of Prohibition needed a new purpose and he sensationalized the dangers of cannabis to justify the existence of his department.

In the video, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, M.D., a neurosurgeon and an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and Associate Chief of Neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, interviewed numerous individuals and medical doctors. The most heart-wrenching of these was Charlotte, a 5-year-old girl who was “out of options” for treatment of epilepsy and finally found relief with cannabis oil.

In this video, marijuana was said to be made up of two ingredients:

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component

CBD (cannabidiol) is the compound with no psychoactive components.

Both THC and CBD have medical benefits. It depends on the condition you are trying to treat. Ironically, at the time her donation was given to Drug Free Florida, Ms. Barnett, age 59, announced that she was leaving the Publix board of directors because of an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  She is now facing her very own “debilitating illness.”

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a 2014 preclinical study about very low doses of THC slowing production of beta-amyloid proteins. These proteins are believed to be a key contributor in the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, the Salk Institute of La Jolla, California published a June 2016 article about cannabinoids removing plaque-forming Alzheimer’s proteins from brain cells.

With a net worth of $1.72 billion, Ms. Barnett can afford to chase down any promising relief for Alzheimer’s but the rest of us without such spare change need to do our own research before speaking out or voting against medical marijuana. A lot of people worked very hard collecting enough signatures to get medical marijuana on the ballot. I remember being approached in 2014 at the public library by someone collecting signatures.

Take the time to watch the thought-provoking video with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He has the background to express an informed opinion on medical marijuana. Ms. Barnett does not. Nor do the other top donors to Drug Free Florida – Mel Sembler, chairman of a retail space development company, and Sheldon Adelson, a casino owner.

I do not want recreational use of marijuana legalized any more than Ms. Barnett but I do not believe an “unprecedented era of legalized marijuana in Florida” would occur unless placed on the ballot and voted on by Floridians. You may one day need medical marijuana. Please don’t shoot it down out of ignorance.

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I had to give up ice cream. Our local grocery store, Publix, has a license to offer Denali Original Moose Tracks as ice cream and frozen yogurt. I always opted for the frozen yogurt because of calories. Considering that the taste is addictive, a lower calorie count is moot. You get the picture, right? Three bowls later, I berate myself about the calories, right? I stopped buying the Moose Tracks just before people looked at me and thought, “broad side of the barn”.

Instead, I drool down to the Dairy Queen once a week for a Mister Misty Lime Freeze.  This is a product that your DQ Confections Expert may not be familiar with because it dates back to the Baby Boomer ‘s youth. At some short-sighted moment in the DQ’s history, it was taken off the menu. No problem. I can tell these wrinkle-free Confections Experts just how to make it. Put a few squirts of that green goo in a cup. Add some ice, vanilla ice cream and blend. A divine concoction and the $4 price most certainly discourages me from pigging out.

Dairy Queen-0181

My Dairy Queen — drive-up or walk-up only
The building posts mimic ice cream cones

I headed to Atlanta for Mother’s Day weekend to see my sister, Priss. I’m not one for the journey. I much prefer the idea of Time Travel – you stand at Point A and are immediately whisked to Point B. Driving 6 hours just to get to Atlanta required incentives.

At the top of my incentives list was the DQ Mister Misty Lime Freeze. All along I-75, my searching eyes watched the road side billboards for Dairy Queen exit numbers. One of them I stopped at was brand new and I marveled at the clever advertising for Grill & Chill. I didn’t remember seeing that phrase at my DQ but if I was trying to get people to pull off the interstate at a wide spot in the road, I’d try clever phrasing, too.

This was an indoor restaurant version of DQ and they really should have posted a warning on the door. The minute I opened that door, hurricane force winds attacked my body. It was a Candid Camera moment. I flailed against the wind and looked around wildly for its source while wondering, “WHAT are they trying to do? Blow the bed bugs off me?”

I wasn’t far from the mark. Priss being a licensed architect, I asked her why the Dairy Queen tried to blow me out of the building before I even got in it. According to Priss, these gadgets are Air Curtain Fly Fans. The purpose is to supply a high velocity stream of air at an opening to prevent flies and other insects from entering the building. I can now add “insect” to the list of insults heaped upon me. The rest of you can go on with your day forewarned about Air Curtain Fly Fans, should you encounter one.

 

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Flag artist: Robin Pickens

Flag artist: Robin Pickens

I’m a huge fan of these big garden flags if they have really vibrant color. I was cruising through Wal-Mart in 2015 and this flag all but jumped off the display and slapped me to the ground. Talk about vibrant color – WOW! So I kept it for the New Year and rather than annoy the neighbors with fireworks, I’m gonna put their eyes out with my flag.

I started my New Year off with the same resolutions as last year because I didn’t finish them. Plus I sent up a lot of prayers of gratitude when I didn’t bust anything while doing a combination Lucille Ball/Carol Burnett trick with arms pinwheeling, legs going in every direction and the umbrella slicing the air. It must have been a sight to behold. Luckily, it was 7 a.m. and raining so the neighbors weren’t out to do any of that beholding. You know that gunk that builds up on concrete where the sun doesn’t reach? Yep, there’s a strip of it right down the middle of the driveway and my right foot slid out from under me too fast for a correction and I never mastered those cheerleader splits, anyway, so I wound up in a heap on the wet, concrete driveway. I’ve got a huge bruise on my left shin and all my joints were rearranged which required a few chiropractic adjustments to put them back where they belonged. Whew. Was God with me or what?

In the News You Can Use department, this NBC link will give you Chick-Fil-A’s coleslaw recipe because they are discontinuing it and replacing it with something involving kale. Now, I like Russian Kale but the rest of it they can keep so I’m just a little skeptical. Also, you fans of the 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath & Beyond may want to take note that their coupons are a little too popular with the populace and may be scaled back.

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I want to caution you about recipes you find on the internet written by bloggers with unknown education and experience. Basically, people like me.

I found a Toilet Bowl Cleaner recipe (hereinafter referred to as “cleaner”) on one of those natural living websites. Interested in trying less toxic cleaning products, I decided to give it a try. It was a simple recipe calling for 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of castile soap, 2/3 cup of distilled water and ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide.

most of the ingredients

The blogger indicated it would make 3 cups. I prefer frugal recipes and this doesn’t qualify because Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap (Certified Free Trade) was $16.19 for 32 ounces via Amazon. That amount will make the recipe four times at a cost of $4; add the baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, distilled water and this recipe is just not frugal. Another Dr. Bronner’s, without the “organic oils,” was available for $14.02 which would bring it under $4 but that’s still too much for a cleaner. Perhaps, if I had looked through all 20 pages on Amazon, I might have found a cheaper brand of castile soap.

All of this went into a 25 ounce dishwater soap bottle; 3 cups = 24 ounces, right?

I shook the bottle vigorously until the ingredients combined and the baking soda dissolved. At least I thought it dissolved. Maybe it didn’t. I got distracted and didn’t return to the cleaner bottle until the next morning. I found the cleaner bottle hideously deformed. The baking soda had separated from the other liquids so I gave it a few more of those vigorous shakes and opened the lid on the bottle. KA-BLOOM.

I picked myself up off the floor, wiped the baking soda fizz from my face and narrowed my eyes at the bottle. I couldn’t help but think that the blogger who published this concoction was guilty of foisting illegal science experiments on the unsuspecting. Just call me Gullible. Clearly, something in the bottle didn’t like something else in the bottle. I decided that stuff was never going into my toilet. It’s one thing to be blown off my feet but quite another to have a hole blown in my porcelain fixture.

It continued to foam at the mouth of the closed lid for another day or so until it had off-gassed whatever was in the bottle that didn’t like being hemmed up. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the baking soda didn’t like closed quarters but, really, I’m not a science buff. Once the off-gassing subsided, I figured it was safe to open the lid, which it was, and I gave it a squeeze in the bathroom sinks and tub. I can report that it cleans really great.

I question whether the expensive castile soap is necessary. I have successfully removed all kinds of laundry stains with just two of the ingredients in this recipe — baking soda (52 cents) and hydrogen peroxide (33 cents). It qualifies for frugal and works better than Shout, Shout Advanced and OxiClean. Pour a little baking soda on the stain, squirt it with the hydrogen peroxide and let it soak several hours or overnight in the sink or a bucket. I have removed all sorts of mysterious spots from clothing and kitchen towels. Throw it in the washer after the overnight soak and voila, no stain!

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Meta is a long-time follower of my blog and we finally met in the sizzling heat of early July 2014. After her visit, I shared her wonderful idea of using clay pots to make a border for a pathway.

Even before meeting her I had shared her garden with a decorative fence built by her son.

More recently, I shared her lion’s tail growing in the compost pile. I now want to show you a few more of her tricks.

You’ve seen gardeners who paint an old wheelbarrow, fill it with showy flowers and roll it out to the front yard. Meta prefers to hide her old wheelbarrows in the back yard as plant nurseries. When two of her wheelbarrows rusted through, she painted one yellow and one green and her son put them on building blocks for height to save her gardener’s back.

For several years now, she has found the rusty holes in the wheelbarrow bed make them perfect for growing seeds, cuttings and seedlings. In the green wheelbarrow, most of those stringy plants are not green beans but future amaryllis bulbs. I gave her the seeds from my plants when she visited in 2014. She had absolutely no faith that those papery black seeds would sprout into anything so she put the seeds in pots and forgot about them. To her surprise, they sprouted and she sent me a photo. I suggested she put them in larger pots where the bulbs could easily grow larger and into the wheelbarrow nursery they went. As you can see, she stuck some flowers in to give the plantings some color for her photo. We gals just need to make things purty.

Meta two wheelbarrows-

Photo credit – Meta

According to Meta, the reddish/orange wheelbarrow in this next photo was given to her when a friend moved away. Look at the tires on it! She was hoping that leaving water in the wheelbarrow would help it rust some drainage holes for a new plant nursery but it hasn’t happened yet. Her son may need to help it along with a drill.

Meta three wheelbarrows-

Photo credit: Meta

Meta’s next idea is up there with the clay pot border for originality. I have never known of a gardener who recycled old metal shelves from the garage into a plant nursery by turning it on its side and filling it with soil. I can’t tell what that is on the front that she’s using to hold the soil in. I’m sure she’ll tell us in the Comments.

Meta shelf one-

Photo credit: Meta

Here’s the other end showing wooden stakes that are holding the shelves in place in the yard.

Meta shelf two-

Photo credit: Meta

Isn’t Meta a genius of a recycler?

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This is a public service announcement about trying to insure housing in rural areas.

I live in a 1989 custom-ordered Palm Harbor mobile home at the halfway mark of Momma and Poppie’s two acres. It is not luxurious but it has been adequate, affordable housing for 25 years. Following the 1992 massacre of mobile homes during Hurricane Andrew, most mobile home insurers pulled out of Florida including my insurer, Allstate.

My agent placed me with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation which is a “not-for-profit, tax-exempt government corporation whose public purpose is to provide insurance protection to Florida property owners throughout the State (of Florida).” It was the insurer of last resort.

At some point in time, Citizens became the largest insurer and efforts were made to reduce that exposure risk. In October 2014, I received a letter from Citizens that I was being spun off to a brand new, unrated insurance company. If I chose to opt out of going with this new insurance company, I would be subject to “assessments” in the event of another catastrophic storm.

Needless to say, I did not want to go with an unrated company (Mount Beacon) nor could I afford any assessments. I began to shop for other insurance in February 2015. I couldn’t find any company willing to take me.

Poppie’s health took a turn for the worse and I informed my agent, who had been instrumental in suggesting other insurers, that I would be going with the new insurer because I no longer had time to shop. She reminded me of what I already knew – that I would not need to do anything because Citizens would automatically send my file to Mount Beacon.

My renewal date was April 5 but I forgot all about it because of Poppie’s death. On February 12, it occurred to me that my renewal date had come and gone but Mount Beacon had not sent me a statement for coverage. I called my agent who called both Citizens and Mount Beacon. Apparently, neither company wanted to claim responsibility. The agent suggested yet another company for coverage. They politely declined me, too. As did another company my friend, The Mad Tattah, suggested.

At that point, I called my agent back and reminded them that I had been with them for 25 years and they needed to find me insurance without any expense to me or I would file a complaint with the State of Florida’s Department of Insurance.

I was so upset I did that anyway but I named Citizens and Mount Beacon as the scandalous perpetrators of my distress. Having already been dismissed by countless agencies, I wondered if Mount Beacon was tossing some of us in the trash as undesirables and I mentioned this suspicion. The Department of Insurance employee did not know but a lot of consumers won’t take the time to complain. A state can’t fix what it doesn’t know about. Each and every state probably has a Department of Insurance, a Department of Banking and a Chief Financial Officer who oversees any number of issues relating to consumer services, seniors, and unclaimed property.

Right after my chat with the Department of Insurance, my agent informed me that she had written a new policy for me with Citizens and her boss would come by at 1:30 to take photos for the file. He remembered being on the property seven years earlier to get update photos and talking to Poppie because I was at work.

I told him some of the excuses I had received from companies not willing to cover me – that my mobile home was too old and I was not a full owner of the property. I also mentioned my suspicions of another unspoken reason. I then demanded an answer for my inability to obtain coverage. Probably fearing that I might hog tie him and beat it out of him, he gave me an insurance lesson that is likely not shared with insurance consumers.

I learned that I am a “Townclass 10” – the worst rating for insurance because my mobile home is on private property rather than an approved mobile home park and there is no fire hydrant within 500 feet. My agent mentioned a mobile home park west of me and said the average policy in that park was HALF what I was paying.

Fire hydrant-6062

With just that one word, “townclass”, I turned to my computer and learned about the Public Protection Class (PPC) that shows up on your home owner’s insurance policy. All over the United States, communities are rated (from 1 to 10) by the Insurance Services Office on the community’s fire-fighting ability. Neighborhoods get classified with a “town class” designation for their proximity to a fire hydrant, fire stations, how well those fire stations are equipped, plus the communications network and telephone system of the town or city’s fire stations. The lower your town class rating, the lower your insurance costs and vice versa. It makes sense to contact your local fire department to find out what protection class you are in. If they upgrade it, you can contact your agent for a policy reduction.

In summary:

(1)    It is no longer a good idea to buy a mobile home in Florida. Any savings in your housing costs will be eaten up by higher insurance policies and an inability to obtain insurance as the mobile home ages. I suspect Florida’s Insurance Department has no idea that some of these insurance companies are “telephone weeding” consumers by first asking them “How old is your mobile home?” Unless we complain to the Insurance Department when we are immediately rejected, they won’t know.

(2)    If you choose to live in a rural neighborhood without a nearby fire hydrant, your home is at risk for fire and it will be more expensive, if not downright difficult, to obtain insurance.

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