Figuring out where we are

This post is going to be about how people view situations and where they get their information. In my blog post yesterday, which was about an American national security issue, I mentioned that I just recently moved from cable to streaming TV. My sister, who convinced me to try streaming, told me I would find news and other things to watch streaming that I don’t with my cable. I was thoroughly sick of the American news media and that includes liberal new media and FOX and right-wing news media. Along with the various big streaming services, she mentioned some free apps with news and other programming.

Last night I watched a Euro News broadcast. I found the coverage of the earthquake aftermath in Turkey and Syria very informative. I also watched an interview with the prime minister of Moldova, who explained the Russian efforts to destabilize her country. I hear a lot of Americans, who hold right-wing views, say things that sound like Russian propaganda and that worries me. I’ve heard this line about how “we shouldn’t poke the bear,” so many times that I automatically grit my teeth every time someone says that. While it’s true the West has expanded NATO and alliances close to Russia, at the same time Russia has been aggressively targeting its neighbors for years now, while America and our European allies paid mostly lip service to that aggression. Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

While I don’t have a crystal ball, I feel we’re already on a path to a wider war, even though I still hope leaders can find ways to avoid that. I have believed for a few years now that China and Russia intend to challenge America’s global economic position and try to bump us to third place. I also, due to years of news reports on China and Russia, believe Russia wants to regain some of its territory from the Soviet era and that China is preparing for war. The news has reported on China’s activities in the South China Sea and toward Taiwan for years. What I wonder is how many Americans will just keep ranting about “don’t poke the bear” or “don’t mess with the dragon” and blame America for our adversaries aggression?

In WWII there were plenty of Americans who held this same attitude – until America was directly attacked. One thing I will say about aggression is appeasement and shows of weakness are actions. Every school yard bully knows how to read displays of weakness too and it does not deter a bully. In fact, usually it emboldens them.

I assume most Americans have no idea where Moldova is, but I won’t be surprised if Moldova is in the news more in the near future. Here’s a quote from that EuroNews interview with the prime minister of Moldova (the video is at the link):

“Russia is trying to destabilise Moldova by sponsoring protests and conducting cyber attacks, the country’s prime minister told Euronews on Tuesday.

“We are seeing elements of hybrid war. We are seeing, for example, pro-Russian forces trying to destabilise the country politically through paid protests which quickly subsided when the oligarchs that fled Moldova were put on the sanctions lists and their money flows were restricted,” Natalia Gavrilița said.

“We are seeing cyber attacks. We’ve had the biggest cyber attacks in 2022 in the history of our country, and we are seeing bomb threats.”https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2023/02/07/russia-conducting-hybrid-war-in-moldova-with-protests-and-cyber-attacks-prime-minister

Somewhere down the road, in years, I expect historians might look back at this time and instead of wondering about “poking the bear” or “messing with the dragon,” they might be wondering how devastatingly weak the US looked with that Afghanistan withdrawal debacle and an incident like failing to take down an unmanned Chinese spy balloon, as it floated over the American heartland and our most sensitive military sites for a week. They might ponder again, how provocative weakness really is to countries with territorial aspirations on their minds

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Pie in the sky thoughts

I started a blog post on the Chinese spy balloon situation, delving into some other issues that might be involved with that Chinese provocation, but I got bogged down in reading old news articles today and want to take a bit more time to think about this. I like putting information into a timeline format and then trying to see if there’s a bigger picture the timeline reveals. When we’re bombarded with so much information and glaring headlines to grab our attention, it’s easy to get lost in the tides of media sensationalism and all the attendant social media drama that now flows from the daily media spin circus in America.

Like with the “Great Reset,” I realized that I didn’t really understand the timeline and what it was all about. The right-wing media ecosystem, where I used to turn for information when I lost trust in the liberal media, just churned up mass hysteria, so I ordered Klaus Schwab’s two books and read them. Then I started researching the timeline for when all this ESG and Agenda 2030 started. From that I learned that although I do follow the news, I had missed a whole lot of details over the years with the green agenda and the various tentacles of other issues that are attached to that.

I’m finding the same thing with just doing a small bit of research into articles from over the past few years about Huawei and Chinese espionage. I’m done with writing about the partisan angles related to the Biden spin effort with this Chinese spy balloon situation and want to do more information-gathering about the big picture – American national security.

I like maps too and I found an article with a map of the Chinese spy balloon flight path across the US, then I found a map of the military sites that balloon flew over/or near to. What’s missing for me is I want to find a map of all the American rural cell phone carriers still using Huawei equipment on their cell phone towers.

It might be nothing or it might be something and I’m probably the most technology-challenged person to even ponder any of this stuff, but hey, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. Truly, I just recently switched to streaming TV, after one of my sisters talked me through the process of getting either a Roku or fire stick for my older TV and she explained how these streaming services work. I finally ditched cable, but I am still clinging to my landline phone. I asked one of my sons to hook up this stick thing and set it up for me – that’s how clueless I truly am about technology.

That said, I do like gathering information, looking at maps and trying to understand systems. People always establish patterns in everything they do – it’s human nature – so timelines help me understand events and see patterns better.

One thing I did find out was that in 2019 Trump banned Huawei, but the FCC still has no timeframe for enforcing that ban and for rural cell-phone carriers to ditch their Huawei equipment. That kind of caught my attention in my reading old news articles (from July 2022):

“In 2020, Congress approved $1.9 billion to remove Chinese-made Huawei and ZTE cellular technology across wide swaths of rural America.       

But two years later, none of that equipment has been removed and rural telecom companies are still waiting for federal reimbursement money. The FCC received applications to remove some 24,000 pieces of Chinese-made communications equipment—but according to a July 15 update from the commission, it is more than $3 billion short of the money it needs to reimburse all eligible companies.

Absent more money from Congress, the FCC says it plans to begin reimbursing approved companies for about 40 percent of the costs of removing Huawei equipment. The FCC did not specify a timeframe on when the money will be disbursed.”

CNN Exclusive: FBI investigation determined Chinese-made Huawei equipment could disrupt US nuclear arsenal communications

I’ll write more, as I sort out more information.

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Biden WH spin balloon deflates

This post is going to be some news that shows a Biden spin narrative has gone down faster than the Chinese spy balloon:

Here’s another one:

Here are the responses from the head of NORAD:

And so it goes.

My belief is this effort to blame Trump for not responding to previous spy balloon incidents and deflect from Biden’s dithering response was totally fabricated.

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Winners and losers

On Saturday, a US fighter plane shot down the Chinese spy balloon, after the balloon had been allowed to traverse the continental US for a week. The liberal media and Dems are in full narrative rewrite mode and polluting common sense thinking about national security. I’ve heard statements from Dems and liberal media that this was strategic brilliance to let that Chinese balloon float across the US for a week and statements about how much intel the US gathered by doing that. I also saw assertions that the US military had blocked the Chinese balloon from being able to transmit information. The narrative emerged that Biden had approved the shootdown last Wednesday, the day before this story became widely reported due to concerned citizens in Montana reporting it and taking photos of the balloon.

All of these revised narratives are likely complete fabrications to cover-up the glaring fact that the Biden administration failed to defend American airspace from an unmanned Chinese spy balloon for a week – that’s the truth.

Of course, the Dems and liberal media are spinning up a story that these sort of incursions are nothing new and that there were 3 incidents of Chinese balloon incursions during the Trump years. All of those stories thus far are attributed to unnamed defense officials. Using Trump as the piñata, incited the liberal media and Dems, plus it deflects attention away from Biden’s failure to act swiftly to defend American airspace. Trump officials say there was no event like what happened in the past week during their tenure. Here’s an example of the Dem narrative rewrite effort:

Somehow “briefly transited” does not sound like the 8 day Chinese spy balloon spectacle last week. The fall-out comes when clueless and incompetent government officials buy into their own false narratives rather than face mistakes and learn from them. It was not strategically sound to let a hostile country fly a spy balloon over the entire continental US and especially over some of our most sensitive military sites. It’s also dangerous to buy into the belief that eliminating all risk is required before acting. The Biden excuse about it was too risky to shoot the balloon down due to concerns about the debris field in sparsely populated Montana makes no sense at all. What would this administration do if it was a hostile manned aircraft entering US airspace over a populated metropolitan area? Would the president decide not to act?
This entire new backstory narrative the Biden WH has created sounds like complete fabrication and a face-saving effort to me.

The important takeaway isn’t whose narrative will win in the American spin information war waged in American media, it’s that the Chinese and America’s other enemies don’t care one iota about Democrat or Republican spin wins – they care about humiliating and defeating America. They witnessed an American administration stating the risk to take down an unmanned spy balloon was too great and a new fabricated backstory where President Biden said he ordered the balloon to be shot down “as soon as possible” on Wednesday and it took until Saturday for our military to accomplish that…

Beyond the optics and the obvious display of weakness by this WH and our Pentagon leaders, there’s a whole host of other serious concerns that come with even high-altitude balloons. Balloons can serve as a platform for other unconventional nefarious activities. That’s why swift actions should have been taken to take down this enemy spy balloon before it floated across the entire continental US.

I’ve said for years the only winners in our domestic spin information war are America’s enemies – they scored another win this past week, regardless how much hot air politicians and the media put into narratives. It wasn’t just the Biden WH and the Pentagon who looked weak – it was America.

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Up, up and away

I have more questions than answers on the reports of a suspected high-altitude Chines spy balloon floating over the continental US that’s been big news since yesterday..

First, I suspect the Biden administration and Pentagon wanted to get ahead of this story, because concerned citizens in Montana saw the balloon and there was no way to put a lid on this story. I am presuming that’s the only reason why they’ve made public statements.

My first thought was wondering if this was the first time Chinese spy balloons have floated over the US there would probably be more concern. So, today ABC reported this:

“The high-altitude reconnaissance balloon was not the first such craft to pass over the U.S. in this way, a senior defense official said in a briefing.

A separate senior official told ABC News the balloon is the size of three buses and complete with a technology bay, which the defense official said they “wouldn’t characterize” as “revolutionary.”

The defense official said they “are confident” the balloon was sent by China.

“Instances of this activity have been observed over the past several years, including prior to this administration,” the official said, noting that “it’s happened a handful of other times over the past few years … It is appearing to hang out for a longer period of time this time around.””

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/chinese-spy-balloon-surveilling-us-senior-official/story?id=96860718

Note the effort to deflect responsibility from the Biden administration by adding the phrase “including prior to this administration.” So, today, if this report is true, I learned Chinese spy balloons have flown over the continental US before “a handful of times” and our national defense people just observed that happening and didn’t inform the American people about it. With a lot of concerned citizens spotting this balloon and even photographing, it seems to me what the Biden administration is doing is trying to downplay the seriousness, telling Americans, there’s nothing to worry about and at the same time they’re making public statements about how tough they’re being with China… It feels to me they want to get past this story as quickly as possible.

Did the US raise concerns with China the “handful of other times over the past few years” this happened or did our government just sit back and observe?

So, I guess we’re just supposed to accept that Chinese spy balloons floating across America are no big deal, according to the Biden administration and the Pentagon and at the same time believe the Biden administration takes this matter very seriously, is carefully monitoring the balloon and is letting Beijing know this is unacceptable. Somehow, the two messaging tracts seems a bit discordant to me.

This Pentagon messaging game seems about as honest and transparent as their Afghanistan Withdrawal Debacle messaging.

We live in a surreal time.

————————————————————————————————————————

Okey dokey, here’s an update 10:16 pm, 2/3/2023: So, I just listened to this video of a CNN report from this morning – interviewing former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper. The CNN reporter mentions this assertion that Chinese spy balloons flying over the US happened in the previous administration and Esper says he has no recollection of any such incident. At 6:37 in this video the question begins:

Here’s a 9:15 pm report from CBS:

“By Friday morning, the balloon was no longer over Montana but had moved over the Midwest and is now over “the middle of the country,” according to a U.S. official. A Chinese balloon has never been over the middle of the country before. The only other time a Chinese balloon has flown over the continental U.S. was during a brief overflight of Florida. There have been overflights of Hawaii and Guam. In previous instances, the Chinese have been able to recover the balloon. Although it can maneuver, it will still travel in the direction it is carried by the jet stream.”

As you can see the Biden administration narrative keeps shifting And as it shifts it reminds me of the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle where they kept trying to blame Trump for everything going wrong, while insisting there would be no evacuations from rooftops like the US evacuation from the US embassy in Saigon in 1975… until there was just such an evacuation from the US embassy in Kabul.

I am prepared for the Biden administration to keep saying there’s nothing to worry about with this Chinese provocation and then spending more time to figure out a new narrative for when they realize there was something to worry about. The Austin Pentagon willingly carried every single one of the Biden administration lies about the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle. The Chinese were in Kabul working with the Taliban to aid in creating chaos for the US withdrawal too. They already know the Biden administration will exhaust every opportunity to appease America’s enemies rather than take decisive action.

Biden and his advisers were part of the Obama administration who thanked Iran for taking such good care of the US sailors Iran captured during the Obama presidency and following that return of US sailors, Iran unleashed propaganda videos of US sailors on their knees, to humiliate America’s military. It’s important to remember exactly who these people are in the Biden administration:

All this focus on debris fields for why they can’t risk taking down this Chinese spy balloon are just excuses for not being willing to take action, I think. And each bit of information the Biden administration and the Pentagon release will likely shift the narrative, as their spin crumbles.

I expect more shows of weakness from the Biden administration and more narratives that crumble under scrutiny.

Appeasement always exacts a higher cost down the road.

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Spring is right around the corner

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When I wrote about my approach to herbal remedies last week, I mentioned that often the way I first try a new herbal remedy is by using it as a tea. The above tag came from my moringa tea bag, which I ordered on amazon a while back to try. I also ordered some moringa seeds and plan to start some soon. With moringa, the information I found states moringa trees grow best in a warm climate, zone 8-10, so I am going to try growing my own moringa tree.

I found this quote on my tea tag even more uplifting than the moringa tea. As of yet, I’m not sure I’ve noticed any change in my arthritis pain since I started drinking moringa tea. Even if moringa doesn’t help my arthritis, its leaves are packed with nutrients. So if I can grow my own moringa tree, I hope to find ways to use the leaves in some dishes. I read it can be added to soups, stews, smoothies, stir fry dishes and it sounds like it can be treated like another green. I could also dry my own moringa leaves for tea.

Since Spring is right around the corner, another healthy green is dandelion. When I was a kid, my mother handed me a paring knife and sent me to gather dandelion greens in early Spring, when she made dandelion with hot bacon dressing. It’s one of my favorite PA Dutch-style meals. I also love PA Dutch scrapple fried nice and crisp for breakfast with eggs and I spread apple butter on my scrapple, because that’s how I grew up eating it.

It’s important to pick dandelion from areas where you’re sure a lot of chemicals haven’t been used. With gathering dandelion greens – first, we only ate them when the dandelions first appeared in the early springtime. My mother told us not to pick dandelion that had already bloomed, but dandelions with closed buds were still acceptable. She said after dandelion blooms, the leaves become bitter tasting.

Here’s a video with a recipe for PA Dutch dandelion and hot bacon dressing from one of my favorite YouTube cooking channels, Helga’s Pennsylvania Cooking. Some people add the dandelion into the hot bacon dressing to wilt it down a bit before spooning it over a boiled potato, but some people arrange it just like in this video:

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About those gas stoves…

Here’s a WSJ piece with some background into the groups behind that Biden administration alarm about gas stoves:

The Campaign to Ban Gas Stoves:

Biden and the media deny it exists, but the effort is calculated and well-funded.

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Ukraine and tanks

This is going to be a post on my views about the situation in Ukraine, since the news today is all about tanks being sent to Ukraine… tanks Ukraine’s military isn’t even trained to operate. I heard the Biden spokesman, Kirby, blabbering on this afternoon about how we’re going to have tank training teams and this was like echoes of the same claptrap we heard for 20 years about Afghan security forces, Iraqi security forces, and even training those imaginary “moderate” Syrian rebels” forces… It felt like he was reading the same old script.

First, I believe that pushing back against Russian and Chinese aggression is in America’s best interests, because allowing Russia and China to expand their influence, while we bury our heads in the sand by buying into hyped narratives about how we shouldn’t “poke the bear” or “mess with the dragon,” are really just appeasement. Appeasement sends the message of weakness and only invites more aggression.

That said, the approaches taken by European countries and the US thus far have not worked as expected and while Russia has aggressively worked to cut new energy deals around the world, Europeans and the US tried to have their cake and eat it too. They were still importing Russian oil and gas, while imposing more and more sanctions against Russia and telling us how evil Putin is. If he’s so evil, why weren’t they feverishly working to ramp up their own fossil fuel production, so they wouldn’t have to rely on Russian oil and gas?

On top of that insanity, at the same time the West was trying to have it both ways with buying Russian oil and gas, while imposing more and more sanctions against Russia and pouring more and more arms and money into Ukraine, the West decided to escalate their economic war against their own countries’ fossil fuel industries and citizens by running full steam ahead with their Great Reset effort.

None of this makes any strategic sense. Wars still require vast amounts of weapons, equipment… and fossil fuel. No military in the world runs on green energy. If you’re serious about supplying a war effort, you ramp up your own fossil fuel production; you don’t keep trying to import it from your adversary and decimate your own fossil fuel production capabilities.

The Biden team travelled around the world, hat in hand, begging despotic regimes for oil… They’d rather grovel to despots than do the sensible thing and unleash American fossil fuel production and ramp up green energy development. We should utilize every means of energy production that we can.

As far as what the actual end game strategy is in Ukraine, I don’t think any of the Western leaders have clearly articulated that and then had all of these other leaders agree on a strategy.

This isn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats, it’s about the reality of war, I think, and nothing I’ve seen thus far with how Western leaders have conducted this proxy war in Ukraine has made much sense.

I’d like to believe our leaders have learned something from the defeats of the GWOT strategy and regime change strategies we followed for 20 years, but it seems like no one has learned anything, except our adversaries…

The way I see it is either we really want Russia to be pushed back or we want to wage this crazy green energy war against fossil fuel and our own citizens, but trying to do both at the same time will be disastrous.

Update 1/28/2023: I was thinking about the endless string of failures in US strategy since 9/11 and the string of military misadventures, that were just memory-holed, as the strategic DC brain trust came up with one bad idea after another and faced no accountability for their previous failures. Here’s a short excerpt from a 2015 blog post I wrote:

” In 2014 Jamal Maaroof was touted:  “Meet Jamal Maarouf, the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies”.  After receiving US training and weapons, to include TOW anti-tank missiles, Maaroof struck a peace deal with ISIS.”

The first link is the media hyping the latest strategic “big idea” in 2015 – arming “moderate” Syrian rebels to help in the fight against ISIS. So, the US Army embarked on supposedly vetting Syrian rebel groups and finding “moderates” (here’s a clue in a Sunni insurgency there aren’t any moderates) to train. This rebel leader, Maaroof and his rebel band were trained and armed by the US Army with TOW anti-tank missiles and as soon as they returned to the battlefield in Syria, they struck a peace deal with ISIS. Some groups that the US armed handed their US weapons over to ISIS or united with ISIS fighters. So much for vetting these groups. The same people – politicians, retired top brass and military experts, who hit the media and sold all these bad ideas, are still hard at selling this proxy war in Ukraine, which they’re not prepared to really fight. The Biden administration and European leaders, I think, are more committed to their Great Reset, which will cause endless suffering and mayhem on their own citizens, not defeat Russia in Ukraine.

Pushing back on Russian aggression is in American and European strategic interests, but doing it in such a half-assed way has already shown Russia (and America’s other adversaries) again, that we’re not really serious and time is on their side. It doesn’t matter if it’s an R or a D after the name of the President, because both sides are fully-invested in this corrupt military-industrial game and this mess is going to drag on and on, with the potential to escalate bubbling right below the surface.

Trying to work out some sort of ceasefire and deal between Ukraine and Russia would be the least bad option, I think, since the US and the Europeans can’t seem to agree on much of anything and have been dragging their feet on getting arms to Ukraine all along, despite the lip service that they’re sending more. Even this tank announcement was followed by :

Despite President Biden’s promise to send 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday, it could take months for the artillery to arrive, according to reports.

The New York Post reported that Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh confirmed that the U.S. does not have enough of M1 Abrams tanks in its stockpile to send over to Ukraine at this time.”

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/bidens-promise-send-tanks-delayed-lack-inventory-reports

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My cautious approach to herbal medicine

This is going to be a blog post on my approach to herbal medicine. In a pre-pandemic blog post I mentioned my maternal grandmother’s two herb books (pictured above), that I inherited. My maternal grandmother used these books all the time. My maternal grandmother, besides her interest in herbal remedies, helped run the family gas station and held various jobs outside the home, including being a school bus driver. A family member told me my maternal grandfather gathered some type of mint or something in the woods in the Pocono Mountains, where they lived, and sold it to a pharmaceutical company in Philadelphia. Along with that sort of a side hustle, he had a small gas station, was a tinkerer, who liked to fabricate things in his shop, my family said. My grandfather died when I was a toddler, so I don’t remember him.

The little red herb book shows pictures of plants, bushes and trees and provides a great deal of information on what part of the plant to harvest, what time of the year, and the medicinal properties of each plant listed. In the back of the book are lists and prices to mail order herbs and herbal remedies from the author, Joseph E. Meyer. It has a 1934 copyright, so even during the Great Depression the herbal remedy business was thriving in America. Here’s a bit of Meyer’s bio from Wikipedia:

Joseph Ernest Meyer (September 5, 1878 – March 9, 1950) was a botanist, writer, illustrator, publisher, and supplier of pharmaceutical-grade herbs and roots to the drug trade who became a prominent citizen and eventually a millionaire in Northwest Indiana. He was the founder of the Indiana Botanic GardensCalumet National Bank and Meyer Publishing (now MeyerBooks). At his death he was said to be the world’s largest distributor of herbs used in salves, cosmetics, and medicines.[1][2]

While I believe there’s a lot of valuable information in this little herbal book, since it’s from 1934 I remain open to more current scientific research. Often, research validates some of the claims with herbal remedies passed down through the ages, but sometimes research discovers health risks or discounts some of the medicinal claims. And often the research doesn’t validate or invalidate herbal medicinal claims, so we’re left with the research is inconclusive. I try to be open to listening to both sides and my usual approach is to use only a small amount of some new herbal product, after doing some research. Even most medications from doctors aren’t safe if taken in massive doses. I like teas, so often the first way I try an herbal remedy that can be ingested is steeped as a tea. Plus, whenever someone is selling an idea or merchandise, I keep that in mind as I consider their information and ideas.

There seems to be a prevailing belief system among many people who gravitate toward herbal medicine to believe herbal remedies are inherently safer, because they come from nature, as opposed to drugs produced in a lab. Here again, there are many compounds found in nature that are poisonous to humans and pets. Some herbals could be very risky administered to young children or people with various medical conditions. The mixture of some prescription and over-the-counter medications with herbal remedies can be risky, so doing more research and talking to my doctor is how I approach this. I do take some herbal supplements and I do use some herbal remedies.

As we moved around the Army, I met people from all over. One time a young woman from south Texas recommended wetting a bit of tobacco and putting it on a bee sting and I tried it, because I didn’t see any major risk from trying it. It seemed to work to me, so I have done that many times When I googled that home remedy, it said there’s no research to back up that claim. And that’s how I go about herbal and home remedies – I determine my own situation and risks. I didn’t see any great risk in sticking a bit of wet tobacco on a bee sting. Long ago, I watched a show on the history channel about how the ancient Egyptians used honey to treat injuries with the workers building the pyramids. So, of course I started doing my own bit of testing using honey on scrapes and cuts and using a band-aid to keep it on and seeing if things healed faster. It wasn’t scientific in the least, but honey sure seemed to help. I also found honey to help with coughs and sore throats. There’s quite a bit of research worldwide into honey’s antibacterial properties and other medicinal uses and there’s even medical-grade honey. Now, I do not eat honey, because it elevates my blood sugar too much, but I would not be adverse to using honey in wound care.

When I lived in Germany, I encountered a lot of recommendations for teas and other herbal remedies, including for babies. My late mother-in-law told me I needed to make fennel tea when my oldest daughter was a baby and had a lot of gas.

Of course, after the disastrous lapses with rushing vaccines and all the craziness with all of that in the past few years, many people will point and say – you can’t “trust the science.” Unfortunately, I think the mishandling of so much of the pandemic response damaged the reputation of our federal health officials in America and created a distrust of modern medicine, but that doesn’t mean we should discard all the hard work and effort that’s gone into modern medicine and medical research. Oddly, enough I suspect many of the same people online who say they refused the COVID vaccines and rush to the conclusion on every news story of deaths of athletes and healthy young people as due to those vaccines, also have no qualms about ordering antibiotics (medicine created in a lab) online to add to their prepping supplies.

I can see the benefits of having ready access to antibiotics in various extreme emergency situations, but there are a lot of health downsides to self-prescribing antibiotics. For one, different antibiotics are effective for different types of infections. Antibiotics also have a certain shelf life, so stocking up on most medications isn’t like stocking rice and dried beans, which can last for decades. Please, don’t become my grandmother who kept every packet of pills her doctor ever prescribed to her in her big purse. And finally, going the self-diagnosis/self-medicating route, believing you can skip all the medical tests and professionals, could delay prompt medical attention and lead to more serious medical problems.

There’s no way someone who reads a lot about herbalism or turns to a medical kit with antibiotics they ordered online knows as much as trained doctors and modern medical testing. I read the medical information that comes with my prescription medications and it lists the chemical composition of the drug, potential adverse side effects, testing information and all sorts of other information. There is no way my use of herbal supplements or home remedies is on the same level as the research and studies that have gone into most modern pharmaceuticals. Yes, there have been many big mistakes with prescription drugs having adverse side effects or even causing death, but when balanced against the millions upon millions of lives saved by modern medicine, I believe the scale tips very much in favor of modern medicine.

I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that my paternal great-grandmother made a drawing salve made from pine resin, which she sent me to gather when I was a kid. There’s a lot of information online about pine resin uses in herbal remedies. I found this interesting piece at an herbal website: Pine Resin Uses & Salve Recipe. She wanted the resin from cutting off the knots of certain pine trees and she only wanted that pine resin gathered at a certain time of the year. I was often her fetcher and gatherer, where she would tell me where this or that plant grew in the nearby fields and woods, but she was too old to go traipsing around gathering them herself. Her salve was a good drawing salve, after using it on my scrapes, in my opinion, but my mother stuck to ointments and salves she purchased. I’d compare my great-grandmother’s drawing salve to a yellow salve sold by Rawleigh’s. We had a door-to-door salesman who came around selling Rawleigh’s products when I was a kid.

My mother did buy that Rawleigh’s yellow salve and the medicated ointment, which was similar to Vick’s vapor rub. She also did use some herbal remedies. My mother’s approach though was stuff like she wet a tea bag and applied it to minor burns and she told me it’s the tannins in black tea that makes it effective. My mother liked to understand the science behind something. She also remained open to new research and information, on both modern drugs and herbals, while many people steeped in herbal medicine imbue ancient remedies or home remedies our ancestors used as being natural and somehow purer and more reliable than modern medicine, while skipping the historical evidence of shorter lifespans and the high numbers of people wiped out by illnesses that today are easily treated with modern medicine.

Herbal medicinal remedies have a place in my health care choices, as I mentioned in a recent blog post, but I treat them just like modern pharmaceuticals and check into side effects, drug interactions, recommendations for usage and dosages. With herbal remedies it’s hard to figure out what amount to use and what amount is safe to use and this applies to manufactured herbal products too. I was watching a charming video online with a lady mixing up an herbal remedy and she was deciding what ingredients to mix up for a tincture she was creating. Her amounts were completely subjective and there’s no real recipe or science or standardized amounts. She had a lovely backdrop set up and lovely glass bottles and droppers and she called it her apothecary, but despite the charming aesthetic, this is not scientific in the least. This lady was charming too. I think it’s important to keep this in mind with online influencers. Doctors can’t just read a few books on medicine or watch a bunch of online videos and begin practicing medicine. They go through rigorous years of study and then they also have to do time as residents working beside trained doctors in a hospital and they have to be licensed to practice medicine. Herbalists can just start making videos and posting them online.

I think most people encounter all sorts of herbal and home remedy advice, but it’s very easy to see a lot of online content with people talking about herbal medicine and natural remedies and it’s very easy to get sold on things, so I have to remind myself to do my own research, because I do take some prescription medications. I also discuss herbal remedies or even other trendy diet and lifestyle things with my doctor first. I had been thinking about a couple trendy diet plans and my doctor didn’t think that was a good idea for me. He recommended exercising and trying to cut my carbs, but work on a more balanced diet and portion control. I also have one prescription medication that has a warning to avoid eating grapefruit, so treading cautiously with herbal medicine remains my approach.

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Rocks blocking our path

This post is some thoughts on paths and obstacles.

I never thought about writing a blog before a friend suggested it to me and even sent me a link to WordPress as a blogging site that looked very easy to use, back in 2012. Initially, I thought I’d write about politics and culture war, hot topics in the news, type stuff.

After years of doing that, I’m thoroughly sick of all the political games on both sides in America and truthfully, I’m weary of all the culture war battles too. The craziness of 2020 coupled with the dramatic change in my life, with my husband getting critically ill in January with a respiratory infection, that was unidentified, then being sent home on hospice care completely changed how I view many things. The thing is I felt alarmed enough to make some major changes in my life – some by choice, but many due to events beyond my control.

I had a jaded view of “preppers” as doomsday crazies or alarmists, yet there we were in 2020 facing shortages in grocery stores in America. I believed America was the land of plenty and never in my wildest imaginings did I believe there would be widespread shortage situations here.

Here’s a true story from when I worked at Walmart years ago. We had an elderly man, who was a people greeter, and he usually was at the patio gate in lawn and garden. He was caught shoplifting camping type merchandise from sporting goods and lost his job. After that incident, a young lawn and garden associate told me how bad she felt for that people greeter. She told me he really believed the Mayan Apocalypse was going to happen and he stole that stuff to prepare. Of course, I have a very dim view of shoplifters, so I just believed he was a thief and had probably been stealing stuff a long time. This old people greeter was how I viewed “preppers.” I don’t really think of myself as a “prepper” and generally think I’m just becoming a cranky older lady.

With my own personal crisis, I had to start thinking about all sorts of things I didn’t want to think about, if my husband died. Even though I knew there wasn’t any hope he would recover and have anything remotely resembling “quality of life,” a small part of me kept refusing to give up hope completely. Along with all of this I began to make some major changes in my thinking and how I handled important aspects of my life.

Instead, of thinking a Dave Ramsey no-debt type lifestyle sounded wonderful, but not attainable, I started working on that and by working on that, I mean it required totally changing my spending habits. I did not follow his plan exactly and I still have things to work on with my personal finances. With the shortage situation, I was concerned about augmenting supplies needed for my husband’s daily care, by purchasing extra supplies on amazon and also stocking up on groceries and basic supplies around the house.

I began to work on changing my rather careless way of sticking food in the pantry, cupboards and freezer and both organizing things and rotating the older food to use first. I watched all sorts of food storage and prepping/homesteading videos to learn more. I paid more attention to how I spent money and made changes. I started thinking a lot about needs vs. wants.

There are still plenty more changes I can make. However, I don’t regret stocking up food, water and basic supplies and I certainly don’t regret working to become debt-free and paying off my mortgage. As you pay off debt, it frees up more of your money to use for other things, like build up emergency savings or stock up on food and basics. I see all sorts of frugal-living ideas and advice online and in books. Some I find useful and others isn’t how I choose to live. How I live isn’t how lots of other people will choose to live. What I’ve gained is a feeling that while things are bad and likely to get worse, I’ll do my best to find more creative solutions and look for some positive things each day and things I am grateful for.

Of course, the pandemic craziness waned and shopping seemed “somewhat” normal, but nothing ever really returned to pre-pandemic days and now the situation is deteriorating rapidly with our nation’s financial stuff and with food shortage and other shortage and inflation issues all across the country.

What a whole lot of people did as gas prices soared and inflation rose on all sorts of things was they did exactly what our government does – they racked up astronomical amounts of credit card and consumer debt. If you think only Washington’s got an out-of-control spending problem, just look at how most Americans handle personal finance. Here’s a December 2022 news article, Credit card debt growing; average household has $8,900 and a quote from that :

“Americans started 2022 with more than $1 trillion in outstanding credit card balances. As the Federal Reserve has continued to raise the prime lending rate during the year, people in Oklahoma and across the country have taken on more credit card debt – to the tune of an estimated $110 billion.

The average U.S. household has over $8,900 in credit card debt, up 4.5% from the previous year.”

With both aspects of my life – personal finances and stocking up on food and basic supplies, I’ve readjusted my thinking and approach, as I’ve gone along, trying to find ways that work better for me. I’m taking the same approach with the gardening effort.

I’ve also had family make comments about my “crazy prepping” and other decisions. I’ve tried to talk to various family members and a close friend about why I think it’s important to stock up food, water and basic supplies and get out of debt. My friend told me her pastor has been telling them to stock up too, but she hasn’t taken any action yet. Most people haven’t taken any action to be prepared for much of anything. Recently, my friend mentioned the high egg prices and how expensive everything is getting. The sticker shock at the grocery store is starting to impact everyone and while the point of this post isn’t to say, “I told you so,” I think it’s going to get much harder for many people to keep up with debt payments and keep food on the table, let alone pay off debt.. The government does stuff like print more money and raise the debt ceiling to cope with their runaway spending, but ordinary people are just going to suffer.

The solution isn’t to charge up more stuff or get more credit cards and it’s not to just keep spending like you have been. For most people they’re going to need to seriously look at wants vs. needs and make some hard decisions. I’ve also noticed a lot of people prefer to rant about the government’s reckless fiscal policies, while refusing to do a single thing about their own reckless personal financial management. It’s hard to do much about how the government wastes money, since both political parties spend like drunken sailors, but everyone can take control of their own finances, if they choose to. Even now, it may be much harder to pay off debt and make ends meet, but almost anyone can find a few frivolous expenses to cut, to free up a little bit of money in their budget. Sometimes much harder decisions are required to get your spending under control and pay off debt.

I expect life to get a lot more difficult for all of us and simple things we took for granted, like getting a prescription filled might take a lot more effort and a runaround, finding certain items at the grocery store might become a wild goose chase. I check prices online at my three major grocery stores before running around looking for stuff.

Finding ways to stretch food dollars might require doing more searching for new recipes, ways to utilize the food we do buy and even develop new eating habits. I mention this, because even with my little fall container gardening effort, I grew broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. As I was reading more about those plants, I realized that the leaves on all three can be eaten as greens, so that’s another part of those plants I could use. I use radish leaves as greens too. I grew kale and spinach, but the collards I planted didn’t produce much. Even with store bought foods, I’ve been learning more about ways to use scraps and bones, etc. when I used to just toss those. I did start a compost bin again too.

These were small things that I could do by myself and none of them required a great deal of time or effort. I took some sad looking pieces of ginger root from the grocery store that had been sitting in my fridge and stuck them in a pot with potting soil last summer. I harvested quite a bit of new ginger root late in the fall. I peeled it. Some I grated and some I sliced, then I dehydrated it, so I probably have enough ginger to use in stir- fry dishes and cooking for a year. I used some of the grated ginger root last week in a stir-fry and it’s easy to rehydrate. Ginger root in my local grocery store is around $3.50 a lb. right now.

Dave Ramsey calls his financial plan 7 baby steps, but the truth is every little change we make “baby step” can help change our life, but most of all it changes the direction of our thinking. If your first response to new ideas or suggestions is to make excuses for why you can’t do that or look for other people or events to blame for why things aren’t working well in your life, then nothing will change. The economy isn’t likely to improve any time soon, if we’re to believe just about every financial expert, including right-wing ones, left-wing ones, and even the global elite ones meeting at the World Economic Forum. We can’t change any of that, but each of us can make small changes (and big ones if we really need to) to find ways to get through coming storms.

Believing we can take charge and change is hard and I’ve failed miserably at many things – many times, but as I’ve gone through the past few years, where there were terrible things happening in my life beyond my control, along with the pandemic craziness, it led me to doing a whole lot of soul-searching. I used to spend too much time whining and complaining and most all – making excuses. I realized I could do a lot more than I thought I could. I believe all of us can do more than we think we can too and that’s the new way of thinking that’s been leading me toward making changes and adjusting to many changes that were beyond my control in the past few years.

Some things are scary or disturbing or very upsetting, but I’m trying to take an assessment, like thinking “Boy, this really sucks!” when faced with new problems or obstacles, then I start thinking of various ways I can move that obstacle out of my way, climb over it or go around it and even ways to pound it into pebbles that just pave my path. Every day, I remain grateful for life, for my loved ones, and the multitude of blessings in my life.

Each day is a new opportunity.

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