Free Vegetable Seeds for School Garden Programs

Ten different schools will be chosen to each receive a three year subscription to Mike the Gardener’s Seeds of the Month Club

Burlington, NJ, December 2011: Seeds of the Month Club retailer, Mike the Gardener Enterprises, has announced they are going to award ten schools with three year subscriptions to their Seeds of the Month Club.

Group of teenage friends gardening. Schools with a gardening program or those schools thinking about starting one, are eligible. Mike the Gardener is currently accepting applications and there is still have time to apply for this award.

“Teaching kids how to grow a vegetable garden from seed and being able to enhance and grow school vegetable gardens, is a great way to give back to a community,” said Mike the Gardener owner Michael C. Podlesny.

Ten different schools will be chosen to each receive a three year subscription to Mike the Gardener’s Seeds of the Month Club. Schools that are awarded, will receive 8 packs of vegetable, fruit and/or herb seeds their first month and then 4 packs every month thereafter for three years.

Schools can enter for a chance to obtain one of the ten, 3 year subscriptions, by visiting and fill out the online application form. The deadline to submit an application is January 31st, 2012. Winners will be notified on or about February 17th, 2012 and schools will start receiving seeds in March of 2012. Just in time for spring.

“There are so many possibilities for tying in vegetable gardening with learning, that it comes as no surprise that school gardens are on the rise,” continued Podlesny. “Once kids learn how easy and fun it is to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs from seeds, they will want to carry this beneficial skill with them for the rest of their lives.”

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

6 EcoChi® Tips for the New Year

A fresh outlook to the New Year starts in the home.

These simple steps welcome healthy changes that will last the year.

NEW YORK, December 2011: Each new year brings the thought of resolutions, many of which last little more than a few weeks. "Life in the new year will be lived the way it is designed," says Debra Duneier, certified eco-designer, feng shui master practitioner and author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience ( "Prepare your home, as well as your mind and body, to attract the things you desire in your life," Duneier says. Where do you start? Follow these simple steps and enjoy a healthy, happy and prosperous year:


Clean, declutter and beautify your home. This changes the energy and prepares the space to celebrate the wonderful things that are about to come into your life.

Stop leaks

Seal any air leaks around doorways, windows and ductwork in your home. This simple step will reduce energy usage by up to 20 percent. "One weekend with a tube of caulk will help keep you and your wallet warm," says Duneier.

Say "no" to plastics

Avoid plastic bottles, especially for drinking water. Some plastics leech bisphenol A (BPA) when exposed to heat. This compound mimics estrogen and has adverse effects on our hormones.

Rethink food

Instead of focusing on diets, create a healthier relationship with food. Healthy food increases your energy level and encourages better choices throughout the day. Diet obsessions keep your mind on a scale rather than on enjoying life.

Red bird

Your home should be your "red bird" so that it reflects your promising future. Introduce the color red to your home through fresh flowers or decorative pillows. This auspicious color is sure to set the atmosphere for a promising new year.

Invite energy in

If you are home when the new year arrives, open your front door to allow this new energy to enter. Fresh air brings with it fresh beginnings.

By making these changes, you've set a stage that welcomes new energy. You'll find enjoyment in the comfort it brings and set the tone for a healthier and happier you. To learn more about the EcoChi philosophy, visit

Debra Duneier is the author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience, a feng shui master practitioner, an accredited LEED® Green Associate and certified eco-designer.

SOURCE: Debra Duneier

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

8 Year-old Filipino Singer Launches Charity Album

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

December 2011: 8 year-old Filipino singer FitriCerado has decided to launch her first online album to help children in need. The star of Indonesian talent show: Super Wani 2 has already received thousands of YouTube hits, and would like to use her talent and exceptional voice to make a difference in other children’s lives. The winner of many festivals and events is different from other children at her age. She was moved by the poverty and cruelty affecting children all over the world and decided to raise 50.000 Rupiah for Unicef Indonesia and Philippines. Visitors are able to download some of the songs and donate to the Razoo Charity organization directly on the website.

CHRISTMAS FAVORITE HITS Through her talent and people’s help she believed that her efforts could be a big contribution to the children's awareness programs of world. This Charity album is not only featuring an angel’s voice, but it also shows the innocent and true intentions of an 8-year-old girl.

Aside from Unicef and Razoo Charity campaign, Fitri also provided an online store for Charity Album and the collected money is going to support the Jember Orphanage, where over 50 Indonesian children live today without parents. The orphanage takes care of the education clothing and food of these orphans.

Talking about releasing the kids charity album, Fitri Cerado says: “During our visit I met my fellow children in the orphanage, It so touching to see them inside , many of them did not even know who their parents are. Unlike me or my classmates in school we have our father and mother who always with us.We hope many people will buy my music with that effort, I can help them and I’m so happy.” The songs available to download in MP3 format include The Lord’s Prayer, Oh holy night and other Gospel music hits, as well as Indonesian and Filipino music.

Fitri would like to end suffering in the world. Through her talent and people’s help she would be able to support children who are neglected, maltreated, suffer from poverty or bad health. The Fitri Cerado for charity is looking to give away a digital download album for everyone donating for Unicef and Razoo foundation . The Charity album is not only featuring an angel’s voice, but it also shows the innocent and true intentions of an 8-year-old girl.

The charity single is going to be featured on YouTube, and is available through local CD stores. Although, people looking to make a difference this coming new year, would be able to purchase the unique and high quality kids charity album featuring some of the most wonderful songs for the festive: Oh holy Night, Amazing grace and other famous records.

Fitri can perform various genres; from Indonesian and Filipino music to gospel, pop and rock. She has been singing since the age of three. Fitri is looking forward to finding new supporters for the Razoo UNICEF campaign, and raising awareness of the struggle and loneliness of children growing up in orphanages without parents. She is extremely grateful to God for her talent, and she would like to make sure that she uses it for good causes. The charity album and the free MP3 downloads are now available on the official Charity album website. It is created to help people make the most out of their new year giving, and participants will be able to make not one, but many people smile all over the world.

The free MP3 track is a rendition by the young singer of “Amazing Grace” and it is, pardon the pun, quite amazing.

However, whether it was the girl herself who came up with the idea for the Charity album and all that jazz I very much doubt.

While children can feel very well for others in need, whether other children, adults, animals or Nature per se, being the constant cynic that I am I wonder as to who is guiding them into the paths that they chose and who it is who really gets a kick out of it.

Having said all this, the girl has a very beautiful voice. I do wonder though as to whether she is not being exploited by parents and other adults around her to be the way she is and I do believe that that can be seen in the way that she is being presented on her site and in public.

© 2011

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

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

London Hikes Its Hotel Rates 600% This New Year’s Eve, New Survey Uncovers

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

London, UK, December 30, 2011: New Year’s Eve revelers who want to kiss 2011 goodbye along the River Thames better get their checkbooks ready and kiss a lot of money good bye too if they wish to stay in a London hotel, even one of the “seedier” ones, for the night.

According to new analysis compiled by, if they don’t have a London hotel room yet, one could cost them up to 600% more than usual this December 31.

gI_64303_acropoilThe Acropolis Hotel in the Hammersmith neighborhood of London has jacked up its rates by 635%.

In the British capital, being late to the New Year’s Eve party won’t bar celebrators from enjoying the holiday festivities. They can still score a room at one of the fewer than 10% of London hotels that are still posting vacancies.

Their last-minute requests, however, will be met with huge price increases.

On average, a currently available hotel room in London for the night of December 31 into January 1st will cost guests 115% more than the regular rate, the survey reveals. At some establishments in the city, though, they’ll pay substantially more than that.

Overnight rates at the Kensington West Hotel, for instance, have skyrocketed by 533% this New Year’s Eve. Typically a room in this 2.5-star accommodation costs £71, but come December 31, that price will soar to £450. The 2-star Acropolis Hotel in the Hammersmith neighborhood of London has jacked up its rates (£390 versus the usual £53) by an even higher percentage. That increase represents a 635% rate hike.

Deal seekers had better be prepared to venture outside London. Inside the city, no rooms are going for less than £150 … and that’s only in the less trendy neighborhoods. To stay in the most attractive London locales (the West End, Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Westminster), they’ll have to shell out £250 or more for one night in a hotel room.

It is still possible to secure a room for below £200 elsewhere within the city confines. Earl's Court, Paddington and areas close to the Excel Exhibition Center in the east end of London are all still offering such rates.

Budget travelers can still get their hands on more affordable accommodations as well. Rooms on the outskirts near Heathrow Airport are going for below £75. From there, the Piccadilly Line of the tube will get them to the central London celebration in under an hour.

As both buses and tubes are free on New Year's Eve until the early hours – I believe it is 5am or such – there is no reason for anyone staying in any of those overpriced places that have decided to rip off visitors to London for the New Year's celebrations.

Another alternative is: Stay away from London and don't give them the benefit of your custom. It's that easy. Such a price hikes really should be given the only answer it deserves; no takers, despite the fact that it is said that it is all a case of supply and demand.

For more information about this survey, visit

© 2011

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

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

British birds and other wildlife confused

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Epsom, UK, December 2011: Strange weather we are having and wildlife seems to think the same. In fact birds are singing their mating and territorial songs. Something that should not happen until a few months from now.

Plants too seem to think that spring has come early and many are beginning to act like that too by putting forth new growth.

Only the other day, on Thursday, December 29, 2011, in fact, I discovered that the Blackberry plants in my garden are beginning to flower. Yes, you are reading that right. They have begun to flower, at least once serious cluster, at the end of December (see photo below).

flowering_bramble_Dec2011-1_webThis, I am afraid to say, just is not normal, and we are not the only ones where the weather is a little on the strange side. Oh, and before I forget, water is becoming a little on the scarce side too despite of the occasional downpours.

Places in the USA as well that should be having temperature below freezing or thereabouts are still running temperatures more akin of early autumn or of early spring but not of the midst of winter.

The worrying part is that trees and plants, especially crops, will put out growth and then get hit by severe frost that still could be coming our way.

We all remember down here in my part of the country the February of about two years ago when the winter until then had been very mild and suddenly we ended up with lots of snow and temperatures in the minus ten and so range. Water mains froze and burst and things went more than just a little haywire.

The strange weather could be due, no doubt, to what is being referred to now as Climate Change, something where man's activities have not helped, but also to an very powerful alignment of planets. A hyperactive sun also does not help.

Something that we need to watch. The weather and the sun especially, and we need to prepared for the eventualities. Before someone, however, mentions the Mayans and their calendar and the fact that it end in 2012 I don't think that it will. However, the way things look we will be facing a great number of uncertainties, not at least another recession – what you mean another recession... the last one hasn't gone away... and right you are... so let's call it a deepening of the Great Recession) – and the possible – more than likely – break up of the Euro zone (and, maybe, even of the European Union itself).

Add to that the increasing activities of a hyperactive sun, with a solar maximum and flares galore, as well as the alignment of those planets and we could be in for a bumpy ride. No wonder birds, animals and plants are confused.

© 2011

Düsseldorf International Airport Goes Solar

One of Germany’s largest photovoltaic (PV) plants is newest arrival at Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS)

Düsseldorf, Germany, December 2011: Travelers flying in or out of DUS can enjoy a new sight: a field of 8,400 solar panels on an area as big as six soccer fields. The installation of all panels is complete, and solar energy production is scheduled to begin before the end of the year. The plant will generate two megawatts of sustainable energy per year, enough for 600 four-people households in Düsseldorf. A large monitor in the airport’s departure hall will display actual figures of energy generated and carbon dioxide saved.

gI_76888_resize_FGC0906The largest ground-mounted system within the security zone of a German airport

Production of the plant – which is the largest ground-mounted system within the security zone of a German airport – started in October and was completed after only eight weeks, due to unseasonably warm weather in the area. The plant is a joint project of Düsseldorf International and a subsidiary of the city’s public services, Grünwerke GmbH, in an effort to rapidly increase the use of sources for local and renewable energy.

The unusual location for a PV plant represents a shift in the way public and private enterprises set priorities in energy management, and Düsseldorf’s major, Dirk Elbers, agrees: “A PV plant of this magnitude within the safety parameters of one of the country’s largest passenger airports reflects a new way of thinking about renewable energies, and we welcome it as another contribution of our city in the service of environment.”

Christoph Blume, CEO of DUS, confirms: “Generating energy in a way that is environmentally sound is a priority for Düsseldorf International. That is why we are very excited about working on this future-oriented project with our city’s public services. Already, solar energy is not the only source of renewable energy at DUS. We also employ combined heat and power technology in a block heating station, and keep carbon dioxide emissions even lower this way.”

In League with New York, London, Paris and More

Adding to Düsseldorf’s appeal, several US & Canadian cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Ft. Myers, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver) offer non-stop flights. Passengers who continue their journeys can choose from numerous convenient connections to Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and many other German and European cities. All together, 70 airlines serve 180 destinations worldwide – among them 125 European destinations. Another major advantage of the airport is its layout. With all gates in one terminal building, Düsseldorf International is the “airport of short distances” – guaranteeing minimum connection times of 35 minutes.

The airport is at the center of the Rhine Ruhr area, a bustling network of 53 connected cities and 18 million residents within 40 miles. It is the EU’s third largest market in volume and spending and equal to major metropolitan regions like New York, London and Paris. 500,000 companies are located in the area, including 5,000 offices of foreign corporations, the majority from the Netherlands, Japan and the USA. Many major international industry players including Fujifilm Europe, Nokia Siemens, Novell, Ericsson, Deloitte & Touche, McKinsey, and Toshiba are headquartered in Düsseldorf, which is a first-rate location for high-tech concerns. International presence and fast accessibility – guaranteed by DUS being one of Germany’s major hubs – make the location highly attractive.

Düsseldorf and North Rhine-Westphalia, ranked 17 in GDP among the world’s major industrial centers, also are home to some of the most significant exhibitions and trade shows in the world. Of the 50 annual events at Düsseldorf’s Exhibition Center, 23 are leading their industry worldwide, for example, printing technology (“drupa”), plastics and rubber (“K”), medicine (“MEDICA” and “REHACARE INTERNATIONAL”), leisure time (“boot”) or packaging (“interpack”).

For more information on Düsseldorf International Airport, visit

Düsseldorf Tourism & Marketing GmbH is the visitors and convention bureau of the city of Düsseldorf. Its services include tourism and city marketing, conference and meeting marketing, hotel reservation services, fairs and convention services, city event ticket sales and advance ticket reservations. For more information, visit

This press release is presented without editing for your information only.

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

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

It’s official – wind generates “substantially” more electricity

  • 9% of UK’s electricity now generated from renewable sources
  • Increase of two-thirds in electricity from offshore wind in first three quarters of 2011.

  • Official figures disprove claims by critics of wind energy

Turbines The latest Government figures on the amount of electricity generated by wind power have been welcomed by RenewableUK, the country’s largest renewable energy trade association, as proof of the increasingly significant contribution wind energy makes to UK households.

Statistics for the third quarter of 2011, released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, show that renewable sources generated 9 per cent of the UK’s electricity from July to September. That represents an increase of nearly 1 per cent on the same quarter last year.

DECC highlighted the fact that the amount of electricity generated from offshore wind has increased “substantially” compared to the same quarter in 2010, partly because of increased capacity, and partly because it was the windiest September for at least ten years.

When the overall figures for the first three quarters of 2011 (Jan - Sept) are taken into account, the statistics show a 64% increase in the amount of electricity generated by offshore wind on the same three quarters for last year (up from 4865 gigawatt hours to 6618GWh), and a 36% increase for onshore wind (up from 1943 GWh to 3189 GWh).

Dr Gordon Edge, RenewableUK’s Director of Policy, said: “This is another strong set of statistics from DECC, proving that despite the anti-wind propaganda being spouted by lobbyists with their own particular agendas, wind turbines are continuing to generate increasingly large amounts of electricity for the UK’s households.

We will continue to offer a secure supply of clean energy which will reduce our dependence on ultra-expensive fossil fuels such as gas. Let’s not forget that it’s the cost of importing gas which has sent domestic fuel bills through the roof, so we have to get off the fossil fuel hook. Renewable sources such as wind offer us excellent value for money overall. We believe that hard-pressed households deserve the best deal when it comes to cutting their energy bills in the long term, Dr Edge commented.

DECC also highlighted the growth in the UK’s installed capacity to generate electricity from renewable sources of 400 megawatts in the third quarter of the year – a 12 per cent increase on Q3 a year earlier. Nearly two-thirds of that increase (240MW) came from onshore and offshore wind, with the first turbines of the Ormonde and Greater Gabbard offshore wind farms beginning operation.

The UK now has enough installed capacity to supply more than 3,300,000 homes from wind energy.

Source: RenewableUK

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

Lakeland Spring 2012 Catalog – Preview

Another great catalog jam-packed with great ideas, many of them falling within the categories of the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

7283_KIT1_BOOK.indb The latest catalog from the great folks of Lakeland, up there in the Cumbrian Lake District, the one for Spring 2012, covers probably all bases for sure.

Starting with baking it travels via breakfast and cooking to preparation and food storage. Absolutely everything is, as I have said, covered.

The Silicone Bakeware looks something absolutely fantastic, especially for those of us who hate having their cakes or bread stick to the pan. The Perfobake is also something that is entirely new to me and I am almost convinced that it is to most folks.

The other incredibly good sounding bakeware range is the Bakegenius one. Here we have silicone coated metal surfaces. Another great, if not to say brilliant, idea, so it would seem.

On page 40, within the baking section, we then come to the bread baking department, so to speak, and here the Ceramic Bread Maker looks to me to be a very handy bread pan.

Ii have used a deep ceramic roasting dish, about the depth and size of a 2lb loaf tin, for baking bread before and it works a treat. The ease with which the bread comes out without little mess is what I really like.

Pages 98 to 100 inclusive then give us some great innovative pots and pans and utensils for cooking in the microwave oven, which is one of the most energy efficient ways of cook food.

Some people believe, falsely, as far as I and many others are concerned, that cooking in the microwave oven is bad and that microwave ovens are a health risk and that foods cooked in them but the speed of cooking in the microwave via the heat generated in the food by the radio waves, for that is all that microwaves are, make for sealed-in flavors and nutrition. (More about that in an article to come).

On the food storage front – and proper storage of food is ever so vital and important if we wish to avoid waste – there are also loads of things to chose from.

The Lakeland exclusive Potato Bag, which I have reviewed here a year or more back and which, I would like to add, is still performing great service in my home, is a must to keep potatoes fresher for longer.

In addition the Stayfresh Longer Bags also are a must have in any kitchen. I have found those bags to also perform a great services as to keeping my home-baked bread fresh.

Another great selection from Lakeland...

© 2011

Rod Kierkegaard, Jr.'s "Family Cursemas" Available Free From Curiosity Quills Press

Washington, D.C. author Rod Kierkegaard, Jr. releases holiday murder-mystery "Family Cursemas" for free, via Smashwords, for a limited time.

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

gI_68682_cover800 Leesburg, VA, December 2011: As this festive holiday season draws to a close, Curiosity Quills Press is happy to announce that Family Cursemas, Rod Kierkegaard, Jr.’s Holiday-themed murder-mystery, is now available as a free download from Smashwords for a limited time only.

Rod Kierkegaard, Jr. spins a sharp and mysterious holiday murder that should appeal to a broad audience.

Family Cursemas is the first installment in Mr. Kierkegaard’s Megamillionaire Murders series, a brief synopsis of which is below:

"When the wealthy Goodman family assembles for its gloomy annual holiday reunion in their divorced mother’s crumbling mansion, Holly Singletary is pressed into service to help cater the Christmas Eve dinner. When 'the storm of the century' hits, the attendees have more than a blackout to worry about. Someone – or something – is killing off the Goodman family one by one.

Only Holly can solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity before her first-grade sweetheart becomes the final victim…"

Marketing director Lisa Gus shares news of the encouraging response to Family Cursemas‘ initial test release: "With several hundred downloads in the first hours of release, we hope our readers will share Family Cursemas with friends and family this New Year’s," Lisa reports. "Rod Kierkegaard, Jr. spins a sharp and mysterious holiday murder that should appeal to a broad audience."

Professionally edited by another Curiosity Quills Press author, Vicki Keire, Family Cursemas is bound to make a splash, along with Rod Kierkegaard, Jr.’s other currently available work, The Department of Magic.

Readers can download their free copy of Family Cursemas at:

Rod Kierkegaard, Jr. is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and cartoonist best known in the US for his comic strip, “Rock Opera“, which ran as a regular feature in Heavy Metal Magazine during the 1980s.

He is the author of two French graphic novel collections, “Stars Massacre“, (released in the US as “Shooting Stars“) and “Rock Monstres“, both published by Editions Albin Michel, Paris. His first novel, “Obama Jones & The Logic Bomb”, is published by Dogma Press.

“The Department of Magic” and “Family Cursemas (Megamilionnaire Murders, Vol. 1)” will be Rod’s first published works through Curiosity Quills Press this Holiday season, followed by “The God Particle” in early 2012.

Curiosity Quills Press (, launched its independent publishing imprint in June, 2011 by writers, for writers, out of a common frustration with the state of publishing today. Instead of relying on readers to sift through the so-called "Amazon slush-pile", CQ presents a uniformly top-notch level of quality, tastefully curated, hard-hitting storylines, and memorable characters readers won't forget amidst their Kindle downloading sprees.

We know it's hard to stand out from the crowd when it's millions large, but Curiosity Quills Press helps level the playing field through its members' innovative social media approach, a transparent culture, and a deeply passionate team.

It is not often that you get something for nothing, especially in the E-Novel department. Therefore I suggest you go and download the book. You can always get rid of if again if you don't like it without any waste.

I must say that I have not read the book as yet but, he what... it's free, at least for the moment... so hurry. And unlike an E-book from Amazon this one you can actually share with family and friends without, it would appear, infringing on any laws.

© 2011



by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If you believe in horoscopes or not depends on you, but, if the Mayans and gloom- and doomsayers are to be believed then 2012 is billed as the year that the world will end or at the very least fall apart.

Fueled by Internet conspiracy theories and the real threat of economic meltdown doomsayers are having a field day and the merchants of books, videos and survival kits and other equipment are rolling a mint.

In a new book, out on January the 5th, leading British astrologer Jonathan Cainer takes a detailed look at the every single one of these supposed threats to our future – and predicts what is actually in store for all of us in 2012.

He reveals how a rare solar maximum – the Sun firing off flares – threatens our electrical supplies and communication systems, and that, I am afraid to say, is no joke.

A solar maximum could really wreak havoc with our so-called smart grid and it is not just the electricity supplies that could be affected. Seeing that water companies also use computer-controlled systems we could be in for a really rough ride.

Meanwhile, as a result of a rare planetary alignment we could be, or even it might be an are, are at risk of dramatic weather changes and increased “seismic activity” with earthquakes, tornadoes, drought.

An even more dramatic time economically – with our financial system having to “adapt and evolve at a rate much faster than many people feel comfortable with.”

He furthermore predicts increased natural disasters over the NEXT two years as well as unexpected outcomes to the elections in France, Russia and the USA.

But the most worrying fact, perhaps, is that in 2012 we are overdue a solar maximum. This occurrence – which happens every 11 years – and which therefore is mot as rare as some would like us to believe and a well-known phenomenon to every radio operator, is when the Sun ejects flares (gigantic blasts of light, gas and radiation). It is those flares, which are serious blast of electromagnetic radiation that (could) threatens to destroy our communications system and shut off Earth’s electricity.

Even Jonathan admits:”We may have surprising power outages and communication problems with disruption to international travel.”

In his book, he also examines the theory that we are under threat from – Planet X, Nibiru or a Brown Dwarf star – an invisible giant cosmic force about to exert humongous gravitational pull on our planet.

But even though, the ancient South American Mayan calendar, predicts the end of the world on December the 21st, Jonathan says: “In my own astrological judgment, 2012 is going to be a surprisingly good year.”

Jonathan, 54, has studied astrology for over thirty years and has been famous in the UK since 1985. He has successfully predicted the outcome of countless sporting events, elections and trials... and is now respected by an international readership of millions for his accuracy and insight. His summary of 2012 is that, though it remains a worrying time.

There are ways we can make it all OK and as long as we know how to handle our challenges it can yet be a surprisingly good year.

“Ultimately, it is all going to be okay,” he says.

In addition I would like to say that, according to some sane minds, the reason the Mayan calendar ends in 2012 is that they, literally, ran out of space to “write” more.

On the other hand, without given credence to the doom and gloom predictions, solar flares and such like could also cause some things to go seriously wrong which could threaten the existence of the majority of us.

All it needs is a disruption to the control systems of nuclear power stations to cause a real serious event that would make all the nuclear disasters so far, combined, look like a gentle stroll in the park.

© 2011


Leuchtturm1917 Notebook – Product Review

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

There are notebooks and then there are notebooks. Not all notebooks are created equal.

Leuchtturm1 If it is notebooks that you may wish, want or need to keep for more or less posterity then you do not want to use some real cheap ones; you want some decent ones and notebooks that look the part as well.

Whether it is for yourself or to give as presents – if you can actually bear to part with them once you have bought them – these notebooks from German family firm Leuchtturm1917 will always bring a touch of class to keeping up-to-date and organized.

From a choice of 10 colours and 4 rulings, to the quality of the non-bleed-through paper and the ingenious numbered pages, and from the table of contents and to the expandable pocket for storing receipts and business cards – these are notebooks with a difference. And, though some might disagree, are superior even to others in the same or similar price range.

For left-handers, these thread-bound notebooks open flat, while the unique pen loop, which is an additional extra (which means it is not built into the book, to avoid misunderstandings), means you’ll always have a pen handy.

Other details of those notebooks include a page marker, elastic fastener, 8 perforated pages at the back in case you would like to share notes with other, plus a set of stickers for easy reference.

Those stickers are designed for and intended as labels for the purpose of archiving and there are three for the spine and three for the cover in each book.

And, to make your task of archiving easier still Leuchtturm1917 does also make and supply archiving storage boxes which would be most suitable for the task of keeping your notebooks safely organized for future reference.

As they say, “details (do) make the difference.” And for once it has nothing to do with “Vorsprung durch Techik.”

© 2011

Man makes children happy with annual bike giveaway

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

moses-mathis-bicycle While Santa Claus may not exist (my most sincere apologies if this is news to you) there is certainly one man in the US who could, arguably, qualify for the role for his astounding humanitarian work. This man is Moses Mathis.

Moses, who is known in the area as the Bicycle Man, refurbishes donated second-hand bikes through the year before organizing a pre-Christmas giveaway of those bicycles to children referred by school social workers in Fayetteville.

The school social workers determine whether families cannot afford to buy a bicycle and then refer them to Moses and his ever growing number of volunteers as suitable receivers of a bike. The volunteers are the ones that help Moses in his workshop to refurbish the bikes but also administer the bike giveaway program.

The bicycle giveaway program was started by Moses in 1991 and the event has grown so large over the years that it is now part of the town's folklore by now. It has grown so much so over those 20 years that local police, in fact, have been so concerned at the numbers the event attracts that they have had to insist on Moses taking the event to ever larger premises several times during those years.

This year’s giveaway, which was held on December 22, saw 1,104 children receive bikes. Along with a bicycle, each also child gets a cycle helmet. Other donated items are also handed out at the event to the children and this includes toys, books, clothes, shoes and a stocking full of personal hygiene necessities.

Work has already started on next year’s event, and The Bicycle Man is keen as ever to receive any donated bikes. We have to commend Moses on his humanitarian approach and of course introducing the bike to many a child.

If Moses would be in the UK he would be one of the greatest candidates for a Royal Honor such as an Empire Medal or even an OBE. Maybe and the State government or at least the city of Fayetteville could create some sort of honor and medal for the man. He sure deserves it.

There are still people who think that they cannot do much but actions such as this one, once again, are proof that one man can make a difference and affect many lives annually.

© 2011

Supposedly compostable paper wine bottle has been unveiled

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Supermarkets are in talks with a small British business over using what it claims is the world's first paper wine bottle.

paper wine bottle Paper wine bottle inventor Martin Myerscough with the product

This was revealed in early November 2011 by the company behind the first paper milk bottle. GreenBottle, has developed a prototype paper bottle for wine and is currently in talks with supermarkets and wine producers.

The company, based in Woodbridge in Suffolk, hopes to make the paper bottle available to the public as early as 2012.

According to GreenBottle replacing glass with compostable paper will reduce the drink's carbon footprint by 10% and cut waste.

The company recently celebrated a landmark by selling a 100,000 paper milk bottles, which are currently on trial in Asda stores in the south west.

Inventor Martin Myerscough, who is behind the new product, said: "The best thing about GreenBottle is that consumers just 'get it'. "We've found that if you offer them the choice of a paper bottle or a plastic one they'll choose paper every time.

"Choosing milk in GreenBottles enables consumers to 'do their bit' for the environment every day - and our sales show that ever-greater numbers of consumers are doing this.

"We're hopeful that the success we've had with GreenBottle in milk can be repeated with wine. It would mean an end to those morning-after trips to the bottle bank.

"All you would need to do is rip out the plastic lining and put the paper outer-casing in the bin or on the compost heap.

"We've had a lot of interest from supermarkets and wine producers so we could see the wine GreenBottle on shelves as early as next year."

We certainly have heard a little about the paper milk bottle but, so far, I must say that I have not seen one and as to the compostable claim I am rather not convinced, unless it is really just as kind of cardboard body.

There is, after all, compostable and then there is compostable. One can be done in your composter or compost heap in your garden and the other kin d cannot and can only really be done via commercial composting schemes run by councils and businesses, using heat.

We have learned from what the inventor has said that the bottle contains a plastic liner that the consumer has to rip out before the bottle can be composted. In other words, the paper bottle is nothing more than a new version of the wine carton that has a plastic bladder inside it.

The question is now, in my mind at least, as to what type of plastic this plastic liner is made of – enter the BPA question and other leachable chemicals especially considering the fact that wine goes into there – and whether and how it can be recycled.

Is this just another case of greenwash and something that suits the supermarkets because they can reduce their “carbon footprint” as to transportation and also transportation costs as the paper bottle, obviously, is lighter, or is it actually going to be something that really does something for the environment.

I still suggest we get back to the glass bottle and reuse rather than recycle...

© 2011

Yard and garden clearing and overwintering wildlife

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

When cleaning your yard and your garden now that winter is almost here and the leaves are all over the place and trees may need pruning as well remember to leave a heap of leaves or pile of prunings. They will will provide a home for wildlife like hedgehogs and pest-eating insects to overwinter.

If you have a pile of leaves and branches and such that has been laying about for a few weeks or so leave them where they are until spring. Do not burn them or move them. You might do damage to hedgehogs or other beneficial animals that have settled down for the winter already.

All too often people have accumulated a heap of branches, twigs and leaves over the season and decide that just at the end of fall and the beginning of winter is a great time to torch it. In doing so, however, they more often than not barbecue a number of hedgehogs (and they blame Gypsies for having eaten them all) and other small, often beneficial mammals and insects that have chosen this heap in which to overwinter.

So, think before you burn it and better still, leave the burning till spring. Hedgehogs and others will thank you.

© 2011

Bananagrams® – Product Review

Fun for children of all ages from 7-107

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Bananagrams® (RRP £14.99) was named Toy Fair 2009 “Game of the Year”. 
AllProductsBananagram Bananagrams® is a very interesting fun game, similar to the well-known Scrabble®, but can be played with several players (with the large version with up to 16) but you can also, something which you cannot do with Scrabble®, play it on your own in a solitaire version.

The game requires no pencil, paper or board (and also no batteries, which are not included) and comes in a small portable banana-shaped pouch and is perfect for at home and on the go. 

The game was created by a word-game obsessed family of three generations and is a real labor of love that has quickly become an international phenomenon. 

A word of warning though! Playing Bananagrams® in solitaire – and otherwise, I should guess – is highly addictive. You have been warned.

Bananagrams®, I should think, is the only game of letter tiles that is actually possible to be played in a solitary version and what is especially great is that you do not, unlike with others such games, need a board or batteries. 

Thus, Bananagrams® can be played equally well at the dining room or kitchen table, a coffee table, on a car, train or plane journey or even in a tent in the wilderness or on a mountain. 

I must say that I have fallen in love with this game as, as a writer and journalist, I love playing with letters and words and you don't play for points here, unlike in Scrabble®, for example, and, if you just play Bananagrams® in solitaire, it can just be used to play for fun and to pass the time and relax.

Another timely and appropriate warning here: It is very easy to forget the time when playing Bananagrams®.

Bananagrams® is available online as a free Facebook Application and on the iPadTM, iPhoneTM and iTouchTM as well as in a series of books and the game is also available in Hebrew, Spanish, French, Norwegian and German. It also comes in a larger version – DOUBLE Bananagrams®, the big banana for the larger bunch (for up to 16 players).

So, you may now ask as to what is my verdict on Bananagrams®? Great to brilliant, I'd say. Time to go Bananas. 

© 2011

Paper notebooks vs. electronic devices

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Paper notebooks and pens/pencils are and always will be superior to any kind of electronic device, however small and easy to use. It is time that especially many of the “greenies” took note of that.

There exists a total and utter misconception that paper books and paper notebooks are bad for the environment and the Planet and the talk is often about “dead trees” as regards to paper.

The greatest misconception as far as paper is concerned is that it is claimed that it leads to the deforestation of places such as the Amazon rainforest and others. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that those hardwoods are totally unsuitable for the making of paper.

Also, it has to be said, tens of thousands of hectares of trees, of forests, would simply not exist were it not for the paper industry, as sustainable operations, as they predominately are, maintain forests for the purpose of producing timber for the production of wood pulp to make paper. The paper factories are, in fact, some of the largest private and corporate forest owners.

While it is true that some paper companies, such as Kimberly-Clark, for instance, engage in serious malpractice as to their operations the great majority have a different attitude and know that they must maintain the forests in order for their business to survive.

You don't have to feel guilty for using paper books and paper notebooks. Let's face it! They don't need batteries, they are not made from and with plastics and other toxic materials and, in the end you can return them to Nature by way of composting and compost. Not that you really would want to toss out your journals and notebooks of importance. They are too valuable for that mostly.

It is the reliability of paper notebooks and of pen/pencil that make them so much more of a green choice over any PDA or other such device. In addition to that your paper notebook can be run over by a Main Battle Tank of the Challenger or Abrahams kind and the data would still be unhurt and retrievable even though the spine of the book may be a mess. Have that happen with a PDS or Pocket PC and you can, generally, kiss your data good bye.

The choice of paper notebooks on the market – and you could even make your own if would would wish to do so – range from the very basic and cheap for a dollar to the elegant but more expensive ones such as the Black & Red notebooks at around seven to ten dollars to the Moleskine one at around fifteen dollars. In the same price category as the Moleskine notebooks we also find the German-made Leuchtturm1917 notebooks which, though similar to the Moleskine ones, have a couple of more extra features. Those are numbered pages throughout, eight removable pages in the back (in case you want to share some notes with others), blank table of contents in the front, and stickers for labeling and archiving.

Because of those extras, in my opinion, the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks are, probably, superior to the famous and fables Moleskine ones. In addition to those features the Leuchtturm1917 books also come in a large choice of colors and cover types.

As far as I am concerned, whether you buy your notebooks at whatever price range, or whether you decide to make your own notebooks, as I do a great deal, from “waste paper”, the paper notebook is indispensable and not just for writers and journalists. Paper notebooks can have so many uses.

While archiving your paper notebooks, it may be said, is more of an effort and takes more physical space than electronic archiving, I and you don't need a computer and power to read the material in the notebooks though.

On another level my paper notebooks work during a power outage, out in the middle of the forest, and all that, and that without the need for any power source. In addition to that they will last for years even if bashed about. Not something you could say for a Pocket PC, PDA or what-have-you.

Here enedeth the ode to the paper notebook. A little review of a Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebook is to follow soon.

© 2011

Florida Senator tries, for a second time, to make photographing farms illegal

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Sen J Norman FL Tampa, FL, December 2011: Jim Norman, a Florida state senator who tried pushing through a bill back in May which would make photographing a farm without prior permission a crime, and which ultimately was rejected, is back at it.

It has been reported that Jim Norman has introduced a new bill which would make it a crime to, in the words of one writer, “step on the farm property without the owner's permission to take pictures or make audio and video recordings.”

That existing trespassing laws already cover such acts apparently appears to be well beside the point to to Senator Norman.

As with similar bills that were proposed in various states throughout 2011, and failed, the motivation is clearly to prevent abuses of farm animals and workers from being documented by undercover investigations, as happened in shocking detail a number of times in the past 12 months, and has been the case for many years.

So far attempts to find documentary evidence of shady connections between the senator and big Agribusiness have come up short, though it would appear that someone found out enough to support claims by the largely conservative Tampa Tribune editorial board's that Senator Norman is “a deceptive, self-interested politician who has displayed little regard for ethical behavior.”

Now there is a surprise about a politician being as to being deceptive and self-interested, NOT. The great majority of them appear to be, whether it is this side of the Atlantic or in the USA. Or, one probably could add, elsewhere. Finding a politician with integrity and ethics is not the easiest thing to do, not even in the so-called free and democratic countries such as the USA, the UK, etc.

Big Ag this side of the Atlantic and on the other side are scared to death that someone could find out what they are up to and it is certain that they lobby enough politicians to have some of them take up their cause of “privacy”.

Dordi! Dordi! What a twisted world...

© 2011

Winter-proofing your cycling

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Bicycles, whether motorists will like it or not, are going to be the transportation of the future, as they were of the past, and that's why it is important to look after your bike.

Now, with winter on its way winter-proofing your bicycle is important too as it would be if it would be a motorbike. In fact, it is more a case of winter-proofing your cycling and yourself than the bike, but...

Stay visible

One of the most important things to consider, during winter, with the mornings being darker and it getting light later and it getting darker earlier is to have proper lights (and also the right clothing to me seen) when traveling the roads.

In all honesty it is more winter-proofing the rider than the bike in the case of a bicycle but there are also a few things that you should do to the bike, such as, as said already, good lights and such.

Carry a spare set of batteries on you for each and every essential light on your bicycle for all too easy, especially in cold weather, batteries will drain quickly and you are left without lights thus being unable to see and be seen.

Before you leave home – or wherever – to go wherever check that your lights are in working order, even if you think that you may not be traveling in the dark. And, as I have said already, do make sure you have a spare set of batteries on you for all of your lights. In addition carry a small LED flashlight for the “just in case scenario”.

Carry out regular maintenance checks
• Ensuring lights are working
• Checking tire pressures at least once a week and inflating them according to settings given on the tire
• Making sure brake pads have plenty of wear
• Ensure your chain has the correct amount of slack at the tightest spot (about 1 inch play)

Take heed of the conditions

One way to avoid cycling accidents in winter (and also other times) is to be more aware of the driving conditions. If roads are slippery or winds are strong, slow down, keep your distance and take extra care. If in doubt: don’t ride but get off and push.

In snow the pushing option is often the only one in areas that have not been cleaned and if it is too slushy and unsafe.

The same goes for icy patches. There too you get off and push. Don't try to push on regardless. That can cause you to lose control and get hit by a vehicle.

While it may be, theoretically, illegal in most places to ride on the pavement, the sidewalk, in some conditions and cases it should be considered and if done with care and by giving pedestrians the courtesy and priority that they deserve then it should be fine and, as far as I am concerned, the law should actually be changed to allow it, and not just in winter.

Wear protective goggles when cycling, whether in snow and ice or not, and in real winter snow goggles may be what is required. Wear the proper clothing that will keep you warm but will allow your body also to breathe. Proper gloves also are needed for your hands will be still most of the time and thus will not be kept warm through motion.

As I am personally against the use of those silly helmets, those environmental fruit bowls that do nothing, I will not mention the wearing of a helmet but some good head covering, such as a watch cap, is a must also.

Winter cycling, especially if you have to use your bike to get to work or to the shops, etc., and don't have a car and/or drive, is a challenge but one that can be overcome with the right mind set and the right kind of gear.

Be safe and stay safe on your iron steed in winter, and always.

© 2011

Change For A Dollar - A Powerful Video

Ask not what others can do for you, what can you do for others?

Quite appropriate video to watch at this time for the true meaning of Christmas.

Just watch. There is nothing more to say.

Over a third of people to give free samples as gifts this Christmas

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Royalmail_250 Christmas stockings and under-the tree gifts will include branded samples this year as consumers top up their gift giving with free samples, new research from Royal Mail has revealed.

The study shows that over a third (35%) of people are boosting the presents they will give this year with free samples that they have received through the letterbox.

Children and friends are the people most likely to receive a free sample as a gift this year. Almost half of children (44%) and 36% of friends can expect to find a freebie somewhere amongst their presents this Christmas, the study highlights.

The research also found that 18-24 year olds are the age group most likely (58%) to give a free sample as a gift; people in Wales are most likely to give someone a freebie (42%) while the Scots are least likely (30%); 17% of husbands and wives planning to give free samples to their other halves this year.

The most popular samples to gift wrap include:

- Perfume samples (33%)

- Health and beauty sachets (24%)

- Money-off vouchers (16%)

- Make up sachets (9%)

- Food samples (6%)

Phil Ricketts, head of strategy, sales and marketing at Royal Mail Door to Door, says: “We already know that consumers enjoy receiving samples through their letterboxes. The trend of topping up Christmas stockings with samples shows that people really see a benefit in receiving something for nothing that can be enjoyed and given to others.”

Now that could be one reason for “re-gifting” free samples and other freebies as presents but there could also be another reason, a much more pressing one, namely the fact that money is a little – oh what an understatement – tighter this year as some years back, before the Great Recession began.

Now I am not saying that passing on freebies is a bad idea. The opposite instead. Why not and the same is true, as far as I am concerned, about re-gifting per se, whether at Christmas or at other times.

Other freebies that are frequently passed on from one to the other are “unwanted” or multiple free calendars and diaries, pens and other advertising presents from companies.

As a child I ended up with a fair number of good pocketknives that way, for instance, and hardly minded at all that they had a company logo and lettering on them. Why should I have minded? They were good pocketknives; that good in fact people stole them from me.

Other gifting of this kind, for Christmas and also for birthdays, is by passing on other kinds of promotional gifts that the giver has acquired, such as collectible glasses or such.

Well, happy Christmas and happy re-gifting...

© 2011

Country Music Artist Turns to Inspirational Music this Christmas

Jim Sheldon is Reaching People this Christmas with a Positive Message with his Latest Hit "I Belong"

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Jim Sheldon Nashville, TN Dec 2011 : Inspirational Country star Jim Sheldon is hitting the road with new single “I Belong to Jesus,” as part of Putting God First Ministries, with a groundbreaking music video.

Producer Scott Godsey (Fort Wayne, IN. Native) and Jim Sheldon (New Orleans, LA. Native) teamed up to write about Jim's life. The radio single has been picked up on over 400 radio stations and the music video is being played all over North America.

The video and song show a deep side to Sheldon. Set in the working studio and a beautiful open field at daybreak, Sheldon’s love for God and music are intertwined; a reflection of his heart.

"Jim connects with the audience everywhere he performs, everyone loves his music and personality" says (Manager) Bev McCann

“It's time to tell my stories. How God has brought me out from a long 'wilderness time' of sin, shame and disgrace to where I am today!” says Sheldon, who explains the message behind Putting God First Ministries with a proverb.

“The idea behind the concept video was to show a behind the scenes natural recording environment so people could see some of the elements it takes to record a first class project,” says Scott Godsey of Homeland Entertainment Group, who produced Sheldon’s video. “The outside scene is about Jim and who he is, he is a country boy and he feels at home in the middle of the country.” After spending so much time in the recording process, Sheldon cheerfully calls the studio as his second home.

Sheldon was a music minister before hitting the road full time. “After serving many years as music minster, there was a void yet filled.” Says Sheldon, “I knew singing gospel music was God's true calling for my life!”

It is, as far as I am concerned, a nice inspirational song for believers for sure and also for those that may be seeking. Considering myself not a Christian – a fact that might come as a surprise to some – I still find it a moving song.

To find out more about this breakthrough artist, check out: or [ __title__ Jim's new release]

© 2011

Chicago Boy Writes Christmas Song with a Message to Everyone

8 Year Old Chicago Area Boy Writes & Produces Christmas Song

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Chicago, IL : A Chicago-area boy has written a Christmas song with a special message for everyone this holiday season. Ian Floodstrand, a budding young musician from Skokie, Illinois has written almost 100 songs at the young age of 8 years old.

ianfloodstrand1 Young Ian Floodstrand's latest composition is entitled "Merry Christmas To Everyone," and was produced by Ian in his studio accompanied by his 6 year old sister Soleil Floodstrand, and father DJ and Producer David Floodstrand on background vocals.

The song, "Merry Christmas To Everyone," has an ambient, electronic feel, and reflects the young composer's passion for Electronic, Techno, and Trance music styles. Ian wrote all of the music, and produced the arrangement including all the instruments and percussion. The words extend a message of hope, and innocence, and are delivered in a talking, sing song style that is both unique, and infectious.

Ian Floodstrand also has the distinction of being one of the youngest Disc Jockeys in the country and practices his mixing, and music writing for many hours a day. "Merry Christmas To Everyone" is available to the public and was claimed in the press release to be a free download.

Ian's father, Producer and owner of the indie label Criterion International, says "I never pushed Ian in this direction, and find him to be incredibly motivated, ever since I caught him in my recording studio in the middle of the night at 3 years old, I can't get him away from my gear," he said laughing. To check out the song, and to download it, follow this link to Ian's website:

As I have said, the free download does not seem to exist and a charge of about $0.80 is being levied. However, there is a workaround to that if you happen to have Real Player and the appropriate plug-in for your browser. Then you can download it anyway for free.

The song is quite cute and might sheer up someone so don't delay. Check it out.

© 2011

Lifespan of lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Given that frequently recharged lithium-ion batteries – as for e-cigarettes, for example – seems to last only a rather short time (in the case of e-cigarettes no more than a few months) the question is how will then those in electronic vehicles hold up.

When considering that replacement batteries for laptops and Netbooks, as well as cell phones, rum to almost a third of the cost of the device it stands to reason to ask what cost, in proportion, a replacement battery for an EV would be.

If the ratio of cost and lifespan does not improve then, in my opinion, the electric vehicle just does not and will not compute and is doomed to failure, in the long run.

Looking at it from the battery point alone with regards to lifespan and replacement cost electric vehicles, I am afraid, are not going to cut it (in the long run). Who would be able to spend a third of the price of the car on a new battery about every year or two?

Hybrids and cars on biofuel also will not do it in the long run as, once the oil is gone, the cheap and abundant oil at least, we just will not have the energy to make all those things, and we will especially not be able to mass produce cars cheaply, cars of any kind.

The future of transportation, and I hate to be a spoilsport, and of travel on a personal level, for the average person, is going to be, once again, walking and cycling and, maybe, if you are lucky, horse and buggy.

The time of personal motorized transport for the masses is coming to an end. This will be a good thing in the end for pollution will fall of rapidly and obesity also will come to an end.

The Planet and everyone else will be healthier...

© 2011

Important fire safety tips for Christmas and the 2012 New Year

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Christmas has arrived and the New Year is hot on its heels and many families across the globe will be enjoying time for togetherness, good will and holiday cheer. However, along with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays come some unfortunate but easily avoidable safety hazards.

Below are some simple safety tips to ensure a very happy and healthy holiday for all.

Christmas trees, candles and many other traditional items adorn virtually every home during the Christmas festivities, often well into the New Year. While those festive decorations are beautiful they can also become a serious fire hazard when used incorrectly.

To make it a safe season we offer the following tips to help avoid the potential fire risks that holiday decorations may pose.

It may seem obvious, but when selecting a Christmas tree it is best to select one that is very fresh and green. An old, dry tree can catch fire more easily than a fresh one. When placing the tree in the home, it should not be anywhere near a heat source such as a fireplace or space heater. Watering the tree frequently to keep it from becoming dry for as long as possible is very important to remember. Therefore get a tree stand where watering is, actually, possible. Many of the cheaper and older kinds don't have that facility.

Decorative holiday lights should be inspected before use to ensure that the wire is in good condition. Lights that have cracks, kinks, wear, or bare spots on the wire should be disposed. It is important to inspect each socket of the string lights to make sure that no sockets are cracked or broken, and that each one contains a bulb. Open sockets are considered a fire hazard and can cause injury when handled. Only lights that have been listed by an approved testing laboratory should be used. Following the manufacturer’s recommendations for use and avoiding the overload any outlet should also not be overlooked. As beautiful as they are, resisting the temptation to leave lights on all the time should be seriously considered. Holiday lights should always be turned off when they will be unattended.

If at all possible I would suggest the purchase of new lights, and LEDs in this case, as LEDs are cooler lights. But the warnings and such about the wiring still applies.

If at all possible DO NOT use real candles on a tree and NEVER, and I mean NEVER, leave real candles burning on the tree unattended.

Keeping all gifts, decorations and other combustible materials away from heaters and other warming devices is advised. As always, lit candles should be handled with caution and kept in a secure holder on a stable surface . Unattended lit candles are a serious accident waiting to happen.

Remembering to have operational smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers properly installed in the home is especially important this time of year. Following these safety tips can help keep this season memorable for the right reasons and keep loved ones safe during this special time of year.

Be safe and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012.

© 2011

Version One pledges to plant more than 400 trees in 2012

Version One’s sixth year of tree planting will bring the total number of trees planted across the UK to almost 4,000

Wilmslow-based document management and imaging software author, Version One, continues to lead the way with its green initiative, by pledging to plant over 400 trees in 2012. The trees are being planted in partnership with Tree Appeal, a charity which plants trees to promote biodiversity, create new habitats and improve the environment.

Version One has pledged to plant over 400 trees in sustainable forests throughout the UK and in school and college grounds across the North West. This will mark the sixth year that Version One has been planting trees as part of its green initiative, bringing the total number of trees planted since 2006 to nearly 4,000.

Julian Buck, Managing Director of Version One says, “Our tree planting initiative is an intrinsic part of our green agenda, which naturally lends itself to our document management software solutions. We pride ourselves on providing software that cuts paper use, enabling organisations to operate more efficiently whilst being environmentally responsible.”

Ken Whitley, Managing Director from Tree Appeal says, “It’s clear that being green is a core part of Version One’s ethos and the company’s continued dedication to planting trees demonstrates that it is green in its actions, as well as its words.”

The Version One tree plantings in 2012 will help to create wildlife habitats, secure biodiversity and provide an interactive environmental learning resource for pupils in the North West.

Version One Ltd is the author of electronic document management and imaging solutions. These solutions enable the electronic storage, retrieval, management, enhancement and delivery of business documents such as invoices, purchase orders and statements. This 'paperless office' technology is seamlessly integrated into all major ERP and accounting systems and with a typical ROI of less than six months, Version One's solutions are enabling thousands of organisations to cut paper consumption whilst saving dramatic amounts of time and money.

Version One is an Advanced Computer Software Group plc company.

Tree Appeal plants trees to promote biodiversity, create habitats and improve the environment for people. The trees are paid for by corporate partners – businesses that want to make a positive contribution to the environment.

Tree Appeal can help businesses to make a positive contribution to natural woodland habitats - both locally and nationally.

Source: Version One

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

This article is for your information only and the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW does not (necessarily) approve, endorse or recommend the product, service or company mentioned.

RenewableUK highlights flaws in anti-wind energy report

RenewableUK, the trade association representing the wind, wave and tidal energy industries, has strongly criticised the report "Renewable Energy: Vision or Mirage", published on 12th December by the Adam Smith Institute and Scientific Alliance.

The report fails to recognise the hugely significant role that wind energy already plays in generating clean electricity in the UK.

The report states incorrectly that wind "does little to reduce carbon emissions".

The fact is that we have installed enough wind turbines to provide clean electricity to more than 3,200,000 homes in the UK , displacing more than six and a half million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

The report says wrongly that "nuclear and gas are the most viable energy sources for the near future".

The fact is that wholesale gas prices have risen by 40% over the last year. Depending on expensive imports of gas leaves us at the mercy of market forces we cannot control. Gas prices have driven domestic bills sky high - we need alternatives.

It is impossible to build a nuclear power complex in a short time frame, and no new nuclear plant is due to go operational in the UK before 2020. And the cost of disposing of radioactive waste will always make nuclear expensive.

The report claims that as renewable energy sources "produce power intermittently, they cannot replace gas, coal and nuclear."

This demonstrates that the ASI have failed to understand the role wind can play in our power mix. Wind turbines generate electricity 80-85% of the time, allowing us to use the power of the weather when it's available to cut the quantities of fossil fuels we need to burn to generate our electricity. Without wind cutting our gas consumption, it's difficult to see how we'll be able to afford the enormous volumes of gas that the ASI's preferred option would require. It's not wind that needs backup - gas needs a wind supplement in order to avoid consumer bills skyrocketing.

Dr Gordon Edge, Director of Policy at RenewableUK said: "This report is simply another example of the same little clique of people repeating the same tired old arguments against renewable energy, regardless of the facts. Their report cannot be seen as an impartial piece of research - it was written by anti-renewables campaigners.

Astonishingly, they seem to be suggesting that we should generate electricity by importing vast quantities of expensive fossil fuels from abroad, rather than utilising a free low carbon source - wind - which is abundant throughout the UK, onshore and offshore. We will continue to forge ahead with the successful deployment of wind energy".

Source: RenewableUK

This press release is presented for your information only.

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

New films share inspiring stories of communities taking control

New films share inspiring stories of communities taking control of the way they grow, buy and sell food

London, December 2011: Three new short films released on December 13, 2011 tell the inspiring stories of communities around the country taking control of their food and where it comes from. The films look at the work of pioneering community groups, from Manchester, Newcastle and East London. The films were developed by Sustain and the Lottery-funded Making Local Food Work program to inspire more people to join in.

“We started off on an allotment – a bunch of us with only limited skills who were just keen to see things happen,” says Ru Litherand of community group OrganicLea in the film about their work in East London.

The group has grown from an initial small allotment to an impressive 12-acre growing site. They also run a community café, a market stall, and a vegetable box scheme and train others in food growing and cooking. “Our role now is to support other people, because we’re going to need a lot more places like this,” says Ru.

OrganicLea depends on community involvement and volunteer help, driven by a passion that more food can and should be grown close to the people who eat it. According to Marlene Barrett, food distribution co-ordinator at OrganicLea: “It’s very easy for people to lose that connection of where their food comes from. But here you can be involved in eating it, growing it, cooking it, buying it to take home. All those things are connected together.”

Meanwhile, Manchester Veg People are showing that community-based food projects have the potential to supply institutional as well as small-scale buyers. Within a couple of months of getting started, this growers’ and buyers’ co-operative is providing fresh, sustainably grown produce to the University of Manchester. With 26 outlets, the university’s catering operation serves thousands of meals every day.

As Al Clark, Environmental Officer for Residences, Catering, Conferencing & Sport at the University of Manchester says in the film “We buy from Manchester Veg People because it’s fantastic local produce. Being part of the co-op means we have a say in what is grown and work much closer with the growers and other buyers.”

In Newcastle, the social enterprise Food Chain North East are working in deprived areas to meet the needs of local residents for fresh food and fill the gap left by the closure of local food shops and the move towards out-of-town food superstores.

“A core area of our work is on the eastern seaboard of Durham County which is a former coalfield area, where many people have suffered from a closure of local shops” says Chief Officer Nigel Race in the film that covers the work of Food Chain North East.

Food Chain delivers fresh fruit and vegetables to market stalls and food co-ops throughout this area. Most of the co-ops rely at least partly on volunteers to run them “I like to know that people can get fresh fruit and veg because you really can’t get it for miles around here,” says one volunteer.

“Projects like ours offer people real opportunity to get involved,” say Nigel. “What we really need is local people to be part of the things that are going on, on the ground, whether it’s growing opportunities, forming buying groups or volunteering on their local projects.”

Source: Sustain

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

Google Chrome claims to be fastest web browser

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Google Chrome claims to be fastest web browser but this claim does not hold water, as far as my tests are concerned. The fastest browser that I have found is Opera and NOT Google Chrome. Chrome takes 10x longer to load than Firefox and also IE, and I found it to be very unstable and unreliable.

Firefox also tends to freeze, especially some of the recent builds, while, so far, Opera has remained stable. I do prefer Firefox, however, because of the many add-ons and the way it organizes the bookmarks.

While you find many Downloaders recommending Google Chrome, over Firefox even recently, and definitely over Opera, both of which are free in the same way as Chrome, Chrome really, at least not as far as I have found in use, does not stand up to their claims.

Chrome is also, and we must remember that, and thus it makes it no better, on Mozilla Firefox and, as is Opera.

Read more here

© 2011

Homesteading for Beginners DVD Series – Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro) 

Homesteading for Beginners Vol.‭ ‬I,‭ ‬II,‭ & ‬III
Homestead Productions 

This three volume DVD series made by Homestead Productions, narrated by Erin Harrison, and with her entire family as participants, covers everything from raised bed gardening (though a different style to which we may be used to in Europe), harvesting and preserving of produce, raising livestock of various kinds, bread making, maple syrup, canning met, potatoes, etc., to making buttermilk and so much more.

There DVDs are extremely instructive and great fun to watch. Erin's easy and fun style of narration make it so together with the fact that children are involved. As regards to latter please be prepared for a few great antics and thus for some laughs.

The Harrison family homesteads on a property in Wisconsin and live what they preach and that more than just on the homesteading level.

Erin is probably one of the most amazing women I have “met” though, in fact, we have not, as yet, met in person.

She is, despite her disabilities, which does not show in the videos, bubbling with energy and with new ideas and ventures all the time. One has difficulties keeping up with everything that she is doing.

Each DVD comes with a small companion guidebook with recipes and other stuff. While each of those DVDs in the series can stand alone I would sincerely recommend anyone to buy the entire series as a complete set. You will want to watch them all once you have seen the first.

As said, the presentation of those DVDs is very easy going to fun and they are extremely well made, edited and presented. 

Rating: Full marks on all levels and if it would be possible to give twelve out of ten then it would be that.
© 2011