Feb 1, 2013

Easy Wood Faceplates For Woodturning - YouTube

Published on Feb 1, 2013

I've been using wood faceplates instead of metal faceplates with wood scrap blocks. A wood faceplate eliminates the risk of hitting a screw while turning. I can have as many wood faceplates as I want and keep it on the project until the project is complete. I can make any size faceplate that may be needed.
In a recent video making a segmented bracelet, I used two wood faceplates to build up the segment layers from both top and bottom at once. For that project I also used a reverse chucking alignment adapter to hold one faceplate in the tail stock with the other mounted in the head stock. With this mount, I was able to glue in the last middle layer to both at once on the lathe.
In this video, I turn a 6 inch wood faceplate.
1. Mount a blank (poplar) on the face of a scroll chuck.
2. Rough turn the blank to round and smooth the face.
3. Cut a dovetail tenon.
4. Flip the blank and mount to a chuck with the dovetail tenon.
5. Bore the thread hole - 1 1/8" in this case.
6. Thread the hole - A Beall 1 1/4" x 8 tpi tap
7. Relieve hole 1/8 for the spindle base - on both sides. One the face so the faceplate can mount to the spindle in order to cut the relieve on the spindle side of the faceplate.
8. Face off the chuck and it is ready for use.
I'll still use metal faceplates for green bowl and large bowl turning. I like the safety of steel or aluminum in these cases.
Otherwise, I'm building my collection of reuseable, customizeable faceplates.

Enter your email at http://www.AsWoodTurns.com & I'll let you know when the next woodturning project video is ready.

Beall taps are great for making wood face plates.  
I love the results I have obtained using them ...  Monte


Jan 31, 2013

New Bill to Explore Biochar Potential | Environmental and Energy Study Institute

On September 24, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and four cosponsors introduced the Water Efficiency via Carbon Harvesting and Restoration (WECHAR) Act of 2009 (S. 1713).

The bill would establish loan guarantees to develop biochar technology using excess plant biomass and would establish biochar demonstration projects on public land.

Biochar technology could be a win-win for mitigating climate change, helping agriculture adapt to climate change, and restoring and building soil fertility. It is made by heating organic material (e.g. forestry and crop residues) to a high temperature in an oxygen-free environment. The pyrolysis process also produces gas and bio-oil which can be used to fuel the process. When used as a soil supplement, biochar increases soil fertility and moisture retention, and it stays in the soil for hundreds of years, sequestering carbon. A comprehensive evaluation of the feasibility and potential long-term effects of producing and using biochar on a large scale has not yet been undertaken. The proposed legislation would advance research and development. The bill has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Related Link: 

Can Biochar Answer Both Climate and Energy Challenges?

Centuries ago, Amazonian farmers created some of the world’s most fertile farmland by converting biomass to charcoal in their fields. Much of the carbon they buried hundreds of years ago remains sequestered there today. Today, researchers seek to use a similar method to create a “carbon-negative” energy source with the potential to make a huge difference in the fight against global warming.

The most promising approach utilizes a process called pyrolysis, in which biomass from forests, agricultural waste, or animal waste is heated at 350-450 degrees C in an oxygen depleted chamber. This produces three outputs: syngas, a liquid fuel called bio-oil, and biochar (a charcoal-like solid). Most frequently, biochar has been viewed as a mere byproduct of the creation of bio-oil, which can be utilized in a variety of industrial applications and has been successfully converted into both diesel fuel and petroleum. Syngas, another byproduct of bio-oil production, is generally burned to provide heat for the process.

New research, however, is showing biochar to have practical applications of its own. Not only is it excellent at sequestering carbon, but it has also been found to improve soil quality when used as a soil amendment. Biochar reduces soil pH, increases water retention, and makes it easier for plants to take up nutrients from the soil (by increasing cation exchange), which significantly increases crop yields. In addition, a study by Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University has shown that biochar can reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 50% and methane emissions by nearly 100% on affected cropland. Lehmann believes that biochar, along with associated biofuel programs, has the potential to sequester up to 9.5 billion tons of carbon a year—more than the sum of all global carbon emissions from fossil fuels today.

While little doubt exists about the potential of pyrolysis for providing a renewable energy source or about biochar’s ability to effectively sequester carbon, research into its effects on soil is still at an early stage. According to an analysis by Almuth Ernsting and Deepak Rughani, there is some uncertainty over how effective biochar is at improving cation retention capacity in the short run, and there have been few studies testing its effectiveness outside of the laboratory. Pyrolysis may also release dangerous carcinogens (including very small amounts of benzo(a)pyrine) with clear implications for public health, although early work indicates that these chemicals are not produced in large enough quantities to be hazardous. More work is also needed to determine the mixture of biochar and fertilizer that will best improve crop yield (biochar requires some fertilizer present before it is effective). And there is little current knowledgeon how to produce and distribute the material on a global scale. Still, biochar has already garnered enough support that a consortium of African governments has pushed for the inclusion of biochar in the December UNFCCC talks in Copenhagen.

Private companies have begun to demonstrate interest in the field, and are examining ways to make the process cost-competitive. The largest barrier to producing biochar and bio-oil cost-effectively has always been the high price of transporting biomass, which is bulky and not very energy-dense, to a central production facility. To overcome this, many are considering creating a network of small-scale, local pyrolysis plants where biochar and bio-oil could be produced. Companies could then transport the concentrated bio-oil to a central refinery, and the biochar could be applied to the soils closer to where the biomass was collected. This approach would not only help overcome the challenging logistics of a large-scale operation, but could provide a simple, practical biochar production model adaptable for use in local communities and developing nations. UOP, an arm of industry giant Honeywell International, Inc, is one company getting involved in creating such a locally-based distributed production model, although with more of a focus on liquid fuels than biochar. The company announced in fall 2008 a letter of intent with Ensyn Corp to form a joint venture to research and produce biofuels from pyrolysis. According to UOP Director of Renewable Energy and Chemicals Jennifer Holmgren, the partnership expects to be producing commercially viable products within three years.

Private investment is also helping to rapidly close the gaps in scientific knowledge. In a just-released study, industry leaders Dynomotive Energy Systems Corp. and BlueLeaf Inc. found that application of their biochar could improve crop yields by up to 17%. The study, which can be found on the Dynamotive website, also provides evidence that biochar reduces nutrient depletion in soil, increases the number of plants per area, and increases plant root length.

Dynomotive is currently in talks with the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas to construct a new, $40 million plant designed to produce both bio-oil and biochar. After putting the bio-oil through a two-stage refining process, the company believes it can produce ethanol-equivalent fuel at a cost of under $2 per gallon. The company has already signed a contract with Springhill Land and Timber for the delivery of 220,000 tons per year of sawdust, and expects to start production by 2011.

The implications of bio-oil and biochar range from improving energy security to dramatically reducing and storing billions of tons of harmful carbon emissions. While current production incentives are small, a campaign is underway to give it recognition as a viable carbon offset in trading schemes. “Reducing emissions isn’t enough,” said chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council Tim Flannery in a recent Time article, “we have to draw down the carbon stock in the atmosphere. And for that, slow pyrolysis biochar is a superior solution to anything else that’s been proposed.”

Learning to love cereal was key to the evolution of dogs - The Washington Post

File:YellowLabradorLooking new.jpg

By David Brown, Published: January 23

You know that dog biscuit shaped like a bone but made mostly of wheat? Your dog’s willingness to eat that treat, instead of going for a bone in your thigh, helps explain how its ancestors evolved from wolves into house pets.

A team of Swedish researchers compared the genomes of wolves and dogs and found that a big difference is dogs’ ability to easily digest starch. On their way from pack-hunting carnivore to fireside companion, dogs learned to desire — or at least live on — wheat, rice, barley, corn and potatoes.

As it turns out, the same thing happened to humans as they came out of the forest, invented agriculture and settled into diets rich in grains.

“I think it is a striking case of co-evolution,” said Erik Axelsson, a geneticist at Uppsala University. “The fact that we shared a similar environment in the last 10,000 years caused a similar adaptation. And the big change in the environment was the development of agriculture.”

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, support the hypothesis that dogs evolved from wolves who found a new food source in refuse on the outskirts of human settlements. Eventually they came to tolerate human contact and were brought into the household to be guards, workers and companions.

Another theory is that wolves were captured by hunter-gatherers, who tamed, bred and eventually settled down with them.

Dog evolution is a contentious subject, and the new findings are unlikely to settle the debate. Among the uncertainties is when some wolves began to evolve into dogs.

Human-tolerant — if not fully domesticated — canids may have existed as many as 33,000 years ago. Archaeological remains reveal dogs and humans sharing the same graves 11,000 years ago. That was at the dawn of agriculture; the two species appear to have been at least acquaintances by then.

“Pretty much everyone without an agenda agrees that we don’t really have a good handle about why wolves domesticated into dogs when they did,” said Adam Boyko, a geneticist at Cornell University who studies dog evolution and was not involved in the new research. “But it does seem reasonable, and in agreement with the fossil and genetic record, that it could have predated agriculture somewhat.”

The evidence of natural selection in the number and efficiency of key digestive enzymes supports the hypothesis that dogs may have domesticated themselves as a way to exploit the garbage of permanent human settlements.

“Humans had nothing to do with it,” said Raymond Coppinger, an emeritus professor of biology and expert on dog evolution at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. “There was a new niche that was all of a sudden available for somebody to move into. Dogs are selected to scavenge off people.”

Accompanying the dietary change — and probably evolving along with it — were behavior changes that allowed dogs to tolerate living near people and ultimately being adopted by them. The Swedish researchers found strong evidence of genetic differences in brain function — and particularly brain development — between wolves and dogs, which they have not yet analyzed.

In the new study, Axelsson and his colleagues examined DNA from 12 wolves and 60 dogs. The wolf samples were from animals from the United States, Sweden, Russia, Canada and several other northern countries. The dogs were from 14 breeds.

The researchers compared the DNA sequences of the wolves and the dogs (which are subspecies of the same species, Canis lupus) and identified 36 genomic regions in which there are differences that suggest they have undergone recent natural selection in dogs.

In particular, dogs show changes in genes governing three key steps in the digestion of starch. The first is the breakdown of large carbohydrate molecules into smaller pieces; the second is the chopping of those pieces into sugar molecules; the third is the absorption of those molecules in the intestine.

“It is such a strong signal that it makes us convinced that being able to digest starch efficiently was crucial to dogs. It must have been something that determined whether you were a successful dog or not,” Axelsson said.

The change is at least partly the consequence of dogs having multiple copies of a gene for amylase, an enzyme made by the pancreas that is involved in the first step of starch digestion. Wolves have two copies; dogs have four to 30.

As it happens, amylase “gene duplication” is also a feature of human evolution. Humans carry more copies of the amylase gene than their primate ancestors. People also produce the enzyme in saliva, which allows the first steps of digestion to occur while food is still in the mouth. That, in turn, rewards chewing and increases the palatability of food.

In dogs, however, the increased amylase activity occurs only in the pancreas. The enzyme isn’t at work in their mouths, probably because the food doesn’t stay there long enough. Dogs may be able to eat human food, but they still wolf it down.

The researchers found 19 genome regions containing nervous system genes that are significantly different between wolves and dogs. Eight regions contain genes governing brain development.

How those genetic mutations explain dog behavior is a topic of future research. However, the fact that so many are involved in brain maturation supports the theory that dogs are really wolves that never grew up.

Sociability around strangers, curiosity and playfulness are traits seen in both wolf pups and dog pups. So are floppy ears, broader faces and liberal tail-wagging. They all persist in adult dogs but are largely extinguished in adult wolves.

This retention of juvenile traits into adulthood — a phenomenon known as “neoteny” — is a key feature of domestication, some biologists believe. In a famous four-decade, 40-generation experiment in Russia, these traits emerged in foxes when scientists selectively bred the animals for tameness.

But the process may not require human intervention. Similar behavior probably evolved naturally in dogs. The willingness to wander fearlessly among people is a big plus if scavenging human food is your business (as it still is for millions of “village dogs” around the world).

There’s a theory that this “self-domestication” also happened in the evolution of Homo sapiens.

As people created permanent settlements — and running away from those you didn’t like (or killing them) became less of an option — there may have been a survival advantage to being cooperative and self-controlled. It’s possible that studying the genes that determine dog sociability might shed light on how a less aggressive, more civilized human evolved, Axelsson said.

It would also help explain why dog is man’s best friend. They grew up together.


Jan 30, 2013

Locavore 4 Life (The Happy Meat Rap)

Published on Jan 25, 2013
  ... Monte

Our website: http://sweetstemfarm.com
Our blog: http://sweetstemfarm.wordpress.com/
Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SweetStemFarm
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sweetstemfarm

Sweet Stem Farm's rapping lamb Japhy has a message for all you meat lovers: 'Eat local, humane and eat cheek-to-cheek, fool!'


I'm the definition of half-sheep half-thug
Ask the geese, Sweet Stem that's what's up.

Get it right dawg, we stackin' hay bales
And these ladies love my stubby lil' tail.

Rollin' on my John Deere, up the throttle
You pigs roll in mud, I pop bottles.

Runnin' this farm since the day of our birth
My flock and I eat straight from the earth.

Free range for life, I poop, eat and take naps
And when I'm done the cows eat my scraps.

The name's Japhy yo, I'm a part of the fam
Forget the mint Jelly son, try some ham.

Barley and hay it don't get no better
So cool I was born wearing a sweater.

I'm your favorite bellwether,
Sweet Stem Farm baby, we better.

We eat, sustainably. We are, happy meat.
We are Sweet Stem Farm, and we eat cheek-to-cheek.
We eat, sustainably. We are, happy meat.
We are Sweet Stem Farm, and we eat cheek-to-cheek.

Lemme tell you bout a thing called 'Cheek-to-Cheek'
And please don't be shocked by a lamb that speaks.

If you've only tried porkchops here's a correction
There's more to pork than just the midsection.

You say you're a foodie, but man you fakin'
I opened up your fridge and all I saw was bacon.

Ain't you ever heard of shoulders, hocks and hams?
I eat every cut and I'm a fifty-pound lamb.

No matter what cut make sure it's humane
Anything less is insane in the membrane.

Straw to dig, water to cool, room to run
Lots of care keeps pigs having fun.

Please try to eat from the snout to the butt
It's not sustainable to only eat center-cut.

Keep it local when you cook,
On the farm, Japhy yo, now sing the hook.

We eat, sustainably. We are, happy meat.
We are Sweet Stem Farm, and we eat cheek-to-cheek.
We eat, sustainably. We are, happy meat.
We are Sweet Stem Farm, and we eat cheek-to-cheek.

Now put your hooves in the air if you eat locally
When I can't find my mom I respond vocally.

Sheep like chillin' in meadows and hummocks
Need enough grass just to fill our stomachs.

Electrified nets keep out predators
Small ruminants for life! Take a hike competitors.

You wanna help the planet? Eat less but better meat
High-touch, humane animals can't be beat.

Be sure to eat cheek-to-cheek
Sorry chicken that includes drumstick-to-beak.

And if you wanna have good food karma
Do the right thing and support your local farmer.

You know you are what you eat,
Why not eat happy meat?

On this farm our sheep have names
My lovable disposition is likely to blame.

We eat, sustainably. We are, happy meat.
We are Sweet Stem Farm, and we eat cheek-to-cheek.
We eat, sustainably. We are, happy meat.
We are Sweet Stem Farm, and we eat cheek-to-cheek.

How to Remove Scratches From Plastic Lenses

Published on Jan 26, 2012

Plastic glasses lenses get scratched easily, but this can be fixed by buffing each side with Armor Edge or lemon Pledge. Clean glasses with Windex after they've been buffed with help from a professional house cleaner in this free video on removing scratches from plastic.

Expert: Rachel Yatuzis
Contact: www.greenkleeninc.com
Bio: Rachel Yatuzis is a professional house cleaner in Nashville, Tenn., specializing in using everyday household items for cleaning purposes.
Filmmaker: Tim Brown

Series Description: In order to remove coffee stains, all that is needed is water and an egg that should be applied to the stain with a sponge. Use a scrub brush to help get out a coffee stain with help from a professional house cleaner in this free video series housekeeping tips.

Jan 29, 2013

Four Post-World War II Garden Tractors

January 2013
By Oscar H. Will III

Enlarge Image
The Allis-Chalmers G made a better garden tractor than it did an estate machine. The G is still used by small food farmers all over the country, and many have been repowered with everything from Kubota diesel engines to battery packs and electric motors.
Photo Courtesy Voyageur Press

Garden tractors have come a long way. And as anyone who has acquired a few acres knows, these are the machines that do the work: the tilling and mowing and pulling and plowing that make a small farm or a vast garden grow. The illustrated history in Garden Tractors (Voyageur Press, 2008) features the brands that have endeared themselves to landowners everywhere — the Cub Cadets and John Deeres, Simplicitys and Fords, Ariens and Kubotas that, in their can-do engineering, dependability and bright good looks, are more than mere machines around the yard and small farm. In this excerpt, read more about the history of the Allis-Chalmers Model G, International Harvester Cub, John Deere Model L and Massey-Harris Pony.

Buy this book in the Farm Collector store: Garden Tractors: Deere, Cub Cadet, and All the Rest.
Farm Tractor Manufacturers

It would be incorrect to suggest that only the tiny single-bottom plow tractors built by farm machinery manufacturers shortly after the war ever made it into the suburban garden or mowed suburban lawns. Many larger machines lived out their lives with such relatively light duty, but the few discussed in more detail below were particularly suited to working in larger gardens.
Allis-Chalmers Model G

The Model G, which was built from 1948 through 1955, might well be the most recognizable tractor out there.

It was originally designed for small farms, nurseries, truck gardeners, and others with the need for a precision planting and cultivating machine. It also had excellent capabilities as an all-around acreage tractor. Early marketing materials suggested that the Model G and its implements at the most offered everything some farms required by way of machinery and at the least had something that every farm required.

What really set the G apart from other tractors of its day was that the engine was mounted behind the rear axle and the remaining tubular frame offered unprecedented visibility for the operator. The little tractor weighed in at around 1,200 pounds and offered about 9 drawbar horsepower and 10.33 horsepower at the PTO.

Since Allis-Chalmers didn’t make an engine small enough for the tractor, it sourced a four-cylinder 62-cubic-inch gasoline mill from Continental. This so-called N-62 engine was used by many machinery makers and proved itself again and again over the years.

Although the basic design never caught on in a big way, the Model G proved its worth and continues to be collected, cherished, and worked today. In fact, the tractor is so good in the garden that at least one North American business is based on repowering the machines with small, efficient Kubota diesel engines and refurbishing their chassis for another 60-something years of work.

Modern garden tractor owners might scoff at the G’s seemingly tiny horsepower ratings. After all, the major makers today all boast lawn tractors with over 20 horsepower. Of course, that rating is net engine horsepower, and only a fraction of it will be transferred to the ground with the 400-pound lawn cutter. If you hook your Allis-Chalmers Model G to a laden wagon, you will be able to move it long after the lawn tractor hooked to the same weight spins its wheels or, more likely, burns up its transmission.
International Harvester Cub

Harvester’s mighty little Cub was announced during a 1945 press event at the company’s Hinsdale, Illinois, test farm. When it entered production in April 1947, the versatile little tractor was billed as the perfect machine for he small farmer and gentleman farmer and a chore boy or larger operators. The tractor featured IH’s offset operator station, which was called Culti-Vision. Compared with the Allis-Chalmers Model G, this little workhorse looked like a fairly conventional row-crop tractor with the engine up front and transaxle to the rear.

The Cub was rated for a single-plow bottom and could be fit with any manner of cultivators, planters, mowers, grader blades, rakes, utility carriers, and much more. The tractor was powered with IH’s four-cylinder C-60 60-cubic-inch gasoline engine and offered about 9.76 PTO horsepower initially, with almost 9 horsepower at the drawbar. As the machine evolved through its approximately three decades of production, its engine power increased to about 15 horsepower gross, which delivered about 13 horsepower at the PTO and 12 horsepower at the drawbar.

First known as the Farmall Cub, and later as the International Cub, some iteration of the Cub design played a direct role in IH’s garden tractor lineup from 1961 through 1981. The initial design (with some changes over the years) was built from 1947 to 1978.

The Cub in all of its forms continues to provide the power for gardens large and small all over the world. It is also one of the most desired collector tractors because it is easy to haul and easy to handle. As with the other tractors considered in this category, the 1,500- to 1,800-pound (depending on options) Cub had a drawbar pull of well over 1,200 pounds.
John Deere Model L

Although John Deere’s Model L family of tractors fits the bill for this category with less than 10 horsepower at the drawbar and PTO and an approximate 1,500-pound mass, the machine was first built about a decade earlier than the Cub and its production ended in 1946, with no model replacement. First produced in about 1936 when Deere’s Wagon Works built a tiny experimental eight-horsepower tractor called the Model Y, this tractor at first was powered with Novo two-cylinder engines.

Folks seemed so pleased with these first 24 Model Y prototypes that Deere made 80 more the summer of 1937. These tractors were powered with two-cylinder Hercules engines and given the Model 62 designation.

In late 1937, the Model 62 evolved into the Model L. This machine had very little sheet metal, which matched other Deere and Company offerings of the day.

The first-generation Model L tractor was still powered with the two-cylinder Hercules and boasted a little more than 10 horsepower at the engine. In late 1938, the Model L got a facelift that included modern styling and eventually a 10-horsepower two-cylinder Deere and Company engine. The Model L was a fairly stripped-down machine that lacked hydraulics, but it could be fit with a number of lever-lifted attachments and pull or push-type implements. It had about 7 drawbar horsepower, with 9.25 horsepower at the PTO.

In 1941, a slightly more powerful Model LA joined the Model L as a small Deere tractor. The LA offered a 540-rpm PTO, more ground clearance, and about 10.5 drawbar horsepower with almost 13 horsepower at the PTO. By the time both the L and LA were discontinued in 1946, the engine power in the LA was about that of the larger, more conventional-looking Model H. Deere and Company wouldn’t re-enter the garden tractor niche again until the 1960s.
Massey-Harris Pony

Massey-Harris released the Pony 11 for the 1947 model year in a package that looked strikingly similar to the Farmall Cub, except that the tractor’s driveline wasn’t offset from the operator’s station. The Pony came on the heels of the company’s earlier offering in the small tractor arena, the General CG. Unwilling to commit to the small tractor market before the war, Massey-Harris had the General built by Cleveland Tractor Company. After the war, it was clear that the market for single-plow tractors was growing, so Massey introduced the Pony.

The Pony 11 was powered with Continental’s N-62 four-cylinder gasoline engine and offered an 11-PTO horsepower rating, with 10 horsepower at the drawbar. The tractor tipped the scales at slightly over 1,500 pounds and could be equipped with hydraulics from the beginning. The Pony 14 replaced the Pony 11 in 1950. It had a 69-cubic-inch version of the N-62 engine, which produced a couple of additional horsepower. The Pony 14 was replaced with the heavier, more powerful Pacer in 1954. This tractor was powered with Continental’s Y-91 engine and bridged the gap between single- and two-plow tractors at the time. The Pacer was discontinued in 1956, and within about a decade, Massey had a line of modern garden tractors to offer the market.

Jan 28, 2013

Stay Healthy with 5 Essential Herbs

The 2012-13 flu season is projected to be a real monster. Federal flu trackers note the virus started circulating earlier than it has in the past, paving the way for a season of full of fevers, sneezing, and sniffling. Luckily, you can tame the beast by building up your immune system for pennies per serving using affordable herbs. On the flipside, if a virus does strike, these herbal heroes can also help take the edge off.

Scientific studies have found the following five to be particularly effective at fighting the diseases. They can be brewed as herbal teas or taken in supplement form.

Keep a supply of thyme essential oil or dried thyme on hand in the event that you fall ill with either the flu or with a common cold. Thyme has long been known as an expectorant, which makes coughs more productive (that is, it helps clear out your lungs faster so you feel better sooner). You can brew a thyme herbal tea by steeping 2 teaspoons fresh thyme in a cup of boiling-hot water for 10 minutes. Or make a thyme steam bath: Toss either a handful of dried thyme or a few drops of thyme essential oil into a bowl of hot water and lean over the bowl, covering both your head and the bowl with a towel. Inhaling the steam will help loosen mucus in your chest.

Licorice Root
Licorice root contains a compound called glycyrrhizin that has been found to have pretty potent antiviral effects against serious diseases, such as HIV and SARS, and a number of studies have found that licorice-root extracts can fight off the flu, including strains of the avian flu virus. In Ayurvedic medicine, licorice root is also used as an expectorant. A number of companies make licorice-root supplements and teas, but if using those, be sure they contain actual licorice—many products (licorice candy, for instance) don't contain any of the herb but instead contain anise seed, which tastes like licorice. Also talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you’re taking any prescriptions, as licorice has been found to interfere with some medications.

Garlic boosts the health of your immune system, and a number of studies have found that animals given regular doses of garlic supplements are better able to ward off viruses like the flu and various strains of rhinovirus, the kind responsible for the common cold. In one study from 2001, volunteers who took a daily garlic supplement were less likely to get colds than volunteers taking a placebo, and even when the garlic takers did get sick, they recovered more quickly. For the sake of people who have to talk to you, garlic supplements are probably the kindest way to go. But you can also get the same benefits by chewing on a clove of garlic once a day for prevention or twice a day to get over a cold or flu. Mince a clove of garlic into some honey if the flavor is too overpowering. It’s not clear whether adding more garlic to your cooking affords the same protection, but if you love the flavor, you can add more to your recipes while possibly getting an immune boost.

There isn’t much evidence that echinacea will do anything for you once you get a cold, other than possibly shorten the duration of your symptoms. But there is some evidence that it could prevent colds and flus if taken in conjunction with garlic supplements, according to an article in the Journal of the National Medical Association. The problem with most echinacea products on the market is that they don’t tell you how much of the herb is in the product. Forgo teas and instead take a supplement containing 1000 milligrams three times a day. One note: People who are allergic to ragweed or to pollen may be allergic to echinacea, as well.

Elderberry Extract
Another botanical that helps you cope with cold and flu symptoms is elder, also known as black elder. The extract of elderberries has been tested repeatedly and found to shorten the duration of symptoms by as much as 4 days, and the extract has been found effective at fighting up to 10 strains of flu virus. Nearly all of the scientific studies conducted on elderberry have used a commercial product called Sambucol, which is available as a liquid supplement from a number of different companies.

Dig Deeper: What are the best foods to boost your immune system?
Source URL: http://www.organicgardening.com/living/stay-healthy-5-essential-herbs

Working with live edges

Author: Rob
Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Projects featuring live edge wood can be fun and liberating as the gifts of nature guide the woodworker’s design. Though preferences vary in managing live edge boards, I like to remove all of the bark down to the sapwood surface, retaining and exposing thewonderful natural undulations of the wood.

Live, or “natural,” edge boards may have been dried with all of the bark on, or after most of it was removed. During the growing season, the cambium layer is fragile, making the bark easier to shear off. Either way, my goal is to remove all remaining bark without damaging the natural contours of the wood.

The walnut board shown here was dried with all of its bark so I began by removing the bulk of it with a bowsaw. A drawknife may also work well. This is not a job for a bandsaw or jig saw because you want the maneuverability and feel of a hand tool. In the soft inner bark, the saw almost feels like it is going through Styrofoam; the harder resistance of wood is a sign of going too far. To save work later, I get as close as I safely can to the wood, intermittently checking both sides of the board. It is easier to work with the board held vertically, if possible.

The next step is to use abrasives. Dico Nyalox brushes used in an electric hand drill work ideally. They are aggressive enough to remove remaining bark but not enough to reshape the wood. In most cases, an 80-grit (grey) flap brush is a good start, followed by the orange 120-grit. I brace the drill against my body and wear a dust mask.

Next, I use the less aggressive cup brushes, which, as I ramble the drill along the edge,act almost like a random orbit sander. The 80 and 120-grit cup brushes, followed by a light pass with a blue 240-grit flap brush, finish the job.

The photo below shows the result I like: cleaned up, but ruggedly natural.

The edges of curly wood require special caution. The coarser flap brushes seem to impact the peaks of the bumpy, wavy edge to gouge tiny horizontal grooves that are difficult to remove. Depending on the species, I’ve found it better to work mostly with thecup brushes for curly wood. The photo below shows the edge of curly big leaf maple in a finished piece.

Notice the rasps and sandpaper in the photo showing the tools. “Natural” is nice, but occasionally I’ll “improve” on nature with a little cosmetic surgery using a coping saw, rasps, sandpaper, and maybe even fillers to alter a shape or defect that I don’t like, and to get the look I want. That’s part of the fun.

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National Weather Service on Google Maps

The National Weather Services Enhanced Data Display is an experimental Google Maps based display of current and forecast weather conditions. This isn't just your average weather map but a full GIS-centic interface with hundreds of weather related layers that can be viewed on the map.

Users can add a number of NWS data layers to the map, including radar, cloud cover and webcams. Forecasts for any location can be accessed by right-clicking anywhere on the map. Hundreds of other weather data layers can be accessed by clicking on the 'more layers' link in the map sidebar.

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