Clean Water, Clean Toilets

I do not know if you have heard it, but a few months ago there was a major push to make everyone aware of how important fresh water is for all of us. Commercials ran on radio and television. Big corporations got behind the effort.

It is true. Clean water is no longer only a problem in the worst areas where people are forced to live. Caffeine, mostly from coffee and soda pop, has found its way into our streams and lakes. Hormones used in contraceptive pills have also made their way into streams, rivers, and lakes.

Other medications too, which are not fully absorbed or stored in our bodies are in the water around us. Municipal sewer plants can only do so much to return used water to its normal state. In the past it was manufacturing plants around the world that dumped unregulated waste into the water.

Fish died, streams died, swamps and lakes died. Finally, when it could not be kept quiet any longer, there was action taken and legislation passed to prevent wanton pollution of one of our most important resources, our fresh water.

The problem now, is how do you regulate the amount of caffeine in someones body, the amount of excess hormones from their birth control pills. The flushed out chemicals from blood pressure, diabetes, or depression medicines as people empty their bladders, with their urine eventually ending up in the Eco System’s water table we call home.

Dirty Urinal

How Bad Do You Really Want To Pee?

Until recently an animal trait shared by some few men is marking their territory. Nowadays, not flushing is becoming the right thing to do and is no longer solely a territorial act.

One of the changes brought about by the barrage of commercials over clean water in the last months has been flushing of toilets and urinals. Once the domain of back street bars, and city toilets, flushing the toilet is becoming something not done to save clean water.


One problem however is business being slow to spend money on the right equipment so not flushing is healthier and safer. Right now business is happy not spending money because customers are not flushing. Business watches the bottom line first and foremost.

There are urinals, and toilets out there for sale in the market place designed not to be flushed, or have severely reduced water consumption. If you own or frequent a business with public restrooms, you may think about making a pitch to upgrade the toilets.

As not flushing becomes more prevalent, so will disease caused by the drop in sanitation. Bathrooms are not clean places to start with. Let’s try to get public bathrooms at least modernized and make them safer and cleaner.

Most business can afford the upgrade. They may not want to spend the money doing it, but if they feel you will quit supporting them due to the condition of their bathroom, they will be quicker to respond. They are in business because of your support. You can choose to go somewhere else and spend your money, and relieve your bladder.

Take Scrambled Eggs to a New Level

I eat eggs as a part of breakfast at least four days a week. Eggs are a complete food. They have all essential vitamins and minerals in one easy open container. Eggs are also most peoples primary source of sulfur and vitamin E which are important in maintaining good health.

I, like most people eat my eggs one of two ways. I eat my eggs, either over, as in over easy or over medium. I also eat eggs scrambled as in plain scrambled eggs or an omelet.

While the cupboard is usually bare of items that generally make an omelet, there are two old standby ingredients that always taste good in an omelet. And one new addition I have recently discovered. In addition to salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder of course.

Fix up your eggs

A few simple items turn scrambled eggs into something special

The first thing I learned to put on scrambled eggs or an omelet is Grape Jelly. I think this is an Irish things as I learned it from my Grandfather who always had a trace of Irish accent when he spoke.

While grape jelly and eggs do not sound as if they go together, I assure you they go quite well together. A couple of teaspoons of grape jelly on top of scrambled eggs or in the center of a folded omelet, and breakfast goes from good to great. A slice of cheese never hurts if there is some in the refrigerator. Strawberry preserves instead of grape jelly run a close second.

The second good addition to scrambled eggs is a pinch of cinnamon. If you have ever made French Toast, you know how cinnamon adds lots of flavor. When I used to make French Toast for the Kids, and later for the Grand kids, I always cooked up the scrambled egg that was not used for French Toast.

The last and latest addition to take an omelet from good to great is sliced avocado and salsa if there is some. While there is a visual issue for some people having avocado and salsa together in an omelet, the flavors work well together.

If you eat a lot of eggs as I do, and they start to sound boring, be creative and fix them up. You will be surprised at how good you can make your eggs taste.

Healthy Eating is all About Color

The time has arrived when I have to become more serious about what I am eating. Well sort of anyway. I still like my deserts at times, and lets face it, a life without something sweet now and then is a little boring. Maybe a lot boring.

I thought I was eating fairly well, but from paying close attention to what I eat and when I was eat certain foods, I found I have a lot of room to make better choices.

I have found through observing others and observing my own eating habits, that eating well is all about the color of the food on your plate.

When you look at your plate, are the colors mostly white to beige? Or are there shades of green, reds, purple, yellows, and other fruit and vegetable colors on your plate.

In my own observations which are far from a scientific study, I have made these observations:

The more boring the color of someone’s choices of food, the more likely they are to be overweight.

The more colorful someone’s food is, the more likely they are to be thinner and appear to be more active.

Men who wear sports clothing, namely football jerseys, and have a boring choice of colors on their plate, look and act as if a 100 yard dash would bring them to their knees.

Some of these men are living their sports hero dreams in their head. Their bodies are swollen and tired. They limp, groan, and huff and puff. They make horrible menu choices.

Women who wear sportswear are harder to figure out. Women dressed in sportswear come in a variety of sizes and shapes. When looking their plates for color variety, they separate out the same as the men do. Some of the women are dressed like they just came from the gym, but more than likely, like the men dressed the same, they arrived from the couch.

Parents who eat food comprised of boring white and beige colors, at times insist their children eat the same types of foods they do. How many times parents been observed in a disagreement with their kids over their child’s eating habits?

How many parents have been heard telling their children, “no desert unless you finish all the food on your plate? Really? Kids, I think when they have not been indoctrinated by poor food choices, make better choices concerning healthy eating than their parents. What normal kid will not eat more food than they want so they can get ice cream for desert?

Better Eating

Food color is the most important eating choice you can mke

If you have children and you want to lose weight, eat what your children eat. Eat the same foods, in the same proportions. There never has been a case of a healthy child dying of hunger when food is available.

The last observation I have about how we eat is this: We are addicted to sugar, and do not realize it! In fact I have read we are part of a new human experiment, albeit unintentionally. We are the first people on earth to live on a high sugar diet. Not just some sugar, but a lot of sugar.

Most sauces on our vegetables, and our meat choices are sugar based. Many salad dressings are sugar based. Even a food as harmless as coleslaw too often has sugar as the main ingredient.

If you want to eat better, and feel better, it is not hard to do. Pick you foods by colors. Pack as many colors as you can on your plate that are not white, beige, or brown. Stay away from more than a small amount of white, beige, and brown, whether that be bread, potato, rice or other grain based food.

Eat more nuts, not the nuts with the good oils taken out and Canola or other cheap oil sprayed on. Eat more healthy fats and oils. You need fat and oil for your body to use the food you eat.

The first few weeks of changing to this way of eating will feel strange, both in your head, and in your body. You will start to notice some of the foods you eat are sweet tasting. You may feel hungry at times. Eggs are you friends. If you do feel hungry, eat something responsible, not just filling, like fruit.

Limit your grain eating to breakfast and lunch time, and then in moderation. All vegetables and fruits have carbohydrates in them same as grain foods do.

Read the food labels. More than 20 grams of sugar from processed food a day is too  much processed sugar. Try to eat as much of your food as you can from foods that do not need food labels. Even if they are sweet, like a ripe pear or an orange, they are better for you.

Eating better is not as hard or expensive as it is made out to be by the commercial marketplace. For a few days, measure some of the foods you eat, so you understand portion sizes as they can be deceiving.

Oh, and those deserts? Of course most of us “need” to eat deserts occasionally. Maybe once or twice a week is reasonable. Instead of eating your desert after dinner, eat your desert after breakfast. This way you body has all day to burn off those empty calories.

The Power of Free

People who know I use Craigslist to have unwanted items removed from the curbside are always in awe of how fast items disappear. Items whose real value is to the person who needs or wants them. Today was no exception.

Yesterday I started taking down a Mulberry tree and am about halfway through the process. I enjoyed the tree, but it is a female Mulberry which makes berries. Not just a few berries either.

More like a few hundred pounds of berries. People were walking by and helping themselves, but that did not make much of a dent in the inch or more of berries that covered the ground every year.

Even the birds pitch in eating as much as they can hold. The neighbors are not exactly enthused about purple bird droppings staining everything they fall on. Purple streaks on sides of houses, purple globs of seeds and such on car windows, etc, every day for a month in the late spring.

What the berries on the ground also do is provide a buffet for every roach within a mile of the tree. Well maybe not that bad, and closer than a mile, but there were more roaches in the yard at night eating mulberries than I and the neighbors prefer.

It was getting late (yesterday), and I was tired, so I stopped for the day after stacking what I had cut down. Today was Sunday, so I didn’t want to work. When I came home this afternoon, the wood was still piled up curbside waiting for a new owner. It was time for me to take action.

Power of Free

The easiest way for two strangers to be happy

I posted a curb alert on Craigslist. I posted on Craigslist under the Free section. Being almost spring weather, I was unsure if anyone would want the wood. Especially green and wet. It never hurts to try.

Forty eight minutes after posting, a truck pulls up and starts loading up the wood. I spoke with him as I helped him load. He said the ad had been posted almost an hour, and he was worried he was too late!

The power of Free and Craigslist in action. Today there are two more happy people in the world. In fact the person who took the wood will be back tomorrow for the rest of the tree. He also mentioned I could cut the wood in longer pieces than I did as he has a log splitter that can handle longer pieces. Less work for me!

Chicken Manure and Fresh Eggs Too

In the process of collecting compost manures for this years attempt at gardening, I came across an ad for chicken manure. I called and a man named Mike answered the phone. Since I am a Mike too, I mentioned this fact, saying we are Taquio (we share the same name) as an introduction ice breaker.

Mike said yes, he had a lot of chicken manure, ranging from still in the chicken coop to well aged. Mike was selling his chicken manure by the bucket. That is a good way to sell chicken manure, as a little goes a long way.

I asked when was a good time to get some chicken manure and how to get to his place. Mike said now, gave me directions, and it was a reasonable distance, so I told Mike I was on my way.

As soon as I saw Mike, I knew I would like him. Mike had that, life is good, keep it simple look about him. We both smiled as I drove up and parked. Mike showed me his manure pile, and I noticed Mike will need to sell a large number of buckets of chicken manure. We made some small talk which is always enjoyable.

Mike said what motivated him to post an ad was the spring weather, and the fact he needed to clean out his coop of even more chicken manure. I had my gloves in hand, and pointed out to Mike, we wear the same gloves. Mike’s were two colors, so one glove had seen better days and was replaced. But we had the same brand and style of glove.

I asked Mike if he had enough eggs to sell a dozen. Mike said of course, and told me what the price would be. If you have never had fresh eggs, you are missing out on a real treat. Fresh eggs taste like eggs should, and not something that looks like an egg, and tastes pretty bland. Give them a try if you can find a seller near you.

Four different breeds of chicken eggs in one carton.

Four different breeds of chicken eggs in one carton.

I loaded my two buckets of chicken manure, and Mike came back from wherever he was at. We started talking again as I paid him for his chickens work. Mike asked if I wanted to see his chickens. Of course I did.

Mike pointed out an ancient hen he has, thirteen years old and still going strong. That is Guinness book of records territory I mentioned. Mike has a mix of chickens, some white Leg Horns, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rock, and Barred Plymouth. Mike also has about thirty more chicks about five weeks old.

Which brings me to the picture of the eggs. All chicken eggs are not created equal. Mike pointed out which eggs were from which breed of chicken. I have forgotten which are which except for the Rhode Island Red eggs. As you can see, when you have many breeds of chickens, you have variety.

Beer Drinking and Conservation Meet at the Dumpster

This is a city dumpster for bottle recycling. I had enough bottles in the garage I was tripping over them every time I went into the garage. After kicking enough bottles across the floor, I had enough. It was time to take the bottles to the dumpster before I had broken glass all over the garage floor.

Walking towards the bottle recycling dumpster I started to smell beer. The beer smell became stronger with each step closer to the dumpster. When I entered my bottle collection into the bowels of the dumpster, there was no doubt as to the source of the beer smell.

Beer Drinkers seem to be better recyclers

Beer Drinkers seem to be better recyclers

I deduced from my  observation,beer drinkers, at least in my neighborhood, are a very conservation minded group. The bottom foot or so of the dumpster contained almost all beer bottles with a few wine bottles in the mix.

Curiously, the beer bottles were mostly a few good brands. An odd coincidence I am sure. My paltry addition of mixed bottles did little to change the ratio of beer bottles to other bottles in the dumpster.

Hats off and three cheers to beer drinking conservationists and recyclers! Where would we be without them!

Clean Shower, Odor Free Drains on the Cheap

Living in the desert has its challenges, one of the biggest is water. Both for indoor and outdoor use, water is expensive. Every time I need to buy to buy a new faucet, the flow rate is lower than the last faucet I bought and installed. This is tough on plumbing made for a higher water volume.

New faucets are very good at looking and feeling like the same amount of water is coming out of the faucet as the old faucet. However, the drains in the house know the difference. Not realizing this, I started to wonder if the drain in the shower was possessed.

It started with the shower drain having a slight odor. Almost unnoticeable by me, but obvious to anyone with a more sensitive nose. Scrubbing the shower walls and floor only helped for a day or two, then the smell would start up again.

Over time the smalls became worse of course. Really odd odors, nothing I could say was coming from a soap buildup or anything from the nearby sink or toilet. More scrubbing followed to no avail. The shower walls were about as clean as the walls could get.

I could not smell anything from the bathroom sink at first, and the toilet seemed to be working as it always did. I was running out of ideas. I was starting think somehow, someway, the walls behind the tile was rotting away and full of mold.

The walls when I thumped on them were as solid as they ever were. There was no obvious way for the water to get past the tiles into the walls that I could determine. The odor was now becoming noticeable as summer wore on.

I started to notice a slight odor coming from the bathroom sink too. Very slight odor, but oder all the same. It was smelling slightly like the drain vents smell at times. That lovely sewer smell. By now I was wondering if I would be replacing the sewer lines in the house.

I was putting bleach in the shower drain and blocking it with the bleach bottle. This stopped the odor in the shower. I knew the odor was from the drain itself. As long as I kept pouring in bleach and covering the drain, the shower smelled fresh and clean.

At this point I decided enough was enough. I pulled off the drain cover and looked into the drain. There was not much to see, but the odor was definitely coming from the drain. The u trap had the right amount of water in it, and no air was getting through from the sewer line into the house.

The problem had to be between the top of the drain and the u for both the sink and the shower. It was time to pull out the big guns. The smell of bleach is not all that great. Not to mention that continuous bleach odors can burn your lungs.

Cheap Odor Free Cleaning for Bathrooms

Super Cleaner for the Bathroom

I remembered hospitals use Hydrogen Peroxide to clean with. Hydrogen Peroxide is a powerful cleaner, like bleach but without the smell. Hydrogen Peroxide leaves a faint oder, that in most cases goes unnoticed, unless you know what you are smelling.

The fix to the smelly drains was simple, once I figured out the reason for the problem. The problem was the lowered water flow in the shower and the sink. The lower flow meant not everything was flushing down the drain all the time as it did when the water flow was higher.

I bought a few bottles of Hydrogen Peroxide for less than a dollar each. I put a sprayer on one bottle, and set the second bottle to the side for a few minutes.

In the shower, I removed the drain cover. I sprayed the drain with Hydrogen Peroxide. Then I took the toilet cleaning brush and shoved it down the drain. Pulling it up and down as I sprayed Hydrogen Peroxide in the drain. Be careful with this step. At one point I thought I had the toilet brush stuck in the drain. You do not want to get Hydrogen Peroxide on your skin or eyes, or on your clothing.

It only took about thirty seconds of spraying and brushing and I was done. Using the spray bottle I started spraying the walls of the shower.  I did this daily for about a week when the shower walls were dry.

For the sink, I poured Hydrogen Peroxide down into the drain and let it sit until next use. I also sprayed around the sink drain daily for a week or so. I thought the problem was solved.

After a few weeks I started to notice a slight smell again in the shower. So slight it was only occasionally noticeable. What I found was the drain needs flushing at the end of showering. What I do now is stand on the drain the drain after I have rinsed off until water in the bottom of the shower. Then I move my foot and it flushes the drain.

I still spray the shower and sink with Hydrogen Peroxide every couple of days, and have no further problem with odd smells from unknown sources. I hope this idea helps you too if you have this problem. Total cost is around five dollars a year for fresh drains.