10 best ways to utilize your Coronavirus staycation

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With the exception of a few centenarians, this week’s events surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak are probably rather new for most people. This will undoubtedly change the way we all live our lives for the at least the near future, and just like pandemics before it, Corona will most likely leave a lasting impression on various aspects of the world in which we all interact.  The best thing to do right now is to remain calm, and remember that this will eventually run its course (evidence is that it’s already on the decline in China and South Korea).  In the meantime many of us are suddenly finding yourself on an unexpected Coronavirus staycation.  Once you get over the annoyance, and craziness of it all (try transitioning 5 college classes onto an online format in a week, and you too will be feeling frantic), you will then find yourself with at least a little bit of free time, if only because you won’t be spending so much time commuting to work.

So what do you do with yourself during this time to avoid succumbing to cabin fever?  Here are 10 suggestions for the best ways to take advantage of this time at home.  The first half have to do with practical things you NEED to do, and the second half is the dessert, that you’ll WANT to do.  If you have any other suggestions not listed below, please feel free to add a comment, after all, we’re all in this together.

Adulting 101 – Covid-19 style:

1) Do your Taxes!  That’s right folks,  taxes are one of the two things that are guaranteed.  Despite politicians talking about possibly postponing that April 15th deadline, so far it hasn’t happened.  So, make sure to get a jump on this, especially if your worried you might get Corona, as you really won’t want to be looking for your W-2’s once you have a fever.

2) Take stock of your life.  I don’t mean from a metaphysical standpoint.  I’m referring to the practical things, like do you, or your spouse know what to do if one of you gets sick?  Howe about your parents, what are their wishes?  Even if you’re single, plan now for what will happen to your pets if you wind up in the hospital.  It’s the type of stuff we never want to think about, but like it or not, now’s the time to get your affairs in order!

3) Take stock of your cupboards.  Hopefully the panic buying will end soon, but just in case, make sure you know what you absolutely need, and what you can hold off on buying.  With greater focus you can better seek out where to find what you still need, because you’ll know what part of the store to hit first, or perhaps what you can find through online retailers instead. Also, you’re not prepping for war people, fresh fruits and vegetables should still be part of what you buy!

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4) Take stock of your medicine cabinet.  With the weird run on paper towels, it seems that most people for some reason have forgotten about the medicines that they might need even more.  Check on your prescriptions, and over-the-counter type meds (cough syrup, etc.), and then check with your doctor or pharmacy about the possibility of getting them mailed to you instead.

5) Catch up with those you care about.  Haven’t talked to your old college buddy in a while, or e-mailed your cousin since their last birthday?  Now’s a good time to check on everyone, especially anyone that you may have inadvertently lost contact with.  This can be especially important for elderly relatives that might need help.  With more and more people potentially finding themselves isolated for longer periods than they’ve ever experienced before, reaching out via phone, e-mail, skype, or even text can make a world of difference.

Now for the fun stuff! – Even if you’re still working on 1-5, make sure to occasionally take a break, and de-stress.

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6) Finally read that book you’ve been trying to fit in.  We all have that novel, mystery, or romance that we’ve got sitting near our beds.  Find it, dust it off, and finally crack that spine.  If you can’t get out into the real world, you might as well escape into a fictional one.

7) Stream to your hearts content.  What, you got something better to do.  Well, ok, maybe you’re still working on numbers 1-5, but everyone needs a break now and then. This is especially true with all that is going on right now.  Take a night off, ignore the news, and just binge watch your favorite movies or TV shows.  A little innocent fun never hurt anyone.  All you need to do is try to remember what that pesky password is.

8) Start to plan how your garden will grow.  Even in the warmest states, it’s a bit too soon to actually plant a garden, but it’s actually the perfect time to prep for, and plan one out. No one says you can’t go out into your own yard, or patio/balcony.  So it’s totally ok to start clear out the old plants (if you haven’t already), scrub out pots, pull any new weeds, and add soil nutrients as needed.  Don’t forget that even if the outside weather isn’t optimal for planting, you can always start some of your garden inside by planting seeds.  Watching them sprout can also give you, and your family, something to look forward to.  Nothing reminds you that life goes on better than watching something grow.

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9) Learn something new.  There are so many ways to do this, especially with the help of online resources.  DIY resources abound (ex: need to patch up something in your house, YouTube examples of how-to). You can also take free classes on topics you’ve always been interested in.  Check out your local library’s website for some free options they might offer (many have free online programs to help you learn a new language, such as Mango or Babble).  You can also check out Coursera online directly for their list of free classes, or just do a google search for anything you might want to learn (such as a craft or skill).

10) Enjoy your world, virtually.  You can do this via video games of course, including the intellectually based one like Lumosity.  However, do to so many people having to self quarantine around the world, several institutions that have been made to close their doors, are now inviting the public into their virtual spaces instead.  Many major museums around the world already had some virtual tours online, but many more are going online right now.  Even some music options are opening up online, as some tours get canceled the groups are choosing to interact with their fans online via free virtual concerts.  Even a major philharmonic in Germany has now opened their performances for free viewing online.  Most of these institutions, or groups, are waiving their normal subscription fees until at least the end of March.  Just because you’re stuck inside physically, doesn’t mean your mind can’t take a journey of discovery instead.

Which ever choices you make to fill your time, good luck everyone, and please stay safe!

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Facemasks: CoronaVirus shield or not?

With the current worry about the Corona Virus showing up in more and more countries, it is important to educate yourself about what is truly useful health advise, and what is not.  The best option is to always turn to the experts if you can.  However, if you can’t speak to your local doctor right away, there is always the CDC’s website, which has a dedicated section just for the Corona virus (aka COVID-19).  Since most people here in the US aren’t currently dealing with actual infections yet, most people will probably be most concerned with the page on “Prevention & Treatment.”

One of the most relevant parts of the site, for anyone who is currently trying to prepare  by purchasing facemasks, would probably be this section:

Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

The run on supplies that recently took place in China, sadly seems to have been made up of mostly useless purchases.  True, it probably makes people feel better to be wearing a mask, but if they’ve purchased a standard dust-mask, it most likely won’t do them much good.  Remember that COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria.  Don’t get tricked into buying anything (especially on-line) that claims to block all diseases, because that claim is most likely inaccurate, or outright false.  Also, please don’t think that it will grant you immunity, or act as an impenetrable shield.  Nothing is foolproof, least of all a thin paper/cloth mask.

As stated on the CDC’s website, there is a valid reason to use them, but it’s mostly to help prevent you from spreading the disease to others;  not to help you avoid getting it from them.  If you fear you might find yourself in a situation where you risk exposure, sure, having a mask on can’t hurt.  However, the better option would probably be to avoid that situation instead, if at all possible that is.

Plus, no matter what, its always a good idea to regularly wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes.  No need to actually deliver the virus to your own face, if you can help it.   For updates, and more info on the Virus, please make sure to check the CDC’s website.  With any luck, this thing will burn itself out soon, and we can all go back to worrying about our taxes instead.  Hey, no one said being an adult would be fun.

 

Congrats to the winner

Sorry for the delay, but there was an unexpected hiccup in the selection process.  The innitial winner’s account and contact info seems to have gone dark, so a runner up was selected instead.  Congratulations Abby, we all hope you enjoy your prize; and thanks to all of you who have signed up, and return to check out each new article as they are posted.

In the coming months I hope to continue to update you on new ways to be green, and share with you success stories on how others have reached that goal as well.  Make sure to keep an eye out for my next post in the coming weeks, and please don’t forget to share this site’s address with your friends.  I haven’t set a final date, but this won’t necessarily be the last contest, or giveaway, that you’ll see here.

Until my next post, here’s hoping 2020 will be even best than last year.

Stay green Everyone!

 

 

Starbucks giftcard giveaway almost over

 

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2019 is almost  over, and with its end, the Practically-Green.com subscriber gift card giveaway will finally see its winner selected.

However, that means Dec. 31st, 2019 is the last day to get your name in on the drawing for that $25 Starbucks giftcard.  Fear not though, for all you have to do is Follow Us by Subscribing, and Confirming the subscription via the confirmation e-mail that gets sent your way.  So, with only about 2 weeks left, now is the time to make your move, and click “subscribe.”  Then cross your fingers, cause you just never know whose name might just get picked….

Share the love, and let your friends know too.

Happy Holidays,

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Time to plan for #GivingTuesday

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The turkey was great, the sales were nice, and the nap is long overdue.  Thus goes the Thanksgiving holiday for many people.  What is stirring world-wide criticism, is that despite encouraging thankfulness, it seems that this holiday is instead turning out to be more and more about consumerism; which in turn promotes waste.  If that doesn’t sit well with you either, then there’s still time to do something about rebooting this holiday weekend to have true meaning once again.  There’s a movement that revolves around this idea, you might even have heard of it before, #GivingTuesday.

This year #GivingTuesday falls on December 3rd, 2019.  The idea is a simple one. You simply chose to give back to the world around you, with the goal of helping to make it a better place.  To help explain the idea, the official site for the movement has the following opening statement:

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.”

 

If you’re wondering if anyone still truly gives back these days, well it seems that they really do.  Thousands of people participated last year, and millions more give back every day, with or without the hashtag as an incentive.  Even large organizations make giving back a standard part of their operations.

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For example, after this year’s PMA Fresh Summit 2019, the various produce marketers exhibiting there, collectively donated the produce that had just the day before made up their beautiful displays.  According to the official press release that followed, it was announced that “Fresh Summit exhibitors donated 228,400 pounds of fresh produce to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.  Not too shabby a boost in fresh food supplies to local food banks that were starting to gear up for the holiday season.  Mid-October finds many people beginning to worrying about the coming expenses they will encounter for Thanksgiving.  Those who benefited from this donation would surly agree that being able to take advantage of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and even things like potatoes, garlic, and herbs was a wonderful result of an act of giving.  You may not be able replicate such a large donation by yourself, but there are many other ways you can help out.

With the holiday season now in full swing, there are plenty of food and clothing donations going on in every community in the country.  If you can add an item or two into the bin, you’ve begun the “giving” process (at it doesn’t only have to happen on Tuesday to count).

If you can’t give a donation like that, there is always a need for volunteers out there.  Check with your local schools, libraries, or houses of worship for volunteer opportunities, and sign up if you can.

If “giving” time creates too much of a crunch in your life (hey, we’ve all been there), then there are still ways to help out, which don’t take much time, nor do they even require any money.

One example would be Carter’s children clothing store, and their PJs drive.  Working in partnership with the Pajama Program for the past 10 years, Carters has worked to get warm PJs out to those children who are in need, in local communities around the nation.  Of course monetary donations to the cause are welcome, but they aren’t necessarily the only way you can get involved.  According to the instructions on the Donate PJs website, all you have to do is  take a pic with PJ the penguin in your local store, then post it on Instagram @carters, and  tag it with #lovecarterspjs.  From there, Carter’s tallies the totals, and “for every donation or social share up to 100,000 jammies, Carter’s will donate a pj, too!”

It may seem like a small act of kindness, but if enough small acts are done by us all, then maybe something big can come of it.  If you don’t have a Carter’s near you, check with your other retailers, you’d be surprised to find just how many of them are running similar donation programs.  For example, Ralphs’ Community Contribution Program offers the option of adding a local charity or school to your Shopper’s club profile.  All you do is shop as usual, and Ralphs will donate a percentage of what you spent to that organization (it doesn’t cost you anything but the time it took to sign up).  Check with your local grocery store to see if they participate too.  If not, Amazon also runs a similar program, check with their customer service for details.

If none of those suggestions appeal to you, then maybe you could help out with a local beach, or park cleanup instead.  These go on year-round.  Just google it, and see when your local groups have organized one in your area.

You can also help out with a Citizen Scientist project, just check out their list of those projects currently seeking helpers.  Some can even be done right from the comfort of your own computer.

However, if you want an option that is literally closer to home, how about checking in with your neighbors to see if they need any help hanging those lights, instead of just waving at them as you drive by.  Any little bit can help.  Take a moment, and give it a good thinking over.  What can you do to help out?  For more ideas, check out the #GivingTuesday website.  Find something that fits best with want you can handle right now, and pitch-in.  So, how might you be #GivingBack today?

 

Lucy Glo and Lucy Rose Apples take center stage at PMA Fresh Summit

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Halloween will bring buckets and buckets of candy, in some cases literally.  After the joy of all that sugar starts to wear off, you might want to look for an even better sweet treat to snack on.  At this year’s PMA Fresh Summit several fresh produce growers and marketers gathered to showcase their best, and most delectable varieties.  Among them were two new Apple varieties that will be hitting a produce department near you, either this week or next.  Allow me to introduce Lucy Rose and Lucy Glo.

These two new varieties of apple are as delicious to eat, as they are beautiful to look at.

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What do they taste like?  Well, let me fill you in.  Coming from someone who really likes her Granny Smiths, Lucy Glo is a real contender to fight for title of my FAVORITE apple.  It is tart, but tasty, with a nice crisp bite.  Lucy Rose is similar to a Gala as far as its sweetness level is concerned, but it also retains a crisp bite as well, while some Galas tend to get a bit soft once they hit peak ripeness.  However, the most startling thing is the color, as when you cut into either of these two you’ll find that the flesh is a pinkish, rosy color.

When  I saw this, I had to of course ask about how they fair when used for cooking.  The answer was, GREAT!  According to the Lucy team, the flavors of both stand up to the heat, as does their color.  So, just imaging the pretty Thanksgiving apple pie you can present to the family this year.  All you have to do is locate some of these beauties first.

Remember that these are new to the market this year, so not everyone is going to be stocking them at first.  If your produce manager doesn’t have them yet, make sure to demand your share of the Lucy Glo and Rose harvest.  Once you get your hands on some, you’ll be wanting a whole bushel.

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As a last nod to summer, while you’re checking out your local fruit stand, you might also want to grab the last of the peach crops to hit the produce aisle, AKA Moonlight.  This peach variety, which is marketed by the same people that handle the Cuties mandarins, is grown in California, and is a super sweet peach.  It’s been exclusively selling through Stater Bros. this year, so that’s where you’ll want to go.  Moonlights are what a peach is supposed to be; with the smell, texture, and most importantly, the flavor that peaches have long been known for (but sadly have not always had in recent years).  Moonlight is the one to eat for sure this year, but you’ll need to get them soon, as even this late season variety will be ending its run shortly too.

 

U.N. to address needed climate action today at Climate Action Summit

Just a reminder that experts, and representative members from around the world will be addressing the issue of climate change today (9/23/19) at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019.  Most local news outlets should be giving some coverage to the talks, but you can also get information via the U.N website as well.  Just because our president is skipping it, doesn’t mean you have to.

Sons of Chaos Review

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

This summer had lots of endings, what with the “Avengers'” story coming to an end, as well as several other popular TV series having their finales, such as “GoT,” “Elementary,” and sadly the recently canceled “Krypton.  However, there are a few new stories that are starting out too, such as “Carnival Row,” as well as a few others.   In addition to the big and small screen entries, there is also a new addition to the graphic novel universe, “Sons of Chaos.”

The publishers of this historically inspired tale have introduced it to the world as such:

The Greek War for Independence was a conflict that quietly influenced the entire world. Participants ranged from the London Stock Exchange to celebrities such as Lord Byron, as well as average impassioned Americans willing to transport themselves across the Atlantic to fight alongside the Greeks. This conflict was the pinnacle of what we now know as the Romantic Period and yet, it’s a war that few know ever existed outside of the Greek and Turkish cultures; a war that stimulated the fall of the Ottoman Empire and shaped what we now know as the Western World, and in a sense is being fought today under a different heading amongst the political leaders of the Eastern and Western worlds.

Fans of ultra gritty, sexually aggressive tales like “GoT” will feel right at home here. The story follows the main character from his rough childhood, through to his violent end.  Although the Greek War was real, the story here is part fiction and fact.  The illustrations are fine examples of how such illustrated panels can work seamlessly together to tell a story.  As of July this graphic novel is available in both digital and print versions.  It is still possible to see a 32 page preview for free at the book’s official page.  Parents should be aware that this is definitely geared towards adult readers.

Finding Waldo at Comic-Con equals prizes

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Finding Waldo might usually bring back fond (ok sometimes frustrating) memories from your childhood, but this weekend, dusting off those old skills might just earn you a prize. Just because you don’t have a badge to this year’s San Diego 2019 Comic-Con doesn’t mean you can’t participate either.  Badge, or not, everyone who walks into the Downtown Public Library is welcome to participate.

In fact, according to the official announcement, all 36 branches of the San Diego Public Library system will be participating in some way.  Finding Waldo in the branches can mean anything from collectable buttons, to special prizes; but you have to play to find out what they’ve hidden for you this year.

In addition to the search, you can also take the opportunity to pick up this year’s special “Where’s Waldo Comic-Con 2019” comemorative library card (available to all CA residents while supplies last).  This year’s card sports an image of Waldo holding a stack of books, as well as the Comic-Con official logo.  The downtown locaation will also be marking the close of Comic-Con weekend with a family friendly DJ Dance party on Sunday, check their website for more details.

Finally, for educators, and librarians, the free Comic Conference for Educators is still going on both Saturday and Sunday.  No badges are required for either day, but you may want to regisster ahead of time if you’ll need proof of attendance for your flex hours.  Saturday is based around k-12, and Sunday is deducated to using comics in college classes.o

Jane Goodall to speak at Esri plenary

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The Esri User Conference kicked into full swing today, down at the San Diego Convention Center.  As thousands of Geo Geeks converge on the Gaslamp district over the next several days, they all know they’re in for a treat.  Why you ask? It’s because this year’s theme of “The Intelligent Nervous System” means they’re about to learn how the Esri software products, platforms, and partnerships can all work together to help build a better world.

One such partnership that is being announced today is with the Jane Goodall Institute.  Utilizing the Esri Storyboard feature, Jane & friends have been able to strengthen their relations with the chimpanzees’ neighbors. The story if how that collaboration has been optimized using this technology is the main point of discussion in today’s late afternoon plenary session with Jane and E.O. Wilson.

If you’re not going to be one of the lucky ones in attendance yourself, then make sure to come back for a full rundown of what they had to share with the crowd. Stay tuned….