Happy New Year 2019



2018 is coming to an end tonight, and with that we will all be welcoming in 2019.  Thank you all for visiting this site over the past year, and don’t forget that you’re all welcome back in the new year as well.  Together we can work towards making this planet a little greener.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be holding a membership drive to hopefully increase readership.  I know that most people don’t really like subscribing to things, but as an incentive I’ll be giving away a Starbucks gift card to one lucky subscriber.  Everyone who is officially signed up as a subscriber at the end of January 31,2019 will be eligible (old and new members alike, but you do have to be here in the US since the gift card won’t work anywhere else), but you have to had confirmed that subscription to get an entry into the drawing (remember that e-mail asking you to confirm?  That’s what I’m talking about).  The winner will be posted in February, so make sure to tell you friends to sign up, and confirm their subscription, by January 31st, 2019.

Happy New (and greener) 2019 Everyone!!!!!


Due to an issue with the subscribe button, I am extending the cutoff date to Dec. 31st, 2019.  So, if you or anyone you know haven’t done so yet, you now have some more time to subscribe, and enter to win the $25 dollar Starbucks gift card.  Good luck!!!!

Meet the Seely family

A few years ago I met a farming family, and fell in love with their ingenious products.  Every year that I’ve gone back to Natural Products West, I eagerly seek out their booth to see what new delights I might find.  Finally, I can write the article about them that I’ve been trying to share with my readers for so long now.  Without further ado… Meet the Seelys!!!

This 3rd generation farming family grows MINT!  Yes, you read that right, they’re mint farmers.  Located on their family farm up in Oregon, you can find the Seely family sustainably harvesting both “premium-quality heirloom Black Mitcham Peppermint and Native Spearmint.”  They process the mint themselves, and turn it into both mint tea, and various other products that all benefit from their mint oil.

Now, if you’re wondering why there are pictures of candy attached to this article, that’s because those “various other products” that I was talking about, are in-fact Candy!  The candy canes and chocolate treats you see pictured, are all their creations.  Beautiful candy canes, both in the traditional shape, and shaped into ribbons, are annual staples of what they produce.  You may have already seen their handy work, as the ribbons have been stocked in Whole Food Markets (as well as other stores) for several years now.  They’re especially proud of their mint patties, but for my money, the best thing I was able to sample were their mint melts (both in Belgium and white chocolate).  I could eat an entire handful easily, and as a bonus, still walk away with great smelling breath to boot.

Having spoken to them more than a couple of times over the years at Food shows, I can say that they are friendly people, looking to preserve a family farming tradition; while keeping true to their sustainable practices.  If you’ve been looking expand your field-to-fork options beyond the standard dinner table fare, then here’s what you’ve been looking for.  From the growing, harvesting, and processing of their mint, the Seely family’s mint farm now offers you the chance to include your dessert options in your goal to eat green.

As mentioned above, you can find several of the Seely candy line in most Whole Foods around the nation, but if that isn’t an option you can also order directly from the farmers themselves.  You can find the entire line-up of sweets for sale on their website, and if you’re looking for something by Christmas, they’ve posted that they can still try to make that happen as long as you order by 12/20. However, you can still keep ordering all year long.  Trust me, it’s worth it.   Happy Holidays Everyone!!!!

Don’t ignore the recalls just because of the holidays

photo by: Salena Wakim
Just one of many romaine lettuce recall notices that have been posted this holiday season. (photo by: Salena Wakim)

You have family coming over, food to cook, and shopping to get done.  That’s not even counting all the holiday activities that are also going on this time of year.  Between now, strait through New Year’s day, everyone’s life gets considerably more crazy than the rest of the year.  It’s understandably tempting to tune out some of the current news coming out, because you just don’t have the time, nor energy, to deal with anything extra.  The problem that creates though, is that in addition to all the political nonsense the you’re trying to ignore, you may have also missed some rather important recalls that were recently announced.  Some of these are so important that you really can’t afford to that right now.  Here’s a quick recap of the most pressing recalls you may have missed.

Jennie-O turkey has announced a recall on some raw turkey products, including some of their ground meat.  You can find all the details on the company’s website, so if you’ve bought any of this turkey, you really should check out list of products involved.

Romaine lettuce:  the CDC issued a warning for all romaine lettuce in the country.  It has since been adjusted down to only the romaine grown in the central coastal region, but that doesn’t mean you can relax.  The complication with this one comes from the way romaine is used in so many prepackaged salad products.  It makes truly knowing where it all comes from a bit more impossible.  You can check out the official recall info here, but you should take care to either avoid romaine for a while, or to only consume lettuce whose origins you are completely aware of.

These two are the most pressing due to the fact that many of you might have these food items in your fridge right now, but keep in mind there are always more out there.  There have been a couple of dog, and cat food recalls; as well as one or two car related recalls that have been issued over the last couple of months.  There’s no reason for these recalls to ruin this holiday season for you, just as long as you pay attention, and protect you and your family along the way.   Happy Holidays everyone.


Update note:

For anyone still procrastinating on your candy purchases, you’re in luck.  Many stores are now trying to off load what they’ve got by putting everything on sale, but online retailers are getting in on that game as well.  YumEarth brands, which was mentioned in my previous post has just announced their Halloween discount code, which can be used through 10/23/18.  Just use code HALLOWEEN20 at checkout, and get 20% off your purchase.

orange plastic bucket
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A little planning will make your Halloween less frightful

What of what to fill this with?
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

That’s right, a little planning right now will help to make Halloween less frightful for you in the end, but in a good way.  We all know by now that the holidays we celebrate are almost always being marketed to us months in advance.  If you haven’t noticed Halloween decorations in almost every store for weeks now, then you must not have left your house in a while.  This can make last minute preparations problematic, especially if you had a very specific item in mind.  Anyone who wants to hand out candy that’s organic, or nut free for example, will be very hard pressed to located what they need.  The only way to avoid this is to make your plans now, before it’s too late. You’ll have what you want, and you’ll be less stressed in the end.

Thanks to the weather, it may not seem like it right now, but it is actually time to start decorating with a Fall theme.  The local stores may not have as great a selection of solar powered decorations anymore, but if you order in the next week or so, you can still get some delivered from online sources instead.  Same thing is true for the snacks you’ll be handing out on October 31st.  Annie’s organic snacks (fruit and crackers varieties) are one option, but for more traditional candy options you’ll want to check out Yum Earth brands.  They don’t offer chocolate, but they do have a whole line of organic suckers, gummies, and now candy corn.

Fresh from the pumpkin patch, Yum Earth’s new Organic Candy Corn (photo by Salena Wakim)

At this year’s Natural Foods West Expo, Yum Earth was showcasing their standard line of treats, but when asked, they did take the opportunity to show off their new Candy Corn addition, which is specially packaged for the holiday.  So far this doesn’t seem to be available in most of your local grocery stores, but if this is the type of thing you’re looking for, then ordering it online might be your only option.

There’s no reason to resort to toothbrushes and stickers this year, especially since a little prepping can help you to avoid it.

Esri and Port of Rotterdam talk energy efficient future

Rotterdam Esri 2018
Photo from Esri Business Summit Faces Board

At this year’s Esri User Conference there was plenty to see.  From start-up companies trying to blaze a new path through all that data we keep generating, to non-profits trying to help save the planet, there were thousands of people there on hand to learn how GIS can help with whatever problem they may have.  There were many stand out moments, including the mini science symposium, and hands on learning opportunities, but one that was particularly worth noting this year was the talk that Erwin Rademaker gave during Business Summit, on the upcoming changes that will be taking place at the Port of Rotterdam.

With its final expansion now underway, the Port of Rotterdam is looking towards the future with virtually all aspects of its design.  As Rademaker said in his presentation, the future of the port will soon see use of autonomous shipping vessels, and the implementation of “smart containers” that will allow for a start to finish tracking of all cargo that is sent in and out of the port.  All these updates, and changes, will require high tech computer systems, and a state of the art energy grid.

To that end, the port is following through on its promise to build a more sustainable port; a port of the future if you will.  One that will not only uphold the sustainable energy future that the Dutch people have long been working towards, but that will also ultimately move the port towards being Carbon Neutral.

To help with building this future, the port is now taking steps to help ensure that they create most, if not all (soon enough), of the energy that the port requires.  They have already installed wind turbines, and solar panels in and on the facility.  However, this project is also being expanded into the water, with the formation of floating solar panel arrays.

Port of Rotterdam Zonnepanelen - Jarno Klerks
Floating Solar Array – Port of Rotterdam – courtesy of Jarno Klerks

In the next ten years, the Port of Rotterdam plans to take advantage of its partnership with IBM, Cisco, and Esri to essentially build what some might call a “smart” port.  The logistics of tracking and maintaining cargo, ships, and energy resources will take a monumental effort.  However, with the process already underway, the success of this project seems to be at hand.

As Comic-Con continues time to restock

Today marks the mid-point of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con event.  If you’re one of those people who decided that they were going to power their way through the whole thing, now is the time to take stock.  Do you still have enough water on hand?  If you’re going outside, are you wearing a decent SPF?  Finally, if you’re wearing a costume have you considered the heat?

Passing out in the middle of an event you’ve been looking forward to all year would be a shame.  So, to refresh yourself, and your supplies, remember that on Market Street (between first and second) there’s a Ralphs grocery store.  Behind that is a Jimbos in the Horton center, and a couple blocks down from both of them is a CVS.

While you’re walking, partying, and generally consuming everything around you, please remember to also take care of the environment around you.  Not only are there people who live in the Gaslamp area of San Diego all year round, but there are animals as well.  Trash, straws, and water bottles can all easily litter up the place, if not properly disposed of.  Also, since the Convention Center is right there on the shoreline, anything that winds up on the ground can easily be blown right into the water by those nice breezes that occur down there.    So, take a moment and find one of the many trash and recycling bins that are everywhere around you.  Really, do you want to walk through other people’s garbage either?

celebration cosplay costumes crowd
Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

To recap, take care of yourself, and the world around you, and have fun during your final couple of days.  Happy #SDCC2018 everyone!

To those in the disaster areas

To those of you caught in one of the many fires currently burning, our thoughts are with you.  To those who are helping to fight these fires, we hope for your safety.  To all who are watching these fires on the news somewhere, give thanks that it isn’t you in the middle of it, and try to think of ways that you can help those who are.

Good luck to us all.

lighted matchstick on brown wooden surface
Photo by sebastian soerensen on Pexels.com

T.H.E. Show will go on

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Back when I first started writing this column, the very first conference I ever covered was an Audiophile convention called T.H.E. Show.  I was totally new to this whole writing thing, and had no idea what to expect, but a nicer bunch of people I couldn’t have stumbled upon for my first try at interviewing.  That first trip found me going from exhibit room, to exhibit room, listening to some of the highest end Audio systems I had ever encountered.  Everyone was willing to answers questions, and hang out with this, then, newbie.  It was an experience to remember.  Sadly, a couple of years later, I received an e-mail announcing the passing of the head of this organization, Richard Beers.

“T.H.E. Show Newport 2016 is dedicated to Mr. Richard Beers in Memoriam.” T.H.E. Show Newport info@theshownewport.com Mon 3/14/2016, 1:30 PM

There was, at the time, a question as to how T.H.E. Show would go on, which seems to have ultimately found the membership choosing to split the organization into two.  Some stayed with the new leadership, and continued attending and exhibiting at T.H.E. Show, while others ventured forth and formed a new Convention, going by the name LA Audio Show (LAAS for short).  Periodically I would hear from both set of show organizers, letting me and others know about their upcoming events, and which various exhibitors would be there.

However, all of this seems to have ultimately culminated with the demise of the LAAS.  Earlier in the month I received this notice:

“Wednesday, May 2, 2018

An Open Letter to the Industry. LAAS Cancelled.

Dear Industry Friends,

It is with sadness and regrets that I announce the cancellation of the 2018 LA Audio Show — Orange County. Refunds will start to be issued immediately to those exhibitors who have already paid deposits and/or full remittances for space and other services. These refunds will be in the form of checks and will arrive by USPS Mail to the address provided on contracts. Attendee tickets will be refunded through the system they were purchased.

Once more, I remind you that as Robert Evans stated, “There are 3 sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently,” but he also stated that “any man who thinks he knows the mind of a woman is a man who knows nothing,” so please allow me to touch briefly on what has changed since my last note.

There have been a series of events — much like “Murphy’s Law” or even “God’s Plan” both on the professional and personal level — that has overtaken my ability to perform at the level I expect of myself and the industry deserves. I put in the maximum efforts I could to absorb the chaos and protect the community, but I have run out of fuel in every sense of the word. My shoulders can no longer bear this weight.

It has been an honor and privilege to carry on the legacy of my mentor, Richard Beers. I have sought to do right by him by keeping his traditions and adding innovations I believed to be vital to the future of our industry. It was always my hope that Richard’s divided inheritance would be unified again in the end, and for me, it has been evident that this year presented multiple opportunities to end the separation and I could no longer ignore the dangerous reality of our circumstances. It is my sincere belief that while the lessons and blessings earned were worth everything and part of His plan, I must also admit this LAAS should never have been created, to begin with. We should have collectively worked harder to stay unified in our efforts, and I hope that is how you are able to collectively move forward at this time.

With that said, I urge all those who can, to make arrangements to support The Home Entertainment Show, June 1-3, 2018 at the Marriott Irvine Spectrum Hotel. I am truly apologetic for any inconveniences this may cause the industry……..

I am truly grateful for all of you, for all the lessons and blessings, and I look forward to perhaps meeting and working with you again in a different capacity. I wish much success to T.H.E. Show Newport and its patrons and truly hope that Richard’s legacy will be honored for years to come.

It has been an honor serving you. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)”

So, for anyone who had been planning to attend LAAS, fear not, there is still a way for you to get your Audiophile groove on.  You’ll just have to make a day-trip into the O.C. to do it.  For anyone still looking to obtain tickets to T.H.E. Show, you can find all the information at the official website.


Happy Earth Day 2018

Happy Earth Day everyone.  Despite the continuing lack of Earth Day celebrations around the nation (they’re harder, and harder to find each year), this is still a day celebrated by millions each April.  It just means you might have to look in different places to participate this time around.  So, to help you get started, here’s a few ideas on where to start.

  1. Your own backyard:  Bring the celebration home by starting your garden this weekend.  Mant nursery centers out there are ready to help if you don’t know how.  Also, most Armstrong Garden Centers will still be giving away free lady bugs, with purchase, today.  Time to play in the dirt again.
  2. Your local parks and Zoos:  Many will be celebrating, you just have to do an online search, find one, and show up.
  3. Nationa Parks:  They’re supposed to be free today, so take advantage, as their regular rate is going up.
  4. The Mall:  Yeah, I know, but hear me out.  Many stores ( Pottery Barn, Ikea, Target, etc.) have offered special Earth Day promotions in the past.  You just need to see what your local store has going on.
  5. Finally, your own life:  What I mean by this is that Earth Day is a great time to stop, and do some internal searching and organizing.  Take stock of just how green you’re really living, and make changes as needed. Re-evaluate your eco goals, and maybe even come up with some new ones.  After all, it all starts with you getting involved, and that means being mentally ready to do so.