Thursday, November 30, 2017

Teaching Kids the Importance of Keeping Track of Memories (For Disaster and Historical Purposes)

There are certain items we possess that have more than just monetary value, and sometimes it is difficult for children to realize this. It is important however, that we teach children the difference between items have a high financial value (electronics) and items that have long-term meaningful worth (achievement certificates). For example, a third grade report card may not be of much value to a teenager, but when that teen becomes of midlife age, that once insignificant document is now precious. Learning the true value of items we possess is one of the life skills taught in the 4-H Youth Development program.

Picture a scenario where a family finds out that severe weather is heading their direction, and notified to evacuate to a safe location. The family tells the children and decide they will depart in the morning, and can only take minimum supplies and valuables, because of constraints on space in the vehicle. What items will the adults pack, and what will the children’s choices be?

As adults, we know to take important documentation regarding our home, finances and medical needs. However, children on the other hand may have difficultly choosing, when they learn they can only take one suitcase. It is important that we begin to teach our children to begin to organize their things and separate what is important or not.

This document focuses on important papers and photographs; and how to store, organize, and prioritize them. We can support and teach our children to be prepared and give them tools to assist them.

Methods for Safe Keeping and Archiving Important Documents and Pictures

Items should:

  • Be stored in their original (paper) and digital format, but in some cases you may wish to digitize paper documents. 
  • Be prioritized into categories such as Mundane, Important and Critical. 
  • Be kept in a safe, water resistant and portable, designated spot for retrieval and evacuation. A plastic tote box works well for this, as well as zip-top bags within the tote to subcategorize. 
  • Consider the “shelf life” of a document. Birth certificates, mortgage papers and deeds should be kept for a lifetime, whereas monthly utility bill records may only need to be kept for a year. 
  • For families and individuals with more than one computer or electronic device, the Cloud can be useful as a repository. The Cloud is electronic off-site storage or an online web storage space, some of which are free and some are not. 
  • Purchase a portable back up hard drive to archive files on a regular basis. Computer hard drives, phone storage and thumb drives can be lost, stolen or damaged, causing the information to be lost forever or prompting expensive recovery services. Recording these data to a compact disc or DVD is also a good option. 
  • Consider storing critical copies with other family members or safe deposit box allowing for redundancy protection. 
Whether paper or digital, store documents and images sorted by the primary individual it concerns. In the short term, it is tempting and acceptable to sort the images by event, such as Family Reunion 2009, but ultimately as time goes on, individuals will want their own images or documents. Sorting single person images are easy. For example, a picture of Sally goes in a plastic tote or electronic file labeled with her name. Pictures of multiple individuals can be stored under the eldest family member in the photo. You may create your own organizing system for this purpose.
Purchase or set aside a section of files or tote box for grabbing and evacuating in hurry.

So if your papers, files and photos need organizing, remember – we never know when a disaster may come and we need to evacuate. Being organized and prepared will reduce stress levels, aid in recovery and preserve valuable items for long-term benefit. If we include our children in this process, they can assist with the task and start a healthy habit that they may carry into adulthood.

Sources:
Targeting Life Skills in 4-H, Marilyn N. Norman and Joy C. Jordan, UF/IFAS Extension Publication #4HS FS101.9, 2006.
Keeping a Household Inventory and Protecting Valuable Records, Michael T. Olexa and Lauren Grant, UF/IFAS Extension Publication #DH138, 2016.

From a Fact Sheet by:
G. Koerner, 4-H Program Assistant, A. Lazzari, 4-H Agent, G. Whitworth, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Florida / IFAS Brevard County Extension, November 21, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Really Good Chili

For today's Annual United Methodist Church Charge Conference and Pot Luck Dinner, I made a new chili recipe that came out really well!

About little bit about the conference: it is always a nice event when we get together with the other local United Methodist Churches and give an accountability report of what has and will transpire for the year.  Out little Saint Andrew United Methodist Church, and sister churches in the area are doing great things to show people the love of Christ.

The Chili I made from scratch, and not really following a recipe, so therefore I have to jot down how I did it so it can be done again.  It's like any good scientist would do in documenting an experiment with procedural notes, so as it can be repeated by someone else.

Really Really Good Three Day Chili

Hardware
I used a 5 quart Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, and a 10 inch cast iron skillet.

Software
Dry Red Kidney Beans, 1 pound.
10 cups of water
1 large white onion, peeled and cut in half
2 chopped cloves of garlic
5 Bay Leaves
1/2 teaspoon Chile Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
2 teaspoons of Salt
1 pound cubed steak, finely chopped when partially frozen
2, 10 ounce cans of Original Ro-Tel Tomatoes with green chilies
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste.

Method
Thursday night, I cooked the Kidney Beans exactly according to Pati Jinich's recipe Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot, then I put them in the fridge until the next evening after the dutch oven cooled a bit.

Friday night, the next day, I put the pot back on the stove on medium heat.

At the same time in a skillet I browned the chopped beef and added 1/2 of the onion and the garlic all chopped fine.  The beef was so lean, that I had to add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  When it was all nice and brown and the onions translucent, I deglazed the skillet with a little (1/2 cup) water and added it all to the bean pot.

Next into the bean pot I added the spices and Ro-Tel.  Then I let it simmer about 4 hours. It was time for bed again, so I let it cool and put it back in the fridge until the next day. This rest time for the chili lets all the flavors marry and deepen in flavor.

Saturday morning simmered it for 4 more hours prior to serving. I removed all the Bay Leaves, so the consumers of my chili wouldn't die with a Bay Leaf in their throat. The crowd seemed to enjoy it and I would absolutely make it again.

The total cost of the dish was about $13 and served about 15 people.
Beef - $6.00
Beans - $2.00
Ro-Tel - $2.00
Spices and Vegetables $3.00

I hope this recipe works out for you!  

- gus

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Am I A Bigot? Needed Public Survey

Today on NPR I heard the results of another public survey conducted, Poll: Most Americans Think Their Own Group Faces Discrimination. 

Americans are saying "I feel discriminated against." "I feel disenfranchised." "I feel the population is against my race, gender (pick another demographic here), my etc."

When are we going to flip the coin and say, that a study was done and those surveyed admitted they had bigoted tendencies against one or another identity groups?

When I self-admit my own biased tendencies, that is when I can reevaluate how I treat others and begin to make corrections to my behaviors and attitudes to affect positive change.

I urge the media and those involved in making decisions affecting public policy to consider a self-diagnosis test for bigotry, so community leaders can start to address those with the illness instead of those who the disease impacts.

gus


My story originally published August 21, 2017...

The following is a letter I submitted to the Pew Research Center as an idea for a future public opinion survey. Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

Dear Pew Research Center,

Subject: Idea for a public survey
Sent To: info@pewresearch.org

I try to be open minded, and I am to a degree.
I do my best to be accepting of others, and I am to a certain level.
I would like to say I have a high moral standard, and I do – sometimes more than others.

It seems like our country is moving toward a situation of complete polarization.  It seems for example, if you are not completely pro-LGTBQ issues, then you’re against. Why does that have to be?

I would like to see a series of questions, a scientific social survey conducted (such as) for Racism (example):

1) Do you consider yourself a Racist? Yes or No
2) Would you hire someone of a race different from your own? Would you hire an                   African American, a Hispanic, an Asian, and so on...
3) Would you approve of your child dating someone of a different race?
4) Would you consider dating or marrying someone of a different race?

I realize I am a racist and bigot by certain definitions out there in the world, but I do my best to stay open, accepting and caring.

Why do I have to accept all races, ethnic and lifestyle options, when my faith and upbringing goes (at times) contrary to some social practices?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would like my bigotry to be quantified so I know where I stand and how I can improve.

I am sure other people are the same way. Not everyone is a complete right wing fundamentalist or completely left wing tolerant ACLU card holder. We are all somewhere in a spectrum of acceptance and bias. I would like to consider myself non-biased, but I know that is not true.  It would be more useful to have research based data determining I am (for example) a R5 and H3 (Racist 5/10 and Homophobe 3/10), than a false idea of my own identity.

Thank you.

gus
----
Follow Up - Pew Research Center never replied back to me on this. (27 Oct. 2017)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

EMS Clergy Survey

To all pastors and church leaders in Brevard County, Florida.  Please take this short, 5 minute survey. Follow this link... Brevard County, Florida Places of Worship, Volunteer and Clergy Enrollment for Disaster Assistance (Church Survey)

In the spring of 2017, just prior to hurricane Harvey, the Brevard County, Emergency Management Services, in cooperation with VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, Brevard), and the American Red Cross acknowledged it would be of benefit to have Chaplains or Spiritual Support Counselors in emergency shelters to provide counseling to the occupants. These counselors would speak with the residents, then link the clients with a permanent faith-based organization of their choice, near them in their community.  Hence, this survey. Read more and take the survey.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey,

-  gus

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cam, Joey and the Turtles

This story is by Julia Koerner, about Cameron Koerner and Joey Fairbanks back in 1999. I am posting this today as a birthday present for Cameron, who is unavailable to receive gifts right now, due to his Marine Corps obligations.

Cam, Joey and the Turtles

I took these photos on a day when Cameron and Joe were on a self-initiated,100% official turtle rescue.

There was talk around the (Royal Oaks) golf course that a small alligator had been spotted in the pond just a few hundred feet from our backyard. Groundskeepers had been looking for the Jurassic critter for a couple weeks, but had nothing to go on but golfer tales up in the clubhouse.

That same pond was actually one of Cam and Joe's favorite spots for collecting abandoned golf balls, but this one particular morning they had found a hidden nest of hatching turtle eggs.

When the boys heard tell of the baby alligator from a few golfers, they came running into the house - frantically asking for a bucket they could put their newly hatching turtles in so the alligator wouldn't eat them.

We found a bucket - and I, of course, followed them out to the spot with my broom in hand to retrieve the turtles and assure their safety from any free range gator babies that might be lurking in the rushes...and of course, bash the gator with my weapon, if necessary.

Now, 18 years later, these are still 2 of Joe's favorite photos. He posts them on his bedroom wall with a push-pin wherever we live. Joe can't remember how many turtles they rescued that day. Perhaps Cameron will remember.

That same afternoon, the boys and Mother and I made an official trip to the wildlife preserve so the boys could deliver their treasured find to the appropriate authorities and ensure the safety of the hatchlings.

You should have heard Cameron retell their tale of danger, intrigue, excitement and wonder at having watched turtles hatch; kept a look-out for the mystery alligator; collected their specimen and escaped without harm. He spoke almost all in one run-on sentence...with Joe piping in, "Me, too! Me, too!" as often as he could squeeze it in.

The rangers were amazed and entertained, to say the least! On the drive home, Mother decided the boys deserved ice cream from her favorite haunt, the Moonlight Drive In.

I'm sure you heard this whole tale first hand on the day it happened - but now, nearly 20 years after the fact, here's the photographic proof of the boys' humanitarian efforts.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Letter to Sister Roberta

This is my letter to Sister Roberta, the Prioress of Holy Name Monastery, Benedictine Sisters of Florida, a long time friend and counselor.

Dear Sister Roberta,

I send my love and greetings to you all.

I am still in the Candidacy for the Ministry for the United Methodist Church, working locally in my congregation, city and county.  One of my major projects I am working on right now is to get a Chaplain assigned to every county emergency shelter during natural disasters.  That suggestion has just been approved for Brevard County. Praise God.

One of my challenges right now is the acceptance of less traditional sexual identities into the ministry, marriage and society.  Even the discussion causes me great anxiety.

This is my favorite song right now.  I hope you enjoy it.  It is Ancient Words, by Michael W. Smith.

Thank you for your support and prayers.  Bless you  all in Christ our Savior.

gus