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Annoying advertising. January 18, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben remembers the first time it happened. I was reading an e-mail, and the end of the e-mail said “Sent from my iPhone.” What the bleep? Who cared where it was sent from? “Sent from my iPhone” had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the message. I’d never seen such a bizarre, inexplicable message.

From that point on, every message from that guy ended with “Sent from my iPhone,” as though it were a common sign-off like “See ya.” The subject didn’t matter at all: “I was in a wreck and broke both legs. Sent from my iPhone.” Worse, more and more people began e-mailing us and finishing with “Sent from my iPhone.” Did they want to make sure that everyone knew that they had an iPhone?

It was only when we also began getting e-mails that ended with “Sent from my Android” and every other brand on earth that I realized that this was yet another annoying ad. And despite the word “my,” the senders were probably unaware of its even being on their messages, while hapless recipients like our friend Ben were being forced to read it over and over.

I have one thing to say to you money-bloated smartphone corporations: Target your marketing to your audience, for whom every latest version, every latest app, is greeted with the same breathless anticipation as a new season of “Game of Thrones.” And leave the rest of us alone.

Sent from my SmartBrain

Happy birthday Ben! January 17, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin.
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Apparently this is National Fig Newton Month. Well, we here at Poor Richard’s Almanac have nothing against Fig Newtons. (Though the thought of that filling sticking to our teeth makes us cringe. And who was Newton, anyway?)

But for us here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, today, January 17, has quite a different significance: It’s the birthday of our hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin, who was born in 1706 (so it’s his 309th birthday!). He and Alexander Hamilton are perhaps the only two of the Founders who’d actually have enjoyed living in modern times and using social media and modern conveniences.

Ben would also have loved access to a gym—he was a huge health nut, like George Washington, and especially enjoyed swimming—far from the tubby scientist/statesman we picture today. Too bad we don’t have a picture of him from those days! He’d have loved the focus on health today, but kept the focus on balance.

Anyway, to Ben, who brilliantly combined earthbound savvy with statescraft, happy 309th! We wish you many, many more!

Another great quote (from the days when people believed them). January 15, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Which Founding Father said:

“I would rather die standing than live on my knees!”

Was it the fiery Sam Adams or speech-making genius Patrick Henry? The visionary Ben Franklin, or Thomas Paine, whose power with the pen kept the troops from deserting Washington? The brilliant Alexander Hamilton, boy genius from the tropics? Or perhaps Washington, Jefferson, or Madison themselves?

It certainly sounds like a Founding Father quote: big, noble, and brief (thus, memorable). But it isn’t. The man who said those words was Emiliano Zapata.

What a quote, so stirring! We’ve now heard it attributed to the owner of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo before the magazine was attacked by extremists. Maybe it was simply one of his favorites. Whatever the case, it would be nice to take the time to think about how you could stand for your principles without having to die for them.

Our hen lays blue eggs. January 4, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, homesteading.
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Since part of Poor Richard’s Almanac involves chickens (see our headline), occasionally our friend Ben likes to update our readers on all things chicken, especially when they’re happening here. Silence Dogood and I keep six chickens here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home we share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. Each chicken is a different heirloom breed, so we have a colorful brood—red, black-and-white, gold, white with black edging (the most beautiful, in my opinion), red with black and gold, and spangled black.

They’re all beautiful and fun to watch, but today, it’s the “red with black and gold” that I want to talk about. She’s an Ameraucana, descended from the nearly wild Araucanas of South America. And she looks wild, with a great ruff of feathers around her head, making her look more like a rooster than a hen. (We don’t keep roosters here, they’re aggressive and pointless unless you want your hens to produce chicks; they’ll still lay eggs without roosters, but the eggs will be sterile, just the way a vegetarian like Silence likes them.) She’s also thinner than the other chickens, another sign of her “next-to-wild” origin.

Our chickens are pullets, first-year hens, so they had to fatten up (no problem around here) before they could get into laying mode, which began this fall. Suddenly, we began finding beautiful brown and bisque eggs in our nestboxes. But then the hold-your-breath watch began. Ameraucanas are often called “Easter egg chickens” because they lay colored eggs. The eggs can be blue, olive green, green, even pink. But a given hen will lay the same color all her life. If you only have one Ameraucana, what color will she lay?

Fortunately for us, our Ameraucana eventually laid an egg, and it was blue! We’ve been so lucky that over our decades of chicken-keeping, our Ameraucanas (and we’ve only had one at a time) have all laid blue eggs. Our friend Ben does not mean some pale stain on a white egg, either—these eggs are sky blue, robin’s egg blue. They are so gorgeous, Silence can barely bring herself to cook them! Mind you, they taste just like our other wonderfully fresh, organic, free-range, nutrient-packed eggs. It’s just the color that distinguishes them. But what a color!

There are only two of us, so we’d never want more than five or six chickens (as it is, we’re giving away six-packs of eggs to all our friends and neighbors). But if we had a larger spread, it would be very tempting to get a few more Ameraucanas!

If you don’t have chickens but would like to try blue eggs, of course you can try your local farmers’ market, but I’ve never seen them at any of ours. Where Silence and I have found them is at a local health food store, where a local farmer has made beautiful 8-packs of multicolored eggs. Maybe high-end groceries like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Wegman’s would have them, too. (But remember, you’re paying for the color of the shell, not the contents.)

Chickens lay blue eggs!!!

Seal those cracks. January 2, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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I don’t know if you’re like us, but every winter, once it gets cold and dry, we get the most painful, bleeding cracks on the sides of our fingernails and our heels. Ouch!!! These cracks aren’t big, but they hurt so much, and make it almost impossible to do the simplest tasks, like fastening a curtain (or anything else, for that matter). Seeing your bedroom slipper stained with blood isn’t fun either.

What to do? After extensive research, we have to give our recommendation to O’Keeffe’s Working Hands. The top says “For Hands & Feet That Crack & Split” and “The LEADING Skin Therapy For People Who WORK With Their HANDS.” (O’Keeffe’s also makes a tub of cream just for feet, but we find that, as advertised, Working Hands is great for both hands and feet.) You need to apply a minuscule amount a few times a day, rub it in, and enjoy the relief. After about three days, it will have worked its magic, and you can put the little tub away until the next episode.

If you have this problem, try Working Hands! We found our first tub at a local hardware store, but we think Tractor Supply also carries it. Check it out online and see where it’s offered near you. It’s probably on Amazon as well. And it’s both affordable and long-lasting: We bought a second tub as backup but are still on our first, years later.