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Three Pillars of Lent
by Peter Chrysologus

What does the season of Lent bring to mind? Ashes on our foreheads, fish on Fridays, giving up a particular pleasure or vice.All of these as well as many other Lenten practices have one goal in mind, to dispose our hearts as we prepare for the joy of Easter.
Almsgiving is mentioned repeatedly in Sacred Scripture. Demonstrating how essential almsgiving is, Jesus says 
that everytime we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, we are doing this to Him
Likewise prayer is vital to our faith.
Fasting , the last of three pillars is shown throughout the Bible, including when Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

Two Minute Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where's Ben going?

 

                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

A Feel Good  Story

Pass the Biscuit

 

On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my Dad.  I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed!  Yet all my Dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school.

 

I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember hearing my Mom apologize to my Dad for burning the biscuits.  And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits."

 

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned.  He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a long hard day at work today and she's real tired.  And, besides a burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!"

 

You know, life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people.  I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else.  What I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each other’s faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences, is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing and lasting relationship.

 

So please pass me a biscuit.  And yes, the burned one will do just fine!  And please pass this along to someone who has enriched your life.  I just did!

 

Life is too short to wake up with regrets!  Love the people who treat you right and forgive the ones who don't, they could just be having a hard day.

 

Remember, there is nothing better than other people praying for you.  We're not getting older, just getting closer to 'home'!  This prayer is powerful, and prayer is one of the best gifts we receive.  There is no cost, but a lot of rewards.  Let's always pray for one another.

 

The Prayer:

 

Father,

Thank You for each and every day You have blessed us with here on earth.

Thank You for Your tender mercies.

Thank You for giving us family and friends to share joys and sorrows with.

I ask You to bless my relatives, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ and those I care deeply for, who are reading this right now.

Where there is joy, give them continued joy.

Where there is pain or sorrow, give them your peace and mercy.

Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence.

Where there is need, fulfill their needs.

Bless their health, homes, families, finances, their goings and their comings.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

 

Blessings, Love, Light and Laughter

Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi friend,

Have you ever spent an hour or two reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, or listening to podcasts about diabetes nutrition?

If so, you may have felt MORE confused than when you started.

There is so much contradictory information floating around the internet, from people who all seem to have their own agenda. There's the plant-based, vegan propaganda, the dire-hard keto or carnivore crowd, and the good old gals (and guys), teaching the low-fat, high-carb "heart-healthy" diet recommendations.

How do you separate the facts from fiction?

I just created to new webinar where I'll take on the five BIGGEST lies that I see propagated online. I'll share each of these, explain the logic and tell you why it's a lie, and then share the truth about each topic.

The webinar is this Thursday, February 25th at 8:00pm Eastern, 5:00pm Pacific.

>> Register now by clicking here.

This webinar training will be about an hour, and will be jam-packed with valuable information.

Here's some of what I'll cover:

  • The Five Biggest Lies related to diabetes and nutrition and why they are wrong!
  • The difference between body fat and dietary fat, and why matters!
  • What actually causes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes and how to fix it!
  • The truth about plant-based diets, ketogenic diets, and other popular eating strategies!
  • The A-Z Blueprint for how to fix your blood sugar and reverse pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes!
  • Live Q&A with me!

Register

This is a brand new webinar training, and I'll be sharing some powerful information! If you're serious about fixing your blood sugar and you want to learn to truth, join me for this free webinar training.

See you there!

Blessings,

Dr. Brian Mowll
The Diabetes Coach™
Certified Diabetes Educator
IFM-Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:44-45

 

When I don’t take the time to care and pray for other people, my entire focus tends to be on their imperfections. But with that kind of focus, I can’t have much impact on their lives. Seeing their imperfections as an opportunity to love Jesus through them makes all the difference.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells His disciples that when He is again in heaven, He will separate people like sheep on His right and like goats on His left. To the sheep He’ll say, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (verses 35-36). Confused, the people will ask when they did those things for Him, and He’ll tell them, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (verse 40).

His conclusion is stunning: those who care for others in practical ways care for Jesus—and they will be blessed. Our acts for “the least of these” show our love for Jesus because we see Jesus in them. Seeing Jesus in others changes the way we view them—no longer as distractions, problems or interruptions but as human beings deserving of our love and care. What we do for others is a direct reflection of how much love we have for Jesus. If we decide to love other people the way we love Jesus, we’ll see them through new eyes—eyes of love. Real love sees Jesus in others.

Perhaps more than anything, prayer is what helps me cross the bridge from annoyance to love. It’s not uncommon for me to catch myself thinking poorly about another person, and sometimes I even get angry with someone for their insensitivity toward me or someone I love. But when I start to pray for them, the anger and annoyance begin to melt away. I often begin to see the bigger picture—how their hurts have caused them to act the way they do—and then I can pray for the healing of those hurts rather than stewing on how I think they’ve offended me.

Prayer is a game changer. It helps me let go of my hang-ups and lift up others’ needs. When I pray for people who are hard to love, it becomes hard not to love them!

Whom do you find difficult to love? Replace judging with loving. Look at that person through eyes of compassion and concern. Maybe he’s stuck in a crazy cycle of hurt from a childhood trauma that fuels his unhealthy emotions. Maybe she feels desperate and misunderstood and unloved, so she acts out in ways that drive others away. When we try to really understand people we find difficult to love, it becomes hard to hold on to our negative feelings about them.

As Henri Nouwen wrote: To die to our neighbors means to stop judging them, to stop evaluating them, and thus to become free to be compassionate. Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with the other.

Prayer for those hard to love helps us begin to really understand others and see the best in them.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1:17-18).

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Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me pray for those hard to love, so our hearts will turn to you in faith and love, through Christ and in His name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends, I was delighted to address the attendees of the SEEK 2021 conference, hosted by FOCUS, on the subject of the person of Jesus. He has the authority to fulfill the Law of the Old Testament and to bring about the will of God through the Church. With heavenly joy and Gospel panache, go forth proclaiming the divinity and humanity of Christ to a world hungry for the Lord’s fullness!   Bishop Barron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gave His Life To Christ a Few Years Ago”

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A friend and former employee of Rush Limbaugh shared a praise with the late conservative icon’s followers that he “gave his life to Christ a few years ago.”

Joel C. Rosenberg, editor-in-chief of All Israel News, wrote a poignant tribute of his late friend for the outlet, assuring readers that Limbaugh had gone home to glory.

Rosenberg wrote, in part:

For the last several days, I have been mourning Rush’s death, but not without hope. He was only 70. Death came too fast. Took him too soon, as far as I’m concerned. Yet there is something important – and exciting – that you should know about Rush.

Rather late in his life, in his final few years, Rush gave his life fully and completely to Jesus Christ.

Though he had been raised in a Christian family, this was different. Something specific had happened in his life. He had made a very personal and profound decision. And it changed everything.

The mainstream media – so filled with hatred for Rush – will never tell you this side of him. So perhaps you’ll let me.

 

Joel C. Rosenberg

@JoelCRosenberg

·

Rush gave his life to Christ a few years ago & it gave him tremendous hope as he faced his toughest fight. So successful professionally, Rush also faced some dark times personally. But when I went to visit him last year, I was so encouraged by his faith.

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh gave his life to Jesus Christ a few years ago & it gave him tremendous hope as he...

So successful professionally, Rush also faced some dark times personally – but when I went to visit him last year, I was profoundly encouraged by the faith I found. Here’s the story the rest of the...

 

 

Replies

Mrs. James

@4rgrls

·

Replying to

@JoelCRosenberg

Shouldn’t we have noticed such a transformation? How does such a man, with that kind of platform, give his life to Christ and no one can tell the difference? In fact, he led many down an even darker path in recent years & outright lied to listeners in allegiance to Trump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHEESE IS AMONG the ultimate guilty pleasures. It’s gooey. It’s fatty. It’s delicious. It just has to be bad for you, right?

Wrong. A large body of research suggests that cheese’s reputation as a fattening, heart-imperiling food is undeserved. When it comes to weight and other key health outcomes (and setting aside the issue of lactose intolerance, with apologies), cheese is neutral at worst, and possibly even good for you. And yet that research doesn’t seem to have broken through into common knowledge. If you Google “cheese,” the top result under “people also ask” is the ungrammatical query “Why cheese is bad for you?” Now, if you’re the type of person who’s thinking, “What’s the big deal? I eat what I like, in moderation, and don’t worry about calories”—congratulations, I’m happy for you, we have lots of great articles about science and tech you might enjoy. If, on the other hand, you’re like me and worry that your diet is making you gradually fatter, keep reading.

The best evidence for the benign impact of cheese comes from long-term cohort studies that tracked the health and eating habits of tens or hundreds of thousands of people. A 2011 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed three cohorts that together tracked 120,877 US adults over several decades. The authors found that foods like potatoes, processed meats, and refined grains were associated with weight gain over time, while yogurt, fruit, and nuts were associated with weight loss. Cheese was right in the middle: On average, eating more or less of it had essentially no effect on weight.

That finding has held up in more recent research. A 2018 analysis of a study of 2,512 men in Wales, for example, showed a mild inverse relationship between cheese consumption and body mass after five years, meaning eating cheese was associated with weight loss, though that effect faded at the 10-year mark. A meta-analysis of 37 randomized clinical trials found that increased dairy consumption overall led to increased lean muscle mass and decreased body fat.

“There’s almost no evidence that cheese causes weight gain—and in fact, there’s evidence that it’s neutral at worst,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, the lead author of the 2011 paper and dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “There’s no evidence that cheese is linked to cardiovascular disease, and in some studies, it’s even a little bit associated with lower risk. And then, for diabetes, again, it’s at worst neutral, and maybe protective.”

It’s true that observational studies can only reveal correlations. But if there are confounding variables when it comes to Americans’ cheese consumption, they should make its effects look worse, not better. The way Americans eat cheese, and especially the way they were eating it in the 1980s and ’90s, when much of the data was gathered, tends to pair it with unhealthy foods: Imagine a pepperoni pizza, or a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread with a side of chips. “It wasn’t people eating cheese on cutting boards with walnuts and grapes,” Mozaffarian says. “If there were confounding [factors], it would be toward weight gain.”

So just to recap so far: The evidence tends to show that cheese does not make you gain weight. Why hasn’t this amazing news spread more widely? After all, we’ve seen many conventional ideas about food, weight gain, and health be reconsidered over the past decade or two. Thanks in part to the work of authors like Michael Pollan and Gary Taubes, the low-fat diet mantra of the late 20th century has been discredited, replaced by an awareness that added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods are the likelier culprits in America’s obesity epidemic.

News of the future, now.Get WIRED for as low as $5.Subscribe Now

 

 

 

 


 

 

Studies have long been saying that when you drink tea, you support strong bones, a healthy heart, a clear mind, improved muscle endurance, and decreased risk of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.

And now, we’re finding that tea has even more benefits than we realized, including some that are particularly important today. When you drink tea, you may strengthen your immune system by protecting it against oxidants and free radicals.

But what kind of tea should you drink?

Every type of tea has its own unique health-promoting antioxidant properties:

  • Green teas are loaded in catechins
    That’s important because catechins (like the well-studied EGCG) help protect your cells  against harmful free radicals and environmental stressors.
  • Black teas are high in theaflavins
    Theaflavins act as prebiotics to support healthy digestion. Up to 80% of your immune system lives in your gut. That’s why it’s ground zero for healthy immune system support.
  • Herbal teas are polyphenol powerhouses
    The rare antioxidants in rooibos (aspalathin, luteolin and quercetin), are highly regarded for their ability to help support your body’s cellular response system.

But not all teas are created equal, which is why I’m happy to tell you about my favorite type of tea — a premium organic tea that I drink almost every day and have grown to love. It’s called Pique Tea, and it may be the healthiest tea available today.

I love that Pique’s tea crystals are:

  • Sourced from the most potent organic tea leaves and botanicals in the world
  • The only teas that are Triple-Toxin Screened for pesticides, mold, and heavy metals (This has been verified by 3rd-party testing.)
  • Cold Brew Crystallized, to deliver a more concentrated brew than regularly-steeped tea.

And now our friends at Pique Tea have put together 3 powerful immune-support bundles to make it super easy for you to get a whole spectrum of tea antioxidants in one fell swoop.

And the best part? Pique is extending special pricing to support you during this tough time...

Right now, you can save up to 15% (plus get free shipping if you’re in the US) on Pique Tea’s immune-support bundles.

But you might want to order soon because, as you can imagine, these immune-supporting teas are flying off the shelves.

>> So click here if you want to stock your pantry with these delicious and nourishing immune-supportive beverages.

Yours for antioxidants,

Ocean Robbins

P.S. Pique Tea Crystals make it easier than ever to enjoy clean, high-quality, delicious tea every day. And I believe that their potency and purity are unrivaled. Take advantage of your special, limited-time discount, here.

P.P.S. For every purchase made from the links in this email, Pique will not only offer you a special discount — they’ll also make a contribution to support the work of Food Revolution Network. So you can enjoy savings, support your health, and contribute to our mission, all at the same time. Thank you!

 

 

Cantonese Cooking Helped Me Fall Back in Love with Who I Am

byKRISTIN WONG

published 2 DAYS AGO

 

 

SAVECOMMENTS

 

Credit: From Left to Right: Shutterstock, Kristin Wong, Sarah Crowley, Kristin Wong

Many home cooks find their way into the kitchen through their childhood meals. Maybe it’s their grandmother’s chess pie, their mom’s spinach and artichoke casserole, or a chili recipe that’s been passed down for generations. It took me a bit longer to embrace my childhood cuisine. 

When I was 8, sitting at the table with my family, I looked disdainfully at the soup my mother had made for dinner that night: foo jook tong, bean curd soup. The bean curds were fine. It was satisfying to bite down on their thick, chewy texture. The tofu, however, was another story. That squishy, slimy white brick — how could something taste so bad and also taste like nothing? When nobody was looking, I scooped out the tofu, plopped it onto my napkin, and stuffed it into my pockets.

My mom loved to cook and loved to surprise my friends with her cooking. In second grade, after we moved to a new neighborhood, a friend came over and my mom steamed a whole fish with ginger and scallions. We sat on the living room floor and she scooped out the buttery flesh onto a bed of rice. It wasn’t bad, my friend said — she liked it. Suddenly, my mom stabbed the head. She extracted a milky white orb and pointed it at my new friend. “You’re the guest,” my mom said. “Would you like the eyeball?” My friend’s own eyes enlarged as she slowly pushed away from the table. “No, thank you,” she said politely. My mom held in her laughter with one hand as the fish eyeball dangled in the other. 

We had moved to a neighborhood where nobody looked like us. Kids pulled their eyes back, made fun of my last name, and avoided me on the playground. “Ew,” a girl said when she had accidentally touched my arm on the bus. “No offense, but ew.” Like my mom’s fish, I seemed to make people recoil. And that’s how I started to feel about everything around me that was Chinese. I learned to hide those parts of myself as best I could, like stuffing tofu into my pockets. Years went by, and I felt more and more disconnected from that part of my identity.

As an adult, I started cooking as a means to an end. I learned to make a few go-to meals, like spaghetti or meatloaf or salmon on rice. Then cooking became a way to unwind with a glass of wine after a hard day at work. It morphed into a skill — I learned to make lamb shanks and the perfect mushroom risotto. These were dishes my friends would have had growing up. They were dishes I saw plastered on food blogs or highlighted in my Instagram feed. Dishes that felt familiar to everyone around me. At best, food was a hobby. Mostly, it was a chore.

But when I would go back home to visit my mom, cooking was a way to reconnect. My mom was always so excited to make the Chinese comfort foods I had growing up. Shrimp with lobster sauce. Snow fungus soup. Bok choy with rice. We’d spend hours in the kitchen, catching up on work and relationships and life as she chopped veggies and threw them into a pot. We’d get lost in our conversations, forget what time it was, and share a bowl of stew at midnight.

Those visits left me craving more. I wanted to recreate these meals and memories in my own kitchen, but after years of sweeping away my Chinese identity, I felt like a traitor; an impostor. “I wish I knew how to make this,” I said to my mom once, lifting the lid from a steaming pot of congee. It was as though my mom had been waiting for the invitation. “Let me show you how to cook!” she exclaimed. “Tomorrow we’ll have foo jook tong!” 

The next day, we drove to the Chinese grocery store and picked up any necessities that weren’t already on hand: bean curd sheets, shiitake mushrooms, and, of course, tofu. We minced the garlic and ginger. Cooked the rice. Cut the bean curd sheets after soaking them  in water. The dried mushrooms would need to be soaked, too. We added all of our ingredients. I was strategic while my mom relied on her intuition, the way she always does. There are probably more refined, authentic ways of making foo jook tong. My grandmother made it, my great-grandmother made it, and maybe their recipes got lost and watered down by time as we all get lost and watered down by time. Still, my mom’s version of this soup was delicious, savory, and perfectly comforting. Even the tofu was good, not at all like a squishy void of nothing I remembered as a child. Had my palate changed, or had I? Perhaps the parts of myself I tried to hide had found their way to me. 

What makes something delicious? I wonder if nostalgia is part of it. If a good meal is an experience of the senses, perhaps our emotions and memories can influence the taste of a dish, too.

Cooking the food of my past — the meals my mom used to make with fervor and love, no doubt reminding her of her own childhood in Hong Kong — reminded me that cooking is more than a means to an end. It’s more than a skill or even an art form. Cooking can be a way to connect with a part of yourself that you’ve forgotten. I will never be a chef or even a very good home cook. I will never understand the science of salt. And try as I might, I can’t bake a halfway decent cookie. But my palate will always be informed by my past, and in the kitchen, cooking will always be a way to connect with who I am.

Kristin Wong

CONTRIBUTOR

Kristin Wong is a writer and journalist who has written for The New York Times, WIRED, The Cut, CNN Travel, and Travel + Leisure. She lives in Los Angeles and enjoys taking photos, taking hikes, and taking naps. You can follow her on Twitter @thewildwong.

FOLLOW KRISTIN​​​​​​

WTF TODAY

Old people generally have more wealth than young people, but old people get the discount card.

*Wild Thought For Today
Darren Hardy

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutting Cords

 
 

Sometimes the emotions we are feeling belong to the person we are in a connection with, and an energetic cord must be severed.

In every relationship, people are constantly exchanging energy that can become a cord connecting two people. This energetic cord forms just below the breastbone and can remain long after a relationship has ended. This unbroken cord may leave an open channel between you and another person, through which emotions and energy can continue to flow. If you are unaware that the cord exists, it is easy to feel the other person's emotions and mistakenly think that they are yours. Besides the fact that this can limit the amount of closure you can experience in a relationship, letting this cord remain intact can leave you with a continued sense of sadness while creating feelings of lethargy as your own energy is sapped from you. Cutting the cord can help you separate yourself from old baggage, unnecessary attachments, and release you from connections that are no longer serving you.

Finding and cutting unwanted cords is a simple, gentle process that is best done alone and when you are relaxed. It is important that you are strong in your intention to release the cord between you and someone else. To begin, breathe deeply and perform a simple centering meditation. When you are ready, visualize or sense the cords that are connecting you to other people. Run your fingers through the cords to separate them until you find the cord you wish to sever. There is no need to worry, because the cord you need to sever will feel just right. When you have found it, determine where the cut should be made and then visualize the cord being cleanly cut. If you need assistance, Archangel Michael can be called upon to help you with his sword. Afterwards, if you feel that cutting the cord has left spaces in your energy field, then visualize those spaces being filled with healing sunlight.

There may be times where cutting a cord can help free a relative or loved one to reach new stages of growth. You're not severing a relationship, but you are severing the cords that are no longer serving you both. At other times, a cord may simply refuse to be cut because it is still serving a higher purpose. It is also important to remember that cutting a cord with someone is not a replacement for doing your emotional work with people. It can, however, be an enactment of that work upon its completion. In any case, cutting a relationship cord should always be viewed as a positive and nurturing act. By cutting the cords that no longer need to be there, you are setting yourself and others free from the ties that bind. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

The TRUTH about eating organic...

 

Joel & Josh - BioTrust Nutrition <support@biotrustnews.com>

 

BioTrust Nutrition
Hey it's Coach Josh and as I write this newsletter, I'm doing a little late night snacking on a batch of organic cucumbers (marinated in vinegar, yummmmm) from my local farmer's market.

Now, you've probably heard that there are benefits to eating organic, but if you're like most people, you're may still be a tad confused about the whole "organic" thing (as is proved by all the organic-related emails that regularly come through my inbox).

Perhaps you've wondered, what exactly makes something "organic" and why is it better than the regular stuff? Or maybe, what makes organic produce so darned expensive, and is there any way to enjoy it without burning a hole in my wallet?

Coach Josh to the rescue.

We'll start with some boring (yet helpful) definitions.

For a food to be certified organic, it must meet certain USDA's criteria. For produce, this means that the produce must be grown without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.

There are obviously other criteria when talking about meat, but for today we'll stick with produce.

The benefits of eating organic, particularly produce, are that produce grown under organic standards have been shown to be more nutritive, possessing greater phytochemical, vitamin, and mineral content.

In other words, you get a lot more of the good stuff and a lot less of the potentially harmful stuff—pretty much a great trade-off any way you look at it.

As far as cost is concerned, if you're buying organic produce at your average supermarket, then yes, you will certainly pay considerably more than the adjacent non-organic fruits and veggies.

That said, a simple solution is to shop elsewhere for your organic needs. A great solution that I use myself is to buy a "share" of the season's harvest at a local farm, known as CSA (community supported agriculture). Basically, I've got all the organic produce I could dream of from June - Thanksgiving, for a very reasonable price.

You can get a list of local CSA farms near you by visiting localharvest.org

Another alternative to joining a local CSA is simply stopping by your local farmer's market. Health food stores are third option, but I'd recommend checking out circulars and going for what's on sale when shopping at these outlets.

Organic produce that is fresh and in season can be just as affordable, if not more so, than the regular stuff at the grocery store.

Buying in bulk can further decrease cost. As we all know, that 5-gallon tub of mayonnaise is always a steal compared to the cost of the equivalent 20 individual jars.

Remember, produce will always be cheaper in season, so stock up at the right time and then freeze the rest (frozen produce can easily last months once purchased and will still taste great; simply thaw and enjoy). This gives you the double-whammy savings of buying in season and in large amounts.  The end result -- fat-burning, healthful food at a massive discount!

Now, before I go, it's important to know that some "healthy" foods can be really bad news.  You see, while we've been led to believe that fish is one of the healthiest food choices around, what you probably didn't know is that there are 4 specific types of fish -- all very common -- that you should literally NEVER eat due to incredibly high levels of contamination that can and WILL hammer the delicate cells of your body with toxic inflammation...

In the end, this toxic inflammation build up contributes to achy joints, premature aging of the skin (and less visible organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver), difficulty shedding excess weight, cognitive decline, forgetfulness, feeling blue and moody, and so much more...

Take it from our colleague and top medical doctor, Dr. Phil Spiess; avoid these 4 types of fish like the plague:

==> NEVER eat this type of fish (EVER)

Watch out!

Coach Josh

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Josh Bezoni
Co-Founder, BioTrust Nutrition









 

 
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During a difficult season filled with so much change, uncertainty and grief, there’s one thing that has kept me buoyant––my meditation practice.

I don’t always show up for it and when I do my mind often drifts. But regardless of where I am, meditation is always there for me––especially when I need it the most.

When I feel lost, I meditate.

When I feel sad, I meditate.

When my temper gets the best of me, I meditate.

When I’m scared, I meditate.

And you know when my favorite time to hit the pillow is? When I’m joyful! So before bed, I meditate. It’s one of the best ways to elevate and expand my good vibes.

Basically, meditation is part of my medicine because it helps me come home to myself.

And a regular meditation practice can help you feel better in all areas of your life, too. It’s true, my friend!

That’s why I’ve put together a Meditation Bundle Deal for you. It’s the best way to get many of my meditations, plus some wonderful bonuses to help you on your wellness journey and equip you to take very good care of yourself––body, mind and spirit.

I’m offering both my Self-Care for Busy People and Extraordinary: Meditations for a Magnificent Life albums for only $35.

Plus, you’ll get my meditation bonus pack to help make your practice consistent.


 

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Are You Fully Awake?

Joseph Prince  

Awake to righteousness, and sin not.

1 Corinthians 15:34, KJV

Perhaps you find yourself under a constant siege of condemnation because you have been wrongly taught that the Holy Spirit convicts believers of their sins. You believe that the condemnation you feel is a result of the Holy Spirit’s conviction when it actually originates from the accuser. Rather than the Holy Spirit being your Helper, convicting you that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, that God will never abandon you even if you have sinned, you are left to struggle with sin, condemnation, and fear. It is time to “awake to righteousness.” As Pamela in Maryland discovered, when you do, oppression, bondage, and sin cannot maintain their hold in your life. Here is Pamela’s testimony:

Dear Pastor Prince, at fifty-nine years of age, I was recovering from multiple fractures in my right ankle and fibula. In the first month, my mobility was severely limited and my physical condition weakened. During that season of stress, I was oppressed and tormented by strong feelings of fear of abandonment and rejection, experiencing panic attacks almost daily. I was plagued by nightmares and became unable to sleep—due in part to pain medication, but also to the extreme anxiety. Some nights, all I could do was read the Bible until I was exhausted and finally able to sleep.
One day, I came across your television program and was “hooked.” Every day and evening, I watched your program, soaking up the words of life that you were speaking to my soul. I soon ordered one of your books. For the first time in my life, I heard that it was not the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin, but my conscience. As I read through the book, it was like water to my soul. I read it through three times, each time getting more freedom and peace.
Now, at the age of sixty, I am healthier, happier, and freer than I have ever been in my life. I have been delivered from the stronghold of the fear of abandonment, neglect, and rejection that had oppressed me for most of my life. I have been able to forgive those who physically, emotionally, and sexually abused me, and to repent of my disrespect, self-hatred, bitterness, and resentment.
Today, I am confident that my heavenly Papa loves me, not because of anything I have or have not done, but because of what Jesus did for me. I am continuing to learn that I am completely accepted and righteous in His beloved Son, Jesus, who is altogether lovely, trustworthy, and gracious. Now, I spend my days loving Him and being loved by Him, and I am better able to bless and serve others. Thank you!

Beloved, if you are struggling with condemnation, fear, and sin, the power to overcome is found in knowing that you are the righteousness of God in Christ. When the Bible says, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not,” it means that the more you realize that you are indeed righteous in Christ, and that you are righteous apart from your works, the more you will be empowered to live righteously. Let the truth sink in and be set free by the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is your Helper, given by God to convict you of righteousness. You are the righteousness of God in Christ!

In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked the Lord to spare the city if he could find 50 righteous people. God responded to Abraham's plea "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all ....Genesis 18:16-33The movie "Corpus Christi "is due to be released this June to August. It is a disgusting film set to appear in America later this year which depicts Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals! As a play, this has already been in theaters for a while. It's called "Corpus Christi" which means "The Body of Christ". It's a revolting mockery of our Lord. But we Christians can make a difference.That's why I am sending this e-mail to you. If you do send this around, we just might be able to prevent this film from being shown in Australia, Canada and America etc. Let's stand for what we believe and stop the mockery of Jesus Christ our Savior. Where do we stand as Christians? I am forwarding this to all I think will respect and appreciate being informed. Please help us prevent such offenses against our Lord. There is no petition to sign, no time limit, or minimum number of people to send this to.It will take you less than 2 minutes!If you are not interested and do not have the 2 minutes it will take to do this, please don't complain if God does not seem to have time for you. Imagine what would happen if this film were depicting Mohammad in the same way...the Islamic world would be in flames!!. Apparently, some regions in Europe have already successfully banned the film. All we need is a lot of prayer and a lot of E-mails.JUST GET THE WORD OUT!....Will God be able to find at least 50 righteous people who are willing to express their concern and voice their opinion against this act of blasphemy?

 

UMMARY

Vitamin B12 is a hot topic in the vegan community since it’s one of the few nutrients hard to obtain on an entirely plant-based diet. That doesn’t mean meat-eaters should gloat, though: many omnivores suffer from B12 deficiency as well. So what is B12, why is it important for health, and how do you know if you’re getting enough?

 

Picture a no-holds-barred diet debate. The topic: “Is a vegan diet healthy for humans?” The anti-vegan debater utters two syllables and drops the mic, confident of victory. What are those syllables? “B” and “12.”

Here’s the deal: B12 is an essential vitamin, crucial for many bodily functions. And many people can’t get enough B12 from an exclusively plant-based diet without some form of supplementation. Therefore, the anti-vegan concludes, plant-based diets are unnatural and unhealthy. Case closed, and let’s break out the ribeyes.

Well, not so fast. While it’s true that B12 is an essential nutrient, and it’s hard to get enough from plants, there’s a lot more to the story. Many non-vegans are also low on B12, for a variety of reasons having to do with individual health issues, as well as modern agricultural and sanitation practices. And many people actually host bacteria that make B12 in their digestive tracts.

No matter what your diet, this article tells you what you need to know about B12. You’ll find out what it is, where it comes from, why it’s so important for your health, how much you need, and where to find the healthiest sources.

What Is Vitamin B12?

vitamin b12 written on chalkboard
iStock.com/Professor25

Of all the known vitamins, vitamin B12 is the largest and has the most complex structure. (Think of it as the vitamin equivalent of book five of the Harry Potter series.) Like all the other B vitamins, B12 is water-soluble. This means that your body uses what it needs and excretes the rest through your urine. While some people can store vitamin B12 in their bodies for a long time (up to four years), it’s important to get a regular supply in order to prevent deficiency.

Vitamin B12 contains the metallic chemical element cobalt, which is why B12 compounds are also known as cobalamins. (It turns out that Wolverine isn’t the only one with a partly metallic body!) Your body requires B12 to form red blood cells, to keep your brain functioning well, and to synthesize DNA. B12 also plays an essential role in folate (vitamin B9) metabolism, which is a critical nutrient for reproduction. In other words, no B12, no life.

B12 Benefits for Your Health

b12 written in supplement capsules on table
iStock.com/Mizina

Vitamin B12 is critically important for a lot of reasons. It contributes to a vast array of processes that keep your body running smoothly and that support your overall health. Here are just a few crucial benefits of B12.

1. Helps fight depression.

Getting enough vitamin B12 supports brain health and positive mood. Observational studies have found that approximately one-third of patients who are admitted for clinical treatment of depression are deficient in vitamin B12.

2. Protects against cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin B12 helps regulate levels of homocysteine, a byproduct of protein metabolism. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia. Homocysteine levels increase when B12 is deficient and decrease when there is enough B12 in the body. (Think of B12 and homocysteine on opposite sides of a see-saw.) Many studies conducted between 1999-2003 found that vegans who were not supplementing with vitamin B12 had unusually high levels of homocysteine, whereas those who did supplement had homocysteine levels that fell within a normal range.

3. Protects against eye disease and disorders.

Vitamin B12’s ability to bring down homocysteine levels benefits not only your cardiovascular system and your brain but your eyes as well. Elevated homocysteine levels appear to increase the risk of a number of eye-related diseases, including (warning: list of medical jargon coming up) retinopathy, cataracts, optic atrophy, retinal vessel atherosclerosis, and pseudoexfoliative glaucoma maculopathy (I don’t recommend trying to say this five times fast).

And that’s not all. Age-related macular degeneration is associated with both high homocysteine levels and low levels of vitamin B12. The good news is that vitamin B12 and folate supplementation can be helpful in helping elderly people reduce the high homocysteine levels that can lead to eye disease. And remarkably, the topical application of vitamin B12 along with citicoline — a naturally-occurring brain chemical sometimes used in supplements — to the eyes of patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy actually regrew damaged nerves, improving their corneal nerve health. Now that’s some real-life magic right there!

4. Protects against neural tube defects in pregnancy.

Neural tube defects are serious birth defects that can change the function or shape of the spinal cord and brain. While we most often hear about the importance of folate for preventing neural tube defects, vitamin B12 also plays a crucial role. Fetuses of mothers with low levels of vitamin B12 are at a higher risk for neural tube defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly, among others.

5. Helps with red blood cell formation.

Vitamin B12 also helps to make sure you have enough red blood cells in circulation. In turn, it supports oxygen availability in your body and may improve athletic performance. A 2020 study published in the journal Nutrients examined 1,131 blood samples collected from 243 track and field athletes over six years and compared the results to athletic performance. The researchers concluded that the ideal athletic performance was achieved when blood levels of B12 were in the range of 400-700 pg/mL (that’s picograms per milliliter. And in case you’ve never heard of a picogram before, it’s one trillionth of a gram).

6. Has a protective effect on DNA.

Vitamin B12 has antioxidant properties, which is one of the reasons it can both protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals and reduce your cancer risk. If Jeff Goldblum had gotten enough B12, I suspect The Fly would have been a very different (and much less scary) movie.

Having enough vitamin B12 in your system can also help protect you against the toxicity of some drugs. One 2014 study, for example, found that vitamin B12 was protective against the known free radical damage caused by Paclitaxel, an anticancer drug that leads to irreversible cell injury. And a 2018 study found that vitamin B12 reduced toxicity from hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic drug used to treat high blood pressure and fluid-related swelling.

Where Does Vitamin B12 Come From?

man reviewing supplements in supermarket
iStock.com/PeopleImages

There are many misconceptions about B12, but the truth is that this critical vitamin does not actually come from meat. Rather, B12 is made only by bacteria and single-celled organisms. And where, pray tell, are these B12 producing microorganisms found? In soil, and in the small intestine of animals, including humans.

Before the advent of modern sterilization practices, you could get B12 pretty much everywhere, including by eating vegetables that had a teeny bit of dirt left on them. Or by drinking well or river water, or just by working in a garden.

These days, though, most of us drink chlorinated water, which kills the B12-producing bacteria (as well, of course, as the nasty pathogens that cause cholera, typhoid, and dysentery). Furthermore, much of our farmland today is sterile since it’s fed with synthetic fertilizers instead of decaying plant and animal matter in which B12 bacteria can survive.

Meanwhile, our society has developed a collective fear of dirt and germs. While there are undeniable public health benefits to our anti-microbial efforts, there are serious negative side effects as well, including a lack of bioavailable B12 in our environment.

And remember our anti-vegan debater crowing about the fact that vegans have to supplement with B12, and how it “proves” that their diet is inherently unhealthy and unnatural? Well, the sad truth is that factory-farmed animals are also B12 deficient, so they receive supplementation in their feed. This means that no matter where you’re getting your B12, it’s likely to depend at least in part on supplementation. The real question is whether you supplement directly or take it through a middleman, er, middle-cow or middle-chicken.

How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need?

It’s not just a matter of how much B12 you take in; it’s also how much you can use. The vitamin must be bioavailable. And you must be able to absorb and transport it efficiently as well. For instance, optimal B12 absorption can only be achieved when there’s enough intrinsic factor — a transporter protein for B12 — in the digestive system.

And with all of the factors in our world today that can throw off our gut microbiome, it’s not just vegans or vegetarians who are at risk for B12 deficiency. In fact, according to one study of 3,000 people conducted a while back by researchers at Tufts University, up to 39% of the US population could have low B12 levels. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how to get vitamin B12 from dietary and/or supplemental sources, and how much you need in order to maintain optimal levels.

Below are the recommended daily needs for vitamin B12, based on established Adequate Intake and Recommended Dietary Allowances:

  • 0-6 months: 0.4 mcg (micrograms, or millionths of a gram)
  • 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
  • 1-3 years: 0.9 mg
  • 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
  • 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
  • 14+ years: 2.4 mcg
  • Pregnancy: 2.6 mcg
  • Lactation: 2.8 mcg

As you can see, the recommended intake varies depending on age, pregnancy status, and diet. But minimum daily needs data can be misleading. The truth is that if your absorption is suboptimal for any reason, which is increasingly the case as you grow older, your actual needs might be higher.

B12 Deficiency

blood sample for vitamin b12 test
iStock.com/jarun011

If you don’t get enough vitamin B12, either because of inadequate intake, poor absorption, and/or inability to make your own in tandem with the bacteria in your gut, you’re at risk of a B12 deficiency.

What are some of the more common symptoms of B12 deficiency? They can include fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, tingling of hands and feet, sore mouth or tongue, difficulty balancing, confusion, and poor memory. In infants, it can look like failure to thrive, movement disorders, and developmental delays.

Of course, the best way to know how efficient your body is at producing — and absorbing — vitamin B12 is to have your blood levels tested. A vitamin B12 test can be done at the same time as other general labs at a wellness check-up. But because it’s not a standard test, you will have to request it in most cases. It typically costs $30-50 for such a test.

In western medicine today, B12 deficiency is generally suspected when blood levels of B12 fall below 200 pg/mL. But research suggests that levels of at least 400 pg/mL are closer to optimal.

Who Is Most At Risk for Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

elderly woman preparing green vegetables
iStock.com/kate_sept2004

While vitamin B12 deficiency can affect anyone, certain groups are at higher risk.

The most common cause of B12 deficiency is poor absorption, which can result from conditions like irritable bowel diseaseCeliac disease, AIDS, or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. The elderly population is also at heightened risk because B12 absorption worsens with age.

People who have an MTHFR genetic mutation may also be more prone to B12 deficiency. This is because having this particular mutation inhibits the way your body can process B vitamins, including folate and B12.

Additionally, people who follow a diet that excludes animal products are at a higher risk. This is because, for many people, the most abundant food sources of B12 are animal products.

Vitamin B12 Sources & Absorption

Plant-based eaters generally can’t remedy a B12 deficiency simply by more veggies. While a whole foods, plant-based diet can provide optimal levels of almost all of the nutrients you need, vitamin B12 is one of the only ones that isn’t easily sourced from plants.

The dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Most animal products (for those who eat them), including fish, beef, poultry, dairy products, and eggs
  • Algae, seaweed, and some mushrooms
  • Some fermented foods like tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso
  • Fortified foods like certain plant-based milks and yogurts, some cereals, nutritional yeast, and tofu

Some root veggies, like carrots, potatoes, and turnips, were traditionally considered to be decent sources of vitamin B12 due to the healthy soil they were once grown in. However, with so much food grown in relatively “dead” and degraded soils, and with most of us today cleaning our produce thoroughly before we eat it, these foods are no longer reliable sources of B12.

While they may provide some vitamin B12, and it’s also possible that bacteria in your gut are taking care of your needs completely, B12 is too important to leave to chance. If you follow a plant-based diet, it’s important to include a B12 supplement to meet your needs.

Vitamin B12 Supplements

pregnant woman choosing vitamin supplements
iStock.com/SbytovaMN

Taking a B12 dietary supplement is necessary for plant-based eaters. But considering how many omnivores are deficient in it, it might be advisable for other people, too. Vegan B12 is easy to find and is one of the least expensive supplements on the market.

But there are several different forms of B12 supplements available. So which one is best? Believe it or not, some natural health advocates get remarkably heated on this topic.

Cyanocobalamin vs Methylcobalamin

The most widely used form is cyanocobalamin, mainly because it’s cheaper and more stable to manufacture than other forms. When you ingest cyanocobalamin, your body converts it into one of the two active forms of vitamin B12: methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin. And some studies indicate that cyanocobalamin may be better absorbed, so score one for team cyanocobalamin.

But the next most popular form is methylcobalamin, which is the natural form (the kind found in food sources), whereas cyanocobalamin is synthetic. And some studies have found that, compared to methylcobalamin, more cyanocobalamin is excreted through urine, suggesting that methylcobalamin may be retained better.

Some people also rail against cyanocobalamin by explaining that it is made with cyanide (a poisonous substance). And it’s true that cyanocobalamin does include a cyanide molecule. But the good news is that even at a high dose, you’ll still be getting a thousand times less cyanide than is toxic. And the tiny amount of cyanide is excreted in the urine. So while this sounds terrible, it probably isn’t cause for alarm. Even if you don’t have the constitution of Rasputin, you will not get poisoned.

That said, if the cyanide factor makes you want to opt for methylcobalamin, I won’t blame you. Overall, available research around vitamin B12 suggests that the differences in bioavailability between these two forms may not be enough to suggest one over the other for most people. Instead, factors that affect the absorption of vitamin B12, like age and genetics, may be more influential than the form of the supplement itself.

Supplement Amounts

How much vitamin B12 should you take in the form of a supplement? Generally speaking, it’s best to get your levels tested to determine your baseline and adjust dosages accordingly.

The registered dietitians at VeganHealth.org, who have extensively researched vitamin B12 on a vegan diet, put together a helpful table with recommended regimens for supplementing vitamin B12. You can see that table here.

Vitamin B12 injections are another option. Such injections are most often used for high-risk people who have absorption issues, and for people who are already vitamin B12 deficient. The advantage of this method is that it can quickly correct low levels of B12. Injections generally contain high levels of cyanocobalamin and can either be self-administered or given by a physician.

Editor’s Note: If you want to get B12 from a supplement, one option that you might want to consider is Complement Plus, which provides methylcobalamin B12 and other critical nutrients that can be hard for plant-based eaters to get from food — specifically D3, DHA, EPA, Zinc, Iodine, Magnesium, and Selenium. Our friends at Complement put them all into one simple, non-GMO, vegan capsule. They’re offering FRN members a special discount price. To find out more, click here. If you make a purchase using this link, they’ll make a contribution to support FRN’s work, too. (Thank you!)

Vitamin B12 Risks and Interactions

In general, high doses of B12 are considered safe with a low risk of toxicity, and there is no established upper tolerable limit for this nutrient. If you’re taking an oral supplement, there’s no known risk with taking a reasonable amount daily, even if you haven’t had your blood levels checked.

However, there may be some risks to B12 injections, which is why they should not, in most cases, be undertaken without support from a qualified healthcare professional. If you’re allergic to cyanocobalamin or cobalt, have low potassium levels (hypokalemia), kidney disease, a rare blood disorder called polycythemia vera, the eye disease Leber’s disease, or nutrient deficiencies like iron or folic acid, B12 injections are not recommended due to higher risk for interactions.

Vitamin B12: Essential and Non-Negotiable

person taking out vitamin b12 capsules from bottle
iStock.com/Professor25

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that’s necessary for good health. Plant-based eaters and older people are at increased risk of deficiency. Fortunately, even if you opt to forego all animal products, you can get all the B12 you need, and all the benefits from this versatile and critical nutrient, with a simple and affordable supplement.

Tell us in the comments:

  • Do you take a vitamin B12 supplement? Do you need to make adjustments to your regimen based on the recommendations in this article?
  • Have you ever had your blood levels of B12 checked? If so, what did you learn?

Featured image: iStock.com/Tero Vesalainen

AARP Fraud Watch Network
First Came Phishing, Now
There’s … Smishing
Dear Thelma,
Most of us have heard of the term “phishing.” But did you know that phishing done by SMS (that stands for Short Message Service) text message has its own name? That’s right, it’s called “smishing.” (Get it? SMS + phishing?) And just like other types of phishing, smishing relies on the senders pretending to be someone they are not in hopes of getting ahold of your money or personal information.
     
How It Works
You receive a text message that appears to be from a government agency or a company you are otherwise familiar with.
The text asks for personal information, such as a Social Security number or an online account password.
It may direct you to click a link to resolve a problem or access a service — during the ongoing pandemic, it may relate to COVID-19 testing, vaccines or contact tracing.
 
 
What You Should Know
Scammers use technology to make it appear that texts are coming from a particular number, like the IRS or Social Security Administration, or from a company you may do business with.
The message will relay seemingly urgent information that requires you to act right away — your benefits have been suspended, your account has been compromised, or you need to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, for example.
The message will include a link for you to click on to address the situation.
 
 
What You Should Do
Develop a habit of pausing before clicking on texts. Surveys show we are more likely to read and react to a text message than an email, which is why scammers have flocked to smishing.
Don’t click on links from suspicious texts; it may result in loading malicious software onto your device that will harvest your credentials, or sending you to a website that will do the same.
If you have reason to believe the text may be legitimate, reach out to the sender — the IRS, UPS, Amazon or whomever — at a number or web address you know to be legitimate.
 
 
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family and visit the Fraud Watch Network.
Sincerely,
Kathy Stokes
AARP Fraud Watch Network

The Texas Freeze: Why the Power Grid Failed

The state’s electricity system was considered a model. This week’s outages revealed shortcomings in the market structure.

People waited in line Wednesday to fill propane tanks in Houston.

PHOTO: DAVID J. PHILLIP/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The system broke down this week when 185 generating units, including gas and coal-fired power plants, tripped offline during the brunt of the storm. Wind turbines in West Texas froze as well, and a nuclear unit near the Gulf of Mexico went down for more than 48 hours. Another problem emerged: Some power plants lost their pipeline supply of gas and couldn’t generate electricity even if they wanted to capture the high prices.

Such mechanical problems might have been avoided if operators had chosen to equip their plants like those that operate in traditional cold-weather states.

It was a policy failure that state and federal officials are already scrutinizing as electricity, a public necessity as critical as water and heat, becomes even more important as more vital functions become electrified.

Nationwide, the grid is evolving to support more renewable energy and the emerging demand for power for electric vehicles. That makes balancing supply and demand more complex. Many climate scientists expect an increase in extreme weather events, which would further test the system’s vulnerabilities.

The U.S. is becoming more reliant than ever on electricity, but has no perfect model for running a power market in the 21st century. Before this week’s meltdown, the Texas market had been widely regarded as one of the best. Now, most everyone agrees that major changes—including more regulatory intervention—will be needed to keep it working.

The Ercot breakdown affected millions of Texans, many of whom resorted to desperate measures to stay warm. The outages shut down hundreds of stores and businesses, limiting supplies of food and water. Cities including Austin, Houston and San Antonio are under boil-water notices until Monday after a wave of burst water pipes caused shortages.

While Texas is now the most prominent U.S. power market failure, others have faced serious challenges in recent years. California’s grid operator last summer resorted to rolling blackouts when a severe heat wave swept the West, reducing the state’s ability to import power and pushing demand into the evening hours after solar production declined.

Energy markets have moved away from the monopoly-style power-delivery systems that once were common. The current system has roots in the 1990s and early 2000s, when fossil fuels supplied the majority of the nation’s electricity and extreme weather risks were more predictable.

“The premises of that paradigm have changed,” said Bernard McNamee, a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member who is now a partner at law firm McGuireWoods LLP. Renewable-energy sources cannot be turned on and off like a power plant, making it harder to ensure sufficient supply at any one time. “That’s why public policy makers and electricity officials need to address some of the shortcomings.”

William Hogan, an energy economist at Harvard University who helped design the Texas market, said this week’s blackouts weren’t indicative of a major design flaw, but rather inevitable imperfections stemming from extraordinary weather challenges.

“I don’t know of any market design that exists anywhere that would have anticipated and have been prepared for something of this scope and scale,” he said.

 

Ercot monitors the power grid that supplies electricity to millions of Texans.

PHOTO: BOB DAEMMRICH/ZUMA PRESS

The Texas power grid is essentially an electrical island. That is by design. Because it doesn’t ship power across state lines, the grid doesn’t fall under federal oversight, a status state leaders have sought to preserve for decades.

Ercot runs the hourly market to set power prices and ensure sufficient generation. It is regulated by the Texas Public Utility Commission, a three-member body appointed by the governor and overseen by the state legislature. Ercot, the grid operator, is required to maintain a balance between electricity supply and demand, but has no regulatory authority.

Some critics of the state’s system say the alphabet soup of Texas energy oversight bodies, which includes other agencies regulating oil and natural gas, resulted in inaction.

“The real factor is not anticipating what needed to be done to the infrastructure,” said Texas Rep. Donna Howard, a Democrat from Austin. “That had to do with a failure of multiple agencies to address how things work together in a deregulated market.”

When the Lights Went OffAn hour-by-hour look at Texas' gridoperations compared to forecasted demand.Electricity demand in TexasSource: Energy Information AdministrationNote: All times in CST

MWhBlackouts beginDemandForecastFeb. 12Feb. 18020,00040,00060,00080,000

Texas has long prided itself on its wholesale power market. It was born from a legislative effort in the 1990s that broke up the state’s utility monopolies, introducing competition among a larger universe of power generators and retail electricity providers.

The result was a laissez-faire market design that rewards those who can sell power inexpensively and still recover their capital costs. That keeps prices low when demand is steady. When demand spikes, however, so do prices, which can climb as high as $9,000 per megawatt-hour to incentivize power plants of all kinds to fire up.

If an electricity producer agrees to supply power into the market and then fails to deliver, the producer has to pay for the cost of replacing it. But if a plant trips offline and stays out of the market for an extended period, as happened this week, there is no penalty besides lost revenue.

Electricity supply crunches tend to occur during extreme temperature swings, when customers crank up their heat or air conditioning. That makes it critical for power plants to be able to function in severe weather.

A fundamental flaw in the freewheeling Texas electricity market left millions powerless and freezing in the dark this week during a historic cold snap.

The core problem: Power providers can reap rewards by supplying electricity to Texas customers, but they aren’t required to do it and face no penalties for failing to deliver during a lengthy emergency.

That led to the fiasco that left millions of people in the nation’s second-most-populous state without power for days. A severe storm paralyzed almost every energy source, from power plants to wind turbines, because their owners hadn’t made the investments needed to produce electricity in subfreezing temperatures.

While power providers collectively failed, the companies themselves didn’t break any rules. Texas officials don’t require plant owners to prepare for the worst by spending extra money to ensure they can continue operating through severe cold or heat. The high prices operators can reap from such periods of peak demand were supposed to be incentive enough for them to invest in safeguarding their equipment from severe weather.

Bill Magness, chief executive of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or Ercot, which operates the state’s power grid, explained during a Thursday news conference how the system was supposed to work: High peak prices provide the incentive for producers to keep operating in all weather. Generators that can’t produce power when it is most needed risk missing out on windfalls. “They’ll face financial consequences in the marketplace,” he said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, facing a political uproar as the state of 29 million people virtually ground to a halt, tacitly acknowledged in a statewide address Thursday that these market incentives weren’t sufficient. He called upon legislators to mandate that power generators prepare for extreme winter storms. The state, he said, should also supply the funding to make it happen.

“What happened this week to our fellow Texans is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again,” he said. His office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

 

The system broke down this week when 185 generating units, including gas and coal-fired power plants, tripped offline during the brunt of the storm. Wind turbines in West Texas froze as well, and a nuclear unit near the Gulf of Mexico went down for more than 48 hours. Another problem emerged: Some power plants lost their pipeline supply of gas and couldn’t generate electricity even if they wanted to capture the high prices.

Such mechanical problems might have been avoided if operators had chosen to equip their plants like those that operate in traditional cold-weather states.

It was a policy failure that state and federal officials are already scrutinizing as electricity, a public necessity as critical as water and heat, becomes even more important as more vital functions become electrified.

Nationwide, the grid is evolving to support more renewable energy and the emerging demand for power for electric vehicles. That makes balancing supply and demand more complex. Many climate scientists expect an increase in extreme weather events, which would further test the system’s vulnerabilities.

The U.S. is becoming more reliant than ever on electricity, but has no perfect model for running a power market in the 21st century. Before this week’s meltdown, the Texas market had been widely regarded as one of the best. Now, most everyone agrees that major changes—including more regulatory intervention—will be needed to keep it working.

The Ercot breakdown affected millions of Texans, many of whom resorted to desperate measures to stay warm. The outages shut down hundreds of stores and businesses, limiting supplies of food and water. Cities including Austin, Houston and San Antonio are under boil-water notices until Monday after a wave of burst water pipes caused shortages.

While Texas is now the most prominent U.S. power market failure, others have faced serious challenges in recent years. California’s grid operator last summer resorted to rolling blackouts when a severe heat wave swept the West, reducing the state’s ability to import power and pushing demand into the evening hours after solar production declined.

Energy markets have moved away from the monopoly-style power-delivery systems that once were common. The current system has roots in the 1990s and early 2000s, when fossil fuels supplied the majority of the nation’s electricity and extreme weather risks were more predictable.

“The premises of that paradigm have changed,” said Bernard McNamee, a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member who is now a partner at law firm McGuireWoods LLP. Renewable-energy sources cannot be turned on and off like a power plant, making it harder to ensure sufficient supply at any one time. “That’s why public policy makers and electricity officials need to address some of the shortcomings.”

William Hogan, an energy economist at Harvard University who helped design the Texas market, said this week’s blackouts weren’t indicative of a major design flaw, but rather inevitable imperfections stemming from extraordinary weather challenges.

“I don’t know of any market design that exists anywhere that would have anticipated and have been prepared for something of this scope and scale,” he said.

The Texas power grid is essentially an electrical island. That is by design. Because it doesn’t ship power across state lines, the grid doesn’t fall under federal oversight, a status state leaders have sought to preserve for decades.

Ercot runs the hourly market to set power prices and ensure sufficient generation. It is regulated by the Texas Public Utility Commission, a three-member body appointed by the governor and overseen by the state legislature. Ercot, the grid operator, is required to maintain a balance between electricity supply and demand, but has no regulatory authority.

Some critics of the state’s system say the alphabet soup of Texas energy oversight bodies, which includes other agencies regulating oil and natural gas, resulted in inaction.

“The real factor is not anticipating what needed to be done to the infrastructure,” said Texas Rep. Donna Howard, a Democrat from Austin. “That had to do with a failure of multiple agencies to address how things work together in a deregulated market.”

When the Lights Went OffAn hour-by-hour look at Texas' gridoperations compared to forecasted demand.Electricity demand in TexasSource: Energy Information AdministrationNote: All times in CST

MWhBlackouts beginDemandForecastFeb. 12Feb. 18020,00040,00060,00080,000

Texas has long prided itself on its wholesale power market. It was born from a legislative effort in the 1990s that broke up the state’s utility monopolies, introducing competition among a larger universe of power generators and retail electricity providers.

The result was a laissez-faire market design that rewards those who can sell power inexpensively and still recover their capital costs. That keeps prices low when demand is steady. When demand spikes, however, so do prices, which can climb as high as $9,000 per megawatt-hour to incentivize power plants of all kinds to fire up.

If an electricity producer agrees to supply power into the market and then fails to deliver, the producer has to pay for the cost of replacing it. But if a plant trips offline and stays out of the market for an extended period, as happened this week, there is no penalty besides lost revenue.

Electricity supply crunches tend to occur during extreme temperature swings, when customers crank up their heat or air conditioning. That makes it critical for power plants to be able to function in severe weather.

 

Within the competitive Texas power market, there is a strong incentive for generators to keep costs down to recoup their investments. The rapid buildout of wind and solar power, which are now among the cheapest sources of electricity, have pushed prices even lower in recent years, making it more difficult for gas and coal plants to compete.

For plant owners, that presents a paradox: Should they add to their capital costs by preparing for severe cold snaps that occur only occasionally, or skip the preparation and risk tripping offline, missing out on high prices and exacerbating a potential supply shortage?

“With everything there is a trade-off,” said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard Law School. “More resilience is potentially more expensive, but electricity is an essential service. These are hard decisions.”

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Texas deregulated its power market at a time when policy makers across the country were considering ways to reduce electricity costs by modernizing the utility model. For most of the 20th century, utilities were vertically integrated, controlling every aspect of electricity supply from generation to delivery.

That remains the model through much of the Southeast, where utilities remain responsible for grid reliability. State regulators oversee their investments in power plants and grid improvements and allow them to recoup costs through customers. That has sometimes resulted in cost overruns that drive up the price of electricity.

Other market designs have emerged elsewhere. PJM Interconnection, an electricity market serving 13 states from Virginia to Illinois, runs a “capacity market” meant to ensure enough power is available to meet peak demand three years in the future. It is an insurance policy against uncertainty and extremes. Power producers who promise to show up are paid for that commitment, and penalized if they fail to deliver.

Critics of that model say it is more expensive than others because it pays for power that might never be needed. And PJM has fewer wind and solar farms in its territory than some other markets, making it easier to contract for resources that can fire up on demand. Gas plants can start up on demand, but wind and solar production depends on weather, time of day and storage.




 

 


 

 


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