Using alfalfa as a cover crop between garden plants has resulted not only in improved soil but also in hosting a variety of beneficial critters to control pests.

I love the insects1 in my garden! Each day I am excited to see the growth of the garden and who is playing in it. Last year I experimented with using alfalfa as a cover crop between my plants. Not only did this eliminate space for weeds, improve the soil, provide a wind brake, host a little shade from the Texas sun, but it provided cover for beneficial insects. I am impressed with the results, and continue to use it.

Some of the alfalfa made it through the winter, and some I replanted in early spring. Organic practices, such as abstaining from the use of chemical insecticides, is not always easy. Last year I had an infestation of the dreaded blister beetles and rather than spraying the garden with chemicals, I manually picked out what seemed like billions of these stinkers. If you have ever been hit with blister beetles you know how they can be a test of patience and resolve.

This spring I was really excited when I found a handsome crew of beneficial insects in my garden. The neighbors might have been surprised to see me with a big smile, yelling YES, bugs in the garden!” then doing a little victory dance. Maybe these critters overwintered 2, or maybe they just found the garden, whatever the case, I am grateful for their presence.

Here are some of the stars.

  • A Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae) larva. Fast moving and hard working.

Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae) larva

  • A Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae) pupa. Sessile (immobile) but still working hard, in this case working on becoming an adult.

Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae) pupa

  • An adult Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae).

Lady Beetle (Coccinellidae) adult

  • A spider taking care of a caterpillar pest. There is also another visible lady beetle larva.

Spider finds a meal

  • Here is what looks like a Robber Fly eating a Leafhopper.

A robber fly eating a leafhopper

  • These guys are ambitious. I was cutting the grass when this rather large spider came out to see if I was fit for a meal.

A large and ambitious spider

  • The invertebrates are not alone, I have other helpers too.

A toad at the buffet

I am so happy to have my Beneficial Bug Brigade. I hope they continue to enjoy their stay. :-)

What beneficials do you have?

  1. Arachnids too. 
  2. Coccinellidae adults can do this, and these specimens sure made an early appearance… 

Texas wants its gold back. I say help or get out of the way. Texas is not unique in this interest. Germany and others have recently expressed similar intentions to repatriate their gold2. What makes the Texas bill, HB3505 unique3 is a Texas depository is also proposed that both institutions and later the private investors may use to keep physical gold safe in Texas. It is nice to see a State interested in protecting the property of its people and institutions with equal vigor.

I can think of no place better equipped to protect its property than Texas. If I worked for a Texas institution I would feel comfortable knowing that some of my pension was being kept, or could be kept, in gold, thus protected from the kind of currency risks4 built-in to other investments. It would also be comforting to know that those metals were being protected by Texas, in Texas, not some obscure and distant entity like the Federal Reserve in New York.

This is simply another example of the wisdom and leadership shown by the State in matters of business, finance and property rights. It is no surprise that so many people and businesses move to Texas every year.

If this passes and the depository is opened to personal investors, it will be interesting to see how this will change gold investment and storage across the nation, and perhaps the world.

Please checkout the following. They do a great job of explaining the bill and what it means to you.

Please keep in mind that the U.S. currency strength, as defined by the inflation rate, may not be what it seems. See the Growing Liberty article What can you do if you are being lied to about inflation?.

  1. stock.xchng - Coins (stock photo by iprole) Available at: 
  2. Germany Repatriating Gold From NY, Paris “In Case Of A Currency Crisis” - Forbes Available at: [Accessed April 4, 2013]. 
  3. I am not a lawyer or a financial adviser; this article is opinion not professional advice. 
  4. The price of gold, in a particular currency, may change over time, but the intrinsic value seems to stay fairly constant. 
  5. stock.xchng - Lone Star (stock photo by KFleming) Available at: 

If you are like me, you accumulate electronic documents. I am constantly wrangling technical references, E-books, notes, etc.

The problem

The problem I found with having many great documents is that the more I get, the more time I spend searching for, maintaining and moving them, and less time actually reading them.

Finding documents

What is the point of saving a document if you can’t find it when you need it or can access it more quickly through an online search? When one has only a handful of documents it is fine to drop them into a documents directory. It does not, however, take too many files before this method becomes unworkable without a robust search tool. While most operating systems provide file search tools, they treat all the text of a document equally. This means that if I am looking for a document by some word, I will be presented with all the documents containing that word, or all the documents with that word in the file name.

Spring Example
If I am searching for a spring planting guide, I do not want to return documents about the Spring1 Java2 framework.

The next logical improvement over using a single documents directory, is to break the documents into a categorized directory tree. This pre-sort improves the precision of a text search because one may target a search to a subset of documents by searching a particular directory rather than an entire documents directory. Using this method one would search in the Spring folder under the Java directory when the goal is to find a document about the Spring Java Framework.


While the structure is useful, it becomes more time consuming to maintain as it grows.


Using a directory tree to organize documents is a maintenance burden. The directory tree changes and grows more complicated as documents are added. Some changes require that documents be found and moved. This means more time maintaining documents and less time reading them.


Sharing documents means making documents available to the device where and when they are needed. Before I found my solution I would share documents two ways.

  • Across multiple computers by using an encrypted cloud based service called Wuala. I have an explanation of Wuala here. It can be used in various ways but in its simplest form it can be thought of as a removable cloud disk. This works well for a small set of documents, such as a collection of technical references, but not for an entire collection.

  • A local web server. I have tried many different web servers, including one I wrote myself. Every web server I used required installation and maintenance as well as time spent maintaining a web-friendly directory. Time spent on web server maintenance is time that could be spent reading.

The Calibre solution

The solution I like is a free3 tool designed for electronic document library management, called Calibre. It boasts the following categories of features4, two of which addressed my problem, the others just gravy!

Library Management

Search with Calibre is powerful and precise because it understands meta-data. Document meta-data exist to describe a document for more meaningful categorization and searching.

Calibre has rich library management, much of which is beyond the scope of the solution and will be a pleasant discovery when you begin using Calibre.


A collection of books in Calibre is a catalog. A catalog can be a library or an e-reader device like a Kindle, NOOK, flash drive, etc.

Part of the magic of Calibre’s library management is that one can make multiple libraries. I have a library for all my Mises books, one for technical references, one for fiction, etc. Calibre can make nice CSV or e-book card catalogs.

Document Meta-Data

The next layer of organization is document meta-data. This is simply information that describes the document. This can include the title, date, author, publisher, rating, tags, etc. When Calibre adds a document to the library it reads the meta-data supplied in that document. The meta-data stored in a document can vary by document type, for example a PDF would have meta-data while a plain text document normally would not. This is how I found Calibre in the first place. I had lost my home-grown solution for reading PDF meta-data and was searching for a replacement. During that search I found Calibre! Calibre will not only read meta-data from many document types, but it will let one edit or add meta-data as well. It can even query the web for you to find missing book covers images. One powerful feature is the ability to add custom meta-data, in the form of tags. I use tags to identify documents in ways that are specifically meaningful to me.

Search can use all of this to capture the document you want to read, create a collection for an e-reader, or make it simple to move books to a different library. The search interface even has sortable columns in the search results.

Partitioning by saved search

Just as a directory tree can simplify search by confining the search to a subset of the documents, a Calibre library can be logically partitioned by saving a search. The saved search is a dynamic, logical, library partition. An example would be to create a favorites partition by saving a search for all the books with a favorite tag, or all the books with a five star rating. One could run the saved search then add search terms to the search field, to search the subset of documents returned by the saved search.


Create a search for Java documents, in PDF format that have the word “java” in the title. The terms would look like this

java format:pdf title:"java"

The search could be named java PDFs with java in title.

Search of java PDFs with java in title

One could run the search then refine the search by looking for only those documents that also have Message in the title by adding title:"Message"5

to the search bar.

Add title:Message to search

Content server for online access

Calibre has a built-in web server. I simply turn it on and I have instant access to my collection. This means that there is no separate maintenance burden for the web server. Here is a screenshot.

Calibre content server

E-book conversion

Calibre has a sophisticated mechanism to convert between different formats. This can be used to create an E-book or PDF from your personal notes, or change an E-book from one format to another to for a better reading experience on a particular device. You may even choose to have the same document in several formats, each targeted to a different device.

Syncing to E-book reader devices

One can use Calibre to copy documents onto an E-reader, removable disk, etc. This means that your documents can be used where you want them, not simply well organized in Calibre.

Downloading news from the web and converting it into E-book form

Various periodicals and web sites can be consumed by Calibre and converted to an E-book for reading on an E-book reader. I like this feature and find that I prefer these documents to live in their own library. This can be done using the Calibre interface or from the command line. My recommendation is use the graphic interface for download on demand and the command line for automated use. Please let me know if you would like me to explain how to setup automated news conversion for a particular library.

Comprehensive E-book viewer

There are times when the device where a document is needed and the device where Calibre lives are the same device. If you are there anyway, why not read your E-books from Calibre’s E-book viewer?

Free E-books

Providing a list of some of the best sources for your electronic library is worth its own article, but until then here are a few free E-books to get you started.

You read this far, so please consider signing up for our GrowingLiberty newsletter here.

Good luck and happy reading.

  1. | Available at: [Accessed February 8, 2013]. 
  2. Oracle Technology Network for Java Developers Available at: [Accessed February 8, 2013]. 
  3. Free but also supported by user donations. 
  4. calibre - About Available at: [Accessed February 28, 2013]. 
  5. In the screen-shot, I highlighted the addition in green. 

When I hear the words gun control I think of control of guns. Gun control is about control, but it is us that are the targets of the control, not guns. Gun control in the U.S. is restricting away the ownership and use of firearms from those with right to them, by those entrusted to protect the very rights being infringed.

Gun control is not about limiting the use of firearms or reducing gun violence by police, military, or other government servants, it is about infringing on the rights of the people. It is about attacking the constitutionally defined alignment between rights and permissions. The police, military and other government organizations are permitted to use firearms in a limited, defined and regulated fashion, to carry out their service to the people. This is in contrast to the people who keep and bear arms because it is their right.

“…right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”2

Is there some kind of epidemic of ignorance about the word infringed? The constitution was written in plain English so that it could be understood by everyone. I know that congress finds reading beneath them, if the frequency they read bills before voting on them is any indication, but there are no difficult words in the second amendment. If a congressperson or constitutional scholar president is unable or unwilling to read and understand the second amendment or any other part of the constitution, then they have no business being in office.

I can not stress enough the importance of the difference between rights and permissions and how these are expressed in the constitution. Gun control laws 3 are put in place to change the balance of power from source of the power, the people, to the servants, the government. Do you think this shift in power and control, this usurpation, this assault on your rights is ever going to serve your interests? If you do then you might as well kiss your rights goodbye! The second amendment is the last protection the people have from a tyrannical government. If the attack on the second amendment continues it could be destroyed such that no other rights will be meaningful because it will simply no longer be possible to defend them.

History proves that tyrants and crooks prefer to victimize the defenseless. Check out some infamous government abuses here. The U.S., and her people, are not so special to be spared the kind of horrors described above. If you want a small scale example, research the “Wounded Knee Massacre”4. The only way to stop the assault on our rights is to take action. This smack-down on rights affects all of us, even those of us who are not gun owners, because the issue is rights, not guns.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.”

 — Martin Niemöller5

Will you speak up before this issue becomes personal for you?

Here is a short video about gun control from somebody with personal experience.

People outside the U.S. likely wonder why this is such an issue for the American people, well here are a few reasons why it is such an issue for me.

First, gun control does not reduce violence. Gun control only disarms law abiding people, the good guys, and prevents them from using effective force to neutralize a deadly threat. Where people are disarmed, such as in the UK6 there is more violent crime. Statistics are never simple so here is a great video explanation.

Read the following respectable opinion piece on gun control by Larry Correia, here, if you are still unconvinced.

Second, it is outrageous that government leaders would use lies, subterfuge, and the misery of defenseless victims, to cheat the people away from their rights. Changing the balance of power from the people to a centralized despotic government is an idea that requires open and honest dialogue, not lies, mind control media manipulations, and other dirty tricks. People will eventually learn of the deceptions and likely will not take kindly to being tricked and having their rights abused.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” — Abraham Lincoln

A tragedy like Sandy Hook is terrible, but what matters about Sandy Hook7 and other tragedies is that helpless victims were injured and murdered. How we respond to a tragedy like Sand Hook is what makes all the difference. Look at the response by our public servants and the talking heads in the media. Are they helping and empowering the victims, the victims families and ourselves, or are they using the tragedy as a sick opportunity to empower themselves and their cronies at our expense?

A real leader would use his or her power to lend strength to the grieving, not use it as an opportunity to strip them of their defenses and their rights. That is not simply adding insult to injury, it is taking advantage of injury to add more injury. Here is an example of a response to a tragedy by a real leader.


Finally, it is abominable that government leaders with a duty to protect the rights of the people and defend the constitution would attempt to violate both for their personal gain. When our public servants betray their duty so egregiously, as they have been doing, then they need to be immediately removed from office and brought to justice. I am not proposing that they be tarred and feathered, rather I am proposing that we take action in the peaceful, fair and civilized fashion that justice system was intended to be.

We need to wake up, stand up, and speak up! Lets remind our public servants what duty, honor, and country really means! Lets remind them of what it means to be a leader! Lets remind them that we have the rights, and they as public servant exist to protect those rights! Lets take action now, before it is too late!

Please join our email list here, and lets work together.

  1. stock.xchng - Security fence 4 (stock photo by saavem) Available at: [Accessed January 11, 2013].
  2. United States Bill of Rights by United States - Project Gutenberg Available at: [Accessed January 15, 2013].
  3. I am not a lawyer but an unconstitutional law seems to me to be null and thus not a law but rather codified crime. 
  4. Wounded Knee Massacre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Available at: [Accessed January 14, 2013].


  5. First they came… - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Available at:… [Accessed January 15, 2013].
  6. TFS Magnum - Archives: Crime in the UK versus Crime in the US Available at: [Accessed January 14, 2013].
    UK is violent crime capital of Europe - Telegraph Available at: [Accessed January 14, 2013].
    UK shamed as the violent crimes capital of Europe | UK | - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express Available at: [Accessed January 14, 2013].


  7. Would there be calls for gun control if the weapon was a car, a sword, explosion, poison, or a hammer? 
  8. I have watched this video many times. So impressive. So different than the BS we see here in the U.S.