I make websites for a living, mostly for @kpbs. I live in North Park San Diego with 3 pitbulls. All opinions expressed are MY OWN.
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Our House Came With Two Goats — and They’re Heartbreaking Helpers

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Goats aren’t yoga props or party decorations: They’re inexpensive, reliable creatures who can be a tremendous help around the yard if you let them.

They’re also the most rewarding, heartbreaking portion of my farm experience.

When my wife and I were first looking at a roughly two-acre historic farm amid 80 field acres in unincorporated Washington County, Ore., we were introduced to the farm’s two goats by the owners. The goats, a young Boer goat named Star (which we’d later change to Nanny) and an old horned Cashmere named Billy, had a roughly half-acre pen to themselves and lived in a large former chicken coop that had been converted to a shed.

We were told by the owners that the goats were a contingency of sale: That either we took the goats, or we couldn’t have the farm. We agreed to take them, but neither of us were really sold until we began moving in and feeding them regularly. My wife works a few blocks up from the farm and, each day, would bring a few boxes of our belongings to the house and put a few leaves of alfalfa in the feeder in their shed.

I didn’t get acquainted with them until we’d moved in completely in February 2013, and was frankly a little put off by them: Their rectangular pupils made them appear dead inside, and their pellet droppings seemingly had no regard for anyone in the immediate vicinity. But the goats appeared easy enough to feed and entertain: Just a few leaves of alfalfa each day and topping off their water buckets about every other day or so. It wasn’t until the alfalfa began to run out about a month later that we got into some of the logistics of feeding goats.

Finding more alfalfa meant getting acquainted with our local farm store, Coastal Farm & Ranch in Cornelius, Ore. Knowing nothing about how I was supposed to feed them, I went down and simply asked for their recommendation. The salespeople recommended alfalfa each day, but also noted that we should let them forage in the pasture throughout the summer.

With alfalfa bales here going for about $14 apiece, we picked up five ($60), but used them sparingly during the summer. When it occurred to us that we had no idea what kind of health they were in, we called the vet that the previous owners had recommended, Banks Veterinary Service, and asked them to come have a look. Banks Vet is a rural vet familiar with goats, sheep, horses, and other livestock, and the vet who came out showed me how to play a sort of zone defense against the goats to wrangle them and hold them still for hoof trimming and vaccination. The cost of that visit, about $160, would become at least an annual expense.

The vet informed us that our restricted alfalfa diet had left the goats much more gaunt than they should be, so they recommended a mix of sweet grain feed (Stock and Stable, $13.19 per 50-pound bag) and rice pellets ($11.99 per 40-pound bag). She also recommended that we re-bed their shed with fresh hay before winter, which we did one early November afternoon with five bales of straw ($10.49 apiece).

This kept our goats happy through the season, as did a whole lot of organic leftovers like banana peels, cucumber skins, pepper cores, and lettuce hearts that we’d collect in the refrigerator throughout the week. Our “goat bowls” of organic waste helped us reduce garbage to roughly one bag a week between the two of us, with other organics like egg shells and coffee grounds going to the compost bin.

We had our first bout of bad luck in 2014, when Billy suddenly began laying down in the pasture in late winter and not getting up. With his head curling backward and his legs seemingly unable to support him anymore, we called the vet for advice. They recommended giving him aspirin for the pain and assessing his condition over the next three days. When that condition didn’t improve, we brought him to the vet in our 1984 Ford F-250 that also came with the house, and an older vet there put him under… but not before saying he remembered chasing Billy around the pen 19 years ago when he was new.

Knowing that we’d done everything we could to save a 19-year-old goat was somewhat comforting, as was spreading his ashes around the pen. But the panicked look and bleats from his companion Nanny — which didn’t subside even when we’d given her spent blackberry from a recent batch of wine — made us realize we had to do something. We told our vet to let us know if anyone needed housing for a goat, and they immediately pointed us toward a rescue farm in Buxton, Ore. At the end of a gravel road in the hills sat fields of chickens, geese, pigs, and cattle, but just one little red pen where we were told goats would be. About eight little multi-shaded faces of young Nubian goats greeted us from the shed when we walked in, but only one came out to see what was going on: A male wether who didn’t make weight at the state fair.

For $60, we put Carl (because what else do you name wethers?) in a large dog crate (which he could still fit into at the time), tied the crate down in the back of our truck, and brought him home. As soon as we put him in the pen, Nanny came over and led him to the shed. She’d lead him around the pen for two more days until the two of them got even more company. The receptionist at our vet’s office had just lost a goat and was left with one lonely, standoffish bearded pygmy goat named Bambi. She offered him to us for free, and brought him up to our porch, where he immediately relieved himself.

With the herd settled, we began to reassess our needs. It immediately became apparent that half an acre of tallgrass wouldn’t be enough for the three of them, as they’d eaten it down to near-nothing by July. We upped our alfalfa purchases to about six bales ($72) every three months and substituted more alfalfa for their grain portion in the summer. We also watched as the pygmy goat, now named Shaggy for his goatee, butted heads with Carl and chased each other up and down the boulder pile in the middle of the pen.

With three goats, we began cleaning out the shed more regularly: Mucking out the old straw completely, and laying down five bales (about $52.50) in early spring and late fall. We also replaced fencing ($169.99) along the perimeter after Shaggy pushed through old wire fencing and escaped at least twice as we stood nearby. He did not go back willingly.

Three goats also increased the cost of the annual vet call to closer to $200, but they remained healthy and happy. They followed me and my mower as we circled the pen, they yelled at my wife until she gave them scraps from her nearby garden, and they graciously accepted cuttings from our laurel, apple, and cypress trees, as well as canes of wild blackberry that we’d trim from various portions of the property.

Last year, during a particularly bad stretch of winter weather just around Martin Luther King Day, Shaggy began acting strangely: Curling his head inward and refusing food. We immediately made an emergency call to the vet, who came over and gave him a shot to ward off early signs of a listeria infection. We’d thought we’d gotten it in time. As it turned out, we were wrong. A few days later, we found Shaggy paralyzed in the snow, screaming and writhing. I dragged him into a corner of the shed, put food and water by him and kept tabs on his condition.

It never improved. I called the vet one last time, and the same vet who’d administered the shot to Shaggy a few days earlier came out and noted that his chances of survival were slim. I made the call to have him put down and couldn’t stop thinking just one thought: Poor little goat.

Shaggy had done nothing to deserve that fate. Had we given him some piece of produce with listeria? Had we not kept the pen clean enough? Would one of the other two goats be next? The vet answered all of these questions with a simple “no.” Were any of that true, the other goats would have exhibited symptoms and we’d have a much larger problem on our hands.

I picked up Shaggy and carried him to the vet’s truck. She told me that we’d done all we could by making the emergency call, getting him treatment and getting her back out there quickly. As soon as she wrapped up the sentence, I began to cry. I told her to tell the receptionist, Angela, that we tried our best to give Shaggy a good home and to keep him both healthy and safe.

Angela responded by paying the entire cost of Shaggy’s treatment, but keeping his ashes and spreading them in his original pen. We received a condolence card from her and the rest of the office at Banks Vet about a week later.

Quieter and slower, life went on in the goat pen. We still have both Nanny and Carl, and they have had their work cut out for them the last two years as cold, wet winters and short, hot summers have grown the pasture to their bellies. They still trot out to meet me when I bring grain or alfalfa, they still beg for garden scraps, and they both function as doorbells: Alerting me when the mailman is walking up to the house.

I’m guessing that we spend roughly $500 to $600 on these goats in a good year, and spend a few hours a month feeding them, combing away shedding fur, fixing their fence, and tending to their more than century-old shed. But they pay it all back. They save me hours’ worth of mowing and several cans’ worth of organic waste, but they’re also the spirits of our farm. They live out their lives here, have their favorite places on the property, know just when the sun hits the rockpile or the front of the shed, and know just when to soak it all in.

They appreciate this place as much, if not more, than my wife and I do. If you have space and grass to spare, they give far more than they take.

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The post Our House Came With Two Goats — and They’re Heartbreaking Helpers appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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154 days ago
San Diego, CA
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Did Kim Jong-Un Wear Platform Shoes?

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Here at Put This On, we strive to bring you the most insightful and critical analysis on men’s style and clothing. So today, we ask the hard questions: did Kim Jong-Un break out the extra wide pants yesterday for his summit with President Trump? And if so, was it to hide his extra tall platform shoes?


Kim Jong-Un doesn’t always wear wide-legged pants, although he has some in his wardrobe. For a light and cheerful summery look, sometimes he wears grey trousers that taper to the hem. Other times, he favors wider trousers that would make designers Christophe Lemaire and Patrick Grant blush.



Yesterday’s summit was a serious event — a formal occasion — so naturally, Kim went with a more traditional 50″ leg opening to signal that he was here for business. But could there have been an ulterior motive for wearing such engulfing trousers? Here’s Kim at the beginning of the summit, gleefully enjoying his wide legged trousers — the swishing, free-flowing fabric whipping between his legs, signaling to slim-fit newbs that he’s not afraid of more adventurous silhouettes.



During the photo-op with President Trump, however, the massive, absolute-unit of a leg opening rode up on Kim mid-stride, revealing what was a very peculiar looking oxford. The facings, which are the part of the shoe that hold the eyelets, stand pretty far from the sole. Unusually so, if you compare the distance against your own shoes. The heel cup, similarly, is pretty damn tall.



Did Kim wear platform shoes for his meeting with President Trump? Our research on Google dot com reveals that Kim Jong-Un stands at 5′ 7″, Donald Trump reports he’s 6′ 3″ (although his real height is contentious. Here he is standing next to Obama, who’s 6’1″). Figure that’s about a six to eight inch difference, depending on who you believe.

Nicholas Templeman, a London-based bespoke shoemaker who trained at John Lobb, tells us that he thinks Kim’s shoes have lifts — a wedge-shaped insert that brings the wearer’s heel up, making the person look taller (think of how women’s heels work). Templeman estimates they’re about an inch high here. “That’s quite a bit. You won’t get much more than that without extending right to the front of the foot like a platform shoe,” he says. “I do my best to talk people out of it. If you do a more discrete 1/4″ lift, it makes no difference. But at the point it matters, it becomes too noticeable.”

Unless you wear massive, Electric Daisy Carnival, wool gabardine trousers that envelop 9/10ths of your feet, hiding them entirely. Another point for swishy pants.

The post Did Kim Jong-Un Wear Platform Shoes? appeared first on Put This On.

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186 days ago
San Diego, CA
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Nothing Cuts Costs (or Carbs) Like Zucchini: Three Recipes for Summer’s Unsung Garden Hero

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Zucchini aren’t pretty, don’t stand out in a produce aisle, and don’t get as fussed over in gardens as tomatoes or berries, but these summer squash are peerless in reducing your waistline and budget.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t overly impressed four years ago when my wife told me that she was planting zucchini in our garden. I’d grown up in an Italian-American household in New Jersey where zucchini took a back row in my grandfather’s garden behind tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, oregano, and even mint. If my family could use any other produce, it would, and the zucchini would either wither on the vine or be eliminated from a year of planting entirely.

But today, this versatile fruit is a garden staple in our home and a vital part of both out diet and our weekly produce bill. A summer squash of the curcubita pepo species, the zucchini has its roots in the Americas and was developed in Italy in the early 1900s after being brought over in the mid-19th century, only to come back in its newest form when Italians immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s.

Based on that background, my family should’ve loved it and I should have known more about it than I did during our first zucchini harvest in 2014. My wife had grown a bed of zucchini from a 3-gram, $3 bag of seeds from Territorial Seed and the plants just wouldn’t stop producing. Each day she looked beneath the leaves, another fully-formed zucchini would show up. By the time she reached some of them, they were so overgrown and woody that they were good for little but decor.

We ended up with wheelbarrows full of them, which led to a question: What do you do with zucchini? Well, at their prime eating size, zucchini have all of 31 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates, with 2 grams of that coming from dietary fiber. They have minimal sugar content, minimal fat, and 58 percent of your recommended daily dose of Vitamin C.

That all sounds great, but we struggled to find a use for them. Cutting them into spears and grilling them was a fine option, but they lack all that much flavor of their own and tended to just turn into seasoned sides. We would bake zucchini rounds as side dishes, but it felt as if we could be doing a lot more. When we decided to start eliminating carbohydrates from our diet, we discovered that we could do a lot more with them.

It turns out that zucchini’s rigid-but-pliable structure makes it an excellent substitute for pasta when drained. Using a spiral slicer (the only one you’ll need is all of $7 on Amazon), we began experimenting with pasta and stir-fry recipes and taking flour and whole-grain noodles out of the equation.

Not only was home-grown zucchini less expensive than a $1 box of spaghetti or linguine at Safeway, but one zucchini (79 cents at Safeway, by the way) produced roughly as many noodles as a pound of pasta while containing a fraction of that box of pasta’s 200 calories and 42 carbohydrates. It also turns out that a simple mandoline slicer ($5 at Amazon) can turn zucchini into flat lasagna noodles without the $2.19 price tag at Safeway or the 200 calories and 42 carbs. While some cooks will note that eggplant can perform the same function as eggplant parmigiana, zucchini doesn’t have eggplant’s 132 calories, 32 grams of carbohydrates, or whopping 13 grams of sugar.

As others note, however, “zoodles” are the least of zucchini’s healthier uses. Sure, it helps a great deal with pasta dishes, but its health benefits extend to riced zucchini (which we’ll admit is second only to riced cauliflower as a replacement), zucchini fries, and, our favorite, shredded zucchini that can substitute for flour ($3.29 for five pounds and 110 calories, 22 carbohydrates) in a baking recipe. We’ve even used them as a substitute for tortillas ($3.99 for 16, with 144 calories, 4 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 293 milligrams of sodium) in enchiladas.

There are a lot of ways to cut the grocery bill or go low-carb, but the zucchini gives you the most for the least. Plant starts are roughly $5 at Home Depot if you don’t have the patience for seeds. Meanwhile, just one plant will produce six to 10 pounds of zucchini in a single growing season.

To give you a better idea of what we’ll be making from our zucchini patch this year and what’s possible from your crop, here are just a few recipes from our recipe book to get you started.

Zucchini Enchiladas

Source: Delish.com


  • 3 cups chicken
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce, red
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 large zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • Sour cream for drizzling
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and season with salt. Cook until soft, 5 minutes, then add garlic, cumin and chili powder and stir until combined. Add shredded chicken and 1 cup enchilada sauce and stir until saucy.

2. On a cutting board, make thin slices of zucchini with a vegetable peeler. Lay out three, slightly overlapping, and place a spoonful of chicken mixture on top. Roll up and transfer to a baking dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini and chicken mixture.

3. Spoon remaining 1/3 cup enchilada sauce over zucchini enchiladas and sprinkle with both cheeses.

4. Bake until melted, 20 minutes.

5. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro and serve.

Thai Chicken Zucchini Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Source: Joyful Healthy Eats 


  • 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
  • 1 lb. of chicken tenders, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
  • 2 zucchini, inspiralized
  • 1 large carrot, inspiralized
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 1/3 cup of bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, diced
  • 1/4 cup of green onions, diced
  • Sesame seeds (for garnish)

For spicy peanut sauce:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut aminos (or tamari sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes


1. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, peanut butter, coconut aminos, lime juice, ground ginger, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. (Note: If you use tamari sauce, use 2 tablespoons instead of 3.)

2. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add grape seed oil and chicken tenders. Saute each side for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit. Dice when cooled.

3. In the same large skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil, zucchini noodles, and carrot noodles. Flash stir fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Remove noodles and place in large bowl along with chicken, red pepper, bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, green onions, and spicy peanut sauce. Toss till all noodles are coated.

5. Serve and garnish with sesame seeds.

Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Bread (or Biscuits)


  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 cup green onion
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dry dill
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter


1. Set oven to 350 degrees; combine dry ingredients.

2. Combine zucchini, cheese, onion and dill.

3. Toss both mixes together to coat zucchini.

4. Whisk eggs, butter, and milk together. Mix with dry mix until just combined.

5. Bake in small bread loaf pan for 30 minutes, regular bread loaf pan for 50 minutes, or in biscuits on baking sheet for 15 minutes.

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The post Nothing Cuts Costs (or Carbs) Like Zucchini: Three Recipes for Summer’s Unsung Garden Hero appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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187 days ago
San Diego, CA
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A South L.A. apartment gets the celebrity treatment

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It would take less than 90 minutes for volunteers from A Sense of Home, a charitable organization that helps former foster-care children furnish their first apartment, to turn the empty interior into a home.

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191 days ago
San Diego, CA
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1834: The First Cyberattack


Tom Standage has a great story of the first cyberattack against a telegraph network.

The Blanc brothers traded government bonds at the exchange in the city of Bordeaux, where information about market movements took several days to arrive from Paris by mail coach. Accordingly, traders who could get the information more quickly could make money by anticipating these movements. Some tried using messengers and carrier pigeons, but the Blanc brothers found a way to use the telegraph line instead. They bribed the telegraph operator in the city of Tours to introduce deliberate errors into routine government messages being sent over the network.

The telegraph's encoding system included a "backspace" symbol that instructed the transcriber to ignore the previous character. The addition of a spurious character indicating the direction of the previous day's market movement, followed by a backspace, meant the text of the message being sent was unaffected when it was written out for delivery at the end of the line. But this extra character could be seen by another accomplice: a former telegraph operator who observed the telegraph tower outside Bordeaux with a telescope, and then passed on the news to the Blancs. The scam was only uncovered in 1836, when the crooked operator in Tours fell ill and revealed all to a friend, who he hoped would take his place. The Blanc brothers were put on trial, though they could not be convicted because there was no law against misuse of data networks. But the Blancs' pioneering misuse of the French network qualifies as the world's first cyber-attack.

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194 days ago
San Diego, CA
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The U.S. Army calculates exact amount of coffee necessary for alertness

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The military announced a new algorithm that tells you exactly when and how much coffee to consume.

The U.S. Army has finally relieved of us of that nagging mid-morning dilemma, the one in which you debate: Should I have another cup of coffee?

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194 days ago
San Diego, CA
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