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THE ROCK FATHER: The Pop Culture & Lifestyle Magazine for Families that Rock.

It's the premiere destination for the best in entertainment for the ENTIRE family, kids and grownups alike. Featuring the latest news and reviews on Music, Movies, TV, Comics, Books, Toys & Games, and lifestyle coverage including Home & Garden, Automotive, Cool Products and more, THE ROCK FATHER has it all...

The idea of growing plants in environmentally controlled spaces has existed for centuries. Roman gardeners used artificial methods similar to the greenhouse system that is used across the world today. Large commercial organizations and individual residential farmers alike can benefit from a secure and efficient greenhouse system.

In 2017, approximately 8.4 million people were employed within the construction industry across the United States. This year, many of these workers are spending time building massive greenhouses in hopes of improving how crops are cultivated.

Currently, one of the largest greenhouse construction projects is taking place in Morehead, Kentucky. According to Forbes, the new AppHarvest greenhouse is said to be the world's ninth-largest building at more than 2.7 million square feet. Additionally, it will be outfitted with a $15 million hybrid LED lighting system, making it the world's largest LED installation for a single structure.

"To grow, plants require light, water, and nutrients," said Jonathan Webb, founder and CEO of AppHarvest. "The LEDs allow us to give more light to the plants throughout the day and night. Because of the increased amount of light, we can more densely plant, increasing the overall yield."

This new massive greenhouse will be able to produce nearly 50 million pounds of tomatoes each year. It's expected to open in the second half of 2020.

"The sophistication of the LEDs allow us to control numerous settings that create what’s essentially a time-based recipe for growth," Webb added. "We can use the LED lighting to influence everything from how compact the plants grow to how they flower."

Though you're probably not going to build a greenhouse anywhere close in size to the ninth-largest building across the globe, by working with the right builders and doing enough research, you can still construct a quality greenhouse for the whole family to enjoy.

Here are some important things to consider when constructing your own greenhouse:

  • Decide between freestanding or attached -- First, you need to decide whether your greenhouse will be attached to your home or an entirely new space. In order to save some cash, you might want to just attach a greenhouse to your existing home -- because it can cost a lot to heavily insulate a new structure.
  • Beware of pests -- The last thing you want is to construct a nice greenhouse and have to deal with all kinds of invasive pest damages. The U.S. pest control industry has more than 27,000 different organizations currently in operation -- and growing every year. Make sure you're consulting with experienced pest professionals in order to protect your greenhouse.
  • Foundation -- You and your construction team have a lot of materials and methods at your disposal. A popular option is to use concrete piers tied together with the framing of the older structure that once was there. Try not to overbuild your greenhouse, as well. Additionally, a report by the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia showed that going modular can reduce overall construction costs by as much as 20%.
  • Length and width proportions -- A greenhouse that is shorter than it is wide doesn't have to have extremely long windows during the day. Since the sun will spend a lot more time heating a greenhouse with a long east-west axis, you need to carefully consider the structure's length and width proportions.
  • Insulation -- Insulation is key to a productive greenhouse. Foam insulation or structural insulated panels (SIPs) work well but these will need to be sealed and kept dry since they aren't rated for typical greenhouse humidity levels.
  • Careful with material handling -- The two most common framing materials are wood and metal. It's important, however, to remain cautious when breaking down or handling these materials -- especially if they have been there for a while. Respirable crystalline silica are very small particles -- at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand -- and are created when cutting, sawing, and crushing various types of materials.

If you have a green thumb and want to start producing more and more crops, it's time to consider getting a team of builders together and start constructing a quality greenhouse your whole family will love.

 

Although camping is often associated with summertime, the reality is that camping is possible -- and enjoyable -- at almost any time of year. So if you're planning ahead for an autumnal camping trip, you might already have given some thought to your travel plans and the equipment you'll need. But if you have certain dietary restrictions or you'll be braving the wilderness with vegan companions, you might need to do some extra preparation. Since studies show that people who replace meat with plant-based foods have a 20% lower mortality rate than those who consume meat, that additional prep work might be well worth it. And contrary to popular belief, you won't have to miss out on all the fun if you're camping while vegan (yes, there are vegan marshmallows on the market so you can get your s'more on). However, you will have to make some adjustments to your routine.

If hotdogs and jerkey aren't on the menu, what do you when camping while vegan? Here are some insider tips that will allow you to partake in an animal-product-free excursion that everyone will enjoy.

Develop a Meal Plan

Whether you're vegan or not, it's a good idea to plan out exactly what you'll be eating during your camping trip. Make sure you've got your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts covered. You can certainly bring pre-packaged items, but it's often a lot more fun to make it yourself. After all, 78% of campers participate in outdoor cooking while camping! If you do plan to cook during your trip, you'll want your meals to be filling and packed with ingredients that will keep you going. It's also a bonus, particularly if you're camping with non-vegans, if you can really impress the others with your skills. If they like your recipes enough, they'll probably forget there isn't any meat, dairy, or other animal products included -- and since items like tender cuts of steak (which make up less than 10% of the beef) cost more, you might even convince your friends to go meatless themselves. Try out some recipes for oatmeal, eggless breakfast scrambles, campfire popcorn, vegetable soups and chilis, or grilled sweet potatoes to tantalize everyone's tastebuds.

Pack the Vegan Staples

Although 97% of the Earth's water is saltwater, the filtered water you'll bring on your trip will be suitable for vegans and non-vegans alike. But what about when you get those mid-day hunger pangs? In addition to items you'll cook right at camp, you'll also want to bring along some homemade or pre-packaged snacks to make sure you're satiated during a hike or after a swim. Trail mix, fresh or dried fruits and veggies, bread or tortillas, vegan granola bars or chips, hummus, dark chocolate, and dairy-free cheese can make your tummy stop rumbling until it's mealtime. If you're buying pre-packaged items, make sure to double-check the ingredients for any non-vegan culprits before you buy!

Borrow Instead of Buy

A lot of people embrace a vegan diet for animal rights reasons alone, but others are making the switch due to a desire to promote environmental responsibility. Sustainable practices can be a bit of a challenge in today's convenience-driven world, but eco-friendly camping is definitely possible. If you need new gear, see what you might be able to borrow fist. Not only will this save you quite a bit of money, but it can keep your overall product consumption down -- particularly if you don't go camping often. Of course, you may want to invest in a vegan sleeping bag, which will keep you warm even without real down. But anything you can borrow or thrift for cheap (which will give new life to an unwanted item) is definitely a plus.

Bring Vegan Substitutes

Ultimately, it's not just about the food. Wilderness protection items like insect repellent and sunscreen are essential when camping out, but the leading brands aren't necessarily environmentally responsible -- nor do they always contain vegan ingredients. Read the label to ensure that your sunscreen is cruelty-free so that you can prevent skin damage while preserving animal lives. You might also want to use a vegan bug spray (which you can make at home or purchase from natural brands). Plant-based hand sanitizers are also a good idea when you're roughing it.

Some people might see a vegan lifestyle as a downer, but the substitutions are relatively easy to make as long as you think ahead. With these tips in mind, you can get back to nature without harming it further.

We rely on plastics for nearly everything. From the decor in our homes to the machines we use at work (many of which might be made using the reaction injection molding process of combining two liquid components in a mold), this material is ubiquitous in our world. But unfortunately, it's also doing a lot of damage to the planet we call home. As a result, there's a need for more sustainable alternatives -- particularly biodegradable ones, as plastics can sit in landfills for a thousand years before ever breaking down. Now, a group of researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico think they've found the answer: the prickly pear cactus, which is the very species featured so prominently on the country's flag.

Global plastic production grew from 225 million tons to 311 million tons between 2004 and 2014. While this is excellent news for the plastics industry, it's not a positive development for the environment. Data shows that 8 million metric tons of plastics end up in our oceans every year -- and that's in addition to the 150 million metric tons that are already affecting our marine life. It impacts humans, as well, seeing as the plastic in our waterways and in our landfills makes its way into our food supply. In fact, we ingest more than 50,000 pieces of microplastic each year.

That's a startling statistic for many, but there may be hope. According to lead researcher Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, Mexico's popular prickly pear cactus could hold the key to creating an eco-friendly plastic that safely and quickly breaks down. Ortiz explained in a statement that the cactus pulp is strained into a juice, which is then combined with natural, non-toxic additives and stretched into sheets. The sheets could then be colored with pigments and used to create packaging. If the product ends up in a landfill or on the ground, it would dissolve in a month; if it comes into contact with water, it would take only a few days to break down completely. And if animals or humans happen to ingest it, there would be no negative health effects.

Although Ortiz admits her invention would not be the answer to all environmental issues, she hopes that it could potentially replace all other kinds of single use plastics being used. Tests are still being conducted and the process is currently restricted to the laboratory, but Ortiz hopes to have her patent request join the other 500,000 applications that will be received by the USPTO this year. She plans to look for development partners in early 2020 in order to pursue large scale production in an industrial facility.

Already, a number of companies have expressed their interest in supporting the venture, which means it may not be too long before we see this plant-based plastic on the market. But for now, you might want to keep reducing your single use plastic use and find additional ways to become more sustainable in your everyday life.

As summer starts turning into fall, now is the perfect time to adjust your home's energy usage for the cooler season. Energy expenses are one of the largest drains on your finances as a homeowner, and keeping up with the changing seasons for your home's energy use can help you save a shocking amount of money. If you want to save money on your utility bills just in time for back to school, use some of these hot tips to reduce your spending.

Major Renovations

While it might seem counterproductive to spend money on energy-saving items for your home, you'll actually end up saving more by spending larger amounts now. Many homes have appliances or utilities that are outdated and wasting energy, particularly if you use these appliances often. In many cases, homeowners may not even realize they're wasting energy. The bathroom, for example, is one area of the home with many potential savings in store, especially if you're willing to renovate. Remodeling your bathroom can expect a return on investment of 70%, so it's well worth the purchase.

If you've been avoiding certain renovations and fixes on your home, doing so now will not only prepare you for the new season, but it can also cut down on energy spending. Roofing is one of the many major components in a home that can improve your energy usage. A metal roof, for example, can easily help save as much as 25% off of your annual home energy bill. Consider changing up the material in order to save some energy.

Small Adjustments

Not all energy saving fixes are going to necessarily take as much effort as renovation requires. Even small adjustments to your daily life can help cut down on energy costs as we move into a cooler season. Try switching out your lights from incandescent to LED, or moving to a programmable thermostat. These are small adjustments that decrease the overall amount of energy required to keep your home in good condition. You'll hardly notice the changes to your routine, but you'll certainly recognize how much you're saving as a result.

Work With Your Company

If your main concern when it comes to saving energy is environmental, it's important to get in touch with your energy company. Not all electricity sources are the same, and many are more renewable than others. Additionally, it's possible that your provider has switched your source of energy without you realizing that it's happened. This impacts both your bills and your carbon footprint. The average American home consumes 40% less natural gas than it did 40 years ago. Energy companies will often shift to alternative fuel sources when they find a cheaper option, like carbon.

While not all providers will offer renewable source options, many smaller providers will offer unique services like these. There are nearly 28 million small businesses in the U.S., and many are created with environmentally-friendly values in mind. Check out local energy providers near you to see if you can adjust your energy source to something more affordable and renewable.

Reducing your energy use and cutting down on your utility spending doesn't have to be complicated. The right energy company can work with you to help you reduce your consumption. Additionally, taking some extra steps at home, both through major steps like renovation and minor steps like routine changes, can cut down on the energy you use. What sort of changes can you see yourself making to reduce your energy spending this fall? Will you keep things the same as they were over the summer, or will you adjust for the season?

Technology is advancing at an incredible rate. Already, Americans can see the power of 5G networks on the horizon; considering the fact that wireless and mobile traffic is predicted to account for more than 63% of total IP traffic by the year 2021, the switch to the revolutionary speeds of 5G networks will be a boon to both businesses and their consumers. That being said, 5G can't operate alone; these remarkable download speeds (which are estimated to top out at 10 gigabits per second, or Gbps, a hundred times faster than the current 4G technology) and reduced latencies will place huge demands on wired infrastructure. Let's take a look at the give and take between the two.

Where Fiber Comes In

Fiber optic cables rely on specialty gases — specifically helium — of ultra-high purity (99.995% and above) to transmit data. They are able to offer improved speed, security, and bandwidth over traditional copper systems. In the past, fiber optic was preferred due to its ability to travel as far as 40 miles without losing signal strength; data fiber optics have been found to transfer around 15.5 terabits per second, or Tbps, which is far beyond what 5G is capable of wirelessly.

The relationship between fiber optic and 5G can be compared to the human bloodstream; 5G plays the role of the capillaries in a city's networking system -- but internet traffic will travel nearly its entire journey in the veins or arteries (fiber backhaul). Ultimately, the quality and reliability of wireless networks will depend upon the wireline, or fiber, network.

Business Benefits

Now that we know how fiber optic cables serve to enhance 5G networks, let's examine the benefits that businesses can expect to see.

  • Massive device connectivity: With such amazing speeds and almost no downtime, devices throughout the world will be connected to 5G networks, greatly improving communications. In fact, the International Data Corporation predicts that more than 30 billion devices will be connected to networks globally by 2020.
  • Ultra-low latency: This is where businesses will shine. Latency describes the time interval between the stimulation and response. If a company website takes too long to load or respond to an inquiry, your customers will lose interest and move on. The industry expectation for 5G latency is less than 5 milliseconds; when you take into account the fact that between three to 10 website visitors out of every 100 "convert," ultra-low latency rates will be able to boost those numbers.
  • Better capacity and coverage: Finally, 5G will offer more connection points within a smaller area. You'll be able to reach all of your customers in no time -- no matter where they're located.

The future is upon us. Although many changes are coming (like the ability to download a two-hour movie in just a few seconds), the backbone of a 5G network can only be supported with fiber.

Considering that the senior population continues to grow, it's no surprise that families are flexing their creative muscles in order for older folks to remain at home. In 2014, roughly 19% of Americans (or 60.6 million people) lived with multiple generations under the same roof. And one way to ensure that your aging relatives can live comfortably while maintaining their privacy and independence is to create an in-law suite in your home. But before you begin, you'll want to know a bit more about what goes into this process and what you'll want to prioritize during the renovations.

You'll have a few different options to consider when choosing the space for your future in-law suite. While you could build a new addition or a standalone structure for this purpose, neither of those options is the most cost-effective. In most cases, you'll end up converting a garage, an attic, a basement, or an unused room within the house. Garages will require HVAC setup, insulation, electrical outlets, plumbing, and other adjustments in order to meet residential building codes and to ensure comfortable and safe living will bee possible. For an attic conversion, you'll need to assess the habitable space, the stairwell, lighting, HVAC, insulation, and flooring issues. And with a basement, you'll need to ensure that it meets the legal egress requirements to prioritize safe escape or entry during an emergency, as well as dehumidification and flooding prevention. The space you choose will largely depend on your budget, the amount of square footage available, and the main priorities for these in-law suites (which we'll discuss below).

Before you launch into any renovations, you'll need to determine the features that must be included in the finished in-law suite. For one thing, privacy is a must. Certainly, you'll want to invest in window treatments, which 15.88% of survey respondents aged 18 to 29 purchased in 2018, to add some extra privacy to windows (especially if your relatives will be on the ground floor). But you'll also want to consider adding a separate entryway so that occupants can come and go without traipsing through the entire house. Ideally, the in-law suite should feel separate enough that no one feels overcrowded but connected enough that the entire family can feel free to spend time together when they want to.

Another important point to keep in mind is independence. An in-law suite needs to be a fully functional entity in and of itself. In other words, it needs its own bathroom and its own kitchen (or at least a kitchenette), as well as appliances and other conveniences, to ensure that people living there don't need to rely too heavily on the other rooms outside the suite. Since homeowners remodel more than 10.2 million kitchens and 14.2 million bathrooms each year, you'll need to add both of these rooms to your remodeling list.

When it comes time to remodel, you'll also need to consider universal design and accessibility. While your relatives may not yet have any mobility issues or disabilities to be worried about, that may not always be the case. If they wish to age in place, you'll need to make certain that the design concepts used throughout the in-law suite will remain functional even as physical or mental capacities deteriorate. That may mean adding in wider doorways, adjusting the height of toilets and bathtubs, choosing non-slip flooring, or opting for easy-to-handle hardware on doors and drawers. The better you can plan ahead for the future, the better this space will continue to serve your family as their needs change.

You may also want to consider the flexibility of this space before you start tearing walls down. It's possible that your in-law suite may be only a short-term solution or that you'd like to be able to use this area for multiple purposes. An in-law suite can also be used to accommodate out-of-town guests or may even allow you to turn your home into an income property. If you plan on turning the space into one you can rent out or use as a guest haven, you won't want to go too far overboard into aging-in-place design trends. It's definitely possible to find a happy medium between universal design and modern concepts that will appeal to guests or tenants of all ages. That's why it's important to determine the purpose of your in-law suite before you begin; otherwise, you may have to spend more money later on if your needs change.

Adding an in-law suite is a great way to ensure your loved ones are safe and comfortable during a pivotal time of their lives. It can also be an option for families to earn extra income or ensure guests enjoy their stay. But before you break ground, you'll want to put ample thought into your choice of space, the design, and the intended use. If you do that, you'll end up with an area that will add value to your home and to your lives in general.

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