Archive for the ‘Disaster’ Category

Do you know how lucky you are

August 29, 2009

Do you know how lucky you are?  Each of us have our own problems.  Some more than others.  I don’t care who you are, we all have problems. So it got me to thinking how lucky most of us are.

It also reminds me how fragile our lives are and how the things we depend upon can disappear in an instant.

If it comes to you from somewhere else or takes a spider’s web of logistics to get to you it can be gone in the blink of an eye.   Things like blue jeans from China and olive oil from Italy can become unavailable.  Boots, shoes, shirts and underwear made in the Philippines may not be coming in those big shipping containers.  Cheap tools, generators, batteries and electronics from Asia could be next to impossible to find.    The day may come when lanterns, light bulbs,  masks, ammo and spare parts get scarce.   You may not be able to find oranges and pineapples north of 40′ in the winter.  Anything with a made in somewhere other than where you live could get real expensive.

Even those things close by could get undependable.  Electricity, hot running water, cold running water, telephone and cell phone service, natural gas, sewers and heat can all be interrupted.   It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have plans in place to have backup, redundant or substitute systems in place for as many of these things as you possibly can.

You could wake up in the morning and discover that the gas stations, supermarkets and banks/atms in your town are all closed too.  We are already seeing some governments closing and some towns shutting off street lights to save money.  This fall and winter we will see schools and colleges close due to the flu.

Rule #1 – don’t take things for granted.

Rule #2 – plan for their absence.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © even in the rain.

c1Some pretty blueberries ripe for the plucking.  Get yourself a field guide or two, GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY and start picking some wild fruit.

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Drought

March 1, 2009

You guys following what’s happening in Cal-eye-forn-eye-aye?  There’s been this ongoing three year drought that’s battering California.  Making a living off the land has always been a tough way to survive.   It seems you either have too much water or not enough water.  I’m happy to be living where I do where lack of water is not an issue.   Water is our lifeblood.  Without abundant fresh water you die and then I take your stuff.   “Economists at the University of California Davis estimate that the drought could cost 95,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in revenue this year. Much of the pain is centered in the San Joaquin Valley, where idle fields idle workers.

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This area of the San Luis Reservoir near Gustine was previously underwater but was dried out in January because of drought conditions. (Patrick Tehan / Mercury News)

Because so much food is grown in California on top of everything else, you can expect higher prices for produce in the supermarkets.  “Last year, during the second year of the drought, more than 100,000 acres of the 4.7 million in the valley were left unplanted, and experts predict that number could soar to nearly 850,000 acres this year.  All of which could mean shorter supplies and higher prices in produce aisles – California is the nation’s biggest producer of tomatoes, almonds, avocados, grapes, artichokes, onions, lettuce, olives and dozens of other crops…

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Docks at Lake Pillsbury, north of Santa Rosa, sat high and dry in late January because of below-average rainfall. (Associated Press file) -

These pictures are reminiscent of the old black and white pictures from the Dust Bowl years.  This is the result of too many people placing unreasonable demands on nature.   How many swimming pools you figure there are in California?  At a time when food crops are drying and dying could there be a bigger waste of water than all the swimming pools in Southern California?  In the coming years as there are more people and more swimming pools you can expect the water problems out in the Western US to escalate.  I mean look at Vegas too.  There are too many people living in too dry an area to be sustainable.  I wouldn’t ca_dmwant to own property in Nevada.

If you live in California I don’t know what to tell you.  Maybe move someplace there is more water more consistently.

I was out walking the other day and stumbled upon this old piece of what I think is animal hide nailed into a tree.  At first I thought it was a fish, but it looks like deer spine.  That’s what that white thing at the top of the picture is white spine bone.  Not sure what it comes from or why someone would nail it to a tree though.  a17

Does anyone know what this is?

Revolving doors

February 14, 2009
lynn

Deputy Defense Secretary Lynn

This one makes me puke.  Really.  The more things change the more they stay the same.  “In yet another violation of Barack Obama’s “strict ethics rules banning lobbyists from his administration, the U.S. Senate has confirmed a major defense industry lobbyist to be second in command at the Pentagon. The nation’s new Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn, comes directly from the lucrative world of big time lobbying for the world’s largest missile manufacturer, Maryland-based Raytheon Co. Incidentally, Raytheon happens to be one of the Pentagon’s biggest missile suppliers thanks greatly to Lynn’s efforts.

Prior to registering as a lobbyist Lynn worked as the Comptroller at the Pentagon under President Clinton.  So he’s in government, then lobbying for private interests and now back in government.  That’s just not right.  There needs to be some sort of time exclusion that prevents people from dancing between public and private interests.

WTF! WTF! WTF! Business has such a stranglehold on our government that We The People are being chokedBusiness as usual in DC for those whom we elect to represent US.  WTF!?!

changePutting a former lobbyist in charge of which defense contractors get what plum contract is one thing that both Republicans and Democrats agreed on, “was confirmed by a vote of 93 to 4 on Wednesday.”

They can’t agree on ANYTHING else, but when it comes time to putting a fox in charge of the chickens at least 93% of them agree it’s a good idea.  Of course, because it’s all about the money.  Money talks and BS walks.

At least one senator wasn’t happy, “Grassley, who voted against confirmation, called into question Lynn’s work as Pentagon comptroller during the Clinton administration. As chief financial officer, Lynn “advocated very questionable accounting practices that were obviously not in the public interest,” Grassley told his colleagues on the Senate floor.

Don’t be fooled by the differences between the two major American political parties.  There is no difference in the things that really matter.  Everything else is a wedge issue for those driven by their own ideology.  Don’t vote for ANY Dems or any Repubs.

And Carl Levin on the subject says that, “Lynn’s situation “is not unique,numerous nominees to senior positions in prior administrations, including nominees as secretary of defense, have served in similar industry positions.”  Yeah, that’s comforting.  How about a little oversight Mr. Levin.

And President’s Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex Speech, which I would argue is actually now the military/industrial/media/government complex.  There is a revolving door from government to business to media to government to media to business.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

City or country?

February 7, 2009

Bits n’ pieces –

Good piece on the Preparing for Tyranny blog about universal health coverage or single payer health care.  I am in favor of a single payer system.  Insurance companies are leeches standing between providers and consumers of services, sucking off resources that should be going to health care.  Anyways, read his thoughtful entry.  Here in the northeast we take freedom and liberty seriously.

Also, interesting article on the death/murder of 84 infants due to poisonous teething formula.  Imagine losing a baby because the teething formula was poisoned.

Okay then City or Country?

There was a letter on the Rawles’ website the other day from the owner of the the blog Surviving the Day After that basically chastised people for living in urban or suburban areas.  In other words if you didn’t live in the middle of nowhere than you were doomed. And if you didn’t head for the hills, leave the cities was the cry, then you’d be swept up in disaster and death.

Now seeing how this blog is Suburban Survival for the Simple I figured that I’d try to engage in some analysis.  Maybe we can look at some weaknesses and strengths of both.

I figure there’s maybe a handful of things that can happen that will cause total breakdown of society.  You got ya nuclear, biologic and chemical attacks.   I figure this would be over a limited area.  One, two, three cities?  Then you got ya plagues and flu epidemics, maybe throw in the Black Plague because those naughty boys have been playing with it.  Maybe fly in 5, 10 or 15 infected terrorists on different planes.  I guess that could spread and cause widespread panic, maybe martial law too. Than you got your EMP attacks.

All in all though I don’t see a complete breakdown.  Stores will be open, maybe with less selection, and definitely fewer stores.   I think mail will still be delivered.  Banks will still process payments.  The police, courts and jails will all be functioning.  Gas stations will be pumping gas.  What we do to put food on the table may change, but life will go on.  The medium of exchange we use may change, but the result will be the same.  Lawyers will definitely still be billing.  Carpenters building and teachers teaching.  World Keep On Turning.

Work > Earn > Build/Make > Buy/Barter

Most likely outcome is a continued slow economic slide lasting for years.  Maybe a decade before everything shakes out into our New Grand Economy.  More people living together.  More people working in agriculture and food production.  More local manufacturing.  Less driving and deliveries.  That’s all a different post though.

Like I said though if the mushroom cloud goes up, who knows.   Or if some pandemic spreads you wouldn’t want to be in population centers.  You can’t live your life in fear though.  Be prudent at all times, but we can’t make decisions based on fear.  Otherwise, if you jump in over your head too soon you could end up like those two in Montana.  They ran out of food.  She froze to death.  He was rescued by the sheriff.  He had lots of guns, but no food!!

Rule: if a nuclear bomb goes off in your city, town or village you don’t want to be there.

Rule: if there is a pandemic you want to avoid other people.

If you already live in the city or the burbs you already have a circle of friends and maybe family.  Having a support system is critical.  No way would you want to leave your friends and family during a time of crisis unless that location was dangerous.  In the city/burbs you have many more neighbors than you would in the country.   So you know your neighbors.  Hopefully they’re friends of yours.  Maybe you borrow tools from each other or can look out for each others stuff.   I think you’re better off staying where you know folks than running to a place full of untrusting strangers that probably won’t be too happy to see another refugee arrive to town.  No matter where you are knowing your neighbors is critical.  I know when I see strangers on my street I pay attention and am watching out for my neighbors’ houses, kids, cars and stuff.  I saw a neighbor’s car get hit and then the driver drove away.  I got the license plate and gave it to my neighbor who then called the cops.

Rule: It’s good to be where you know people.

Ditto for the neighborhood.  I’ve lived in this town for the better part of 45 years.   I know the streets, roads, sidewalks and deadends.  I know the hills and hollows.  I know the rivers and streams.  I could bug out of town and know how to avoid roads.  I know what rivers to float down  and where the falls are.

Rule: It’s good to know the terrain and geography.

I know the parks, libraries, hospitals, schools, stores and mechanics.  Better yet I know what merchants/doctors/restaurants/mechanics/stores/gas stations are good to go to and who to avoid.   You wanna run somewhere strange and not know where to get stitches, the best burger and beer, find town hall and police or get ripped off by some strange mechanic/dentist/lawyer/tradesperson that you don’t know?  Called the mechanic today, ‘you’ve been here before right?’ ‘yup, like 20 years.’

Rule: It’s good to know the people that you do business with.

Rule: It’s good to know where critical services are located.

Now let’s figure that you live in the middle of nowhere.  I’m not sure that the libraries will stay open.  How about that fire department, cops and schools.  Sure in the cities and burbs we’ll see a reduction in municipal services, but we won’t see the total disappearance of services.   The trash will still get picked up, maybe not as often, but it will get picked up.  How about snow plowing city v. country.   Then you got your medical services.  In the burbs and cities there is a large choice of providers.  Chances are they all aren’t going to fold up and close.  Out in the hinterlands if you only have one MD for 40 square miles then you ain’t too well diversified.  You don’t want your healthcare to get Madoff’ed.  The hospital here is close by and will stay open.

If the power lines go down, the telephone lines fall, the gas main break, the water pipes break which area will be fixed first?  I think you know the answer.

I can also see the delivery of food and other products breaking down the farther you move away from population centers.  I’m not sure if the tractor trailers are going to keep rolling quite as often anywhere.  So how often is that little country store that only 10 miles up from you going to get restocked, or the tanker trucks coming.  You can be certain the the majority of goods will be delivered to the more populated places more consistently.  It makes good economic sense doesn’t it?  That’s what I would do if I was in charge of logistics.

Rule: centers of population will get restocked more frequently, more resources will be allocated to them and municipal services may be more dependable than in rural areas

Boy if the price of gas ever goes up again… and I’d say the chance of that is a near perfect 100%, the further away that you live from where you need to go whether it’s the grocer, banker, USPS or your jay-oh-bee then the more the price of gas hurts.  When the cost of transportation is high then it’s good to live in close proximity to what you need.   Think where you’d rather live when gas hits $4, $5, $8 a gallon.  And it will.

I can walk to a hardware store, big grocery, church, a few small convenient stores, drug store, liquor store, sporting good store, USPS and so on.  I can ride my bike to just about anything you can imagine.

Rule: oil still has a world of upward potential as oil becomes more scarce driving may become a luxury for only the very rich.  Driving 30, 40 or 50 miles to the store, the job or the movies will be a rare event indeed.  I agree with Kunstler that the days of happy motoring are approaching an end.

If you don’t read Kunstler he is a must read.

My little town has its own bus that runs around.  Many urban/sub-urban places have buses, trains and subways that you can get around on.  Maybe even a cab service.  In the Hinterlands?  Not so much.

Then I imagine for the few jobs that do remain most of them will still be where most of the people are.  Lose you job out in the wild blue yonder and it make take a while longer to find a new one than in a more populated area.

Rule: the availability of public transportation is a large consideration.

Rule: the majority of jobs will continue to be where the majority of people are

Rule: if you want to develop your own business showing folks how to tie flies, plant gardens, repair bikes, watch/teach their kids or handy man business you will have a greater chance of success with a larger available market.

If you’re familiar with Ferfal’s blog then you know he writes with a first hand experience of what the decade long economic collapse of Argentina has been like.  A point he always makes is that there are home invasions in the city and in the country.  The difference is that in the country no one hears your yells so the criminals have more time to do the worst things imaginable to your family and you.  The city and country both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Rule: learn from the experiences of those who went before you and follow in their footsteps.  Learn from their mistakes.

Rule: the actual collapse of an advanced economy like Iceland or Argentina haven’t yet digressed in a Rabid Biker Zombie shoot em up.  Who knows about the future though.

Rule: due to concealability handguns seem much more useful during an economic collapse than rifles

It takes quite a few people to set up 24/7 guards and/or patrols.   The more you have and the more it’s spread out the tougher it is to protect.  If you own a large ranch or farm with equipment spread out over a wide area you may have a tough time protecting your crops, livestock, equipment and even metal pipes and fences from looters and thieves.

Rule: the more spread out you are the more difficult to defend

Rule: to defend a large homestead you would need a large number of people.

Rule: one or two families in a cabin in the woods can be waited out or burned out

Now ideally I think you’d have a number of places that you could bug out to if need be.  I live in the suburbs, but maybe it would be good to have some land, friends or family in a more rural area.  Ideally a few locations to run to in different parts of the country.  Be even better if you know some people in a foreign country that you could run to if need be.  That’s why I tell folks to Get Your Passport even if you don’t plan on going anywhere.  Better to have it and not use it then not being able to leave as quick as possible if the gates start slamming down.  You know how slow the folks at the USPS can move so get that paperwork moving along.  The regulations are changing in four months so get your passport now.

Rule: wherever you live be prepared to run to a few other locations

I don’t mean to rag on country places.  Having some land in the country and building a cabin is the dream of just about everyone isn’t it?  Although I have access to a trailer and some land in the North Country.  It’s not just to bug out too.  It’s a vacation place too.  I would like to buy some acreage and build my own low impact woodland home on it.  Check out the link there are plans.

Here is a pic of the front and the inside of what I’d like to eventually build.

front

wide2
I just want to point out that one setting may not be right for everyone.

Rule: And it doesn’t matter where you live as long as you Get Outside Everyday.

Mexican meltdown

December 22, 2008

What’s going down in Mexico?  No one likes to live next to noisy or nosy neighbors. They keep you up.  They litter and make a mess.

Things are going to Hell in a hand basket down there and quickly.  I recently read an excellent article in Forbes that explained how Mexico is basically under the control of four different drug lords.  Killers go into hospitals and kidnap or threaten doctors and murder people right in the operating rooms.  “Hit men pursuing rivals into intensive care units and emergency rooms. Shootouts in lobbies and corridors. Doctors kidnapped and held for ransom, or threatened with death if a wounded gunman dies under their care. With alarming speed, Mexico’s violent drug war is finding its way into the seeming sanctuary of the nation’s hospitals, shaking the health care system and leaving workers fearing for their lives while trying to save the lives of others.”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/world/americas/05mexico.html?_r=1

There are shootouts almost every day between the Mexican Army and drug lords.  “ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Ten suspected traffickers and a soldier were killed in gunbattles Sunday in a southern Mexican state plagued by drug violence.” http://www.fox59.com/pages/landing/?10-gunmen-soldier-killed-in-shootout-in-=1&blockID=155220&feedID=24 and a few days later “ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) – Three gunmen are dead following a shootout with Mexican army troops in the southern state of Guerrero.State authorities say that police found two assault rifles, two pistols, a grenade and a bag of what appeared to be cocaine in the suspects’ vehicle. Mexico has been hit by a rising wave of drug-fueled violence, and officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died so far in 2008.”  http://www.kold.com/Global/story.asp?S=9559825.

5,300 people, wow.  The killers, “Gunmen had pulled alongside the forest-green Chevy Tahoe on a gritty downtown street and, in broad daylight, pumped 52 shots into where the bodies now lean.” Ten people are day are being killed in Juarez. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-fg-juarezkillings20-2008dec20,0,634780.story

Mexican consumers are buying less goods made north of the border http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2008/11/21/afx5729229.html and the automakers are shuttering some factories in Mexico too. The economic outlook for trade between the US and Mexico is not bright.

As you can imagine tourism is crashing and the US Department of State is now warning Americans about travel to Mexico. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_3028.html And of course Americans are being kidnapped for ransom.  “Batista, a U.S. citizen who works for ASI Global, a Houston-based security company, is a prominent expert on how to avert kidnapping. Ironically, he was nabbed in the industrial city of Saltillo after giving antiabduction seminars to businessmen…” Ironic. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1867138,00.html?imw=Y

So we have drug lords increasing their power and hold over Mexico.  The oil fields in Mexico are producing less and less oil.  Mexican production peaked in 2004 and since that time has fallen by 15%+.  http://setenergy.org/2008/11/24/oil-decline-could-devastate-mexico/.  In addition, with the decline in commodity prices,  and oil in particular, revenues of the Mexican government are falling.  They expect Mexican GDP to shrink.

How often do we see unrest in one country spread to its neighbors?  It’s never good to have 100 Million hungry, poor, desperate people right next door.

I see radical change in Mexico, civil unrest or a return to Mexican totalitarianism as distinct possibilities.  The last “election” really pushed the envelope.  I don’t think that the Mexisheeple will take it on the other cheek.

Why should this concern US in general or you if you live near the southern border?  Where do you think a million or ten million Mexicans will flee to if the SHTF in Mexico?  Yup, right over the border into the southern US.  Those of you in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and southern Cali who think you safely removed yourself from civilization may be in for a big surprise if a flood of poor, hungry refugees crosses the rivers and deserts.

If things get much worse in Mexico beware that it could spread north.  And we have no way to stop a mass migration anymore than we can prevent the thousands that now cross illegally every day.

Got enough beans to share with your Mexican neighbors?

Get outside every day-

p1010033

Junipers in snow

Zen

Zen

Serenity

Serenity

Ice storm

December 16, 2008

We got a rainstorm the other night, 3+ inches of rain.  Folks a few miles away got an inch or more of ice.  My house was drying out today.  Folks a few miles away were chilling out.  Literally, no power, no heat.  Are you prepared to stay warm?  Are you prepared to vanquish the darkness?

One of the places that I go walking is a little hill.  The summit is maybe 700 feet or so.  The base is around 300 feet, so the gain is 400.

At the base of this hill it was drying out from last night’s rainstorm.  At the top it was covered in ice.

ice

ice

It’s amazing what a small change in elevation can do.  You have to keep that in mind when you are getting dressed or packing.

p1010061What you see on the ground isn’t snow.  It’s ice that’s falling from the trees as the day warms.  If you look closely at the ground you can see all the branches that have snapped off the trees from the weight of the ice.  Ice weighs a lot.

p1010058

Some tree covered in ice.  It’s like a winter wonderland.  As if each branch was dipped into glass.

p1010057

I like the way the sun is shining through the ice on the tree.

p10100441This is a good picture that really shows the weight of the ice and how it bends trees and branches to the point of snapping.  You should take a look around your property and make sure there aren’t any branches or trees that may come down during a storm and knock out your wires.  If you haven’t laid awake listening to trees and branches snapping during an ice storm it is something else.

p1010055You can see next year’s buds being kept on ice for the spring solstice and Greenman to arrive.

p1010054I call this construction, “White Pine Amidst Ice.”  Just kidding, but it is pretty.

p1010047Nice trail.

So what was I reminded of today?

You gotta get outadoors everyday.

I have to check around my house to make sure nothing will come down on wires, roof or sheds if there’s a storm.

Weather can change dramatically and rapidly.

If your power goes out do you have another way to stay warm?  And another one after that? If my electric goes out I can’t use my furnace, but I have a woodstove.  If that doesn’t work I have a propane heater.  If that doesn’t work I have a little camping heater.   Can you cook without electricity?  Do you have a backup plan to that one?  Do you have the cast iron to cook over a fire if need be?  Do you even have a spare propane tank or extra bag of charcoal for your grill?

Generators, batteries, solar chargers, Coleman fuel, propane, blankets, sleeping bags, flashlights, lanterns, candles, propane heater, charcoal, firewood, saws, mauls, light sticks, fleece, long underwear, head lamps, cast iron cookware, handwarmers, hats, gloves, Dutch oven, grills, axes, matches and lighters, portable TVs, wind up lights and radios.

Lastly, you need to know how to shut off the utilities to your house.  Learn how to shut off the water main and drain the heating system, shut off your natural gas, turn off the furnace and pull the main breaker to your house.  The time to figure out how to do it isn’t when you need to.

BTW our power went out today.  It didn’t take me long to pull out a couple of battery lanterns, the b attery TV set and a radio.  We weren’t affected in the least.  I did find out that the batteries died in the radio.  No problem, we have lots of extra batteries.  It feels good to be prepared.  Are you?

My GHB

November 7, 2008

My walking pic of the day-

Fox scat

Fox scat

I believe this to be fox scat (crap).  The fox diligently placed it on top of a rock so everyone in the woods could see it and smell it.  Fox like to do this with their scat.  Notice the seeds in it.  It looks like this fox has been eating berries.

I keep a bag in my car to provide stuff that I may need if I end up having to walk home.  I’m usually no more than 20 miles from home and usually not too far from my car.   I don’t anticipate having to spend more then one night away from home.  Probably not even.  So my Get Home Bag is designed around these specific needs: walk no more then 20 miles and only having to spend 1-3 nights away from home.  I also have a fair amount of stuff in my car that isn’t shown.  That’s another post.

The first thing you need to do in the event of having to run home is to make yourself safe.  After that, you need to unpack everything you have with you, your pockets and the contents of your Get Home Bag (“GHB”).  Take an inventory.  Figure out what you have and the multiple uses that each item has.  Slow down.  Bad decisions are made in haste.

This is my get home bag.

Get Home Bag

Get Home Bag

As you can see it’s a waterproof SealLine 20 liter bag.  I have other bags in my car that I can put it into in case I want to go incognito.  Carrying the SealLine bag through urban or suburban areas would attract unneeded attention.  I usually have a black messenger bag with me that I could stuff the SealLine bag into if I needed to.

The contents:

GHB1

GHB1

Here we have a survival blanket that has all kinds of survival tips written right on it.  Even though you know everything, when you are under stress you forget or can’t recall stuff.  It’s good to have everything written down.  Next are a few rubber gloves, a dust mask and toilet paper in a zip loc bag.

GHB 2

GHB2

Here are a few large plastic bags with a rubber band around them.  The yellow thing is a reflective survival sleeping bag.    A cheesy tube tent and cheesy rain poncho.  I keep them packed in their plastic bags because it’s good to have bags in the brush.

GHB3

GHB3

Here is a NuWick candle in a can.  Packed inside of the can are the wicks and a lousy pack of matches.  NuWick should supply waterproof matches with its product.  NuWick knows it’s a survival item so they shouldn’t get chintzy with the matches.   The thing in the zip loc bag is an alcohol lamp/stove.  The black thing is a small pot/large cup to heat stuff up with.  The handles collapse around the pot.  The thing with the yellow handle and black rod is a flint fire starter.   The shiny silver thing is an old fashioned waterproof match holder packed with strike anywheres and a piece of course sandpaper for striking.

GHB4

GHB4

Upper left corner are two sets of plastic cutlery wrapped in plastic wrap.  Inside the zip loc bag (I love bags.) is a survival saw.  You can’t depend on these things, but it’s light, cheap and small so why not pack it?  Don’t depend on them though.  If you think that you will HAVE to use a saw on your way home get a better one.  You can rip the rings off the end of these survival saws with a teeny bit of pressure.  Bottom center is a small bottle of Purell hand sanitizer.  Bottom left corner is a Platypus bag wrapped with a rubber band.  It’s basically a collapsible canteen.  The Platypus bags can be boiled, frozen and rolled up very small.  These things are great.

GHB5

GHB5

The silver thing in the black case is a small radio.  It picks up AM/FM/TV and shortwave.  It’s digitally tuned.  I think I got 2 for $20.  When I’m walking home I want to be able to listen to the news.  The other thing is a headlamp.

GHB6

GHB6

Here is a shank of parachute cord.  It can be stripped down and the inside strands used for whatever.  In the middle is a shank of poly rope.  At the bottom is a little roll of duct tape.

GHB7

GHB7

At the top is a Swedish Mora knife with a sheath that has a nice belt clip.  The knife is very sharp.  It was only $9 or so from Smoky Mountain Knife Works.  A Gillette disposable razor and a cheap slingshot.  Also, floating around the bottom of my GHB are probably about 50 ball bearings.

GHB8

GHB8

This is a Survival Straw.  These things are great.  I can drink out of a puddle if need be.  You can get cheaper ones, but they are probably just filters.  In which case you may also have to treat the water with bleach, iodine or other chemicals.  This Survival Straw has some sort of silver in it that also kills the bugs and viruses.  This is the kind to get.  http://www.thestrawoflife.com/.  You can find it cheaper so look around.  Once again, save the bag it comes in and the directions.

GHB8

GHB8

This is the food I carry in my GHB.  On the left is a bag of raisins and brown sugar.  It’s like the ingredients for hooch in the can.  On the right is more food double zip locked.

GHB9

GHB9

The zip lock food bag unpacked.  At the top two packs of Swiss Miss hot cocoa, a pack of tuna, the black round thing is a small glass jar of honey, two gold and black packets of Earl Grey tea, four or five hard candies, a pack of Top Ramen, four things of Cup a Soup, the things running vertically are three packs of soup bouillon.

GHB10

GHB10

This is a one liter Nalgene type bottle.  It came packed with first aid supplies.  I got it for about $10.  Of course I had to supplement it with more stuff.

The bottle unpacked is below:

GHB11

GHB11

A pair of tweezers, a cheap compass, a bag with wet naps, an orange cheap whistle, a small roll of first aid tape and a red Bic lighter.

GHB11

GHB12

On the left in the little baggie are first aid type wipes, antibiotic, burn and stingeze.  At the top the little blue pills are an anti-histamine, to the right is a pack of Advil, in the middle anti-biotic Neosporin, a bunch of brass safety pins and at the bottom is a little shank of poly string.

GHB13

GHB13

Here we have a bag with assorted bandages and gauze pads, a pair of scissors, in the center is a disposable razor knife.  You know the kind it has like ten blades that snap off.  The bottom left is a small zip loc bag rolled up and secured with a rubber band.

GHB14

GHB14

At the top left is a triangle bandage in a bag.  The top right is a small pack of tissues.  Bottom left is a bag of anti-septic towelettes.  The bottom right is a small container of aspirin and Immodium.  You have to know not to take aspirin if bleeding is a risk, but to take aspirin in the event of stroke or heart attack.  if you didn’t know this you are weak in the first aid area and need to bone up.  Not trying to be critical.  I just am by nature.

GHB15

GHB15

At the top left are eight Micropur water purifying tablets.  The top right are some disposable brush ups to keep your teeth clean and get rid of foul tastes or just make you feel more human.  The bottom right are 4.0 Ethilon sutures.  The bottom right is a first aid guide.  I’m pretty good with first aid, but under stress I may not be thinking right so it helps to be able to read.  Keep directions.  An example, you may be suffering from hypothermia and not recognize it because one of the symptoms of hypothermia is confusion.  You start reading your little first aid guide and realize that confusion is a sign of hypothermia.  Light then dawns on marble head and you recognize that you need to take corrective action.

GHB16

GHB16

The last items in the one liter bottle is a pack of straight needles and a spool of black thread.

You get that pics GHB11-GHB16 are the contents of the red one liter bottle.

You need to occasionally unpack everything so you know what you have and also to check the batteries.  The whole thing weighs about ten pounds and measures 18″ * 9″ * 8″.

Cost = Priceless.

Mens sarne incorporo sarno.

Economic matters

November 3, 2008

Everyone knows something is coming

We can all feel it. No one really knows what it is. One thing seems certain though that whatever the dark cloud that now hangs over us it has some huge economic component to it. I read something a few weeks ago on The Urban Survival website http://www.urbansurvival.com/week.htm about how the official unemployment number as reported is artificially low. The writer over there had a much simpler method of just asking your friends and family. In my circle the number of people laid off in the past year is over 15%. Ask what around do you come up with?

My anecdotal test which resulted in a 15% give or take unemployment rate, ties out nicely to a chart I saw on the Shadow Stat website, http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data.

Shadow Stats Unemploy

Shadow Stats Unemploy

You see that true unemployment is 200%+ the “official” rate.

Realistically we may have what a year at the most before all of our lives are different than we ever could have imagined before 9/11. Can’t you smell it in the air?

I agree with the Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Advisory Council Administration Transition Task Force Report that the most vulnerable time for our country is, “is 30 days prior to, as recent history has shown, and through six months after the change in administrations.” http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/hsac_ATTF_Report.pdf.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the markets lock up not too far in the future. At some point I figure something has got to give with our currency. I mean how long will be able to keep printing what amounts to worthless paper and sell it in the marketplace.

Fed & Treasury Totl Money Supply

Fed & Treasury Totl Money Supply

http://www.nowandfutures.com/key_stats.html

The other issue is the eventual inflation that will come about by this expansion of the money supply.

Our debt is already becoming unserviceable. We’re spending around $450,000,000,000.00 (Billion) a year just on interest. It’s simply unsustainable. At some point the purchasers of our debt will realize this and the big sell off begins. We then become like Iceland. No seller will ship goods to the US for any amount of our worthless paper.  I don’t have much optimism for our short-term economic outlook (five years).  Oh sure, there will be ups and downs, but our trend is negative.

it would be a mistake to assume that the availability of cheap imports will continue on indefinitely. Don’t count on the endless international supply chain to stay operative forever.

I think the thing to do is to prepare the best we can. You see it on all of the   website, tangibles.  Buy a little extra food every time you go shopping. Try to pay down your debt, or at the very least don’t allow your debt load to increase. Anyone in the markets may want to develop an investment strategy that leans towards asset preservation. Be good to figure out how to get a second income stream flowing if possible. Have enough cash around in case you can’t use you debit, credit or ATM cards.

Make sure you have enough food and water to hide out at home for a week or more. All the regular stuff for a storm: batteries, radio, flashlight, canned goods, water, can opener, candles, first aid kit, extra prescription medicines, maybe a firearm and ammunition, a generator if you can afford one, an assortment of small bills, an alternative way to cook, a personal hygiene kit, sleeping bags, water filter, toys for your kids, etc. You know the routine by now.  Learn a new skill.  Watch what you spend.  Get to know your neighbors.

I’m a big fan of getting any imported stuff that you normally use sooner rather than later.  I need to buy another pair of jeans or two and a pair of sneakers.   It’s a better investment than the stock market.

What’s missing….

October 29, 2008

It’s easy to think about what we should prepare for. As I wrote in a previous post we need to prepare for those things most likely to occur and those things that are easy to prepare for. To that end I’d like to recommend a list of stuff of some people don’t think of. Mind you I don’t expect to be running through the streets slinging an AK over my shoulder like Mosul or Lebanon. I just don’t see that happening in the US, at least not in the near future. Holed up in my house shooting at the Zombie Golden Horde through gunslits in my walls, not likely.

Do you have:

Water purification or filter. You need this. This has to be number one on your list. You also need redundancy here. Have a minimum of 2-3 filters of the same type and five replacement filters. I would not want to trust just one filter no matter what.  Without water you are a worm on the hot summer pavement.

Toilet paper. How much do you use every week? Do you have enough for six months. You need this stuff.

Batteries. One of the first things to disappear and easy to trade. Get alkaline, rechargeables and lithium. Brand names don’t matter. They’re all made in the same factories and labeled later. Avoid heavy duty. Get alkaline.

Ammunition. Personally I think it’s better to have fewer guns and a better understanding of the ones do you have with ample, more than enough in your wildest dreams, ammunition. Or reloading supplies.

Firearms. No need to mention, but don’t go all gun nutty on me at the expense of not having a way to get or clean potable water and enough food. You can’t eat a gun. Also, make sure you have enough Hoppe’s No. 9, oil and patches. Maybe some replacement parts.

HBA. Health and beauty aids. You need this stuff. I mean toothpaste, tooth brushes, lots of soap, hand sanitizer, shampoo, razor blades, feminine products, and so on. Baby wipes are great. Go look at your medicine cabinet and under your bathroom sink. You need more of this stuff. If it really goes to Hell in a hand basket staying clean and tidy means that you have a better chance to stay healthy. Nothing will make you sicker quicker than having dirty hands. Sheets, pillowcases, towels and blankets, blankets, blankets.

Kitchen knives. I know we all like knives, but make sure you have a bunch of good ones that hold a good edge and are easy to sharpen. You should be able to get good kitchen knives for $5-$20 each. I think $20 is a lot for one knife. Avoid wooden handles and look for a full tang. NEVER leave you kitchen knives to sit in a wet sink over night. Clean your knives as soon as possible and dry them off.

Sharpening stones, irons, diamond stones. A dull knife is a danger to the user. You gotta keep your knives sharp. I sharpen mine just about every time I use them.

Paper towels, napkins, paper plates, plastic cutlery. It may be tough to run a dishwasher or heat water to wash dishes. Disposable is good. Tin foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, bags, bags, bags, zip lock, foldable, kitchen bags, big trash bags. Dishwashing detergent, SOS pads, sponges. Look around your house. This is what you’ll need.

Solar battery chargers. I like these. You can get good ones for $20-$30. Get a few extra for trading just in case.

Lots of food. I liked canned. Some people like storing grain. I like to store what I eat every day. I don’t grind grain so I hope I don’t have to start now. Oils. Store vegetable and olive oils. You need fats. Another great think to store is seeds for sprouting. Here in the cold north I can’t grow greens in the winter, but I can sprout seeds in a cold dark closet and make a mini salad. Sprouts are great, offer a lot of protein, roughage and micronutrients. Vinegar is great stuff to store – white, red wine and cider.

First aid supplies. You need to have a super kit. You need antibiotics and pain relievers in it, sutures, scalpels, razors, all kinds of gauze and bandaids and so on. Aspirin, Ibuprofen. You can go through this stuff quickly so make sure you have much more then you ever anticipate needing.

Spices. I like black pepper so I store a lot of it. Also, store other herbs and spices. Lots of salt. Get a few one pound containers just for trading. Ketchup, mustard, mayo, bbq sauce, teriyaki, etc. All of this stuff makes food more palatable.

Bleach. This stuff is great for cleaning and purifying. You can mix it with water and sterilize surfaces.

Books. Have all kinds of books for entertainment but also how to books: how to can, how to set a broken limb, how to fix a toothache, nature guides for edible plants, trees and wildlife in your neck of the woods.

Maps. You can’t have too many maps for you area and where you could possibly have to travel to. Get as detailed as possible including USGS topo maps. Learn how to read em too.

Passport. Just get it. Get it now. You never know. Millions of people never thought they would have to flee where they live. Go ask the Georgians, the Rwandans, the Cambodians and so on. If it happens there it can happen here. Wildflower is right on here. Prepare.

Get copies of all your “stuff” on a memory stick/jump drive. Scan all of your credit cards, driver’s license, debit card, birth certificate, vaccination certificates, marriage license, divorce decree, health insurance cards, insurance policies, the deed to your house, titles to your cars, anything in your wallet or file cabinet that may be important. Scan them onto a memory stick and keep that stick handy.

Ammunition. I know I mentioned ammunition above, but it’s a big one. Great investment. Better then the stock market.

Lanterns, candles, flashlights. You need light. Nothing will make you. Depressed faster than sitting around in the dark. Get a variety of them. Get the grind up kind, the shake kind, LEDs last a long time, get regular bulbed lights. Coleman lanterns, oil lamps and candles. You can’t have enough ways to shed light on your life.

A way to stay warm. What are you gonna do if the oil truck don’t come around, electricity goes out or the natural gas lines stop? You need a way to stay warm. The temperature of a house starts to drop right away. Being cold hour upon hour and day upon day will beat you down. Have you ever had cold feet for 12 hours? It grinds you down. Woodstove, inserts, propane heaters, etc.

Miscellaneous hardware supplies. Kits to fix your toilet, nails, screws, wire of assorted sizes, rope of assorted sizes, glues, epoxies, extra roof shingles, roofing cement. Is there anything in your house that you fix every month or every six months? Get more of it. I like to have some plywood and other assorted lumber just in case. Do you have a tarp large enough to cover your roof if it springs a leak?

Ask yourself what you get that’s imported from overseas. Sneakers, shoes, rubber boots, hunting boots and other footwear. Most of our clothing is now imported. Get long underwear, a few more pairs of jeans, bras and panties, rain gear, winter jackets, hats n’ gloves. Any special foods you like that are imported? Get em now. If it can happen in Iceland it can happen here.

Vitamins. If your nutrition goes to Hell at least you can supplement it with vitamins. I also like to have fish oil capsules.

A way to cook. If you have an electric stove get a small propane stove or white gas or both. If you have a gas stove get an electric hot plate, propane or white gas or all of the above. A hot meal does wonders for morale. If things really go south, cooking a hot meal for your neighbors will make you king of the neighborhood.

Stuff to bug out with if you need to. Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and other camping gear.

Cutting boards.

Light bulbs.

Extension cords.

Vegetable and herb seeds. Soil amendments. Lime is great it sweetens your soil and is good for a latrine should you have to dig one.

Canning supplies. Do you like pickles? Food dehydrator.

Fire extinguishers and CO detectors, smoke alarms (battery powered). When I travel I bring a smoke alarm with me. You have a much greater chance of dying in a house fire then shooting it out with someone. Prepare appropriately. No more guns for you until you get detectors all over your house.

Fuel. A variety of fuels. If you store gas use a stabilizer. Store some propane tanks large and small (for trading). Store cans of white gas, which has gotten really expensive. Kerosene?

Heavy duty cooking gear. I love cast iron. Are you prepared to cook over a fire? Get a Dutch Oven and some cast iron skillets.

Cash. You gotta keep some cash in your place in case there is a bank holiday or the power goes out.

Ways to carry stuff. Buckets, barrels, wheel barrels, wagons, bags, packs, suitcases. I love the heavy canvas bags with handles on them. When I was growing tomatoes commercially I used to say that a farmer’s best friend was a five gallon bucket.

Hand tools. Saws, axes, screwdrivers, mauls, hand drills, shovels, rakes, spades.

Masks.  Get some masks to wear in the event of a flu pandemic, bird flu or some other crisis.  Remember the pictures of the people running down from the towers on 9/11 with soot all over their faces?  I like the N100’s.  Be careful if you buy surplus gas masks.  They need to fit correctly and the canisters need to still be good.

Forgot: wine, beer, liquor or whatever else soothes your mind and eases your body.

Look around your house. What you see is what you need. What you use every day is what you need to store. I know that guns and dehydrated foods are sexy, but store the stuff that you use. So you may have ten years worth of dried beef stroganoff stored, but can you shave your face, wash your dishes or wipe your butt?

Take it easy.

Prepared for what?

October 26, 2008

How do we prepare? What do we prepare for?

I think the probability of a shoot em out, shoot em up, kind of SHTF scenario unlikely to occur. That doesn’t mean that it won’t. It just means that I don’t see the need to have three AR platforms or a .50 BMG. For most of us the firearms that we already have will be adequate.

Firearms are fun. Hell, I love them and spending an hour or two at the range is a great way to spend some time. But really, what do we need – a 22 rifle, a shotgun, a center fire rifle and maybe one or two handguns. I leave the house with a handgun just about every day. When I think of all the events that would have to occur to make it SOP for me to leave the house with a rifle every day, that I don’t see happening. Am I worried about hordes of zombies running loose on the streets? Not really. Do I anticipate having to shoot someone from 200 or 300 yards? Probably not. I mean what kind of self-defense do you have to extract from 250 yards away. Shooting someone at 200 yards sounds more like murder then self defense. Could I be wrong? I am more frequently than I like to admit.

Keeping all of the above in mind then the question is how to prepare. I like to think of various events that may occur and assign probabilities to each. Based upon the risk of occurrence, the danger from the event, the difficulty/expense in preparing and the risk of being unprepared, one can come up with a system to prepare. For ease of explanation let’s look at a simple matrix.

Likelihood of event occurring

Highly unlikely

Unlikely

Possible

Likely

Highly likely

Easy to prepare

More difficult

Neutral

Difficult to prepare

Very difficult

So we have to be prepared for the things that are easy to prepare for if they may occur. On the other hand we have to prepare for events that are likely to occur even if they are difficult to prepare for. If something is unlikely to occur and is difficult to prepare for then don’t waste your time. What’s in between is left to the discretion of each of us and each of our relative resources.

Suffice to say I place a lot more importance on food and water than I do firearms.

More particulars to follow.