Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

Heat or eat?

November 10, 2008

I know I get a fair amount if Republicans on this site.  I apologize if what I am about to say you find insulting.  If it makes a difference I don’t hold Democrats in much greater regard.  Two sides of the same coin as far as I’m concerned.  I hope that we can disagree about politics, agree about survival and the economy and still remain friends.  Even if what I say angers you please scroll to the bottom to look at my pics of the day – a deer rubbing and staghorn sumac.

“As January 20th draws near, some of you may be anxious about finding a new job, or a new place to live. I know how you feel. (Laughter.)”

President Bush 11/6/2008

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/11/20081106-1.html

What’s funny about that!?!?!?  He has no idea, not a clue, how I feel.  I tend to think that Bush has never sent out a single resume.  I’ve sent out hundreds.

Somehow Bush and the Whitehouse press corp think it’s funny to be looking for work or a place to live.  To me, it shows such a lack of understanding of what most of us face everyday that it is breath taking.  People are hungry.  People are looking for work.  People are losing their houses.   People have to choose between heat or eat.  Bush’s statement wasn’t only not funny it was callous.  What else would you expect from someone who never had to get their hands dirty, worry about meeting their bills or finding a job.

I really think that the economy is tanking.  If you have a job hold onto it.  Kiss your boss’ butt.  I heard on CNBC the other morning that retail sales are way down at the Abercrombie (-20%) and the Gap (-16%).  This is the beginning of the end.  It’s beyond a doubt that this will be the worst Christmas season for retailers ever. http://www.forbes.com/equities/2008/11/06/retail-october-closer-markets-equity-cx_mp_1106markets41.html

Seeing how around 65% of the American economy is consumer based and retailers do the vast majority of their business during the Christmas season there are not good tidings ahead.  Consumers are forced to pull back their spending because growths in productivity haven’t trickled down as growth in wages.  The owners get richer and the workers get poorer.  http://www.epipolicycenter.org/blm-stagnant_wages_and_rising_inequality.pdf

In October Ford’s sales plunged 30%, Chrysler’s 35% and GM 45%.  This is bad. 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081103/ap_on_bi_ge/auto_sales

I also just heard that the $25 Billion already given to the auto manufacturers by the Republican administration (socialism?) won’t be enough and the manufacturers are coming back with open hands.  http://www.forbes.com/equities/2008/11/06/retail-october-closer-markets-equity-cx_mp_1106markets41.html

Credit is still tight for most everyone.  Home values are falling and home equity loans are being shrunk.

For the past 20 years, the last two “expansions”, we relied on consumer borrowing.  That dog don’t run no more.  No auto loans.  Student loans are tough to come buy.  Lines of credit and so on.

Circuit City is closing 175 stores.  Linens and Things is gone.

NYC is laying off 500 workers.  Indianapolis may lay off 400 teachers.   Dallas laid off 300 teachers.  Bf Goodrich is laying off 500 people.  18,000 people were laid off in the financial sector in October.  16,000 were laid off from the auto industry. Motorola is laying off 3,000.  Michelin laid off 240.  All the newspapers are laying people off.  Yahoo employees are facing some imminent layoffs and it goes on and on. http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081107/economy.html

Don’t forget all that money injected into the economy by the Republican administration (Bernanke, Bush & Paulson).  Production is going down so we have less goods.  We also have more $’s out there.  So we have more $’s chasing less goods.  The inevitable result will be rising inflation.  I know right now we are facing deflation, which is a more significant problem, but inflation is coming back.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  The layoffs start in earnest Q109.  Hold on tight.  Most people have no idea what lays ahead.  Prepare for the worst and expect the best.

More happy stuff, my pics of the day-

deer-rubbing

deer-rubbing

This is a deer rubbing.  This is where some buck rubbed the bark off of this small juniper with his antlers.  I think that they do this to mark their territory and also to scratch the fuzz off of their antlers.  when you see a rubbing you know that there are deer populating that area.

Staghorn sumac

Staghorn sumac

This is Staghorn Sumac.  You gather these berries, soak them in cold water and strain the mizture through a clean t-shirt to make a fine tasting lemonade type drink.  In the Mideast the berries are used to season shish kebabs.  The tea is also good for coughs.  Root tea was used to stop bleeding.

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Suburban survival

November 4, 2008

What is survival?  To me it’s being prepared for anything, being open minded and keeping your six senses working enough to acknowledge the world around you and adapt to ever changing circumstances.  Having a grain mill is great, but we also have to live in the everyday, that is go to work, go shopping, pay bills and tend to the homestead.

This is a wild turkey feather.

Wild turkey feather

Wild turkey feather

Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird because he thought that the eagle was too warlike.

Today I went to the big orange box store and bought some insulation.  I framed out a walk-in closet a few years ago.  One side of the closet is basically an exterior wall and the other side of the closet is an interior wall where we hang out a lot.  I noticed this closet stayed pretty cold so I figured that I should insulate it.  I also notice that the interior wall where we hang out is pretty cold to the touch.  That means it chills the air in the interior room.

The nice thing about having a cold, dark closet is that I can use it as a root cellar.  I’ve cured homemade cured pork tenderloin.  Check out this recipe.  It’s the easiest sausage in the world and involves no cooking.  http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/special/1999/salt/loin.html.  I also store my root veggies in the cold closet.  When I make KimChi I store the fermenting bottles in the closet.

At the big box store I bought three rolls of Owens Corning Kraft R13 insulation.   I got the rolls that were 15″ wide which made it really easy to fit between the studs.   Kraft means it’s paper on one side.  R13 is the insulation’s insulative property.  The higher the R number the better the insulation.  Each roll cost about $10.  I had about 10 spaces between studs to slide the insulation into.  I kind of screwed up because I should have put the insulation in before I put up a bunch of pegboard for my tools, but I did not.  Luckily I was able to slide the insulation behind the pegboard and pull it up.

Owens R13 Kraft 15" roll

Owens R13 Kraft 15

It only took me about an hour and we will be more comfortable hanging out and also save energy.  Twenty dollars is a small price to pay.

Another product I like is the blow in foam insulation that comes in a can.  This stuff is great for electrical outlets and cracks near windows and doors.   You shake the can, spray it in to fill about 1//2 the cavity and as it cures it expands.   I highly recommend this stuff, but be careful not to over apply or the pressure it exerts on your windows/doors as it expands will make it tough to open or close the doors/windows.

Great Stuff

Great Stuff

With the cost to heat and cool being so great, you need to take advantage of every angle that you can.

Don’t be brave.  Use the correct equipment.  You wouldn’t remove a crew with a hammer or use a screwdriver as a chisel.  When working with insulation wear a mask, safety glasses, long pants and long sleeves.  When you shoot or use power equipment wear safety glasses and hearing protection.

So fills those cracks.  Fill those gaps.  Fill that empty space.

Some pics of a recent foray along the power lines.

Power line sunset

Power line sunset

Power line sunset 2

Power line sunset 2

There is beauty every where if you just open your eyes to receive.

Politics

October 30, 2008

I promise this won’t be an ongoing political blog, but the big party is next week. This is a tough one to write because politics right now is like a throbbing abscess. No matter what you say ½ the people are going to be mad at you. Some pretty nasty things are being said by everyone.  I sincerely apologize in advance.

I won’t be voting for Obama. I won’t be voting for McCain.

I don’t like Obama because of his position on FISA. Obama is for granting immunity to the telecommunications companies that threw open their switches and servers for the government’s snoopers. Although anyone is free to hang out with whoever they want, I didn’t like Obama’s explanation that he wasn’t in church on those Sundays. Come on, be honest. I wish Clinton just said, ‘yeah, you know what I did it and boy did it feel good.’ I wouldn’t have held it against him. I think Obama is also light on experience. He says that he’ll surround himself with good people, but I’ve heard that before and look where we are now. He, also judging by my latest American Rifleman, is an enemy of the Second Amendment.

I won’t be voting for McCain either though. He’s an angry man that acts on emotion and makes brash decisions. He was calling off the campaign then he started it up again. He was going to the debate, then he wasn’t, then he was. McRage is more like it. McCain is squishy on protecting our borders too. I don’t think Palin is qualified either. McCain can’t control himself.  Would you do this on a nationally televised job interview? 

So who am I going to vote for? It doesn’t really matter. In the state that I live in it’s already a done deal. My vote is irrelevant. That doesn’t mean that I am not interested. I don’t think I could be more interested if I saw Washington, DC burning. We need a viable third party. The binary system is killing us. Two sides of the same lousy coin.

Voting is probably one of the most important things that we can do. If you don’t vote, don’t you dare complain. Vote or shut up.

Read this before you vote: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

USConst

USConst

A Mayberry (http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.mayberry-keepitsimplestupid.blogspot.com/) style rant has been building in me, but I know 50% of you are going to be mad at me for one or more off the following.

The $700,000,000,000.00 bailout should have been used to hire 750,000 at $70,000 per year and the remaining $175,000,000,000.00 used for infrastructure.  Think that would help the economy?

We need to bring our troops home. Okay, maybe not from Iraq, Afghanistan or West Monomalexico, but do we really need troops in 135 out of 192 countries around the world? We can’t afford it. Every one of the service people on each one of the bases might as well be living on a Chinese Mastercard. We need to shrink the Empire. This is aggression and corporate welfare, not defense. If the US military is being used to protect markets then the corporations should be billed for the service.

We need to cut government back. It’s just getting too invasive. Why does every police department need a $200,000 black RV command center or a SWAT squad dressed like ninjas? Terrorists aren’t going to attack some sheep festival in Maine. Look around you. If there were gobs of angry people out there that wanted to harm you and yours, how many targets do you see every day? Look around, a few committed people that wanted to hurt us could. Worry more about driving or falling off a ladder at home or any sense of retirement after our economy gets done evolving.

I don’t like the government spying on us. We need to elect people that will hold the government, banks, corporations and the telecommunication companies accountable. They’re supposed to get a warrant. The Fourth Amendment tells them so and at least one company, Qwest, said no to the Bush Administration. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started using proxy servers and think twice about posting on some blogs.

I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security. It has a creepy name. It’s also the largest expansion of government in decades.

I don’t like cameras springing up on every street corner.

I don’t like government poking its nose in every small bit of business. Legalize everything, license it, organize the distribution and tax it. Everything. Drugs, prostitution, gambling. Why should the gangs have a corner on drugs, the pimps on the ladies and the Indians on the dice? Tax it, tax it, tax it. Criminalization doesn’t stop anything as long as demand exists supply will be there to meet it. You can get drugs in prison. Free the cops to get the really bad people that may hurt others.

Stop messing with sane people that want to own guns. I don’t worry about Mrs. Jones having a gun on the train. I wish more people carried. Okay, I agree with SCOTUS on this one, that reasonable regulation is well….reasonable. I have no problem with pretty much anything any of us now own. Restrictions on magazines or folding stocks is bogus. Should we be able to buy RPGs, I’m not so sure. Convince me. More people should carry and practice.

People complain about socialism. Do you still think that we have free markets? Do you? The markets are rigged. Trickle down hasn’t worked for me. I don’t like government bailing out the banks. I don’t like government buying “toxic” paper from Wall Street players or commercial paper from the Fortune 500. It really pisses me off. I’ve been paying interest, late fees, overdraft fees and ATM fees to these SOBs for my whole life and now they come to MY government asking for some coke and sympathy. No effing way. Live by the sword die by the sword. What’s been going on since August has been a looting of the People’s Treasury. They’re taking Trillions from your kids’, kids’, kids and giving it to the same people that gave birth to these Frankenstein financial instruments in the first place. Just a year ago I remember reading about Millions and Millions and Millions being given out in bonuses to the guys that created this mess. This is worse than socialism. At least socialism lifts the weakest. This is Trickle Up Economics of the worst kind. The middleclass is being exterminated, and very effectively at that, with barely a peep so far. 90%+ of We The People were against the bailout and Congress passed it anyways. I couldn’t be more disgusted.

I don’t have a lot of hope that our futures will be like our pasts. I’m really thinking that the American way of life is going to change, contrary to Cheney saying that, “it is not up for negotiation.” Hey, sometimes stuff happens and you have no choice.

Remember freedom of speech can only exist if you have thick skin. Freedom of speech protects the worst, most abhorrent things that people speak, not the things we all agree on. If it makes you mad you ought to support it being said. Your freedom is dependent upon how much of your neighbor’s crap that you are willing to put up with. Don’t call the cops on your neighbor until you speak with them.

You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.”

Stay informed. Don’t believe the Media. Look at papers and websites from overseas too. There are too many liars and charlatans in the Media marketplace. Don’t trust them. I mean the guys you listen to too, not just the folks the other guys listen to. Don’t trust them either. Learn to spot bias not by being told who is biased but by reading enough so that you can tell when one person is favoring another.

When you go into vote day on the first Tuesday of November, do the right thing. Think about the past few years. Is your family better off, or worse off? Do you like the direction of the country? Are you more free or less free? Are our futures brighter or dimmer?

Vote for freedom, liberty, limited government intrusion. Hold them accountable and make them pay. We need to take our government back. It may already be too late. I hope that the guy who gets the most votes wins. I hope the guy who wins get sworn in. Unfortunately, I still expect something to happen between now and inauguration day.

Tomorrow back to regular stuff.

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.

I expected…

October 27, 2008

The Market to go down more today. The last Monday in October has not been a kind time to our financial markets. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have seen it go down 1,000 points today.  The pressure is still there though.

I still expect the general economy to tank like most people don’t expect. Kind of like a storm blowing on the horizon, most folks have their backs turned towards it, most folks don’t care, most folks wouldn’t know it even if it blew right through their car.

Most folks don’t pay attention to their surroundings. One of the most important rules of survival is to be aware of your surroundings. A survival rule almost as important is to accept the world as its presents itself to you and not to see the world as you want it to be. In other words, if you think you may be lost, admit that you are lost then figure out what to do. Stumbling around in the dark saying to yourself, “Yeah, I know where I am; our trail is right up ahead” even when you know in the pit of your stomach that your trail isn’t right up ahead is a sure way to deny reality and stumble further into the town of Lost.

But I digress, the economy is beyond saving. Something has to give. It may not be tomorrow, or the day after or next month or next year, but the depression, crash, breakdown or whatever can’t be stopped. All the actions of the Bush Administration will continue to have little to no effect, but continue to weigh down all of our futures like a heavy snow on power lines. Each additional bailout is just more slush piled upon the power lines for our economy. Today I heard one of the Administrations spokes animals float the idea of taxpayer funds being used to bailout private business, like the corner grocery and hardware store I guess. I’m against that too. Business should either be able to compete on its own, or fail in the marketplace. I need to add a caveat, I am in favor of citizen funds being used to help fund NEW business or NEW technology. I think it’s a good idea to invest in the future, to get something started, but once in motion business either needs to be able to propel itself or allowed to fail.

I don’t want to predict where there market fall may end. The speed of the collapse so far has surprised even me, and I’m a pessimist. Originally, I thought it would stop around 7,000-7,500. Now I’m not so sure.

The layoffs start in earnest Q109. Next time you are driving around look around and imagine 1/3 of furniture stores, cell phone stores, eye glass stores, auto dealers, mattress stores closed. All of the “mall-based” retailers are under pressure heretofore unknown. How many Abercrombies, Banana Republics, Gaps, Brookstones, Pacific Sunwears Apple stores, jewelry stores are going to close? I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that upwards of 1/3 of these retailers will also be closed within a few years.

A-out.