Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don't Waste Wood

Monday afternoon I was taking a walk and passed an old roundhouse that has been used as a pottery factory for past seventy years. The pottery factory is in the process of closing and the historic roundhouse is being converted into a strip mall.

Apparently they emptied the warehouse portion of the building because there were between 20 and 30 wooden shelves lined up by the big commercial dumpster. Being the happy dumpster driver that I am, I wandered over to look at the shelves.

I was shocked. The shelving units were 8 foot long by 2 foot wide and about 7 foot tall. They were constructed entirely out of TRUE 1 x 12's. Each of the shelves had 12 1x12's 8 foot long and 4 1x12's 7 foot long...and there were over 20 shelving units. I planned on going by Tuesday and asking them if I could break the shelves down and take the lumber.

Giddy I was when I got home. I was already planning what to do with all that free incredible lumber.

Anyway I drove by Tuesday at lunch and was deeply saddened to see an giant industrial wood chipper and a massive pile of chips. No shelves seen...they shredded all that lumber. They don't even make lumber like that anymore. I was very sad.

There is still some light in this story. There is a large deck running along the back of the building it consists of roughly 60 2x6x8 and 20 2x6x12 foot long pressure treated boards with probably 20 2x12x10 foot beams...in other words a barn. I will swing by first thing in the morning and see if they will let me salvage it.

Don't Waste Wood

Off-Grid carpentry and construction is much easier with a rechargeable tool kit. I have been using the same Ryobi Rechargeable Tool Kit for the past 7 seasons. I have gone through many saw blades and added several batteries over the years but the tools themselves are just as strong and stable as when I bought them. If you are building off-grid a rechargeable tool kit is a must have item.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Common Sense Automaker Bailout

This automaker retooling proposal is based on the currently allocated $25 billion bailout already promised to the American automotive industry.

Give the big three automakers $3 billion each for retooling American plants to produce efficient electric cars priced under $15,000. With an additional $1 billion awarded to the first automaker producing the new vehicle. No outsourcing all work and parts done at American plants creating new jobs.

The remaining $15 billion will be used to give a $15,000 coupon to anyone wanting to buy a new electric car or small truck. This will afford the people economical small vehicles. If you want a nicer electric car go to the bank and borrow for the rest of the money. The car coupon is your down payment.

$15 billion is enough for 1,000,000 car coupons. The coupons can only be used on American made electric cars or trucks. Weighted treatment goes to lower income individuals in urban and rural areas. Small cars will alleviate the problems caused by shrinking mass transportation systems and heavy pollution caused by auto exhaust. The coupons will be awarded over the course of 4 years from the beginning of production. Coupons must be redeemed within 2 month or are forfeit.

This method will guarantee that our tax dollars are not sent to upgrade plants in Brazil and Mexico. Everyone wins, we greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil, replace old gas guzzling monsters with clean electric cars, create possibly millions of new clean industry jobs and jump to the technological front of the alternative energy industry wave.

Compared to the massive banking bailout this modest proposal will actually work towards an economic rebound by creating good middle class jobs and off industry opportunities.

GM had a great electric car in the 90's. It was killed off by oil and car lobbies. This is a documentary that explains what happened...Who Killed The Electric Car?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cabin

"Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

With one month away from moving in full time I thought I would run a few pictures of my cabin at Bear Ridge. Normally I would be hesitant to post these pictures until I am there but a good friend is staying at the cabin this month to break the place in for me.






Looking up the hill towards the cabin. Bedroom on the right with bathroom and kitchen on the left. Living room in the middle.














Looking out the living room. Big rainstorm this summer note the bucket catching water from the leaking roof.














Here is the kitchen. The cabinets will be replaced in February with self built ones that are more friendly to 5 gallon buckets. Note that there is no sink. I use the big utility sink in the bathroom.














Older picture of the wood stove with the bedroom tucked in behind it. Stays nice and toasty warm.


















This is the new sunroom still not completely finished. The green house will extend out from the sliding glass doors and run along the rest of the house.









"All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one... characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers."

"I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Off-Grid Solar Power Budget

When you live off grid budgeting takes on several meanings. There is of course the usual money budget which under normal grid attached circumstances is the all important American control mechanism. As long as you can pay for your power and water there is nothing limiting your consumption. You will always stay warm and be able to flush that toilet. But in the off grid world your power, water and heat budgets become the governing factor in day to day life. These finite resources must be carefully measured. Miscalculation and waste can leave you freezing in the dark unable to even find the toilet.

I measure my stored power in amp hours which is the way deep cycle batteries are rated. Let's say I have 6 deep cycle batteries each with a capacity of 270 amp hours. That would give me a pool of around 1600 amp hours to draw from when the battery array is fully charged. Remember true battery capacity can only be figured by a trained voodoo priest with a good thermometer.

Deep cycle batteries can be drained to down to 30%, this is not recommended but can be done in an emergency situation. It is nice to only draw down to 70% giving me around 480 amps to play with. Now here is the important part, whatever you pull out you must replace. If you drain 480 amps off the array each day 480 amps need to be put back either through wind, generators or solar.

I have 6 130 watt solar panels each delivering 7.38 amps back into the battery array for each hour of sunshine. (I know the numbers don't work out but that's the way it is with solar) So with my solar array I can realistically put 40 amps back into the battery array per hour of good sunshine. I base my budget on 6 hours of good sunshine per day. A sunny day will replace 240 amps back into the battery array.

The governing number for me is 240 amps. (I am battery heavy) I still don't want to draw down the full 240 amps. Being paranoid like I am I only use 120 amps per day.

In theory I have 1120 amps to use if I drain the batteries to 30%. This gives me a little over 9 days of reserve if for some reason I can not recharge the batteries. Additionally if I only use 120 amps and am replacing 240 the batteries will recharge in just a few days.

Now what does all this mean, how much power do I have. Can I run my blender and make my Pina colada smoothies? Will my 50 inch plasma TV still be able to baby sit the kids 8 hours a day? Can the SubZero keep my champagne and caviar chilled?

So now that we know how much power we have available the next step is to determine how many DC amps each AC device draws. Remember that when I am talking batteries I am referring to 12 volt DC, just like your truck.

Here is the formula:

AC Watts / 12 x 1.1 = DC Amps (Amps are measured in hours) (1.1 is inverter inefficiency)

60 Watt light bulb / 12 x 1.1 = 5.5 DC Amps per hour of use

Now multiply the DC Amps by how many hours you plan on using the device

5.5 DC Amps x 8 hours = 44 Amps daily

As you can see my one 60 Watt incandescent light bulb has already used up 1/3 of my daily available power. This is why you do not use incandescent lighting in an off-grid project. I use low wattage florescent bulbs. The bulbs I use are 11 watts but mimic a 40 watt bulb, I have several through the cabin. I figure 3 lights running 8 hours each. (this is high number of hours by the way)

33 AC Watts / 12 x 1.1 x 8 hours = 24.2 Amps daily

You could reduce the daily amps for lighting even more if you used LED bulbs. I would suggest a warm temperature LED bulb. The first bulbs that came out were a cold temperatures bright white light and I really hated them. Our eyes are used to the warmer incandescent quality lights and I prefer them.

Here is the tricky part. You can not just go by the rated input wattage listed on the device. My laptop for instance has a 95 watt power adapter. That is a power hog and I would not invite it into my house. The reality is that those numbers are the highest wattage produced not necessarily what will be used.

I use a Kill-A-Watt meter to determine the actual power consumption of any device. This little box plugs into the wall and you plug the thing being measured into the Kill-A-Watt. Here is the actual power consumption of my laptop.

Charging 60 Watt
General Use 22 Watt
Watching DVD 31 Watt
Asleep Lid Open 11 Watt
Lid Closed 1 Watt

So for me the most efficient way to work is to plug the laptop in keeping it fully charged and when I am not actively using the thing close the lid. Worst would be to sit on the deck running the laptop batteries down then plugging it every few hours.

Here are some of the other devices and roughly how long each day I will be using them.

Microwave 650 Watt/10 minutes
Coffee Maker 600-650 Watt/10 minutes
Ryobi Battery Charger 30-40 Watt/2 hours
Phone Charger 1 Watt/2 hours
XM Radio 5 Watt/8 hours
12 volt Water Pump 5 DC Amps/30 minutes

In the off-grid world a careful budgeting and understanding of your power, water and heat usage is critical if you are looking for a relative comfortable life. It is critical to know your needs and more importantly what you are willing to give up before moving down the off-grid road. You just can't use extra and pay a little more at the end of the month your reserve is fixed.

If you found this useful let me know and I will do the same thing for heat and water.

Pick up a Kill-A-Watt meter and find out just how much power you really need. Even if you are not planning a move off-grid it is important to understand your power usage.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yearly Budget Thing

I was going to use this post to talk about my $100 a month budget but apparently I have won the Swiss Lottery and with 1.8 million euros coming my way don't need to worry about it. But since I have to wait until the spring arrives and the ground thaws to get to my financial institution and it's complex routing information we might as well discuss the now unnecessary budget.

Like most survival minded people I have amassed a fairly substantial amount of food and critical supplies over the past 8 years. There are the staples of various beans, canned meats and flour plus vitamin and other medical supplies. I keep adequate cash on-hand and have the required silver and gold buried in my secure bank. The land and house are paid for and being off-grid utilities are already in place with the exception of a few nonessential niceties such as internet and cell phone access.

I have two vehicles, a large gas sucking beast of a truck used only when absolutely necessary and a tiny orange ford fiesta that gets about 33 miles to the gallon. The tank on the fiesta holds ten gallons so I should get roughly 330 miles out of every tank. The nearest town with facilities is about 10 miles away so I should get 16 trips per full tank. Let's say I run to town once every week, the one tank of gas should last 4 months. I can get around for 4 months on $20.

Most of my food is already in place with the exception of fresh fruits, veggies and meat. Food stores should hold me until greenhouse/garden start producing and I can get some chickens. I make my own beer 5 gallons at a time and have enough brewing supplies to get through the first year. If I could start making my own whiskey I'd be set for life.

Rough Monthly Budget (will adjust as necessary)

$35 Food (this includes coffee)
$20 Gas (a little high but includes ATV, chainsaw, tiller plus some for truck)
$25 Dogs (cheap treats and a bag of food each month)
$20 Booze (monthly bottle of Ancient Age whiskey)
$30 Entertainment (trip to the hot springs or exploring the mountains)

$130 Total Monthly Expenses

Fixed Yearly Costs (already paid for 2009)

$300 Internet (split with neighbor)
$300 Phone (local provider)
$360 Car Insurance (one year both vehicles)
$100 Land Tax (actually 86)
$100 Car Tags (can vary)
$300 Propane (can vary)
$120 Ring MD (on call medical help plus they can write prescriptions)
$240 Beer Brewing (not great tasting but will do)

$1820 Total $152/month

Everything on the fixed yearly cost list and the entertainment fund can be eliminated if necessary but would rather not.

Adding the two areas together I need to make $282 monthly (round up to $300) to live this year and put back enough for next. At this point I am bring in about half that amount from some web projects each month but hopefully can kick it up to around $300. I of course have extra funds to draw from in the event of an emergency. This budget is of course rough and will change as I move forward.

Hate to wait in doctors office - I do too. Join RingMD service for 24x7 access to personal physician for treatment and prescriptions. *** I love this service and have used it several time over the past few months. I am old enough to know what is wrong with me, just call the doctor, tell them what the problem is and they phone the prescription into Walmart or whatever pharmacy you choose. Easy cheap and no half day doctor visits.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Auto Industry Collapse

I normally do not post videos on this site but here is a great one on the collapse of the auto industry. One point, I don't believe that a bailout is the answer unless the Big 3 guarantee that all money would be used for retooling the manufacturing facilities for next generation transportation and that all jobs created and supplies purchased are American. Otherwise our taxes will be used to update Mexican plants and pad the GM executive bonuses. Unless jobs are created here in this country the money is wasted, the Big 3 can only survive if Americans start buying again and we will only buy again if secure jobs are created.



Another point to make is that if the part makers go under spare parts will become difficult to acquire. That $5 fuel filter is minor until it clogs and you cannot replace it. Due to rising scrap metal prices there are very few junkyards left. We rely on the inexpensive replacement parts to keep our junk cars on the road. Without those parts every parked car becomes a gold mine for thieves looking to cash in on black market parts.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bear Ridge Project Update

The Bear Ridge Project is my journey to move from a consumer driven life style to a self sustaining off grid existence.

I will be moving to Bear Ridge permanently on January 1st 2009. The original plan was to be at the cabin full time by June 1st. Obviously this did not happen. Money and time were not on my side but things are now happening as planned and the cabin and I are nearly ready. To be honest I could have moved in June but life would have been terrible rough.

I didn't have the proper heat or power in place or any protected growing facilities for indoor crops. The power system was weak and the foundation unstable. I now have a big wood stove for primary heating of the house and water and have standardized on propane for backup. I decided on an Eccotemp L10 on demand water heater and a Mr Heater Big Buddy unit for backup heat. Both work great at my altitude and have no problem staying lit. The stove and backup generator also run on propane.

The power system has grown from the small portable two battery unit with a 230 Amp/hour capacity to a much larger array sized at 1600 Amp/hours. They are charged by six 130 watt solar panels which replaced the small 45 watt 3 panel array. A small 3500 watt propane generator is used for backup. I may still add a couple more 130 watt panels before the first.

The big sun room will be finished this weekend and the greenhouse portion of the project hopefully done next. A shed with large south side greenhouse will be built in December weather permitting doubling the growing space. I plan on starting my winter tomatoes around the first of December so they can be moved to their final home after the first. The goal is to be able to survive and thrive on around $100 per month. So the produce is very important.

January is not the ideal month to move but hey you have to get through it anyway might as well start off with the worst. I am very excited and will keep you informed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go Vote

I will not tell you how to vote but here are a few thoughts on the subject

I don't give the dog a treat when he pees on the carpet

I don't keep employees that completely ignore directions I give them

I don't take my truck back to a mechanic that didn't fix the problem

Neither candidate will take your guns. That is campaign fear mongering. The Supreme Court ruled just this year that every citizen has the right to keep firearms. Neither the President nor Congress can change that only a Constitutional Amendment...and that won't happen. So don't base your vote on that issue.

Now go vote

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mossberg 500 Tactical

I didn't need it, I just wanted it...and is that so wrong?

With the recent weirdness down at the land I decided to get a home defense weapon with a little more lead in it's ass than my .22 pistol and rifle. Last Thursday I picked up a 12 gauge Mossberg 500 Tactical shotgun. The great thing about this gun is the ease of use and maneuverability. Oh, plus it kills real good.

In my opinion a 12 gauge shotgun is the best defensive weapon around. At 2 a.m. I do not have the mental agility to effectively bring a rifle or handgun to bare on a target. Just can't do it. So I needed an early morning weapon that is forgiving on accuracy and intimidating as hell. You just point the shotgun in the general direction of what needs killed and pull the trigger. Plus with the six round capacity if you miss with the first shot you try again.

The short barrel and retractable stock on the Mossberg 500 Tactical shotgun allows me to maneuver around in the dark house without getting hung up on my crap. A long shotgun is cheaper and kills just as well but I consider it dangerous in small living quarters. I don't know which would be scarier. An intruder breaking in and rushing me or me trying to bring a long barreled shotgun to bare on him with out sufficient coffee.

At any rate I figure that most intruders would be confronted before they entered the house. If the security lights and barking dogs don't persuade them to leave then nothing says move along better than the sound of a shell being chambered.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Strange Events

No, I am not going to be speaking about alien abductions. Yes, there were unexplained disappearances and mysterious lights in the sky but it was most certainly not an alien abduction. Indeed, the San Luis Valley does have a problem with missing persons, secret bases, unworldly creatures and strange flying craft but this is not about alien abductions. That being said...

I arrived at the cabin around 6 pm on Thursday October 2nd. I had planned to spend several days down there working on the sun room and fixing some foundation issues. This was also a bug out simulation...I was worried about the possible declaration of martial law if the bail out did not pass. So I scheduled off a few days to wait it out.

Within a few minutes of arriving my closest neighbor Mary dropped by to inform me that Hank, our neighbor down the road who is also building a cabin, was missing and had not been seen since around 9 that morning. I could see Hank's van sitting in front of his place. Hank is a gentleman in his upper 70's who had suffered a recent stroke and has heart problems. It was our opinion that he probably suffered another stroke, wandered off and passed out in the sage brush or nearby woods.

I got the power going at the house, put the dogs up and headed over to join a small group of neighbors and family friends searching the immediate area for Hank. It was about 6:30 pm at this time. We all wandered through the sage and around the house looking. It got dark and sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 pm two sheriff's deputies came out I think they had their lights on. They joined in the search, looked through the van and ask us when we had last seen him.

The deputies asked about our other neighbor who lived a little further up the road. It dawned on us that Bob was not around. The deputies ran up to Bob's place sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 pm to see if he knew anything. Bob was also missing so everyone assumed that the two had gone off to look at the Aspens turning or something. The deputies said that if Hank had not shown up by Friday morning they would bring in a search and rescue team.

So Friday comes and still no Hank. The deputies showed back up around noon followed by the search and rescue (SAR) team. The SAR team brought ATV's, horses and may people going through the brush on foot. The searched for several hours and finished up around 4:30 pm. I drove over to speak with the deputies about 5 pm assuming that they had found him. When I got over there they were bagging the contents of the van.

They told me that Hank would show up and that this kind of thing was common. It was strange that they were bagging stuff from the van. The deputies stayed by the van until dark when another car showed up to relieve them. I looked through the binoculars and noticed that they had taped off the van and house with yellow tape. Very odd if they were sure Hank was coming back.

Around 1:30 am on Saturday I heard an engine revving jumped up and looked out the window. The deputies were driving up along the ridge behind Hanks house through the sage with all the searchlights on, one deputy driving the other out walking next to their cruiser. They were searching for someone. After 30 minutes or so they left, 10 minutes later I heard someone yelling couldn't make out what they were saying. I guess the deputies were waiting just down the road because they came roaring back in with spot lights on looking again. Unnerving.

Saturday morning brought a different SAR team which did an arm linked search of the surrounding area...they found nothing. Saturday evening Mary and I met with a deputy to find out if we needed to worry about our safety. We wanted to know if there was a killer running lose...he would not answer. I slept with my pistol under the pillow and rifle next to the bed that night.

On Sunday they brought in a dog team and several "specialist" searchers, not sure what their specialty was but they were strange. No hits, nothing. Hanks extended family had started to arrive and were wandering the hills surrounding the area. Through the night there where many cars and people showing up over at Hanks. My guess is that as family members showed up in town the first thing they wanted to do was go searching. So the evening was filled with flashlights and people yelling.

Hank had left the house on that Thursday morning wearing a gray hooded sweat shirt and faded jeans. Unfortunately his wardrobe choice matches the sage brush that covers the ground out here. He could be lying five feet from you in the bushes and you wouldn't notice him.

No one was searching for Bob although there were several stories circulating about his whereabouts. He had posted a comment on his blog from home on Thursday night at 7:30 pm, about the time the deputies drove by, regarding a camera he purchased. The camera was to be delivered Monday and he was excited. By 9 pm when the deputies stopped by he had vanished. The final story given by his mother was that he had decided to leave everything and go live with his ex-wife in Texas. Bob self-built a wonderful off grid cabin, had a horse and other livestock but gave all that up on a whim to go live with an ex-wife.

Hank's family was allowed to take his van back to town on Monday. I visited with one of his nephews Monday afternoon. He told me they suspected foul play. He thought that "someone" forced Hank into a vehicle, took him somewhere and killed him. There was no blood or signs of a struggle at the site and strangers just don't happen down these rural roads.

It has been almost a month now. Hank and Bob are both still missing without a trace. In the week before they went missing a body was found burning in a barrel placed in the middle of the road one county over and another body was found laying across a country road on the south face of Mt Blanca in the northern part of this county. Violence is everywhere, moving out of a city will not remove you from it's presence.

Hank and Bob both went missing on the same day, it could be a coincidence or foul play the question hangs and we may never know.

...of course it is possible that they were both abducted by aliens!

The names of the neighbors have been changed to protect the families privacy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunroom

Over the past few weekends I have been working on the large sunroom that runs along the south side of the cabin. The southern exposure is sheltered from the wind by hills and trees but still gets excellent direct sunlight. It can be forty degrees out and you will get hot working along that side of the house in shorts and a teeshirt. The plan is to utilize this natural heat gain to grow plants and provide daytime heating for the cabin.

The south wall is 36 feet long, the big sunroom only occupies 16 feet of that, it is 8 feet wide. The other 20 feet of wall space will be dedicated to a greenhouse made of polycarbonate panels it will be 20 by 8 feet.

For the sunroom I picked up four 6 x 5 foot insulated windows at Lowes for $21 bucks apiece (listed for $489 each). They had been returned and were in a holding bin at the end of one of the isles on clearance. I grabbed them up right there. The glass is slightly tinted so they will be traded out for the four 6 x 5 foot picture windows in the front room, they have no tinting. I also found a 5 foot wide sliding glass door for the sunroom at the Habitat for Humanities ReStore (great place).

The outcome is a wonderful hot house wrapped in glass, warm and bright. I will also be taking out about 8 foot of wall between the sunroom and the cabin. That will allow the daylight warmth to flood the house. A large sliding "barn door" is rolled into place at night. Black 55 gallon drums filled with water and placed in the sun will act as heatsinks radiating heat back into the room at night.

The greenhouse should be great for growing lettuce, cabbage, radishes and other cool weather plants. Plus it gives the dogs a nice place to play that isn't freezing. The hot sunroom should be great for growing tomatoes, peppers and beans.

I will get some pictures up as soon as I finish up.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Farmers Almanac 2009

Everyone needs to pick up an The Old Farmer's Almanac 2009. Their forecasting is fairly accurate and it make a great replacement for the 10 pm weather report. Here is the Bear Ridge weather overview for the next year.

Winter will be much colder and drier than normal, on average, with snowfall above normal in the north and below normal in the south. The coldest temperatures will occur in late December; early, mid-, and late January; and early February. The snowiest periods will be in mid-November, early and mid-December, mid- and late January, and late February.

April and May will be cooler than normal, with slightly above-normal precipitation.

Summer will be cooler than normal, with slightly above-normal rainfall. The hottest periods will be in mid- and late June and early and mid- to late July.

September and October will be warmer and drier than normal.

The first couple of years I started going down to the cabin the winter was very cold but had little snow, relatively pleasant. The past few years has seen massive snowfall and cold temperatures. The cold does not bother me but three feet of snow on the ground makes life miserable.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Wood Stove

For the past couple of months I have been looking for the perfect wood stove to replace my small existing one. The new stove needed to have a large firebox, good damper control and burn through the night on one load. I picked up this gently used vintage 1977 wood stove over the weekend for $100 off of CraigsList.

The firebricks are all intact and the stove only has superficial rust which comes right off with a wire brush. The door seal needs replaced but that shouldn't be a problem.

The stunning iron work aside this beauty has a big firebox (24" wide, 22" tall 20" deep), a finely controlled damper which opens automatically if the temperature gets to low, a large front loading door and a thermo siphon water heater built into the back. The water heater is a great plus.

I plan on putting the new stoves back against the bathroom wall. I already keep a 30 gallon metal tank in the bathroom for water and heat that 30 gallons when I want to shower. With the thermo siphon the water in the tank will heat through the night and be ready for a morning shower. A great plus.

The stove vents from the back. I will be installing black stove pipe with a damper from the wood stove to the ceiling. Then attach the stove pipe it to a ceiling support box and continue on up with triple walled chimney pipe. Currently I run chimney pipe all the way down to the stove. This is very safe but I am losing a great deal of heat that would be provided by the thin walled black stove pipe.

Down the road if I decided that this wood stove is not efficient enough and uses to much wood I am only out a $100.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's Trickle Down Bitches

Average person says...so what, the market is really down I am not worried my 401k is safe...you need to invest over the long term. My broker said the markets may fluctuate but always increases in value in the end.

Please remember these are the same people who said your salary would always increase over time...these are the same people who said home values only go up...these are the same people who lobbied congress for bankruptcy reform and massive bailouts so they would not lose their wealth when these promised dreams did not materialize.

Ronald Regan...may god condemn his demon soul...gave us four things. This ridiculous caricature of a swaggering hyper masculine presidential candidate who needs only guns, not brains to run the ranch. The moral majority, nuf said. The end of the cold war. And fourthly, trickle down economics.

I will just jump in real quick and say that the cold war ended and the USSR broke apart cause the Soviet Union went broke...sound familiar?

Trickle down economics basically means that you give the elite the money and it will eventually trickle down to the workers through house cleaning, limo driving and drug money. This has been our economic model from it's onset with the great Regan Revolution to our latest emanation of the $700 billions dollar bailout.

Trickle down economics does not work and unfortunately the downslope is also trickle down. The people at the top of the trickle will be effected first by economic problems and take appropriate action...$700 billion bailout...the bottom 90% are left to fend for themselves once the down flow hits their pocketbook. It takes a while for the raging flood to reach your house...but once it is there it takes everything. So don't sit there waiting for the water...move to higher ground now.

Remember happiness is holding hands with your loved one while waiting for the food bank to open. Yea gee ok, remember this and you'll do fine in Fascist America.

Stop the apocalypse, I'm out of whiskey!!!

When the historians write of this period, the Great Decline, they will credit insatiable greed and unchecked corruption as the destroyer of the most technologically advanced and bountifully blessed society in world history.

I bugged out on Thursday assuming the passage of the fake bailout bill, the elite have once again secured their future at the expense of the workers. Paulson knew the markets were set to implode so the bill had to pass Friday at the latest, he also knew it would do nothing to stop the Great Decline.

I am happily sitting in my offgrid solar powered cabin working on my sun room and thinking of all the little niceties that will no longer be available...like Dingo Bones and Charmin Care WITH Lotion.

There will be no recovery, the golden age is over. The pundits spin the Great Decline as a cycle downturn...everything will return to normal after the credit market stabilizes and people start borrowing and buying again. This will not happen...That created the problem. The future holds a massive population die off and the establishment of regional economic systems. Globalism is dead.

Buy some chickens and plant a winter garden.

Take Care Everyone
BigBear

Friday, September 26, 2008

Foreign Policy Debate

Foreign policy debates are irrelevant.

The only foreign policy issue that the next president will need to deal with is which county to ask for gas to get our troops home. We are a broke nation that has exhausted our welcome throughout the world. We are no longer a superpower...we can no longer act like one. The United States is broke neither presidential candidate should be acting like we still have influence. Shit, the Pakistanis are shooting at our troops. We are done.

They need to end this multi-trillion dollar war that has lined the pockets of the military industrial complex and bring our troops home. These wars have broken not only the financial back of this nation but stripped us of any moral authority we might have had. Let Russia police the world we can no longer afford it. They have a balanced economy and can act with some degree of restraint when it comes to gluttony and greed. Maybe the Russians are better stewards of the worlds fate
than the United States.

Get off the foreign policy...how you gonna help us Americans. We can no longer dictate how the rest of the world behaves. Our greed destroyed our ability to govern the world.

Just a note...I listened to the debate did not watch. McCain started slurring his words and sounding slightly crazy about half way through the exchange. Not saying crazy things just his tone was odd. Anyone else notice this. Maybe he is tired Obama didn't waver...agree or disagree with him his tone did not waver. McCain had this strange false teeth whistle going try listening and not watching. Very different experience.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Great Decline

This $700 billion dollar bailout will remove bad debt from the global banks investment sheets. It will help the global banks with liquidity. It will allow them to return to business as usual. It will allow them to start reinvesting...IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES.

This $700 billion dollar bailout will not fix the housing crisis...so no new housing loans. It will not bring jobs to the country...American's will not be buying. It will not decrease inflation...in fact it will increase inflation. It will not reduce the price of oil...in fact crude prices will increase greatly.

All this $700 billion dollar bailout does is protects the elite's investments. Without jobs and a fix to the housing crisis the American economy is still on exactly the same course. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THIS BILL TO HELP THE AMERICAN WORKERS.

Your housing values will continue to decline. Your 401k will continue to be plundered. Your standard of living will continue to decrease. All the bad things Bush dredged up in this "speech" last night will still happen.

This $700 billion dollar bailout was not designed to help the workers. It is there to unburden the elite and allow them to continue raping the workers of the world. If this was about helping the people congress would have forced the administration to allow bankruptcy judges to reevaluate mortgage contracts and helped those homeowners swindled by inflated property assessments.

Property values will never return to their fraudulent high point set a couple of years ago. There are no jobs coming into this country. Without high paying jobs property values will not increase, common sense. If this bill passes the government becomes your landlord, debt holder and slave master. You are completely under it's thumb, or rather under the thumb of the North American Union. After we have dropped to third world status and every penny is stripped The United States of America will be reborn, muted and stunted, as the North American Union embracing our brothers to the North and South.

America is in the Great Decline, a decline planned and driven by globalization and the greed of the elite. It is over.

Three Essential Survival Tools

Here are three items that should be in everyone's bug out bag.

BOLT CUTTERS - Ahead of the mob, you left just in time. At the first sign of trouble you grabbed your bug out bag, some water and loaded the family into the 4x4 to head out. It's dark, the roads are icy and some bad over steering landed the jeep on its side in a ditch. The winds are fierce and temperatures are quickly dropping. You spot a nearby highway maintenance shed...they should have heat. Pulling the bolt cutters from your BOB you open a gap in the chain link fence and cut the padlock from the sliding doors. You get the family inside and safe. The next morning you right the jeep and continue to your retreat.

SLIM JIM - The fire is racing up the canyon, it's time to go. The pets, family and as many survival supplies that will fit are loaded into the truck. You jump in the cab and turn the engine over, nothing not even a click. Frantic you realize that the lights had been left on...the battery is dead. You see the neighbor's car abandoned in front of their house, they bugged out yesterday. It would have a charged battery. You grab your slim jim from the bug out bag. Being a good neighbor you gently pop the lock rather than busting the window. You open the hood then run the battery back to your truck. Later as you drive down the road you make a mental note to replace the battery...if the cars not melted into the ground.

LOCK PICK KIT - The neighbors left for the shelter several days back, no heat. You were smart enough to install a wood stove and put back plenty of food so the family should be OK. Unfortunately your kid is sick and needs something to bring down a fever. You stocked everything but forgot tylenol and ibuprofen. Grabbing your trusty lock pick kit you move door to door entering abandoned home from the back yard until you find a fully stocked med kit. You grab the meds, lock up the house and head home. Problem solved, kid feeling better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bail Yourself Out - I Won't

Does anybody still trust anything that comes out of George Bush's mouth. This evil administration is simply trying to secure wealth for the elite while locking the working classes into slavery for the next century. I don't expect anyone to bail me out of bad business decisions...it would be nice but I understand the risks involved and accept them. How dare this administration bail out the rich on the back of the workers we are broke as it is. There should be rioting in the streets. Any member on congress who supports this jump into fascism must be removed from office. The investment bankers made trillions off these financial schemes, let them fix their own problems.

NO COMPROMISE...NO DEAL

Everyone needs to prepare at this point. If this passes I feel that the citizens of this country have no moral obligation to support any company involved in this hijacking of capitalist principals. Stop paying your credit card bills, walk away from your mortgage. As I see it we have already paid them! NO MORE

Monday, September 22, 2008

If They Don't Listen - Bring Them Down

Massive resistance from working Americans and the continued sell off on Wall Street this morning may doom the Bush Administrations fascist agenda. Apparently the people of this country don't really like the idea of bailing out the elite on the backs of the working class. The question being asked is simple, why doesn't the American Government just give that trillion plus bailout to the American homeowners who could then pay their mortgages thus saving the system. But there would be no scam in that.

Remember most of these big investment firms and globalist banks are in large part owned by foreign investors who may not agree with the principals of democracy or capitalism...they just like making money on the backs of the workers. China and the Saudi royal family come to mind.

We are paying off the foreign elite, taking on the bad debt and still being asked to pay our bills on time. American taxpayers are being forced to pay three times over for bad corporate business decisions.

Here is my suggestion.

If the government moves forward with this obscene abuse of power and nationalizes the debt of these mismanaged companies we call for a general strike. Not a walk off the job strike...a walk away from your bills strike. If every American would stop paying their credit card bills for one month it would break the system and the government would sit up and pay attention to the will of the people...not the will of their corporate overseers. If the government still does not listen we don't pay for a second month and continue until they clean up their act and start working for the People of America.

The Achilles Heel of a government ran by greed is the greed itself. At this point voting is irrelevant both parties are fully bought. The people have the power to correct this gross imbalance and drive corrupt corporate interests out of government. Just stop paying the corporations.

These companies are sending our jobs overseas and wreaking our economy with our governments consent! Corporations lobby congress for legislative favors using lobbyists that we pay for. We enable a system actively working against our best interests. The global elite hold power because we feed their agenda, we pay for them to corrupt our government process, all we need to do is stop giving them money. Without money they loose power and go away.

This is the United States of America and our government works for the citizens of this country not global corporations. Don't boycott, Don't walk off the job, just stop paying your bills. Americans have been working backwards, we cannot vote out legislative members who take corporate handouts...they all take handouts. We can break the corporations that give handouts. If we could take down a Bank of America in a month the corporate money would leave Washington forever. This is the Peoples Nuclear Option!

I am not saying that you should stop paying all your bills. Credit card bills would give you the most bang for the buck, they are directly attached to the banking industry who is asking for this criminal bailout.

Think about it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

State Enforced Slavery

This is a dark day for every American Citizen dreaming of home ownership. Senator Charles Schumer has introduced legislation on the Senate floor today that will effectively turn any homeowner with a mortgage into an indentured slave to the government/banking complex.

The New York senator will propose offering banks a lifeline if they renegotiate mortgages for those people close to losing their homes.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Charles Schumer plans to offer a broad economic proposal for the government to offer a financial lifeline to those banks that are willing to renegotiate mortgages for those on the brink of losing their homes.

The New York Democrat is an outspoken advocate for the financial industry, since so many of those workers are in his home state. Aides said the senator plans to outline his plan on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon.

Under Schumer's model, the government would give capital infusions or loans to banks in return for an equity stake, similar to the deal struck with insurance giant American International Group (AIG, Fortune 500) earlier this week.

In return, the banks would lift objections to legislation allowing loan modification for homeowners in bankruptcy. Currently, a person in bankruptcy cannot renegotiate the terms of their mortgage, unlike other kinds of debt.

Schumer's plan is an alternative to another proposal in Congress to create a federal agency to buy up bank debt, shifting potential losses onto U.S. taxpayers. It would be similar to the Resolution Trust Corp., which lawmakers established during the 1980's savings and loan crisis.
After the first few thousand defaults under the new plan the Government/Banking partnership will enact legislation mirroring the Guaranteed Student Loan Program. Student loans can never be defaulted on. It eliminates bankruptcy protection. The homeowner under this model is stuck in their overvalued home and unless they can sell will never be able to get out from under the debt. The Government will pursue you relentlessly garnishing wages and freezing assets. You literally become a debt slave to the state, locked into your home and forced to work whatever job they throw at you.

This has been the plan all along folks, long before they nationalized Freddie and Fannie. Dump the house, buy a trailer and plant your own beans...before you are forced to plant for someone else.

Question About Banking Crisis

Today the Fed and central banks around the world pumped 180 billion dollars into the banking system to increase liquidity. I understand that this move lets the banks continue cashing your paychecks but how does this fix the underlying problem with the banking industry which is associated with defaults on overvalued assets.

If I am not mistaken (I could easily be) the problem with the banks is that they bought those pooled mortgages that have now lost most of their value. If you loan someone $100,000 you should have that much in collateral, right. So if they bought these $100,000 loans and the value of the collateral dropped to $50,000 they have lost $50,000 if the home owner defaults. Not to mention all the profit they were counting on from the pool. Quite frankly if my home's value dropped from $100,000 to $50,000 I would be handing the keys happily over to the bank, which apparently is the problem.

If the banks would not have overvalued the homes in the first place to increase their profit this would not be an issue. This is a common sense versus greed situation. I am a taxpayer who was smart enough to realize that a house that was worth $100,000 two years ago simply is not worth $500,000 today, again common sense, and stayed out of the obviously rigged housing market. I am angered that I will be paying to bail out the greedy bankers who made massive profits while perpetuating this fraud. Let them fail...I don't get bailed out when my greed overtakes my common sense.

But back to the point. How does injecting cash into the system help the banks. They are still holding lethal amounts of bad debt. Unless the housing market does a massive rebound into fraud territory again this bad debt still exists and will only get worse. Thus the problem cannot be solved without letting the greedy money handlers fail, which again I have no problem with. Or have the government use working class taxes and print more money to assume the responsibility for all the overvalued debt and bail out the elite bastards who got us into this mess. I really do have a problem with that.

Three other points.

First - Home values don't magically increase just cause the banker says it's so. A rise in home values must be associated with a tangible catalyst of some sort that increases demand. These can include a major industry locating nearby increasing the working pool or possibly a military base housing some number of returning troops. Look at the flip side. When a major manufacturing facility closes in a city home values plummet. See the rust belt as an example. If home values are rising without an associated increase in salaries or number of jobs something is wrong.

Second - This is just the beginning, the big "stable" players, Citi and Bank of America, will see their problems start when consumers run out of money and start defaulting in bulk on those high risk credit cards those banks like to issue.

Third - Funny how the government is willing to nationalize any corrupt industry to protect the profits of the elite, but ask them to nationalize the health care system, a move that would vastly help the working classes, and they scream Socialism.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Winter Warmth WoodStove

Winter is now here, last night the temperature dropped down into the mid 30'. It was overcast with low cloud cover and I seriously thought it was going to snow. The trees started changing several weeks back and I have seen a huge number black squirrels running around. This summer was very cold with just a handful of days in the 90's and pretty sure we didn't break 100 once. It is going to be a very cold, very dark winter. I hate winter.

With fuel oil, natural gas and propane at records highs we will all need to look for various ways to cut back on our heating costs. The concept is simple, turn the thermostat down to fifty five, put on a big sweater and grit you teeth. Now this is good in theory but the reality is a cold and miserable existence during the black winter months. This fifty five degree nonsense works fine in the middle of the night burrowed under about five layers of blankets, but during the day I want to be able to move around the house without seeing my breath.

I want to comfortably wear shorts. I want to sweat while eating my oatmeal. I want the decadent pleasure of opening a window to cool the house down. When there is several feet of snow outside and the wind is blowing fifty miles an hour there is no greater cure for the blues than basking in the artificial radiance of a ninety degree living room while watching Resident Evil Apocalypse.

Unfortunately the small wood stove that currently sits in the cabin is grossly inadequate for heating a large moderately insulated somewhat holey self built cabin. It's gets a good fire but cannot be dampered down at night and needs loading every hour and 45 minutes...exactly...I set my alarm clock. Plus the design allows most of the heat to go up the flu.

So since I will be permanently moving down in January (yes, I had to move the date back again...need more money. I will write about that later) a very cold month, I really would like to have a big, hot wood stove. But how do I go about getting one?

There are two options when purchasing a wood stove. Easy and elegant or hard and dirty. As always I picked hard and dirty but it is a personal choice.

Now the Easy and Elegant method is nice. You simply go to a web site and pick out a stove you like. They deliver and unload it to your fine and clean garage then someone else comes along and installs the massive thing with the proper fittings, pipe and cutting equipment. No fuss, no muss...the problem is that this is somewhat expensive...between two and three thousand to start then up and up and up. But it may be worth it.

The hard and dirty method is considerably cheaper, and I mean considerably. You find a wood stove, this means Craigs List, yard sales and junk yards. The big old stoves are good for a hundred years. It will run between one and six hundred for the stove. It needs to be a massive old thing. You don't want cute and you don't want small...even if you have a relatively little place to heat. The stove needs to burn through the night and produce much more heat than the space requires. Trust me, burns through the night and a lot of heat.

You then load, move, unload and install this massive thing. WOOD STOVES ARE VERY VERY HEAVY. Get the clearance correct, if you don't know then use three feet from any flammable surface. You can use metal and brick to reduce the clearance but do some research. Most of these beasts heat best when placed in the middle of the house. Remember don't think cute, think heat.

Next comes the stove and chimney pipe. You run black single walled stove pipe from the stove top to the pass through on the ceiling. This pass through is a special square box that protects the house from the considerable heat of the stove pipe. From there up you use chimney pipe. This is that double or triple walled stuff specifically designed to not melt quickly during a chimney fire.

For the house fire paranoid another option is to run chimney pipe all the way up from the wood stove. You will lose a considerable amount of heat radiated from the stove pipe but you will feel more secure.

It is critical that you use the proper pipe in the proper place. You will burn your house down if you don't.

FLASHBACK

When I put my stove in I asked my local HomeDepot associate where to get double walled chimney pipe for a wood stove. He pointed at some silver pipe and said this will work. I asked him if it was chimney pipe to use with a wood stove he assured me the stuff would work. I asked him a second time and got the same response. So I bought the stuff and installed it. Unfortunately this was doubled pipe designed for natural gas heating systems.

I hacked a hole in the roof with a semi sharp bread knife (not recommended) and put the pipe through. After a couple of burnings the pipe started to melt down in the middle of the night. Smoke filled the place I got the dogs and Ryan out then stuck the nozzle to the fire extinguisher in the stove and emptied it. The next day we pulled the stack and found out that the inner pipe had melted and blocked the chimney. I was literally seconds from the pipe burning through and catching the house on fire. A double walled chimney pipe is rated at 2200 degrees the little gas pipe was rated at 700 degrees. So don't be stupid...use the correct pipe. The chimney pipe is expensive but necessary.

After I installed the correct chimney the wood stove has been wonderful...not a great heater but very nice.

The picture above is a Fisher Wood Stove, can't place the model (Mama, Papa or Baby) but it is what I am looking for. Today I found a big old Schrader stove about twenty miles from here for a hundred bucks with stove pipe but didn't get there quick enough.

Stay Warm

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Knock at the Door

The government maintains a list of citizens it views as a threat. These individuals are slated for roundup and detention at the onset of Marshall Law or a national emergency. What would you do if your partner or child was on this list? How would you warn them not to come home if the police came by to pick them up? How would the detainment of this family member impact your ability to survive?

About a month and a half ago I went home to walk the boys at lunch. At around 12:30 there was a loud knock on the door. Now being your average freedom loving anti-social paranoid Libertarian dog lover I decided to ignore it assuming it was someone pedaling candy bars or Jesus. The dogs were of course going crazy. I walked into the living room and peeked out the curtains to see who the offending intruder was. Thinking Jehovah Witnesses I was surprised to see two men in black tactical gear with Sheriffs Department embossed on there back leaving my building.

Instantly a knot formed in the pit of my stomach and I broke out in goose bumps. As the two walked to their unmarked car parked halfway up the block I tried to come up with a reason for them to be here. No tickets, no lawsuits...nothing. There was no reason for the sheriff's department to come knocking at my door. My bodies response to this visit was way out of line for someone who had committed no crime...or anything.

As I calmed down and shook off my desire to bug out to the cabin the reason settled in.

The idea that I could be captured and disappear without any trace really upset me. Under normal circumstances I would get a jail house call and could request a lawyer. But today's police state is not normal. My blog entries and comments I have posted could easily label me an enemy combatant if not a terrorist. For that matter anyone who expresses political or social views in public forums could be a target.

I shook it off and went back to work. But for the next few day I kept the curtains and windows closed worried that the black shirts would be back for me. I forgot about it.

About two weeks later Ryan and I walked down to get ice cream. It was around 9 pm, just after dark. A half a block from the house we saw two sheriff's deputies get out of there car and walk towards our place. Ryan spotted them first and nudged me about the time I saw them. We casually turned up the side street and walked a block to the park. Why we did this I do not know, again neither of us had done anything wrong but we both are very vocal about our political views.

We sat in the park for about 10 minutes and Ryan decided to go confront the officers. "I have done nothing wrong I don't have anything to worry about" he said. I on the other hand was trying to figure out how to get the dogs and fifteen buckets of food out of the back of the house and into the truck without being seen. Plus I was cussing myself for not having everything I needed already packed in the truck and ready to go.

We decided that he would go confront the officers and I would wait ten minutes then follow. If it was all clear he would turn off the back porch light. If the light was still on I would assume he was detained and get hold of a lawyer. Granted it sounds extreme and paranoid but we do live in a police state where it is legal to remove and indefinitely detain citizens...their rights being stripped at the whim of an out of control executive. Plus this is Colorado Springs, a city with a brutal police force which does not tolerate political dissent.

Anyway, the storm troopers were gone, the light was off, all was well and they have not been back since.

When the ICE agents pick up your spouse or child what plans do you have in place to deal with the loss. ICE is running full scale practice drills right now on illegal immigrants and drug dealers. They coordinate with local and state authorities creating a quickly deployed dragnet capturing the target people and anyone else who happens to be nearby.

There is an assumption that entire families will be detained but I suggest that this will not be the case. The mass arrests currently preformed by ICE seize and detain the targeted individual leaving the family and many times just the children remaining to fend for themselves. What happens when your spouse or children come home to an empty house not even realizing you have been incarcerated?

What plans have you made for this very likely capture and detainment scenario.


***I picked this up over at Survivalist News this morning...it makes my point

According to a senior government official…”There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.” … One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Down Side

Last weekend I showed the great view from my retreat cabin. Here is the down side to self building.

A couple of weeks back we had a big wind storm come through. It tore up a section of roofing. I tried to fix it but obviously did not do the job right. So today when the storms came it poured in right onto the couch. But hey that life.

Tomorrow I am will talk to the local roofing distributer and get a quote on a metal roof. It will cost more but hopefully the rain will stay outside.

Stay Dry

Instant Coffee

Instant Coffee is the most rancid substance on the face of the earth.

I got up this morning and could not find my coffee pot, there was plenty of coffee but the pot was no where to be found. My guess is that I left it at the house but can not be sure until I check. Usually I get up and fix a pot of coffee on the wood or propane stove. It is strong, black and full of grounds...I am not a great coffee maker but it is decent and gets me going in the morning . But today was different.

As I sat here pondering how I was going to get the dried coffee into a liquid and then into my body I remembered that I had stashed some instant coffee in one of my survival boxes. So I rooted around until I found the little red jar.

I read the instructions then getting irritated by not have any coffee yet just dumped a bunch into the bottom of the cup. Boiled some water, stirred it in and presto instant coffee. Pleased with myself I took my wonderful cup of morning delight out onto the deck to sip casually in the sun.

Raising the mug to my lips I took the first sip of my creation. It was the most horrid tasting substance to ever enter my mouth...and that is saying alot. But like a true addict I choked down the foul black brew. I sit here now fully awake and charged for the day but still have that nasty taste in my mouth as a reminder to make sure I have all my supplies when leaving for my retreat.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Shaving on a Budget

How will I shave in the post collapse world. Money will be tight or non existent and what is had should be spent on items that keep you alive. But common things like grooming are necessary and give you a feeling for normalcy. Is shaving a necessity or a luxury.

I shave my head so purchasing decent razors is now a necessity but a four pack of Gillette Fusion blades run about $14 bucks. This makes them a luxury. I hate cheap two blade disposables and can only get a couple of shaves out of them before they dull. Plus at the rate I go through them they quickly become just as expensive as the Fusion's.

I have thought about purchasing a straight razor and with practice could probably use it to shave my face. Unfortunately there are several divots and troughs in my head which makes shaving even with nice razor difficult, it could be outright deadly with the straight razor.

I could just let it grow out...but I like it really short and have gotten used to it shaved. If I let it run wild I would have to wash it and deal with combing and such...possibly a pony tail.

But I have a solution!

Save a bundle on razor blades with the ingenious new razor sharpener, Save A Blade™.

Save A Blade´s patented Micro Honing technology sharpens old, dull blades to like-new condition saving you hundreds of dollars every year and it works on all types of razors.

Get up to 200 smooth shaves from a single blade.
The Gillette Fusion blades are horrible expensive but they shave great, especially when you are shaving your entire head several times a week. I could get about 2 weeks out of one blade if lucky. I started using the Save A Blade and can now get roughly 2 months out of one blade. Granted this is not the 200 smooth shaves they advertise but it has saved me a good deal of money. The only problem is the lubrication strip wears completely off, but I can deal with that.

An 8 pack of blades should last me about 16 months. I picked up the Save A Blade at Walgreen's for about $10.

Or I could just get come clippers and keep it burred down and forget about razors all together.

Buy the way I am not selling this thing just letting you know my experience with it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hot Day

It has to be 2000 degrees here today. Cabin is hot, my ass is sweating, the dogs are bitchy, a bear got into my compost pile, the atv had a flat, I smell horrible and the beer is hot.

But what a view.

Really it was a great day and it is starting to cool off. The up side is that the hot tub has sun warmed all day and is perfect...shouldn't need any heating...don't want any heating.

Been working on a new window seat to store five gallon buckets under. I dug up this old foam rubber RV mattress, a nice thick one. Cut it in half for two pieces roughly 2 1/2 feet wide. They are alittle over 6 feet long so I should be able to store 24 buckets under the two finished benches.

I had to spritz the dogs down with water several times today to cool them off. They don't care for the water...they like being cooled down but apparently the act of getting wet is a trigger event for them. As soon as I pick up the spray bottle they run under the bed. So I just switched to the stream and can pretty much soak them before they reach their bug out shelter.

Stay Cool

Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain Screwed

I live in the ultra conservative Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs is the corporate headquarters for 98 fundamentalist christian organizations as well as focus on the family and other klan base ministries. This town is comprised of mostly of retired military and fundamentalist christian extremist. They are as right as right can get.

Here is how I know McCain cannot win. There are plenty of people driving around with "W" and "veterans for bush" stickers on their Saudi lovin Cadillacs and bullet proof SUV's. But lately I have seen a massive amount of Obama 08 bumper sticker and house signs. Unprecedented in a town of this political/corporate persuasion. I have yet to see one McCain bumper sticker in this bastion of conservative values...not one

The media is trying to keep this thing a foot race but honestly it is all over for the republican candidate.

Oh, I will have a real post tomorrow about things that can actually impact your life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Home-grown Aquaponics

Home-grown aquaponic systems can provide families with hundreds of pounds of fish and fresh vegetables year-round. The system at the Morningstar facility, shown in the picture was built with easily available materials including concrete block and plywood, a waterproof tarp, a plastic barrel and PVC piping.

A complete aquaponic system can be built in approximately 150 square feet, although some larger systems cover many acres. The smallest pond is typically about 500 gallons. Under average conditions, three gallons of water are required for each fish, and every 10 gallons of water in the tank supports two square feet of growing area for vegetables.

Most aquaponic systems use tilapia, a warm-water fish native to Israel where it has been farmed for 2500 years, because they’re extremely fast growing, tolerate poor water quality and use a wide variety of plant-based foods, including duck weed growing on the surface of the water.

A 500-gallon tank can produce about 150 pounds of fish per year, with fish typically harvested every six months at about 1.75 pounds. Tilapia are considered to be highly efficient fish, gaining approximately one pound for every 1.5 pounds of food they are fed. In most home systems, fish should be fed commercial fish food three to four times daily, but automatic feeders are available for families who aren’t home during the day.

Systems designed to produce food, like that shown at left, typically consist of three separate chambers: a fish tank, a biofilter and a hydroponic growing area. The system should be designed so that water is pumped from the bottom of the fish tank into a biofilter (the barrel at the front of the photo) where solid waste is captured. Biofilters must be cleaned weekly, and those nutrients can be directly applied to plants growing in soil.

From the biofilter, water is pumped to the top of a slanted hydroponic growing area, most often constructed with PVC piping. The typical system uses an inert growing medium, such as porous clay pellets or rockwool, a spun glass wool made of volcanic rock, to hold roots in place while water moves through the system and overflows back into the fish pond.

The water in most aquaponic systems will have high levels of nitrates with lower levels of phosphate that encourages green leafy growth, so plants like lettuce, bok choy and herbs are particularly well suited. Vegetables and fruits, like cucumbers and tomatoes, can be harvested but may have more leaves and fewer fruits than those grown with more balanced nutrients.

Water should be tested weekly for pH, electrical conductivity and nutrients, but battery-powered test kits make testing simple. In most systems, 25% of the water should be changed on a monthly basis, siphoning it from the bottom of the tank to capture any remaining nutrients and biosolids.

Home Tilapia Farming

I love this concept. A couple of 500 gallon setups in a greenhouse would provide 300 pounds of fish each year and the heat sink created by the water would keep the plants warm in the winter. 300 pounds of protein has an incredible post collapse trading value, especially when most people are just starting their gardens and have no meat source. Throw in a few chickens and you are set.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Food Storage - Real Numbers

How much food do I need for my family and what will it cost.

The picture to the left represents one years worth of food for one person. It may seem like a lot but think about how much food you consume in a years time. There are 15 five gallon buckets holding a variety of dried foods that will provide a baseline 1800 calorie per day diet.

This diet will be supplemented with fresh game provided by hunting and fishing...note the .22 and fishing gear. As well as hunting/field dressing manuals, beer brewing/wine making equipment, chainsaw to supply the wood stove and 30 twelve packs of ramen noodles although not all are shown. Food cost of roughly $300 all gathered at WalMart.

Note that there are no expensive #10 cans of various high end survival preps. For your basic bulk needs #10 cans are not cost effective. When you start to refine and specialize the food stocks then #10 cans of dried fruits, powdered cheese and possibly powdered eggs are warranted but the basics should be purchased first and from local grocery supplier. These are foods that need colorful menu planning and preparation experience to be fully appreciated.

I have a couple of years of food already stored with plenty of spices and bullets. This batch will be added to the existing supplies and work will begin on the next set of buckets. Each additional set of 15 I add different types of products increasing the variety of foods available. On the buckets that are being actively consumed I use omega lids. These are fancy screw top lids that are resealable. If you can afford it all your buckets could be outfitted with these handy items. Be sure to label you buckets on the top and side with the product and date stored.

One five gallon bucket holds 80 cups of dry stock.

How many many cups of each product are needed yearly to meet the 1800 calorie daily baseline.

For instance you decided that you need one cup of white rice per day either at lunch or dinner, this is 650 calories or about 1/3 of your daily intake. It works out to roughly 365 cups or 4.5 five gallon buckets worth of white rice. Now round the amount up to 5 five gallon buckets. Simple

Decide what dry products your family will eat and how many cups a day are needed. Once you have the number of cups just convert it into buckets. I usually round up, this give me some padding and possibly product to barter with.

How many pounds of each dry product are needed to fill a five gallon bucket.

These numbers are very close to true but might vary slightly depending on the brand and size of the product being stored.

Brown Rice
32 pounds per five gallon bucket
670 calories per dry cup

White Rice
3o pounds per five gallon bucket
650 calories per dry cup

Pinto Beans
32 pounds per five gallon bucket
620 calories per dry cup

Elbow Macaroni Small
21 pounds per five gallon bucket
420 calories per dry cup

Quaker Oats
12 pounds per five gallon bucket
300 calories per dry cup

Lima Beans Large
30 pounds per five gallon bucket
600 calories per dry cup

Black Beans
32 pounds per five gallon bucket
620 calories per dry cup

Pancake Mix
20 pounds per five gallon bucket
420 calories per dry cup (6 midsized pancakes)

Ramen Noodles
3 twelve packs taped together store like one 5 gallons bucket
380 calories per brick

White Flour (with 26 packs yeast)
20 - 25 pounds per five gallon bucket (26 loafs at 14 slices per loaf is 364 slices)
440 calories per 4 slices

Note that if you go to WalMart and buy 63 pounds of elbow macaroni the clerks will ask questions. Have a clever lie ready before hand. I tell them I am preparing meals at a church camp...they smile and nod approvingly.

I am not giving exact costs because they vary regionally and are increasing rapidly.

If you found this article useful check out the other two entries in this series.

Food Storage - Why Do It
Food Storage - Three Plans

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Budget Survival - Garden Support Jobs

Large home gardens will become commonplace in the post collapse society. As food prices soar more and more people will convert those manicured lawns into lush vegetable gardens capable of sustaining their families. Regional industry and needed jobs will be developed to support these home horticulturists.

Garden tilling will become a necessary and steady job in the post collapse society. No one has a tiller and hand turning a one acre sod covered lawn using a spade and hoe is backbreaking work. I would recommend purchasing an old tiller and either loaning out the device for trade or tilling for profit.

Canning and dehydrating foods is another lost art poised to make a strong return. Vegetables grown in the summer must be preserved to last the family through the winter. Visit you local Goodwill and pick up as many old pressure cookers as you can find. Purchase a couple of books on canning and start looking for old mason jars at garage sales. The home farmer brings his produce to your home for canning. You take a certain percent of the finished product as payment. Bartering at its best. Try to find some old dehydrators and instruction manuals this is an added service to your customers.

Heirloom seeds are the saviors of the human race. Hybird seeds that most people pick up at the store cannot be grown from season to season, they are sterile by design. Order a large inexpensive supply of non-hybrid seeds which can be grown season after season and sell them after the collapse. Once the crops have matured return to the farmer and offer to retrieve and dry his seeds for next season. You take a percent of the dried seeds as payment.

If you raise livestock the meat and dairy will not be the only products. Manure can be sold for fertilizer. Purchase a small wagon to haul behind your Geo Metro. Get orders in the winter. During planting season and in the fall deliver and spread the new black gold trading for a percent of the crops or profit.

Knowledge is your greatest asset in this environment. If you know the produce and how to grow it you become a valuable member of the community.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stay Calm - No Need To Panic

According to George Bush our economy is still "fundamentally sound" and technically America is not in a recession. So don't panic and pull your money out of the banks...at least until the Bush compound in Paraguay is finished and the last of the elite are through picking the remaining flesh from our bones.

Under the backdrop of a deteriorating economic picture, President Bush said Tuesday he is taking action to help people with falling home prices and high gas prices.

Bush highlighted plans to stabilize the mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and lift the ban on offshore oil drilling as two steps his administration is taking to address some of the nation's economic ills.

How can a "free market economy" continue to bail out criminally negligent corporations. The banking industry has taken profits over prudence for the past 8 years gorging themselves at the expense of the American public. Now that their little ponzi scheme has collapsed the American taxpayers are being forced into bailing them out to the tune of several TRILLION dollars. This money is of course being paid to cover the losses suffered by the Saudi royal family and China but we are globalized now so it's OK.

At least Bush admitted today during the question and answer section of his speech that many of the big oil fields, mentioning the Saudi's by name, were in a state of "production decline" and removing the remaining oil costs considerably more money...this is the definition of Peak Oil by the way. He said that worldwide consumption was at 85 million barrels per day with worldwide production at 86 millions barrels. He then stresses the need for alternative energies and in the same breath mentions that offshore drilling will solve our problems.

Bush could at least try and hide his latest love gift to big oil. The offshore oil drilling scheme will not solve our energy problems. First off there is not enough oil there to really make a difference and secondly it will take 20 years to begin exploiting these small reserves. Plus the oil will be sold to the highest bidder delivering these resources to China or India. So we lose our coastlines and don't get the oil.

As a taxpaying citizen I say let the beast fall. I don't really think it is my responsibility to prop up the global elite because they are having a bad year in the markets. It really is time to panic.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Banking Bad - Cash Good

I stopped using the corporate banking system of this country about two years ago. I decided then that the banking industry was simply another method of control for the elite, slowing stripping money from my account and giving no benefits. My paychecks are cashed at a local check cashing company at a 1% charge, which is lower than my monthly fees were when I banked at Wells Fargo. The very few bills I have are paid with a reloadable debit card which holds just enough to pay the bills. Everything else is kept in cash, originally I had planned to convert most of the cash to precious metals but they are to high now so I just keep cash.

When the government decides to declare Marshal Law and shuts down the country...it is coming soon...all they have to do is shut down the VISA network. If you do not have cash you are stranded and starving at the mercy of the government and relief agencies. At least for now people will always take cash especially if their money is held up in some bank.

I feel that we are moving quickly to massive closure of banks. Here are the two main reasons.

First, the FDIC has increased its staff greatly in the past several months. This includes bring in retired employees that have experience in bank closures.

Second, the governments talking heads have been endlessly promoting the stability of the U.S banking system today. Stressing that you should leave you money in FDIC insured accounts because they are safe. Remember Thursday and Friday of last week, the talking heads were stressing the stability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...look where that went.

The Feds intervention in Fannie and Freddie has nothing to do with creating a sound financial environment in which commerce can thrive. Saudi Arabia and China hold over 50% of the stock in the two top tier financial institutions. My guess is that there were threats made to destroy the dollar. So, we the public are now stuck with the multi trillion dollar bailout of these corrupt financial institutions. We will be paying Saudi Arabia and China our tax dollars for the next 100 years.

How many American banks have foreign investors bought controlling interest in? What happens if they simply decide to close the bank and recoup their money? Yes, you are insured with the FDIC but that assumes the government will pay out. What if the Fed decides it is in the best interest of the country to pay the dept directly to the creditors and not the account holders. The Fed might put the money in an escrow account that collectors can directly withdraw from, having first bite at the apple, rather than giving the money to the account holder. Remember our government puts corporate interests first. It would only take a simple act of congress hidden covertly in a war funding bill to make this a law.

STOP PLAYING THEIR GAME. PULL YOUR MONEY OUT...PAY CASH.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Budget Survival - Window Box Room Heater

When I think of cottage commerce for the post collapse society I see items like passive solar heaters manufactured from the shelled out remains of McMansions and insulated shutters built from the gutted remnants of the defunct strip malls that surrounding every city center as the new regional industries.

With the lumber from one backyard privacy fence and the duct work pulled from a couple of 4000 square foot tributes to illusionary affluence you could build several hundred of these simple yet elegant free heating systems. Salvage the nails, pull a few windows, assemble and you are set. You will just need a recipe for some flat black paint to coat the collectors.

They could easily be installed in small existing homes with a nicely exposed southern windows or hung from cut holes in the side of your survival trailer. The small, well insulated homes with good southern sun will be the mansions for post peak world.

Insulating those new compact homes is another cottage industry. Think of the billions of square feet of fiberglass insulation that will be rotting in those huge strip malls and uninhabitable suburban homes. A wonderful trade item would be custom made insulated shutter for windows. They would be closed at night to retain daytime heat and provide an additional layer of protection for the family snuggled inside.

For the post collapse society money will be of a much lesser value if not completely worthless. If you cannot grow your own food you will need to provide meaningful items for trade. Without fuel oil or natural gas supply structures people absolutely must have an alternative method for heating. They will die with out it.

Speaking of growing food. Those millions of square feet of plate glass currently sitting in the offices building and malls of this country could be easily retasked into tough greenhouse coverings. They would make good quality well insulated greenhouses...unless of course the zombie hordes break all the windows.