Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Recap

The Bear Ridge Project is my journey to move out of a consumer based, wage slave existence to a self reliant, energy independent life style. In late June I will move permanently to my off grid cabin on Bear Ridge in Southern Colorado the cabin is roughly finished...I am still preparing. The next five months are the critical final push to move me into to a place where I can get by without an employer and live off what I produce. Buying the land and building the cabin were the easy part, surviving removed from the institutional support structures that we overly rely upon is difficult.

There are two driving issues that have pushed me to this change in life style, government involvement in our private lives and unchecked corporate greed. The corporate elite want to utilize America’s skilled and highly productive work force…they just don’t want to pay for it. To tap America’s production might, at slave labor rates, two things have to happen. First they must break the economic back of the country second they need to monitor and control the population. I see a future, not to far off, where we are conscripted by debt and scarcity of resources into indentured servitude bound to the corporate overseer holding our unpaid dues.

I have a check list of things that needs to be finished before June. In January a few of the things on the list included getting an old reliable 4x4 truck, experimenting with stored food, working on indoor gardening and bloging daily about the process. Daily bloging is a lot of work by the way.

In February some of the priorities are; storing at least another years worth of food (I have about one year now), doing a couple of “Bug Out Drills” taking various routes to the land, looking at different ways to conceal and protect the food and supplies stored at the cabin, mapping access routes to the land for use and monitoring, and putting the land in some sort of protected trust that will insulate it from my identity allowing relatively anonymous habitation. I also look forward to continuing my daily updates on this site.

Speaking of this site…I will be working on some usability issues in February, things like making it easier to subscribe to feeds and adding a daily email subscription. Also adding easy links to the big social book marking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit. Most popular article was Bread, Beans, Bullets and Booze written back in November.

In January I had a little over 4600 visitors to the site. Reddit.com by the way is responsible for over half my traffic so I am going to work quickly to get those site links embedded. A couple of other folks worth mentioning are James over at Bison Survival Blog and Ryan at Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest. The are both great survival resources and have given me some much needed press which I greatly appreciate. I read them daily.

Everyone, thanks for the support.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Living on Survival Food

On January 1st 2008 I started living off my stored survival supplies. I needed to make sure that I could actually exist for an extended period of time eating just survival food stores. Plus, I wanted to make adjustments and expand on what foods I am stockpiling before greatly increasing the bulk volume.

This first month included primarily pinto beans, white rice and bread. I made several loafs of bread over the month to gain experience baking it but most was store bought; I just did not see a need to go through the flour stocks. The pinto beans were cooked in a crook pot to simulate cooking on a wood stove and the rice was prepared on the stove.

Daily food consumption consisted of 4 slices of bread, 1 cup dried beans and one cup rice. Prepared they yield 2.5 cups of bean and 3 cups of rice. Total caloric value is between 1700 and 1800 calories. This is plenty of calories if you are locked down someplace but if you are working, cutting firewood and what-not, increase your consumption. Increasing food intake will of course impact the longevity of your stores but this beats working at half capacity.

The up side is that this you can live quite well on this survival diet. As a matter of fact I lost 12 pounds this months, which is good for me but someone not as burley as myself will need to up the the calories. I feel great and am going to continue this nutritional regime. You also gain valuable experience preparing the food and save a ton of money over eating out or daily trips to the store.

The down side is the absolute boredom. The first week was ok but then I realized that spices and various condiments were going to be a necessity. You can live on pinto beans and white rice but it is not fun.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this was the discovery process I know a lot of this looks like common sense stuff but if I am going to stake my life on these food stores I need to be sure they will keep me alive.

Because of this exercise over the next month I will be purchasing and storing a much larger variety of beans, rice and dry pasta as well as spices, powered cheese and eggs. In a previous post I recommend an emergency store based on the three staples of pinto beans, white rice and bread this will keep you alive but it just might drive you crazy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bear Ridge Project Candidate Guide

Here is the official Bear Ridge Project Candidate Guide.

Rudy Giuliani (63)

He is the 911 candidate. Crime was reduced in New York during his term as mayor but it was already trending downward before he took office. His approach to crime prevention was to run out the homeless then treat the city like a big prison camp. It worked but is that the America we want to live in?

Rudy is the Neo-Conservative dream candidate not only would he increase the money flow to the military/industrial complex but he would have no problem stripping American rights in favor of Homeland security. Fortunately for the American people the skeletons in his closet are numerous and actively trying to escape. Rudy is crazy as a loon and I personally cannot handle that twitch of his. He should drop out after the Florida primary.

Mitt Romney (60)

He just does not seem to have it together. If Mitt came to the house selling vacuum cleaners I’d make sure I hid the good silver before letting him in. Very slick and polished…a great businessman. Unfortunately government is not a business and I think he would be run over quickly.

Plus he supports torture and I cannot support anyone who condones this vile act.

Mike Huckabee (51)

Very likable, but anyone who advocates amending the Constitution to fit biblical law is out. I will not vote for a minister…the past 7 years having a false prophet in the White House was bad enough. I used to think that Governors made good Presidents but again the last 7 years has changed my mind. He would be stomped in the general election by any Democratic candidate…even Mike Gravel.

I see him running as McCain’s Vice President. This will help the Republicans bring out the Values Voters.

He also supports torture.

John McCain (71)

I really liked him in the 2000 Presidential race. He was a true middle of the road fiscal conservative who would not tolerate the Radical Fundamentalist Christian movement. This ultimately doomed him, after a through swift boating the anointed Bush was given the 2000 Republican nomination. His pandering to the far right of the party this time around has stripped him of that moral high ground.

Unfortunately time has not been good to him and I honestly feel after watching him in the debates that he is getting a little senile. Watch his answers during any interview, he cannot think on his feet anymore and gives the same strange canned responses to questions. McCain is a great American but time has dulled him and his Presidency would be a disaster.

Ron Paul (72)

His America is the America I want to live in. The Constitution is the framework that America is built around and Ron Paul believes in that framework. You don’t weaken the Constitution because it is convenient or because it will make your friends money. The Constitution is the road map for the government and it is the protection of the American people.

Due to the corporate elite that actually run this country he will not be the Republican nominee. His only chance would be as a third party candidate between Hillary and Rudy. He could take enough from both parties at that point to pull it off. Strange how he completely represents Republican ideals and they don’t want a thing to do with him.

We need more like Ron Paul!

John Edwards (54)

I really appreciate the way he is bring attention to working class issues and corporate abuses, this is what all the candidates should be focusing on. But I just can not get past the fake ear-to-ear smile and that nauseating southern drawl of his. He would make a great Attorney General but not a President.

Hillary Clinton (60)

She is the hand picked Bilderberg Group Presidential candidate. You can tell they are getting worried by the shrill tone their campaign has taken on in the past few weeks. I think Hillary would make a good President, but if you are wanting change you don’t go backwards. Her politics will be just like Bills and her administration would be even more divisive than the current one (if that possible).

If she becomes the Democratic nominee for President it will drive the Republican voters to the polls. And if she wins it will inflame the Republican base to a point not seen in years. I would easily see turning over Congress by 2010.

What is up with Bill? I used to admire him…as an orator and inspiring spokesman for the country. Now he just seems crazy, he makes me feel dirty.

Barack Obama (46)

Obama seems fairly genuine. He admits his mistakes and gives honest answers to questions. It would be a refreshing change of pace to have someone who kinda tells the truth in the oval office. His perceived lack of experience simply means that he has not sold his soul to the devil quite yet.

He would pull Independents from McCain and keep the Republican base at home. I think he is the best Democratic candidate.

Obvious Choice

If I were in charge of the election companies that actually select the President I would choose Ron Paul and if he wouldn’t take the job then Barack Obama.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Very Smart Neighbor

I was visiting with my neighbor across the alley earlier today. He is about fifty, a construction worker who lived in this same house for about twenty five years, mortgage free for the past five.

This past summer he installed a 2000 watt grid attached solar power system. He literally spins the meter backwards getting a check every month from the power company...although he didn't share the amount any time they pay you it is good. In his shop he has eight 12 volt Trojan deep cycle batteries kept fully charged, in case the power goes out at night. The power system was in large part funded by a large tax credit and the rest covered by the power company checks.

He took out a small home equity loan last year and installed large south facing windows on the second floor of his house and also installed a huge sun room along the south side first floor. Plus he re-insulated the entire house...it is an old two story average city home. Being a construction worker he was only out the cost of material.

The roof of the sun room is a large solar water heating system that will be used during the summer to preheat water stored in a large insulated tank in the basement. During the winter he heats the water with an ultra efficient wood burning furnace installed in place of the old natural gas forced air system. It has a water heating coil that preheats the water during the winter. If the water temperature is not quite hot enough he has a small electric on demand water heater that gives it a little boosts.

He drives this old flat bed construction truck which pulls a large trailer. Lately he has been thinning out overgrowth around the high dollar homes in the foothills. There have been some large forest fires in the past few years and he is capitalizing on that fear; getting paid for thinning the trees and gathering free firewood in the same act.

He even converted his fiberglass hot tub to use a wood burning convection heater.

My neighbor said he wanted to retire early and not needing to worry about utilities just made sense to him. I was very impressed to say the least. This summer he is going to try and get a permit to install a cistern to keep his garden watered, but doesn't think the city will give it to him. I wish him luck.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Democrats – Bush's Lapdogs?

There are three possible explanations why the Democrats in Congress are not standing up to George W. Bush as he strips the American people of their Constitutional rights and buries this country in debt to pad his friends' pockets. Not only are the Democrats complacent in their duties as representative of the people--elected on a mandate of change--they are actively participating in the very acts that are moving this country to a Totalitarian State where only the President's word matters.

Democrats (or Republicans for that matter) should not be supporting legislation that allows or increases spying on American citizens (telecommunication immunity in FISA rework), criminalizes dissenting opinions (Violent Radicalization and Terrorist Prevention Act), or bankrupts the country (Iraqi War Funding). Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid could easily stop destructive legislation by simply not bringing it to the floor…game over. Why don’t they do this?

The American people overwhelmingly support curtailing the runaway Bush administration. Why do the Democrats fear challenging this criminal regime of a Presidency? Truly, that's why we have three branches - Remember a little something called "checks and balances"?

Here are the three possible explanations why the Democrats are following the Bush agenda without questions:

One – Bush Is Crazy

George W. Bush is a crazy man at the controls of the largest, most powerful military force ever put on the face of earth. Hypothetically, what if the Democratic leadership was sat down on the first day of Congress and told to stay out of the way or America would be dropped into a global conflict that would destroy 90 percent of life on earth.? Bush could do it; he does have sole control of an arsenal that could completely depopulate the planet. He has been reported as crazy.

How would Pelosi or Reid act if confronted with this scenario? Would they call for immediate impeachment (is being insane an impeachable offense?)? Or would they simply try to run out the clock without upsetting Bush, hoping that he leaves quietly at the end of his term? My guess is the latter…or else Bush could easily plunge this country into civil war divided between those supporting his neo-conservative agenda and those who look to restore a Constitutionally mandated balance of powers.

Two – Congressional Blackmail

We all have little skeletons in our closet. Hypothetically, what if Bush and his cronies really have been spying on Americans since before 9-11-01. It’s a given that this monitoring includes members of Congress and the judiciary elite. What if on the first day of Congress the leadership was confronted with their skeletons? Maybe they were told that if Presidential impeachment is brought forward then the media would see the leadership’s dirty laundry.

A politician’s first job is to get re-elected. Most, if not all of them, are self serving individuals who plan on feeding at the public trough for the remainder of their lives. To do this they need a relatively clean public image; a scandal and well finances opposition would drive them from office. Would any congressman risk pubic humiliation and expulsion from office to bring forth articles of impeachment against an out of control administration or would they simply try to run out the clock? You would only need to expose a couple of high ranking congressmen and the rest would quickly fall into line.

Or worse - We already know Bush & Cheney are criminally insane. They've literally stolen the wealth of this entire country for their personal pocketbooks at the cost of thousands of innocent lives (perhaps even those who died on 9/11). Maybe they've threatened to kill and murder the families of Congress...Let's be real - They could get away with it.

Three – America Faces Imminent Collapse

Maybe America is under a much greater threat than we are being lead to believe; possibly a Great Depression level economic meltdown or an impending natural event that is being kept quiet. After any large socio/structural upheaval one of the first jobs of the government is to restore order. What if on the first day of Congress this “disaster” was revealed to the leadership. Would they agree that for the continuation of our society some Constitutional rights will need to be suspended? Would they willingly support legislation putting these restrictive measures in place if they thought America was under a grave threat?

Going along with the neo-conservative agenda will guarantee Congress Members and their families a protected seat behind the wall when our country starts the plunge into anarchy. Have our elected officials sold the citizens out for a comfortable existence? After all, Bush need only declare a national emergency and Congress is sent home to fend for themselves. Better to play along and be secure.

Would Congress forsake the American citizens for the protection afforded the "yes men"...I am afraid they already have.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Survival Cabin - Heating a Cabin

No Heat

During the summer of 2003 heating didn’t seem that important. Quickly I realized that July highs of 100 degrees can easily plummet to the mid 40’s in the dead of the night. At the time I was staying in the Small Cabin at Bear Ridge. The 8’x 10’ Cub House, as it is now called, has no insulation or windows for that matter. It sits on top of the ridge and the powerful valley winds turned the comfortable daytime structure into an icebox when the sun went down.

Propane Heat

The first heater purchased was a small propane heater. This unit screwed onto the top of a 1 pound propane bottle and was completely useless. Not only did it fail to heat it also would freeze up after about an hour of use. Needless to say, I did not spend much time at Bear Ridge that first winter. Since then I have purchased a larger unit that can keep the cabin and the dogs fairly comfortable during the day if I have to be gone. This 28000 BTU propane unit is easily started, very efficient and warms quickly.

The downside is that you have to have propane for the unit, and it goes through 20 pound tanks like candy. Since I am not real comfortable with propane availability in the near future I am resisting installing a larger 250 pound tank. Plus I don't really like the idea of needing an outside company to fill the bigger tanks.

Kerosene Heat


Spring of 2004 brought the completion of stage one of the Big Cabin at Bear Ridge. This 120 square foot first addition was screened in on the front side. During the summer two fleece blankets where hung over the openings at night and a 23,000 BTU portable kerosene convection heater, was used for warmth. It was warm, comfortable and the open screen windows kept the mild kerosene smell under control. I highly recommend this heater, it has saved me on many cold nights.

Kerosene costs about $3+ a gallon and during a cold 24 hour period you will easily burn up to five gallons. In addition only certain suppliers will carry this product so if you run out it can be difficult to restock unless you have a 100 gallon or better tank. The larger tanks are nice but you run into the same problems seen with propane resupply. Remember to stock up on wicks.

I also purchased a small 10000 BTU reflective kerosene heater. This unit just smokes and really doesn’t add enough heat to justify the burning eyes and throat. Don't get one.

Wood Heat

April 2005 the second addition was completed bringing the total square footage to 280. The screened openings were replaced with a large double paned window and set of French doors. A 100000 BTU wood burning stove was installed. If you build a cabin you must have a wood stove. They are relaxing and produce a very nice quality of heat. Additionally you can cook and heat water on them. In June the square footage was increased again to 408 with the completion of the third addition.

Wood is readily available and if you have a cabin it should be your primary heat source. The only downside is that you have to be there to feed the fire. Pellet and cob stoves can remedy this but those feed stocks must be purchased from a supplier who may not be available in a power down situation.

Remember wet or green wood does not burn well or produce good heat. So even if you plan on cutting your own wood when you get to your cabin you will need a good supply of dry stuff to burn with it. If you have a lumber mill close buy the long bark strips they cut from the trees are usually cheap and easy to handle. Just pull in from the end of your truck and cut to length.

Insulation

The cabin was not insulated until November 2005. Insulation is the single most important, not to mention one of the cheapest, things you can install to help with heating. The temperature was hovering around zero and with a roaring fire and the kerosene heater running at full it was only 45 degrees inside. After placing a layer of R19 insulation in just the ceiling the temperature climbed to a toasty 80 degrees.

The latest expansion was completed in January 2007. It added roughly 200 square feet floor space and approximately 120 square feet of double paned insulated glass on the north side overlooking the mountains. The cabin is now one fat “T” shaped room a little over 600 square feet in size. Fitted 5’x 6’ fleece blankets are placed in the four large windows on the north side at night. The walls were also insulated. The blankets really help.

Don't forget the floor. Unless you are slab building, a lot of cold air will come into your house from the floor. Since my place is built on a hill side the back of the cabin is at ground level but the front is elevated by about 4 foot. Cold winter air blows up underneath and you are quickly frozen out. Put at least thick carpet on the floor but I would recommend 1/2 inch 4 x 8 foot Styrofoam panels with a layer of tongue and grove plywood over them, cover that with carpet. This really makes a big difference.

Passive Solar Heat

The winter of 2006-2007 brought an unusually large about of snow. There were times in January where the roads were impassable and many residents, including me, were snowed in. The cabin stayed warm during this period but an enormous amount of wood and kerosene were required. Even though there were several feet of snow and the air was very cold the temperature outside on the south facing wall of the cabin was comfortable.

The south side only had one small window. In February 2007 four large floor to ceiling windows were installed on the south wall. They are actually old glass doors and did not cost anything. The south side of the cabin now had roughly 112 square feet of glass. For each square foot of south facing glass you can generate approximately 200 BTU of heat. So during the day the gain is about 22400 BTU of heating for free. During the night these windows are covered with a thick fleece blanket.

One day in late February 2007 it was 3 degree Fahrenheit outside. A digital thermometer was placed on the floor at about 10 a.m. Within a few minutes in the sun it was reading 82 degrees. This is actually warmer than heating with kerosene and you are not burning $5 worth of fuel every day.

Making use of passive solar heating is critical if you don't want to spend a fortune on kerosene and wood. Not only are you getting the solar warming but the sunlight flooding into the space is a great mood enhancing benefit and dogs love it. Over the 2007 summer a large sun room was installed on the south facing side of the cabin and part of the existing south wall will be used to install a “Trombe” solar heating system.

Diesel Heat

I plan on purchasing a small 45000 BTU diesel convection heater this summer. Diesel is just as expensive as kerosene but you can get it at any gas station. This is good because you are not dependent on someone delivering the fuel. Eventually I will be able to make my own biodiesel if thing go as planned. I will let you know how that goes.

Best Heat

I think the best way to heat a house would be passive solar warming with glass southern exposure heating a thermal mass slab that the cabin sits on. Back this up with a nice wood stove.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The End of Privacy

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment


The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


The End of Privacy

Posted on Jan 24, 2008

By Elliot Cohen
www.truthdig.com

Amid the controversy brewing in the Senate over Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reform, the Bush administration appears to have changed its strategy and is devising a bold new plan that would strip away FISA protections in favor of a system of wholesale government monitoring of every American’s Internet activities. Now the national director of intelligence is predicting a disastrous cyber-terrorist attack on the U.S. if this scheme isn’t instituted.

It is no secret that the Bush administration has already been spying on the e-mail, voice-over-IP, and other Internet exchanges between American citizens since as early as and possibly earlier than Sept. 11, 2001. The National Security Agency has set up shop in the hubs of major telecom corporations, notably AT&T, installing equipment that makes copies of the contents of all Internet traffic, routing it to a government database and then using natural language parsing technology to sift through and analyze the data using undisclosed search criteria. It has done this without judicial oversight and obviously without the consent of the millions of Americans under surveillance. Given any rational interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, its mass spying operation is illegal and unconstitutional.

But now the administration wants to make these illegal activities legal. And why is that? According to National Director of Intelligence Mike McConnell, who is now drafting the proposal, an attack on a single U.S. bank by the 9/11 terrorists would have had a far more serious impact on the U.S. economy than the destruction of the Twin Towers. “My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens,” said McConnell. So the way to prevent this from happening, he claims, is to give the government the power to spy at will on the content of all e-mails, file transfers and Web searches.

McConnell’s prediction of something “horrendous” happening unless we grant government this authority has a tone similar to that of the fear-mongering call to arms against terrorism that President Bush sounded before taking us to war in Iraq. Now, Americans are about to be asked to surrender their Fourth Amendment rights because of a vague and unsupported prediction of the dangers and costs of cyber-terrorism.

The analogy with the campaign to frighten us into war with Iraq gets even stronger when it becomes evident that along with the establishing of American forces in Iraq, the cyber-security McConnell is calling for was, all along, part of the strategic plan, devised by Dick Cheney and several other present and former high-level Bush administration officials, to establish America as the world’s supreme superpower. This plan, known as the Project for the New American Century, unequivocally recognized “an imperative” for government to not only secure the Internet against cyber-attacks but also to control and use it offensively against its adversaries. The Project for the New American Century also maintained that “the process of transformation” it envisioned (which included the militarization and control of the Internet) was “likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.” All that appears to be lacking to make the analogy complete is the “horrendous” cyber-attack—the chilling analog of the 9/11 attacks—that McConnell now predicts.

Apparently, the Bush administration had hoped to continue its mass surveillance program in secret, but as many as 40 civil suits were filed against AT&T and other telecoms, threatening to blow the government’s illegal spying activities wide open. Unable to have these cases dismissed in appellate court by once again playing the national-security card, the administration drafted and tried to push through Congress a version of the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 that gave retroactive immunity to telecom corporations for their assistance in helping the government spy en mass on Americans without a court warrant. The administration’s plan was to use Congress’ passage of this provision of immunity to nullify any cause of civil action against the telecoms, thereby pre-empting the exposure of the administration’s own illegal activities.

Two versions of the FISA bill emerged, one from the Senate Intelligence Committee drafted largely by Cheney himself, which contained the immunity provision, and another from the Senate Judiciary Committee that did not contain the provision. Although Senate Majority leader Harry Reid inauspiciously chose the former to bring to the Senate floor, the bill was surrounded by much controversy. There had been well organized grass-roots pressure to stop it from passing, and the House had already passed a version that did not include the retroactive immunity provision. Thus, in the face of a filibuster threat by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Reid postponed the discussion until the January 2008 session.

Now Reid has tried to put off the FISA Amendments Act once again by asking Republicans to extend, for one more month, the Protect America Act of 2007, an interim FISA reform act that is due to sunset in February. However, Cheney has urged Congress to pass his version of the FISA Amendments Act now. “We can always revisit a law that’s on the books. That’s part of the job of the elected branches of government,” Cheney said. “But there is no sound reason to pass critical legislation ... and slap an expiration date on it.”

Cheney’s point about the possibility of later revisiting the FISA Amendments Act after it becomes law may foreshadow replacing it in the coming months with a law based on McConnell’s plan, which is due to emerge in February. This would mark a gradual descent into divesting Americans entirely of their Fourth Amendment right to privacy—first by blocking their ability to sue the telecoms for violating their privacy and then by giving the government the same legal protection. After all, the FISA Amendments Act still requires the government to get warrants for spying on American citizens even if it does not afford adequate judicial oversight in enforcing this mandate. McConnell’s proposal, on the other hand, would make no bones about spying on Americans without warrants, thereby contradicting any meaningful FISA reform.

President Bush has already made clear he would veto any FISA bill that did not give retroactive immunity to the telecoms. However, if McConnell’s soon to be unveiled spy-at-will plan is turned into law, a separate law giving retroactive immunity to the telecoms would be unnecessary. All Bush and Cheney would need to do to protect themselves from criminal liability would be to make the new spy-at-will law retroactive in effect from the inception of the illegal NSA surveillance program. This would also be sufficient to deflate the civil suits filed against the telecoms because the past illegal spying activities that these companies conducted on behalf of the government would then become “legal.” Indeed, the Bush administration has already done this sort of legal retro-dating and nullifying of civil rights and gotten it through Congress. For example, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 conveniently gave Bush the power to decide whether someone—including himself—is guilty of torture, irrespective of the Geneva Conventions, and it made this authority retroactive to Nov. 26, 1997.

Whatever the final disposition of FISA in the coming weeks or months, the administration is now bracing to take a much more aggressive posture that would seek abridgement of civil liberties in its usual fashion: by fear-mongering and warnings that our homeland will be attacked by terrorists (this time of the menacing hacker variety) unless we the people surrender our Fourth Amendment right to privacy and give government the authority to inspect even our most personal and intimate messages.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the resolve of the Bush administration. But it would be a bigger mistake for Americans not to stand united against this familiar pattern of government scare tactics and manipulation. There are grave dangers to the survival of democracy posed by allowing any present or future government unfettered access to all of our private electronic communications. These dangers must be carefully weighed against the dubious and unproven benefits that granting such an awesome power to government might have on fending off cyber-attacks.

Elliot D. Cohen, PhD, is a media ethicist and critic. His most recent book is “The Last Days of Democracy: How Big Media and Power-Hungry Government Are Turning America Into a Dictatorship.” He is a first-prize winner of the 2007 Project Censored Award.

Full article at TruthDig.com

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Truck

Here's the new truck

1979 Ford F-250 4x4 6.6L 400 cubic inch V8

The dual tanks hold roughly 26 gallons of gas apiece giving you 52 gallons and a lot of driving between fill ups. It has a fully rebuilt motor, transmission and super cheap insurance. This truck will go anywhere hauling anything. The bed is full sized and has a lockable topper. The truck carries a second battery dedicated to the overhead lights in the shell for overnight camping. The towing package will allow me to pull my escape trailer to any place in the country and setup up shop.

This truck is one of the most popular every produced and the 1979 F250 is arguably the best truck every made. The advantage to this is an abundant supply of spare parts for the 28 year old and plenty of mechanics skilled with this vehicle when it does need work.

The downside of course is the $156 fillup.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Americans Raped By Banking Industry

The Banking Industry, through exorbitant fees, appraised value manipulation and unabashed greed have reduced the worlds greatest banking system to a pauper like caricature wandering the globe looking for handouts while driving America's once great economy into the abyss. The banks will get their bailout but the cost to this countries working men and women will be years of loss in full blown economic depression.

The worst housing financial crisis in decades is only going to get worse, a Merrill Lynch report said Wednesday.

The investment bank forecasted a 15 percent drop in housing prices in 2008 and a further 10 percent drop in 2009, with even more depreciation likely in 2010.
Think about that, if you bought your house in 2006 you have already lost 10 percent of the value. Add an additional 15 percent in 2008, another 10 percent in 2009 and assuming it does not drop more in 2010, you have a 35 percent decrease in the value of your home in three years. This means that your $300,000 home is actually worth at most $200,000. But you are still paying for a $300,000 mortgage. Difference is a $1800 monthly payment compared to a $1200 monthly payment on a 6 percent 30 year mortgage.

How could the appraisers possibly have overvalued the housing market by such a tremendous amount. Who do the appraisers work for and who stands to benefit the most. The banks that's who, the same bank who have made it virtually impossible for you to declare bankruptcy, have sold you a home loan overvalued by at least a third.

The WaMu lawsuit and other inquiries are shedding light on how many big-bank loan officers during the housing boom got around a long-standing check on making ill-advised or fraudulent loans.

Mortgage investors generally require that banks get an appraisal before they make a loan. Appraisals are supposed to insure that banks don't lend more than a house is worth. A borrower who defaults because of inflated numbers could mean losses for the lender and mortgage investors who buy the loans in mortgage-backed securities.

But appraisers are often hired by mortgage-loan officers whose pay is based on the number and size of loans they get approved. When housing prices decline, lenders may resort to pressure in order to get the highest property appraisals possible.

"It's not just Washington Mutual. Appraisal pressure is an industry-wide epidemic," says John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which has studied the problem. "And it is one of the major contributors to the current foreclosure crisis."

"This case is just another good example of one of the biggest dirty little secrets of the whole mortgage industry," says Pamela Crowley, who runs industry watchdog, mortgagefraudwatchlist.org. "The housing market is falling apart, and foreclosures are soaring because the properties that these banks made mortgages on are not worth what they said they were worth," she says.

Crowley, an appraiser herself, says she is unable to get work from banks because she is unwilling to push values. "There is no doubt in my mind that the lenders knew exactly what there were doing."

Americans are nesters, and home ownership is the dream we all strive for. We are told owning a home is the best investment you can make in your lifetime. Given the unprecedented opportunity to realize this dream many lower income citizens jumped, at the urging of the lenders, into mortgages they could not afford and into homes overvalued by a third. Now that they have the home, the banking industry knows that they will do everything within their power to keep the family in the home, especially with the stigma of eviction hanging over them. Predatory lending drove banking profits through the roof...this same careless greed is now collapsing the house.

The banking industry never thought that the citizens would actually have the audacity to just walk away from their homes…walk away from the criminal mortgages they were conned into…walk away from the astronomical monthly payments that have them choosing between house and food. But with their options stripped away by the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 this is exactly what home owners are doing…walking away.

The banking industry does not like this. They were expecting to gorge themselves forever on the bloated monthly payments flowing like blood from the peasants trapped in their predatory grasps. Now, like a tick plucked from a fat woman’s neck, they beg the Fed to reattach them to the vital life source that keeps their Rolex wound and their Mercedes full of gas. Lower the interest rate…keep the money flowing.

But cutting interest rates causes inflation. Apparently, it does not matter to the banking industry if inflation goes through the roof, that only affects the poor, we need to maintain our profits. So not only did the loan institutions implode on their own greed, now they want to bring the rest of us down with them. America is in a recession, jobs are flowing out of the country like water and now the banking industry want citizens to pay more for the food and gas they consume just to maintain the banking industries profits.

It was not the small homeowner trying to fulfill a dream that got us into this mess. The greedy capitalist whores running the lending institutions are the culprits. They, and they alone, are responsible for the largest fraud every perpetrated against the American people. Now they want us to go further into the hole to bail them out! Just Walk Away

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Survival Cabin - Building a Cabin

In response to a number of posts at other survival sites on land purchase and settlement I have decided to do a series on building and outfitting my cabin. Each week I will explore a difference aspect of the process covering what I went through and most importantly, mistakes I made.

The Land


In May of 2003, I purchased five acres of land in the foothills on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Southern Colorado. The land borders the eastern side of the San Luis Valley. The pinon and sage covered parcel runs up the North Slope and over the top of Bear Ridge at an altitude of roughly 8650 feet. The land offers stunning views of the Mysterious San Luis Valley, The San Juan Mountains to the west, Mount Blanca, Mount Lindsey, Mountain Home Reservoir and Chate Mesa. The night skies are filled with stars and the remote location guarantees virtually no light pollution.

A year earlier, I decided that I needed a place to get away. Living in Denver was great it is a wonderful city. But I have always had a need for solitude so I decided to buy some land in the mountains and build a small cabin. My needs were simple; I wanted a few acres with a mountain view, solitude and close to Denver at a reasonable price. Additionally, I wanted to design and build the cabin on my own. Reality set in after a few months when the realization came that you could not buy land anywhere in Central Colorado at a reasonable price. So, after broadening the search I found a place in Southern Colorado that meet my criteria.

Granted the land was three and a half hours south of Denver and there is a neighbor right down the road but the views are spectacular and the climate is great. The San Luis Valley is high desert valley; it is dry and moderately temperate most of the year. At first, the idea of having a neighbor so close was a bother, solitude was the goal. After a few weeks down there, it became a blessing. It is nice having someone down the road to watch over your place and be there if you need anything. The neighbors have never been a problem; in fact, we have become good friends.

The Small Cabin

Construction started on the first cabin within weeks of acquiring the land.The 8x10 foot cabin, built in the parking garage of an office over a long weekend, was broken-down and transported to the land. A period of intense surveying lead to selecting a small clearing on top of Bear Ridge for the cabin, chosen purely for the view.

Logistically the cabin site was a nightmare. From the roadside to the cabin site was roughly five hundred feet up a steep incline covered with waist high sagebrush and thick pinon trees. The cabin was completely hand carried up the hill. This was a huge mistake; you were so tired after carrying lumber to the site that reassembly was impossible. Water, coolers, sleeping bag and other supplies also needed transporting. The job would have been easier with a powerful ATV but the money tightened after buying the land. After the first summer, we abandoned the original cabin site for a more accessible cabin site lower on the ridge.

Let us talk about tools. Before you start any construction, get a good rechargeable tool set at least 18 volt. I bought, and still use, an inexpensive Ryobi set from Home Depot for about $150. It came with a drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw, shop vac and flashlight. Consider buying a couple of extra batteries, you will need them. Buying the tool set was one of the few good decisions made during that first year. In addition, you will need a chainsaw. Get a couple of good powerful flashlights and a durable kerosene lantern. I have a large 72 hour lantern that has allowed me to work and read through many stormy nights, I have two at the cabin and one at the house. If you get a kerosene lantern look into getting a small kerosene heater/cooker. They use the same fuel and really heat a small cabin well, plus you can cook on it.
The Small Cabin at Bear Ridge known as the Cub House is still not completely finished. Future plans include windows and reworking the roof to accommodate an observatory.

The Big Cabin

The biggest problem encounter the first summer was the inaccessibility of the building site. Over the course of winter 2003, the building plan changed and adapted to a small expandable cabin lower and closer to the road. Construction began in the garage on a small 10 x 12 foot cabin in January 2004. This small cabin consisted of wall and floor panels bolted together with a lightweight roof. It was a shed style cabin with the north 8 foot wall sloping to the 7 foot south wall. There were two 5 x 7 foot opening in the north wall with screened doors and the south wall contained two 3 x 3 foot windows. The design allowed the wall panels to be unbolted and moved this flexibility made modular expansion possible.

Transporting the floor panels to the site was done in April 2004. After clearing a driveway and small area for the cabin, all by hand, cinderblock footings were positioned and the floor deck installed. There are several problems here. First, hire someone with a bobcat to clear the driveway and cabin site. Clearing the sage brush was backbreaking work and took two days to complete compared to roughly 20 minutes on a bobcat. Second, do not use cinder blocks for footings. It is very easy but they crumble over time and are a pain to fix. Get cardboard tubes and a wheelbarrow and make concrete piers. The following weekend installation of the walls and roof completed the small cabin.

Late springs 2005 a set of 5 x 7 foot French doors and a 5 x 4 foot window replaced the two north screen doors. In May 2005 a 16 x 10 foot addition added to the west increased the living space and added a small bedroom. A 14 x 8 foot deck on the north side completed Mays construction. July 2005 an 8 x 16 foot addition added a kitchen and bathroom to the east side. In both cases, the existing walls moved to the new end of the room. Summer of 2005 saw useable space increase from 120 square feet to 408 square feet. Installation of kitchen cabinets and bathroom fixtures occurred throughout the fall of 2005.
Let us look at building supplies. Most of the lumber used in building the big cabin came from the local lumber yard, Home Depot or Lowe’s. The three and a half hour drive to the cabin passes three Home Depots and two Lowe’s so it was very convenient. Ethically local lumber yards need support and when possible that is where we should shop even through they sometime more expensive. Find and utilize your local used building supply store. All the cabinets, bathroom fixtures, doors and most windows came from a used hardware supply store. Habitat for Humanity runs a couple of local shops additionally there are a couple of businesses that strip old buildings and resell the fixtures. This is a very economical choice. The French doors used in the cabin came from an alley behind an old shoe store going through some remodeling so keep your eyes open.
Summer 2006 was a lazy time relocating the big north deck to the east side of the cabin was about it. The deck needed moving because a large 20 x 10 addition was to be added on the front side of the cabin. Completed in January 2007 the main living area was now 20 x 20 foot with a sleeping area to one side and the kitchen/bathroom on the other. Four 6 x 5 foot picture windows allow unobstructed views of the mountains and lake to the north. Additionally the first lockable door gave a great sense of accomplishment.

Summer 2007 saw a 28 x 10 foot sun room on the south side of the cabin and much needed roof and pier work. Future projects include expanding the kitchen to the east another 10 foot or so and adding another sleeping area.

Next week we will look at the various options I explored and mistakes I made in choosing a heating method for the cabin.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Real ID - Unnecessary Surveillance

Under the Real ID system, the individual draws his/ her rights from the act of possession of an identity card. Hence, a citizen can exercise his/ her fundamental rights contingent on their papers and documentation being in correct order. What we need to ask ourselves is if we should be forced to sacrifice our privacy for something that is of no practical use.

It is important to clearly define the objectives that the Real ID system is to accomplish. The system is expected to help identify illegal immigrants, track potential terrorists, solve problems of identity theft and provide a secure pathway for delivery of government services. Let’s examine these points.

Illegal Immigration

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 was enacted to curb illegal immigration into the USA. In a disincentive for migrants in search of work, the Act made it illegal to employ aliens and those without a work permit. The act also called for greater enforcement at the borders and created new categories for seasonal agricultural workers.

The IRCA didn’t succeed in reducing employment opportunities either. Businesses simply realized that, due to their desperate situation, migrant labor was now even easier to exploit; thus, forcing illegal immigration further underground and victimizing legal Hispanic residents and job seekers.

In fact all the Real ID will do is track existing citizens as they apply for jobs. It also provides a method for corporations to circumvent existing privacy laws regarding tax information and employment status. Allowing banks and loan agencies to track your whereabouts and garnish wages at their discretion. If you work, your day to day business will be known by the corporate/government complex.

Terrorist Prevention

Supporters of the Real ID have argued that the system could have helped prevent the 9/11 tragedy if a record of their activities had been easily available. What the supporters fail to mention is the fact that all the hijackers involved in the attack had entered the United States legally, had mostly valid travel documents and most were not on any government watch list, with the result that the Real ID or any similar system would not have helped foil their plans.

Remember, it is mandatory for all Spanish citizens to carry an identity card, but that could not prevent the Madrid Bombings in March 2004 where at least 190 people were killed.

Delivery of Services

Given the ambitious aims of the Real ID, it shall probably be mandatory to carry the card at all times. Citizens without cards could have their rights temporarily withdrawn and their access to public spaces and services denied. They will not be allowed to fly, enter government facilities, receive public assistance, obtain prescription medications or apply for employment.

A citizen no longer has control over their personal and private information and is forced to share it with government and private agencies. They are forced to subject themselves to a search that is almost as physically intrusive as a bodily search.

You will be denied basic freedoms and access given to every generation to this point if you decided not to participate. You will not be allowed to “pass”, participation is mandatory.

Identity Theft

The arguments in favor of implementing Real ID are based on the fundamental assumption that the card will be truly infallible and will provide a foolproof method of identification. Once this basic assumption is questioned, the potential for misuse is frightening.

Once you have bound your entire life to this card you cannot unbind it. If someone where to steal you identity they would have access to not only your financial data but every intimate detail of your life. Is this a risk you are willing to take.

Corporate Involvement

Another worrying fact is that the role of private companies in the project has not been defined. The government has stated that it is interested in a public-private partnership whose modalities are yet to be worked out. The role played by these companies shall play a crucial role in defining the extent to which our privacy shall be compromised.

Corporate America could, with the simple passage of a law, start selling your location information to who ever wanted to stalk you. Any voyeur could gain personal insight into the most private details of your life including medical records. The government does not have a good track record keeping private information out of corporate America’s hands:

In 1936, President Roosevelt and the American congress promised that every citizen’s social security number would be kept confidential. Since 1936, there have been at least 40 amendments to the act, thereby ensuring that the social security number is one of the most visible features of all individual transactions in America today. The number is required to operate bank accounts and credit cards, for job applications and filing taxes, for accessing Medicare and drawing pensions.

It should be expected that Real ID will follow the same path.

Profiling

Post 9/11, the world has been gripped by an anxiety to gather as much human intelligence as possible, and states have made a persuasive case for the sacrifice of our rights of freedom and privacy at the altar of national security.

Real ID and similar projects, contribute to an argument that the terrorist, the subversive and the anti-national can be stereotyped as a social profile. This reduces law enforcement into a simple task of comparing citizen profiles against a pre-determined template, identifying successful matches and arresting the guilty. Clearly, this is a flawed means of approaching the problem.

Tie the Real ID legislation with the Violent Radicalization Act overwhelmingly passed by the House in 2007; it will be taken up by the Senate in early 2008, and a clear pattern of the desire to profile and track American citizens who think differently than the establishment comes into focus. Imagine being denied a job because you believe Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ not about consumerism and reckless consumption.

Police State

Identity cards are not simply the proof of our identities; they represent an elaborate series of institutions and processes put in place by society and the State. They represent the successful establishment of the state as the sole legitimate agent of control of society. While state interventions in society are not always negative; moves to map, categorize and monitor citizenry violate our rights as members of a free society.

Real ID Fails

Real ID shall fail on all counts; curbing of illegal immigration, effective and foolproof identification, and the combating of crime and terrorism. Instead, it shall stifle individual freedom, track citizens and blur the distinction between government and corporate interests.

Contact your state representative and urge them not to participate in the Real ID. If enough states opt out the federal government will be forced to abandon this obvious and necessary step down the road to fascism.

To contact your state representative go to Project Vote Smart.

This article was complied from many sources on the internet.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Blankets - A Survival Necessity

This is going to seem like a silly post but blankets really are a very serious survival item.

There is nothing better than waking up at the crack of dawn, bundled under a pile of blankets not caring that the fire had gone out an hour earlier. You are snug and content in your warm bed without a care in the world.

I prefer old quilts and comforters, it does not matter what they look like as long as they are thick, heavy and warm. Used blankets can be picked up at Good Will or garage sales for next to nothing. Also try getting some nice fleece blankets on clearance at Target or Wal-Mart. Fleece is a great insulating material and keeps heat from escaping. I hang them over the windows at the cabin at night, it really helps retain heat. Throw a couple of fleece blankets in you car just in case.

On the practical side, your house can be kept much cooler at night if your bodies heat is retained under a pile of blankets. This will greatly reduce your wood and fuel consumption. Blankets can also be hung over large windows reducing heat loss during power outages or on extremely cold nights.

Last week my boiler went out here at the house. I was able to stay warm and comfortable by placing blankets over the big windows and doorways, isolating the fireplace heat in the living room.

The added bonus is that in a crisis situation the blankets hung over the windows will offer a blackout blind while retaining heat. This keeps you warm in a house that appears dark, cold and empty from the road.

Keep your eyes open and stock up. You cannot have enough blankets.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Budget Survival - Rain Water Collection

When I was six my dad decided he wanted to be a farmer. So he rented forty acres of rich river bottom land in northeast Missouri, very good soil but prone to flooding. Mom, dad and the three of us boys moved into a small farmhouse on the land.

The five hundred square foot house had a good producing well but you couldn't use it because pesticides from continued farming had leached into the ground water. Water for household use was pumped from a two thousand gallon cistern located under the house. The cistern was stocked by rain water and snow melt, and was only used for dish washing, showers and laundry. We got drinking water from my grand parents who lived in the nearest town. We never ran out of water.

Jump forward thirty some years. I wanted a soaking tub under the stars at the cabin. There is no well yet and it seemed wasteful to haul water for a hot tub. One summer evening, on a whim, I put one of the downspouts from the gutter into the one hundred gallon tub I had for soaking.

The cabin is located in the desert southwest and during the summer we get these huge monsoon rainstorms. Anyway, this big thunderstorm rolled in and within about fifteen minutes not only was the one hundred gallon tub full, it was overflowing!

Here is the math, there are 7.48 gallons of water per cubic foot. This breaks down to .62 gallons of water per inch per square foot. For the sake of ease and to take evaporation into account let's round it down to .50 gallons per inch per square foot. The roof is a little over six hundred square foot, so I can collect three hundred gallons of water per inch of rain. So even in the deep desert where you see maybe ten inches of rain a year you are still able to collect three thousand gallons.

One inch of rain on one square foot of roof yields 1/2 gallon of water
In a survival situation it would make sense to have some tarps that could be rigged to collect rain. A ten by ten foot tarp would deliver fifty gallons of water for every inch of rain, that's a lot of water that does not need to be transported to your retreat site, you just take the tarp. If you are hunkered down in your house you could divert your down spouts into a large trashcan or barrel to collect relatively clean water. If the water is roof runoff it should be boiled or at least filtered with a few drops of bleach added.

Keep at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day. I use plastic five gallon "water cooler" containers with screw on tops. The ones I picked up at Wal-Mart have a really nice carrying handle and screw on caps. I found a couple of old non electric freestanding water dispensers for a couple of bucks at the local ARC (just like Good Will). I keep one at the cabin and one at the house, they work great.

You need to keep enough drinking water for a couple of weeks on hand but for a long term crisis it would be prudent to gather rainwater. If nothing else your clean water supply could be kept for consumption, using the rainwater for cleaning and showers.

Next week I will talk about a really inexpensive way to heat water.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gun Ownership

The collapse of America's socio/economic infrastructure, our regression into fascism, will not be in a blaze of bullets and glory where the strongest survives, our societies death will be a lingering cancer which slowly strips us of our life and dignity leaving a husk, an empty shell begging to die, endlessly searching for a path home.

The collapse is planned and controlled, we will not see a starving hoard moving across the countryside killing and eating everything in its path. America, as well as the world, will be slowly starved, given just enough to keep them under control and producing for the elite. The mechanisms for this slow bleeding have been put in place over the last seven years, they are effective and absolute.

If you think your guns will protect you from starvation or incarceration you are lethally mistaken. Pull your gun, and your end will be another Waco, another Ruby Ridge. Pull your gun and your neighbor will kill you, don't rock the boat, don't draw attention to us. This is America after all, everyone has guns, you are neither special nor protected by owning firearms. It just mean you move to the front of the line when it comes to rounding up the malcontents.

As Americans we were give the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Our Founding Fathers included this amendment for one reason. Government should fear the citizens, citizens should not fear the government.

Unfortunately, this inherent right is often trampled in a crisis situation, when weapons for protection are needed most. As we saw during hurricane Katrina the first thing law enforcement was interested in was confiscating weapons.
Superintendent Compass managed to round up some police officers and National Guardsmen to go door to door, confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens, leaving them helpless against the depredations of armed criminals and over zealous law enforcement personnel.
During an emergency you should expect a visit from the local civilian authority asking you to hand over your guns. If you are a registered gun owner it is very likely you will be asked to surrender your firearms before you can receive any food or medical assistance. Evacuees should be aware that weapons confiscation could happen at checkpoints established along escape routes.

Be warned, in an emergency situation the governments first goal is not to provide for your defense, it is to disarm you. Be sure you can survive without your guns.

By the way, I personally think every person in America should own and understand how to use firearms. If I were president, gun ownership would be mandatory.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tremors - Ultimate Survival Movie

Running's not a plan! Running's what you do, once a plan fails!

Trying to escape their dead-end life in the desert town of Perfection, Nevada, Valentine "Val" McKee and Earl Bassett find themselves sidetracked when corpses mysteriously start piling up around them. When Val and Earl have a run-in with some creepy tentacled creatures that have made lunch out of a road crew, they retreat back to the town to spread the news. Although these monsters are not exactly intellectuals, their mental powers are still mind-boggling. Detecting a human hiding in a car, they dig under the vehicle, causing it to sink into the earth. Val and Earl get help from several townspeople, including gun-happy Burt Gummer and his wife Heather Gummer, and also store owner Walter Chang, fellow residents Melvin Plug, Nancy Sterngood, Nancy's daughter Mindy, their friends Miguel and Nestor, and visiting seismologist Rhonda LeBeck. With the help of Rhonda, Val and Earl kill one of the monsters. But there are three of them left, and they are each about 30 feet long. Walter starts calling the monsters graboids. When the survivors think they have outwitted the graboids by taking refuge atop the roofs of buildings, the graboids merely destroy the buildings' foundations, killing two people. The graboids are quick learners when it comes to stalking their prey, and the humans must continually be on their toes if they are to stay alive while they try to find a way to defeat the graboids.

I like this movie.

Tremors takes place in a Perfection Nevada, a small dusty town in a high desert valley surrounded by mountains, it reminds me of home. The movie follows the adventures of two handymen, Val and Earl, as they battle giant mutant worms while trying to save the few inhabitants in the valley. This is a survivalist wet dream of a show. It features:

The Minimalist - Old crotchety prospector living in a tar paper shack, raising sheep and chickens. (not prepared, killed by mutant worms)

The Homesteaders - Retired doctor and his wife are living in a small trailer while building their dream home in the desert. (not prepared, killed by mutant worms)

The Townsfolk - The happy clueless towns people. (not prepared, many killed my mutant worms)

The Survivalists - Our heroes. Well armed, bunker living and self sufficient. Burt and Heather save the day with their guns and homemade bombs. (well prepared, helped kill mutant worms)

"Food for five years, a thousand gallons of gas, air filtration, water filtration, Geiger counter. Bomb shelter! Underground... God damn monsters." laments Burt as he abandons his bunker to the mutant worms.
The underlying theme of this great movie is to be prepared with a plan.

You can pick up the four movies in the Tremors series in a box set for thirteen buck at Wal-Mart. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Republicans And Democrats - The Difference

Both parties want to protect their families. Both parties believe in the Constitution

Far right Republicans abhor any sort of gun control, to them Totalitarian Democrats trying to take away their assault rifles are the worst possible from of government. While the Totalitarian Democrats would argue that to protect us from crime you should remove the assault rifles from the streets. Only a person wanting to commit a crime would want to own an assault rifle.

Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Far left Democrats abhor any sort of unrestricted surveillance, to them Fascist Republicans trying to monitor and record every detail of their lives are the worst possible form of government. While the Fascist Republicans would argue that to protect us from terrorists you should allow unrestricted monitoring of everything. Only a person who has something to hide would argue against this kind of surveillance.
Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Both parties are correct in wanting to protect the Constitution. Both parties are wrong to try and restrict freedoms granted by the Constitution. All or nothing!

Our elected officials take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States...the whole Constitution. Let’s hold them to that regardless of party.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Orgy Of Consumption Over

America’s economic engine is dead, or at least gasping it last breath. Our days as the world’s largest consumer are ending as our bloated debt ridden economy struggles to produce new jobs and keep inflation in check. The National Retail Federation kicked off its annual convention recently with figures released showing a sharp decline in consumer spending.

Wendy Liebmann said most shoppers were making fewer weekly shopping trips and spending significantly less on discretionary items such as home appliances and decor, fashion accessories, electronics, perfume, computers and software.

The only two categories getting a larger share of consumers' wallets are food and pet supplies, Liebmann said, noting however, that food prices have increased.
What does this mean for the American economy?

First it means the we can not buy our way out of a depression. The Fed would slash interest rates during times of economic slowdowns and the American people always responded appropriately by taking out their plastic, getting home equity loans or simply spending their saving to purchase goods. This kick started the job growth, businesses made money and soon we were out of trouble.

The problem with this model is that it relies on Americans buying American goods. If you import all the products, then American businesses are not making money. The money is being exported to slave labor countries, not used internally to bolster American business. All this does is stave off a full blown recession, if you are not replacing the jobs lost to cheap imports, it can not stop the recession.

The artificially created housing bubble did just this, money was pumped into the system with low interest rates, temporary jobs were created with the housing boom and our economy surged for a bit. This was a fake recovery, no permanent jobs were created and the American public simply dug itself into debt further. Where did all those products come from that were put into the new homes…China.

Secondly, we are no longer necessary on the world market. The United States is like that obnoxious customer you have to take to lunch once a week. You can not stand this person but as a salesman you have to treat him right because he has all the money.

America is not respected as a superpower, but as a superbuyer. We were the engine of consumption, driving trillions of dollars into the hands of foreign businesses. Now that we can longer consume at the appropriate level, our usefulness on the world scene is over. It is only a matter of time until we become an irrelevant third world country trying to remember our glory days.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Survival Priorities

Sustenance, Shelter, Security, Scarcity and Sustainability

Survival preparation is a never ending process requiring time and considerable amounts of money. Depending on your end planning goals count on spending anywhere from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars. The cost will vary and always grow as you reevaluate your needs and deploy your infrastructure.

One of the more difficult issues surrounding the planning process is determining and prioritizing needs. Sustenance, Shelter, Security, Scarcity and Sustainability are the five S’s that will help you plan and allocate your resources. In an ideal world you would make a list of needs, purchase your supplies and wait for the inevitable. But we do not live in an ideal world.

The other area that needs addressing is exactly what type of socio/economic distress are you planning for. Planning for a Yellow Stone super eruption is different than planning for an ice storm. Planning for the complete collapse of our economic structure is a little more involved than planning for a few months of unemployment. Regardless of the type of disaster there are two thing that any survivalist demands,

The family must have their basic needs met

The family must not rely on external support to attain those needs
The point of the survivalist movement is not only to survive but to do so independently, free from institutional help. Institutional assistance carries the restrictions implemented by the “giving” organization. These can included forced labor, mandatory meetings, registrations of assets, forfeiture of firearms and enforced relocation. If you want the handout you must play by their rules. So preparation should be geared towards guarantying independence from institutionalized support.

Sustenance

The first thing you need to address, hands down, is food and water. Without these nothing else matters. In any emergency situation the first people on the scene after the rescue workers is the Red Cross. They set up a tent and you get in line, for what? Food and Water. If it is a remote disaster the first thing airlifted to the site is food and water.

Without these two base items you are immediately forced into the institutional system of handouts, waiting for hours to secure the basics to simply keep your family alive. You become fully dependent on the welfare system, you have lost your freedom. You are no longer in charge of yourself or your family, the man with the food and water now owns you.

You can live in a tent, you can not live in a tent with out basic sustenance. During an ice storm it does not matter what kind of gun you have or how fancy your crank radio is you and your family are going to die without food and water.

Don’t think you are going to be able to hunt for food, this is what everyone else is thinking and the local game will be depleted very quickly. It does not matter if your retreat shelter is in your house or in a distant cabin it needs to be fully stocked with food and water. This is the first, this is the top priority. Everything else falls into place behind basic sustenance.

Shelter

Shelter is the place or thing that protects you from the elements and can continue protecting you and your family in a emergency situation. Now, this goes far beyond simply a roof over your head. Your shelter needs to provide warmth, power and waste disposal. The shelter can be your apartment, home that you own, retreat cabin or even a travel trailer.

Wherever you are your basic shelter requirements need to be met. In other words, if you have a retreat cabin two hours from town, the cabin and your place in town need to be able to shelter you. Having a nice solar power system, a wood stove with plenty of wood and a composting toilet at your cabin does you no good if you are stuck in town.

When looking at homes or apartments, try to find one that has either a real wood burning fireplace or a large southern exposure with windows, ideally both. It is worth spending a little more money monthly for these items. Everything in your home is grid attached. If something happens and you no longer have heat, water for the toilets or power your nice house becomes nothing more than an cold stinky cave.

But if you have a southern exposure or fireplace your home or apartment will stay nice and relatively warm. Additionally a simple sawdust toilet stored in the closet or under the sink can saves you from squatting in an undignified manner under a tree. Purchase some blankets or plastic sheeting to place over the doorways and windows.

Be careful when choosing a backup heating source. Although kerosene and propane heaters are great for temporary off grid heating they become a useless expense in a prolonged crisis situation when fuel is no longer available or priced out of your range.

An independent power source is another matter entirely. If you can swing solar for your house or trailer do so but don’t invest the money if you are in an apartment. Small backup generators are great for power tools at your cabin site but like petroleum based heaters become a liability when fuel starts to run out. They can also make a lot of noise bringing unwanted guests looking for warmth and bright lights. Wind generators should only be used away from jealous neighbors at your cabin. If you are in the city more than likely you will have to do without power for lighting and such. Stock up on candles and solar lanterns.

You don’t want to freeze to death in a power down situation. A good shelter will protect you from the elements, store your sustenance items and hide your families life from unnecessary scrutiny. Remember a survivalist without proper shelter is a refugee.

Security

After you have secured food, water and appropriate shelter you need to address some security and safety issues with your family. How will your family communicate with each other in a crisis situation? If necessary how will you move your family out of the critical zone? Are you comfortable with your family owning and using guns?

You should do research into communication methods that work best in your area. GMRS two way radios are recommended for family communications but this is a decision that you must make with your family. Possibly look into CB radios. Remember that cell phone are not a reliable communications method in an emergency and phone locations are traceable.

Also a large, powerful, reliable vehicle is necessary. You will need something that can haul the family as well as a considerable about of survival supplies. A older model four wheel drive full size truck would be ideal for this, a topper can be placed over the bed protecting critical supplies. These trucks can be purchased for under two thousand. Be sure to keep the tank full.

Personally I think every person in America should be required to own guns, but this is a personal decision. Gun ownership, gun selection and ammo amounts are not addressed in this article. I would only say that base supplies need to be acquired before you invest terrible amounts of money into your arsenal.

Scarcity

What will you need that will not be readily available in a crisis situation? What about a long term collapse? Some of these items might include wicks for your heater, nails for your nail gun, rechargeable flashlight batteries, solar charger for batteries, propane cans for your stove and extra blankets. Anything that will make life easier, but not necessarily critical for that life.

Sustainability

Whats next? How do you and your family recover from the crisis? What will life look like after the collapse? What is your plan for when the supplies run out? Do you have skills that will be necessary in a post collapse society? Planning now for your niche in the new world will help guarantee your families continued survival.

We are heading towards a great socio/economic collapse, you can pretend all is well or you can responsibly prepare for the fall.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Garden - Some Questions To Ask

How big of a garden should I plant.? What should I plant?

I've been thinking about these questions for some time, and what I've really come up with is more questions - at least in terms of a place to start.

The size of my garden (and what to grow) really depends on a few key factors:

1) How many people will I need to feed at my homestead?
2) Will I need to provide for any animals (pets and/or livestock)?
3) For how long will this food need to last?
4) Will I have the ability to get fruits, vegetables and grains from other sources?
5) Do I plan to sell, trade or barter goods from my personal garden?
6) Do I have methods of preserving the garden products?
7) What time of year can I plant, and what is the growing season?
8) How much land do I have that is actually suitable for gardening vs. how much land I actually require?
9) Is there a sufficient water/food source for the garden?
10) Is there a seed source, or do I need to stock seeds?
11) How do I deal with pests?

So, now that I have the questions at least laid out, I can start to determine the size and scope of my garden. Over the next week or so I will be putting together some numbers to bring this project into focus. Once done I will get back with you on this.

What am I missing, let me know

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gardening Indoors - Update

Ok, it is not nearly as easy as it should be.

Another little experiment I have running this winter is trying to grow some vegetables indoors. It would be nice to have some fresh greens through the cold season while living off dried food store.

Over the past few months I started some tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, green peppers and onions. The broccoli is doing nicely but just about everything else is painfully stunted or dead. I have three decent tomato plants about fifteen inches high and one nice green bean bush about the same. Nothing has produced.

Everything is growing in southern windows but I am not sure they are getting warm enough. The rooms where the plants are kept stays in the sixties or low seventies during the day but can get chilly at night. I live in an old drafty house. My guess is that the plants are not staying warm enough over time to really get a good foothold. And since the cabin will not be any warmer during the winter I really can't see these vegetables doing well in cold weather.

On the other hand the broccoli is doing fairly well, but it is a colder weather plant. I am going to start some lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower for the rest of the winter. They should all grow under cooler conditions.

I will let you know if the tomatoes start producing and keep you updated on the cool weather plants.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Beans and Rice - Survival Update

I am sick of beans and rice.

The month of January is a "practice what you preach" month. For four weeks I am living off of my stocked dried beans, rice and flour. I wanted to make sure that I can survive when the day comes that I have to live off the stores. I needed to see what else was necessary, what was I missing, it would be bad to have two years worth of food stocked in the cabin and not be able to eat it.

The last two weeks have taught me that you can exist fine on one cup of dried beans, one cup of white rice and four slices of bread everyday, but boy is it hard. One cup of dried beans makes about two and a half cups of prepared beans, one cup of dried rice makes about three cups of cooked rice.

The preparation is not that difficult, put the beans in a crockpot the night before, leave it on low and by noon they are finished. The rice takes about 30 minutes to cook. I am using a crockpot because it best simulates slow cooking on top of a wood stove or in a solar oven. Although I have a gas stove at the cabin, it can only be relied upon as long as propane is readily available.

The bread is store bought, I know that it does not exactly simulate the survival experience, but frankly I don't have the time. I know I can make the bread so I am cheating a little.

As Americans we are use to full flavored fattening foods that satisfy our hunger. The beans and rice do fill you up but they are somewhat less than satisfying...ok a lot less than satisfying. Plain toast I can deal with but the monotony produced by the beans and rice was unbearable. After just three days I thought, there is no way hell I could live on this. Oh but I was wrong.

First off, in a survivalist situation you eat to live not for enjoyment or satisfaction. You eat for the calories and the energy they provide, you want nutrient dense food. Second, any food can be made exciting and different by simply adding spices and salts. I have a small collection of spices and various meat seasoning salts at the cabin. So on the fourth day I put some beef meat seasoning in the mix and bam it was a fresh tasty dish. I also found this powdered cheese that you mix with water, I tried some of that and it really made a great dish. The powdered cheese keeps just like a spice.

The point is that you will need lots of spices and seasonings. Go to the dollar store with sixty buck and just go crazy, get alittle of everything and really stock up on what you like. You will need it to fight off the monotony.

One other note, there will be a distinct difference in dietary variety depending on your survival situation. If you are a survivalist living in the country you will be very busy cutting firewood, tending your garden and hunting rabbit and such. Your meal is something you eat to keep you going, you take time out of your day for the meals. A city survivalist is going to hunker down and keep a low profile until the critical time passes. You are sitting in the house trying not to draw attention to yourself. In this case the meals are what you look forward to, they are the high points of the day. If you are staying in the city you will need a much greater variety in your food stocks.

DON'T FORGET THE COFFEE!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Resident Evil Extinction

Resident Evil Extinction, a great survival movie, is set in the distant future in a desert world. Most life has been killed off by a virus, the survivors travel from city to city in protection convoys looking for other living creatures. The movie addresses scavenging for food, supplies, gas as well as global climate change and government surveillance.

Here are a couple of movie reviews from Internet Movie Database.

Years after the Raccoon City disaster, Alice is on her own; aware that she has become a liability and could endanger those around her, she is struggling to survive and bring down the Umbrella Corporation led by the sinister Albert Wesker and head researcher Dr. Isaacs. Meanwhile, traveling through the Nevada Desert and the ruins of Las Vegas, Carlos Olivera, L.J., and new survivors K-Mart, Claire Redfield, and Nurse Betty must fight to survive extinction against hordes of zombies, killer crows and the most terrifying creatures created as a result of the deadly T-Virus that has killed billions.
The plague has traveled around the world infecting most of the world's population, turning everyone into the walking undead. The deadly virus also has destroyed the world as we knew it, rendering the planet a desert. Alice (Milla Jovovich) has been forced to roam the Earth alone attempting to stay off Umbrella's radar. Alice joins a convoy led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and former U.B.C.S. agent Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) along with L.J. (Mike Epps) and other survivors who have not been infected, travel from small town to small town in search of other survivors and supplies, staying away from any large cities - areas that may potentially be infested. Their goal is to find a place that has not been infected by the virus. Unfortunately for the convoy, Dr. Isaacs finds Alice and tries to capture her in Las Vegas, after Alice persuades the convoy to journey to Alaska where Alice believes there lives an uninfected community.
Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the move.
Alice: We fought the infection. We survived the apocalypse. And now, we face extinction.

L.J.: [referring to the lack of cigarettes and marijuana] It really is the end of the world
This is the third release in the Resident Evil Trilogy. It is great brainless entertainment, check this movie out.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Budget Survival - Composting Toilets

Composting Toilets - They Ain't For Sissies.

A few years ago I decided I needed a proper toilet, enough going in the woods. We could not afford a septic tank and plumbing system so I decided to go with a temporary composting or chemical toilet. Then install the septic when the well was drilled. Here are my experiences with these evil but necessary conveniences.

Chemical Toilets Are Nasty

My partners parents had a small chemical toilet which we put in the bathroom at the cabin. This unit held four gallons of waste product and had a pump flush, I thought I was in Graceland it was so nice. Anyway, the thing really smelled bad, I used the blue deodorant you can buy and it helped a little but during the summer it nearly drove us out.

When you “flush” it simply opens a retractable cover in the bottom of the bowl exposing a wet mound of fecal material and urine. The smell is somewhat cut down when the unit is closed up but it was still bad and attracted millions of flies. Imagine one of those porta-potty units that you see at fairs and construction sites sitting in your house. The worst part was emptying the thing. You take the container part off the bottom of the stool and find a place to dump it. I took mine to the local state park and dumped it down the permanent porta-potty hole, which consists of a building over a twenty foot deep poop pit. It stunk and got everywhere.

Commercial Composting Toilets

Now this looked like the answers to my prayers. These units hold many gallons of waste in a large composting bin that you stir one a week. When full simply transferred the product to your larger outdoor composting pile and let stand for a year or so. These units needed venting for odor and most require some heat and a bacteria activating agents. They were tastefully designed and would fit in the bathroom.

The big drawback for me was the cost. The low end units start at around one thousand and go up, and when a septic system would run twenty five hundred I couldn’t really justify the cost. Especially when they are essentially nothing more than big stinky buckets.

Sawdust Composting Toilets

Looking at different methods of waste elimination online I came across a book called the Humanure Handbook. It advocated a cheap and effective human waste composting systems that used 5 gallon buckets, sawdust and an outdoor composting pile. I have to admit , at first it looked to good to be true. I assumed that the unit would smell horrible, and the thought of an open bucket of poo in the house didn't really sit well either.

In a nutshell the system consists of five 5 gallon buckets with tight fitting lids, a box to fit over the 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat mounted on it and sawdust. A composting pile also needs to be constructed away from the house where you deposit the humanure to roast in the sun for a couple of years.

Put a bucket in the box and use it as you would any toilet. After making a deposit, cover the waste product with sawdust and close the toilet seat lid. When the container is nearly full put the lid on it and replace it with an empty bucket. On the fifth bucket take the others out and empty them on the compost pile. Wash the emptied buckets with warm soapy water then leave them in the sun to dry. Do not use bleach or antibacterial soap on the buckets, it will kill the good bacteria necessary for composting. The UV rays from the sunlight will disinfect and kill any bad germs in the buckets.

This is a great method and will only set you back about forty dollars compared to over a thousand for a commercial composting toilet. No smell, no flies and you are making a super mulch for the garden. You only need to make the trip to the compost pile about once a month, it is a very simple elegant system.

The author of the book recommends that you use wet sawdust from trees, not processed lumber. This was a problem for me and I ended up using dead leaves and dirt from under trees. It actually worked better than the sawdust and I didn’t need to cart the stuff from downed trees or a lumber mill. Cooled ashes work great to cover the smell but they don’t compost well and are not recommended.

Also I usually don’t urinate in the buckets, this extends the amount of time it takes to fill the units. Urine can be collected separately, mixed one to five with rain water and put on your trees. Or just pee outside.

Don’t let the full buckets freeze, they don’t like to empty if they are frozen. Be careful if you have bears in your area. I sat a couple of full buckets out behind the cabin this summer and a bear carried them halfway up the ridge. He didn’t get the lids off but there were huge tooth holes in the sides where they tried to chew through the plastic.

I highly recommend this method of waste management if you do not yet have a septic system. It also can be used as a backup toilet if you lose power or water.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cell Phone Tracking

Civil libertarians, like myself, loath any device which looks to reduce privacy and expose American's to unnecessary monitoring and tracking. We rail against the obvious technologies such as RFID tracking, a National ID, data mining and profiling services, city wide surveillance systems, online tracking and "loyalty cards". We will not give out personally identifiable information to anyone and even balk when the local hardware store clerk ask us for our zip code.

Hardcore survivalists have the same general attitude towards government/corporate involvement in our lives. Many will not even maintaining a permanent address or file an income tax return because they fear being targeted, tagged and tracked.

As highly honed as our survival skills are many of us still fall victim to the allure of a single device which quietly has infiltrated our lives and possibly already given out our closest held secrets. The following article should be read and inscribed in your mind.

Reach Out and Track Someone

By Terry J. Allen, Posted May 11, 2006

If you are one of the more than 200 million Americans with a cell phone nestled in your pocket, authorities may be able to find you any time day or night--even if you never make or receive a call.

You know the Verizon ad where a lockstep crowd personifies the network that accompanies its customer everywhere? Well, within that seemingly friendly horde, a high-tech Big Brother is lurking.

Most people know that when they make a mobile call--during a 911 emergency, for example--authorities can access phone company technology to pin down their location, sometimes to within a few feet.

A lesser-known fact: Cell phone companies can locate you any time you are in range of a tower and your phone is on. Cell phones are designed to work either with global positioning satellites or through "pings" that allow towers to triangulate and pinpoint signals. Any time your phone "sees" a tower, it pings it

Telecom companies and government are not eager to advertise that tracking capability. Nor will companies admit whether they are archiving the breadcrumb trail of pings from a cell phone so that they--or authorities--can trace back, after the fact, where the customer had been at a particular time. "Of course, there is that capability," says Bruce Schneier, chief technical officer with Counterpane Internet Security. "Verizon and the other companies have access to that information and the odds are zero that they wouldn't sell it if it is legal and profitable. This is capitalism after all."

But legality can be so tricky to pin down, especially when national security and corporate profits are involved. Communications companies and government have been repeatedly caught collaborating in highly questionable practices.

It is likely that authorities are also accessing cell phone call records and conducting real-time tracing of hapless Palestinians who donated to clinics and liberal activists who dared march for peace. And if the administration's record is a guide, it is interpreting privacy protection laws relating to cell phones in ways that bend and perhaps batter the Constitution.

Real-time tracking technology also opens disturbing entrepreneurial opportunities. Anyone who provides their kids, spouse or employees with a software-readied cell phone can secretly monitor them on the web. Wherify.com "locates loved ones within feet/meters in about a minute," and allows subscribers to "view location on both street and aerial mapping, to include date/time stamp, lat/long and block address" and "set breadcrumb schedule for periodic locates."

Everyone uses a cell phone, especially if you live in an off-grid location. I would recommend that if a cell phone is necessary then use an anonymous unit purchased with cash and loaded at 7-11 or any big box super store. Through call pattern recognition it can still be tied to you but if you change your habits this can be mitigated. Possibly explore just using GMRS radios to communicate with your family and friends the walkie-talkie sized units can have a range of ten to twenty miles. If nothing else a throwback CB will work just fine.

Even though all telecommunication carriers are bound by law to protect your personal information the era of George Bush has shown this to be a false promise broken when convenient. If the pattern remains then the Senate will pass Telecommunication Immunity as part of the FISA rework so the American public will never find out who has this sensitive phone and tracking information or how it is being used.

As the focus was on man behind the curtain we missed the flying monkey coming through the palace doors.

If interested in privacy issues check out the following sites.

Electronic Frontiers Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center