Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clean Water Production - Distiller

A few posts back we talked about the importance of having a clean water supply of your families survival needs. If you are collecting rainwater runoff for this purpose it would be wise to purify the water before human consumption. Here is the general process of distillation.

Every element can exist in three states: as a liquid, as a solid and as a vapor, which mostly depend on it's temperature. This applies to water, too. So, water can be found as ice, water and steam. If water is cooled down below 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit), it becomes ice, and if heated above 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit), it becomes steam. The temperature, at which a substance changes it state from liquid to vapor is called a boiling point, and it is different for different substances. This difference can be used to separate substances, and as such can be used for water purification.

The process is relatively simple:

a) the dirty water is heated
b) to the boiling point and thus vaporizes
c) (becomes steam), while other substances remain in solid state, in boiler. Steam is then directed into a cooler
d) where it cools down and returns to liquid water
e) and the end result is a water, purified of additional substances found in it before distillation.

Distillation is an effective process and, what's more important, it can be done with a lot of improvisation. You can heat water with whatever is at hand: fire, electricity, or whatever. You can use almost anything that holds water for a boiler, as long as you can direct the steam into a cooler. A cooler can be a long piece of copper tubing bent into a spiral. All you need is something that will just cool the steam down. In a worst case scenario, you can distill water with an ordinary household pot and two pot lids. Boil water in a pot covered with the first lid. After a while, you'll see that the water in the pot vaporizes, and condenses on the lid (this is distilled water). Now replace the lid with the second lid, and turn the first one vertically, so that all condensed water collects at one point, and then pour it into a cup. Meanwhile, more distilled water condenses on the second pot lid, so just repeat the above steps again... until you have a full cup.

Distillation will remove from water almost anything, even heavy metals, poisons, bacteria and viruses. However, it does not remove substances that have boiling points at a lower temperature than water. Some of these substances are oils, petroleum, alcohol and similar substances, which in most cases don't mix with water. Also, remember that substances removed from water remain in the boiler, so you'll need to clean it up every once in awhile.

Distilled water can be used directly and does not need to be boiled again. As it is already hot, you can use it to prepare tea, or similar drinks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Survival Food Storage - Three Plans

The last article in this series focused on why you should store survival foods. Today we will look at three essential stockpile plans and how they should be used to meet your daily nutritional needs. The plans are prepared from personal experience and represent the nutritional requirements for one person. They should be used as a reference guide for planning your survival stocks, not a blueprint.

Survival food plans are there to keep you and your family alive and out of refugee status during a crisis event or large socio political shift. They exist to help during transitional times not as permanent replacements for traditional food gathering methods. It would be impossible to store enough prepared food to maintain your family for the rest of your existence.

Crisis situations are as varied and complex as your diet. It would be difficult to plan for every potential contingency, all you can do is prepare and attempt to cover as many bases as possible. To that end I would recommend three distinct storage plans to address the varied threats faced by families in todays world. Your survival storage plan should include a 3 week stock, 3 month stock and a 3 year stock.

Nutritional Requirements

Survival situations sometimes require a sacrifice of nutritional value and calories in your food choices. But with careful planning most of the basic needs can be met. As a rule of thumb your caloric intake should not fall below 1600 per day if you want to function with any degree of normalcy. Calorie requirements, as with all things, vary depending on the person and circumstances but 1600 per day is a good general baseline to keep you alive.

3 Week Stock

This grab and go kit is not meant to please your gastro senses, it is meant to keep you alive and out of the refugee system until you can return home.

In a disaster situation such as flooding or wildfires it may be necessary to leave the protection of the home. In such a case it would be prudent to have at least 3 weeks of survival food supplies per person that can go with you. This may sound like a tremendous amount of food but with careful planning the stores will easily fit in a duffel bag or back pack.

I use Mainstay 3600 Emergency Food Rations, they taste like vanilla/lemon cookie dough. These foil wrapped packs are designed for use on lifeboats. One pack contains nine 400 calorie bricks, a case of 20 packs will run you about a hundred dollars. They have at least a five year shelf like and the case is the size of a small shoe box. I keep a case in the truck and one in my partners jeep. There are also two 3 week kits near the back door for grab and go convenience. Now of course food is not the only item in the pack but it is the topic of this discussion.

Many people have been sold on the idea of a seventy two hour bug-out-bag or kit. I personally feel that this is a dangerous plan and creates a false sense of security. Seventy two hours may be enough time to remove yourself from a crisis situation but after that period you are again subject to the relief systems you are trying to avoid. For the space of a shoe box you can maintain at least 3 weeks of emergency food stocks.

If forced to leave your house carry enough supplies to hold you until it is safe to return. The 3 week stock is only used for emergency situations where you are forced to leave your home.

3 Month Stock

The second stocking plan involves daily foods that your family already consumes, just a three month supply of them.

In any grid up emergency such as a health crisis or extreme civil unrest the safest place to be is at home. The absolute ideal would be at home with a huge supply of food and methods of preparation. If you can survive on your own without external intervention your odds of weathering the triggering event greatly increase.

It should be clear that McDonald's every evening is not what we are talking about here. These should be conventionally prepared meals with high nutritional value. Since this scenario assumes that the grid will be up, or at least mostly up, frozen and canned foods are acceptable. The advantages are two fold.

First, you already know how to prepare these foods. There is not the trial and error learning curve associated with first time meals. You will have enough to worry about without needing to learn new skills.

Second, disruption to the family is minimized if common meals are served. You know what your family likes, common meals will comfort and reassure them during the difficult time. If you are serving someones favorite meal it gives them something to look forward to. It brightens their day rather than the drudgery of beans and rice every evening.

Building this store is really quite simple. Just buy a couple of extra items each time you do the shopping, try to move towards items with longer shelf life. You will need a pantry area where food can easily be organized for rotational purposes. First in, first out. Watch expiration dates but remember the these are recommended dates, not drop dead dates, do not waste the food.

Special attention needs to be paid to bread and other time sensitive foods. Rather than attempting to secure extra bread, buy the raw ingredients and learn bread making. Or even better purchase an inexpensive bread maker and pick up a few packs every week. Remember powered milk and eggs, buy a good stock of them for storage, don't worry about rotation of these items. Don't forget spices.

Three months is the minimum for this survival plan. You want to ride out the disruption with zero external needs until either thing return to normal or additional step are necessary to secure your family. In this case additional steps refer to a survival garden which would need at least three months to mature. In reality you should build this food store to the largest size that can be physically supported at your home.

Not only is this plan an easy solution for grid up crisis, it also serves as a safety net for times of unemployment or economic hardships.

3 Year Stock

This is your fall back plan and consists of life sustaining food items that can be stored for at least twenty years. This is not a food store that you use except in dire long term emergencies. You build it and bury it.

A global disaster or unprecedented trigger event may make it necessary to leave your comfortable, well stocked home and seek the protection of your retreat cabin. With proper planning being removed from the consumer supply line will not be a problem.

You should plan on building an emergency three year survival storage plan based around dried wheat, rice and various beans. Inexpensive dried grain products are placed in five gallon bucket outfitted with omega lids (screw-on resealable lids). Stored properly this stock can last twenty to thirty years making it the ultimate insurance plan against disaster.

One five gallon bucket holds eighty cups of dried grains. We will go into how much of each grain fills a bucket, how much it costs and where to purchase it in the next article. A one year supply of food for one person consists of roughly fifteen buckets. For one person you will need to store forty five buckets to get to three years. That may sound like a tremendous amount of storage room but a single bucket has a diameter of a little under twelve inches and is about 18 inches high with the omega lid. So forty five buckets require fifteen square foot of floor space and about five foot of head room stacked three high. The buckets should be properly labeled with contents and date stored.

If your family is larger you may consider using fifty five gallon drums to store your food stocks. I would recommend against this. Here's why, if one of your five gallon buckets cracks and starts to rot the products inside you will only lose the five gallons. But if that same rot started growing in a larger container you would lose fifty five gallons of food stocks. Since you will not be checking the contents of the containers after they are stored you will not know if the food has spoiled until it is needed. A five gallon loss is easier than fifty five gallons to weather.

Plus five gallon buckets are easily transported if you needed to relocate your supplies. Additionally you would only need to unearth the food stores required rather than digging up the entire stock. This protects the remaining survival stores.

The buckets will need to be wrapped in protective plastic trash bags or sheeting and placed in a location that is secure, dry and cool. The cooler the temperatures the better, I would recommend an underground storage chamber like a deep root cellar or lined and covered trench. Cool temperatures are necessary to maximize nutritional retention and storage life. If your basement is cool and dry it would also work very well. Freezing is not a problem for dried grains.

Special consideration needs to be paid to preparation. You will need a large crock pot to cook and reconstitute the grains as well as a hearty food mill to grind the wheat and other products. Preparation will be on a wood stove or solar oven. Baking soda is also a necessity to reconstitute beans that have been stored for five or more years.

A three year supply of staple food items will give you the confidence necessary to forge forward in life, not linger in the refugee camps waiting for handouts after a disaster.

Careful planning will allow you and your family to weather the chaos related to social upheaval or natural disaster. Take solace in knowing that what ever happens you are well prepared with your 3 week, 3 month and 3 year stock of emergency food supplies.

Next we will look at real numbers regarding purchase and storing of long term grain items.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Wheat Grass - One Week

The dogs love it.

Wheat grass is a source of beta carotene and the B vitamins, plus C, E, H and K, is said to contain 90 different minerals and 19 amino acids.

It turns out that wheatgrass juice is up to 70% chlorophyll, which in chemical composition closely resembles hemoglobin. It is said to heal tissues, help purify the liver, improve blood sugar levels and help flush out accumulated toxins. That makes it an ideal 'companion' for fasting and in weight control regimes.

Chlorophyll is antibacterial and can be used inside and outside the body as a healer. Gargle with wheatgrass juice for a sore throat. Wheat grass juice is great for constipation and keeping the bowels open.

In "The American Journal of Surgery" (1940), Benjamin Cruskin, M.D., recommends chlorophyll for its antiseptic benefits. The article suggests the following clinical uses for chlorophyll: to clear up foul-smelling odors, neutralize strep infections, heal wounds, hasten skin grafting, cure chronic sinusitis, overcome ear inflammation and infections, reduce varicose veins and heal leg ulcers, eliminate impetigo and other scabby eruptions, heal rectal sores, successfully treat inflammation of the uterine cervix, get rid of parasitic vaginal infections, reduce typhoid fever, and cure advanced pyorrhea in many cases.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ron MacQuarrie: $35,000 in debt

The following article was posted on MSNBC.

Surf teacher and retail clerk, 62, San Clemente, CA

I was a mortgage banker for about 20 years and while it had always been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, it also had some added perks in that I set my own schedules. This gave me time for what I really love to do: Surf.

As I watched the bubble getting thinner and thinner and bigger and bigger, I tried to position myself to survive what I thought would be a short-term correction.

First rates went up. Not much, but just enough to stop my business cold. First ones to go of course were the small brokers like myself who could not continue to spend more and more money to capture less and less business.

During that period I ran up about $35,000 in debt, mostly credit card. It didn't seem like much at the time, to try and sustain what I thought was a short downturn that turned into a long-term bad market. Make that a catastrophically bad market that is far worse then anything I have seen before and getting worse.

Then my son's house, which I co-signed for, went into foreclosure. Not really his fault, he was in the same business and his went down as well. At that point I made a decision that since my credit was gone anyway and I was really incapable of paying even the minimum payment on the debt, that I had little to lose and I just walked away. I don't feel good about it. If I can, when I can, I'll work on paying it back, but at this point I don't care much.

Now I am a clerk at a very well run food store part time at night, and I'm teaching surfing when I can. It barely is survival money, but I've discovered that sometimes that is quite okay actually.

Failure can be enlightening.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Emergency Water Storage

The city of Alamosa has declared a state of emergency in the wake of an outbreak of salmonella. Health officials say the source of the outbreak is the town's tap water. There are 138 people with confirmed or suspected cases of salmonella, said Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health. Seven people remain hospitalized.

As we move into the Second Great Depression crisis situations like this will become very common. Taxes for local infrastructure repair will decrease with the declining economy and real estate values. As the available monies run out our crumbling infrastructure will start to fail at an alarming pace. With the failures comes panic leading to social disorder and localized chaos. It is this chaos that local officials will use as a justification for restriction of liberties and inevitably marshal law.

In planning your disaster preparation strategy it is important not to overlook the low level emergencies that may not be life threatening but are definitely major inconveniences. Without proper planning these types of threats can escalate driving you from your home and into the refugee camps where you are at the mercy of local relief agencies and law enforcement.

How long could you stay in your home if the power went out for an extended period of time? Do you have a backup for your grid-dependent heating system? If the public water supply is compromised do you have the proper water reserves to keep you and your family out of the relief lines for any length of time?

The Midwest United States is experiencing flooding due to high winter snow accumulation and heavy spring rains. As the flood waters move in the sewer systems are inundated and untreated water mingles with the fresh water supply. It takes weeks, if not months, to clean out the affected systems and restore the public drinking supplies.

In Alamosa they are looking at two to three weeks without drinkable public water. The citizen are standing in lines as I write this to receive bottles of safe drinking water for their families. What information is being collected before they dispense water? What kind of rationing is in place? Alamosa is only about thirty miles from my cabin, I will try to get information on the processes involved.

It is recommended that you have one gallon of water per person per day. In the picture above you see three seven gallon containers. These hold enough to supply one person with drinking water for three weeks. Simply fill them from the tap and put them in a closet, they are there when you need them. The blue aqua-tainers can be picked up at Wal-Mart for around seven bucks apiece. This is a cheap and transportable method of storing emergency water supplies.

I would keep at least a three week supply of water on hand for every member of the family. Remember pets.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Business

Just about every evening I take a walk up along the old business district here in town. It's a great way to relax and gives me a little exercise. Anyway over the past several months I have noticed a great number of businesses closing down, probably half are in some state of closure. Most are little art shops or antique dealers but several brokers have gone as well as a couple of insurance agencies. A sign of the times.

Last night I found four new shops opening up. Two new bicycle shops, a "moped" like bike place and a company that sells used golf carts.

The bike shops are both high end with a wide variety of bicycles. Strangely they are both in the same block directly across the street from a high end crap gallery. I guess the logic is if you still have enough money for the high dollar crap then you can afford a fifteen hundred dollar bike.

The moped business is odd. They sell these fifties looking giant Schwinn type bikes (think PeeWee's Big Adventure) called Whizzers. These funky machines have a stylish 1.9 horse power gas motor mounted right above the pedals, hold 1.2 gallons of gas and get 120 miles to gallon. This new store is about a block down from the two new bike shops.

A new/used golf cart business has opened in an old car lot several blocks from the new bike businesses. They probably have forty used electric golf carts in various conditions and some new gas powered models. I don't want a golf cart but am curious what they are selling for I will check it out next week.

My bet is that next you will see some high end survival supply stores opening in the closed up shops maybe a solar powered goods store. Capitalism at its finest.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."

"Somewhere in me is a curiosity sensor. I want to know what's over the next hill. You know, people can live longer without food than without information. Without information, you'd go crazy."

"We should always be prepared for future technologies, because otherwise they will come along and clobber us."

"Our lifetime may be the last that will be lived out in a technological society. "

"This is the first age that's ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one."

"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion."

"As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying."

Arthur C. Clark died today, he was 90 years old. I will miss him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Iraqi War Cost

These numbers reflect only the Iraq war, not the massive pentagon budget or the war with Afghanistan. They also do not take into account the devastating loss of life to our military personnel or the Iraqi people.

Taxpayers in the United States have paid $522.5 billion for the Iraq War thus far. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
153,995,332 People with Health Care OR
540,922,142 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR
11,285,097 Public Safety Officers OR
8,960,343 Music and Arts Teachers OR
80,782,313 Scholarships for University Students OR
38,313 New Elementary Schools OR
4,064,478 Affordable Housing Units OR
230,292,880 Children with Health Care OR
71,703,033 Head Start Places for Children OR
8,583,162 Elementary School Teachers OR
7,549,214 Port Container Inspectors

Taxpayers in Colorado have paid $8 billion for the Iraq War thus far. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
2,431,472 People with Health Care OR
10,528,681 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR
162,180 Public Safety Officers OR
141,620 Music and Arts Teachers OR
1,415,446 Scholarships for University Students OR
940 New Elementary Schools OR
42,293 Affordable Housing Units OR
3,027,752 Children with Health Care OR
1,160,448 Head Start Places for Children OR
141,871 Elementary School Teachers OR
147,402 Port Container Inspectors

Taxpayers in Colorado Springs, Colorado have paid $640 million for the Iraq War thus far. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
194,837 People with Health Care OR
843,679 Homes with Renewable Electricity OR
12,996 Public Safety Officers OR
11,348 Music and Arts Teachers OR
113,422 Scholarships for University Students OR
75 New Elementary Schools OR
3,389 Affordable Housing Units OR
242,618 Children with Health Care OR
92,988 Head Start Places for Children OR
11,368 Elementary School Teachers OR
11,812 Port Container Inspectors

How is it possible that we are still losing jobs in this country. World War II was the catalyst that brought us out of the Great Depression. There should be a massive upswing in employment created by the demand for wartime goods and services. Where is this money going?

This war is not about protecting America. It is about moving vast amounts of money into corporate hands before the collapse of the American economy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wheat Grass

Wheat grass and / or its juice is a specific food which can assist in fighting a whole range of chronic ailments - from simple anemia to leukemia; from a simple skin rash to skin cancer, from worms to ulcers. It can be chewed slowly or drunk as a juice.

How to grow wheat grass

  1. Soak adequate quantity of unpolished wheat-grain overnight in water in any container (after cleaning and washing it thoroughly).
  2. Keep a few pots (preferably 7 to 9 pots- one to be sown each day of the week) ready with ordinary soil. Do not add any chemicals or fertilizers. Cow-dung or goat-dung may be added as manure if needed.
  3. Spread the soaked wheat on the surface of the soil so that the grains are touching one another.
  4. Sprinkle a thin layer of soil on the wheat grains .
  5. Cover the pot with a newspaper to provide darkness which helps the sprouting and also to prevent the birds from eating the wheat.
  6. Keep the pot in a balcony or a windowsill or a covered veranda.
  7. Next day uncover the pot and spray on some water and again cover it with the newspaper.
  8. Repeat step 7 everyday until you see green leaves sprouting through the soil. Stop covering the pot as soon as the green leaves appear.
  9. Everyday water the pot lightly but adequately depending upon the season and also depending upon the pots used - whether they have holes or not. Beautiful green blades of grass keep growing in height everyday.
  10. As soon as the grass is about 8 inches tall ( which usually happens around the 7th to the 9th day from the date of sowing) harvest the grass by cutting with a clean pair of scissors about 1/2" above the surface of the soil.
  11. The harvested wheat grass is now ready to be chewed or juiced or stored.
  12. A second round of wheat grass will again grow in about 6 to 7 days with daily watering as before.
  13. After the second harvest from the same pot, remove all the soil in the pot onto a newspaper- breakup all the roots and mix them with the soil. Add a bit of cow dung to this to rejuvenate the soil.
  14. The soil is now ready for reuse for a fresh sowing of wheat.
I am not really convinced about the healing powers of wheat grass but Conway, my youngest son, loves to eat grass. Rather than have him grazing in the neighbors yard and possibly poisoning himself with fertilizer or weed killers I thought I could grow him a treat.

I always thought that dogs only ate grass if they had an upset stomach. The vet said dogs do eat grass to throw up but that some dogs just like eating grass. He said if they take big mouthfuls of grass then they are trying to puke but if they pick through the grass and only eat certain blades they like the taste. Conway is very finicky about his grass, he also likes green beans and broccoli.

As for me I will try to find a cheap wheat grass juicer and see if this stuff really does have miraculous healing powers.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Watering System Update

Last week I told you about a new watering product I was using. I am testing a Blumat Automatic Plant Waterer in one of the bean containers. My concern was that the porous cone shaped device would not deliver enough water to the plants to maintain healthy growth.

I was looking for a watering support system that would require no power or plumbing and gradually deliver water to pots unsupported for at least two weeks.

The Blumat was designed as a vacation waterer that requires no power or running water. You place the hollow ceramic spike in the dirt and the hose in a container of water. The planter's dirt will leach water from the porous ceramic cone creating a suction that draws water from the container placed next to the pot.

After testing the unit appears to delivers about 1/2 gallon of water per seven days. At first glance I would say it is not enough water for the plants, especially tomatoes, but the three bean plants in the container are thriving. They are actually doing better than the container sitting next to it that I am manually watering. I am probably over watering the manual container.

I will let you know next week how they are preforming.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Great Depression

It is amazing the similarities between what Eccles wrote about the Great Depression in 1951 and the current state of our economy.

Marriner S. Eccles who served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Chairman of the Federal Reserve from November, 1934 to February, 1948 detailed what he believed caused the Depression in his memoirs, Beckoning Frontiers (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1951):

As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth -- not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced -- to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation s economic machinery. [Emphasis in original.] Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

That is what happened to us in the twenties. We sustained high levels of employment in that period with the aid of an exceptional expansion of debt outside of the banking system. This debt was provided by the large growth of business savings as well as savings by individuals, particularly in the upper-income groups where taxes were relatively low. Private debt outside of the banking system increased about fifty per cent. This debt, which was at high interest rates, largely took the form of mortgage debt on housing, office, and hotel structures, consumer installment debt, brokers' loans, and foreign debt. The stimulation to spending by debt-creation of this sort was short-lived and could not be counted on to sustain high levels of employment for long periods of time. Had there been a better distribution of the current income from the national product -- in other words, had there been less savings by business and the higher-income groups and more income in the lower groups -- we should have had far greater stability in our economy. Had the six billion dollars, for instance, that were loaned by corporations and wealthy individuals for stock-market speculation been distributed to the public as lower prices or higher wages and with less profits to the corporations and the well-to-do, it would have prevented or greatly moderated the economic collapse that began at the end of 1929.

The time came when there were no more poker chips to be loaned on credit. Debtors thereupon were forced to curtail their consumption in an effort to create a margin that could be applied to the reduction of outstanding debts. This naturally reduced the demand for goods of all kinds and brought on what seemed to be overproduction, but was in reality underconsumption when judged in terms of the real world instead of the money world. This, in turn, brought about a fall in prices and employment.

Unemployment further decreased the consumption of goods, which further increased unemployment, thus closing the circle in a continuing decline of prices. Earnings began to disappear, requiring economies of all kinds in the wages, salaries, and time of those employed. And thus again the vicious circle of deflation was closed until one third of the entire working population was unemployed, with our national income reduced by fifty per cent, and with the aggregate debt burden greater than ever before, not in dollars, but measured by current values and income that represented the ability to pay. Fixed charges, such as taxes, railroad and other utility rates, insurance and interest charges, clung close to the 1929 level and required such a portion of the national income to meet them that the amount left for consumption of goods was not sufficient to support the population.

This then, was my reading of what brought on the depression.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Small Beans

I just wanted to update everyone on the new beans I have coming in.

This pot holds three Contender variety green bean and they were planted on January 28th, 2008. In this picture I just wanted to point out how the blooms are attached to the end of the bean pod. The bean actually grows behind the bloom, it continues like this for awhile and eventually the flower drops off.

If the bean is cut from the plant carefully it will continue to bloom and produce for several cycles before dying off. The beans should be harvested when they reach pencil width. At this point in development they have a very distinctive "snap" when broken.

I have a new batch of Tender Improved green beans and some peas just about ready to go into the big pots.

I will keep you updated.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Survival Food Storage - Why Do It

Survival Food Storage

The growing economic and social tensions that the world is currently experiencing have drawn more and more people into the survival lifestyle. This way of living conducts your resources towards directly protecting and providing for your family rather than relying on external paid surrogates to feed and secure those closest to you. The survivalist understands that in a disaster situation security and relief are best served by the survivalist, not some faceless bureaucracy whose agenda may be in conflict with your beliefs and freedoms.

The preparation for safeguarding and providing for your family in uncertain times may seem like a daunting task. There are many blogs out there that address survivalism issues but most focus on the sexier aspect of preparation which revolve around guns and ammunition. Admittedly guns are the fun part and deserves great consideration but as far as survival goes you must start with the most basic of items. If you prioritize the basics of life and move from there it helps clear the path.

The goal of the survivalist is to protect and provide for the family under all possible situations. The worst outcome for a survivalist is being forced into a refugee situation where you are no longer in control of your life. Freedom from the corporate/government machine is only realized with a sound survival plan that focuses on the basics.

To this end this series of articles will explore the most basic of survival necessities, food. More directly why, how and where to store survival food supplies. We will look into how much food is needed for various survival scenarios; where and how to store your supplies; the practical shelf life of stored items; how to prepare the survival stocks and most importantly what will it cost and how to quietly acquire them.

Let's look at three possible scenarios where adequate food storage is critical to your families existence and how having adequate food supplies keeps you out of the "evacuation" centers and free of direct state control.


A dry spring and sweltering summer have left the forests around your suburb a tinderbox ready to blaze with the smallest spark. Then one evening you smell smoke and get the call every home owner dreads. "This is the reverse 911 emergency operator. We are ordering a mandatory evacuation for your area due to wild fires. Please gather your family and immediately report to the Dick Cheney High School for processing. Disobeying this evacuation order is a criminal offense punishable with a one year prison sentence. Thank you for your cooperation"

Being confined to a high school gymnasium for two weeks doesn't exactly sit well so you pack the bug out bags and camping gear in the truck and head up state for a two week "vacation". You carry with you three weeks worth of energy dense foods that will allow a comfortable stay squatting at a friends farm or distant state park.

With a tank of gas and proper food stores your options are open and any option beats incarceration at the local evacuation center through the duration of the crisis. You maintain control of your life, you are not surrendering your families safety to the local authorities. When the danger passes you return home.

Flu Pandemic

The killer flu is finally here spreading from the population dense cities into the countryside at a lethal pace. Mortality rate is high and a mandatory 24/7 curfew is enacted till further notice to try and get in front of the death wave. No one except critical infrastructure workers outside, period. Bodies should be deposited on the roadside for collection and emergency rations will be distributed to your door as needed by trained contract personnel provided by Kellogg-Brown & Root. To request a food delivery call the local 211 operator. It will be necessary, to prevent hoarding, for you to answer some question regarding your family and household status, you will be billed accordingly.

When the "delivery boy" shows up the first thing they will do is confirm the given answers and confiscate all firearms, you will be assured return of your weapons upon restoration of normal activities. It's for public safety you are told.

To maintain autonomy from the system it would be really helpful to have at least a three month supply of rotated day to day food stocks. This is just a big stock of your everyday eating food. In this scenario the power stays on so however you prepare your foods today would not change. Your stored survival foods will keep you out of the system, armed and independent.

Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP)

With the collapse of the United States economy the rest of the world descends into chaos as countries fight for the dwindling resources. One conflict leads to another and it ends with China detonating one 20 megaton nuclear device at an altitude of 250 miles above Kansas. The resulting EMP covers continental North America and fries all integrated circuits within a 1400 mile radius. China's assumption is that the United States will be to busy trying to restore order to busy itself in the worlds affairs.

Unless they are properly shielded, after an EMP attack, the control mechanisms of corporate institutions and the state will be rendered ineffective which of course brings quick anarchy and loss of freedoms to the unprepared. All communications and commerce systems will be unusable; power is off, phone won't work, gas won't pump and credit/debit cards are worthless ice scrapers. All are rendered equal.

This is the worst possible scenario. Stores will be looted empty within hours and with no method of communicating with the people, panic will rule. You have the complete chaos of a global disaster without any population die-off to thin the starving heard. Wal-Mart will quickly be established as the distribution centers for a starving public where food will be handed out after registration of family and surrendering of weapons. All able bodied people will be conscripted into work units and transported to the great corporate farms to grow the necessary food for survival. Families will be broken up and the Constitution becomes a distant memory.

You hunker down in your dark, cold house with your guns and try to ride out the initial chaos. In this scenario having a multi year survival stock of food and seeds would be absolutely necessary. The only way to protect your arsenal is to stay out of the system and the only way to stay out of the system is to have an adequate food supply.

Note the importance of maintaining a proper survival food stock in each of the above disaster scenarios. Now think about how a small emergency situation...something as small as extended unemployment...would affect your family and how long term food storage would be beneficial.

Next we will look at the three type of food storage plans.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Storing Vegetables For Winter Use

I picked up this wonderful how to book on vegetable gardening at the used book store. The book is titled Vegetable Gardening In Color and was written in 1942. It is one of the best garden planning resources I have found and I thought I would share the section on root cellars with you, I found it very informative.

Storing Vegetables for Winter Use

As harvest time approaches, plans must be made for storing vegetables for winter. Such crops as beans, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, rhubarb and berries are usually canned as they ripen. Many of the root vegetables including beets, carrots, onions, turnips, potatoes as well as squash and the green vegetables like cabbage and celery are easily stored. The season for broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant and peppers can be extended for several weeks by pulling plants and resetting them in boxes of moist soil in a storage room or pit. Greens like kale and collards need not be stored, since they can stand heavy frost and will remain in the ground over the winter, to be gathered as needed. In sections where the climate is mild, celery can be left in the ground provided it has ample protection or like cabbage it can be dug and stored in a deep trench. Proper temperature, moister content and ventilation are the important factors to consider in preparing a place for storing vegetables.

Since it takes more than a little effort to grow good crops, it is worthwhile to take extra care in storing them. For most families a supply of vegetables stored in the basement or outdoors for winter use is convenient and economical. After harvesting root crops, select those that are free of disease and insects as well as bruises. Remember that it takes only one bad apple to make the entire barrel rotten. Most root crops, as well as celery and cabbage and other green vegetables, are best stored in a cool moist place with a low temperature between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Crocks, baskets or boxes with tight-fitting covers can be used for root crops. As previously suggested, allow about an inch of the stems to remain so that they will not bleed. Roots of parsnips and salsify can be left in the ground over winter and mulched with straw or other material to prevent damage which sometimes results from alternate thawing and freezing. Frost greatly improves the flavor of both these vegetables. One of the exceptions to the requirements for root crops is the onion. It can be kept in about the same temperature, but the storage place must be dry. Store onions in open containers in order to insure proper ventilation. Sweet potatoes, squashes and pumpkins need to be kept for at least ten days in a warm dry place before storing. These crops need a warm temperature of at least 50 degrees. Ventilation must be provided whether in a cellar or an outdoor pit. The problem of moisture in basement storage rooms can be solved by spraying the floor with water occasionally.

Most basements are too warm for the storing of vegetables but it is not difficult to provide a small unheated room, preferably on the cool side of the house away from the furnace. Well insulated walls, a tight fitting door and a window for ventilation but not for light are the simple requirements. Bins and shelves to accommodate the vegetables can be built according to the needs of the individual family. A storage room of this kind is practical for keeping fruit or cut flowers, and naturally must be kept clean and in good order. Any evidence of decay in the vegetable bins or covered containers should be corrected at once because vegetable rots spread quickly.

Vegetables and apples usually can be kept better and longer in outdoor pits, which some gardeners find convenient because of the even humidity. Several kins of pits are used. The simplest is made by digging a trench 2 feet deep and wide enough to accommodate the vegetables to be stored. Leaves or straw can be used to line the trench and to cover the crops after they have been put in place. The earth is hilled up, and more soil must be added as the weather gets colder.

Perhaps the handiest storage pit for the average family is made with a barrel sunk in the ground at an angle of about 45 degrees.

First dig a trench large enough to conveniently hold a barrel. Having set it in place, pile on 5 or 6 inches of soil, and then add a little straw or leaves several inches thick. In cold climates an additional layer of soil with a mulch of leaves will help to keep the pit frost proof. Note that a tight fitting cover is placed over the top of the barrel. An additional protection over the cover may be a layer of leaves or straw held in place by a heavy board.

The hillside pit is sometimes found in rural districts. If you are planning to build a cellar of this kind, the size will naturally be determined by the needs of your family. Choose a place that is easily accessible during the winter months, and provide atight fitting door. Ventilation is also important, be sure to supply it.

Canning and drying are other way of storing food for winter use. All up to date cookbooks and special bulletins published by your state experiment stations will give you details on canning and other methods of preserving food.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Housing Problems

I was watching MSNBC last night and they were discussing the current state of the economy. The gentleman being interviewed said the economy is going to get much worse in the coming several years, which we all know, but he threw out a statistic that really shocked me.

In 2007 nine million home owners in the United States owed more money on their homes than they were worth. In other words they have negative equity in their home. This is shocking because your home is your single most valuable asset, especially when it comes to retirement. Plus most of these owners bought their home with the understanding that the values would continue to increase. Home ownership has always been a wise investment for financial security later in life.

Nine million home owners is bad enough but this is what really shocked me. He said that by the end of 2008 fifty million home owners would owe more on their homes than what they are worth...considerably more. He went on to say that unless something dramatic is done 2009 would be even worse.

Banks will not be willing to write off the several hundred thousand dollars per home to renegotiate with the owner and even if you were to refinance to a lower interest rate you still must borrow against a house over valued by half...won't happen.

You live in a wonderful cookie cutter McMansion subdivision. You are trying to sell your place for five hundred thousand, that's what you have in it, and the bank is dumping your neighbors identical house, which was foreclosed on, for two hundred thousand. What does that do to the market in your neighborhood? What does that do to your sales options?

You owe five hundred thousand and can only sell for two hundred thousand. Are you going to spend the rest of your life paying off the additional three hundred thousand while living in a survival trailer down by the creek? Will you stay in that house paying huge monthly mortgages on your overvalued home knowing that the money could be going into a retirement account?

At the end of the interview Tucker Carlson looks at the guy and says "I'd just walk away from it" to which the guy replied "So would I".

Live Simple, Live Free

Monday, March 10, 2008

Watering Systems

I just got a new watering can and am very pleased with it.

Now that may sound silly, but your watering can is a critical part of any container garden. The quality of water delivery will make a very big difference in seed germination and plant support.

I had a really cheap watering can. It held about a half a gallon and had a short spout with a quarter inch watering hole on the end. Seem OK. But when you actually water anything the stream from the quarter inch opening had a tendency to put divots in the dirt. This is very bad when it comes to germination trays or recently planted seedlings.

With germination trays the flow of water will either wash the seed to the surface or drive it to deep to sprout. Seedlings have a tendency to uproot when hit with a stream of water.

The new watering can has a diffuser on the end which simulates a gentle washouts.

I was looking for a watering support system that would require no power or plumbing and gradually deliver water to pots unsupported for at least two weeks.

The Blumat Automatic Plant Waterer (pictured left) was designed as a vacation waterer that requires no power or running water. You place the hollow ceramic spike in the dirt and the hose in a container of water. The planter's dirt will leach water from the porous ceramic cone creating a suction that draws water from the container placed next to the pot. I am testing it on one of my bean pots and it seems to be working not sure yet if the flow will be high enough to support the tomatoes but you can use more than one cone for additional flow.

This solves a large problems for me. I am running out of space here and would like to utilize the great southern windows at the cabin. But if I am only down there every couple of weeks, until I move down permanently, an unattended watering solution is necessary.

The Blumat Automatic Plant Waterer solves this issue. Put a large water container in front of the windows and drop the suction ends of the waterer into it. It should work nicely.

You can get these great little waterer's at any florist or nursery for around twelve buck for three cones.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Garden Update Mid-March

Big, Beefy and Robust!

These are beefsteak tomatoes. There are about twenty tomatoes in various stages of development in the first pot and they are still blooming like crazy. There are three tomato plants in each pot. I am guessing that each pot will produce probably fifty or so tomatoes.

The second pot was planted about two weeks after the first and the three plants in it are just starting to bloom. The third pot was started a month after the first pot and the blooms are beginning to develop.

Apparently I will be able to grow plenty of tomatoes. This will be handy for making sauces and soup, I like tomato soup. Because of this I have decided to add dried pasta, probably small elbow macaroni, to my survival stores. It's very cheap and hardy enough to withstand moving around without crumbling in a five gallon bucket. Now that I know I can produce a lot of tomatoes fairly easily it opens up my meal options.

The issue I am running into now is lack of southern window space. It takes alot of room to grown these plants. Now that the deep freezing is over I will look into starting some plants at the cabin, it has many more southern windows. I am also exploring a new powerless watering system so I can leave them unattended for a couple of weeks at a time. I will talk more about that on Monday.

A possible solution to the lack of windows is the upside down tomato planter. A while back some contributers suggested this option to the space issue. Now this window in the picture is actually facing south east so the plants here only get morning sun, but it is better than nothing.

I am using a two gallon bucket with a two inch hole cut in the bottom. There is a beefsteak tomato sticking out the hole and a cherry tomato planted in the top. The water runoff drips into a newly planted pot with three beefsteak tomatoes. You really need alot of water for the hanging pot to soak through to the hanging tomato.

The other planter has three carrots planted in it. Not sure they will grow but I like carrots so I thought I'd try it. The two white five gallon buckets are full of rice and are part of my survival supplies. That's Conway looking out the window.

One other thing, make sure your hanging bucket is well designed. The wire handles on the ones I use are starting to pull through the plastic.

My green beans are blooming. These were planted on January 28th and are doing very well. The last batch of Contenders I planted were stunted and have yet to yield any beans. They only grew to six inches and stopped not sure why.

I have three Tender Improved green bean plants to get in the pots as well as three pea plants. All the green beans so far have been bush bean. I have only planted one other pea plant and it died so hopefully I will have better luck with these.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Wal-Mart's Pandemic Survival Brochure

Wal-Mart's warns of deadly bird flu pandemic.

I saw this large display at my local Wal-Mart on Saturday. The table contained fire extinguishers, first aid kits, crackers, canned food and smoke detectors. They also had two very interesting brochures for the public. The first brochure was a disaster prep guide for people with disabilities and it suggested that the physically disabled make pre-arrangements at a local shelter. The second basically warned that we are in for a bird flu pandemic and that you should be prepared with at least three days worth of survival supplies.

Now the funny thing was that I was on my way to the check out with a cart containing 32 pounds of Brown Rice, 42 pounds of Small Elbow Macaroni, 26 pounds of Large Lima Beans and 26 pound of Black Beans. It was their entire stock of Brown Rice, Large Lima Beans and most of the Black Beans, I had stripped the shelfs, there was some elbow macaroni left. When I saw the brochure on my way to the checkout with its three day stockpile suggestion I just started laughing out loud.

Here are some highlights from the pandemic warning brochure:

* More than half of all Americans are not prepared for emergencies.

* Most say they do not think a public health crisis is likely, but our country has experienced three pandemic flu outbreaks in the last century. The 1918 pandemic killed 675,000 people in the U.S. alone.

* Pandemics are unpredictable. And as history has shown us, another pandemic is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

* The more familiar seasonal flu causes nearly 1,000 hospitalizations in Colorado each year.

* Staying healthy is one of the most important ways to be prepared for a public health emergency.

* Preventing respiratory illnesses like colds and flu is relatively simple:

- Wash your hands
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Get a seasonal flu vaccination every year

* During a disease outbreak such as pandemic flu, it could become important to stay home and avoid large groups of people where germs could spread.

* If you are prepared to stay home to wait out a pandemic, you will be prepared for almost anything.

Now you know thing are going to get bad if the government is teaming up with Wal-Mart to hand out disaster preparation guides. I have always had a feeling that Wal-Mart has been given the exclusive post disaster relief and citizen documentation roll. They have the supply and inventory control mechanisms already in place, you are used to waiting in line there so no shock to the system and with their camera and data infrastructure you can quickly be documented and tagged as you check out.

Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart

Friday, March 7, 2008

First Harvest

Today I harvested my first beans!

These beans looked finished so I plucked them. They were attached very well, had a hard time and broke the plant stem. I will need to be more careful in the future...or hire a custom harvester.

After harvest I snapped the ends off and sliced them into four equal servings so everyone in the family could have some. Yes I do include the dogs as family members, they both love green beans. I did not cook them just put them on a plate and passed around. It was very cult like.

The beans were tasty with a good texture.

That plant was stunted and is now broke so I doubt it will produce anything else but the other beans are now full of blooms and should be producing soon. I am interested to see how many beans can be grown on each plant.

Next I will pull the plant up, mulch it in the blender and add it to the soil bag completing the cycle.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Postal Spying

Law enforcement requests for postal info granted

By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — U.S. postal authorities have approved more than 10,000 law enforcement requests to record names, addresses and other information from the outside of letters and packages of suspected criminals every year since 1998, according to U.S. Postal Inspection Service data.

In each of those years, officials approved more than 97% of requests to record the information during criminal inquiries. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, the most recent year provided, officials granted at least 99.5% of requests, according to partial responses to inquiries filed by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

Postal officials have closely guarded the warrantless surveillance mail program, used for decades to track fugitives and to interrupt the delivery of illegal drugs or other controlled substances such as explosives. In other government surveillance, such as most wiretap programs, a judge approves requests. In this one, the USPIS' chief inspector has authority to grant or deny a request.

The Postal Service handles 214 billion pieces of mail each year. Correspondence and packages transported by private carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, are not subject to the surveillance.

When the government's warrantless surveillance of electronic communication has come under fire, civil liberties advocates say, the USPIS' limited disclosure raises serious questions. "The idea of the government tracking that amount of mail is quite alarming," says Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national security project. "When you realize that (the figure) does not include national security matters, the numbers are even more alarming."

Postal officials would not disclose the volume of mail monitored in national security investigations. Because those include terror-related inquiries, the figures do not show whether the Sept. 11 attacks influenced requests or approvals.

In a Feb. 8 response to requests for information, inspection service counsel Anthony Alverno wrote that even revealing the frequency of the surveillance would undermine its effectiveness "to the detriment of the government's national security interests."

Postal officials also would not discuss how much mail is being opened for content examinations, which do require a warrant authorized by a judge.

USPIS spokesman Douglas Bem described the surveillance program as "one of many tools" available to investigators. "Regulations are in place that serve to protect the general population from illegal and unlawful intrusions," Bem says. A 1978 federal appeals court decision upheld the use of such surveillance.

Each request to monitor a sender's mail can cover multiple letters and packages by the same suspects. Bem said the government does not track the total pieces of mail captured in the monitoring program.

Signing statement may have allowed mail to be opened

There's reason to believe more mail may be being opened, as well.

In late 2006, a signing statement issued by President Bush suggested that his office had expanded executive branch power to open mail without a warrant.

The signing statement accompanied H.R. 6407, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which reiterated a prohibition on opening first class mail without a warrant.

"In 1996, the postal regulations were altered to permit the opening of First Class mail without a warrant in narrowly defined cases where the Postal Inspector believes there is a credible threat that the package contains dangerous material like bombs," the ACLU said in a press release at the time. "Instead of referencing the narrow exception in the postal regulations, the president’s signing statement suggests that he is assuming broader authority to open mail without a warrant."

In January 2007, the ACLU and Center for National Security Studies filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information regarding any additional warrantless mail surveillance.

How can this possibly be legal. How can a President simply attach notes to a law excluding himself from the law. This is going to be just like internet monitoring. I guarantee you that every piece of mail that flows through the U.S. Postal Service is fully scanned and that the sender and receiver are recorded.

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.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Budget Survival – Survival Trailer

The point of the survival trailer is to live rent and mortgage free allowing you to either save considerable amounts of money, quickly pay down debt or buy a few homesteading acres to eventually settle. One payment and you have a transportable home. You are not tied to a city during an economic collapse because you cannot sell your house or fighting to come up with first month rent, deposit and moving money to get you to a new city. Simply hook your house up and move it wherever there are jobs.

Recently I seriously considered this as a lifestyle change when I happened across a twenty five foot Holiday Rambler Deluxe Travel Trailer. The old boy only wanted twelve hundred dollars for the fine example of early 1970’s luxury camping accommodations. He said it was missing the refrigerator and toilet but other than that it was in excellent shape. My cabin does not have a toilet or refrigerator either so that was not a great concern. He exaggerated slightly about the shape but I will get to that in a minute.

What necessities did this home on wheels need to make it livable for me. To be honest not a lot, most of the change would need to be reduction and simplification on my part, which must happen anyway. It needed a lot of windows to combat claustrophobia, an air conditioner to keep the dogs cool on warm days and storage enough for at least a years worth of food (fifteen five gallon buckets). It easily met all of my requirements.

The inside would need considerable work, carpet replaced, bedroom redesigned with more under bed storage for buckets, biblical cleaning but otherwise the lay out was good and it was doable. Best of all you could do it while staying in the trailer and it would not cost a huge amount.

Two close people could live in this trailer. It would be very cramped but with two rooms at least you could get away from each other. If you had children I would not recommend it. Yes the couch would make out into a bed but that is a lot of bodies inside a two hundred square foot metal box. Additionally I think one person could possibly get by inside a cab over truck camper. These can be picked up for a few hundred dollars. I have two little dogs and a partner so the cab over option would not work.

The Holiday Rambler was a giant heavy thing. You can pick up these behemoths for next to nothing on Craigs List or eBay when you can find them. With gas so expensive it is not economically sound to tow them here and there for vacations but they are ideal for long term stay. Remember you need to have a vehicle that can pull the monsters.

For an information technology contractor like myself it would be ideal. When a job is up or you are bored, just unplug the house, roll up the awning, hitch it up and go. You are only limited by water obstacles. Even living at the cabin it would be helpful to have a home on wheels if I needed to work a few months out of the year.

I drove past a KOA campground on the way back into town this weekend. I noticed at least forty trailers on the grounds. Most of them had skirting to the ground and looked like long duration say units…in other words survival trailers. Out of curiosity I called the campground and a month stay is four hundred and thirty five. Amenities include wireless internet, 30 amp power, restroom/shower facilities, laundry, heated pool, hot tub, kennel and an exercise room.

KOA would be on the high end. I’m not sure what lot rent would run at a mobile home park but probably between two and three hundred. Parking behind a friends place or squatting on someone’s land would be free although with squatting you would have no power without solar panels.

My happy camper salesman did embellish the condition of the Holiday Rambler a bit. Not only were the refrigerator and toilet missing but also the heating and water systems. It had obviously been used as a survival trailer before, it was wired for phone service and the power outlets were connected to the outside directly with an extension cord. Also he did not have a title for the camper and I am pretty sure it was used as a meth lab due to the odd ventilation fans. But hey, no deal is perfect.

I had to pass on this one but will be keeping my eyes open. If you want to read more on Survival Trailer living check out Bison Survival Blog.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

February Recap

February sucked…that’s about it.

The month started off with the cabin getting robbed and ended Friday with me getting rear ended at a stop light. The creamy center was filled with shit as well the starter went out on the truck, fighting with the land lord over heat, and huge relationship problems that very nearly had me living on my own. These are now all resolved but with great effort.

My list of things to complete was untouched. I wanted to store back a years worth of food, put the land in a trust and pay taxes on the cabin. I at least got the taxes paid. I completely abandoned living off the survival foods I have stored but started back up again on the first. Four trips to the cabin in February, beefed up security and much higher than expected heating bills didn’t help the cash savings effort either.

In March I was going to upgrade the power system at the cabin but that will have to wait until I move to the site full time. To risky without living on site. Instead I will work on food storage issues and look into a diesel heater for the cabin.

The moving date is still set for the end of June. Just a reminder this blog is about my prep work to move into a simpler off grid lifestyle. I am working to leave the consumerist existence behind.

I will also get back into the habit of blogging everyday even when I have absolutely nothing of relevance to say to the world. I had a little over 8000 visitors to the site in February…Thanks everyone and stay out of trouble

Monday, March 3, 2008

Police Surveillance

It was Friday around noon and I had to fill that beast of a truck up. So I went to the 7-11 pulled up at the pumps and went in to prepay for one hundred and twenty in gas. I stood there cussing at the oil companies as the gas flowed into the two tanks. It was only one fifteen so I went back in to get my change.

Day or night there are usually a couple of patrol cars parked in the lot watching the intersection for people running the red light, or so I thought. As I walked back out to the truck I noticed a patrol car had pulled in front of my vehicle blocking it. The policeman was out running his hand along the license plate.

As I approached he told me that they had no information at all on this tag…nothing the tag didn’t exist. I told him that I had just gotten it the day before and that it probably was not in the system yet. He told me that does not happen and that the system updates immediately.

So I showed him my drivers licenses and registration, both of course in order. As he studied them I asked what I had done wrong that warranted him running my plates through the system. He angrily shoved my papers back into my hand and told me to “mind your own damn business”. He stomped back to his car, sat blocking me for a few more minutes, then pulled out of the way.

When I was growing up the police were there to protect and serve. I remember them helping people with flat tires, mom used to tell me that if I was ever lost to go find a police man. Now they are simply tools for the machine, spying on and intimidating law abiding citizens. Quite frankly if I had kids I would tell them to avoid the police at all cost…don’t even make eye contact, they can’t be trusted.

Early Saturday morning I went back into the store to talk with the manager. I told him that I would no longer do business with him if he continued being a front for police surveillance. At the very least he needed to put a sign in the window warning the shoppers of this unwarranted activity. He said there was nothing he could do and that it was corporate policy to try and attract police to the locations. It cut down on crime.

To hell with the people rights to be secure in their papers and possessions, corporate profits come first.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Plutocracy is defined as a government controlled by the rich.

The people of this country are being viewed more and more like a commodity to be exploited rather than free citizens. As with any commodity the more you can control the market the easier it is to guarantee profits, you do not want massive swings in corporate cash flow.

So as Americans go broke from government supported outsourcing of the labor market, the criminal lending practices of the banking industry and the crushing medical cost associated with health care and insurance; the corporate/government complex must stabilize cash flow and guarantee their income levels regardless of cost to the citizens.

It is an unfortunate truth that our duly “elected” representatives are nothing more than figureheads for the corporate elite who own them. Through direct contributions, soft money, employment of family members and outright bribes corporations are able to influence politicians to pass laws that guarantee profits and create new revenue sources, supported by mandatory participation, at the people’s expense.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of plutocracy in action.

Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005

With the housing collapse on the horizon and fearing the next great depression the loan industry has been lobbying since the late nineties to reduce the publics ability to declare bankruptcy and gain debt relief. Finally in April 2005 the credit and finance companies got their wish as Congress and President Bush passed the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005.

Finance and credit companies contributed more than $8.2 million in individual and PAC contributions during the 2004 election cycle, 64 percent to Republicans. Credit card giant MBNA's employees and PAC contributed more than $1.5 million, including $354,000 to President Bush's reelection campaign. The company spent $5.2 million on federal lobbying in 2003.
This industry designed piece of legislation basically stripped American’s of the ability to declare bankruptcy. The vast majority of bankruptcies are from medically incurred debt. It instead forces people into industry manipulated repayment plans meant to protect corporate profit over family stability.

Not only did the Act decrease protection for the American family it spawned an entire industry based around consumer credit counseling, now mandatory under the new law, and raised attorney and filing fees. It also greatly limited the publics ability to exempt their homes from the foreclosure process.

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 was written by the banking industry to maximize their profits at the expense of the American people. The credit and financial institutions next big push will be for tax refund seizure of people who owe them money, turning the IRS into a collection agency for corporate elite.

Mandatory Auto Insurance

The last period of runaway inflation we experienced was in the 1970’s. As the cost of day to day items skyrocketed people cut what they considered unnecessary expenses from their monthly budget. One of the sacrificed items was car insurance, it did not feed you or warm you or keep a roof over your head, and it was expendable.

The insurance industry did not like this drop in revenue and started a campaign on the state level to force every American motorist to purchase insurance. Participation is mandatory and enforced with fines, automobile confiscation and imprisonment. The auto insurance industry told us it was our personal responsibility to have their product and with mandatory participation it would lower rates (unrealized) but the reality was a windfall for the insurance companies and an undue burden for the American citizen.

You will hear these exact same arguments next year when the health insurance industry starts its national push for mandatory participation. Strangely enough also occurring at the onset of a large recessionary period when people are having to decided between health insurance and food..

In Colorado the law states that if you are stopped twice without auto insurance it is a mandatory two year jail sentence. Your economic situation does not matter, you will be jailed unless you pay the insurance corporations. These are guaranteed profits for the insurance industry with no social benefits for the public at large.

There was a couple that lived above me for a while. He would get drunk and beat his wife, the first two times he only got ticketed the third time he punched her while she was holding their newborn infant, the judge really let him have it with that one. He was sentenced to monitored house arrest for two weeks. She had to move out. But at least he had his auto insurance.

Homeland Security Legislation

Pick any piece of security related legislation passed since the attacks of September 11, 2001 and you will find a bloated love gift for the newly founded security industrial complex. Billions and billions of dollars have flowed into this highly profitable industry without any value being added to the American society or our economy. As a matter of fact the freedoms this country was founded on are being sold off for the sake of corporate profits.

These laws are sold to the citizens as reform, as safety but in reality it is plutocratic government at its zenith. Laws of this nature are designed by corporations to maximize and guarantee profits for the elite at the expense of American citizens…this is not a free market economy. If participation in the market is mandatory it is not a free market.

Laws should be constructed around two simple questions:

What does this law take from the American Citizen and society as a whole?

What does this law give the American Citizen and society as a whole?

To reclaim this government the citizens must come first. You would be hard pressed to point to any piece of legislation passed in the last twenty years that was not a corporate handout. This must stop.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Look, Green Beans

A real green bean

These are actually Tender Improved green beans planted on the November 7th, 2007. It took it a while but it finally started producing. This plant is somewhat stunted, it is only about a foot and a half tall.

There were only a couple of blooms on this plant small kinda violet flowers. I didn't think it would go anywhere but hey there it is .

That little green plant in the lower right hand corner is Kale a friend of mine gave me. It was planted a couple of weeks back. Seems to be doing good in the shade produced by the beans.

The other green bean planted in this container is a Contender variety. It is not looking so healthy which is unfortunate because I have another six of them that were just moved to the larger containers last week.

The biggest tomatoes are about two inches around and they are still flowering.

I started a hanging tomato planter. They seem to be doing OK I will get some pictures up later this week.