Friday, April 23, 2010

Prepare: For the love of Sardines

Preppers love to talk about canned meat. I think preppers keep Hormel in business with the purchase of Spam, Vienna Sausages, and canned tamales (yuck). Canned meat is a hedge fund against a meatless dystopian future. Canned meats augment the survival garden and stacks of bagged rice and wheat.

But canned meats have a problem. Most are full of fat and cholesterol. You might as well spread some crisco or lard on a piece of bread.

But all is not lost. Preppers not only stock canned meat, they also include canned fish. While the tuna gets most of the credit, there are plenty of canned fish alternatives out there. And for today, we can show our love for the lowly sardine.

Sardines have been canned and sold for years. A tiny fish, sardines are found throughout the world's oceans and once were considered a delicacy. As modern fishing improved and simultaneously, canning, the sardine became a staple in the working man's lunch.

Here's what better - sardines are good for you. They are packed with miracle nutrient Omega-3. People pay $20.00 for a bottle of Omega-3 capsules when they can get the same effect from a can of sardines. And there's protein and sulphor and lots of other nutrients. Fats? Sure, but they are healthy fats, not cholesterol laden gunk.

Here's another. Sardines are lightweight. You can pack a half dozen cans in a bag and not even notice them. And sardines come in those cool cans which are square rather than round.

Here's the kicker. Sardines last a lonnng time. A can may last as long as ten years and there are actually collectors of old sardines out there who enjoy the flavor of an older can over a newer sardine.

Sardines are packed with energy. They are a favorite of backpackers and hikers because of their light weight, longevity and nutrient content.

Sadly, the last sardine cannery in the US may be closing soon. There is hope it will stay open, but if not, our sardines, like so many other things, may come from overseas. It's not the same.

But the ride was great. Here's praise for the ultimate prepper food - the sardine.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prepare: Vivos

Just found this company and their website. Vivos "plans" to build 20 shelters across the country and sell space for would be survivors. The shelters will help a core group of people survive nearly any calamity which could be thrown at them in an end of the world scenario the builders say.

Vivos is selling spaces in their deluxe shelters for the low cost of $50,000.00 for adults with discounts for children. Pets are free.

The shelters will include spacious private living quarters, gourmet food for one year, power, clean water, and fortified protection from all sorts of events.

The website is sharp. Lots of illustrations and graphics of shelter layout and design, videos of possible scenarios, and a map of possible shelter locations.

Here's a few problems...

1) None of the shelters have been built. According to the website, construction on the first one begins in 2010, but none are complete now.

2) The shelters have a maximum occupancy rating and no staff. What happens, if any of these shelters are completed, a catastrophic event occurs and Shelter Purchaser Bob shows up with his extended family, neighbors and co-workers? Who keeps the non-payers out?

3) The videos showing scenarios are all lifted from other sources. Not really a problem, but there is something "easy" about including them.

4) None of the principals behind Vivos are featured. Nor is there any information about building timelines or approvals for shelter construction.

5) Some of the photos of features are actually photos from missile silos which are available online. That smells funny to me.

I don't know. $50,000.00 per adult and there is so little information about the company. Seems fishy.

For that much money, about $100,000.00 for a family of four, one could buy a nice piece of rural land, drill a well, put up a functional home and stock it for multiple years. That might be a better option for some.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Prepare: America + 30 - A New Day!

Good Morning Citizen! It's another glorious day in America! The future starts with us! Today is November 3, 2038! Let's get moving!

It's a typical Monday morning in new America. Your combination phone, computer and personal digital assistant alerts you that it is 7AM and everyone in your district must be up by that time.

Since its Monday, you don't get a shower this morning; your shower days are Tuesday and Friday and every other Sunday. So you take one of your three daily Wipes from the dispenser on the wall and give yourself a good clean up. Things go fast because you no longer have to shave (shaving wastes water) and you no longer have to brush your teeth. Rather you stick a rubber mouth cleaner in for 30 seconds and you are done.

You have your hair and beard cropped as close a possible. Washing hair wastes too much water and long hair attracts lice, so hair care is a breeze in the New America.

You get dressed, again easy as you only have a choice of two outfits. Both feature khaki pants and a blue denim shirt and both are made from a synthetic material which repels stains, is fireproof, water proof and can only be cleaned at a state approved cleaners once a month. Sure, you have bit of body odor, but everybody does these days, don't they?

Your shoes are slip on, made from the same material as your clothing and without any sort of laces or other decoration. Shoe laces were banned years ago as they were unsafe for children and could be used for purposes other than shoes.

You leave your one room apartment without having to lock the doors or turn off the lights. Electricity is shutdown at all homes during work hours and there are no locks on doors any longer. Nobody has anything to steal and only criminals would want to lock their fellow citizens out of their home.

You take the five flights of stairs down (elevator use is strictly controlled and only available for key facilities as they use electricity and do not encourage healthy living or exercise. Besides, you have heard stories about people being trapped in elevators in older building and who were not found until the smell alerted other citizens) to the street level.

You have to walk six blocks to the transportation center to catch your assigned bus and train to work. There are no vehicles on the streets any longer except those approved by the City such as law enforcement vehicles. The streets are clogged with people and piles of trash. The garbage workers are on strike again as they fight to keep their three day work week and pension plans for extended family members. While you support their efforts to maintain work place parity, you sure wish someone would pick up the trash.

Your stomach is rumbling but breakfast is an hour away at work. Most citizens no longer keep food at home so everyone eats at work or at approved city run cafeterias. Keeping food at home is dirty and may attract pests. Further, what if someone ate something which was unhealthy, or had been stored improperly and which resulted in them getting sick? Besides, food at home only encouraged hoarding and overeating and America's First Mother is first and foremost concerned with fighting obesity and making sure everyone gets their share.

At the transport center you wait in line for your bus. A large woman with a baton is pushing everyone back away from the barrier as the first buses arrive. As the old diesel buses come to a stop, a giant burp of black smoke issues from the lead bus clouding the commuters. All buses run on clean bio-mass diesel or electricity, but occasionally, a terrorist will tamper with the engines to make citizens think the buses are still running on petroleum products. It's ridiculous because everyone know that America does not run on any refined oil at all and hasn't for over 15 years.

The baton wielding woman pulls a man from the line and he is immediately accosted by three black uniformed guards. Turns out the citizen did not have the proper boarding pass for this transport center. While the man screams about his need to get to work in time, the guards drag him to a holding cell for questioning. Sometimes it boggles the mind how people still fail to understand the system.

Once on the bus, you move to the middle to stand in your assigned square, number 78. While it is normal to be a little out of place, everyone knows to sit or stand where they are supposed to in order to ensure an orderly and safe ride. In six years you will be eligible for a seat toward the back of the bus. If only you could find an black market income evader or other criminal and then you could really ride in style in one of the big seats up front!

After fifteen bone jarring minutes (the potholes and poor street conditions are the result on ongoing terrorist activities), you arrive at the train station for the final leg of your journey. While some of the trains are as much as 40 or 50 years old, there is word some new, modern cars will be joining the fleet with the newest round of American Investment Funding approved by the Joint Congress this past year. Hopefully you will get a seat on one these new cars; they are supposed to be really swanky.

You hang onto the rusty center pole in your car and brace for the 20 minute ride. An old woman once said to you it was like a "rolly coaster". What a negative old bird she was. Probably just hates progress.

The ride only lasts 10 minutes as the car comes to a stop suddenly. The tinny speaker on the wall alerts riders that a breakdown has occurred further up the line after terrorists shorted out the signaling system. Darn it! You are going to be late for work and might even miss breakfast! Suddenly the car lurches forward without warning. "Hooray for New America!" the speak blats to the commuters huddled and packed in the car.

Only two minutes late, your train arrives at Station 17, the one which serves your work park. Row after row of low office buildings and warehouses stretch down the broad lane. Here in building 44, you help repair and assemble traffic signals and street lights for the City. You earned this job four years ago as part of Infrastructure Stimulus 82 and it was a step up from your last job of septic tank dismantling and decommissioning.

You clock in with your palm at one of the entry stations and then hurry to your ready site. There the supervisor will scan your palm again and download your work orders to your digital assistant. At the end of the day your quota and hours will be computed and your compensation adjusted. Its a swell and effective system.

10 minutes later and it breakfast! You line up with the other 600 workers on Shift A, grab a tray and work your way down the line. Today is Tofu Scramble, Just Like Oranges, and Shingles. A big glass of Sunny Sometimes Soy and you are just full enough to look forward to lunch. You take your clean, wiped tray to the drop off where it will be sprayed with disinfectant and reused by one of the others still in line.

Off to work. Your work bench is home to 30 other workers like yourself. The supervisor on the floor is a big woman who carries a reminder baton to keep people focused. America has always been the manufacturing leader of the world and others are counting you on to get the job done. Let's keep New America moving!

After four hours, the line stops and everyone stands at attention. The lights are dimmed and the President gives a quick pep talk about duty and hard work. While he is nearly 80, his eyes are still full of the bright fire which brought him to the post during the Dark Years. What a speaker! Next, your union chief appears on the screen and reminds everyone that dues are coming up on the 15th and everyone is required to put in an additional four hours of work to cover the costs. The benefits of the union are legion. Imagine that 25 years ago, people were forced to work up to 18 hours a day each day of the week! Thankfully, the union fought for the 6 day work week we enjoy today. If you had a City Job you would enjoy the 3 day work week like the garbage collectors had, but those jobs are reserved for Key Workers only.

The Lunch bell sounds and its time to scurry to the Cafeteria again. First, the Pledge of Progress is repeated then it's chow time! The Real Burger (made from reconstituted soy and vegetable by products), Broc-i-gus (All of us love Broc-i-Gus!) and Power Pudding are on the menu today. Just enough to keep the old motors running until dinner.

Back to the line, work, then inspection and then, as the sun sets on another day, its quitting time!

By 8PM you are on the platform waiting for your train in a sea of grimy, blue and khaki citizens. A whistle sounds and everyone presses forward to the opening train doors. Only one train and then no more until 7 AM the next day.

Once back to the transport station, the buses are not an option. You have to walk the full 15 blocks back to your apartment. You travel through a neighborhood where Key Workers and supervisors live. Their apartment buildings are slightly larger, cleaner and sometimes even new. Some have small carports attached which house new model government marked hybrids.

This is where the earliest supporters of Progress came from. The Key Workers and supporters who championed for a New America all those years ago. The City and State Workers who made so many sacrifices for America and its infrastructure. The neighborhood activists who fought the racists, the speculators, the power brokers and all the rest who shrank and pinched the middle (Only) class.

Your father was a naysayer. He was an adjuster one of the old insurance companies. And no matter how much you loved him, he was just another greedy corporate drone who would do anything to hurt the Common Man. Because of your father, you were late to the game and saddled with his legacy. You were proud to work Stimulus Jobs, but wished you could move up. Get a better job. Maybe get approved for marriage and a family.

But for now, all you could do was wait.

You make it to the walk thru Cafeteria and grab your assigned meal bag. Something greasy has leaked inside, but that's okay. You can be assured that whatever is in a meal bag is good, good for you and good for the Earth.

When you finally trudge home after 10PM, the building supervisor informs you that your belongings have been moved to the seventh floor to a smaller apartment. A new family has arrived from Bangladesh and needs the space. You tell the super you are proud to do your duty and to welcome a new family to America. You then offer to help them move their possessions.

By midnight you are in your new apartment. The door bangs the bed when it opens and there is no sink, just a Wipes dispenser on the wall. The shower is on the sixth floor so you have to be up at 5 AM to get your Tuesday slot. Before you drop off, you remember the children from Bangladesh whose parents received your old apartment. Children. There were so few these days and he could not think of anyone who was allowed to have them yet. How exciting. There would be kids in the building. Good night, New America!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prepare: The fallacy of living off the land

There is a common thread among many survivalists and that is the concept of  "living off the land" once the poop hits the fan. The idea being that the survivor can get along hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging from nature. This is a futile methodology and should be avoided.

Living off the land conjures up images of Daniel Boon or Davy Crockett stomping through the woods with their trusty muzzle loader, sitting around a camp fire roasting a large piece of unknown meat and wearing buckskin fringe and a dead raccoon on their head. In the post-SHTF world, this sounds like a pretty novel idea.

After the nukes go up and the cities explode, head for the national forest with a pack and rifle. Find a little clearing in the glen and put up a shelter which will later be expanded into a cozy little cabin. Take down a deer every so often for food. Or walk over to the mountain stream and pull up a couple of trout for breakfast. Study the local fauna and gather nuts, berries and medicinal herbs. Stockpile wood for the winter and hole up in peace and comfort while avoiding Mad Max and Snake Pliskin in the far away dystopian world.

Right. You and every other Jerimiah Johnson Jr.

Living off the land is nearly impossible. Even the early mountain men returned to civilization from time to time to sell pelts and restock supplies they could not fabricate or find in the wilderness. Things like salt, gun powder, shot, etc. The Native Americans lived off the land, but did so in communities where multiple people took care of multiple tasks; hunting, food preparation and storage, processing of game and hides, etc.

Here's another take on it. If the SHTF, what do you think everyone else will be doing? Not just hunters like yourself, but Joe Suburban with his never used Remington? Now imagine 5000 Joes and you get the picture. Not only will they be stomping around every national and state park scaring away the game, they will be shooting anything that looks like a deer including you!

Then there's the game. Game management is a full time job. Once that goes out the window, along with hunting season, quotas and bag limits, the game will be wiped out to disastrously low levels in short order. Forget about deer. Next will be squirrels, rabbits, dove, quail, beavers, woodchucks, etc. What happens when you finally take down that deer and it turns out it is sick? Do you take a chance because you have nothing left to eat but grubs and roots or walk away? No thanks, not for me.

If it were me, I would live off the land, but my land. Not some open piece of woods far away. You are better off in semi suburbia with 400lbs of rice, a good sized garden and the option of plinking squirrels and an occasional stray dog for stew meat. Add some chickens, a few goats and maybe a hutch of rabbits and you are in good shape. Better than Grizzly Adams some would say.

Living off the land is dangerous and no matter how many guns you have nor how much woodcraft you posses, the odds are against anyone starving to death in less than a month. If Joe Suburban doesn't get you first.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Prepare: Monthly Costco Run

Yesterday was the monthly Costco run. You may go to Sam's Club or one of the other mega shopping/warehouse places. These are great stores because you can buy bulk packages of prep items and put a real dent in your list of required stored food and supplies.

Here are some of the things I pick up every month at Costco. Afterward, there will be some explaination behind the purchases...

Honey - 10lbs. Two of the big containers
Oatmeal - both the 55 ct instant variety and the big Quaker boxes.
Toilet paper - big old 36 roll pack
Paper towels - same thing
Canned vegetables
Canned meat
Soap - mega pack
Tooth paste - same
Rice - 50lb bag

Honey - Grocery stores only sell containers which carry at most, 16 oz. Costco has a 5 lb container so I pick up two of those.

Oatmeal - you can get the large canisters at the grocers, but Costco has the next size up. Again, I get two of those and store them in buckets at home.
Instant oatmeal - because the kids eat it every other day and it is cheaper than the 12 ct boxes at the grocers.

Toilet paper - grocery stores carry a 12 ct package as the largest size. I have one closet in my home stuffed with paper products.

Paper towels - Paper towels are always expensive at the grocery store. I save anywhere from .10 to .25 per roll by buying the big size at Costco.

Canned vegetables/meat - Be careful with this one. Costco canned vegetables can often be nearly $1.00 per can which makes them twice as expensive as the store versions at the grocers. Canned meat is "generally" cheaper at Costco. I get the canned chicken and tuna.

Soap - the brands vary, but bar soap is always cheaper at Costco.

Toothpaste - shop carefully here as well. Drugstore CVS often has better prices with coupons than Costco.

Rice - Between Costco and the Asian supermarket, I always buy the 50lb bag at one of the two places. I never buy it at the grocers. Again, if you buy 50lbs a month and store it in buckets, you can build a one year supply of rice in just a few months.

I also buy, when I need them, batteries, shampoo, feminine products and some vitamins at Costco. They recently had 5 Hour Energy (you know, the little orange energy drinks), at 24 bottles for $35.00. The grocery sells them at $4.99 for two bottles. Do the math.

Be careful at the warehouse store because the large sizes, pallets and big carts make preppers "feel" like they are doing the right thing. But many of the products are overpriced and designed as tempting impulse buys. Finally, keep an eye out for the coupons once every two months. Many of the above products will be $2-4 cheaper with the coupon.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Prepare: Gardens and Reality

This weekend, I spent more time on my garden. It's nice to grow flowers, but I like to grow things I can eat.

I put in strawberries, grapes, tomatoes, and peppers. Some of my seeds that went straight into the ground did not come up, so I transplanted pots grown in the house. I put in four more types of herbs in containers on the patio.

Other seed plants are coming up nicely; spinich, cucumbers and green beans. The ground will have to be tilled soon for the corn and I built three more raised beds.

The grapes took two hours per plant not including soaking and ground preparation. It's the way that it is when you are setting up new "mini arbors" each year.

I am just getting started. I have to track down some new dwarf fruit trees because my normal supplier is out. I was able to snag another mini orange tree though and I am darn glad to have it.

I am no Old MacDonald, but I have been growing food in my yard for over fifteen years. It took a few years, research and lots of trial and error to get it right. And I am still learning.

Let's take a look at the convential prepper now.

He may have his can of non-hybrid seeds from Waltons as recommended online, along with his copy of Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening". Figures he's set now and once the SHTF, "The Ladies" will put in a garden (when they are not making him home made bread and beef stew) and oila! A well producing garden full of all the food he will need to get through lean times.

What a moron.

Is the ground ready? Has the soil been amended? Or is he going to drop those seeds in the ground and expect 100% success? Has he grown anything else besides a fat gut watching "Red Dawn" for the fiftieth time? Will he eat what he grows? Will the seeds work in his zone? Or will they wilt in the sun or drown from overwatering?

Forget the seeds. If someone has never grown anything, then seeds will only be a waste of time. Build one raised bed, buy some tomato and pepper plants and keep them alive for a summer. Then try seeds and trays next year.

What about books? "Square Foot Gardening" is swell, but also look for something else written locally. Years ago, my mom gave me some of her gardening books. One featured a guy getting his SPRING garden ready wearing a Carhardt coat, knee high rubber boots and a sweater. Down here we garden in the spring in shorts and a t-shirt. The book was fine if you lived in upper state New York and were putting in some rhubarb, but was virtually worthless where I live.

Here's the deal with gardening. It's fun, rewarding and there is nothing more secure than picking a dozen tomatoes from your garden and eating them fresh for dinner. But it's also work and frustrating. There is more failure than success. And if your kids are counting on that food, you had better get it right the first time.

Forget that can of "miracle seeds" and "square foot shortcuts". Start now, learn, research and work at it. One day in the garden is not enough.

Practice now.

Good luck,

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