Monday, February 14, 2011

Prepare: EU ban on herbal medicines

The European Union's ban on herbal medications is going into effect by this April, 2011. What this means is unless an herbal product, produced for medical treatment, has been tested and paid licensing fees, that product will be pulled from the shelves and banned for sale to the public.

Herbal remedy companies have had seven years to comply with this act. Regardless, many will continue to produce their products, just for the underground market claims some herbal health advocates.

Herbal remedies have been around for as long as there have been people. Herbal teas, infusions and tinctures are staples in many cultures for treating a variety of health issues. However, some have been concerned that these herbal remedies vary and may be dangerous as they are not regulated.

Personally, as long as it's my body, I should be able to put into it (or on it) why I want. That being said, in the event of societal breakdown, access to modern medicine and pharmaceuticals will be all but non-existent.

Further, everything which happens in Europe seems to find a fan base here in the US. Already, some in the traditional medical community have been calling for greater regulation on supplements for instance.

Therefore, I always recommend that everyone read up on herbal treatments and consider growing some themselves. Many are easy. For instance, peppermint for an upset stomach.

I have had a copy of Hoffman's Herbal,

Holistic Herbal 4th Edition: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies

for over ten years and have made several of the remedies prescribed.

I also have grown most of my herbals myself and it is not that hard. Getting the seeds or seedlings is the toughest part as many are very difficult to find locally and have to be purchased online. Others, do not grow well in my area so I have to purchase them from a local store. 

I found a list on a forum online of herbs with medicinal properties. They might be useful for readers who are trying to put together an herb garden. Either way, building a medicinal herb "cabinet" might come in handy someday. 






milk thistle



stinging nettle




gotu kola


lemon verbena




st johns wort




lemon thyme

tribulus terrestris


devils claw



lemon grass

maidenhair fern




rose hip

pineapple sage

muira puama

oat straw





lemon balm



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Prepare: A Tale of Two Preppers

Prepper number one:

"Honey! I got to talk to you! I was just online on one of my forums. You know, DoomPreppers, and one of the veteran members, Skull of Liberty, told us something big is about to happen.

Skull was listening to the End of Freedom radio broadcast on his shortwave and they had a guy on there who used to be in the federal government and part of a highly secret organization.

He said the Chinese are getting millions of acres of farm land in the USA for the billions they loaned our government. The Chinese are setting up camps and rounding up Americans to work the land and they have a bunch of UN troops helping them! Skull of Liberty says the Chinese are working in concert with same underground aliens called the Grays and its all part of a New World Order with the global elite to eliminate the population according to the ancient runes of Zardoz.

Look, Skull says we need to get a retreat, a five year supply of food, some more guns, ammo and bug out! I got a bag packed for you and I am going to go clean out our bank account and buy a pallet of MRE from the surplus store. Get the kids! Fill water containers! Get in the car! We got to bug out of here!

Honey? Honey, where are you going? What do you mean? Skull of Liberty said so! He's one of the most respected members on DoomPreppers! Honey!"

Prepper number two:

"Hey, hon, can I talk to you for a second? Say, I read online at USA Today that the weather has affected the crops for this winter. They say the price of bread may jump to a couple of bucks by April. Also, gasoline down at the corner went up five cents a gallon since this morning. I am really worried how this is going to affect our budget.

I was thinking this might be a good time to get out our grocery list and make a special trip to Costco this afternoon. We might want to get flour, sugar and so forth now before the prices go up and make bread like we used to do. Also, there are a number of other things we don't have on the shelves that we all like to have, like dried fruit, oatmeal, beans. You know how much the kids like your homemade cookies.

What? Yeah I know we still have quite a bit of stuff put back already, but remember when we bought all that toilet paper and dog food in bulk? That sure helped when my hours were cut back last year. Now that we have some extra money, we should really stock up again, especially if the prices are going up. Why don't you take a look online and see for yourself? OK. Hey, let's fill up both cars before we go to Costco...."

Spend enough time online and it is easy to sound like person number one. However, to those around you, that may not be a good idea and it might be unnerving and not very convincing to those around you.

Just a little something to think about...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Prepare: How it affects children

This recession here in the USA has been murderous. If you don't live here, don't believe what the media and the politicians  say; its worse than they let on.

Houses are still going into foreclosure in record numbers. I don't need to see some federal report saying otherwise, I just drive down the street. I saw another one in the neighborhood go from "For Sale" to "Foreclosure".

People still can't get jobs. I read online today that there are about 3-4 million jobs posted online, in newspapers and company websites. There are conservatively 12 million looking for work and probably another 10 million more underworked or have given up.

And while many jobs are never posted online, that number is offset by the number of jobs which are listed as open, but which are never filled or filled by someone who already has a fulltime job. Don't even start me about US companies importing workers, such as H1-B visa holders, to fill a job in the USA.

Add to that is the number of jobs created in the most recent quarter - only 36,000. The USA needs about 150,000 jobs created monthly to meet new job searchers and 250,000 new jobs a month to make up for the losses of the past two years. It is not happening.

I think we are heading towards a "second bubble". The recession and the job killing cranked up in 2008 and came to a full head in spring 2009. While millions were effected, many were able to stave off foreclosure, charge offs and bankruptcy because they had something to fall back on. Credit cards, savings, retirement funds, stock accounts, borrowing and help from family.

That was two years ago and by my reckoning, it's over. Those people who were hit by the recession, lived on borrowed time and still have not recovered with a new job and income, are now joining the "early adapters" of the recession. All in all, it's going to get worse.

Now, what about the children?

Take the above and add it to kids. Children are watching their parents melt down before their eyes. Mom and Dad can't find a job. If Mom or Dad has a job, they are working double and triple time to keep it. Parents aren't around as much and when they are, they are still mentally checked out.

Bills are still piling up. Kids are listening to their parents on collection calls and being hounded by debt collectors. There is not enough money in the bank to keep the lights on and buy enough food sometimes. Nothing stresses a kid more than a utility going out while mom and dad run around the house looking for pocket change or something to hock.

One day one of the family cars is gone. The next day, Mom's debit card does not work at the grocery store. Dad tells the kids they are going to have to move in the next week.

And this is just a recession. A very bad recession, but still, just a recession. Now what happens when this is larger? What happens if the US defaults on interest payments or can't make it's entitlement checks or issues IOUs? What happens when the ripple effect hits Main Street and the price of everything skyrockets or is not available at any price?

Kids are incredibly resilient, but it is best they be prepared ahead of time. Let kids know they are loved and a family can be a family anywhere, not just in their present location. Let them know, no matter what, you will stay together, even it means sleeping in one room of Grandma's house. Let them know that it's not it's not their fault that Mom and Dad are short tempered. Let them know you love them no matter what.

I hope things get better. Not for me, but for my kids.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Prepare: Will the silent majority adapt?

From the US federal government website(s):

There are 38 million Americans over 65 receiving Social Security
There are 13 million Americans on Social Security Disabled
There are 5 million Americans on Social Security Insurance

There are over 42 million Americans receiving food stamps

There are over 5 million Americans receiving WIC assistance

There millions who receive Section 8 housing vouchers.

There are millions who receive some sort of state aid in addition to federal aid.

These recipients represent the majority of Americans. Many worked and were taxed to finance these programs. Many counted on these programs as they had no choice based upon their wages. Many have taken from these programs for years and have never contributed in a meaningul way to the tax base. Many are part of multiple programs, i.e. disability, food stamps, housing aid, etc.

What's going to happen to all of these people if:

a) the dollar is devalued?
b) the dollar collapses?
c) the US financial system collapses?
d) rampant Zinbabwe style inflation?
e) massive cuts in federal and state entitlement programs?
f) further erosion of the tax base which supports these programs?

Will they adapt? Will they:

1) Move in with family or friends who can support them?
2) Find support from community or church groups?
3) Find another means to replace their income?
4) Resort to dire actions?
5) Other?

This is huge. There are two ships on a collision course. The rest of the world could count on the US to bail them out with loans and aid during financial calamity, but there is no nation on earth which could do the same for the US with the number of recipients listed above.

What is going to happen?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Prepare: Winter Weather Car Bag

This massive ice and snow storm plowed across middle America and we here at my house were not spared. From Monday through Tuesday PM, we were dumped with rain which turned to sleet then snow. Then the temps dropped to the single digits and have not risen above 20F since.

Spouse has a mission critical job and had to go to work each day. I put together an emergency bag specifically for the job which I tossed in the backseat. It does not matter if most of the ride was along well traveled interstates or tollroads for some obvious reasons. The car might get stuck along with hundreds of other vehicles. The driver may find themselves sitting in their car for hours before a tow truck arrives.

The car already had a blanket, flashlight, flares and other standard stuff. But the bag contained...

- Chocolate bars
- Granola bars
- Peanuts
- Fruit and carrot sticks
- 6 bottles of water
- A thermos of hot coffee
- Canned sardines
- Crackers
- A pair of heavy winter gloves
- A pair of work gloves
- Extra set of long underwear
- Stocking cap
- Another blanket
- An extra scarf
- Sunglasses
- An old heavy coat (in case they have to get out of the car and don't want to get good coat dirty.)

In the back, I tossed an old rubber door mat. Why? It can be used for traction on ice if the car is simply in a slick surface and left behind if need be.

Also, put some extra weight in the trunk or hatch as heavier cars are less likely to hydroplane.

Sure enough, some of the supplies were needed. At one point downtown, the car was stuck at an intersection along with every other car. The mat was used effectively. Then, they were stuck downtown for four hours before they could get out of the office. The emergency food was a big help as there was not a restaurant open and no food in the office.

This winter is not over yet. Put an emergency bag together for each trip. And don't leave the water in the car overnight! It will freeze - found that out personally this morning!

Be careful.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Prepare: How To Prepare Your Kids Pt 2

Yesterday, I posted this entry about Preparing your kids for an uncertain future.

Today, some solutions to the problem. No, I don't have any answers for what the "government should do" because a) I don't run the government and b) government messes things up generally more than fixing them.

Your child has to compete in a world and against the same world if that makes sense. A child in China, India, South America or the Middle East wants your child's seat in college, their job, their career and their lifestyle. Other countries and cultures have experienced what the West has had for over a century and now wants it for themselves even if it means putting your kid on the curb to get it.

The solutions for your child are not easy or politically correct. But look at what other countries are doing to compete and succeed against the US and other Western countries. I will just toss out "China and India" based upon current business and economic trends as well as personal experience and to keep it simple.

China and India are sending their children to school to learn business, English, industrial management, engineering, computer science, genetics, and medicine.

Americans and other Western nations are sending their children to college for degrees in urban, ethnic and gender studies, social work, urban studies, general studies, literature, art, and dance. Guess who will be creating jobs, staffing factories and managing the wealth of the future?

Chinese and Indians learn English so they can communicate with American companies and convince them to move their production to their countries. Americans learn Spanish so we can teach in public schools and communicate with the next person in line at McDonalds.

Chinese and Indians compete. They are not afraid to go head to head with any American company and do whatever it takes to win. Americans tell their children "everyone's a winner" and cooperation, not competition is the name of the game.

Chinese and Indians aspire to be wealthy, to move up the social and economic ladder to give their children more advantages when they grow up. Americans are constantly told that wealthy people are greedy and successful people are lucky. Americans are told the only way to make a lot of money is to win the lottery.

Chinese and Indians, while conservative in their business dealings, are more willing to take chances if it means a chance at greater wealth and success such as starting their own company or joining a smaller startup company. Americans long for secure jobs in government or in menial positions as long as they receive a regular paycheck and some benefits. Risk taking has become adverse to American culture.

Americans worship celebrities and entertainers so we have an entire generation which wants to be the next hip hop star, Disney actor or NBA basketball player. China and India want to be home to the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffet.

What do I tell my kids?

1) Concentrate on school. Get a degree, masters preferred, in a field with a future combined with a business degree.

2) Learn a profitable language for business. I would learn Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic as these are the fastest growing demographics with a customer base. Desired result: Sell them stuff and make money.

3) Be an entrepreneur. Work somewhere, learn what you can and start your own company, part time on the side or jump in with both feet full time. Even if you fail, it is better than being a failure for someone else.

4) Aspire to be better off than your parents. Be smart with money, invest in yourself, invest in growth and desire to be great.

5) Play sports. I can't stress how important this is for kids. Why? Life is about working for and against others to succeed. While individual sports like tennis, running and martial arts are good, the lessons learned from playing on a team are invaluable. In business, the most successful people I have met, especially those who succeed at office politics and competing for raises and promotions have been good at team sports.

6) Finally, take risks. Life is uncertain. Nothing is guaranteed. Put yourself out there and take a chance.

Raise your kids how you see fit. But remember, the world is not going to go away. Most of its citizens want what you have and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

I love my kids unconditionally. But, I would be much more proud of a child who starts their own business and works night and day, lives off Ramen noodles and is convinced they have the next great idea then an out of work poet who sleeps on my couch waiting for his great novel of prose to be discovered.

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