Friday, September 30, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Friday, September 30, 2011

Hold Up Four Fingers

We just finished the third quarter, and like so many football players in the college and pro ranks, it's time for us to raise our hand and show four fingers - commemorating the beginning of the last quarter of the game (or in our case, the year).

The Dow lost 12% of its value in the third quarter of this year.  We haven't seen a downdraft of that magnitude since Q1 2009.  Metals (of which I own - silver and gold) got pounded.  Those relying on fixed income assets (and thus the interest rate) watched interest rates continue to trickle down into astoundingly low levels....along with their interest payments.  The U6 unemployment number - which tracks not only those looking for full time employment but also those who are underemployed - came in north of 16% for both July and August.

On the treadmill last night, I read a report written by Robert Wiedemer for the Financial Intelligence Report entitled, "Are You Prepared for Retirement?"  In it, Wiedemer cites a Employee Benefit Research Institute study showing 56% of the workforce has less than $25,000 in total savings (excluding home equity or defined benefit pension plans).  He then adds that relying on home equity and pension plans at retirement may be equally problematic. 

In short, the global economy is hurting.  Most of us are ill-prepared for a financial disaster, like losing a job or health care benefits, and certainly not prepared for a larger disruption in society. 

Take a deep breath.  This is not a time to panic.  This is a time to prepare.

The stock market is falling.  It's in the process of creating a great buying opportunity.

I don't have money in savings.  It's a good time to cut back and save, while everyone else is, so you need not feel self-conscious about spending money you don't have.

I don't have a job.  So you now have more flexibility in your next career choice and hometown than you may have had in years. 

I'm worried about what (insert political party you don't like here) will do if they win the next election.  We always say that, and yet neither party seems willing or able to make any major changes, save one or two, when in power. 

I have a mortgage to pay.  Refinance that thing already.  We just closed on our refi this evening - 10 year fixed mortgage at 3.37%.  This is a fantastic time to lower your payments and get your home paid off that much faster.

I know what you're thinking - it's easy for me to sit here and say all these things because I have a job, I have health care, I have some savings.  Friends, I work in corporate America just like you do, and my workplace is slated for employee cuts like a lot of other businesses.  There's no guarantee I'll be in my current position a few months from now.  So when I say these things to you, I say it to reinforce the message in my own mind as well.

This is time to get lean, to dig in, to chart a new course.  Living a prepared lifestyle doesn't mean we sit in our house, cleaning guns and eating MREs all day long.  It means being prepared for uncertainty in every aspect of your life...and then living your life. 

Hold up four fingers.  It's our time to rally ourselves and our families. 

This Weekend

I have a very interesting project in the works - one that I've wanted to do for a year now.  I hope to launch it on Sunday, provided I can find the materials I need to do it.  It should be really interesting to say the least. Stay tuned.

No scheduled update for Saturday; will be back on Sunday. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Green" Technology Meets Tennessee Engineering

This evening, I finished up a project I've been working on over the last month or so.  I've expanded my well-designed 110 gallon rainwater collection system from Austin Green Water by mating it with a used $100 set of rain barrels I bought from a neighbor. 

The two Austin Green Water barrels feed from the downspout in the picture...the five blue plastic barrels take the overflow from the green barrels (I know, I know....what on earth would make me think we would have enough rain given our current drought?  Being prepared means being ready to take advantage of things like rainfall to meet your water needs.)

My neighbor got these barrels from a food distributor...the inside of the barrels still smell like Dr. Pepper, which isn't a bad odor if you must have one in your used, food grade barrels.  He used this system until recently, when he upgraded to a 5,000 gallon system.  Which I openly covet.

Below, you can see the PVC manifold which feeds all five barrels as well as providing for a high capacity way to take water out of the system.

And here is the high tech, patent pending design I created and installed to feed the blue barrels.  As the green barrels begin to drain out excess water once that system reaches capacity, that water will now go straight into the 275 gallon overflow recapture system. 

Why Rainwater?

If you live in the suburbs, your emergency water system is essentially limited to:

  • Building a swimming pool and using that as your emergency source of water.  Major financial commitment, assuming you have room your back yard.  Upside is you will have a reservoir with thousands of gallons in it.
  • Drilling a well in your backyard.  May not be feasible for a number of reasons - cost and zoning come to mind.
  • Storing water in barrels.  Cheap option, although it begs the question - where are you going to keep all those barrels?
  • Collecting rainfall in conjunction with barrel storage.  Rainfall collection is easy, requires no fancy equipment, and the people in the business of installing rainwater collection systems are generally thrilled you're interested in the subject.

One inch of rain on 1,000 square feet of roof "footprint" yields a whopping 623 gallons.  So, if you're area receives 20 inches of rain a year, and you had 1,500 square feet of roof footprint, you'd be able to harvest 18,690 gallons of water a year.  For a family of four, that's almost 13 gallons of water a day for drinking, cooking, gardening and washing.  While it might not be a lot, it's certainly enough to sustain someone in an emergency.

Water during a crisis would likely become a great barter item.  Those of you with swimming pools who are into preparedness need to start thinking about how you'd maintain your cistern during an extended emergency.  And for those of you who don't, start developing a water storage/collection strategy. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doc on Fluoride

Formed deep within the preparedness and holistic medicine community, a movement to take the fluoride out of our water continues to gain traction.  I never thought much about it until a few years ago, when I started exploring some of own medical issues.

Since I hear and read about this subject in so many places, I decided to ask Doc - my father, the dentist - for his thoughts on fluoridated water.  He says the fluoride in the water "absolutely" helps promote oral health. 

"When I started practicing in 1966, 90% of the children had at least one cavity. 50% of the children had abscessed teeth.  After the fluoride was put in the water, we're down to maybe five percent of the children even have a cavity and only two percent will have an abscessed tooth.  And this is in families where there has been absolutely no dental care whatsoever; they're not going to the dentist."

Meridith - Way Off or Way Early?

Meridith Whitney, who correctly predicted the fall in Citigroup's stock price in 2007, continues to take a lot of criticism for her yet-to-materialize/flat out wrong prediction that we would see a wave of municipal bond defaults in 2011.  Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of her legendary prediction. 

Without going into a lot of detail as how she reached her prediction about municipal bonds, suffice it to say she concluded that in a faltering economy, state and local governments who pay off bonds with tax dollars will have, arguendo, fewer tax dollars to pay off those bonds.  That, in turn, will cause massive defaults and bond values dropping.

Now - why should you, the Suburban Dads/Moms/Grandparents, care about whether she is wrong or right?  After all, Wall Street is full of pundits with gloom and doom filled predictions. 

I would submit that if she's right, we will feel pain - and a lot of it - in the coming months.  This is the "she's right, just too early in her predictions" camp.  Municipal bonds make up huge chunks of retirement plans and pensions.  Should these falter, a lot of retirees will be looking to their former employers or to the government - the "they" I blogged about last night - to do something.  The problem is that there would be simply too many people affected for "they" to do anything effectively.  Further, an increase in bond defaults would make it harder for state and local governments to issue bonds which in turn require them to raise their interest rates in order to attract investors.  That move, in turn, would cause other interest rates to rise.

And if she's wrong and the municipal bond market is on solid footing, that could mean we've seen the worst of the storm.  It would mean the collective belt tightening of state and local governments really paid off.  And to be sure, there's evidence out there that some cities have actually improved their credit rating in the last year. 

I tend to be in the "she's just too early" camp.  I don't know if her prediction will be right for the reasons she stated, but she may just get "lucky" in making the right call.  As one commenter on a website wrote, "a broken watch is correct twice a day."

Bracing For Impact On Sale Now!

I just picked up my complimentary copies of my new (and first) book - Bracing For Impact: A Practical Guide For Preparing For DisastersWritten primarily for law offices and other small businesses, BFI can help someone go from no plan to having an incident response and business continuity plan in short order.

All proceeds go to benefit the State Bar of Texas.  I don't receive a dime for it.  If you read it and have feedback, I'd be honored if you shared it with me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All Good Things Come From Philly, Part One: Violence In The Suburbs

Tonight, I'd like to admonish everyone to remember violence doesn't occur to "someone else" or in a "certain part of town."  It can happen to us, and it can happen anywhere.

Consider this harrowing story of a Suburban Dad, Mark LaVelle, who tried to protect two kids from being attacked in a racially-motivated incident near his home.  According to the article, the dad is "a well-known sports-league organizer and coach in the community;" despite those credentials, a number of thugs broke through the door of his house and assaulted him.

The pervasive thinking among surburbanites is if a) I pay enough for my house b) preferably one in a gated community with c) good schools for my kids nearby that bad things like this can't happen to me.  I don't know much about the neighborhood where this took place, but suffice it to say one good man -  Mark LaVelle - called it home. 

With the growing stress level in our country, we should expect more stories like this in the future.  Start thinking now what you might do in a similar situation.  Some thoughts include:

  • Having your local law enforcement complete a home safety survey.  Cops love doing this sort of thing.  They can point out features about your home you may want to modify to make it less criminal friendly.
  • Have a plan for your family if something bad happens - like bad people getting inside.  LaVelle noted that all he heard was his wife and kids screaming.  The wife and kids should have been tucked away somewhere in the safest room in the home, not screaming and putting themselves in harm's way for LeVelle to deal with.
  • If legal where you live, and if you're committed to train properly, gun the hell up.  As Tom Givens says, "I've never talked to anyone who's been in a gunfight who said the would like to have had a smaller gun or less ammunition."  One of the bad guys in this story had a gun.  It would have been nice if LaVelle had one, too.

All Good Things Come From Philly, Part Two: "I Came Out Here Because The Government Was Giving Away Free Money."

No doubt some of you will complain that I am critical of the government assistance recipients in this story.  But allow me to make my case.

See, there's this big ass storm coming - Hurricane Irene.  You can't go anywhere or watch any local TV station that isn't talking about it 24/7.  It will really mess a lot of things up.  It's very scary.

Yet we don't prepare for it.  After all, if things get bad, the ill-defined, never-present "they" will do something about it.  "They" will come fix everything and give us help, free food, free water, free clothes, free everything.  "They" will even arrange for us to have housing.  "They" will take care of us.

Meanwhile, back in the Land of Reality, "they" would be the governmental assistance programs.  And today, "They" showed up in - guess where? - Philly to provide food stamps for those who had storm damage as a result of Irene.  One lady, with whom the reporter speaks at the 1:12 mark in the video, reports she came to get her "free money." 

I don't want to spend the next few paragraphs talking about how these people should have practiced personal responsibility and been better prepared (they should have) or why I am not an insensitive jerk for saying they shouldn't get assistance (I'm not).  Feel free to disagree with me on the propriety of this government assistance program.  The point I would like to stress with you is that I hope all of you take the necessary steps - and make the necessary sacrifices if need be - so that you're not one of those people in a welfare line, weeks after a storm passes, getting food stamps and "free money."

Being prepared for bad things - storms, earthquakes, recessions - requires some sacrifice on our part.  We regularly sacrifice money to purchase insurance on our home and car.  We sacrifice free time so we can exercise and be healthy.  We cannot be reluctant to make the sacrifices necessary to take care of our families.

Get the biggest TV you want, the best cable package, the coolest car.  All of that is fine....provided you can take care of your family when there's a major disruption in your life.

Can you do that?  Have you done that?

P.S. - I've read over enough asset inventories while representing clients in pro bono divorce cases to know half my clients own more and nicer TVs, computers, cable TV packages, video gaming consoles, DVD players and stereo systems than I do.  Don't tell me all of these people couldn't afford to stock up on a month's worth of storeable foods.

Monday, September 26, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Monday, September 26, 2011

A Fair Question
My little blog, barely a week old, continues to chug along like The Little Train That Could.  After perusing it, someone asked me what the focus of the blog is.  It's an excellent question, and so I'd like to flesh that out.

In short, there are literally hundreds of preparedness blogs out there.  Each one of them brings a unique perspective to preparedness.  Some focus on the "how to" while others focus on the "what." 

I chose the name "Suburban Dad Survivalist" because I sensed there exists a large demographic who needs some nudging to start making preparations.  While I welcome everyone here, this demographic I've identified in most need of encouragement is:
  • male
  • ages 29-59
  • college or trade educated
  • a father, living in the suburbs, with kids and a spouse
  • an investor, either actively managing their own investments or investing into a 401K managed by their employer
  • not defined by racial or religious beliefs
  • consumes moderate to large quantities of news and information daily
  • understands on a fundamental level the need to prepare but doesn't want to be consumed by it.
And so the content here is aimed that that demographic.  That's not to say we can't learn from women or college kids or retirees.  We most certainly can.  But rather than be all things to all people, I've chosen to focus on a demographic I understand well, because I'm in it.

And So Why Do I Spend So Much Time Talking About The Economy And The Stock Market?

Another great question!  Simply put, I believe our global economic issues present us with the largest, most imminent threat to our well being than any other threat out there.  These issues clearly drive decisions being made in European geopolitics, gave rise to the Arab Spring, dictate to what degree the Chinese government will be willing to finance the U.S. government in the future.  If we are going to be a prepared people, we must understand what is happening in the financial markets right now

Put another way, fretting about Al Qaeda when U6 unemployment figures are north of 16% would be a misallocation of mental energy. 

Please understand I am writing this blog from the heart of Central Texas, where our drought-stricken state continues to spontaneously combusts on a regular basis, causing horrific damage.  Despite these tragic losses, our inability to stabilize our economy is a far bigger threat to our way of life than the drought my neighbors and I are currently experiencing. 

In the coming months, I plan to talk about how someone in the 'burbs can mitigate their risks of things like wild fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and even terrorism.  But I'd be lying to you if I thought these are the risks people need to be most focused on right now.

Speaking Of Impacting The Economy

Today, the Texas Department of Agriculture issued a report entitled "Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment."  Before we proceed, read the previous sentence again.  Does it strike you as odd that the Department of Agriculture of a state would be issuing military assessments on border security? 

It should.  Yet ranches and farms make up much of the border on the U.S. side of the river, and so when there are problems with border security, those in the agricultural community are the first to feel the effects of it. 

As discussed here, border violence continues to have a major impact on the economies in the border region:


Trader Leaves BBC Commentator Speechless

Staying with tonight's theme of "the economy is really, really bad," hear what this trader told BBC today:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Sunday, September 24

IMF Needs More Money; Is Anyone Shocked At How Not Shocked Everyone Else Is?
Adding further fuel to the pressure cooker that is the Eurozone economy, the IMF announced it may need an additional $384B in funding to help bail out Europe's ailing financial system.  The saga of one of, if not the largest, importer of American goods continues.  In short, as Europe continues to get sicker, the U.S. economy will undoubtedly do the same.

Preparing For Our Pets
I'm following RedCrossDog on Twitter, who provides daily preparedness tips for pets in the event of an emergency.  I need to update my plans pertaining to Meg and Foxy, our two terrier mixes.  Like most dog owners, we think of them as part of our family and would be crushed if we didn't know if they were safe in an emergency.

Survivalist Play Of The Day MonthThis guy crawled across the Utah desert for four days due to a broken leg.  Game ball for him.  Then again, his first name is Amos and he's from North Carolina.  Of course he was tough enough to do that.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Saturday, September 24

Props for Tox  My stepdaughter, whom I call "Tox" (long story) tricked out the blog with the new design.  Game ball to her.

"It's like digging post holes in concrete" A lawyer friend of mine in Lubbock uses this simile to describe a difficult task.  Today's work in the Victory Garden (I'd prefer to call it a "Survival Garden" but apparently that weirds people out when I do) seemed quite similar to digging holes in concrete.  The Texas drought really took its toll on my garden, and the dirt in it had really hardened.  In the 8x12 raised bed, I managed to get 80% of it tilled....after two hours of work.  Tomorrow's forecast calls for temps over 100 degrees, which makes me think I will wait a few more days before planting my winter spinach.

If you aren't doing any sort of vegetable or fruit gardening, I suggest you give it a try.  The easiest way to do it is to do container gardening - where you plant things in buckets, tubs, even kiddie pools - to see what works in your climate, to teach you how to do it, and most importantly to provide fresh food.  Ideally, I'd have a large enough yard where I could grow a lot of food, but I'm rather limited due to the trees.  Some gardening ability and skills are better than none. 

Pictures to follow as the garden progresses.

What Does Doc Say About Antibiotics?  I mentioned in Wednesday's daily briefing my father, the dentist (and hence the name "Doc" which his granddaughters call him), gave me a tremendous amount of information about what I and others call "ditch dentistry."  (He laughs everytime I use this phrase).  Tonight, I'll share some of his thoughts on what preppers should have in the way of antibiotics for dental emergencies and potentially other problems.

  • Amoxicillin.  500 milligrams, three times a day for five to seven days.  If you have a tooth that hurts spontaneously and is sore, that's a typical indication of an infection.  Amoxicillin is appropriate here, provided you're not allergic.
  • If you are allergic to Amoxicillin, then consider a Z Pack.  The Z Pack should be taken two to three times the first day, and then one dose a day thereafter for three to four days. 
  • Cipro.  Cipro should be taken twice a day in 500mg dosages for five to seven days.  It is the drug of choice since it treats a broader spectrum of problems, including anthrax and dysentary.
Of course, none of these drugs are available without a script, so I asked him if he would have a problem prescribing these pills to a patient to have just in case.

"Yeah, I would have a problem with it.  The reason is because these drugs are reactive with over the counter medications.....letting people self prescribe can be dangerous," he opined.

So - what's a prepper to do?  One idea might be to visit with the folks at Surviving Healthy, who say they can provide you with an antibiotic package for preparedness needs.  Note I do not have any experience with this company, but it might be worth contacting to learn more about their services.

Business Owners - Think You Can't Be Successfully Sued For Failing To Adequately Prepare For Disasters?  Think Again.  I picked this up off of Twitter (you ARE following me on Twitter @SubDadSurvival, right?).  A hospital in New Orleans, impacted by Hurricane Katrina, found out the hard way.  As the standard of care continues to evolve, look for more businesses to get sued in the coming years for failing to prepare. 

"So if copper is falling like a mo-fo—which both signals and convinces the market that the economy is gonna suck—what does this mean for monetary policy?"  The guys at ZeroHedge always have a succinct writing style, and this article on what the price of copper can tells us about the economy is no exception.

Friday, September 23, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Friday, September 23

First day of Fall brings with it....

....PIMCO perpetually pushing panic.  Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO, the largest bond fund on the planet, says it's bad out there.  Why?  Sovereign debt - that would be bonds issued by countries, as opposed to corporate bonds or evil derivatives or satanic credit default swaps - of European nations like Greece and Italy apparently is toxic.  Who knew?  Well, for one, Atlanta Jeff, who shared the link with me.

....Metal's so heavy, it's falling.  Like a lot of folks who are long on gold and silver, I got hammered in the market today.  So what did I do?  Bought more, of course. 

....MelCo providing yet one more reason why we need to send our kids off to college with basic preparedness skills and gear.  Melany Cox (who from this point forward will have the awesome call sign "MelCo" on this site), the 5'4" sophomore honors student out of Belton, Texas, reports in this piece she skillfully wrote for the Abilene Christian University school newspaper that her campus suffered a major power outage thanks to a nearby brush fire.  Are your kids prepared to deal with grid down conditions while away at college?

....Hoot's pilgrimage to Central Texas.  Hoot is a co-worker's father-in-law and a big time farmer/precious metals expert/global economy watcher.  In my conversation with him today, he reports he still remains bullish on metals and that crop yields for wheat, corn and cotton remain below expectations.  And as a Greek default becomes a foregone conclusion, this guidance appears to be right on the localizer.

....Rumors that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is considering a run for the GOP presidential nomination.  If he gets in - and I still think that's a big if - it becomes a massive game changer in the GOP primary.

.....And with the world's economy in a spin, what does the Today Show elect to report on? Some dude's getting a divorce from his hottie wife because she's getting it on with the guitarist from Journey, of course.  Yawn

Welcome readers from KR!  Glad to see you checking out the new site.  KR Training continues to be the premier firearm training facility in Central Texas, if not the entire state.  (Disclosure: SDS is a semi-part time assistant instructor at KR.)

Weekend activites: planting spinach in the Victory Garden, completing rain barrel expansion project, and clearing off my desk.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Thursday, September 22

Some days, it's hard to come up with content...and then there are days like today.  Where do I start?

Stock market drops another 390 points; CNBC makes reference to the "global meltdown."  If it hasn't been clear to us that we should expect more pain in the financial markets and economy, I think it's pretty clear now.  The head of the World Bank declares that the world's economy is in the "danger zone."  George Soros opined yesterday the United States is already in a double dip recession. 

Notice neither of these articles rely upon Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or some other polarizing figure as a source.  Nor are they sponsored by Gold Line or other precious metals dealer. These are some of the experts we are to rely upon.  While I have strong opinions as to how we got here and who is to blame, that's not the point of this.  My point is that we all need to be prepared for a less than robust economy in the coming months.

So where my putting my money?  I only have two long stock positions.  The rest of my investments are in short term treasuries, gold and silver ETFs, and short positions in General Electric, the Euro and Gannett.  Like a lot of investors, I have a substantial portion of my portfolio in cash, in large part because I don't have a clue what the hell to do with it.  For now, I plan to sit tight.  I am considering adding to my silver position as well as adding some dividend stocks, once I'm convinced the market has calmed down significantly.

But all of the suburban dads and moms are insulated from all of that, right?  Not according to the latest article from CNBC entitled "Suburban Depression.”  The most shocking statistic? “The suburban poverty rate is 11.8 percent, a level not seen since 1967.” 

Innovation amidst poverty…Co-worker Mean-ah Gina shared this video with me today.  Brilliant, beautiful, and inspirational.  I hope you will watch it.  It touched me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Wednesday, September 21

Dow drops 248; Sturm, Ruger shares rise 2.58%  In one of those metrics doomsday disciples like to follow, today's contrarian action on shares of RGR didn't disappoint.  The Connecticut-based gun manufacturer's stock rose throughout the day as the major indices fell.  Some watchers say the rise in gun sales (and Ruger's stock price over the last  two and half years - to the tune of 370%) are in part related to fears the Obama administration might take up gun control legislation, as well as people  buying weapons to protect themselves in anticipation of civil unrest.  You can pick your reason; I'm just mad that I didn't have the foresight to load up on RGR when it was six bucks a share.

Do terrorists use invisible ink for their messages? This story makes you wonder.  Apparently, the possibly-Arabic-or-maybe-just-gang-signs appear on the underbellies of Southwest Airline planes when the skin of the aircraft heats up. 

The SDS interviews the Rural Grandfather Dentist  SDS' father, whose granddaughters call "Doc," talks to the SDS about a number of issues.  In the coming days, you can read his comments on a number of topics in this blog.  Tonight we cover the four things preppers need in their medical kit to deal with dental emergencies:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide - use it to clean up open wounds.  It's good for wound care initially, but sustained use can retard healing.
  • Red Cross Tooth Ache Medicine - Doc recommends this; the reviews on line seem to confirm his opinion.
  • Orajel - for temporary relief of tooth ache pain
  • Temporary filling material - available over the counter.  There are a number of these out there in the market place.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Tuesday, September 20

The wealthy are becoming believers in gold - Bob Pisani at CNBC reports wealthier families are beginning to own gold, many of whom are doing so for the first time in their lives.  This represents a clear shift in thinking among the achiever class, many of whom thought investing in gold was passe'.  Just think - buying your sweetheart gold jewelry is no longer an expense; it's an investment for the coming apocalypse.

Government tells Indians to "get ready" - In what has to be the best news release in FEMA in a long, long time, federal preparedness experts are encouraging Native Americans to get better prepared for natural and man-made disasters.  You know, things like weather, earthquakes, forced marches, internment, and intentional exposure to deadly diseases.  I have to think if any group of Americans is prepared for uncertainty, it has to be our Indian population.  And as someone of Cherokee descent, I have no trouble calling my people "Indians."  Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it.

FEMA also says "dangolbigasspieceofspacejunkgonnafalloutofdaskythishereweekend" - FEMA announced this evening continues to make plans for the re-entry of "the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), a seven-ton research structure that was decommissioned back in 2005 but now could be returning to Earth sooner than expected."  The LZ for the Sanford and Son Satellite will be somewhere between Canada and southern South America.

FEMA encourages souvenir seekers to "not to make contact with it, and to contact local law enforcement immediately."  SDS says screw that - some piece of a UFO lands up in your yard, it's yours.  That stuff will make great Christmas ornaments.

United Nations - Food Security and Food Inflation are top two priorities for world governments.  Bloomberg reports the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization remains concerned about global food production.  The article cites several concerns in the global food markets, including this fact: "Tightening corn supply, which the FAO described as a “cause for concern,” was already reflected in high prices, the agency said on Sept. 8. Corn futures in Chicago traded at $6.9725 per bushel today, 37 percent higher than a year ago."

But don't worry.  Ahmadinejad addresses the UN General Assembly tomorrow.  I'm hopeful that in between denying the Holocaust took place and claiming there are no homosexuals in Iran, he'll find a few minutes to offer constructive solutions on how we're going to feed the burgeoning population.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My National Preparedness Month Journal For the First Half of September

As most of you probably know, September is National Preparedness Month. I decided to keep a journal of my preparedness activities and observations during the month, at least until I got bored doing so.  Here goes.

September 1: Here in Texas, Senate Bill 321 goes into effect, allowing law-abiding citizens to bring their firearms to work, provided they leave those firearms in their vehicles while on the job.  Employers cannot punish employees who elect to do so, under the law.  Vehicles all across Texas become rolling arsenals, much to the chagrin of anti-gun forces. 

We may need our own rolling arsenal if Goldman Sachs’ report, leaked in late August and revealed by the Wall Street Journal today, is correct.
The newspaper reported Goldman advised its wealthier clients that “argued that as much as $1 trillion in capital may be needed to shore up European banks; that small businesses in the U.S., a past driver of job production, are still languishing; and that China's growth may not be sustainable.”

September 2: Stock market craters more than 260 points.  CNBC posts an article regarding how to predict when the rioting will start in Europe.

September 3: I prepare not one, but two, disaster meals.  The first consists of eating Yoder’s canned bacon, which has the shelf life of about five years.   My wife remarks it’s the most palatable survival meal she has sampled to date.  The second meal consists of lunch prepared with my solar oven, some stored pasta, and Provident Pantry’s Vegetable Stew Mix.  Note: a little table cream and Tabasco does wonders for this meal.  In fact, I ate the left overs for lunch the next day.

September 4: Texas spontaneously combusts due to high temperatures, high winds, low humidity, no rain, and Texas A&M withdrawing from the Big 12 Conference.  The smell of smoke hangs throughout our neighborhood that evening.  My thirteen year old step-daughter and I create a checklist of what she will collect once we are on Alert 5 status to evacuate the neighborhood.  Most of her list involves shoes, skin care products and her laptop.

September 5: I hurt my back bending over to pick up a screw.  Insert joke here.

September 6: NBC in New York reports 67 people – yes, you read that correctly – were shot in New York City over the holiday weekend. I am very skeptical of this story.  We all know New York City is a gun free zone; therefore, shooting someone with a gun in New York would be next to impossible.  I guess the gunmen (or gunwomen) were all from New Jersey.  Anti-gun forces remain perplexed to explain how this could occur in a gun free zone. 

September 7: Picked up the very first copy of very first book I recently wrote on developing disaster plans for law firms, due out in a week or so (and will be available on Amazon, I’m told.)  Offered co-workers an opportunity to have their picture made holding it.  No one takes me up on the offer.  Need to re-think my marketing plan.

September 8: Flew home to Tennessee to see family.  The Feds announce we’re at Threat Level Sea Foam Green due to an uncorroborated threat in New York City.  Wondered how it would affect my flight home.

September 9: Saw my high school alma mater get trounced in its first ever home football game.  Our kids held their heads high; their parents and alumni remain very proud of them for not being deterred in the face of adversity.

September 10: Fly home uneventfully.  My wife and I see the movie Contagion that evening.  Best part of the movie is when they peeled Gwynth Paltrow’s scalp off of her head in order to do the autopsy on her brain.  And it seems to me she does a lot of movies in which her character is having an affair.

September 11: Like everyone else, I thought of where I was when the planes started hitting buildings ten years ago today.  In an unrelated note, former California resident/wild fire veteran and law enforcement officer C. B. Fraser shared this guidance on wildfire mitigation tips for your house:

First and foremost, have an evacuation plan with two routs of escape. Second, pay constant attention to media reports and monitor scanner traffic from local fire and police transmissions. If you feel in danger, don't wait for official evacuation orders, just leave. After that the usual bug out procedures would apply. Have your car pre-packed with items you could not replace if lost in a fire. Have essential documents (insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, social security cards, bank/investment records, etc.) on your person until fire danger passes. If time permits clear all brush and low hanging trees 50 yards from your property. Soak roof and surrounding areas with copious amounts of water.

September 12: Read an article from the past weekend’s Wall Street Journal on the recovery efforts in Fukushima.  One Japanese, Satoshi Abe, summed up his recovery philosophy nicely: “I didn’t want my kids and wife in heaven to see me in such a miserable condition, so I decided to live each day to the fullest.” And speaking of living each day to the fullest, I read an article sent to me by Atlanta Jeff about the “Porn Bunker” being designed to provide both entertainment and security during a possible grid down scenario.

September 13: I’ve determined that to be more prepared, I need to be in better physical condition.  One of my biggest shortcomings is my lack of flexibility.  So I take “Introduction to Yoga” at the gym this evening.  Our sensei (which isn’t the right term but it’s the only term I know to use for instructor-of-Far-East-form-of-exercise) is a very fit young lady who seems hell bent on embarrassing those of us who cannot turn ourselves into a human pretzel.  Note to first time yoga students – try to position yourself behind someone who is a) reasonably attractive and b) doesn’t have smelly feet.  You’ll be spending a fair amount of time looking at their ass and inhaling in whatever odors waft from their lower extremities. 

September 14: We had a brush fire on the premises of my office today.  Quite exciting.  I am (jokingly) accused of setting the fire by our emergency management personnel.  I quickly reply that if I am going to create a disaster at work, it will certainly be something far more grandiose than a simple brush fire.
September 15:  Halfway through National Preparedness Month. 

The Story of Sally Sanders

Back in grade school, before there were anti-bullying laws and bans on dodge ball, we generally felt free to call each other names and say other unspeakable things to one another.  A number of examples of names I called other kids come to mind (some of which, if said today, would no doubt result in me being sentenced to in-school suspension and certain teachers who encouraged said comments to be fired or worse).  Perhaps the worst cursing any third grader could muster would be to allege those four fatal words no kid at my school ever wanted to hear:  You love Sally Sanders.

Before I go any further with this, let me say that a) I’ve changed the young lady’s name to a pseudonym, which probably isn’t necessary because b) I don’t think she even existed.  Despite the fact no one could ever produce a picture of her, and that all we really knew about her was what one kid’s big brother whose sister rode the bus with Sally told another girl, it never kept us from designating Sally as persona non grata in the hallowed halls of our elementary school.

Sally was an amalgamation of every malady known to third graders.  A chronic cootie carrier, we were all certain Sally likely tested positive for some other horrible diseases, far worse than anthrax or Ebola.  Telling a kid they loved Sally Sanders, the human petri dish, usually resulted in a fight on the playground during recess. 

Watching the trailer for the new pandemic movie Contagion reminded me of Sally and brought back a flood of memories from my youth. Contagion, starring Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, portrays what life might be like during a pandemic.  Lawrence Fishburne does a good job portraying a doctor at the Centers for Disease Control.  He’s come a long way since his days on Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse.

Is The Bird/Swine/Monkey/Cobra Flu Coming?

The United Nations announced recently it was concerned about another possible outbreak of H5N1.  The world collectively yawns at the news, having been down this road of government admonitions to take baths in Purel and wear a hazmat suit when outside during flu season.  While it’s easy and fun to be critical of the UN and other governmental efforts to warn us about the possibility of pandemic, we must bear in mind pandemic prediction remains a relatively undeveloped sub-specialty. 
So What's a Brother To Do?
First and foremost, remember a flu pandemic spreads the same way any other flu might spread.  While it's true the birds/swine/monkeys/cobras/insert animal of choice here may spread the flu, we're most likely to get it from each other.  Which means when you people are around me, you better be coughing into your damn sleeve, using Purel, washing your hands a lot, and staying home from work when you're sick. 

One additional step I took years ago was to stock up on N100 masks.  These are capable of filtering out particles down to 0.3 microns with 99.97% reliability, according the manufacturer 3M.  Given that, they can significantly reduce the chances of inhaling germs when you're out wandering around watching people fight over the last food shipment at the grocery store.  (A friend actually reported seeing two women at our local grocery store fight over the last loaf of bread during the last pandemic scare....)
Finally, if you can score some Tamiflu, do it.  I gather Dr. Grattan Woodson in Atlanta can hook you up if you're willing to become his patient.  (In his previous manual, he discusses how you can use only one dose of Tamiflu for days on end by - get this - drinking your own urine.  No joke.  It appears he has since removed this technique from his literature.)

Suburban Dad Survivalist Daily Briefing, September 19

S&P downgrades Italy's debt - no surprise here.  The financial cognoscenti debate to what extent U.S. banks have exposure to Italian government debt.  Suffice it to say Italy's problems will not help our economy. 

Greek default could cause U.S. recession - as CNBC reports, the U.S. banking system has significant exposure to European banks.  This bears watching.