Sunday, November 27, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Sunday, November 27, 2011

Solar Ovens and Pop Tarts

My stepdaughter is a big fan of Pop Tarts.  I hate them.  However, because I am a protective stepdad, I do from time to time sample the Pop Tarts in our inventory to ensure they are safe to eat.  Usually late at night, when no one is watching.

Today, I heated my lunch (some sort of delicious soup Kendel made a couple of days ago) up in my solar oven.  There's not a cloud in the sky, so the solar oven works well.  The only challenge is the fact that this time of year, the sun is so low in the sky the neighboring trees require I move the oven fairly regularly to keep it in the sun.

In any event, after I ate my soup, I knew the oven was still hot, so I decided to see how long it would take to get two Pop Tarts warmed up.  Answer: about 5 minutes in a 300 degree oven.  And since it's not good to waste food, I forced myself to eat both Pop Tarts.  My stepdaughter is so lucky to have me fretting over her Pop Tart safety.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Saturday, November 26, 2011

DHS Denies, You Decide.

I reported earlier on the cyber attack on a Illinois water treatment facility, supposedly the first instance of an off shore cyber attack on critical infrastructure/key resources (CIKR).  The Department of Homeland Security took a break from its usual and statutorily imposed Thanksgiving responsibilities of warning us about the dangers of deep frying turkeys to deny the story was true.  Some in the Suburban Dad Survivalist Nation have asked me to weigh in on this.

Would DHS have incentive to claim this was not a cyber attack from off shore?  Sure it would.  If it feared Americans would start reporting to hospitals in droves because they drank water poisoned in an Al Qaeda cyber hack (remember the anthrax scare circa 2001 and the burden that placed on hospital ERs?), it could certainly try to downplay that in an effort to calm fears.  We need look no further than 2008 when then Treasury secretary Hank Paulson told the Bush cabinet and certain members of Congress we should prepare for martial law and food lines, while simultaneously telling the American people everything was fine.

Does that mean they are not telling us the whole story here?  I think we should ask ourselves what, if anything, the water treatment entity had to gain by claiming it was hacked by an off shore entity. A play for more state and federal resources?  Attention seeking?  An effort to embarrass local political leaders or treatment facility management?  It's certainly possible. 

We may never know the reality behind these dueling stories.  Regardless, we do know someone hacked into the control system of critical infrastructure and damaged it.  If that happened in your area, would you be able to cope for a period of time if that utility could no longer deliver water/sewer/electric/gas to your home?

I Love How News Agencies Put The Headlines In Their URL

In case you haven't noticed, many news agencies put the headline of a particular story into the web address for that story.  Here's one example, taken verbatim:

That's right.  The Telegraph reports the British government is preparing for riots in the event of a collapse of the Euro.  Taken from the article, verbatim:

Some analysts say the shock waves of such an event would risk the collapse of the entire financial system, leaving banks unable to return money to retail depositors and destroying companies dependent on bank credit.
The Financial Services Authority this week issued a public warning to British banks to bolster their contingency plans for the break-up of the single currency.
Some economists believe that at worst, the outright collapse of the euro could reduce GDP in its member-states by up to half and trigger mass unemployment.
Analysts at UBS, an investment bank earlier this year warned that the most extreme consequences of a break-up include risks to basic property rights and the threat of civil disorder.
“When the unemployment consequences are factored in, it is virtually impossible to consider a break-up scenario without some serious social consequences,” UBS said.

How does this affect us in the U.S.?  If Europe's economy becomes so weak that it dramatically decreases their demand for American exports, it certainly would hurt our economy.  Further, the pressures this would create on the European banking  system would certainly not be limited to Europe. 

Do I think they will have massive rioting in the streets?  I have no idea; I hope not.  But a lot of smart people in positions of authority are beginning to prepare for this possibility.  I would submit it needs to be on our radars as well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You People Are Getting Prepared, It Seems

A St. Louis store reports a dramatic increase in the sale of disaster foods.  People are beginning to pay more attention to the news, it seems. 

Query: what particular news item or subject is prompting you or your friends to step up your preparedness efforts?

I Hope You're Paying Attention To The Financial News

Friends, the news from that sector of our world is changing rapidly and touches all of us.  Are you paying attention to it?

The poor action in the German bond market should give all of us pause.  German bonds are some of the best on the planet.  And guess what?  There wasn't a lot of appetite for them.  Investors fear Germany will get sucked much deeper into the financial turmoil in the European Union. 

I certainly don't have a crystal ball.  But I'm failing to see the silver lining in any of the financial news these days.

Poignant Words From Off The Grid Radio

I received an email today from Off The Grid Radio, a product of Solutions From Science.  In this season of giving thanks, I found this text in their email most thoughtful:

Today, the essence of those Pilgrim ancestors can encourage us as well. We need to get away from the sloth, ease, comfort, and dependency that our present-day society encourages for the sake of building future generations that have learned to be thankful in adversity. It is in adversity that we are strengthened. It is in adversity that we are refined.

And it is in adversity that we find our faith in God.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sniper School Set!

I, along with three other lobbyists, will be attending a long range rifle class on December 19.  We got our reading assignments today to prep for the class.  To say we are stoked is putting it mildly.

Learning to shoot a rifle well requires not only practice, but also someone who can provide you with quality instruction.  Our instructor is a former Army sniper.  We'll be spending a fair amount on the academic and theoretical aspects of long range shooting before actually moving onto the range. 

All of us who are interested in preparedness need to continually to learn new skills and practice old ones.  I'm hoping to spend more time in training in 2012.

Putting the MF in MF Global

This MF Global mess is far bigger than most people realize.  This story is sending shock waves not just among investors, but in the Farm Belt as well. 

The question we have to ask is "how similar are the other banks to MF Global?"  Seeing how we bailed many of them out just two years ago, today's announcement that six large megabanks will undergo stress tests should make us all think about the health of the financial system.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Daily Update for Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Long (But Good) Week

I've slept in two different hotels and two different time zones over the last 6 days, with over 6,000 miles flown, in weather conditions consisting of below freezing temps and 90 degrees with 85% humidity.  So I have lots to report....

Sedation Is Good

I made my annual pilgrimage to Rochester, Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic, on Monday.  I received my annual colonoscopy under twilight sedation.  The result - a prescription for some antibiotics to (hopefully) resolve what we think is a minor issue.  We'll see.

But Before I Entered Health Mecca, I Made A Quick Detour to Faribault, Minnesota

The Faribault Mill, manufacturers of some very fine blankets, went back on line a few month's back after a two year shut down.  I got a tour of their facilities, and I must say it's heartwarming to see industry coming back to life in the United States.  I would suggest you stop in if you're ever in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  It's impressive to see how they were quickly able to fire up machines built circa 1940 and get them up an running again, creating great products and putting people back to work.

My Reading On The Way To Mayo

I read a large chunk of Rising Prices, Empty Shelves.  A creation of Solutions From Science, the book comes delivered in a three ring binder.  The book claims to give readers some insights into the history of famine, the causes of it, and how you can prepare for it.

First, let me admit up front I have not read the entire book.  I simply ran out of time.  The book does a good job footnoting much of their research into the history and causes of famine.

And that's where one of the problems I had with the book comes in....the footnoting of much of their propositions, rather than all of them.  Specifically, the author makes some what I believe are misguided judgements about "big business" (whatever that means) in what is otherwise a well-written treatise on the subject. 

For example, early in the book, the author laments that Wal-Mart's CEO makes more in one hour than many of its employees makes in one day.  However, it's never made clear why this is a cause of famine or food shortage.  In another instance, the book goes into detail of how governmental policies in the U.S. in 1933 caused major food shortages.  And to be sure, it appears the author is correct in his assertion.  However, he goes on to imply that somehow "the rich and fortunate were wasting food to line their own pockets" thanks to those same policies.  It's never made clear how someone - anyone - was profiting from destroying their livestock and crops. 

Readers should also know the book is in part an infomercial for other products from Solution From Science.  That's not to say the information in the book is incorrect; I point that out simply as an observation.

Having said that, the book certainly gave me a lot to think about in my ongoing food storage efforts.  If you are interested in history and learning more about why we could see food shortages in the future, this book is a good primer on the subject, notwithstanding the shortcomings noted above.

...And Then Off to San Juan

I officiated my first ever wedding Friday night for my cousin and her husband.  We all had a great time, and I'm looking forward to having another cousin in the family.  Congrats to both of them.

The lesson here?  Despite our efforts to study and prepare in this unsettled world, life goes on.  Just as it has done for ages.  We get married, we have kids, we die.  We cannot afford to lose the joys of life because we were too busy preparing for something which may not happen.

Then Again, Sometimes Those Things DO Happen...And It Makes Us Wonder...

Pay attention, folks.  If cyberattackers from off shore can attack our water supply in the heartland of our country, we don't need much more evidence of why we should be prepared to be self-reliant for an extended period of time.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Sunday, November 13, 2011

Plowing Through Revelation

My Sunday School class began a series on the book of Revelation.  My wife has done a great job leading us through the first nine chapters.  We're just now getting into the portions which are rich in imagery.  In today's discussion, we talked about the famines and wars predicted in the book.

I asked her at lunch today what her take on all of it was.  I volunteered that it makes me want to expedite the food and water storage process; that was her same sentiment. 

What motivates you to prepare?

Annual Colonoscopy This Week - Lucky Me!

Part of being prepared means staying in good health.  I know of so many people who think of themselves as preppers who still smoke, don't exercise, and don't take care of their health.

Prepping well means doing the basics well.  And part of the basics includes taking care of yourself.  If you've put off that trip to the doctor or that dental procedure, get it scheduled.  Soon.  It's part of your preparations. 

Christmas List Time

My wife asked for a list of Christmas ideas for me.  Of course, it's heavy on preparedness gear, just because I like playing with solar ovens, para cord, and other fun toys.  I will try to get it posted soon so you can have some gift ideas for the prepper on your list.

Needing An Investment Idea?  Think Farm Land.

This idea continues to get more traction.  If you are not ready to invest in metals but need something to put your money into long term, it's a good option. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Saturday, November 12, 2011

Three Days In Real America

I spent three days this week traveling the back roads of rural Texas, en route to various meetings for work.  Places like Abilene are over a thousand miles away from New York and Washington.  Folks go quietly about their daily business, raising families, managing businesses, working on farms to raise our food.

It's easy to get sucked into 24 news cycles and to feel the stress that comes with overdosing on internet news, cable news, and talk radio news.  My time away from all of that this week helped me keep things in perspective.  Regardless of what's happening to our economy and in geopolitics, we need to remind ourselves that every day, the sun still rises in east and sets in the west.  Summer will come, followed by Fall and then Winter. 

The lesson here is that we need to find things that help us keep everything in perspective. 

Beatdown of Elderly Man Caught on Tape

At least they didn't have a gun.  Or maybe they did and didn't elect to use it.  This is precisely the kind of violence we should be prepared to handle, especially when in the big cities.

Nationwide Test of EAS

The prepper boards are full of smack talk about the first ever nationwide EAS test earlier this week. Here's a pic of me waiting with bated breath to hear it:

I know I make being a prepper look cool.  Don't try this yourself unless you can make it look as well as, if not better, than I can.

I've perused the various prepper/survivalist boards to see how others scored it.  The term "epic fail" appeared a lot.  Apparently a lot of folks could not hear it for one reason or another.  I will tell you that the EAS tone did not go through WSM 650 AM's iPhone app for whatever reason.  The stream went silent for a minute and then picked back up.

A lot of folks are hating on DHS and the FCC over this right now.  Rather than talking smack, I think it's more constructive to use this as a learning experience so those agencies can get it right the next time.  Rome wasn't built in a day, after all.

Got Me Some Buckets of Beans and Pasta Packed in CO2 and Stuff

Last weekend I managed to get four large buckets packed with beans and pasta using the dry ice method.  I learned a lot from the experience.  Some random observations:

  • I bought way too much dry ice.  You need very little, even if you're doing a lot of buckets.
  • I had so much dry ice I elected to put some at the bottom of the bucket AND the top as well. 
  • I'm not sure it's cost effective to do it yourself, unless you get a really good deal on whatever product you're storing.  The gamma seal lids and the buckets add to the cost, so make sure you price that into your decision matrix on DIY vs. buying it already sealed.
  • Dry ice is much easier to work with than I expected.  You can touch it with your hands...just not for very long. 
  • The next time I elect to pack food myself, I think I will simply use the little oxygen absorber packs.  I'm also wondering if I could take a shop vac, put the crevice tool on it, cover the suction part with a piece of screen, and literally suck the air out of the mylar bag before sealing it. 
  • I will be storing a lot of beans and rice soon.  I need to start eating more of it in my diet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

SDS Daily Briefing for Friday, November 4, 2011

Lots of Stuff To Chat About....So Let's Get To It

Busy, busy, busy the next two weeks - so this weekend will be spent on TCB as Elvis would say - Taking Care of Business.  My blog tonight is in part my to do list for this weekend.  Don't look for me to blog much this weekend.  But don't worry - I have plenty of homework for you for the next two days.

Fall Back

DST comes to a screeching halt early Sunday morning.  That means it gets dark earlier for the next four depressing months.  It's also a good time to check your smoke detectors to ensure they are in working order as well. 

Tricking Out the BOB

I'm getting my BOB tweaked a bit this weekend.  I repacked it two weekends ago.  I need to replace the emergency meals I previously had in there. 

Packing Staples Into Carbon Dioxide

I have a fair amount of rice and beans that need to be put into long term storage.  I recently purchased food grade buckets and mylar bags from Emergency Essentials.  With a quick trip to the local grocery store, I'll have the dry ice I need to pack them into an oxygen-free environment.  I've never done this before, so it should be interesting to say the least.  You can read more about this method here.

Making Preparations For My First CHL Class

I'm tentatively planning to instruct my first class the first weekend in December.  More details to follow.  If time permits, I will visit the range where I plan to conduct the shooting portion of the test to get a lay of the land.

Getting My Shed Organized

It's a mess.  It's hard to get anything done in there at the moment. 

Reading Up On The Latest Financial Goat Rodeo

Italy's next.  States here in the U.S. are worried about running out of money due to declining tax revenues. So sayeth CNBC.  Like we didn't know that.  Rather disappointed in CNBC at the moment.

Collection of Glenn Beck Videos On Preparedness

Many good preparedness suggestions here in these three video clips.  Food for thought.

Prayer Request

I don't normally do this, but tonight a number of kids from Abilene Christian University were involved in a horrific bus crash while traveling to do some local mission work.  Two students died in the accident; many more are injured.  In a time where kids are occupying this street or that town, the ACU kids quietly went about their business, giving of their time this weekend to help others.  Please keep the ACU community in your prayers this weekend.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ha!  I Told You People!

People like to make fun of me.  Actually, let me be more accurate - people have always liked making fun of me.  For as long as I can remember.  These days, people like to poke fun at me for my unconventional outlook on current events, the fate of our nation, and my obsession with all things disastrous.  And yet, I ask you, exactly who is the goofy one here? 

Well, it's certainly not me, since the Independent put out this article Tuesday night, reporting on the United Nation's conclusions we may have, and I am quoting here, "The UN agency warned that it could take until 2016 for global employment to return to the levels of three years ago – and that anger could erupt on the streets of Europe and other continents as a result."

That's not from the Suburban Dad Survivalist, folks.  That's from the Blue Helmet Crew. 

So - all y'all who think this business of prepping and planning is for nutjobs?  Your beloved UN might be more inclined to agree with me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SDS Daily Update for Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Urban Danger Video

I've shared this with a number of people, but not before in this blog (I don't think).  This two hour video is fantastic.  I will warn you up front it does have Christian overtones throughout it, but there is a lot to see and learn for people of all faiths.  I highly recommend it.

It's Getting Starbucks

I'm not a coffee drinker, prefering to get my caffiene delivered via Diet Mountain Dew.  So I don't frequent Starbucks that often.  Which is probably a good thing, seeing how one guy went Primate Fecal in a Sacramento Starbucks. 

Moral to the story:  Lots of suburbs have Starbucks.  Violence can happen at Starbucks.  So, be prepared for danger wherever you go.  Even Starbucks.

QE 3 Not A Sure Thing After All?

A lot of folks on Wall Street felt the Fed would create some sort of way to inject more liquidity into the market...a third round of quantitative easing, so to speak.  However, many are beginning to believe this won't happen anytime soon.  According to the article, "Chairman Ben Bernanke probably won’t come to the market’s rescue by announcing any new policy initiatives and may even aid a further decline with a significant downgrade of the central bank’s official economic outlook, investors said."