Sunday, November 28, 2010

Guerrilla Gardening

I have been re-reading Guerrrilla Gardening by John F. Adams, which was published in 1983.  Recently I posted about Senate Bill S410, and the alarm it was causing in some circles.  John F. Adams raised alarms about legislation of another kind.  He wrote:

"Another trend that threatens traditional seeds is downright Orwellian.  Although individual companies do develop and claim ownership of new varieties, basically, except for some ornamental varieties such as roses, plants and seed have always been, in whatever variety they grew, public property.  In recent years there has been a movement to pass laws all over the world, but especially in Europe and North America, that would effectively take ownership of plant species out of the public domain and make such ownership private and commercial.  Because the subtle differences between similar varieties of plants makes legal distinctions extremely difficult, there is a movement of members ot he European Common Market to restrict varieties of plants that can be grown to those listed in the "Common Catalog"...."

Although it has been 27 years since Adams penned those words, it was kind of chilling to read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Living through the Changes

Read a very interesting blog from The Archdruid Report about how perspective changes your viewpoint about events as we experience them compared to events as they are recorded for posterity.  The observant can very clearly see that the times are a-changing right now, and some might say that things are changing for the worse.  As John notes:  "Recent headlines note events that most people would have considered cataclysmic not that long ago."

Others might see the changes as necessary growing pains for the species.  The observant are alarmed by the rapid acceleration of "negative" events we see going on around us, and taking the long view, we prepare to survive.  Being prepared for every possible scenario that life on planet Earth, or in the Milky Way, for that matter is not feasible.  But not preparing at all is the kind of grasshopper thinking that leads to a lot of dead grasshoppers.  I recommend that you read this entry in its entirety; it's well worth the time to do so.  We are in the autumn, so to speak, in the current cycle of changes and winter is coming. 

By the way, John recommends anyone interested in gardening as a survival skill might want to learn how to breed varieties of plants that will thrive where you live:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Driving and the Car Kit

Well, winter has arrived on the island a bit early.  It started to snow on Friday evening, and it has been drifting down on and off since.  The forecast is for -8 C (17 F) tomorrow, and I'm not looking forward to scraping the car off before heading off to work.  And like a lot of wise folks , I have been dusting off my car kits and revamping to match the weather.

My car kit resides in the back seat on the floor.  Back east, the one time I had to use my kit, it was in the trunk, and I had a devil of a time getting it out.  After getting out of the car, slipping in the snow, falling half under the car and having the door slam on the middle finger of my right hand, I  managed to get the door open, and rescue my finger. I was forced to use my left hand to battle open the trunk, and I had a hell of a time.  So my kit now lives in the back seat.

Where does your car kit live?  You do have one don't you?  You don't!?!  Well, why not?  Not sure what to put in?  How about booster cables, a first aid kit, water bottles, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, pepperoni sticks, dried apricots, some TP, emergency candles, cups, hand warmers, extra mittens, scarves, socks, extra clothes, some blankets, a couple of towels, emergency sanitation (a bucket, some plastics bags and kitty litter), a shovel, lighters/matches, something stable to put the candles in so they don't melt into your cup holders or onto the dashboard, some books, flares, and so on.  Put your thinking cap on.  You could start with a purchased kit and build from there.  The point is, be prepared.  It's not just a Boy Scout motto.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Toilet Paper and Beyond

On the weekends, I'm able to spend more time reading all of the blogs and sites I follow, and ran into a very interesting article on toilet paper.  I don't know about you, but the thought of being without TP is daunting.  I always have a good stock on hand, but let's face it, who has room for a year's supply of toilet paper, let alone a month's supply.  It takes up a lot of space.  Survival News Online has an interesting article on the topic.

I have actually given it some thought and I believe that a supply of wash cloths from the dollar store would be a good thing to have on hand, assuming you have a good water supply to wash them out with. 

There have been times in my life where an outhouse was the only place to go for that 20 minute read, and regular paper does work, once it's been "softened".  There's a trick to working the paper so that it doesn't rip, but nevertheless still be able to do the job without causing an injury, if you know what I mean.  You definitely need to practice this skill.  The first step is to crumple the paper and unfold it several times.  Then, using both hands, just start working it in circular motions.  I do not recommend using paper in a regular toilet, as there is no real way to soften it sufficiently to allow it to flush cleanly.

For the short term emergency, a bucket and plastic bags, and some sort of disinfectant can work for emergency sanitation.  For the longer term, a composting toilet seems like a good thing to have.  Heck, as an environmentally friendly technology, it seems like a good thing to have.

The Survivalist Blog Dot Net

If you don't already have a subscription to this fantastic blog, The Survivalist Blog Dot Net, I highly recommend it.  I find that I frequently go back and re-read his blogs because they are so full of intelligent comments that often give voice to nebulous thoughts I've had myself.

This morning, I re-read a post from October about minimalism, or not getting carried away.  He talks about not spending too much time and money on gear just for the sake of having gear.  Skills, and multi-purpose tools are more useful.  I particularly related to his having to clean out an overstuffed shed and just get rid of the excess because in practical terms, the money invested could better be used elsewhere.

I can relate to that.  I moved across the country from one end to the other, and I had to do some serious down-sizing, but it was ultimately worthwhile.  Sometimes your possessions start to own you, and they might even get in the way of surviving a serious situation.  How many people have died trying to save some possession from a burning building?  Was it really worth dying for?

Take care to think about what you are buying and why you are buying it.  Do you already have something that could fulfill the purpose of the thing you are thinking of buying?  If so, then maybe your money would be better spent elsewhere.

What Has Encouraged Me to Keep On with My Prepping

Sometimes, with hubby being such an ostrich, I feel pretty discouraged about carrying on with my food storage rotation.  I try to gently discuss preparedness with him, and my family, and encourage them to have a realistic viewpoint about future developments.  You probably do the same.  And maybe they think you are nuts for preparing for the worst.  What I have found with my family is that over time, I have seen quite a few of them start "prepping" without even consciously realizing that is what they are doing.  My favourite cousin and his wife just put together bug out bags, after years of him ribbing me.

When I heard about that, I had to give him a call, and I ribbed him about the bug out bags, of course (payback).  He told me that now that he had a family, he started worrying about things a lot more, and having a nice full pantry made him feel more secure that they would be able to manage if one of them lost his or her job, or their hours got cut back.  I asked him why he got the bug out bags, and he was kind of sheepish about that.  Apparently at his work, the boss had purchased "get home" bags for each of the employees, and so he took it home to show his wife. Well then, she wanted one too, and one thing lead to another.

It's nice to know I'm not the only nut out there on the preparedness tree!  And what a great boss my cousin has!  Seriously, I'm jealous...

Friday, November 19, 2010


I'll bet you don't have as many socks in your bug out bag as Oregon Mike has in his backpack.  He uses socks as little mini pack bags in his backpack for camping, and so forth.  I think that in addition to extra socks for wearing, if worse comes to worse, you could have lots of extra socks to spare if you follow his fine example.  Hope his fiancee doesn't do him an injury for absconding with hers.

Keeping Children Entertained When Surviving in Place

As I was reading Digg this morning, a lot of folks had dug an article about remembering the taste of Play-Doh.  The things people reminisce about!  However, it reminded me of the many times in my childhood when we were snowed in, and mom made homemade playdough, and it was perfectly safe to eat, although I recall it was very salty.

One of the commenters mentioned edible playdough as well, and provided a link to a page all about, yes, edible playdough.  There are more links below to other recipes.  There are two types, ones made with peanut butter, and ones made with flour.  A properly stocked prepper's pantry should have all the ingredients needed to keep small children entertained fairly quietly. 

I recall that mom actually had a book with the recipe, and other fun, quiet activities.  That book is probably no longer in print, but if you have children, a similar book would probably be a good idea:

Airport Security

Read an interesting article this morning, courtesy of Digg, about how Isreal handles airport security.  Considering that they've been dealing with terrorists for a lot longer than any other country in the world, I think having a look at their security measures is a good idea.  Check out this article from the Star.  Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

Behavioural profiling.  Ignoring the politification (is that a word?) of the word profiling, it is a reality that people, regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs or age, who are planning to do something that people will want them to not do and flies in the face of their own instincts,  will exhibit certain behaviours unconsciously, and these behaviours can be observed by someone who has been properly trained.  Many layers of well-trained eyes protect travelers without invading their privacy.

This is a concept that has been around for a long time.  Indeed, some researchers believe that intuition is an unconscious form of behavioural profiling.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recycling a Slinky

Just saw an interesting ad on Patriots Against the NWO for a Slinky Jr. Shortwave antenna.  That ignited my curiosity so I set out to learn more, tying in as it does my earlier post on communications preparedness.  The ad linked to eBay where you can purchase said antenna, asking price $10.19 U.S.  Not a bad price.

A little more research lead me to the forum archives on with instructions on how to make your own.  If you are technically inclined, a supply of slinkies might be a great survival item to have on hand.  I think I'll just print that out and pop that into my Just in Case binder. 

Are You A Tech-Junkie?

I think most of us are highly dependent on our electronic and electrical gadgets, and it's astonishing how many of the "simplest" devices now have chips in them to control them.  Modern Stronghold has an chilling piece about what the consequences could be if all those chips were taken out, not by an EMP, but a virus.  The virus he's referring to in his piece is stuxnet, and it's designed to be able to hijack the code in the device it has infiltrated, and customized to sabotage or steal code and/or data.

Imagine then, if you will, a world where electricity was no longer readily available because a virus targetted the control systems at all power plants using certain PLC's, or where driving a car that contains a computer is taking your life in your hands because viral code had been introduced during the manufacturing process.  Maybe your air conditioner develops the habit of dropping temperatures to the freezing point and you live in someplace where it can get brutally hot.  Using air conditioning becomes an exercise in extremes, assuming you have electricity to start with.  Sounds like the beginnings of a great sci-fi novel. 

It's a weird world we live in.  Think I'll jump in my computer-controlled car and go to work, where I sit in front of a computer, in a building where access is controlled by a computer...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Yet another fascinating blog entry from Preparedness Pro about communications in an emergency situation.  When all hell breaks loose, it may not break loose where you live, it may break loose where someone you love lives.  How can you keep in touch?

Kellene makes a number of very intelligent recommendations including having a wireline phone with corded phone for when the power goes out, skype (which can be used with a cell phone) for emergencies away, and a number of other options for long-term outages when wireline phones are not an option.  How about becoming a Ham radio operator and get plugged into an alternate network of news on the ground.  Learn shorthand, and/or Sign Language.  There was an episode of Star Trek where Sign Language was used in battle when regular communications were out.

It strikes me that if you have a group of like-minded preppers and you all learned an abbreviated set of signs to use in emergencies when quiet is necessary, that would be a very good thing.  You can even come up with signs of your own.

Disturbing News from South of the Border

If Americans ever received a clearer indicator that they no longer live in the land of the free, it's the kind of legislation the U.S. Senate is contemplating right now, Senate Bill S410 Food Safety Moderation Act.  It seems ironic that it is Canadian "watch dogs" that have alerted Americans to this threat.  Check out the article.

I've read a lot of survivalist blogs and texts floating around on the internet, and there was one fellow/group who predicted this very thing, and worse, so it was a bit surreal to see this kind of thing going on in the U.S.  Imagine making seed-saving illegal.  Let's take another step, and imagine making it illegal to use compost that you made yourself, illegal to grow non-hybrid crops, illegal to use home-made alternatives to commercial products.  Sounds like a movie I recently watched called Downstream is not entirely crazy.

I hope this kind of insane BigCorp mentality isn't contagious.

Update December 1, 2010:  Check out Dr. Laura's Blog.  The thought police are rising in America.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dental Care

Now this is a topic that hit a nerve, what with a dental appointment coming up.  For most people, dental care is something that only happens in an emergency because if you don't have coverage through your work, you can't afford it.  In all my surfing of the web on survival and prep sites, I have read very few thoughts on dental care except to pack extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, and perhaps have a copy of Where There Is No Dentist.  Recently, I was looking at Modern Survival Online's post for the 14th, and he mentioned reading a post on another surivial blog, What If IT Is Today?.

What if you lose a filling, or your tooth breaks, or a cap falls off.  Even if you are just waiting a week or so for a dental appointment, that week can feel like an eternity.  Those folks bought something called "DenTek Temparin Max Lost Filling & Loose Cap Repair".  I'm thinking that this would be a useful thing to have even if nothing disastrous every happened.  For folks in the US, this is available at Wal-Mart.  I'm going to have to see if I can find something like that here on the island.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Warmth in a Cold Climate

I was reading today's post from Wendy's "Surviving the Suburbs" blog about staying warm in a cold weather.  Here on the island, we do have weather cold enough to be dangerous, although thankfully, it doesn't last quite as long as it does in Maine.  She mentioned the use of a kotatsu to provide on-the-spot heating for people sitting down to a meal.  Being a curious sort, I began researching it on the internet.

It seems that some folks even take a nap under the blanket of the kotatsu, and I can imagine hubby doing the same thing, so Wendy's concerns about the carbon monoxide from a wood or coal-heated kotatsu is a good one.  I read another post about the use of the kotatsu, and other common effects of cold weather as experienced by Amy Chavez in Japan.  Cold is a very difficult thing to live with as a constant feature.  In many ways, it is like being in constant pain.

Wendy's idea is to heat rocks in a grill outside while cooking a meal, and boiling water, and then to bring these inside.  Considering that even when you have a warm coat or sweater on, your legs and feet still get pretty cold, this is a smart idea.  Interestingly, has an article on how to build your own kotatsu, although it uses an electric heater.

I noticed when looking at images of the kotatsu in use on the internet that many people have high-backed bed-seats, and that the blanket drapes around the sides of it so that the back doesn't get chilled.

Even if the electricity isn't out, as an energy saving option, this seems like a great idea.  Another idea worth looking into is a variation on the Kang bed-stove.  A modern version of this type of heating can be found in the book Rocket Mass Heaters, by Ianto Evans, and Leslie Jackson.  You can read some excerpts from this excellent book at their website.

Dehydrated Oranges

It's amazing how a fellow can turn into an instant expert.  Hubby, who thinks my prepper "antics" are just too freaky, suddenly became an expert on dehydrating, which he has never done before.  It started the other day with that extra bag of onions I picked up to dehydrate.  I was slicing them into rings, and he insisted all I needed to do is quarter them and separate them into it's natural sections.  Well, I learned a long time ago that this is a guy who can't be argued with.  It turn's his brain into petrified rock, so I said, "well, let's see how it turns out."

The properly sliced onion dehydrated nicely, just like the instructions said.  His chucks are dry on the outside and not dry in the middle.  Regrettably, he hasn't caught on that the natural division have a skin designed to prevent the onion from drying out.

Last night, I was slicing up some oranges to try dehydrating them, something neither of us has done before, so I had first checked on the internet and in my books to find out how thick to slice it and what temperature to set the thermostat.

He proceeds to tell me that all I have to do is separate them into their natural sections and they'll dry no problem.  And I said, well that's not what the instructions say.  Hubby got made at me for arguing with him.  I kept slicing, and he proceeded to divided up "his" oranges into sections.  This morning, the slices are nicely dehydrated, and the sections are not.

It strikes me that in a survival situation, you are going to have to deal with people (a LOT of people!!) who THINK they know what to do and don't actually.  My tussles with hubby about something as simple as how to dehydrate produce is just an extremely minor case in point.  He used to made jerky with his dad when he was a teenager, and so he thinks he knows how to dehydrate anything.  He likes to go fishing in the nice weather, so he thinks he's a fisherman.  He used to go hunting with his dad, so he thinks he's a hunter.

In a survival situation, we are not suddenly going to start hunting and fishing and getting by on that.  Everybody who hunts and fishes for real is going to have the same idea, and there won't be enough fish and deer to go around.  That's why home-storage is important.

I read something someone wrote, and I wish I remembered where and who, but this fellow said that in a situation where the powers that be, or looters, decide to confiscate other people's food-storage, home-canned stuff might be less likely to be confiscated.  His argument was that the modern mindset says that commercially canned food is safer than home-canned, and there are a lot of people who would refuse to eat home-canned food because they are afraid it's bad.  A dust-covered shelf full of home-canned jars with labels dated several years back might very well be passed over.  It's an interesting thought.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's First?

Generally speaking, all survivalists talk about stockpiling food, and goods, and acquiring skills.  However, I'm of the opinion that you need to start with a plan.  I've looked at a lot of sites that give lists, and some even suggest the order to buy things in.

In my ramblings on the internet, I have come across a few sites that I think offer some valuable information that can help you plan.

Food Storage Made Easy is a good site when you are trying to figure out how to get started with food storage.  They have a newsletter you can sign up for with "baby steps" to getting your food storage going on, or get the whole thing as an e-book.

Secrets of Urban Survival is another great site from David Morris.  He sells a course which helps you to decide what you need to prepare for and then how to plan your preparations.  It has gotten very good reviews, and I'm saving up to buy it for myself.  Sign up for his newsletter.  You can also check out his new book, Urban Survival Guide: Learn The Secrets Of Urban Survival To Keep You Alive After Man-Made Disasters, Natural Disasters, and Breakdowns In Civil Order.

The book One Second After has generated a certain amount of interest in preparedness due to its realistic portrayal of what could/would happen after an EMP event.  The progression of societal breakdown would be fairly similar after any large-scale sudden breakdown of the commercial system which moves food and goods around North America.  I read it with great interest and recommend it as both a good read, and food for thought.

My Two Cents' Worth

I've been reading blogs and sites about the various aspects of preparedness, survivalism, food storage, and all the scenarios that are floating around in peoples' heads about why they need to "stock up and hunker down" for quite a while now, and I thought I would post my thoughts.  Why not!  Everyone is these days it seems.

I'm in my 50s, female, and have the usual weight accumulation that seems to afflict women my age.  It's pretty hard to stay active when the fastest you can go is the speed of your youngest child.  By the time that one gets going faster, you've washed out of the race.  Sucks, but that's life.

I've been more interested in the preppers who are looking long and hard at the reality that when some disaster strikes, or slowly erodes our lifestyle, few of us are going to be able to "get out of Dodge" because there's nowhere to go.  I live on an island.  Mind you, it's a big island, but just the same, most of the goods for sale in the stores are imported from the mainland, so barring a volcano or tsunami happening here, most folks will stay put.

That having been said, I still see the value in being quietly prepared for "unquiet" times.  My partner thinks I'm a "freak" for putting by extras even though those extras saved us when I was laid off work.

My two cents' worth?  Life is uncertain, so it's just smart to prepare for the unexpected.  Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.