The Silly Season is Here

While the competition for the various party nominations has been going on for quite a while, it seems that it’s really only in the last few weeks that they’ve turned “serious”–although that’s probably not the best word. Particularly in the Republican primary race, where things have gone fully topsy-turvy…

The third debate came and went, and collectively folks have rated the mediators as losing, primarily for asking questions of the debaters, and for bringing up-somewhat pointedly-some of the various missteps, mistakes, and various goofs that the candidates have committed. Basically, being somewhat confrontational. The candidates didn’t care for this, and sent back some zingers–Ted Cruz, particularly.

Problem is, being somewhat confrontational, and asking perhaps uncomfortable questions, is exactly what the press (and the mediators) are for…  So, the subsequent “rebellion” by the candidates, putting forth their “demands” for the next debates, was really nonsensical. If they don’t want to be subjected to that sort of grilling, they’re under no obligation to participate in the debates. It’s on them.

There was a bit in the NY Times a short while back, when they asked people’s opinions as to who would be the nominees, Pres and Vice Pres, from each party. (Not who would win the election–who would be the candidates.) Something struck me about the responses: For the Democratic side, nearly everybody picked Clinton or Sanders for P, then the VP candidate was generally someone not currently running. On the Republican side, however, both the P and VP choices were most often selected from the current slate of hopefuls. I’m sure it says something about the parties that things fell out that way, but I’m not certain what…

Then there’s the whole Starbucks cup thing. Whoo boy, has that got some folks spooled up. For myself, I’ve never felt there was a “war on Christmas”; rather, there was an attempt to be more inclusive, and celebrate the melting pot that our country truly is. I have to admit, the whole thing seems a bit–well, artificial. If that’s what they’ve got to be outraged about, then they’ve got even bigger blinders on than I had thought…

In the meantime, it’s Veteran’s Day. I’ve been “thanked for my service” more times than I care for, today.  Tell you what, folks–rather than thanking me, or any other vet, for our service, how about call or write your congress-critter, and ask them to do something substantive for veterans. Like fix the VA. Or approve a cost-of-living increase. Provide adequate mental health services to those who need it. Find housing for those without. The list, really, goes on and on.

That’s all for this week; my next scheduled post would be on Thanksgiving, so I’m going to skip it, in favor of spending time with friends and family. Hope your holiday is well, and I’ll talk to you again in December!

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What Ifs, and What Is

I’m writing this evening, as my chunk of the Eastern Seaboard is lashed by rain.  At least it’s warm–unseasonably so–because there’s not much worse than a cold, soaking rain.  Most of the time, rain (of any sort) isn’t unusual, this time of year. This time around, though, its origin is a little odd.

This is the remnants of Hurricane Patricia. The oddity is that Patricia was a Pacific Ocean hurricane.  She got huge, quickly, and made landfall over the weekend in Mexico (no casualties, thankfully, so they’ve got that going for them), then crossed over the central Mexican mountains into the Gulf, and ran up to the north and east. Much weakened, naturally–just some rain, maybe some moderate winds.  But the fact remains, it’s unusual for a storm to start ‘way over there, and continue through to ‘way over here.  Can you say, “climate change”?

From a scientific point of view, I think this is a bigger deal than I’m seeing made of it.  (I could be wrong, to be fair…)  The storm had to be tall to cross those mountains. I mean, they aren’t exactly small mountains–which I’ve had to explain to a few folks here in the East, who’ve never seen anything bigger than the Appalachians.  The Rockies and Sierra Nevadas make them look like anthills.  (The Tien Shan seemed an order of magnitude bigger yet, but that’s a story for another time.)

My biggest concern is that this is almost certainly not going to be the least of the storms in upcoming years–and that we (humanity) won’t escape them with a “zero” death toll next time around.

It got me to feeling a bit introspective, though, and running a couple of “what ifs” through my head. What if, instead of one “doomsday scenario” occurring, we get hit with a “perfect storm” of two, three, or more?  I mean, I doubt we’ll see just one–economic collapse, or total war, or what-have-you.  More likely, it will be several, probably in quick succession: the affairs in Syria expand, triggering economic problems, possibly exacerbated by an oil shortage…  In the meantime, the mess we’ve made of the environment continues to fling superstorms and rising seas at us.

On the bright side, at least we wouldn’t be worrying about alien invaders, or massive meteor strikes.  :)

No, all things considered, I’m happier working at getting things within my reach in order, the better to muddle through whatever comes our way.  Right now, that’s winter (fixing the blower on the wood stove, making sure the chicken coop is insulated and water-tight, seeing to their water-heater).  There’s also the madness that is the holidays (guests visiting, going on trips, etc.).  You know–life as normal.  How’s normal in everybody else’s neck of the woods?

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Readiness is a State of Mind

We’re getting ready for the first frost of the season!  Have you converted your BoBs and GHBs for the cold?  Warm clothes, probably a lighter, some matches, maybe a candle-in-a-can for heat (for the car…).  It would be a good time to double-check the expiration dates on any foodstuffs, too.  If they’re close to done, eat them now (it’s good practice in using them) and replace.  Also, something we’re woefully lacking on–preps for our animals.  We’ve got three days of food, at least, but are lacking sufficient water…  (The water thing is a consistent ‘area of improvement’ for us.)

I saw an online tool recently which was supposedly designed to help you make “your ideal bug-out bag” (I misplaced the link; if I find it, I’ll post it to the comments).  While I’m all for using it to help design a starting point, I’m a bit leery of letting somebody else design my bag.  It’s almost certain to include an arsenal (which I think is unnecessary), and to be focused on getting you to your “bug-out location,” probably a cabin in the woods.  Really, they should be aimed at keeping you alive for 72 hours or so, or until you can get to help (or it can get to you) based on your local disasters.  (In my part of the world: flooding, hurricanes, house-fires, extreme snowfall.  Elsewhere: tornadoes, earthquakes, landslides, tsunami, etc.) As ever, in my opinion, it’s best to do your own thinking, and come up with your own bag…

I’ve also seen a couple of other prepper-blogger-types begin to think about more than “save myself!”, and move into “how can I help save the community?”  I believe this is a good trend, and very left-wing of them.  Granted, that’s not why they went there; no, they’ve realized that making a go of it by themselves, or with just their family, might be a bit rough; as a community, the chores can get divvied up a bit, and the load can be lightened for everybody. Heck, it might even be as simple as “my tomato crop failed, but I’ve got a bumper crop of squash; my neighbor up the road had the opposite–we can trade!”

Which brings me to trying to live a bit more seasonally.  We’ve been in a mad scramble over the last few weeks to get a few things built and/or repaired: we have a new wood-shed, which should hold most of what we need for our winter heat (our house only has wood stoves for heat; we’ve averaged about six cords of wood a winter, so far).  Our winter crops are in.  We have a suitable arrangement for the chickens for the winter–and are building a larger coop to fit all of them; that’s a large part of the agenda for this weekend.  The dogs don’t mind the cold (our Pyrenees dearly loves it), and the cats live inside…  I’ve got to double-check that we’ve winterized the pipes (turned off/drained the hose bibs, extra insulation to the pipes under the house), and we’re mostly there…

We’ve also befriended another local farmer, who runs a CSA and food co-op “in town”.  They’re doing the fruits-and-veggies thing, and have had chickens and goats and bees… I’ll certainly be picking their brains over the winter months, learning as much as I can.  (My beehives have been ordered; I’m researching a good source for bees locally–I’ve got a contact with the local beekeeping club, and need to ping them, shortly…)

How are your preps going?  Ready for the winter?

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Continuing In Delusion

The last week and a half or so has been amazing, in more than one respect. In the Washington, D.C., area, we had Popemageddon, followed by the shocking (shocking!) budget showdown over Planned Parenthood and near Government shutdown (again!).

The amazing thing, though, has been some of the quotes coming from the right wing. More than a little bit of delusion going on here.  Complete detachment from reality.  Real head-scratchers.  (All of these have been pulled from actual newspapers–I’m not going to link to them, because I just scribbled them into a notebook as I came across them, and don’t have the links handy…  If you want to find them, Google is your friend.)


How could it come to the point that people would turn their backs on Christians?

(This was in reference to the Kim Davis/Same-sex marriage debacle.)  Okay.  First, nobody has turned their backs on Christians.  (Snark: I’d be afraid of getting a knife in the back…)  On Christianity, perhaps–but primarily because we’ve taken a long, hard look at the supposed followers of Christianity.  If that’s “goodness and morality,” I’ll look elsewhere.  (Yes, I’m aware that some of them are truly good people; I’m related to some of them.  I’m also aware that more Muslims are good people than otherwise.  I’m waiting for the groups to start policing themselves, and ‘clean up’ some of the dreck.)


We will aggressively pursue a vote on the Responsible Spending and Accountability Act, our bold, long-term plan to fund the government within current budget caps, strengthen our national security and hold President Obama accountable. (Rep. Bill Flores, R-Tex., on a plan to de-fund Planned Parenthood)

Yep.  “Fund,” if by “fund” you mean “de-fund.”  Their plan has more cuts than a scissors factory.  And, by the way, nothing to strengthen national security, as such.  As to holding the President accountable–I’m confused.  Accountable for what, exactly?


Republicans have rallied to [Fiorina’s] side, not just to defend one of their own against fact-checkers and attacks from Democrats for misrepresenting what was in the video, but also because she brings a fresh voice and perspective to what has long been a predictable debate over abortion.

A “fresh voice”?  Seems to me that the voice and perspective have been sticking firmly to the party line–nothing fresh here.  (Well, okay, you’ve actually got a Republican woman talking about abortion; that’s certainly outside the norm.)  And here’s a hint:  If you’re defending someone from those pesky fact-checkers, you might want to check your own facts.  She’s claiming the video shows things which are demonstrably not in the video. Almost as if she hadn’t actually watched it.  Hmmm….

There was a fourth one, about the Pope (how conservative Catholics shouldn’t rush to condemn him) (!); but I’m overall of very mixed feelings about the guy.  He’s got lots of great things to say–particularly about looking out for the poor and disadvantaged.  But he’s also got a bunch of not-so-cool things wrapped up in his Church, and shows few signs of dealing with them…

Actually, here’s a fourth one, for a touch of sanity:

[N]either do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test, even by indirection. For if they disagree with that safeguard, they should be openly working to repeal it.

. . . [C]ontrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President.

I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic.

I do not speak for my church on public matters; and the church does not speak for me. Whatever issue may come before me as President, if I should be elected, on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject, I will make my decision in accordance with these views – in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

But if the time should ever come – and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible – when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any other conscientious public servant would do likewise.

That would be (candidate for President, at the time) John F. Kennedy, explaining why his being a Catholic shouldn’t disqualify him from the Presidency.  Yes, there was such a time.  Kim Davis could do with thinking about that last paragraph, too…

So, for next time, I’m looking at a number of other articles on BoBs, GHBs, and the like.  As usual, if there’s any desire for me to look at a certain topic, let me know in the comments, and I’ll see what I can do.

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Winter is Coming!

Well, autumn, anyway.  If you’re somewhere that has a solid four seasons, now is not a bad time to double-check your GHB/BoB contents.  Check for anything that’s expired, and replace it. Make sure you’re rigged for cold weather/winter–is there a jacket? Hat? Gloves? Heavy socks? Do you have stuff in your car for warmth, should you get stranded in your car in a snowstorm?  While we’re probably still a few weeks away from the first one, better to get ready now…

So, I’ve been watching a conversation on an intranet blog at work.  The topic–generally “doom” and “survival” related–turned to the gold/silver standard. I’d say things got heated, but really only one side of it seemed to; the guy arguing against the gold/silver standard kept calm.  (And he wasn’t really “arguing against it,” so much as explaining why it’s maybe not such a great thing.)  I was following along until the pro-gold guy came out with the following line:

Have you ever looked at how much a million dollars of gold is worth in today’s money, versus a million dollars in U.S. currency?  It really makes you wonder…


Well…  At a rough approximation, I’d say they’re both worth… Erm.  About a million dollars?  Until the price of gold changes, anyway.  (And that’s really not much gold: at last night’s prices [16 September], it’s about 55 1/2 pounds, or 25kg and change, which would be about 2 of the “standard” big bars you always see in movies.)

I really still don’t understand the fascination with gold.  Sure, if the financial system absolutely collapses, to where paper money isn’t tradeable for anything, any of the “precious metals” (or gems, jewelry, etc.) will still probably be tradeable.  But then, barter will probably be up & running well before then.  (I’d imagine that local communities will develop some sort of scrip in relatively short order, too…)  And, in fact, if the paper money should “go away”, barter–particularly of services–is one of the most secure ways to go. (They can’t exactly take away your knowledge and hard-won skills, now, can they?)

And that assumes that the entire financial system collapses overnight–which I’m of the opinion it’s not likely to do. (I’ve been wrong before, and the fates take a perverse delight in doing just that sort of thing…)  Sovereign debt issues?  China owns tons of our debt?  Well, not really–Japan owns about as much as China, and more of it is in the hands of U.S. citizens than a lot of people realize. And an interesting thing about them having so much of our debt–it’s in their interest (literally–interest payments) to see the U.S. economy do well. Us failing costs them, as well…

Now, I’m far from an expert on any of this.  And anybody who tells you that they understand economics–particularly if they’re an economist–probably has something they’re trying to sell you.  But on that count, I think we’re okay.  (Will there be bumps in the road?  Yes.  Bubbles that rise, and burst?  Yes.  But all of that is part of the nature of economies, I think…)

(And let’s not get me started on the whole Jade Helm thing.  I may have to rant about that at a later date…  The dumb–it burns!!!)

No, I’m keeping a weather eye on things in Syria.  ISIL/ISIS/whatever their acronym is this month are an interesting group (in the same way E. Coli is, under a microscope), and they’re very dangerous.  So is the Syrian regime–they’ve apparently still got chemical weapons, and are apparently not afraid to use them.  And they’ve got close friends in the Russians.  And lots of enemies.  That whole area scares me, and I fear that things there might get much worse before they get better.

In the meantime, all we can really do is try to maintain “normal” at home, and do things one day at a time–with an eye to the future.

All of my readers in the SouthWest U.S.: How are things in your part of the woods?  We’ve been watching the stories of flash floods and the like; hope you’re doing well, and keeping dry!

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Awareness, Sensibility, and (maybe) Compassion

These are, it seems to me, where things have been going a bit pear-shaped, of late.  The immediate reflection, in my world, is the drivers hereabouts, but it seems to be indicative of a larger problem.

I don’t exactly have a solution for this one–it’s not the sort of thing that we can just apply a band-aid to.  While thumping the offenders upside the head would be satisfying (boy, howdy!), it probably wouldn’t do much, either.  I’d suggest it’s a “wait it out” sort of thing, but I fear that it’ll be much longer-lasting than was the build-up to it.

I understand that there have always been people who wander about in a self-absorbed haze, and that there always will be such people.  I also understand that we can’t all be fully aware of our surroundings all the time–heck, I take an hour or two to fully “wake up” in the morning, and it’s all I can do to even consider my own immediate needs before then.  (In my defense, I’ve arranged to not have to leave the house before I can deal with others…)  Still, I seem to recall, once upon a time, that it was more common to consider the people around you, when you were making decisions.  That except in emergencies, it was more common to help each other get along, with the understanding that we all need to get along, rather than fight tooth and nail to get what you need first, at the expense of everybody else.

I know, it’s pure naivete.  Things were never really that good; I seem to recall that they tended to be better, though…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In other news, I’ve re-“caught” a lovely sourdough culture.  Took a little longer than I like, but I got it.  It’s got a marvelous flavor, but I’ve got to keep an eye on it–it likes to “kill” the gluten in the dough, and that makes getting a good rise difficult, to say nothing of oven spring.  I’ve also got the wood-fired oven built; I’m working out a few kinks in it, and will post more about it when I’ve got things a little more figured out.

And it’s early September!  National Preparedness Month!  What are you doing to “celebrate” (read: “get more prepared”)?  I’m readying the homestead for winter things–starting to clear the garden, and thinking about prepping a patch for my winter grains…

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And we’re back!

Hi, folks!  Thanks for putting up with my absence for the last few weeks, but it turns out that a week (semi-)primitive camping, sort of, was just what the doctor ordered.  I’m rejuvenated now, and ready to go!

I learned a couple of things, too:  Water.  Water is definitely your friend–you really can’t have too much of it stored.  (But then, we knew this…)  I managed to walk probably 5-10 miles pretty much every day; in a fair and just world, I’d be continuing that practice, just for the overall health benefits.  (Shame on me.)  And when the hot part of the day comes around, it’s okay to find a nice, shady spot, and do nothing for a little while.

Now that I’m back, though, there’s all sorts of stuff to be done.  We’re beginning the early phases of building a new, bigger, better chicken coop–the two smaller ones we’ve got just aren’t cutting it.  Oh, they’ll last another year–but we hope to have a permanent coop built before winter really sets in.

The chickens are doing their thing: we’re getting north of 8 eggs a day.  (No, we don’t eat that many; I’ve set up a sort of “CSA” at work, with people donating for a bag of chicken feed in return for a dozen eggs every so often.)  One of them has turned into something of an escape artist; she became fond of laying her eggs in “hidden” spots in the yard.  We, of course, didn’t figure this out until there was a lovely clutch of nine…  The dogs got those as “treat” flavoring for their food.  A bit of flight-feather trimming is on the to-do list.

Then there’s the garden.  Ever the fools, we planted four Roma tomato plants, among other things.  Now we’ve got Romas coming out of our ears…  So, lots of sauce-making, preserving, canning.  I’m hoping to “steal” enough for a batch of ketchup, and to dehydrate some down to make tomato powder (it’s great on chips, or popcorn–don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it).

My sourdough starter was apparently neglected too long, and went bad; fortunately, I still have flour, and water, and am starting a new one.  I’ve also found a design for a temporary, break-down, “portable” wood-fired brick oven; I’m putting together the pieces, and want badly to try it out.  I’ll report back, hopefully with pictures, when that’s done.  (I hope to get some wheat planted, too–just have to figure out a homemade flour mill…)

All that, on top of “normal” maintenance and upkeep, plus the joy of repairs to a 130 year old house that was neglected by past owners…

That’s how my month has been; what’s up in your neck of the woods?  What shall we discuss next time?

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