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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Change of Plans

I was going to talk about the presidential primary races this week, with “special emphasis” on the Republicans.  However, if you’ve been anywhere near any sort of media outlet, you’re probably well aware of everything that’s been going on. (The stupid–it burns!) They’re up to sixteen candidates now, and Trump is certainly living up to expectations.  All I need is a bowl of popcorn…

So, instead of that, I figured I’d run through another list this week.  This one comes from the folks at Urban Survival Site, and it’s titled “21 Prepper Tips I Wish I’d Heard BEFORE I Started Prepping”.  Without further ado:

  1. Start living below your means right now.
  2. Don’t blow all your money in the first month.
  3. Store lots of water.
  4. Don’t store water in old milk jugs.
  5. Don’t buy food your family doesn’t eat.
  6. Store more than just canned food.
  7. Use sturdy shelves for your storage.
  8. Don’t put all your preps in one place.
  9. There’s more to prepping than how much you store.
  10. Don’t forget about hygiene and sanitation.
  11. Don’t forget about those with special needs.
  12. Don’t forget your pets.
  13. Don’t be the only prepper in your household.
  14. Don’t tell everyone about your preps.
  15. Try to stay in shape.
  16. Don’t assume your stockpile of guns and ammo will keep you safe.
  17. Have a plan for getting home.
  18. Don’t make assumptions about what will happen.
  19. Test everything yourself.
  20. Take baby steps.
  21. The end of the world isn’t tomorrow.

Well, now.  Those look like things I would say.  In fact, they look like things I *have* said.  Multiple times.  It’s so nice to see others finally getting on this bandwagon…

In plain English, they amount to this: Don’t be in debt–and get out of it as quickly as you can. Ease into prepping–get a few things at a time, as you need them; if you blow your wad all at once, you’ll wind up with a bunch of stuff you don’t, can’t, or won’t use.  Store lots of water, and use decent containers; those old milk jugs simply fall apart after a short while. Buy storage foods that you’ll use, things that you eat normally, and diversify your storage (canned, refrigerated, dehydrated, smoked, salted, etc.). Keep your stuff someplace stable and sturdy–cans add up to a lot of weight quickly. Diversify your preps–have your home storage, your BoBs, your GHBs, your EDC, maybe a small BoB in the garage or the barn, a kit you can grab & go at work/in the office, etc…  Having your storage is good, but having knowledge is better. You’ve got to be able to keep yourself clean, and the morale boost from just brushing your teeth can’t be discounted. If you’ve got a family member with medical issues, you’d better know how you’re going to deal with that. If you’re like me, your pets are family members, and you’ll be prepping for them, as well. Make sure your family has bought in, at least a little. Make sure that the world doesn’t beat a path to your door when/if the lights go out. Make sure you can do more than a little “hard work” without air conditioning… Try not to need the ammunition–there’s almost always a peaceful way out.  Know how you’re going to get from point “A” to point “B” in an emergency–whatever those two points are. Don’t do all of your prepping for just one type of disaster–the Fates are fickle, and like to mess with our heads.  If you can’t actually use your gear, you might as well not have it.  Start small, and work up. And remember–we’ll probably end up “muddling along” through a “disaster” or collapse–the odds of an overnight TEOTWAWKI are vanishingly small.

Well, that was a big paragraph.  I may be incommunicado for my next “scheduled” post; I’ll try to get something written up beforehand, and see if the WordPress scheduling function will work for me this time…  I hope your preps are going well!

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Well, I Called It.

This time around, current events.  There might be a bit of a rant, too.  As expected, we had the Supreme Court rulings; there was also a reaction to the South Carolina shootings that wasn’t exactly expected, and the Republican presidential nominations continue to pile up.

First, the Court rulings. I don’t know about you, but when the first ruling came out (upholding the ACA), I felt a slight shift leftward. Then there was quite a bit of a lurch when the second one (same-sex marriage) came out. I’ve got to say, I was expecting at best a “win and half-win”, in no particular order, and more likely a “one win one loss”. The “dual win” was a pleasant surprise. Less surprising was watching the Right, and the evangelical Right particularly, collectively lose their minds.

They’re complaining about “five unelected judges re-writing the laws,” and that “there’s no way the founding fathers intended such a thing…”  Um.  Except… that’s exactly what they intended. I believe it falls under the “checks and balances” concept, plus having a series of judges (placed by various presidents, by the way, from both sides of the aisle) to make an “unbiased” decision, to the extent we can as humans. I find it odd they don’t complain about “activist judges” when the decision is in their favor…

The rest of the fallout, particularly from the same-sex marriage decision, has been by turns interesting and perplexing. We’ve got whole swaths of folks resigning as county clerks, because “issuing marriage licenses to teh gays is against my religion.”  Really? Divorces are explicitly against your religion for most purposes. Any problems handing them out?  Nope. Then there’s a guy down in Alabama who’s concerned that “If you’re saying that Christians can’t be elected because they’d have to do things that are against their religion, that’s just wrong.”  (I’m paraphrasing; I can’t find the article…) Actually, that’s been an issue for a long time; they’re not disqualifying the candidates. Rather, the candidates have to make a decision as to whether to run, knowing what the job requirements are. Just ask Joe Lieberman, or any other Jewish congressman who’s had to work on the Sabbath…

Then there’s the flag thing. It’s been a week, and the South Carolina government is still debating whether to take down the Confederate Battle Flag. I believe one of the legislative houses approved of the measure; the other half starts its debate soon. Now, I understand holding on to your history. I understand wanting to take pride in your past. But I don’t think that should necessarily extend to keeping that particular flag, given all of its negative connotations, flying at any government building. (Didn’t we have a war about that?  I seem to recall…) One of the interesting things to me is how the flag debate–which, believe me, if it’s not raging near you, it’s certainly an issue in these parts–got started. Because a delusional young man got his head full of hatred, and decided to shoot a bunch of people, in the hopes of starting a race war. He was using the flag as one of “his” emblems, a totem, if you will.

Which brings up an interesting question I heard on a radio news call-in the other day: Does, or should, the American Flag elicit the same emotional response on an Indian reservation, as the Confederate Battle Flag would elicit in, say, Harlem?

Things to think about.  I’ll discuss the presidential race later; that’s a whole other level of crazy…

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Education, the Hard Way

This is a topic I’ve been meaning to come back to for a while; it seems that I’ve been playing “tag” with the news cycle for a bit, and I really want to step away from that hot mess. (We’re debating the Confederate Battle Flag?  Really?…  Let’s not get me started.)

So, education–the “hard” way.  What do I mean by this?  In a phrase, it’s hard-won experience. It’s the education you get from not settling for “I have no idea how to do this,” and switching instead over to “This probably isn’t as hard as all that–let me give it a go.”

Now, I’m certainly not advocating that you try this with anything truly dangerous–if a tree falls on the power line to your house, I very much recommend calling the professionals- -but the number of things that aren’t really all that hard might surprise you.  Your “do-it-yourselfishness” can stem from any number of things: You don’t want to pay for a “professional” to come out.  You really want to learn what makes a certain thing tick.  Anything, really.

How do you go about this, in a safe and sane manner?  Depends on the thing, I’d say. If it’s something small and fairly simple, grab a screwdriver and go.  As things get bigger, I’d recommend learning a bit about it, first–Youtube is a phenomenal resource, as is your local library. Ask around, see if you’ve got a friend who knows how to do your particular whatever, and see if they’ll talk you through it, or show you how–offer them dinner in exchange (or a beer, depending on the friend–just wait until after the job is done).

One additional recommendation for the first time through: go slowly and methodically. Really get anal-retentive about doing things the “right” way (to the extent that there is one): carefully set aside each screw, nut, and bolt, and once you’ve got more than about five of them, label them with the order they came out.  Set the parts aside on a clear, clean, flat surface, that you’re not likely to knock over.  Keep distractions to a minimum.

With this simple set of guidelines, I’ve been able to pull off some remarkable “emergency” repairs: replacing the well pump, then replacing the well “foot”; re-wiring several lights and switches; getting recalcitrant lawnmowers running.  All sorts of things–there’s really no end to it.

Then, once you’ve got a bit of confidence built up, move on to bigger things–start looking for local classes on whatever topics your whims take you.  I recently discovered that a friend-of-a-friend is a blacksmith; he was kind enough to give the friend and I a 5-hour personal “intro” class.  I couldn’t shoe a horse now, but I could probably make nails to build something–and if I practiced, and asked around some more, I could probably get good at it.

Where to go to find classes like this?  Try your local state university extension.  Look online for any clubs or associations relating to your interest.  Look for internet forums on the topic–I promise you, they’re out there.  Approach with an open mind, and profess your ignorance on a topic, and your desire to learn; I’ve seldom found a group that wouldn’t take you under their wing.  (And when I have, there was generally another group nearby, of folks who left the first one…)

Hopefully, by the time my next post rolls around, we’ll be done talking about flags at statehouses, and we’ll be conversing quite a bit more about race.  The Supreme Court will have passed its rulings on the ACA and on same-sex marriage, as well; given all of this, I expect that the next post will be “current events” related.  Hope you’ll stick around!

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