Theater of the absurd

October 10, 2013

I think the the PTBs are getting ready to negotiate an end to the “Shutdown/Debt ceiling” fiasco.  It’s just Kabuki theater to them but they have to try and convince the masses that they really care about the country.  Not their power and position.  It has been enlightening to many people just how the PTBs will use and punish people in order to get whatever they want.  You can see how they will attack the most vulnerable in order to put pressure on the citizens to demand the PTBs spend money.  I don’t think it was coincidence that 60 Minutes decided to do a story of the fraud that goes on with SSDI. It’s a lot like the stories back in 2008/2009 about “funemployment” and the people who refused to pay their mortgage and lived in homes for free for years or the Obamaphone and EBT fraud.  I believe a good 20% of  people on these programs are committing  fraud but no one gets prosecuted and the people who control the programs are encouraging the fraud. Nothing new just another divide and conquer game!

My hope is that people will do something to protect and prepare themselves against the PTBs.  A few might, but the vast majority will probably go right back to being sheep if nothing bad happens to them personally.  I will be called paranoid and a fear monger again even though math will eventually catch up with everyone.  I believe being debt free is best, but there is sound economic advice to never have your monthly debt to income ratio to exceed 35% including your house payment!  If you can’t get debt free right away make it a goal to get your debt down to 35% as your first goal then building a cash emergency fund instead of a credit card limit as an emergency fund.

There is to much debt in the the American system both public and private. Sooner or later that debt will have to be cleared away either through deflation or inflation as there is no real economic growth happening in the USA.  Most of profits/growth is in paper not in real tangible goods and paper will fall to it’s intrinsic value of zero. But if you are debt free and invest in real tangible goods you know you need and use in the future. You can at least maintain your life and you can keep pace with whatever the economic collapse wil throw at you.  Don’t play the game of debt the PTBs want you to play that make you a debt slave!

You got to go against the grain and be a contrarian if you want to be independent of the PTBs.  That’s why the PTBs hate preppers, survivalists and militia because those folks are not dependent on the PTBs. Why have the PTBs encouraged people to go on SSDI, food stamps/EBT and welfare?  Because then those folks become dependent and will do anything to keep the money flowing to themselves.  Why did the PTBs add so much crap to the ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) to make the disabled Kryptonite (lawsuits) to any employer?  So the disabled become dependent on the PTBs and the PTBs score a PR coup about how “generous” they are (with taxpayers money not their own).

One thing I am sure of things will be changing in the future because the path we are on is unsustainable.  I hope that we will return to a more free capitalistic system where someone like me can work for myself at what I’m good at and I can manage enough to pay my bills.  Until that time I will keep working on getting prepared and more self-reliant and maybe someday in the future it will happen.

Getting ready for the Big Shutdown

October 7, 2013

I’m making up some of my wheat beer doing a little more of letting the mash set without heat and it is just a bit slower on conversion than having the heat applied but since it doesn’t cost anything but time I’m good with letting the pots sit an extra 15 minutes. I kind of screwed up the wheat porter has low alcohol content.  I think it’s because the beer is almost black I screwed up the iodine test. My little taste test before carbonation is promising so I will add a little more time to the mash and make sure all the sugars get converted.

I got a call from the Beer Lady that she had 20 of the green flip top bottles in. I didn’t think I could afford to buy them but Mom gave me my birthday present of $20.00 a little early so I bought the bottles. I like using the flip top bottles because I save on bottle caps and it makes bottling the beer fast and easy.  I get the green bottles for a dollar each compared to a $1.75 for a new bottle.  I now have five cases each of the flip top bottles and 12 oz. regular bottles. That gives my some extra flexibility on how I bottle.  The Beer Lady has another 15 gallon blue food safe barrel that should be ready for pickup next week. Mom wants another barrel for her place. She is on a well but if the power goes out there is no water!

I got to use my wood stove over the weekend. It was the first time lighting the fire in the morning so I could monitor how the stove worked throughout the day.  At about 8:30 am I fired up the stove and ran it till about noon and let the fire go out. The wood stove was to hot to touch as late as 5:00 pm and it radiates the heat a long time once the fire brick soaks up the heat.  It doesn’t look like the wood I got will burn overnight but that may not be a problem as well insulated as my home is and how long the stove holds the heat. I found an ad for apple wood for $100.00 a cord.  At that price I imagine it is green but it’s a great price for a cord of hardwood and if my checks keep coming I could get a start on next year’s wood pile. I have eyeballed the chimney several times to see if the spark arrestor is sooting up and for any smoke and the only thing I see is just a slight heat wave distortion. I can’t see or smell any woodsmoke at all.

I have to say that September was busy and just a little crazy around here but it sure feels good that I got everything ready for winter a little early.  Mom got all her heating fuel paid for and delivered so she and Dad are set for winter.  Overall I think I’m in good shape to handle any minor little disasters that might come along.

A financial test of your preps if you get Social Security or veterans benefits

October 4, 2013

Now there is some talk that checks might be late for Vets and those of us getting Social Security payments if the Congress shuts down the Government.  I believe that SS is non-discretionary spending so I figure that the PTBs are using it as a scare tactic. Now Vet benefits I believe is part of the Discretionary budget so there is a real possibility of the vet checks being late or not in your account if the government shuts down. Since we reach the debt limit on Oct. 17th there is some talk of not sending  out any SS and Vet disability checks. I’m not trying to panic anyone, I think the PTBs are going to pass the Continuing Resolution next week and will raise the debt ceiling again in October. This little game the PTBs are playing can really screw up your life if you are like me and on disability or SS.  Hopefully you have taken some steps to help protect yourself financially. I have a few strategies I hope will see me through any minor disruption of my check.  I am using the idea that my check might be late as a test of my basic financial preps.

I don’t trust those rascals in D.C. so I will be shifting my budget priorities and doing some time shifting on when I pay bills and the solar panels. Instead of getting the solar panels I will pay a month ahead on the house payment and hope that the Government will send out checks in November and the PTBs are just trying to scare the crap out of people. By paying the mortgage ahead I will have nearly a 2 month buffer zone before the Dec.  payment is assessed any late penalties.  I can’t quite manage an extra power or Dish payment but I can get by without electricity for awhile and I have plenty of DVD’s to watch if I have to drop Dish network.  I can use my trike or the gas I have already stored to get a couple of months of minimal driving and I have plenty of all the other basics so I don’t need to go shopping if I don’t get a check.

Thank goodness I have started to pay a few of my smaller bills early. They are small bills I have paid ahead from 6 weeks to 3 months depending on the cost factor. Most of the bills are $50.00 or less per month and while it may not seem like much, knowing you have paid up your car insurance, and things like my Dish TV, internet or the water/trash bill is paid and won’t be cut off for 6 – 8 weeks can reduce your stress a lot.  This method also has a huge advantage if your bank closes, a general bank run or Holiday happens. You will have several weeks to plan your next move and I don’t expect a “Bank Holiday” to last longer than a week or two at most, there might be restrictions on the amount of cash you can withdraw for a month or more.

Have cash on hand or something that you can liquidate easily/quickly such as gold or silver. There are lots of place where you can sell gold or silver for cash.  You may not get the best price but someone will buy PMs for cash. I think you are better off paying your bills ahead, have at least month of your living expenses on hand and then a bit of gold or silver that has a value of one month’s living expense on hand. This can be your basic emergency fund. I’m in good shape on the basics for survival so I can afford to have a little silver. If you don’t have at least a month of food, a couple of weeks worth of gas for your car, fuel to heat your home, back up lights, some basic first aid/home health care for colds, and can handle all your sanitation and hygiene stuff. Get that stuff  first before you even consider PMs.

What scares me the most is so many people that are dependent on those checks and have no backup plan!  They live paycheck to paycheck and are in debt. Many people are one pay check away from living in the streets and it does not take much to push them over that edge.  I figure about 60 million Americans draw SS or Disability of some sort. That is nearly 20% of the total population and I wonder what will happen with EBT/Food stamps, will those be stopped by the government?  For me the worse that could happen is I pay a couple of late fees because I have been preparing and getting somewhat self reliant,  I am not an average representation of the person on “The Dole”.  If 20% of the population suddenly stopped spending money it would have major economic repercussions for every Bank, business, taxes collected and utility.  The government is not the only one who has maxed out their credit card/Line of Credit!

Repairing tires and cutting wood.

October 2, 2013

Finally got in the shop to cut up some extra wood with the table saw.  I had to air up the tires on my little garden cart in order to get the wood in the shop. Not a big deal I have a nice little electric air compressor that the job quickly.  It reminded me I need to stock up on “Slime”.  You often see “Slime” in the bike department since it will seal your tires against punctures. I have never used “Slime” but my neighbor that rebuilds old bikes and stuff thinks it is a good product.  I have several cans of “Fix-a-Flat” for the van and RV but I have not stocked up on the things to repair tires for my bike, garden cart or my wheel barrow tires.  Les Schwab now carries all kinds of solid tires including tires for a bike. I haven’t checked out the cost of the solid tires yet, but having some way to repair tires of the cart, bike and wheelbarrow around the house would be a great investment.  My budget is has already been planned out and I don’t think I can squeeze money from  anywhere to afford the  solid tires. But I can afford a couple of cans of “Slime”.  I’ll look at solid tire as a goal in 2014.

Any how back to cutting up the wood.  The table saw worked out great and I managed to get three of the big 18 gallon/ 2.5 bushel “party buckets” filled in about 30 minutes of cutting. I was getting a little weak and tired cutting the wood for the third bucket so it was a good place to stop and call it a day.  I don’t want to play with power equipment when my body says it has done enough.  Especially tools that can inflict major bodily damage in a heart beat. You need to learn your own physical and mental limits as you prep. Working as safely as possible at all times can save you from pain and the cost of an emergency room visit.  A cut, bruise or sliver isn’t a big deal. Loping off body parts is a bit more practice of my first aid skills than I want to try out!

I hope that I can heat the house with one or two buckets every 24 hours.  I won’t know how much wood I need per day until I use the stove everyday for heat.  Here in the valley it’s been about the mid fifties for a high so it’s mild compared to winter when it gets below zero.  Heck it took four days of 40’s at night before the house temp dropped below 65.  I want to try doing the beer brewing on the wood stove this week and a little homemade oven that is modified from camping to bake over an open fire.  If those work out I should be able to do a lot of my cooking and baking on the wood stove and add another alternate energy source  for cooking that I control.

Trying out a new beer recipe and saving energy cooking

October 1, 2013

The beer I’m making is an English wheat porter type, and is something from my own imagination. It’s bubbling along and I’m excited to see how it turns out. The lager I did was a big hit so that will be one to get ready for the holidays. I tried out my “Growler” and it did okay for carbonating but I have read about them exploding.  I don’t want to deal with 2 liters of beer and broken glass so I used one of my empty soda pop bottles for carbonating  then carefully poured the beer into the growler. I was amazed that there was no loss of carbonation and the growler worked great maintaining the beer’s taste and fizz.  My growler is made of thick glass and cost $20.50 at the beer lady’s shop and 2 liters is equal to almost a six pack or beer. If you have a craft beer lover or making your own beer I think the growler would make a great gift.

One of the critical things when making all grain beer is maintaining a temp. of 154-160 degrees F. for sixty to ninety minutes.  I have been using my electric stove on low heat for that step, but I have seen a few youtubes about just wrapping up the pots in thick towels/blankets to using a Igloo insulated water container so I tried the towel wrap method for the porter.  First, I heated the water up to 170 degrees F.  turned off the heat and added my room temprature grain to pots. I checked the temp a couple of times because I wasn’t all that confident it would work but it did a great job and past the iodine test at the 60 minute mark.  This is great news and a huge energy saver because I don’t have to keep my electric stove on for an hour to ninety minutes and I can heat up the water on my wood stove and then just wrap the pots to make the mash.

Now this little experiment is proof that you can use an idea like the hot box/hay box when people saved as much energy as possible cooking.  Heck, just wrapping the two thick over sized beach towels around my pots saved me the power cost from two burners for over an hour. If you saw Kellene’s video about using a small butane stove and a hot box could give a cheap source of cooking and the ability to store a year of fuel is a small space.  It got me to thinking about how I could make a hot box and it would not be very hard and could be very cheap because you can use things like old or shredded news paper to insulate your pot.  I started thinking about some the materials I have on hand like the big burlap bags I got from the neighbor that works as a barista at a coffee shop. Then I remembered as a kid we had a home made evaporation fridge made from some burlap bags, a few boards for shelves that were all held together by some rope run though the four corners of the wood to make shelves.  You need a bit of water and a breeze for the burlap cooler to work, but it folds flat for storage and might help as a backup fridge if the power goes out and works great for camping!

I have few different ideas on how to put together the hot box and burlap fridge. But I thought I would share the basic concept with you all so if you need something like it you can get to work and make your own.  I don’t know if this could be something you could sell, trade or barter, but I figure anything you can build that save energy is worth a little effort if it only helps yourself.