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Food for Thought Options
cgbpackrat
#1 Posted : Wednesday, June 04, 2008 5:44:44 AM
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Just after I turned thirteen, Hurricane Camille hit Gulf Port/Biloxi Mississippi; I spent the night fighting to survive the hurricane in a house trailer with my mother, two younger brothers and an uncle. My Dad was in Vietnam. At the time Camille was the most powerful hurricane to hit the US, until Katrina. I had been through a couple of other hurricanes in my short life. I actually thought it was a romping good time. You got to go stay with relatives, play games, camp out inside the house and life was so much richer when the power went off and the TV died. I walked out into the daylight that morning, after the hurricane had passed, viewed the unbelievable devastation that surrounded me and at the very beginning of my transition to adult hood, realized I was very lucky to be alive and that although young I was very much mortal.


In 9th grade they handed out booklets on how to prepare and survive a nuclear attack. At the time I thought that really sucked the wind out of my future prospects. I was trying very hard to grow into a conservative, responsible adult and it appeared the adults were not doing a very good job at being adults. Questioned whether adulthood was really a goal to try and attain.


I did make it to adult status, got married and had three children. Like any parent I worried about what world my children would inherit and when the grandkids came along I worried if they would have an "earth as we know it" to inherit.
I never have believed, even with the mentioned key moments I have had in my life, and many others have had besides me, I never have been naïve enough to think I could change the world. It is too big and there are too many people living in it for any one person to accomplish that.

Then one morning I was doing laundry and folding clothes, such a mundane thing to be doing, when the towers came down. It was another one of those moments; I heard no sound, recognized the moment for what it was a shift in the river of life. Whatever course we had been on, had drastically shifted. Whatever was going to be the future would not be now; there would be a different future. History had happened again.

Humans have been on the planet for awhile now. Many natural disasters could and very nearly did wipe them off the face of the earth. There are still many that could wipe us off the face of the earth, and a few more created by us that sit like a finely balanced rock waiting to fall on our collective heads and smash us into oblivion. Scary stuff, even as I approach senior citizen status.  As I have aged (read wiser and smarter), I adapt and hone the skill of living lightly on the earth. I installed compact florescent light bulbs, back when they cost $40.00 each. We have raised some or most of our food over the past 33 years we have been married. We buy used stuff; we make stuff out of other stuff. If there is some wear left in it then we try to pass it along to someone that can use it. I bag the boxes and paper and drop them off on the way to work, aluminum cans go to the Burn Foundation trailer in front of the fire department. I salvage stuff out of the trash of other people before it goes to the landfill. I live 4 miles from where I work in a rural area. I make one trip to town a day. All business, volunteering, meetings, and exercise classes are done before I go home. I pack my lunch or my husband and son cook something for lunch at their place of employment and I eat with them. I do not use disposable tableware in my home, ever. Once a month or two we make a trip to a larger town and purchase what we do not raise and cannot purchase in the small town closest to us. I recently purchased reusable stainless steel containers to carry water from home to drink. Realized that buying water when I needed it to drink and throwing away the plastic bottle was too high a price to pay, for the planet to pay.

Sometimes I just stop and enjoy the moment, and then at other times I wonder if my efforts, if my children’s efforts, if my grandchildren’s efforts will be enough. A lot of people are making the effort, will it be enough? Will my grandchildren have a planet to inherit? I do not know, I can’t see that far into the future.

What I do know is that life and living is a journey, I am traveling mine and those that have come forth through me will have to travel theirs. I know that for my journey through life to be rewarding I do not have to foul my nest or theirs. So I keep reading and learning. I read history and old books, to learn from those that came before me and the journeys they made. I read current material and at least attempt to know what is going on in my journey. Then I read about the future, what other people braver than I think they see coming down the road to meet us and try to tell everyone about it.  With all the knowledge I gain from all the reading I adjust, tweak, sometimes take a stand and draw a line. Last year we made the decision not to buy products from China. I am not anti trade, nor anti Chinese. But when I looked at the social and environmental problems in their country and the economic problems the huge trade imbalance with them is causing in this country, we made the decision to vote with our dollars. We will not support this anymore. I volunteer in my community to try and make it better, even if I can’t change the planet with a wave of the wand. I do not feel defeated, nor do I feel despair. Every time I feel myself sliding into that frame of mind I repeat this little reminder. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things that I can and the wisdom to know the difference. When I am done with the mantra, I go find something I can change and do it, or I just go watch the wasps tote the potato beetle larvae off the potato plants and marvel that something I loathe doing, they seem to accomplish with such gusto and finesse. This is the “stop and enjoy the moment part” that I mentioned before. It humbles me and puts me in my place; I am a very small component of the eco system of the planet earth. I work very hard to maintain that status.

cmate
#2 Posted : Wednesday, June 11, 2008 6:52:04 AM
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Hey John Rockhold, you post questions Once a Year & never Reply? What is that??? Some sort of goofy "artist" "ego" type of nonsense? How about YOU post on how YOU would survive 5 minutes without Electricity, or how would YOU survive 15 minutes of NO GASOLINE;, or some such thing!! What a bunch of bs you are, you post Once a Year & what, write a book on Living Frugally???????? You Are a SHAM.
Gods green earth
#3 Posted : Wednesday, June 11, 2008 1:24:10 PM
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When something big goes down in our country (Like after  the antichrist  Obama Bin Laden get's elected to be president and his America hating relatives show up) we will see how many of these wannabes survive! The herd my friends will be thinned. Keep believing the lies of the government and stop thinking for yourself and see where we all end up. Because just a few of you will ruin it for all of us. Thanks guy's!!
John Rockhold
#4 Posted : Thursday, June 12, 2008 9:12:00 PM
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Hey cmate -- I keep myself pretty busy these days with things like putting together Mother Earth News magazine and working to improve the Web site and these forums.

I hope you're not such a jerk in your other 4,000+ posts. We'd like to have you stick around, but if that's going to be the case, you need to follow the guidelines we've established.

And, since you missed the point of my post, those links are to reading material related to the topic of discussion, a few articles and books people might find interesting. Hence, "food for thought."

HockeyFan
#5 Posted : Friday, June 13, 2008 1:53:16 PM
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I'm a little puzzled by the cmate response.  It comes out of nowhere and not sure what motivated the hostility.  I agree that being civil in discussion is preferred.  I've seen a few heated discussions, but that post was completely unnecessary.  I think it could've been reworded in such as way as to ask the very questions he mentions, which deals with what your approach would be in the situation where you might have to be a bit more self sufficient.

 


Earth Home Project:
www.freewebs.com/stocktonunderground

 

Gods green earth
#6 Posted : Friday, June 13, 2008 3:27:57 PM
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I am learning as I go on how to become more self sufficient. I am glad there are these forums so I can learn from others that have already been there and or are learning as I am. Slowly we will become more self sufficient. I believe if we had to right now we could adapt.
Becky Hayes
#7 Posted : Wednesday, July 02, 2008 12:03:00 AM
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As I read through these questions and think about the way we live, I feel strongly that we are headed in the right direction. My husband, Marty, and I live on 20 acres east of a small town in Arizona. We've been out there since mid-2000, without power and without running water. We hauled water from town for 6.5 of those years and only recently found a neighbor willing to allow us to use water from their well.

We've had propane lights, propane heat, propane fridge and a propane stove, but now, I want to do as much passive as we can. We no longer use propane lights or heat. This coming winter, we'll move the woodstove back into the house. Yes, it's nice to be able to regulate the temp by thermostat, but it's not critical -- that's what the front door is for. At this time, we use 25 gallons of propane a month with just cooking and refrigeration. We use LED lights that are battery-powered.

Our cabin is about 400 square feet, and even after we complete the additions we're planning for this summer, it will be just over 700 square feet and will include a greenhouse that measures 13' x 18'. A greenhouse that's separate from the cabin is in the picture, but maybe for next year.

We raise chickens for eggs and are considering rabbits or a pig for meat. I have ordered a solar oven, so we can do more passive cooking. We'll build a larger one for other baking needs. We'll have a solar chimney to help remove heat from the house in summer, and probably a solar heat collector to help with winter needs. The greenhouse built onto the cabin will help there, too.

At this time, we heat water on the propane stove for baths and dishes, so we don't have a water heater that runs whether or not it's being used. We plan to do a solar hot water system, eventually. When we do solar power, we'll build it with just enough to run the well-pump (when we get the well), and give us some refrigeration and lights. I really don't want to create an EMF nightmare in my home, so minimal needs are my goal.

For food storage, I'll learn to can and dry foods, and we're learning about the benefits of building a pyramid structure for food storage. No, it won't be built from stone, but foods stored in a pyramid don't spoil.

We use a sawdust toilet designed from the specifications in "The Humanure Handbook" by Joseph Jenkins, but we use straw for our cover material. We are composting our human waste, and as long as we keep the compost wet, the interior temp will get high enough to kill all human pathogens within 20 minutes. The chicken poop will also get composted and used in the garden.

We have a 5-gallon bucket outside the kitchen sink drain that gets emptied once or twice a day onto the compost pile, and we have rain barrels under down-spouts to help with other watering needs. Gardens in containers will be started this summer.

I publish books, so we have office space in town. At home, we have no TV, only a battery powered short-wave radio, and no computers (except at the office in town). We love the silence, watching the storms come in, watching the sky change colors at sunset, and being with our critters. We talk and read a lot at home.

I firmly believe that whatever is coming down the pipe in this world is pushing people to re-evaluate what's important and take more responsibility for how they live. It's not just a matter of paying the bills anymore -- now, we must consider the possibility that accepting and offering help may make the difference between life and death.

Neighbors who never spent time together before now have to get to know each other, share tools and knowledge, help each other with time-consuming chores so that everyone can have what they need. The welfare system was developed during the Depression and has become a machine full of flaws, loopholes and weaknesses that is now expected to perform regardless of the load. It can't continue.

Expecting the government to fix everything and make our lives comfortable will only be met with failure to perform. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own lives, and it's time we took that bull by the horns. I can read a cookbook. I can sew clothing. I can knit or crochet sweaters. I can stick seeds into soil and water them. I can feed the chickens, milk a goat, clean a barn and hammer a nail. I am not helpless.

But what's coming shouldn't be met with fear, either. It's a shake-up of our beliefs about what life is for and who we are, as a part of it, that's for sure, but it's nothing to be afraid of. Our mettle will be tested and we'll find out there's more in us than we thought. This is a journey into empowerment, and all those who are able to grow their food and meet their needs -- and share with their neighbors -- will find out how powerful they are.

Our values will change. We'll learn to barter and trade for what we need. Even those who live in cities and can't grow food will have skills and knowledge of value. We will just become a different kind of society, that's all. Life as we know it may end, but that doesn't mean life, in general, will end. It will change form and continue. We will focus in the moment and do what needs to be done.

It's just a shame that it takes a horrific crisis to show people how separated they have allowed themselves to become, so they can start to bridge those gaps and pull together for the survival of all.
skruzich
#8 Posted : Wednesday, July 02, 2008 3:19:23 AM
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John Rockhold wrote:

Hey cmate -- I keep myself pretty busy these days with things like putting together Mother Earth News magazine and working to improve the Web site and these forums.

I hope you're not such a jerk in your other 4,000+ posts. We'd like to have you stick around, but if that's going to be the case, you need to follow the guidelines we've established.

And, since you missed the point of my post, those links are to reading material related to the topic of discussion, a few articles and books people might find interesting. Hence, "food for thought."




skruzich
#9 Posted : Wednesday, July 02, 2008 3:22:17 AM
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John, I believe cathy posted because she thought you were a one hit wonder that comes in and blows through who has no real substance. And we have had those wannabe experts like TopDog come in here and sling all their "stolen" documenation that they try to pass off.  I didn't see anywhere where you introduced yourself so I didn't even know you worked for TMEN. It would have been nice if you had introduced yourself so that folks new you weren't one of these wannabees.

Cathy lives pretty much self sufficient as well as I do.  Majere and Sarah, Davidson, and a host of other folks live our lives self sustaining and some of these "books" or reference materials you supplied are just hogwash and unrealistic.  Sorry just being honest here.  The simple fact is that if there is a doomsday or desolation of this country, whatever you do isn't going to save you.  If the hungry masses don't come and take what you have, the government is going to.  Most likely those of us that are prepared, will be killed for what we have.

A FEW of us would make it because were able to manufacture what we need out of junk.  Right now, I have a couple projects that i am doing to supply myself with cheap fuel. one of which is wood since i can get it for free or the cost of the gas it takes to cut the wood.

We live the life John, not dream about it.  We take care of ourselves, shoot, 12vman, davidson, practicalman, Majere, Sarah, Cmate, Neene, Emulkai, and sorry if i forgot anyone else, all of us live the life, not dream about it.


marty85911
#10 Posted : Thursday, July 03, 2008 12:26:26 AM
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Someone on this forum said: When something big goes down in our country (Like after  the antichrist  Obama Bin Laden get's elected to be president and his America hating relatives show up) we will see how many of these wannabes survive! The herd my friends will be thinned. Keep believing the lies of the government and stop thinking for yourself and see where we all end up. Because just a few of you will ruin it for all of us. Thanks guy's!!

I think this attitude is pretty typical in our world and it shows a despair, not delight. Creating villians is easy but unfortunately it leaves us as perpetual victims--powerless. Positive thinking, cooperation, love and support are far more powerful living tools than fear-mongering.

One probable solution to the tough times ahead is a change in attitude. We often hear about community spirit and cooperation of local neighborhoods. When times get tough most of us focus on survival and our own family and forget everyone else. Why is that? We've lost something haven't we? Here's an example. I've thought about raising pigs for meat but I run into the issue of what to do with all the extra meat that a small group of pigs can provide. There's only two of us to feed and we can only eat so much pork. Why not "give" the extra meat to neighbors? That is the concept that I am talking about. Does there always have to be "something in it for us"? Just an idea

Marty S

 

davisonh
#11 Posted : Thursday, July 03, 2008 2:51:19 AM
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Exactly Marti,it has everything to do with 'how the way one looks at it.'I get the feeling we'll  be the first generation to start to move backwards progressively,and  I think it's naturally inevitable.My 'belief' I guess you'd call it is that nature(or God if you want)controls all aspects of our existence and every aspect of sentience whether it be economics to sex to death and that a 'force' or a will to survive follows certain rules and one of those rules is nothing lasts forever.If you 'despair' that yea we may be sliding into economic doom,theres always another area which is experiencing a boom and indeed  there is,on the other side of the world .We're mired in  useless wars,stuck in our fear,our currency fading as well as our image we project to the rest of civilization.Granted we taught the rest of civilization how to get by in a modern world but now IMO the times come for us to change what actually constitutes 'modern living' ,and that I think is nothing to 'despair' about.Europe and Japan have been at this point for years.No one needs an excuse to go out and change what you drive or a lightbulb or two you  do it because you use a rare thing called 'common sense' and it seems to me that we need need to use a tad more of this in order to get by.This time I dont think an administration change will change the way things are now,I think this is more a permanent change due to other forces at work around us,it feels weird to be a branch in the winds of world change but thats what the US has become after 8 years.We are'nt the big economic power we once were,we're aging,sold off our industries overseas,sold off our troops overseas and a government that has borrowed $50 billion from China to get our own citizens to 'stimulate' something that is'nt ours anymore.Thats the 'despair' although WE let it happen.So best advice I can give? Do your own thing and dont feel guilty about it
homefried1
#12 Posted : Wednesday, November 19, 2008 5:56:03 PM
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MC
#13 Posted : Monday, December 01, 2008 10:58:36 PM
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The thoughts are interesting, as discussion points I guess, but at this stage in our development I think stuff like this does about as much good as a couple of the early comments here.  I understand that it raises consciousness, or whatever you call it, and that it takes a doomsday scenario to get some people moving...

...but for people like me, and most of the people I know, stuff like this pushes us to give up totally.  We're not Sun Bear, or Summer Rain, or anyone but us.  We don't have the money, even between us, for sixty acres and a spring three-quarters of the way up the Rocky Mountains, not to mention a five-year stockpile of canned food for seven adults and four children, or the skills to build shelter and survive on it even if we did. We might as well stop wasting playtime hanging out clothes, sorting recyclables, and scrubbing the shower instead of spraying it down and letting Dow Chemical do the work, score a couple ounces and some ZigZags, grab some Lays and Pepsi (or, better yet, some Happy Meals, complete with lead-coated petrochemical-based delights), and take our kids out pleasure-cruising-- to Disneyland-- on MasterCard-- in the biggest, most posh SUV we can find-- because there isn't going to be any tomorrow.  There isn't going to be any tomorrow, and there's nothing we can do, so we might as well laugh and have fun before we slit our kids' throats in their sleep 'cause watching them starve is too much to bear. 

Give or take a deity and a few details, that's the basic attitude a lot of people-- say those crazy "Christians" who think that environmentalism is Satanic, for example-- actually have.  That's the attitude that kept most of my few friends and me sitting on couches, smoking dope and trying not to think past the next distraction.  That's the attitude that, on our darker days, we're still fighting with all we have.

We've got fear.  We know we screwed up.  We've got guilt.  We've even got contrition.  Plenty of all that stuff.  Too much, in fact.  Enough to weigh us down, enough to paralyze.  What we need is hope-- and not pie-in-the-sky, either.  Solutions-- or anyway, ideas to work toward solutions-- for the adult children of coal miners, steelworkers, auto workers, loggers, HVAC installers, and chemical plant employees.  For the last human products of the Industrial Age, 20- and 30-somethings who grew up being told that DuPont/Bethlehem Steel/GM/Weyerhauser/fill-in-the-blank buttered our bread and put the roof over our head and we better shut up and be grateful.  Because that's what we are.  There are a lot of us; if change is going to be sustainable, we have to be part of it too.      

We want change.  We are strong and brave and willing to sacrifice, to work hard, to make change.  All our lives have been hard work and sacrifice-- for shut downs, for strike funds, for whatever we had to do to make up the difference between what we needed and what Daddy could afford.  Hard work and sacrifice don't scare us; the only thing that scares us is helplessness. 

But we feel helpless now-- and so we're scared, and confused, and sick and tired of being villified and blamed.  We're on the defensive.  Yes, we ate the fruit of the wages of sin.  OK--mea culpa-- we were kids, and now we have kids, and kids have to be fed (clothed, doctored, housed).  We can't help what our parents did.  We can't help where we were born, or how we were raised.  We understand the urge to look back in anger-- in anger at us-- but those things are done.  Recriminations are useless now.  Worse than useless-- crippling, divisive, and a waste of time. 

Stop screaming, and tell us what we can do.  And make it something that's realistic for a single mother, a couple of 60-somethings up to their hips in 30 years of living on credit, a 56-year-old retiree and his 74-year-old wife, and a 30ish couple (both first in their families to attend school beyond 12th grade or think of the word "greener" as anything other than a description of the grass post-MiracleGro/over the septic tank) trying to make it all work on $29K a year with two kids and an aggressive get-out-of-debt-faster (!!!12 years, 10 months to complete debt freedom!!!) loan repayment schedule.       

DocFont
#14 Posted : Sunday, December 07, 2008 8:46:39 AM
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MC wrote:

...but for people like me, and most of the people I know, stuff like this pushes us to give up totally. 

We've got fear.  We know we screwed up.  We've got guilt.  We've even got contrition.    Enough to weigh us down, enough to paralyze.  What we need is hope-- and not pie-in-the-sky, either.  Solutions-- or anyway, ideas to work toward solutions-- for the adult children of coal miners, steelworkers, auto workers, loggers, HVAC installers, and chemical plant employees. 

Stop screaming, and tell us what we can do.  And make it something that's realistic

Hello MC and others, I hope the night finds you well.

My stength is the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.

The first thing you need to do is drop the guilt. If you spend half your energy fighting yourself due to guilt, you have nothing left to deal with the world. You are spending all your strength stopping yourself. If you do nothing else, absorb this concept. You have nothing to feel guilty about because you were busy being an American. Our founding fathers did not set up a system where every citizen had to be on constant guard against the govt. But the safeguards were bypassed and it was no different than a burglar coming to your house while you were at work. You had a life to live and you were busy living it just like the rest of us. Do not feel guilty about that. Don't feel guilty because a crook was loose in the system. Anyone who tells you to feel guilty is your enemy. They are turning you against yourself and protecting those who stole our nation while we were simply living the lives our founding fathers created for their posterity.

Now that you are entertaining the concept that you might not be at fault, did you wonder how it happened? The historical cycle is; Out of a period of chaos or revolution, a stong leader will arise and organize a group. The first stage is rule by the strong, typically military. Eventually the leader conquers enough territory that it takes assitants to keep it organized. Second stage is rule by the intelligent. The leader may be a figurehead on the throne but smart people are running things. The third stage is wanting to stabalize the nation state. The system starts passing more and more rules and red tape. You can't fight city hall is a way of saying the system can not change. This is rule by beauracracy. Even a system as corrupt and unproductive as communism can survive with enough bureaucrats in charge. Eventually trade is regulated. When trade is regulated the first thing bought and sold are the regulators. Politicians learn to pass laws that profit themselves. Over the long run it takes wealth to achieve political power. Those with political power concentrate the wealth in their own hands. The middle class is pushed into the masses at the bottom. This results in rule by the elite for their own benefit. When there are no avenues available for someone with intellegence and ambition to become wealthy through legal channels, the only way he can acheive wealth and power is to over throw the system. This is why in many revolutions you here the slogan "He is one of us", "He came from the masses." This results in a time of chaos and revolution and the cycle repeats.

One other major factor in revolutions is those in power do not fight to preserve the current political structure. In the case of the USA, too many of our politicians are globalists who want to rule the world rather than wanting a strong, independent, soverign US. Check out the book, Anatomy of Revolution by Brinton.

A small elite uses three steps to keep the masses in line. 1. Let no leaders arise. In the modern sense, this is the mass media tearing down and personally attacking any individual who begins to be seen as a leader outside the system. Looking back on it, this began sometime before world war two when our society went from honoring heros and military figures and started idolizing superheros and fantasy figures. 2. Don't let the people know they are in chains. This means controling the media. In ancient times it was bread and circuses. Today it is TV, drugs and alcohol. You will be able to chart the further collapse of our society by the amount of nudity on TV. The worse things get, the more sex on TV to distract the masses. Drugs will remain illegal because it is profitable but anytime a riot breaks out, expect a sudden supply of high quality drugs to be disbursed in the city. If the drugs do not show up, then the riot is being staged to institute more stringent govt control. 3. Let those who figure out they are in chains understand there is no other choice. This is the link between the Branch Davidians and Ruby Ridge. Whether you are alone or part of a group, you will not be allowed to drop out of the system.

Having said that, what can we expect in the coming years? The why is covered rather well in Walter Prescott Webb's book, The Great Frontier. Oversimplified; After the fall of Rome, the dark ages was people reproducing until the general population was at a low level of malnutrition. Then a plague would wipe out a significant portion of the population. There would be a food surplus until the population increased again. The discovery of the new world and the resources here fueled the renassaince. There was a vast, and cheap, source of raw materials. The surplus allowed science and technology to develop. The supply of raw materials peaked around 1968. Since then it has taken more energy input to extract less concentrated materials.

Economic collapse was delayed by 2 factors and a third that should have happened but was
politically blocked. The first factor was miniaturation that came out of the space program. We could do the same job with less materials needed. When I was a kid it took 2 grown men to move the average home appliance like a dryer or television. Today a TV is light enough to hang on the wall and getting smaller. A phone used to way over 5 pounds sitting on a desk but today it is a few ounces. It takes a lot less in materials to build things today. The second factor that held off a collapse was computers. They allowed us to deal with logistics. No longer do companies have to keep a supply of spare parts in every region of the country. Computer controlled traffic signals allow more cars to move over the same roads. The third thing that should have happened, I see an invisible hand of good at work just like the invisible hand of economics, was a cheap power source. I think it may have been cold fusion. This would have been the right technology in the right place at the right time. But it almost vanished because of politics.

I said most of the stuff so far so I can write from the viewpoint that there is not a conspiracy at work. Natural cycles occur through history and we are just as subject to them today as any other society that rose and fell in history; Greeks, Romans, British, Aztek, Mongols, etc.. Empires thrive while they can wield power cheaply. Romans had roads. The british had rifles and steam ships agains wooden ships and spears. America had a tech advantage that is evaporating. Even in our cities crime was lower when cops had the advantage of mobility, firepower and communications. Now that criminals can access those technologies, segments of some of our cities are being no longer under control. The latest incident I heard about last week was sections of Chicago will no longer have mail service. People living in certain areas must travel out of the crime zones to get their mail out of locked mailboxes instead of having it delivered to the address. Point to remember; Govt can do nothing cheaply. This makes them vulnerable if they undermine the population supporting the govt. One inevitable sign of collapse on the way is death squads. It is a way to try to deal with control on a budget. You can find a reference to the 547 indicators of social collapse in Parameters, the magazine of the US Army War College; Spring 1996 issue.

Hope. Pragmatic, realistic hope. Forget the doom and gloom for a minute. I want you to play the percentage game with me. You can not prepare for any and every eventuality. If everyone dies, you die. But this question is about an economic collapse. What percent of the population is lost in an economic collapse? Historically, you would have a hard time finding a situation that resulted in more than 10% simply from economics. You don't have to be prepared for the end of the world. You just have to be prepared enough that you are in the 90% that survive. If the collapse is more severe, simply prepare to beat the percentages not the end of the universe. The black plague wiped out in the range of 30%. You only need to be prepared enough that you are in the 70% that do survive.
 
I would give you +10% just for understanding that something bad could happen. Give youself points if you have ever survived a regional disaster like Katrina or the storms that flattened parts of Ohio this fall. Can you shoot and butcher an animal? Can you camp? Check out the tent cities that sprung up around Cedar Rapids after the floods. Can you garden? Do you know trivia like how to get seeds from root plants like carrots or turnips (some remain in the ground and go to seed the second year, some you need to dig up, keep in a root cellar over winter and replant). There are hundreds of skills you can learn in the next 5 years that will enhance the chances of you surviving.

If you are going to be a survivalist and not an end of the world as we know it doom and gloomer, you will likely go through 5 stages. I have observed this over the years. The first stage is grabbing guns and ammo because, "No looter is going to take my stuff." Looters and bands of radioactive, canibal, mutants roaming after social collapse makes good doom and gloom scenarios on the late night radio shows. Once you feel well armed, the merchants of doom want to sell you everthing. The second stages is buying stuff for every emergency. Second stagers get their year's supply of survival food, gas mask, grain grinder and as many etceteras as they can afford. This is where the money is so it is where the advertisers congregate and that pays the survival magazines to "field test" the gadgets. It is also where most folks burn out and drop out. They can not afford to buy everything. Stage three is education. It is getting a grip on the situation and looking at it historically. It is buying some books and gaining skills. It is learning construction or car repair. If you cannot afford to learn to fix a car, you can learn to fix a bicycle. You learn to bake bread. You look around the world and see "peasant food" usually based on cracked or ground grains and add it to your diet; gruel, porridge, pasta, flat breads, crackers. If you cannot increase your income, you find the hundreds of ways to reduce your outgo. Stage four is when the survival skills become the normal activities in your life. You sew, make food from scratch, do your own repairs. You pick a hobby like the Society for Creative Anachronisms www.SCA.org/ . This is a group of medieval reenactors but all the arts and skills they re-create are just as usefull in an economic collapse. The SCA does primitive camping, leatherwork, herbalism, spinning and weaving and a lot more. Stage five is when you feel confident with your own skills and start looking to join with others. In every disaster scenario you will see there are villages of survivors. It is the natural state of human affairs. Groups will want you if you can contribute. If you have a place ahead of time, so much the better. If not, build up a skills resume and tools you can show a group to entice them to let you join.

One of the things I do is pick up garden seeds in the fall. The stores mark them down to a nickle a packet. I spend $5 and pick up a hundred packets of seeds. I put them in a gallon jar with some powdered milk wrapped in a tissue as a dessicant. The jar goes into the basement. If something should happen, the seeds might not germinate as well as the first year but some would.  I would have a bigger variety of plants in my garden than almost anyone else. I have a place to go but if I didn't, imagine if I stopped at a group's barricade and pulled out that jar. Explain how you have the seeds to start the garden that will help feed them all the next year and you have a bargaining chip so they let you in. Just in case, tell them you have several more gallon jars back home but it is not safe to go back and get them just then so they have a reason to keep you and not just loot you.

Avoid any group that wants to put everyone's stuff in a central location for safekeeping. Avoid any group that has a religious leader who claims special divine revations that you can not understand. In hard times it is human nature to turn to the divine for help and protection. Religious frauds will be around in droves. One more tip, the first warning sign that a group will not last is when the leader wants to set up a group in his own back yard. You would have all the expense and disruption of moving and moving again if things fall apart. The leader is already at home and has nothing at stake in the project no matter what happens.

There is a pragmatic guess at what the outcome of a collapse would be. Those on medications die. Everyone with a transplant is doomed. The disabled in nursing homes will be abandoned in a general collapse. When the social security checks stop, so does their care. The economy will reach equilibrium at a locally sustainable level. In general this means about what we saw around the time of the civil war. There can be running water and possibly electricity if hydropower is available. In most areas steam can be powered with wood and some machines could be powered like saws, lathes and drill presses.

One of the big problems is food. In the Great Depression of the 1920's most farms were  small and horse power was still in use. No one had money but there was plenty of food available. Today we have one farmer on a John Deere farming thousands of acres and feeding hundreds. That farmer has to have his fuel, pesticides, herbicides and hybrid seeds to function. If something disrupts his supplies, the entire food chain collapses. Without food, cities are doomed. No matter what other skills you develop, put food production high on the list

I encourage the Biblical model of survivalism based on Noah. Prepare ahead of time. Provide for your family. Warn your neighbors. When things collapse, the door is shut and if your neighbor did not listen to you, that is his problem. There is one other reason this is a good plan. I have had people ask, "How will I know it is time to bug out?" The answer is simple. When the first of the people you warned but they didn't take your advice shows up on your door, it is time to go.

In the meantime, enjoy things while they last. Maybe they will last longer than you will. I have been surprised for it seems like 20 or 30 years. I did not let my preparations get in the way of being a part of the general economy. The internet violates one of the principles of keeping the masses ignorant. But the internet also lets people find each other, prepare and learn. It may be that enough people can focus their efforts together using the internet and discover that missing power source that will let us last a few more decades.

Have I given you some realistic hope?

DocFont

MC
#15 Posted : Thursday, February 12, 2009 1:24:40 AM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494

Yes, you have.  I've got something to work with-- some kind of a framework to work IN.  I feel like I know what I'm doing; right now the only question is whether I can do it fast enough. 

We've got the first things we need-- alternative source of heat, water, and food.  The suburbanite I married even saw the virtues of the garden when food prices shot up 5% overnight in the gas mess last summer.  I'm learning to save seeds now; we will plant the hybrid seeds I bought for a  dime a packet last fall in the spring and then will switch to heirloom varieties. 

I got a gift in the form of that ice storm that hit us last month.  Almost a week without power, and we survived.  Didn't just survive-- were comfortable.  Enjoyed it.  Mr. Suburbia spent the first two days hiking up and down the hill trying to call the power company and talking about how we were going to hold out until spring and then move back to town where it's "safe"...

...and then he shut up and started watching the kids and cutting wood.  Probably had something to do with getting a chance to see what "safe in town" looked like-- mostly like people scalping gasoline and firewood.  We were better off out here.  I have to strike while the iron is hot (and I could really use any advice y'all might have on keeping the iron hot), but I haven't heard any complaints about my stored food or the fact that I'd prefer a chainsaw for a birthday/Vday present over a "nice dinner out" and some stupid shiny or frilly thing since the lights went out and it started getting chilly in here. 

I don't know what to say.  I do feel better.  I feel like we've got some idea, some hope, some direction to go in.  Lots of ideas, actually, and too many directions to go in.  This must be what it's like somewhere between Stage 2 and Stage 3-- I've got too much to read, too much to do, too much to think about, too many decisions to make. 

I'm not going to rush out and buy all the crap.  I'm going to keep building up the year's supply of preserved food 'cause it seems like a good idea; I'm going to think about what would be really handy and what we really need.  Grain mill for example-- it would be useful, but even a cheap on is about $500, and so would $200 worth of hand tools, four or five books, and $200 worth of insulation.  Or a used woodstove that's more efficient that the monstrosity of a freestanding fireplace we got thru the storm with.  All that stuff would be useful-- and I know goshdarn good and well that people ground grain with something long before the crank mill came along.  Mano and metate might be a bitch-- I think I'm going to hunt up some suitable rocks and find out.  It matters somewhat how difficult it is-- especially if we were going to be on our own in a collapse scenario-- but what matters more is to find out if it can be done. 

Am I going crazy???  Is this a manic episode (to the best of my knowledge, I'm a unipolar depressive), or the beginnings of hope???  Is this normal???  Am I being relatively intelligent???

Sorry for acting like a curious 10-year-old.  But I feel like a curious 10-year-old, and I'm sick and tired of trying to "act normal."  Normal is stupid.               

MC
#16 Posted : Monday, February 16, 2009 3:13:35 PM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494
That's been effectively my theory for over a decade:  It's not a a conspiracy; it's just that what basically amounts to the Holy Roman Empire (or the British Empire, depending on how you want to parse history) is finally reaching the end of its lifespan.  Nothing lasts forever.  We might have five years, we might have 10 years, we might have a hundred years, just depending on what life throws at us and what kinds of innovative treatments we can come up with to administer to the patient...
 
...but the organism is actively involved in the process of dying, and it is now only a matter of time. 
 
Personally, I think sooner would be better than later-- before we finish completely trashing the ecology, while the planet's still capable of sustaining 60 or 70 percent of us-- but I could be wrong and I'm certainly not looking to make it happen.    
 
DocFont wrote:

If you are going to be a survivalist and not an end of the world as we know it doom and gloomer, you will likely go through 5 stages. I have observed this over the years. The first stage is grabbing guns and ammo because, "No looter is going to take my stuff." Looters and bands of radioactive, canibal, mutants roaming after social collapse makes good doom and gloom scenarios on the late night radio shows. Once you feel well armed, the merchants of doom want to sell you everthing. The second stages is buying stuff for every emergency. Second stagers get their year's supply of survival food, gas mask, grain grinder and as many etceteras as they can afford. This is where the money is so it is where the advertisers congregate and that pays the survival magazines to "field test" the gadgets. It is also where most folks burn out and drop out. They can not afford to buy everything. Stage three is education. It is getting a grip on the situation and looking at it historically. It is buying some books and gaining skills. It is learning construction or car repair. If you cannot afford to learn to fix a car, you can learn to fix a bicycle. You learn to bake bread. You look around the world and see "peasant food" usually based on cracked or ground grains and add it to your diet; gruel, porridge, pasta, flat breads, crackers. If you cannot increase your income, you find the hundreds of ways to reduce your outgo. Stage four is when the survival skills become the normal activities in your life. You sew, make food from scratch, do your own repairs. You pick a hobby like the Society for Creative Anachronisms www.SCA.org/ . This is a group of medieval reenactors but all the arts and skills they re-create are just as usefull in an economic collapse. The SCA does primitive camping, leatherwork, herbalism, spinning and weaving and a lot more. Stage five is when you feel confident with your own skills and start looking to join with others. In every disaster scenario you will see there are villages of survivors. It is the natural state of human affairs. Groups will want you if you can contribute. If you have a place ahead of time, so much the better. If not, build up a skills resume and tools you can show a group to entice them to let you join.

One of the things I do is pick up garden seeds in the fall. The stores mark them down to a nickle a packet. I spend $5 and pick up a hundred packets of seeds. I put them in a gallon jar with some powdered milk wrapped in a tissue as a dessicant. The jar goes into the basement. If something should happen, the seeds might not germinate as well as the first year but some would.  I would have a bigger variety of plants in my garden than almost anyone else. I have a place to go but if I didn't, imagine if I stopped at a group's barricade and pulled out that jar. Explain how you have the seeds to start the garden that will help feed them all the next year and you have a bargaining chip so they let you in. Just in case, tell them you have several more gallon jars back home but it is not safe to go back and get them just then so they have a reason to keep you and not just loot you.

 

I can't imagine anything I could carry or learn that could make an early-middle-aged woman toting three children valuable to anyone.  Like my folks-- if they took us in, it would be either because they needed labor (which they don't, having five strong young backs without us) or out of the goodness of their hearts.  I can do a lot of that stuff-- bake, cook from scratch (cheaper anyway--the hundreds of ways to reduce what goes out), garden, fish, camp (with or without a tent, though I definitely prefer 'with'), sew, butcher (though I can't hit the broad side of a barn with a gun).  Big deal.  So can a lot of other people who have less liability attached to their backs.  And it's ALL about the kids-- were it not for them, I'd figure that I'd either make it or not and not lose any sleep at night.

    

There is a pragmatic guess at what the outcome of a collapse would be. Those on medications die. The economy will reach equilibrium at a locally sustainable level. In general this means about what we saw around the time of the civil war. There can be running water and possibly electricity if hydropower is available. In most areas steam can be powered with wood and some machines could be powered like saws, lathes and drill presses.

 

That's interesting.  There's a positive if I did have to drag the kids back to West Virginia and beg my family to take us in-- my jerk of an uncle probably wouldn't live very long.  There would be some entropy in his absense, but my aunt knows almost everything he knows and we'd be treated significantly better if he weren't there. 

Wonder if I could convince my husband that it would be fun to experiment with building a steam generator??? 

 

One of the big problems is food. In the Great Depression of the 1920's most farms were  small and horse power was still in use. No one had money but there was plenty of food available. Today we have one farmer on a John Deere farming thousands of acres and feeding hundreds. That farmer has to have his fuel, pesticides, herbicides and hybrid seeds to function. If something disrupts his supplies, the entire food chain collapses. Without food, cities are doomed. No matter what other skills you develop, put food production high on the list.

 

Already there.  Garden, wildcraft, somehow I've got to LEARN to hit what I shoot at.  How valid a survival tool do you think wildcraft is, btw??  Anyone??  I've heard lots of estimates, all the way from "completely valid" to "unreliable and unethical." 

That's my main reason for wanting to move, or at least have somewhere else to go to.  It's possible that we could make it here-- with advance preparation, and either the help (not going to happen until zero hour if at all) or the absense of our neighbors.  We live on what used to be a shitty little ridge; since the creation of Beaver Lake, it's a shitty little peninsula strangely attractive to upper-middle-class retirees from Missouri.  The soil is too poor even for improvement and the population, for a rural area, fairly dense.  The neighbors are decent enough folks for the times, but they're much more concerned about the resale value of their stupid vacation homes in the consumer economy than their next meal absent the consumer economy.  They'd probably poison chickens if I got them; they may poison my garden this year because it's visible to the general public. 

I'd like to poison my neighbors, but that's still a crime.  It's not OK to kill people for being materialistic and stupid.  Sometimes I wish for a world where it would be-- or anyway for a world where having lots of money wouldn't help them anymore and I could just let them die-- but that's not a good wish and anyway we are here and this is now.    

'Course, I guess that there again, I don't have to last forever, I just have to outlast a bunch of unconcerned, unprepared septugenarians.  With tools and guns.  Who would probably be all too happy to kill us and take our food. 

    

I encourage the Biblical model of survivalism based on Noah. Prepare ahead of time. Provide for your family. Warn your neighbors. When things collapse, the door is shut and if your neighbor did not listen to you, that is his problem. There is one other reason this is a good plan. I have had people ask, "How will I know it is time to bug out?" The answer is simple. When the first of the people you warned but they didn't take your advice shows up on your door, it is time to go.

 

OK-- Basically, "when" amounts to "once it becomes evident that things have fallen apart, but while there's still enough infrastructure to travel."  Here's another question.  Bug out to where???  Obviously, some place that has been planned and made ready ahead of time.  Where can that place be???  Other than begging my uncle for food and shelter, I've got a couple of possible places.  My parents have 3.5 acres in the "real" country.  It's not an ideal situation-- suffice it to say that there's a reason a family-oriented West Virginian willingly moved to Arkansas-- but it's better. 

My "sister," also a believer in preparedness, has a bunch of land in Virginia.  She co-owns it with her mother, who wants to sell her stake and would happily sell it to me for a significant amount of cash on the barrelhead. If B's estimate of the appraisal is correct, I have a 50% downpayment in my hand right now and might be able to selectively timber for the other half.  It's uninhabited and unimproved and I know nothing about it, but we could always plan a trip down there (maybe late next month) and figure it out.

Problem with both these places:  They're close to 1,000 miles from the place where we are now.  And there's no reasonable way to end up living there well  ahead of a collapse.  My husband may be a barely recovering suburbanite and a bit of a shithead, but I don't want to abandon him.  Aside from the fact of love, we're much better able to survive in the current economy with him than without him.  He would probably contribute to planning and working on a place now that he's discovered he CAN do the work.  What he would not do is give up his white-collar job, beat-up fishing cabin, and modern conveniences one hour ahead of knowing he had to if he wanted his kids to see next year.      

How far can I reasonably expect to be able to "bug out"????  How much prep work can I reasonably do on a place that I'll be able to visit, at most, two or three times a year??  If that place is inhabited??  If it's uninhabited?? 

If it's viable, I'd rather plan to go back than try to survive here.  There are people that I care for there; here, everyone not under my roof can pretty much go die.  More importantly, there would be at least a couple more of us there.  Here, as far as I know, we'd be completely on our own unless I could find a group and get something set up.  


Karl Grant
#17 Posted : Monday, February 16, 2009 6:17:04 PM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494

Surviving any major crisis scenario is possible with a lot of forethought and preparation. It takes planning and common sense as well. Can you be prepared for every and any eventuallity? Probably not, but you can prepare for the eventualities most likely to strike where you live. And you can do it while reducing your impact on the earth. You can prepare for any global and/or local economic crisis. You can prepare your family for a health crisis. You can prepare for job loss. You can prepare for political/governmental unrest and crisis. You can prepare for weather/geological related emergencies. But to do any of these you have to educate yourself first. There are many good books out there that can help in that endeavor. One of which is "Today's Homestead" which is great for anyone wanting to know more about a more self-sustaining, more healthful, and less uncertain life lived in harmony with the earth and nature. It's a wonderful feeling to know you can retreat to whatever extent you desire and minimize your own impact on the earth, while responsibly taking care of your own family, even your neighbors and to some degree strangers by being prepared and teaching others how to be prepared. The world needs more earth freindly mentors.

Preparedness pays!

www.homesteadblogger.com/thequeensblessing

davisonh
#18 Posted : Thursday, February 26, 2009 2:15:28 AM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494

I think the best advice I can give you MC is 'Keep it Simple Stupid'.You sound almostr exactly like my mother 35

years ago when we started our gardens and such,only she had 4 kids,one horse,three dogs and fourteen cats,nine acres

of woods and no garden.Do a 'Pro's and Con's list.Start there.I know about the ice storms we had our own up here

For 2 weeks,no power and below zero mornings right in the middle of Christmas season.Yea we had a few die.

CO mostly but it did instill a bit more coomon sense and Yankee ingenuity that we're supposedly famous for up here.

jd
#19 Posted : Friday, March 06, 2009 6:13:57 PM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494

I never thought I'd ever write such hokey drivel but sometimes the truth is also a cliche'.  We plan for the worst but hope for the best.  Kind of a contradiction, really, but that's what we do.  As Skuz pointed out, some of us actually 'live the life, walk the walk and, in these forums, even talk the talk.  So, here goes..........MC, you are an old couch potato it seems.  Unskilled and fearful.  Welcome to the club! 

Sally and I were the same five years ago.  I barely knew which end of the hammer to use.  And Sal knew less.  We started when I was 55 and I am 61 now.  And I know how to use a hammer and all the other implements I need and most of the wounds have healed.  We built a house and a few sheds - all of which still stand after a harsh Canadian winter. 

We are off-the-grid, off-the-map and sometimes out-of-our minds.  But it is all good.  We have been learning, coping and having an adventure.  This winter (the worst in years) we were totally comfortable and had all the wood in we needed.  In other words, MC, it is not too late to get started.  Build small, build simple and build green. 

Find a place 'way down the road' and then some.  Get away.  Far away.  If you still need to work to eat, remember: you can work from a computer and you will not need as much money as you do in the city.  In fact, I made $160K a year living in the city and we were going in debt and we were not living high off the hog (Canada has very high taxes, we had two kids going to university and the rest was spent treading water).  Now we earn 20K a year and live fabulously.  Only caveat - you have to own the land and the cabin outright.  Get that handled and you can live cheap and well and healthy in the forest.  

One more thing - the economy is only going to get worse.  At least for awhile.  That means that 'property-way-out-there' will get cheaper.  So start looking now.  You may not get a better chance in your lifetime to make this dream come true.

 

 

 

 

John Edward Mercier
#20 Posted : Sunday, April 05, 2009 7:12:36 PM
Rank: Guest

Posts: 134,494

I think in other threads MC noted they have a manufactured home on some property...

I think she's working on food production, water and energy conservation, and maybe something I missed.

 

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