Monday, October 8, 2012

Gloom, Doom & the Economic Collapse of America

When I was a police officer I continually found myself dealing with people who were in trouble or causing trouble or both. Dealing with the "dregs" of society wore on me as it does many police officers and ultimately it influenced my attitude toward people and my world view. If that is all you see that is what you know...

Recently, I have discovered and been influenced by a genre of fiction and BLOGS that can be described as apocalyptic with regard to the potential collapse of our country as a result of any number of catastrophes (an EMP, an Economic Collapse, a New Ice Age, or a Coronal Mass Ejection) that might return us to the 18th century. No electricity, no cars, no fuel, no running water, no food, no sanitation, no health care, no law enforcement. Martial Law with UN Troops on US soil , FEMA Camps, roving gangs of looters, people facing starvation, separation from their loved ones and ultimately the death of millions of people for a myriad of reasons.

One motto of the news media is, "if it bleeds it leads" thus, we are constantly hearing about the latest catastrophe from around the corner or around the world. Greece and Spain are in default and chaos, Israel and Iran are staring each other down, our embassies are being attacked, our Congress can't work together, Ben Brenanke and the Fed are printing money and spending us, our children, and grandchildren into economic slavery and worst of all our troops are dying in the middle east in countries that don't like us and obviously don't want us there...

How do you find balance between those who say the world is going to end on December 21st (it's not by the way) and those who throw a hurricane party when a category 5 hurricane (Katrina) is bearing down on them? I have spent countless hours pondering these questions to the point that my wife is beginning to wonder about my sanity (I'm wondering about it as well...).

Here is my opinion about all of this.

First and foremost it is very possible that we are already experiencing an economic collapse. But you say, Greg the stock market is over 13,500 the highest in years, interest rates are low, I just refinanced my home at 3.5%, and I sold some scrap gold and got a bunch of money...

Have you ever had a wreck when things kind of went into slow motion? You could see what was happening but you were powerless to stop it.

Yes the stock market is very high just like it was in 2008 before the most recent crash, before the housing crash and before the great recession that has probably more than 15% of our people out of work.

Yes interest rates are low, so low in fact that many who rely on interest income to survive are not keeping pace with inflation.

Yes gold and silver are doing very well but these precious metals are a hedge against a collapse and many countries and individuals are loading up on gold right now. Why would they do this, particularly if historically it has not been an investment that has provided a good return?

Have you been to the gas station lately? Gas has more than doubled since Obama took office.

Have you shopped for food lately? Food costs have risen significantly and we have yet to feel the effects of this summers drought at the cash register...

Water rates have tripled in some cities as they maintain their crumbling infrastructure.

The Bible states that the borrower is slave to the lender and man are we borrowing! From the Fed to families we borrow on everything. Do you know that our government borrows 40 cents of every dollar they spend? The difference between us and the government is that eventually we run out of money to borrow. The Fed just prints more money. China is bankrolling our lack of fiscal discipline and when they want to get their money or if they stop loaning us money things could get very bad very fast.

So are we already experiencing the economic collapse or should we continue to party like it is 1999?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Water an Essential Resource - Part II

It has been six weeks since we installed two rain barrels. Since that time we have had plenty of rain to keep our barrels resupplied and we have been faithful to use the collected water on our vegetables and flowers. It takes between one and three minutes to fill our watering cans depending on the amount of water in the barrels. I typically water with one can while allowing the other to fill with water, which helps me use my time efficiently.

We have also added a third barrel to collect overflow when we have a good rain. We accomplished this by cutting a 3/4" hole near the top of an original barrel and inserting a PVC pipe to move the water from barrel A to barrel B.

We filled a 4th stand alone barrel by filling it with water from a barrel just prior to a big rain. Thus, we  currently have four 55 gallon barrels to capture and store over 200 gallons of water when they are full.

I have noted that using a watering can to water the vegetables gives me the ability to focus on specific plants versus using a sprinkler which waters everything but wastes a some water as well.

We'll have to wait and see if the water bill is significantly less this summer compared to last year and of course, this assumes that we'll continue to have some nice summer rains.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Water an Essential Resource

Water is everywhere, it is abundant, assumed to be infinite and absolutely critical to sustain life. It falls to earth as rain, snow, and dew and is provided to most of us via our municipal water supply. To survive FEMA recommends: "You should have at least a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking." That does not include all the additional, extraneous, and frivolous ways we use water. I spent some time considering how to be a better steward of this life sustaining resource and made some changes in my life. This post will discuss one thing we have done to conserve water, prepare a bit for an "outage" and eventually save some money on our utility bill.

Earlier this month we purchased some 55 gallon plastic food grade barrels. Thus far we have converted two to catch rain water from our gutters. These "rain barrels" collect 55 gallons of water for every half inch of rain that falls. I was very surprised at just how much water came off a small portion of our roof! Here are pictures of the initial purchase and after it was plumbed and painted.
We inverted the barrels, cut a hole in the top, added a screen to keep out debris and mosquitoes, and positioned the gutter to empty right over the hole in the barrel. We have raised the barrels up off the ground and have added a short piece of hose to fill our watering can.

We are primarily using the rain barrels to water our garden. We get " chemical free water" at no charge and don't have to pay a sewage fee on the back end - sorry I couldn't resist the pun. What I have noticed is that by watering with a can instead of the hose is that my watering is much more specific. I am able to water the plants without watering everything else around the plants which wasted water. Depending on the amount of water in the barrel my watering can fills up anywhere from three minutes down to just over one minute when it is at capacity. It currently takes more time to water, but as soon as I purchase a second watering can one can be filling while the other is used for watering. This will reduce my watering time significantly.

If our water supply were ever to be disrupted we have an emergency supply to tide us over for a few days or even longer assuming we still have rain! You may be thinking, "you are not really going to drink "that" water are you?" It would not typically be my first choice, but as a backpacker I have enjoyed filtered water from sources far less "hygienic" than a rain barrel. I would certainly filter, boil or treat the water before drinking it but I would most certainly drink "that" water! Besides in a pinch we can use the water to flush toilets, wash clothes, and shower!

Because we are getting such a bounty from our two rain barrels our next project is to add an additional barrel in series to capture the excess water that we expect to have.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 20, 2012


I remember the first time I saw "TEOTWAWKI". I thought what the heck is that? As I dug a little deeper I began to discover that I needed to wake up and get my act together...

TEOTWAWKI stands for, The End Of The World As We Know It. What the heck does that mean anyway? Let's unpack this a just a bit. First, "The World As We Know It" assumes and enjoys an infinite supply of clean tap water, natural gas, electricity, gasoline, and grocery store shelves stocked with food. Thus, "The End" of all that would be characterized by a complete lack, absence, or severe shortages of clean tap water, natural gas, electricity, gasoline, and empty grocery store shelves.

We live in a country that follows the rule of law that is supported by law enforcement. TEOTWAWKI would by definition find law enforcement severely hampered or non-existent.

There are numerous events that could cause TEOTWAWKI, and I have no crystal ball to predict what that might be. There is no way to prepare for every possible cause but there are general preparations that each of us can make.

First consider what are likely events that could create a TEOTWAWKI scenario for your specific area and how long would that scenario typically last? The length of time that a hurricane or blizzard brings chaos is very different from an economic problem that closes the banks, an EMP from the sun or enemy that cripples our electric grid, or a dirty bomb that leaves an area uninhabitable for decades.

A hurricane might create a need to leave a "bug out" situation or a "hunker down" and ride it out scenario. To leave you would want to have a reliable vehicle, some fuel in reserve just in case the local tanks are empty, some non-perishable food and water with you, an idea of where you are heading, maps for alternate routes, and some "roughing it" supplies - think camping trip.

If you choose to "hunker down" and ride it out consider some period of time that you might be isolated and without water, natural gas, electricity, gasoline, and grocery store shelves stocked with food. (think Katrina) What will you eat? How will you cook it? Do you have enough water for a week? Do you have any idea of how much water you will need to drink, cook, wash dishes, flush toilets, bathe, etc.? If looters come calling what will you do? Will you roll over and let them take your food, or your car, Rape or murder you or a family member?

Now is the time to prepare not the day the "storm" hits. By this time it's simply too late, the stores will be empty, gas stations will be empty, and the ATM's will be cleaned out or won't work. All of the preceding will accelerate if the power is out - no food, gas, or ATM'S! At least have enough cash on hand to pay $10-$15 a gallon for gasoline to fill your tank and get out of town; 20 gallons @ $15 / gallon = $300, they won't take your credit or debit card!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Debt Ceiling & Deficit Reduction

I have heard the rhetoric, watched as politicians try to blame each other and try even harder to “kick the can” of debt reduction down the road so that others will have to solve the problem. The president is not helping by threatening our seniors with the idea that they may not get their social security payments.

The partisan bickering and posturing continues to come at the expense of the American people and our economic future.

We can’t borrow our way out of debt and thus we must find some combination of reduced spending and increased revenue. A household deals with a debt crisis by cutting the expenses that go beyond the essentials of food, housing, transportation and utilities.

Our government has many programs that, while nice, go far beyond the essentials needed to get our fiscal house in order. We are 14 trillion dollars in debt, about to see our credit rating downgraded, and possibly going to default on our national obligations. We are facing bankruptcy and need to take drastic action involving a radical solution. Stop spending more than we collect and start paying down our national debt!

I’m not looking forward to the hardships that will result from the cuts that need to be made or those that will be forced upon us by continuing to “kick the can” down the road.

Mr. President and Congress do your job, quit worrying about your re-election, stop the partisan bickering, and make the tough decisions to get our fiscal house in order!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Fork in the Road - Stay the Course

We received our answer regarding the new opportunity and the answer was no. I have such a great sense of peace about the answer. Peace because where I work now has the best working environment of any place I have ever worked, my coworkers are great and we all pull together as a team!

Peace because we are not going to lose some wonderful neighbors as well; we have grown very close to them and would miss the "living in community" that we have come to enjoy. Peace because we don't have to sell our home in a very difficult real estate market.

So now we have an answer and all of the plans that were on hold for our home can be tackled!

Tackled, that is, as soon as we return from the beach!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Fork in the Road Part 2

We'll if you read my previous post I inferred that a decision regarding my fork in the road was imminent. Well that has not proven to be accurate! We are still awaiting "the call". Stay tuned...