30 September, 2009
Klare rightfully states that, instead of a massive, all-encompassing switchover to "greener" energy, what we have to look forward to is a period where the world drags its feet, attempting to squeeze whatever energy we can from sources such as coal and the remaining dregs of petroleum left after Peak Oil and its ever-higher-priced commodities, namely oil sands as well as heavier crudes and oil that must be brought up from such insane depths that it could only be considered profitable in a world where it is all that remains.
He points out that President Obama apparently would like to get the ball rolling on getting us off our oil addiction, using the funds earmarked in the stimulus for such items as modernizing the electrical grid, providing tax incentives to invest in renewable energy, and research on renewable sources of energy as an example. But, the bad news is that, regardless of all that, substantially reducing this country's dependence on oil and other non-renewable, dirty sources of energy will take decades, due to our unbelievably high demand for energy, among other factors.
Klare also gets it right, in my opinion, when he surmises that the period into which we are entering will be a time of strife. Areas rich in energy resources, such as the large natural gas fields beneath the Barents Sea and the East China Sea as well as the Arctic Ocean, thought to perhaps hide oil beneath its icy waters, have already begun to be the subject of minor boundary disputes in recent years. Those disputes have not yet been violent, but as energy becomes more and more scarce and therefore valuable in the coming years, it is only a matter of time.
As he says, "keep your seatbelts buckled. This roller-coaster ride is about to begin."
Robert at Ready Made Resources, one of our wonderful sponsors, turned me on to a new product that I thought you folks would definitely be interested in.
The LIFESAVER® Bottle 4000 is a canteen and filter all-in-one, which is extremely convenient. And, just like any other filter, it will remove bacteria, cysts, parasites, fungi, and all other microbiological water-borne pathogens from your water.
What makes it truly unique, however, is the fact that it filters the water down to .015 Microns (15 Nanometers), which makes it the *ONLY* filter I have ever seen that is capable of removing *viruses* without the use of any chemicals whatsoever!
And, another cool thing about it is that it allows you to put the water inside under pressure, meaning you could use it to irrigated a wound or your eyes if you had a foreign object in them while out in the field.
This truly looks like an amazing water filter! With all the emerging viruses running loose in the world today, this is the only water filter capable of removing viral contamination. And, it ships for free. For more info, click here and be sure to watch the videos below.
And recently a link was sent to me for the first commercially-available multi-fuel gasifier for alternative home power generation. Dubbed the Off Gridder, it is capable of running off the gases release by burning wood pellets, wood chunks, wood chips and certain other types of agricultural waste. It is able to meet the power needs of an efficient home in as little as 2-4 hours a day.
29 September, 2009
The problem now, apparently, is that climate change has resulted in the formation of a second El Nino that waxes and wanes alternately with the first; one gets stronger as the other weakens and then they reverse positions. "This could be bad news on at least two fronts, the researchers said.
In Asia, it could intensify droughts that have already wreaked havoc in recent decades. And in the Atlantic, it could weaken the positive effect it has had up to now in mitigating the intensity of hurricanes that strike the Caribbean and the US east coast." And, unfortunately, this is a scenario researchers believe could become even more frequent over the coming decades.
If, after witnessing what happened with Hurricane Katrina, you are still not trained to think immediately about emergency preparedness at the mere mention of having stronger hurricanes in the future, then I would advise you to go get a stick and flail yourself mercilessly until you get the picture and start prepping.
28 September, 2009
It is unclear what percentage of these poor lost souls are down there for purely economic reasons, however, as the article clearly states many are drug addicts and have been down there a long time. This is despite the dangers posed by deadly black widow spiders (yikes!) and rain drainage that has drowned 20 people who were presumably living in the tunnels in as many years.
This just goes to show you how adept people can be at surviving and adapting to harsh circumstances when they must. Even if they do have to live like rats to do so. Also, you should research to see if this sort of tunnel system or something similar exists where you live. Knowledge of such a place could come in very handy in the event of a fast crash that catches you unawares and makes it so that you need an expedient place to hide or use as a shortcut out of town as you bug-out. In all truth, it could save your life some day, provided it isn't already full of raggedy-ass homeless druggies. On second thought: if you decide to check it out, take a trusted friend or two with you for safety purposes just in case.
27 September, 2009
Also, from the same article sourced above, we get the following quote:
"The CDC said the latest data, based on reports by U.S. States and territories on Sept. 22, shows that 26 states had geographically widespread influenza activity in the past week, comparing to 21 states in the previous week.
The five more states that had widespread influenza activity include the most populous states of California and Texas. Meanwhile, four more states had regional influenza activity in the past week, bringing the total to 11.
All these indicate the second wave of the pandemic is imminent."
And, all of that is bad news, especially when you consider that it hit the media this week that, in dire pandemic conditions, it is likely we will experience triaging of ventilators. If you're a regular reader of Backwoods Survival Blog then this won't be news to you, but it is just beginning to trickle its way into the mainstream. I, however, have long said that perhaps the greatest danger posed by H1N1 is its ability to infect so many so fast and thereby overwhelm the medical establishment. Putting aside the possibly of some horrendously deadly future mutation, the terrible truth is that even in its current form the virus hits a certain percentage of those it infects very, very hard, and that percentage will track evenly alongside the total number as it continues to grow. If H1N1 swine flu infects billions as the WHO expects it will, then even a small percentage represents a crippling number of patients suffering more serious symptoms. It is simple, undeniable mathematics.
Don't forget that you need to be doing your research on the new vaccine so you can make a well informed decision regarding whether or not to take it. Immunizations will begin 6 October.
As a side note, you may or may not have heard that CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta contracted H1N1 swine flu this past week while covering military operations in Afghanistan as a correspondent. He reports that it began with a painful cough, body aches, and cold sweats; then worsened to include head congestion, vomiting, and persistent coughing. He required IV fluids, a nasal decongestant, tylenol and lots of rest in order to recover. The illness lasted 6-7 days, and he was the sickest he's ever been. (source)
Other H1N1 swine flu links of interest:
Spike in Pennsylvania Swine Flu Deaths
Widespread Flu Antibody Confounds Clinical Trial
Swine Flu Surge May Cause Heart Attacks
First H1N1 Vaccines Will Be Nasal Spray
The following was issued as a handout from the Red Cross to some U.S. school districts:
The following is an email bulletin recently sent from Penn State University to its students:
"Self Care Guide for Influenza
Written by Clinicians of University Health Services at University Park
Any questions please feel free to contact PSH Student Health Services: 717-948-6015
Following these basic guidelines can help ease your discomfort and speed your recovery.
DO NOT TAKE ASPIRIN.
Increase your fluid intake. Drinking more fluids will help you stay hydrated and better control your temperature.
Fluids such as water, sports drinks and clear broth soups are generally well tolerated.
Get plenty of rest. Stay in bed and rest as much as possible.
Wash your hands frequently. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers after coughing, sneezing and wiping your nose to reduce the spread of the virus.
Isolate yourself in your room or home until at least 24 hours after fever has cleared without the use of fever-reducing medications. This means that your temperature
should be below 100 degrees for at least this time period.
For fever, chills and body aches use an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen (generic Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (generic Aleve). The major side effect of NSAIDs is irritation of the stomach, occasionally leading to gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding. Stop the medication if you have stomach upset or pain. Consider taking acetaminophen (Tylenol), instead, for fever and pain if you
have stomach upset.
For stuffy nose and congestion use a decongestant.
The only effective oral decongestant currently available is pseudoephedrine. You must ask the! pharmacist for this medication (regulated because of illegal use to make
methamphetamine), although no prescription is required.
Decongestants purchased off the shelf contain phenylephrine and are much less effective. Oral decongestants may produce rapid heart rate, blood pressure elevation, nervous stimulation, and restlessness which may interfere with sleep.
An alternative to the oral medication is a decongestant nose spray oxymetazoline hydrochloride(generic Afrin). This can rapidly relieve nasal obstruction. When the decongestant effect of the drug wears off, nasal obstruction rapidly returns.
Therefore, this can be very effective, but limit use to 3 days (if used twice daily) or 5-6 nights (if only used at bedtime). Overuse by just a few days can result in “rebound” obstruction and mucosal damage.
For runny nose, sneezing and cough try an antihistamine.
The most effective antihistamines are first generation, although they tend to cause drowsiness. Examples of first generation antihistamines are brompheniramine (generic for DimeTapp), *chlorpheniramine (generic for Chlor-Trimeton and Singlet), *diphenhydramine (generic for Benadryl), and *doxylamine(generic for NyQuil and Alka-Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine).
The newer (non-sedating) antihistamines do not appear to have the same degree of effectiveness for treating colds.
Examples are *Loratadine (Claritin), Fexofenadine (Allegra – prescription required), and *Certirizine (Zyrtec).
For cough you can try a cough suppressant. Cough suppressants are natural narcotics, like codeine, and synthetic narcotics, like dextromethorphan (DM). They act on the brain to depress the cough reflex center. Their effectiveness in patients with chronic cough has been demonstrated in controlled studies but there is little published information on their effectiveness in coughs associated with colds. Cough suppressants can produce gastrointestinal discomfort but otherwise have few side effects. In normal healthy people with good cough reflexes, cough suppressants are safe. [SM Adds]: There is data that suggests taking cough suppressants is unwise with H1N1 swine flu; better that you maintain a productive cough to keep the virus from setting-up in the lungs, where autopsies of H1N1 deaths have shown that the virus burrows deep and does serious damage.
Drug interactions may occur with DM and certain antidepressants.
If you are on an antidepressant, discuss this with your provider.
For sore throat or nasal congestion consider using a saline rinse. Various nasal saline rinse kits are available commercially or you can make your own saline by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water in a clean container:
For the nose: Place the above mixture in a reusable sinus rinse bottle or draw up into a nasal bulb syringe. The most convenient way to perform a sinus rinse is in the shower or over a sink.
For the throat: Swish and spit
Keeping a throat lozenge, cough drop, or hard candy in your mouth will stimulate your saliva and help soothe your throat."
I, for one, will be curious to see what the numbers for 2009 look like, but it is interesting to note that Iceland is apparently in the midst of a baby boom a year removed from their collapse. Serious concerns of worsening overpopulation and the increased overshooting of resources come to mind, but I guess when you're out of a job you gotta do something to occupy yourself. ;-)
25 September, 2009
See the following articles:
- Panel: Electrical grid vulnerable to terrorist attack
- Conference warns of potential EMP dangers
24 September, 2009
Apparently, the bank’s exposure to derivatives trades took a wrong turn to Disaster-waiting-to-happen City when it purchased Wachovia and its assets a while back. And, now they are stuck with paper that could trigger *HUGE* losses for them.
Wachovia, it seems, went crazy writing credit default swaps on the commercial real estate mortgages it had sold, and now Wells Fargo may have a hard time even being able to figure out just how exposed it is.
Wow. That is all I can say.
Please see my previous writing on what a mess we are in with respect to derivatives:
- The $531 Trillion Dollar Derivatives Time Bomb
- How to Prepare For China's Coming Derivative Default
The homemade wind turbine you see diagrammed here is currently in use and being used to provide electrical power to the off-grid, hand-built home of the fine folks who run the very informative internet site Vela Creations. The site is where they have documented virtually every aspect of their life beyond the municipal power grid and other utilities, and it stands as a testament to the idea that life in a rural, even remote setting is not only possible, but can be a very rewarding experience.
They have graciously provided detailed plans via the website that show how to build a wind turbine just like the one that supplies their electricity out of what are essentially scrap materials that you might find just lying around. But, even if you have to purchase the materials, you should be able to do so at little or no cost - a good deal of it is fabricated from PVC. By the way "Chispito," as best I can tell, is just their name for it, so don't let that get you all wrapped around the axle.
Also pictured on the lower right, is a look at the home they built for themselves.
The body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old Census field worker and occasional teacher, was found Sept. 12 in the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky.
Investigators have said little about the case. A law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, tells The Associated Press the word "fed" was written on the dead man's chest.
FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is helping state police determine if Sparkman's death was the result of foul play, and if so, whether it was related to his census work." (source)
Apparently, the killing occurred in rural Clay County, Kentucky. (source)
My instincts and training tell me to hold back and wait to see what is ultimately discovered. After all, he could've been killed for other reasons and the unknown subjects involved may have simply been trying to deflect attention from themselves by making the crime appear politically-motivated.
If this really does turn out to be a case of anti-government violence, however, then I fear we may already be further down the road of divisiveness I've previously warned you about than I had imagined. If that is the case, then I am truly worried.
Mr. Benson apparently agrees with my thoughts on the subject. He writes:
"So how big is the next wave in the housing mortgage disaster? Currently, one out of eight mortgages is in foreclosure or paying late, and with unemployment averaging over 9 percent for 2009 and 2010 and peaking in 2011, it’s likely one in five mortgages could ultimately default. Moreover, we have seen that less than 7 percent of those mortgages that are late will get cured and stay out of foreclosure. Over the last six months, notices of home foreclosures have been running about 350,000 a month, which is over 4 million a year. A lot of homes are headed to the auction block with their mortgages headed for the shredder.
For mortgage losses we should recognize that prime mortgages on average are significantly larger than sub-prime, and it only stands to reason that the larger the house and mortgage, the bigger the loss. With over 50 percent of mortgages failing coming from prime loans, bigger loan losses lie ahead. The total losses to come is anyone’s guess, but the $11 trillion in outstanding home mortgages could easily produce over $2 trillion in defaulted mortgages, and another $600 billion of credit losses! So, until this wave has crashed on the shore, I would recommend staying away from the water!"
23 September, 2009
Apparently, the planet is getting a break from its carbon woes due to the crappy economy.
A rare and dirty wind storm that kicked up in South Australia and engulfed New South Wales has reached Brisbane and may even get to New Zealand before the dust settles.
Apparently, it's highly unusual to have such dry conditions this late. Don't forget the terrible fires they had down there not long ago.
Mr. Summers sounds just like one of us.
Retrieved from: http://www.kitco.com/ind/Summers/sep142009.html
In case you have not heard the news, China has announced that it will be instructing its state-owned enterprises to potentially default on their derivatives contracts. As I have written extensively in the past, the derivatives market is a massive time bomb just waiting to go off. China’s latest move may be the match that lights the fuse.
All told, US Commercial banks own $202 trillion in derivatives in notional value. To put that number into perspective, it’s roughly four times the global GDP. And 96% of this exposure sits on five banks’ balance sheets. I’ve shown the below chart before, but it’s worth re-visiting (chart is denominated in TRILLIONS).
Of course, not ALL of the $202 trillion these guys own is “at risk.” As their name implies, derivatives are “derived” from underlying assets (homes, debt, etc). The actual “at risk” money can be far FAR smaller than the “notional” value of derivatives outstanding.
However, when you’re talking about $200+ trillion, even a marginal amount of “at risk” money can mean ENORMOUS losses. Consider, if 1% of that $200 trillion were at risk, you’re talking about $2 trillion in capital. Now, if even 10% of those bets go bad, you’re talking about $200 billion in losses.
Now consider that, combined, the top five banks (JP Morgan, Goldman, BofA, Citi, and HSBC) have roughly $700 billion in equity.
And that’s it only 1% of the derivatives outstanding are actually “at risk.” Given the over-leveraged, stupid plays Wall Street made on mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps (both investments that had SOME degree of oversight, even if it were paltry), as well as the fact that derivatives are COMPLETELY unregulated, I would argue it’s quite possible that as much as 5% or even 10% of the derivatives outstanding could be “at risk.”
In that case, we’re talking about $10-$20 trillion in “at risk” capital. If even 10% of these bets go wrong, you’ve wiped out ALL the equity at all five banks AND THEN SOME.
As I mentioned just now (and before many times), the primary problem with derivatives is that they are COMPLETELY TOTALLY unregulated. NO ONE has any idea what’s “at risk” or who owns what or who’s betting against who.
But we may be about to find out.
I’ve detailed the ongoing conflict between China and the US regarding monetary policies on these pages before. The brief overview is that China owns $800+ billion (by some accounts $1.3 trillion or more) of our Treasuries (debt) and is not too happy about Ben Bernanke and other US monetary figures throwing trillions around in bailouts and emergency measures to counteract the financial crisis.
China has fired a couple of “warning” shots already, mainly in the form of various Chinese diplomats expressing concern and frustration with the US’s monetary policies. They even flew China’s Vice Premiere to an unscheduled talk with US monetary officials back in July.
No one knows what was said during the talks, but given that Ben Bernanke is extended Quantitative Easing to October and has shown little signs of reversing his current “anti-dollar” policies, it’s pretty clear China didn’t get what they wanted.
I’ve often wondered what China would do if push came to shove. Their decision to have their state-owned enterprises default or renege on their derivatives contracts may be the answer.
Let me explain.
As I’ve stated on these pages before, I view the “bailouts” as nothing more than an attempt to funnel taxpayer money to the large US banks so they can raise capital to avoid insolvency. It was essentially a “re-capitalization” effort using public funds. And it came at the expense of the dollar and Treasuries.
China, who owns more Treasuries and dollar-denominated assets than anyone, was obviously not too pleased about this. They’ve asked time and time again for the US to stop what it is doing. However, Geithner, Bernanke, et al, simply plowed ahead ignoring their requests (Geithner actually told a group of students in China that the math behind the US’s policies were solid which resulted in the students laughing at him).
China’s decision to default on its commodity derivatives is a very clever means of slapping the US Federal Reserve in the face without “going nuclear” by selling Treasuries outright.
Commodities account for the smallest portion of derivatives on US commercial bank balance sheets ($938 billion out of $200 trillion). A default here would trigger a chain reaction that could essentially wipe out the Fed’s attempts are re-capitalization (the US banks would suddenly be on the hook for billions in losses that they didn’t expect). It’s a very serious indirect way of China saying, “if you want to continue screwing around, we’ll simply walk away from the table.” But they’re doing it in a select asset class that no one but Wall Street engages in (derivatives).
The primary issues now are:
- Whether China WILL actually begin defaulting (remember, so far it’s just a threat).
- Whether or not China’s decision would trigger a larger chain reaction in the derivatives markets.
- How the US will respond to China’s threat.
I do not know the answer to these issues. No one does.
I DO know, however, that a derivative chain reaction throughout the financial system could cause a full-blown implosion like September-November 2008. We’re talking about massive volatility (2%+ swing days) and a stock market collapse of 20-30% within a matter of weeks.
Remember, computers account for 70% of the market’s volume. And they can simply walk away OR even worse, start driving the market lower as they adjust to trading in the new environment. These are not sensible, brain driven, investors who can make qualitative judgments. They are computers trading based on algorithms that track various metrics. If we get a black swan even (and China defaulting on derivatives would be one) these computers could go completely haywire and instigate a repeat of the ’87 Crash.
I am not saying that this WILL happen, but mention all of this to remind you of the investing environment we’re in. Pull the plug on the computers and you’ve got panicked selling galore and a repeat of October 2008 if not 1987.
I’m preparing our portfolio for this eventuality this week (more on this in a minute) with a number of trades that should prove extremely profitable if the Crash I’ve been predicting for months comes to fruition.
However, we also need to consider the socio-economic implications of what could happen should China start defaulting on its derivative contracts with the US. If China chooses that route, the US could choose to default on its debt to China. At that point we would be in a full-scale economic war and potentially on our way to military conflict.
The fact that Japan’s new leadership has also expressed displeasure with the US’s monetary policy adds to the mix. This creates additional issues that I do not know the outcome of (Japan and China are our largest creditor nations).
I am not saying any of this to be “scary” or “doom and gloom.” But things are coming to a head in a very REAL way on the global stage. And it is not looking good at all. This financial crisis is nowhere near over. If anything we’re at the end of the beginning. Many, many more banks will go under. We can and will see a lot more volatility in the bond and currency markets (a bear market in bonds would be a nightmare we haven’t seen in 30 odd years). And stocks (already overbought and propped up via manipulation and accounting gimmicks) are primed to take a full-scale nosedive (more on this in a minute).
My Personal Message: BE PREPARED
In light of this, and on a more personal note, I am suggesting you prepare for the WORST if you are in the US. This means stockpiling food, and having enough cash on hand to survive an economic shutdown if it happens. We came close to such an event last fall (the story was not widely spread but banks in US and UK considered shutting down ATMs and having a holiday).
I can tell you that I personally have stockpiled food (3 months’ worth) and am telling my family and friends to do the same. After all, what’s the worst that could come from doing this? If I’m totally wrong and everything gets better, you simply eat the food just like you would anyway.
But if I am right, and things do get MESSY, then stockpiling now means you’ve got food on the table later. Again, we have the making of several black swan events that could push an already weak economy into SERIOUS trouble. Among them are:
- China defaulting on derivatives (triggering a chain reaction in the financial markets)
- China selling Treasuries (flight from the dollar and all paper money)
- Japan sell Treasuries (ditto)
- The $7 trillion commercial real estate market (as bad if not worse that the US residential market)
- Some other chain reaction event in the $1 QUADRILLION derivative market
- The H1N1 virus (a major flu pandemic would stop all economic growth in its tracks)
- A major bank failure (rumors of Wells Fargo or someone else are swirling)
- Some other item no one sees coming (e.g. Gmail shut down for an hour a few weeks ago, imagine if the NYSE’s servers did the same thing).
All of these could portend another crisis for the US economy and stock market. I put the likelihood that we are out of the Crisis and the Great Depression II (it is a DEPRESSION, not a RECESSION), at less than 5%. Even if we go the route Japan did in the ‘80s instead of a full-blown black swan induced meltdown, then we’re talking about weak economic growth for a two decades with high unemployment, lower quality of life, and the stock market slowly losing 80% of its value.
I believe the market is already sensing a crisis which explains the recent spike in gold prices. We know for a fact that China is instructing its investors to buy gold. The fact that they might potentially default on their derivative contracts¾ a move that potentially could wipe out all the Fed’s recapitalization efforts with the large banks (which would prompting more pumping of the system and massive dollar devaluation)¾ might also be leading investors to distrust paper money and seek safe haven in a currency that CANNOT be devalued: GOLD.
22 September, 2009
On Monday, he wrote an article entitled "Find The Difference - Why Ponzi Finance Fails," in which he said, "... The Ponzi-style 'debt accumulation' game has hit its natural limit and yet The Fed refuses to admit to the facts and allow outstanding debt to default, instead conspiring with Treasury to transfer as much of the default risk as possible to The Federal Government itself! By purchasing nearly a trillion dollars of 'agency' paper The Fed is essentially attempting to force Treasury to issue a full-faith-and-credit guarantee against securities where such a guarantee is explicitly disavowed.
I fully expect in the not-distant future an explicit threat that should The Fed be audited or worse, should that demanded guarantee be refused 'The End Of The World' will ensue - yet another threat of martial law and similar 'end times' prophecy, coming directly as a consequence of the intentional actions of The Federal Reserve and Treasury themselves.
There is no avoiding the math folks."
Of course, when he speaks here of "The End Of The World" and "'end times' prophecy," he is being dramatic. What he means is that it could trigger a sort of financial Armageddon or crash, the likes of which we have never seen, and he might just be right.
We can pretty well rest assured that should the Fed ever really be audited it would reveal "that the big banks were close to being insolvent near the end of 2008, and in fact were close to declaring bankruptcy. In response the Fed swooped in and saved them, propping up their puppet leaders while allowing close to 100 banks to fail. In other words, Bernanke and the banking cartel scratched each other’s backs at the expense of other banks." (source) But, seeing how much effort is being impended by those in power to keep it from happening, I have a great fear that it might be catastrophic, essentially shutting down the economy completely for a brief (yet wholly destructive) period.
Can you imagine the chaos that might ensue during, for instance, an extended bank holiday, where our personal funds might be untouchable for anywhere between a day and two full weeks. I would be amazed if it didn't result in widespread banking failures, rioting and a declaration of martial law.
In the long run, I doubt it'll ever happen though. As the Bill gets more and more supporters everyday, so too does each passing day just give the crooks more time to get rid of the evidence.
"In October, PM focuses on self-reliance—how to live through any disaster for a day, a month— or forever. This special issue celebrates the skills, ideas and tech that can ensure survival and long-term sustainability."
21 September, 2009
Before I begin, though, allow me to touch on a couple of important points: first, measure all this stuff out before you begin; and secondly, safety is your primary concern throughout. You will be dealing with lye and it is nasty stuff. Truly, number two about being safe is the reason for number one and me wanting you to do all your measuring beforehand. This is no time to be fooling around, trying to do too many things at once. Trust me on this. Plus, if you measure wrong, your soap won't turn out right either. I guess that is another pretty good reason, huh?
This recipe should typically yield about 28 four oz. bars of soap after curing.
Equipment you'll need:
- Protective gloves
- Some sort of scale as all measurements are by weight not volume
- Large (Microwave safe) mixing bowl - anything but metal, as metal will react adversely with the lye
- Large measuring cup - also not metal
- Another container to hold your lye after measuring, but before adding to water
- Thermometer - the kind you use when making candy works great
- Long handled plastic spoon for stirring, while standing at a distance
- Saran Wrap
- Some sort of mold to pour finished product into - glass cookware is acceptable, but don't use anything you can't live without for a few weeks
- Measuring spoons, etc. - not metal
Ingredients (I started out with a basic recipe found at the Millers Soap website):
48oz Crisco shortening (#3 can)
18 oz Coconut oil
21 oz Olive oil
12 oz lye crystals (must be 100% Sodium Hydroxide)
28 oz cold, clean water
- Fragrances, if you so desire
- As I said previously, measure out all ingredients before you begin.
- Wear gloves and keep the vinegar nearby. If you get lye on your skin, quickly splashing vinegar on it will neutralize it before it can burn you too badly.
- Line your mold with Saran Wrap to make it easier to remove the soap later.
- Now, this next step should be done either outside or in a very well ventilated area. I prefer the porch. Slowly begin adding the lye to the water one spoonful at a time, stirring thoroughly as you do. *NEVER, NEVER* pour the water into the lye, however, as the resulting bomb would likely make you very sorry you did. Again, the lye gets added to the water a spoonful at a time and stirred in so that it dissolves. Do not be alarmed at the reaction, nor at the fumes produced. This is normal. Just stand at a distance and keep stirring, but it is okay if you need to stop and step away for a few minutes. In addition to the fumes, the lye and water reaction will get pretty hot, but you'll leave it to cool to about 100 degrees after you've finished dissolving all the crystals.
- Now, while the lye and water solution cools, place the shortening and the coconut oil together in the large mixing bowl and microwave it until the oils are totally melted. Add the olive oil and stir thoroughly to be sure all of the fats are completely combined. If necessary, let it cool. Both it and the lye and water solution need to be close to the same temperature.
- Once both mixtures cool sufficiently, stir the fats as you *SLOWLY* pour in the lye and water solution. Be sure to stir steadily, covering all areas of the pot and be careful not to splatter yourself. Continue to stir as the mixture slowly begins to thicken. This could take anywhere between 15-30 minutes. Add any fragrances during this time, if you so choose. When it is ready, the texture will change to something resembling a pudding, at which time you can test to see if you're done by taking a spoon-full and dribbling it across the top of the mixture; if it leaves a noticeable trail, this is what is referred to as trace and it means the soap is ready to pour into your previously prepared mold.
- When pouring, your mixture should be smooth with no noticeable lumps. Cover with Saran Wrap and let it sit for about 7 days. Then remove from the mold and cut your soap into 3" x 1" bars. Allow the bars of soap to cure in a well ventilated area for an additional 4 weeks, turning them once at the two week mark to ensure an even cure.
19 September, 2009
But, now it seems that his new film is creating buzz among the mainstream as well, at least if you consider an auspicious opening at the recent Toronto Film Festival and a positive review in Entertainment Weekly going mainstream.
And, not only does the reviewer give the film a thumbs-up, but he cites it as being one of the true "buzz" films at the festival this year, saying things like, "... by the time I got to it, I’d heard a dozen people talking it up..." Further, not only does he *NOT* write the whole thing off as nonsense, but he actually seems like he could easily become a convert. He talks about Ruppert's explanation of peak oil and his early predictions on the coming economic crisis, arguing that Ruppert delivers his message in such a manner that it makes it difficult not to accept what he is saying as being the truth. "The drama of the movie, and it’s intense," says the reviewer, "is that even if you want to argue with him (and you will, since he’s predicting very bad things), you can’t dismiss what he’s saying."
He goes on to write: "... what his statements add up to is this: The way of life that America, and much of the rest of the world, has known is now ending. The 'economic crisis' isn’t just a bad patch; it’s the finally visible — and inevitable — symptom of a much greater underlying instability. And what’s coming? A society, Ruppert says, that is going to have to fundamentally re-imagine how it lives if it intends to survive. He invokes the 'Titanic', his prognostication teetering between dire warning and doom...
... the power of 'Collapse' is that Ruppert, with his dazzling articulation and disarmingly low-key, just-the-facts-ma’am encylopedic-associational style, never sounds like a crackpot. You may want to dispute him, but more than that you’ll want to hear him, because what he says — right or wrong, prophecy or paranoia — takes up residence in your mind."
So, you tell me, what does it mean when such a deliciously doomy message like the one Ruppert is delivering with his film-- which, one year ago, would have been laughed at-- is so easily accepted by the mainstream?
And, what made it even more amazing was that the article was printed by a mainstream media outlet, albeit an Australian one. The piece by Carola Hoyos entitled, "Oil strikes not enough to quench demand," states: "... Are these new discoveries big enough to delay or even avoid the supply crunch that oil executives, leaders of the Group of Eight rich countries and Opec, the oil cartel, all warn could befall the world as it attempts to recover from its worst recession in decades?
In the near-term, the answer is probably not. This is because fields take a long time to develop and some forecasters see a crunch happening before 2014... If the economy returns to 4.5-5 per cent growth rates, the world will need about 4m barrels of oil a day more output to meet demand if it does not want to risk a price spike...
That July, spare capacity, which today lies at a comfortable 6m b/d, was reduced so dramatically by demand from China and elsewhere that oil prices rose to a record of $147 a barrel. Oil producers were just not able to keep up, analysts say...
... much more oil would need to be found to delay the plateau that global oil production will eventually hit as the world's biggest fields decline and large oil-rich areas remain untapped because of political hurdles.
... In terms of overall production, he says the discoveries will shallow the decline rather than move the peak.
... 'If you do really open up several new Jubilee fields, then you could start having an impact,' she said, referring to the African field.
But one thing all the analysts stress is that delaying an oil supply crunch will need more than just a slew of discoveries...
It will be up to governments whether the demand-side effect comes from policies promoting efficiency and oil alternatives or the more painful demand erosion that comes from economies screeching to a halt because oil supply again fails to keep up with demand."
One would do well not to discount Celente offhand. He doesn't predict the future, but instead analyzes trends as they emerge and forecasts how they are likely to evolve and ultimately play out in the end, and he has a rather impressive record at being spot-on.
18 September, 2009
Another very popular approach is to install one or more wind turbines in order to harness that resource to generate clean electricity. In the classic sense of a windmill, the wind catches the blades and turns the wheel, which in turn spins a permanent magnet alternator that generates power. This type of system is often used in concert with solar panels as the two smartly complement one another: the wind typically blows stronger at night when the solar is obviously not going to be working, thus picking up the slack; this is also true in the winter months when overcast conditions greatly reduce solar panel efficiency, but the wind typically blows faster and stronger than at any other point in the whole year. Small wind turbines, capable of generating up to 400 watts in the proper windspeeds, can be purchased for home use, or you can build your own. You can even make yours larger and capable of producing more power, if you possess the ingenuity and a suitable location for a large tower.
But, depending on the location of your homestead or retreat and its proximity to a reliable source of running water, you may have another option for generating clean, reliable power: Micro-Hydroelectric. There is some debate over the terminology involved with some insisting that the 'Micro-' prefix be used only when describing systems that produce between 5-100 kW of power and those producing less (suitable for a single homestead or retreat) be referred to as Pico-Hydro instead, but we will not be concerning ourselves with such distinctions here. Many assumptions concerning Pico-Hydro setups, such as that it is "useful [only] in small, remote communities that require only a small amount of electricity - for example, to power one or two fluorescent light bulbs and a TV or radio in 50 or so homes," are likewise not germane to our conversation here, because the system I am describing would be used to charge a bank of deep-cycle batteries as opposed to running appliances, etc. directly from the amperage produced.
A well thought-out and informative treatise on Small Hydroelectric Plants can be found online in PDF format courtesy of the West Virginia extension site at http://www.wvu.edu/~exten/infores/pubs/ageng/epp13.pdf, but it mostly concerns itself with the standard practice of using a water source that has a lot of head and flow.
Another alternative site that showcases a design I really like is http://www.HomeBrewHydro.com. This setup utilizing an old olive barrel was initially producing "90 watts at 36PSI from a 1-1/2 inch pipe with roughly 100 feet of head" before upgrading his penstock and nozzles, which he estimates to have roughly doubled the output.
Another very promising concept is the one built by Sam Redfield of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG) that is housed in a common five gallon bucket and fabricated using common PVC components and an old Toyota alternator that has been modified to make it capable of generating usable electricity at low RPMs.
The generator was envisioned as a means to provide electricity to remote communities in the developing world without access to the power grid. What you end up with is a generator producing about 60 watts that can be used to charge batteries and small appliances such as cellular telephones, or other small-scale purposes. It is simple and easy to build with readily-available and/or easily scroungeable parts and, at worst, you may have to invest a few hundred dollars maximum. (source)
Yeah, I know 60 watts doesn't sound like much, but remember what I said earlier about this being a system for charging a bank of deep-cycle batteries and not planning to run any appliances or anything like that directly off the power it is spitting out. Run your stuff directly from the batteries, while using this system to charge them. If you built it sturdy enough that you felt comfortable leaving it running over night, 60 watts would net you 1,440 watts. According to my math, this would allow you to comfortably drain your battery bank by 120 amp-hours per day, while remaining confident that your hydroelectric system would replenish what you had used. Still not impressed? Consider then that a slightly more powerful setup, say somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 amp-hours per day in a 12 volt arrangement, would allow me to run my big ol' two-door Energy Star refrigerator/freezer combo with ice in the door. Suddenly, 120 AH doesn't sound so puny, huh?
Of course, to be fair, this doesn't account for the power that would be used by other components such as the inverter and the charge controller, and you would need to spend some money on deep-cycle batteries because you never want to let them get discharged too deeply. It kills them. Being sure, however, to limit your average depth of discharge to around 25% will net you long battery life (10-15 years in some instances) before they have to be replaced. So, if you're using 150 AH per day to run a fridge, you need to have a battery bank capable of storing no less than 600 AH. For instance, one could purchase six (6) of these 12 Volt 105 Amp Hour Sealed Solar Deep Cycle Batteries at just shy of $1,500.00 total and it would do the trick pretty well. Add to that a few hundred dollars to put together the bucket hydro system described above and you have the beginnings of a self-sufficient, off-grid electrical system for under $2,000.00 that you can continue to add to as you go.
And, oh yeah, to do the same thing with solar would require panels that add up to about 750 watts (750 watts x about 2.5 dependable average solar hours at my latitude = 1,875 watts / 12 volts = 156.25 amps or amp-hours). A solar array equaling that kind of wattage would cost me just under $1,500.00 in today's prices and that's before I pay the $1,500.00 listed above to procure my batteries, bring the total cost to around $3,000.00, fully $1,000.00 more expensive than with the system described here in this article. And remember that's at today's solar prices where panels can be had for as little as $1.98/watt with a little shopping around; as recently as 6-9 months ago they were still hovering around $5.00/watt.
Also, one should keep in mind that building a 2nd bucket hydro generator would double the electrical output, while only bringing the total cost to around $2,300.00. This would provide another 90 AH of power (120 x 2 = 240 - 150 = 90) or 1080 watts (90 x 12 volts = 1080) to use for other smaller appliances, lighting, etc. The AH rating of the batteries listed above still leaves us with a 30 AH cushion above and beyond the 600 we said we needed also. Therefore, we only need to purchase battery capacity equaling 330 AH (90 x 4 = 360 - 30 = 330) to keep our system under the 25% discharge ceiling we set earlier. The only problem is the batteries are rated for 105 AH each, so it is impossible to hit the mark exactly; purchasing 4 more batteries would be best, especially if you intend to continue to expand, but you could probably get away with only 3 since the 25% discharge ceiling is meant to be an average estimate. So, after adding the batteries, that leaves you with a system that cost you under $3,050.00 and allows you to produce 2,880 watts or 240 AH of total electricity per 24 hour period. The same output using solar panels would cost around $4,530.96 (1,152 watts of panels x about 2.5 dependable average solar hours at my latitude = 2,880 watts / 12 volts = 240 amps or amp-hours and 1,152 watts of panels x $1.98/watt = $2,280.96 + slightly less than $2,250.00 for the battery bank = just shy of $4,530.96 total cost). So, as you can see, the savings over solar increase exponentially each time you expand the system.
All that from a homemade bucket generator that produces a measly 60 watts.
15 September, 2009
As stated in the recent DailyMail article "Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession" by Simon Parry, "The biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history lies at anchor east of Singapore. Never before photographed, it is bigger than the U.S. and British navies combined but has no crew, no cargo and no destination - and is why your Christmas stocking may be on the light side this year."
And, for my money, stocking this holiday season will be the least of our collective worries.
With the 'real' unemployment rate hovering at just shy of 17%, I believe that this is going to be one of the most disastrous retail holiday seasons ever. I mean, how can it not be when so many people are out of work? And, what's worse is that many retailers-- already struggling in the stormy waters of this ragged economy-- are depending on big numbers to set their proverbial ships right. If Christmas is as rough on retailers as I expect it to be, then I imagine we will see massive downsizing and layoffs after the first of next year as a result, thus driving unemployment up to well over 20%.
The following brief summaries are for fair use and educational purposes only.
Canned Food Study One
Following is a brief summary of a very small portion of the above article:
"Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand in 1968 were brandied peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974, chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they had been when canned more than 100 years earlier. The nutrient values varied depending upon the product and nutrient. NFPA chemists Janet Dudek and Edgar Elkins report that significant amounts of vitamins C and A were lost. But protein levels remained high, and all calcium values 'were comparable to today's products.'"
"NFPA chemists also analyzed a 40-year-old can of corn found in the basement of a home in California. Again, the canning process had kept the corn safe from contaminants and from much nutrient loss. In addition, Dudek says, the kernels looked and smelled like recently canned corn."
"According to a recent study cosponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NFPA, canned foods provide the same nutritional value as fresh grocery produce and their frozen counterparts when prepared for the table. NFPA researchers compared six vegetables in three forms: home-cooked fresh, warmed canned, and prepared frozen. 'Levels of 13 minerals, eight vitamins, and fiber in the foods were similar,' says Dudek. In fact, in some cases the canned product contained high levels of some vitamins that in fresh produce are destroyed by light or exposure to air."
Canned Food Study Two
The Washington State University summary article can be read at:
Dry Food Study One
A brief summary of the above web site information shows the following estimated shelf life per dry food item:
Over 30 years for wheat and white rice.
30 years for pinto beans, macaroni, rolled oats, and potato flakes.
20 years for powdered milk.
All dry food items should be stored in airtight moisture proof containers at a temperature between 40ºF to 70°F.
Salt, baking soda, and granulated sugar still in their original containers have no known shelf life limit if properly stored.
Dry Food Study Two
Following are some direct quotes taken from the above web site:
Food scientists now know that, when properly sealed, some dried food that's been sitting on shelves for years, could still be OK to eat.
"It lasts a lot longer than we thought," Oscar Pike a food scientist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, tells DBIS.
Scientists have known certain foods like sugar and salt can be stored indefinitely, but wanted to learn the shelf life of other food like dried apples -- stored since 1973 -- tried by taste testers.
"I like to call it the emergency shelf life of the food, food that you'd still be willing to eat in an emergency," Pike says. "It's not as though it were freshly canned, but it's certainly edible."
He says the best foods to store are low in moisture, like wheat and powered milk. But keep all foods away from heat and light to stop it from going stale and losing nutritional value. "All the foods that we've tested have been stored at room temperature or below, so you want to avoid attic and garage storage."
In the study, researchers taste-tested rolled oats that had been stored in sealed containers for 28 years. Three-fourths of tasters considered the oats acceptable to eat in an emergency.
Dry Food Study Three
Following are some quotes taken from the above web site:
It is important to first identify what is meant by "food storage" and "shelf life." "Food storage" that is intended to be held long-term is generally considered to be low moisture food packed in either #10 cans or in metalized bags placed within large buckets. "Shelf life" can be defined in the following two ways:
"Best if used by" shelf life - Length of time food retains most of its original taste and nutrition.
"Life sustaining" shelf life - Length of time food preserves life, without becoming inedible.
There can be a wide time gap between these two definitions. For example, most foods available in the grocery store that are dated have a "Best if used by" date that ranges from a few weeks to a few years. On the other hand, scientific studies have determined that when properly stored, powdered milk has a "Life sustaining" shelf life of 20 years. That is, the stored powdered milk may not taste as good as fresh powdered milk, but it is still edible.
Shelf life is extremely dependent on the following storage conditions:
Temperature: Excessive temperature is damaging to food storage. With increased temperature, proteins breakdown and some vitamins will be destroyed. The color, flavor and odor of some products may also be affected. To enhance shelf life, store food at room temperature or below; never store food in an attic or garage.
Moisture: Excessive moisture can result in product deterioration and spoilage by creating an environment in which microorganisms may grow and chemical reactions can take place.
Oxygen: The oxygen in air can have deteriorative effects on fats, food colors, vitamins, flavors, and other food constituents. It can cause conditions that will enhance the growth of microorganisms.
Light: The exposure of foods to light can result in the deterioration of specific food constituents, such as fats, proteins, and vitamins, resulting in discoloration, off-flavors, and vitamin loss.
EXAMPLES OF SHELF LIFE:
Recent scientific studies on dehydrated food have shown that food stored properly can last for a much longer period of time than previously thought. This research determined the "life sustaining" shelf life to be the following:
|Dry Food Item||Shelf Life|
|Wheat, White Rice, and Corn||30 years or more|
|Pinto Beans, Apple Slices, Macaroni||30 years|
|Rolled Oats, and Potato Flakes||30 years|
|Powdered Milk||20 years|
14 September, 2009
Linda was known on Rawles' blog as "The Memsahib," and wrote many informative articles herself on subjects such as caring for small livestock.
As an individual who never had the pleasure of meeting the Rawles except for a handful of emails swapped between Jim and I, I am however very aware that when the hard times come there will be many who survive and flourish thanks to what they've learned over the years from these fine folks -- myself included.
May Linda rest in peace.
I saw this method of growing potatoes mentioned on another site recently, so I thought that now was as good a time as any to dig through my bookmarked pages and put this one up for you. The first time I ever saw this method for maximizing garden space it was described in a 2005 article from the Seattle Times entitled, "It's not Idaho, but you still can grow potatoes."
Using this technique allows one to grow potatoes vertically as opposed to the standard practice of spreading them out in row after row across half your garden. If you are one of the many who have limited space in your garden or if you just want to maximize the space available to you so that you can grow that much more produce, this could be an outstanding option for you to utilize.
The seed potatoes are planted within the enclosure, after which the first row of boards are installed and the soil is added to cover them. As the plant grows, it grows vertically in layers as more boards and dirt are added throughout the process.
When the time comes to harvest your potatoes, you begin at the bottom and work your way up. Remove the boards from the bottom layer and very carefully dig out the potatoes that are ready, filling the dirt back in and reattaching the boards when you're done. As you can probably imagine, the new potatoes in the first few bottom sections will be a little bit awkward to harvest, but the process will become easier and easier as you move up layer after layer and the extra food you will be able to get from your garden will be more than worth it.
Photos courtesy of the Seattle Times.