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22 December, 2009

Re: Re: "Winter Storm..."

It appears now we are done with snow, at least until the weekend. This would be good news, as they were previously calling for a second storm to hit Wednesday and snow steadily through Christmas. The only problem is that temperatures are not expected to rise much past the low, low 40s, even in the highs. Then, what little melting we can expect of the snow that is already on the ground, is to be followed by two days straight of freezing rain/sleet on Thursday and Friday, and then back to snow showers on Saturday. Honestly, the freezing rain is what I hate.

So, it looks like our Christmas holiday might be a lock-in this year, with the planned trip to visit family being postponed.


21 December, 2009

13 Things a Man Should Keep in His Car

13 Things a Man Should Keep in His Car | The Art of Manliness: "When I was growing up, I noticed that my dad kept the trunk of his car well-stocked with supplies... And there were plenty of times when my dad was able to put his trunk equipment to work.

For example, about 20 years ago my dad was driving home to Oklahoma from New Mexico... a hellacious snow storm hit. It was a complete white out, so my dad had to pull over until things settled down.

But things didn’t settle down until a day later.

My dad had to spend the night in his car in the middle of nowhere while a blizzard roared outside. But because he had the forethought to prepare for situations like this, he was able to keep warm with some blankets and avoid ravaging hunger with some MREs

Many of you will be hitting the road this holiday season to visit family, so I consulted my dad, Tom McKay, and asked him what supplies he thinks every man should keep in his car. Here’s his suggested list. (NOTE FROM SIMPLE MAN: I have shortened the list into bullet format for brevity's sake. Please read the original article for some great suggestions on what each item can be used for and why you need them.)

1. Fully charged cell phone.
2. Jumper cables.
3. Flashlight.
4. Roadside flares/reflective triangle.
5. MREs.
6. Warm blankets.
7. Ice scraper.
8. First aid kit.
9. Bottled water.
10. Tow strap.
11. Folding shovel.
12. LifeHammer.
13. Portable air compressor."


20 December, 2009

Re: "Winter Storm..."

Our winter storm is still raging, though it seems to have finally slacked off a bit. It's supposed to continue this way throughout Sunday. Then, they're calling for another storm on Wednesday that is supposed to last straight through Christmas day.

If pressed, I would say we got a little over a foot at my homestead. It was very funny to watch our little Terrier/Chihuahua mix jump off the porch and completely disappear into a snow drift, though I don't think she enjoyed it as much as I did. :) The big dogs had little trouble, needless to say.

Nothing further to report with respect to other emergency preparedness issues. Power has given us no further problems.

Here are some more photos taken today around the property:

Here are some other photos taken by friends of mine here in the area:


19 December, 2009

Re: "Winter Storm Approaching"

In response to yesterday's note about the impending winter storm that is now blowing full force, I received the following email:

"Dear simple man, Greetings! Read your first posting about the storm. We have it coming here soon and a second one next week. It is 9am and -4 in the back yard-Western Mass can be chilly.

Hope all goes well.

Take care of yourself.

Keep up the great work.

Best wishes.

Lawrence F. Roberge M.S.

For what it's worth, the storm has been even worse than originally advertised. Pretty quickly after the white stuff started falling, they amended their forecast of 8-10 inches and told folks in my immediate vicinity to expect 10-16 inches instead. We lost our cable in the middle of watching the 6 o'clock news, but not before they said we were getting up to an inch per hour in some places and the roads were terrible. People were stranded in ditches all over the place, and many schoolchildren were stuck on buses and still not home at that late hour.

We very nearly lost power but it managed to keep buzzing, thankfully negating the need to fire up the generator. It would have been a rather inconvenient evening otherwise, although we were as ready as anyone can be for such things. Even the rechargeable lanterns were all ready to go; candles ready as a backup for when they died. Instead, we spent the evening tending the fire in the wood stove, keeping the kitchen (on the far end of the house) toasty with a kerosene heater, playing XBox 360 and watching TV.

Below is a not-so-great-but-perfectly-adequate picture taken by opening my front door and snapping a shot of the immediate area right in front of it. It was the only way to get a decent shot without the camera flash/falling snow/street light combination causing the photo to come out as a blurry mess. Anyway, those tracks were made by us and our dogs.

And, here is a video from Youtube, showing conditions on Interstate 40 in Hickory, NC, just a few hours south of us:


18 December, 2009

Winter Storm Approaching

As I write this, we are awaiting the approach of an imminent winter storm that is supposed to dump between 8 and 12 inches of snow on us. If it pans out, it'll be the first big snow we've had in some time. Needless to say, Thursday's activities around the old homestead were dominated by emergency preparedness-oriented tasks.

Thursday afternoon was spent stacking a truckload of black locust we had delivered to burn in our newly-installed wood stove. We've been periodically taking wood from our own property for a while now, but it is still awfully green and we wanted some nice seasoned firewood to burn since it is turning colder. We paid $75 for a truckload and the old boy cut us a deal because all he had was the black locust; he usually gets $85/load for it.

Later in the day, the generator was hauled out of the shed and given a once-over, just in case; we made the obligatory last-minute sheeple-esque grocery store run; and, topped-off our gas and kerosene tanks.

We're prepared. Are you?


16 December, 2009

Freedom of Speech Sure Was Nice While It Lasted

The newly-proposed regulations are aimed at fighting kiddie porn, but (much like the now-infamous Patriot Act in the U.S.) are worded in such a way as to have the capability of detrimentally affecting the lives of normal everyday citizens.

"The Government maintains the filter is not designed to curtail freedom of speech," according to the article, but even making such a statement is tantamount to a confession that such an abuse of individual rights would be quite possible.


Green light for internet filter plans - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "The Federal Government will introduce compulsory internet filtering to block overseas sites which contain criminal content, including child sex abuse and sexual violence.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the changes today following a controversial trial to filter the internet which was conducted earlier this year.

Senator Conroy says some internet content is simply not suitable in a civilised society.

'It is important that all Australians, particularly young children, are protected from this material,' he said..."


12 December, 2009

Homestead Wood Stove Installation

Just like any other self-respecting survivalist/ emergency preparedness geek, I chose wood as my best option to heat our homestead. We do use a modern, forced-air furnace as well for convenience, but the wood will supplement it well (saving us $$$ on our electric bill) and will be our fallback in the harsher times to come.

In the picture on the right, you can see the mess of a job-in-progress as well as the stove pipe peeking out the bottom of the flue. It took 14 two-foot sections to completely by-pass the 100+ year-old mess of a chimney that we were afraid to use.

Then, in this later shot to the left, you can see a bit of how we got it all into position and set, using cinder blocks and boards as a fulcrum to help us lift and hold the heavy bugger.

It is positioned for the ash to fall down a chute into the basement to then be hauled-off to the composter for the garden at our convenience. No muss, no fuss.

And below, a few shots of the finished product, sporting a warm and wonderful fire!


FEMA Suggests Citizens Give Emergency Preparedness & Survivalist-Themed Christmas Gifts This Year

You have no idea how often I have considered doing just as the below-linked article suggests. Actually, I suppose I technically already have as last year I drew my cousin's name (the adults in my family all draw names and then we all buy for the kids) and I bought him a decent mid-range priced multi-tool on Ebay (we have a $25 limit as well). So, I guess that alone proves I endorse the idea they are suggesting.


U.S. agency suggests Christmas gifts for the disaster age - Yahoo! News: "Imagine tearing open that large present under the Christmas tree with your name on it and finding inside... a fire extinguisher.

Or a foldable ladder.

Or a smoke alarm in that smaller box.

Those, plus a home disaster kit including food, water and prescription medications for 72 hours, or a first aid certification course are just some of the gifts that the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is suggesting Americans give their loved ones this holiday season.

'Giving a gift of a fire extinguisher might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but for the guy who has everything, it might be perfect,' FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told AFP..."


09 December, 2009

Toyota President: We're Fast Approaching Peak Oil

LINK: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=1205545683

Yet another admission of the truth of Peak Oil Theory, though it seems awfully convenient to me that folks like this never seem to want to admit there is a problem until they think it might actually help them sell a new product.

As far as hydrogen fuel cell cars being available within a few years, I am personally dubious and I still don't see how it will ever be possible for them to mass produce them cheaply enough to make them affordable for the average consumer. Also, where are the billions of dollars it is going to take to set up a nationwide refueling infrastructure with tens (or, more likely, hundreds) of thousands of separate, independent locations? Other than possibly as a prototype (the last one cost a six figure sum to build) or as playthings for the wealthy, I doubt we'll be seeing hydrogen fuel cell cars anytime soon.

Horses and buggies are more likely in most of our futures.


Physicist Aleklett Says Peak Oil Led to Dubai Crisis

Yet another admission from a highly credible, well-thought-of source...


Physicist Aleklett Says Peak Oil Led to Dubai Crisis: "In a piece on his personal blog posted Tuesday, Swedish physicist Kjell Aleklett posits that peak oil, as well as faulty predictions by the IEA, led to the current debt crisis in Dubai. Although part of the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich member of OPEC, Dubai itself is oil-poor, and thus relies on other sources of income like tourism and real estate. As the global recession hit these areas hard, Dubai found itself in financial hot water..."


08 December, 2009

Man Arrested for Trespassing on His Own Land

Here is a great example of what can happen when you get in the way of 'Big Brother' and his corporatista bedmate's master plans. When I first saw this headline I was aghast, but then I remembered all the stories I heard growing up here in the Appalachian coalfields about the railroad coming through and snatching up everybody's land so they could lease it to the coal companies.

Sure, they'd offer to buy each parcel fair-and-square at first, but what you have to remember is that this area was so isolated for so long that each little subsistence farm had been owned by the same families for hundreds of years. In fact, one's kinfolk was usually buried out back on the hillside! So, some owners had no interest in selling. It was after they turned down the offer that the railroad's paid thugs, Pinkerton men as often as not (the original Blackwater-esque private contractors), would start their campaign to run the owners off. They regularly burned homes and barns, killed livestock and generally made life hell for the owners until they gave in, and there are many stories of widows being paid only a fraction of what their husbands had originally been offered before being murdered. And, as if that weren't bad enough, fast forward a few decades further and the miner's working that same land, in a fight for their rights, actually had bombs dropped on them by their own government.

Perhaps the Engelkings should count their blessings that we now live in an era with a 24-hour news cycle that makes it harder for them to get away with the kinds of things they did in the past. All the article linked below does is prove to me definitively that our rights as citizens only go so far as it is convenient and doesn't interfere with the plans of the corporatocracy.


Man Arrested for Trespassing on His Own Land | Duluth, Minnesota: "Jeremy Engelking will appear in Douglas County court this afternoon to face a trespassing charge. But here’s the kicker: The Superior man allegedly trespassed on his own property.

Engelking, 27, aimed to hunt deer Wednesday morning when he noticed a pipeline crew on his land. He... told workers they had no right to be on his property because he had received no compensation... for an easement.

Engelking said workers told him he was in an unsafe place and asked him to come to an equipment staging area... But just as he was turning to leave, Engelking said an officer from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene and approached with a Taser drawn..."


02 December, 2009

North Korea Sharply Revalues Its Currency

Friends of mine have often asked what to expect in the event that we enter into a hyperinflationary period with the teetering dollar and, without fail, the Currency Revaluation is the one aspect that they never considered. Imagine waking up in the morning to find your bank balances have been reduced by a factor of 100-to-1 and that you must turn in any cash you might be holding for new bills on the same 100-to-1 ratio.

Are you prepared to feed yourself and your family until society has had sufficient time to adjust to the new paradigm?


North Korea Sharply Revalues Its Currency - Telegraph: "In an alleged bid to curb inflation and suppress its growing black market, North Korea implemented a currency revaluation on Monday, according to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency.

The exchange rate between old and new currencies is 100 to 1, with the old denomination of 1,000 won notes being replaced by 10 won notes..."