Sunday, March 31, 2013

Keeping money in the bank?

Just because I have cash at home doesn't mean I spend it.  It's put into the safe and left alone.  I know many people who don't have that ability.  If it's around, they will spend it.  I won't.  I have money in an IRA and also in a 401k.  I can't get to either without penalty because I'm not old enough.  So those stay at the broker and at the bank.  They are there with the thought that they may not be available in the future. 

What's happening in Cyprus has been weighing on my mind.  I don't believe that the banks here are going to swallow up the money by taxing what's in there by not allowing you to retrieve it.  No, our government gives us the "honor" of preparing our taxes are voluntarily sending it in.  But What If?  What if on a Saturday the announcement is made that on Monday morning prior to the banks opening the accounts will be taxed between 10 and 70%? They promise to give it back if the banks and the economy get stronger. That's a promise I wouldn't hang my hat on.

Right now my credit union is paying 1/10 of 1 percent.  This means if I have 1000 in the bank for the entire year I will earn one dollar interest.  $10,000 would earn $10.  Or I could take the money out of the bank and have it sit in the safe at home for a year.  One less going out to lunch and the $10 is taken care of.  I can sack a lunch and put the $10 in the safe as well.  There's a year's worth of interest on 10K. 

I could invest it in gold or silver coins.  I don't own gold but I do have "junk" silver coins.  I may invest in some more silver.  I'll think about it.

 My monthly paycheck goes in automatically. The bills get paid automatically. The extra is coming out. The bank will still have the IRA money in it but the rest will be kept safe in MY safe.  How do you get large amounts out?  Not too long ago I went to the bank trying to get a large amount in cash.  They said it would take three days to fill my order if I wanted more than a thousand.  So much for having access to your own money.  Today I went to the ATM and took out $500, the limit.  Every time I go into town I'm going to hit up the ATM.  I'll also stop in and pick up some cash.  It may take a few months to get it all out but I want it out. 

Have you thought about how much cash money there is compared to what the deposits are? My credit union is considered one of the best in the country. For every dollar it has in actual cash eight people would be standing in line for that dollar. In other words, if 70,000 of their customers came in to cash out their money, in cash, the other 550,000 customers would be left with nothing. That's not comforting.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The TSA is planting weapons and goings on at the farm

A friend of a friend (nice way to start a post) is a pilot for one of the regional airline carriers. He was told that the TSA is going to be planting fake guns, knives, and other contraband on planes. Between flights the pilot and crew are supposed to clean up the plane and search for illegal items. Remember just a couple weeks ago when TSA decided that they were once again going to allow small pocket knives to be carried aboard? Right after there was a "rash" of bullets, knives, etc. found on some of the flights during the after flight cleanup. Why? Probably as a protest by flight crews that they didn't like the new rulings. Nothing ever came of it because if it was the real deal it would still be in the news, don't you think?

So what is TSA doing in retaliation to the flight crews? They are now going to be boarding planes (incognito of course as paying passengers, but because they are TSA will be able to pass through security) and bringing on fake contraband. They are going to be leaving it in the pockets, under seats, in the bathrooms, in the magazines, etc. If the flight crews don't catch the fake stuff and call security during their cleanup they will be fined.

What's the threat from the flight crews over this game being played by TSA? They are going to just call 911. No going to security. They are going to respond the "right" way. After all, if they see something they are supposed to say something. Isn't that what we are being programed to do? It's not making me want to fly for a while until the power struggle games subside.

Here at home things are getting a bit exciting. We had some baby chicks born yesterday and today. I'm hoping a few more hatch. I was having a hard time keeping the humidity up so I decided to put a little water bowl into the incubator. That seemed to work.

I started putting in the garden and the grandkids destroyed what I put in. Where do their brains go? I know they must have shut them off for a time or something. After all, it's spring break. I planted plants into 3 of the 12 raised beds. They decided to have races through the garden. No, first they decided to play football in the garden. Get out! Then the next thing I saw they were racing through. Stepping on the wooden beds and into the beds themselves. They are now weeding!   

With the new job being four days per week, I thought I'd get to spend Friday doing whatever I wanted and then the kids and I would have fun on the weekends. That hasn't quite worked out as planned. But this past Friday I spent lots of time cleaning out a couple of rooms in the house. Good spring cleaning... I filled up the back of my pickup with stuff for donations as well as broken toys, trash, etc. Now I just have to figure out where it's going to get dumped. I wonder if anyone has empty trash cans since the dump costs $65 minimum. I don't want to go to the dump. If I do go then I'd better to a lot more spring cleaning!

The raspberries across the front of the property are growing very well. Probably because I'm watering! Of the ten plants I put in last year (and they were all gallon plants) eight are still alive. They are sending out new plants, some as far as four or five feet away from the parent plant. The eight all have lots of flowers on them so sometime soon we will be getting raspberries. The raspberries are sending out long branches that are weaving through the brush along the fence. It's filling in exactly as I planned. In another year or two you won't even see the brush because the plants will be covering it.

Last year we hardly had any fruit. We would have starved if we had to live off the 50+ fruit trees. This year is looking good. It's supposed to thunderstorm tonight and tomorrow so some of the fruit may get knocked off. As long as it's not all it will be alright. I have to go out and thin some of the trees right now. The apricots on one tree are the size of a nickle. The cherries are all in bloom, as are the peaches, nectarines, pears, apples, plums, and everything else. The loquat tree has about 20 pieces of fruit. That's not much but it's better than three, which is how many we've had in the last five years. Sure it takes a while for the trees to produce but this year I've kept the sheep out! No pushing over fences to get to the fruit!

The orange tree and the lemon tree have fantastic fruit. We are drinking lemonade several times per week. Right now we put sugar into it. Someday it will be honey. Then that will be fully self supporting.

The Sun Oven is making dinner once again. Yesterday we had steak. Well, it didn't end up as steak. It was delicious but it turned into shredded beef. It will cook the steak as steak if you only cook it for 30 minutes during the heat of the day. I didn't. I left it in all day covered in the marinade sauce. Today we are having corned beef. It cooked for about four hours then I put in some dehydrated potato slices and some fresh cabbage. We will see how it turns out. After 4 hours the meat was just about ready. I put it in as a frozen chunk of meat. I added more pickling spice because it didn't look like there was much in it.

I've had some questions about the Sun Oven. I know you don't need hot weather for it to work. Today it is 80 but Max in Colorado Springs used his the other day to bake some bread. It was almost done when the clouds came in and it started snowing. He had to finish it up in the oven. But, it was cold out. All that's needed is the sun! I am going to try using it in my house under the solatube. I'm thinking that if it gets the shine that's what's needed. After all, the reflectors are supposed to put the light into the black box to heat it up. With that said, I don't think that light coming through a window would be able to put enough direct light on the box.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baking in the Sun Oven

For the past two days I've made dinner in the Sun Oven.  Last night it was reheating a roast and adding potatoes, carrots, and onions to make a stew.  Since it was done early, I cut up three apples and put a sliver of butter and some cinnamon sugar on them.  I was planning on having soft apple slices for dessert.  Instead they turned to mush and we had applesauce with full peels.  Since I didn't want to reheat the stew I put that into the Fireless Cooker. (  It stayed good and hot until dinner.  I'm flexible with cooking.  Just because it didn't turn out as planned didn't mean it wasn't good. 

Today I made a dish with rice, vegetables, and fish.  The instructions on the Sun Oven said when you cook rice to use a little less water because it won't all steam away like regular rice cooking.  So I didn't.  I should have.  The fish ended up like fish jerky. Boy put soy sauce on it all and girl smothered it all with Tabasco.  I don't think they noticed!

The baking part of the oven is just something I'll have to experiment with.  And, doing so now rather than in an emergency situation is the perfect time to experiment.  Combining the Sun Oven with the Fireless Cooker is also something I will do more experimenting with.  Normally with the Fireless Cooker you boil the food on the stove to get it thoroughly heated all the way through.  Then you put it into the ice chest.  Can I do the same with the Sun Oven?  Can I keep it in the oven for maybe an hour and then put it into the ice chest?  Only experimenting will give me those answers. 

I do have some complaints about the Sun Oven.   It is way too small.  A 9x9 casserole dish fits perfectly.  It's fine for three of us but not if we were feeding 6 or 7 or 10!  I could probably put something bigger in but it may get dumped over trying to get it in.  Girl tried to put the casserole dish in this morning.  She pulled the Sun Oven over. 

I haven't gotten it over 325 although they claim it will get to 400.  Maybe if it is hot outside to start with.  It was 65 here today.  Yesterday, with it being brand new, I turned it every 30 minutes - got to keep it facing the sun for optimal heat.  Today I turned it every hour or so and it didn't get more than 275.  I suppose that's good or the rice and fish would have turned to leather! 

Since I have Solatube skylights in my house I wonder if I could put the sun oven directly under the tube opening?  Covering up the opening is a plastic light diffuser so the light looks more like a bright light bulb than a beam of light from the sun.  What if I took the cover off the tube?  Would the beam of light be able to reflect enough to cook something?  I wouldn't have to keep turning the oven to face the sun if it comes through the tube.  Of course I'd have to have the oven 8 feet in the air, right up to the ceiling!  I think I will rig up a ladder one day (maybe next weekend) and check this out. 

If that would work then the Sun Oven will be able to go under cover.  Right now, it's very visible due to it's reflectors beaming from the sun while it is set on a card table out in the yard.  If I could hide it in the house it would be worth installing a Solatube in the garage or somewhere and extending the tube to a lower level.  Like right above table height?  That would be exciting, to use the Sun Oven in the house. 

We are heading to Southern California tomorrow so I probably won't be posting until we get back home.  The grandkids have the week off of school so I'm taking a few days off as well.  I will post more on the Sun Oven next weekend.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Playing hooky

Wow, off in the middle of the day.  Today our office had a luncheon in the big city.  After driving 1 1/2 hours to get to work, they wanted us to work for 3 1/2 hours, drive 1 1/2 hours to get to the city, eat lunch, drive 1 1/2 hours back to the office, work a couple more hours then drive 1 1/2 hours home.  I said I wasn't doing that.  If they wouldn't let me just go home after the lunch then I wasn't going to the lunch.  I don't care that the extra three hours of driving was on the clock.  I wasn't going to drive six hours today.  They said fine, go to the luncheon then take the afternoon off.  The grand kids don't get home for another two hours so here I am, wasting some time on the computer.  Soon I will go out and do some chores.  I miss being outside during daylight! 

Although it's supposed to rain it's just going to be a trace.  Normally between February and March we get about 5 inches of rain.  This year it's about one inch.  We are way below our normal.  I'm worried about the water.  I've never had a water problem. The water is between 10 and 12 feet below the surface.  There is plenty.  But what this nice underground river dries up?  What if somewhere before it gets to me it gets pumped up by the city or county?  What if the farmers water deliveries don't come and they pump it all out?  I am looking at the water tanks this weekend and hopefully by the end of the month or so I'll be the proud owner of a new water tank. 

I don't want one that can be seen by all.  My next door neighbor has a 3000 gallon tank on the side of their house.  So does the neighbor past them.  The tanks are in the yard for all to see.  Since I have three barns and the center one is usually pretty empty, I wonder if it could go there?  That would be about 50 feet from the well so the water would have to travel aways to get to the tank but the tank would be next to the garden.  Also, if the well went dry I could patch up the rain gutters from the barns and direct the rain water into the tanks.  Although we are always told that in an emergency you only need a gallon or two of water per day, that isn't taking into account needing to water your plants or the animals.  I don't live in an area where you can grow a garden with summer rain.  We don't get summer rain.  Established fruit trees will provide some fruit if they don't get watered during the summer but the trees won't last for too many years if they aren't watered. 

At one point I'd tried to figure out how much water I use to water my trees and garden.  The problem was I am not precise in watering.  I will stand with a hose until I get bored at that tree.  It's always enough water but may be more than needed.  I don't know.  It's not too hard to figure out how much water I use.  Turn on the hose to the strength it's going to be used then fill up a one gallon or five gallon bucket.  How long did it take?  1 minute filled two gallons?  Then 15 minutes of the water being on will use 30 gallons.  One hour of watering will use 120 gallons.  Easy to figure out.  Now I just have to do it with all the trees, the garden, and the animals. 

If I used 120 gallons a day in the garden then my 3000 gallon tank wouldn't even last 3 months.  That would be a lot of hand pumping if I don't get a solar pump or figure out some other way to fill the tank.  Could a stationary bike be rigged to pump the water?  I'm sure I could find that on YouTube. 

The grapes just started putting out leaves.  It's going to be a good year for grapes.  The vines have been in for several years.  I may even be able to make some wine!  Looking forward to that. 

Listened to the news on the way home.  The interest rates are not going to go up for another year or two at least.  Unemployment is still going to stay high.  The government is buying their own bonds to keep things stable.  This strategy I will never understand.  At some point aren't things going to crash because the government can't really buy their own bonds.  It's a scam that would put the average citizen into prison.  It is making me want to push for self sufficiency and sustainability NOW.

I'd better go outside and take care of things.  Peace and quiet and daylight isn't going to last much longer.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My new sun oven

I haven't posted for quite a while.  In the past month I've had three days off.  Wait!  I thought this new job was going to give me more time off by working longer hours.  That's true except I had a conference which was not only the work week but over my three day weekend as well.  Then I taught a class up near the state capitol for two of my last three days off.  Somehow, I'm working more and sleeping a lot less. 

One of the pluses of all this work is I am making quite a bit more money.  Since I don't have any bills other than the house I've put some away and some I've spent.  I wrote about buying the Prius.  It's not bad for a car, especially considering I haven't driven a car in almost 30 years.  First it was a van, then a suburban, then truck.  I still have the truck but it spends most of its time in the garage.  Getting 50 mpg is great as long as their isn't an EMP.  Then I'll be praying I'm not too far from home!

Last year I made my own solar oven.  It worked pretty well.  Then the glass broke.  It was supposed to be safety glass but it wasn't.  Little shards of glass were everywhere.  I'm glad the grandkids weren't around.  I'm going to built a better one.  GI Jim told me about one he built.  He used an old stereo cabinet.  What a great idea!  I just bought a real Sun Oven.  It finally came today after ordering it over two weeks ago.  I have not been very patient.  I had never seen one up close until GI Jim had his seminar up in Prather.  That one worked so much better than mine so it convinced me to buy one.  After all, if I'm going to spend money on preps then I should spend it on a variety of things.  I like the look of the Sun Oven. I don't know if the actual oven area is really big enough for a crowd of people or just a family. I will experiment and let you all know. Just not right now. I'm tired!

I was not happy with the packaging.  It had Sun Oven written all over the box.  While I know they want to get some advertising, how much advertising are they getting inside a FedEx truck?  The advertising comes when it sits on my front porch waiting for me to get home or from the busted down box in the trash.  Instead, I'm pissed off that they put prepping info on the outside of the box.  That's not much different than some of the food storage companies whose boxes scream emergency storage supplies.  Who'd want to buy from them?

Being in the car for a couple hours every day gives me the opportunity to listen to the news.  First thing this morning was about people in another country getting taxed on their savings to pay for their government bailout.  Makes me want to pull most of my money out of the bank.  I'm not getting much interest on it anyway.  I also keep hearing about how the stock market keeps reaching record highs.  I don't understand this.  There is nothing going on that should warrant that.  A couple weeks ago, when at that time it was at a record high I pulled my money out of the stock market and put it into cash.  Sure I won't be riding this wave of high earnings.  At this point I really don't care.  I think it's fake.  I wish I was old enough to pull it all out without being gouged by huge penalties.  I'd pull it out and stick it in the safe at home.

Or maybe I'd spend it all...

I went to the grocery store the other day.  One of the grocers asked if I was finding everything alright.  I said I was finding everything that I couldn't afford to buy.  I was amazed at the high prices.  I really didn't buy much of anything because I couldn't bring myself to spend my money that way. It's a good thing we have a full pantry and there's fruit on the trees.  We are eating oranges and grapefruit right now.  And lots of eggs.  18 very happy hens are laying way more than three people could ever dream of eating.

I also heard about a family who shuts off all their electricity every day except for their refrigerator.  I like that idea.  Actually, I'd prefer to keep the washing machine over the fridge.  But I like my freezer. 

I have some goals that must be accomplished by the end of the summer.  I will have enough solar to run my necessities at the house.  I will have a 3000 gallon or larger water tank in the yard and a way to fill it that doesn't include the 220 v pump.  I have a small hand pump but that would be used for emergency 1 gallon a day type of living.  I want something to fill the tank.  I still want to get the talapia.  Every time I'm in San Diego, where the one fish store sells the fingerlings, the store is out of stock.  Every time!  I want to get the fish.  If I have to go to the Salton Sea and scoop them out myself I may end up doing that! 

The raspberries are growing exactly like I planned.  They have spread out and in another year or so will completely cover my brush pile.  I don't know if we are going to get any raspberries this year.  That's OK if we don't.  I just want the plants to get big and strong.

Finally, the grandkids...  I feel bad for them at the moment because they don't get enough of my time.  They will starting this weekend since I'm not traveling or working weekends for the foreseeable future.  Boy pulled a fast one, or so he thought.  I told him if he got all As and Bs for grades and all satisfactories and outstandings for behavior I'd get him a phone.  The grades he can do without much effort.  He's a real smart one.  The behavior, now that's a little harder.  OK a lot harder.  I haven't had too many complaints from the teacher lately other than missing homework assignments.  Sorry, the kids are now in the after school program where they are supposed to have an hour for homework that is being supervised.  I expect the homework to get done at school.  If Boy doesn't do it then keep him in for recess.  Whatever it takes. 

Anyway, I came home from work last night right before dinner just like I normally do.  Boy comes running into the dining room, report card in hand.  I Get A Phone! When are we going to go get a phone?  I looked at the report card.  A, A, A, B, A, all looks good there.  O, S, S, O, S, S, S...Wait a minute.  Boy it all looks good except this looks like the grade has been changed. Perhaps it was an N - needs improvement?  Who changed the grade?  Believe it or not, Boy actually told me he did!  The truth instantly?  I was shocked.  Then, of course, he said it was all the teachers fault.  That's my grandson.  Why is it the teachers fault?  You only have missing assignments from days I bring you to religious school?  All the rest of the assignments are in on time?  I don't believe that.  "It's true," he said, "everything has been turned in on time except for that."  I came up with a great idea.  Since I am off on Friday I will go to your classroom and have a chat with the teacher.  If you are right then I will get you a phone.  If you are not telling me the truth then I will give you a spanking then and there, in front of everyone.  I will not stand for you wasting my time or your teachers time.  He told me that I shouldn't come to the school on Friday after all.  I reminded him that every time he doesn't do his homework he's pushing that phone away.  If he wants the phone then he does the work.  It's not a hard goal to reach. 

Oldest Grandson went into the Army this week.  I got the privilege of dropping him off at the recruiters for his van ride to the airport then his first airplane ride to Ft. Sill.  He will learn some wonderful skills.  I'm very proud of him.

We are going to visit my brothers and sisters next week.  I'm actually taking some time off work.  I'm going to tell them about my new Sun Oven.  Imagine baking without any wood, charcoal, electricity, or propane?  It's the way of the future and a huge leap in self sufficiency. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Some tips from my Hazmat class

Way back in 2010 (seems like such a long time ago) I wrote a post about about dangerous goods and hazardous materials accidents.  Although I've changed jobs and no longer work for the state, this new job also requires Hazmat training.  In class the newer guidebook (2012) was passed out.  Afterward a couple of the students threw out their old, 2008, book.  I was able to grab one out of the trash before it got destroyed by food waste being thrown on top of it.  So now I have the 2012 at my office, and a 2008 in each vehicle and in the trailer. 

The book is really valuable because it gives you the name of the material, the potential hazards including to your health, and fire or explosion.  It tells you what type of protective clothing you need if you are cleaning it up and also distance and direction for evacuation, whether from spill or fire.  The book provides you with information on how to put out the fire and what to do if it spills or leaks.  Lastly it provides first aid directions if you breathe it or touch in.

Today I took a few notes that I thought were important from a preppers point of view.  Many of us want to buy barrels.  I know I do.  Right now I'm using heavy duty Rubbermaid trashcans and also metal trash cans.  Last weekend and GI Jim's expo he had barrels.  They were only $30, which is a great price for the barrel, lid, and ring.  I was reading the markings and labels on the barrels since they were used.  (Markings are the stickers that have the written descriptions, Labels are the pictures and numbers) Two markings said peaches (which I thought was odd to have peaches in a 55 gallon barrel).  The others didn't say what was in them.  During the class we learned of three grades of barrel when used for waste products.  Grade III was for general use and cost the company $42, grade II was for universal waste, and grade I was for hazardous waste.  This barrel cost $165!  If I want to store grain in the barrel I only need grade III. 

Do I believe the markings on the barrels at GI Jim's?  Jim isn't adding any labels or markings; the barrels have those on them.  Look at the other markings and labels on the barrels.  That can help define what was in them.  I certainly wouldn't want anything hazardous to have been in them before they come into my possession.  Another trick? Look to see if the letters UN (with the U on top of the N) are in a circle.  If so, then it means hazardous grade and more than likely held something hazardous.  Same goes with boxes if you buy or are given used corrugated boxes.  Look for the UN.

Another topic of discussion was lithium batteries.  You know they are in just about everything nowadays.  They are in kids toys and much of my electronic gear.  The lithium battery is replacing a lot of AA and AAA batteries.  They are a huge problem!  Since both the positive and negative poles are on the same side of the battery it is easy to accidentally catch things on fire - like your pocket!  Don't get these batteries wet.  The corrosive material easily comes out when wet.  It will corrode whatever it touches.  These things are dangerous around children.  Kids are swallowing them and the corrosive materials will ooze throughout your body and eat everything in its path, including your organs. 

How about that shootout in Las Vegas?  The one person in the Range Rover shot the guy in the Maserati.  The Maserati then ran into the taxi which exploded, killing three people.  The taxi was fueled by propane.  The investigation is still trying to figure out if a stray bullet exploded the tank or if the explosion was actually caused by the Maserati hitting it. 

Finally, a little odd information... the cereal Kix, which is supposed to be really good for you, has TSP in it!  Yes, trisodium phosphate.  The stuff that you use to clean your floors and walls is in the cereal.  I'm not sure why it's there.  Makes me not want to keep Kix in our diet.

That's about all for tonight!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Today's Preparedness Expo at GI Jim's

Today we went up to Prather to learn something at the Preparedness Seminar that Jim put on.  The size of the crowd varied throughout the day but ranged from 10-30 people all day long.  We didn't quite get there at the very beginning of the day.  We did make it for the tail-end of the first talk.  It was an interesting talk about different herbs.  We got to taste some of the fresh herbs.  We were also able to sample some tea sweetened with Stevia leaf.  My favorite was the chocolate mint, which is a mint plant with small leaves that had a chocolate minty flavor. 

Several times I was asked if I had learned anything.  I am happy to say that I did pick up a few tips along the way. 

I liked the first tip.  I'm not sure it would really save lots of space or weight but it's a great idea anyway.  The presenter took out a large tube of toothpaste.  This takes up lots of space and weight.  True but we use the large tubes in the trailer, bugout place, and at home.  The bags all have the small tubes that the dentist gives away, or you can buy them for a dollar.  Sure they are a lot more expensive than the bigger tubes in cost per ounce but if you are looking for some toothpaste in a small space and weight, that's what we do.  OK, back to the tip.  Remember the candy that was on wax paper?  Rows and rows of little sugar dots.  The tip with toothpaste was to take a piece of wax paper and make little dots with the toothpaste.  Then sprinkle each dot with some baking soda.  Let it sit out to dry.  When dry you can cut the way paper into strips and roll up your strip.  Put it into a baggie and you have little toothpaste drops.  They will rehydrate with water.

Jim is selling 55 gallon metal barrels with lids for $30!  I brought the Prius so no barrels for me.  I'll have to come back sometime in the near future with the truck.

One speaker gave a demonstration about using the seal-a-meal to seal bags and also canning jars. She gave one answer to one question and I was able to provide a response about how I do things. I think it was helpful to know that there's more than one way to do a lot of this stuff. After all, it's not just about storing things up. You need knowledge and skills - not just stuff. 

Pacific Grain and Food in Fresno sells just about everything in bulk.  They've been in business since 1982.  How could I have never heard of them?  I'm going to check them out and see how their prices are. 

AMP-3 ( came in from Portland.  Beth was a good speaker and spoke about not only medical supplies (her husband is a doctor) but also just some practical safety ideas.  Do you have a pair of shoes, boots, or slippers (hard bottomed) right next to your bed?  If you live in an earthquake prone area your #1 issue may be broken glass on the floor.  So you make it through the earthquake just fine and then cut yourself all up trying to get out of your house?  Just a reminder! 

One of the products I bought from AMP-3 was a product called Splinter Out.  It's like a small needle only it has beveled sides rather than round.  It's easier to get out the splinter.  I don't remember how many were in the pack, maybe eight or ten.  Each one was individually wrapped to keep it sterile.  It's better than a needle and not too expensive. 

AMP-3 had specific activity medical kits.  For example, the kit for carrying on your bike included items for cleaning up "road rash" if you take a spill.  Brilliant!

Jim's son offered to bring people out on a camping survival training weekend if he can get enough people interested.  He promised it wouldn't be too remote or uncomfortable, and would be a great learning experience.  I don't know what the price would be but for anyone who thinks they may have to spend some time in the woods or wilderness, I'm sure it would be worth the price.  For his high school senior project he spent three days in the woods with nothing but what he carried in his pockets.  He built a shelter, procured his food, and made it back in one piece.  He reminded us that when you are trying to figure out what you can and can't eat, if you know what a bear will eat then you can eat the same thing.  If a bear is getting into certain plants (because you see it in their droppings on the trail) then find those same plants for yourself! 

There was a ham radio discussion.  Not lots of detail but something worth checking out in the future. 

One speaker taught us how to make colloidal silver, and what it was good for.  He also reminded us that Chia seeds are a great source of food.  They aren't just for spreading on your Chia-pet.  The Native Americans ate them.  Once you know what the plant looks like it's easy to learn where you can gather.  Or, just buy them from the store.  Cayenne pepper will stop bleeding. Pine needle tea is a good source of vitamin C. (I'm kind of spoiled having citrus trees in the yard, but citrus doesn't grow as easily at the bug-out place.) This speaker also emptied some of his pockets and sacks.  He had several knives, flashlights, a fire starter, and other interesting things in his everyday carry. Of course, his everyday carry included wearing this gear all over his body. There wasn't any hiding the fact that he is prepared for whatever may come his way.

There was a demonstration with a Sun Oven.  Several pieces of meat, each about 2x6 inches and 1 1 /2 inches thick, were cooked for a few hours.  The meat tasted great.  There was also Thrive dehydrated and freeze dried foods.  There were samples of chili, corn soup, and something else.  I tried the soup and it was really good. 

There was one father and son there making paracord bracelets.  We didn't buy one but he still showed me how to make them.  I've always made mine just braiding or what I call "quick release" chain.  Now I know how to make the ones that are advertised all over the place.  He said they take about 15 minutes to make and people were picking their colors of paracord and in no time at all he'd make one.  I don't have his contact information or prices but if anyone is interested I can get the information for you.  He had pink, purple, and all those girly colors that Girl liked.  Boy like the the red, white, and blue paracord.  I'd never seen that one before.  I'll have to have Jim order it for me.

It was a great learning experience for the kids.  I think their favorite was watching the video on using the steri-strips and also taking out slivers.  Oh, I bribed them too.  Be good the entire time and I'll give you each $15 to spend at the end of the day.  The very end, so there's plenty of time for each of you to mess up and save me lots of money.  Neither messed up.  Girl bought a flashlight and also a military survival book.  She had a dollar left and wanted to buy some junk food but couldn't figure out what she wanted.  I told her no because her two items may have only cost $14 but with tax she went over by 50 cents.  She's done buying.  Boy bought a knife.  This one had a secret compartment in the handle to hold matches and fishing gear.  It had a little stone to sharpen the knife.  It cost him (me) $12.  I gave the person a $20 and she gave me $8 back.  Boy then spent $2 on a fund raiser candy bar.  Then I had a wonderful senior moment!  Boy said he still had $6 left (after all, she had given me $8 back!) so he went to the dollar store a couple shops away from GI Jim's and bought more junk food.  He walked out with a dollar and I let him keep it!  What was I thinking???   

Friday, March 1, 2013

Interesting day at the Home Show

The city had a huge home show at the fairgrounds.  I got there right when the gates opened.  Having a list of things I wanted information about and also just to be a looki-loo with things I could never afford, I was hoping that the day would be successful.  It was mostly a dud. 

There were some good products that I'd be interested in having in my home.  The first was a solar attic fan.  You remove a couple of tiles from the roof and put this thing in.  It runs on a thermostat so whenever the attic gets over 100+ degrees the solar powered fan opens up and pulls the hot air out of the attic.  Each fan would cover about 1200 square feet.  The cost at the show?  $650 installed.  I wonder how much it would cost at the store and I install it myself?  I will check into it since it's a good product. 

I want a sunroom in the front of the house.  I tried to make my own this winter using heavy plastic.  It worked but looked absolutely horrible.  We had a heavy wind and it torn all the plastic down. But, it convinced me that I do want something permanent.  I stopped by half a dozen booths that sold patio covers and sun rooms.  We will see how many call me to set up a consultation.

They had some really nice looking yard art.  I like metal decorations that rust out in the yard.  Some of the prices were fantastic.  When I looked behind their displays they all had boxes and boxes of this stuff and it all came from China.  No.  I may buy a necessity from China if I can't get the same product made somewhere else but I will not buy chachka (useless crap) from China.  I don't need it at all, even if the prices were cheap.  I would rather buy something like that from the guy down the road who makes it all in his garage, even if the price is more.

They had dozens of solar companies with displays.  Only one wasn't interested in talking to me due to my low monthly electric bill.  The rest said that they could install either grid tied or off grid.  I wonder if they could do both?  Run the house on the batteries and when the batteries drain down and the solar can't keep up to go onto the grid until the batteries charge back up.  It would be a lot of manual switching back and forth but it would be well worth it.  I'll be asking lots of questions if any of the companies get back to me.

They had several different nurseries there.  H&E is having a citrus tasting next weekend.  That way you can taste the different types of fruit and pick the tree that you like.  There are many different oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, kumquat, etc.  Have you ever done a side by side comparison?  I haven't.  It sounds like a great way to promote your trees.  Unfortunately for me I will be out of town next weekend.  I was told that my lime trees keep dying because they are being planted in too wet of soil.  The clay soil around here gets saturated during winter and just doesn't dry out.  I need to add some extra sand to the soil when I plant the lime and also plant it in a high spot rather than where I was planting it, which was in an area that got some runoff from the cement patio.  Good tip and I'll try to get in to purchase another lime tree. 

They had the usual set of pots and pans, only 5 times the price if you bought it at the store.  Same with the vacuums.  Want a knife?  Never dulls!  Watch as the sellers cuts tomato after tomato.  How about samples of balsamic vinegar and flavored oils?  The vinegar came straight from Italy and was over 25 years old!  It cost more than a decent bottle of wine at about $20 for 16 oz.  The oil was a mix of grape, olive, and sunflower with garlic, lemon, lime, and coconut as some of the flavors.  Or was it coconut vinegar?  I can't remember.  There were interesting flavors of oil but would I want to buy 4 bottles for only $100?  It came with a nice cardboard holder.

My favorites were the outdoor kitchens.  For only $25,000 you can have a better looking kitchen outside than inside.  I just want something that I can use for canning during the summer so I don't heat up the house.  If I had a spare $25,000 I'd be thinking about this.  I will never have a spare $25,000, but it was fun to look.

I'm looking for some decent screen security doors.  I've found some on line with Home Depot for about $175 each.  The expensive ones are around $800.  The Home Show had the $800 kind; none of the cheaper ones, so I guess I'll be buying them from Home Depot.

I was surprised that Fresno Rack and Shelving wasn't there.  They sell a great product, where you can custom order your heavy duty shelving to the width, length, and height that you need.  Didn't matter though since I don't need any more shelving. 

There was one hydroponics vendor.  Their design had the water on the bottom and then what looked like 12" PVC pipe about 4 feet high.  There were little pockets in the pipe where you stick your plants.  The water would cycle on every 15 minutes and water the roots.  It seems like a nice idea for someone that's older and can't bend over to garden.  I asked if they had a solar version (although this wouldn't work at night) and they said no.  I just wonder how much it costs in electricity to keep the thing running all the time?

Someone was selling his version of a trellis.  He had a metal pipe laying on its side and hanging from hooks up at the top of a fascia board with holes drilled every six inches or so.  He had another metal pipe with holes drilled in that was propped up about 6 inches about a raised planter.  The wires were gridded rather than just straight.  It was a good idea.  (Picture in your mind a metal clothesline with the wires crisscrossed rather than straight across, and then hung up on your house)  It was really heavy duty with the metal.  It would hold up some nice heavy plants (I was thinking espalier fruit trees) but whatever it was hanging from would have to be able to hold up all that weight.

There were lots of food vendors. Most of it didn't even smell good. I guess I'm getting too old to think that greasy corn dogs and fries smell good. I didn't buy anything. In fact, other than the $5.00 I spent on parking I didn't spend any money.  Someone was giving away extra tickets so I didn't even have to buy a ticket.