Monday, September 30, 2013

Truckers Strike and Untrustworthiness of Americans

Truckers are promising a strike in a week and a half.  They are supposedly not going to deliver goods Oct. 11-13.  Good, they will be taking a four day weekend because the 14th in some circles is a holiday.  I don’t know if they plan on doing this nationwide or just in Washington.  I’ve heard that the trucks are going to block the roads in DC.  Little good that will do, especially if the government is shut down (don’t I wish!). 

Anyway, I wish them luck.  The strike had good intentions but it won’t do any good.  What are they striking for?  They are all over the board.  To make Congress listen to the people.  To remove President Obama from office for crimes of treason.  A real Congressional hearing on Benghazi.  Removing all non-Constitution following Muslims from government positions.  Remove Eric Holder from office. Protest fuel prices. 

Now I’m all for having Congress listen to the people.  We the people have to vote in people who will listen.  It’s really that simple.  Unfortunately, the wrong people get voted in because more people are supported by the government than not.  How about removing the president from office?  We could have voted him out.  No, didn’t happen.  A real Congressional hearing.   No, most American’s don’t care.  Why?  That is old news.  I vote for removing ALL non-Constitution following people from government positions.  Doesn’t matter if they are Muslim, Christian, Jew, or any other religion.  The president likes his buddy Eric so he’s staying.  Protest fuel prices? But I heard they are going down a few cents so we should all be happy!  (You are catching a little sarcasm here I hope.)

So what if the strike happens?  Since most or at least many grocery stores will run out of inventory after three days, especially if they think that a strike will cause shortages, I’m sure there will be shortages.  If so, how are you going to survive the holiday weekend if you haven’t stocked up on beer, hotdogs, and chips?  If it’s other supplies, will the stores running out of TVs or leather goods really make people think?  Will it break the economy?  Not at all.  It will make the news which will take away from the real story of how our government is destroying this country. 

Today on the radio the question was asked if we trust Americans.  An article came out that discussed the trust of the people and also the politicians.  But the question was posed a little different today.  Do you trust the people?  Should Americans be trusted?  The answers were pretty much yes, they trusted the people and “their” politicians but not the other people with opposing views.  It digressed a bit.  If you were from a strict country (meaning a Muslim country) and you watched American television would you trust Americans? Then the answer was overwhelming.  NO!  On the other hand, every single Mexican TV program that is on in this great central valley shows the women with skirts to short and tight and tops that are three sizes too small.  Exploitation, yes, but it doesn’t bring about the same amount of hatred as do our programs. 

I don’t watch much TV.  I still don’t trust the majority of Americans.  Why?  It’s not about what is right or wrong.  It’s about beating the other side, which is also us.  Another poll again questioned Americans.  Do you dislike Obamacare?  46% said they opposed it.  The next questions was do you dislike The Affordable Healthcare Act? Only 37% said they didn’t like that!  Nine percent more didn’t like one over the other.  Never mind that they are exactly the same thing.  People are picking sides because it’s a side, not because it’s a crappy Act.  That is why I don't trust most Americans!  You know, I have built more trust with some people who read this blog and I read theirs than with the public in general.

As soon as the Senate passes a budget that the President signs (Do you know there hasn't been a budget in 5 years? They just keep extending what is there plus adding to it.), then we can talk about the government providing healthcare reform.  I wonder if the Congress will pose that question?  In the meantime, winter is coming; there is unrest in the air.  I think I will stock up even more and prepare even more.  How about you? 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Practice what you preach

Last weekend I was plowing up the back pasture and all of a sudden the ripper was cockeyed and I was done.  I unhooked the implement and left it out in the field.  The tractor went back in the garage.  Yes, I keep the tractor in the garage.  It holds four vehicles so why keep it in the barn?  And there it sat for a couple of days.  I didn't really have a clear view of the problem area.  All I knew was the right side wasn't broken and the left side was.  So I took photos of both sides.  I then put them onto the computer and was able to see what the problem was.  A split ring had come off.  That should be an easy fix, or so I thought.

First I went to Lowe's, then Tractor Supply, then Home Depot, then O'Reilly's, the Pep Boys.  They all carried split rings, just not that size.  Pep Boys suggest I go to the local Ag Hardware.  That's a store that  is similar to Tractor Supply but twice the size.  That was a good suggestion because I didn't want to drive another 15 miles to get to the John Deere dealer to pay 10 times the price.  Of course Ag Hardware had it there.  1 1/8" split ring - 69 cents. 

The grandkids had a birthday party to go to today so I didn't get home in time to put it on.  That's OK.  I'll get to it next weekend and then finish ripping that pasture.  It's something that I can fix myself.  I just had to figure out what was wrong.  Because this had the same item on the other side it was pretty easy to figure out.  If I didn't figure it out it would have cost $50 to have JD come over to pick up the tractor and although they would have probably charged $5 for the part they would have charged another $50 minimum for labor.  The .69 fix would have cost over $100.  I bought four split rings.  Sure the first one lasted for 10 years.  I'm sure the other side will break soon.  Now I have extra because I don't believe that they are made as well as they were even 10 years ago.  I doubt that these will last another 10 years.  We will see.

Oklahoma friend called me up a couple of days ago.  Friend knows that I am prepared. Friend is as well, even if I did make remarks about how they had to buy firewood because they never bucked up any of the downed logs on their 87 acres.  Or at least friend is trying to be prepared.  Friend called to ask my opinion.  The question was prefaced with "Don't think I'm one of those crazy people".  Friend told me how most of their neighbors are thinking the country is going to fall apart and they are preparing big time.  Friend said that because of what everyone else is doing that they are going to seriously prepare as well.  If you can't beat them then join them.  And what did I think about that?  Crazy? 

Not in the least.  I then went through a bunch of scenarios.  Loss of power for several weeks...oh yeah, like every winter where they live.  Since they've lived in Oklahoma, the winter with the shortest outage was 15 days!  How about a freak snowstorm?  Tornado? That's their normal life.  Of course they need to be prepared.  Country collapse?  You know, I just don't know if that will happen.  Who can predict that?  Take 9/11.  While it was a horrible attack on our country, unless you lived where the attack occurred or you had friends or loved ones who perished, or you were part of the rescue effort or clean up effort, it didn't really affect you.  Well, sure it did, emotionally.  But we aren't talking emotionally.  When bad things happen in this country it is usually a regional problem.  There may be shortages of things due to that ragionality but life will pretty much go on for the rest of us.  Unless of course, we have an entire country collapse. 

I told friend that I think preparing is great.  After all, if all of your neighbors are prepared then there is less risk to you that they will be coming after your stuff.  Friend should keep talking with these neighbors.  Ask them questions.  Even if friend doesn't want to believe that there could be a full collapse connections can be made and neighbors can meet to figure out how they can all cooperate.  Some raise milk goats and cows, some chickens, some fish, some garden, some love hunting.  Friend is a trauma nurse.  Can't get a better person than that in a group. 

We moved the sheep to the front yard yesterday.  They will be eating the little bit of grass and all the leaves that will fall from the mulberry trees.  I have to get the seed still but my plan is to plant one pasture in wheat, one in oat, and one in barley.  Since I have six separate pastures I may plant two of each type of grain.  I've planted the pastures before but with last years 5 inches of rain for the entire season, just about nothing came up.  I want to plant it again, just to make sure I get a good crop this year. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Let's just give permission for everyone to track us

At what price do we give away our privacy?  Do we care how much convenience costs?  I don't think we do. 

There is no outcry that the doctor's offices are supposed to go to paperless records and all records are in one great big national database.  If the doctors don't do this then they don't get any reimbursements for Medicare patients, or in the case of California - MediCal or Medicare. So in order to get their money they have turned over all our records.  Again there is no outcry for the loss of privacy so let's now take it a step further. 

What about EZ Pass or FasTrak?  Look at all the benefits you get from these programs.  You don't have to get into the toll booth line to pay.  Instead your vehicle is read electronically.  That's OK you say because all toll booths nowadays have cameras and you are ID'd anyway.  So what's the harm?  Right?  WRONG! 
New York uses the EZ Pass throughout the city to help with real time tracking of vehicles to detect traffic patterns.  Fine if it just gives a click like the ropes across the road use counters.  No, this process tells them where your personal vehicle is.  The government's own personal GPS system that you pay for. 
The Pass is also used for court cases, whether it's criminal or civil.  Just think.  You can be a prime suspect in a _____ because your vehicle was tracked leaving the scene of a crime. 
Best of all, you can use the Pass like an ATM card at some McDonald's.  Yes you can.  What a convenience.  McDonald's can now read your traffic pattern.

California is thinking about having electronic license plates.  They will be a source of income to the state.  They will track if the vehicle registration is due, but also make it easier for authorities to know if there is a problem just by being near a vehicle.  Anything can be put into these plates.  They are even talking about selling commercial space.  Yes, you can be at a signal and with the car stopped and you will be flashed an advertisement from the car in front of you.  McDonald's anyone?  Your license plate can be showing an advertisement for some nearby business.  Or the state can program in if you are on parole, if you are a gang member, etc. on the part that isn't publicly visible.  Who knows, maybe when the car is stopped it can flash child molester here.  Sounds good!? as that will keep us safe.  And people will flock to these new electronic plates because they will be cool.

I've now figured out a great marketing plan for here in California!  If McDonald's detects by your Pass that you are a McDonald's user twice a week in the afternoon, they can start flashing commercials on the license plate in front of you at a signal every afternoon.  Brilliant marketing ploy.  And you know something?  We will accept it.  After all, it's free marketing in a free society isn't it?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Can you fix it?

If something breaks we usually have several options.  We can fix it ourselves.  We can hire someone to fix it.  We can get rid of it and get a new one.  We can keep it broken and just stare at it every once in a while thinking someday we will fix it.  We can just do without.  How much stuff do you own that you can't fix?  Perhaps you are really handy.  Can you fix it all?  Do you have parts at home to fix it? 

I was thinking about this today as I was pulling the mower deck off the tractor.  I wanted to put the ripper on to plow the pastures before the rains fell.  What can I fix on the tractor?  I've fixed the mower deck.  I can replace teeth on the ripper.  I can do a minor repair to the tractor.  If something major happened to the tractor, even if I could fix it, I don't store too many parts for it.  Now I just haul it to the JD dealer.  If TSHTF, I guess I'd be out of luck.  What do I have the tractor do for me that I can't otherwise do?  Well, I can hand mow a yard.  Better yet, we just put fencing up in the front yard and the sheep are going to be moved to the front lawn.  We don't have to rake leaves or mow and next spring I will plow their manure into the soil.  Mowing is what I use the tractor for most often. 

Today I actually used the tractor to rip the pastures.  I figured that they are so compacted that any moisture received by a light rain won't penetrate.  I spent five hours on the equipment today and will probably spend a couple hours on it tomorrow.  When I started the grasses were eaten down to less than 1/4" in height.  The soil was cracked due to lack of moisture.  (When I say cracked, I mean it!  Many cracks were 2" wide and 1 foot deep.)  My neighbor ripped theirs last year and this year their pasture was more than twice the height of mine.  If I didn't have the tractor I could hire someone to plow the field.  What if TSHTF?  Nobody around here has any working horses or oxen.  None of the pastures would get plowed. At least my pastures will be done this year.  Ripping them lasts for several years; you don't need to do it every year. 

Take a look around and what you use at your house.  If you can't fix the zipper on those jeans are you going to throw them away?  Do you have a replacement pair if there aren't any at the store?  We know all about the things we should store just in case.  What else do I have that may need to be fixed?  The car, truck, freezer, refrigerator, tv, stereo, dishwasher, broken chair leg, door swelling, faucet, light switch, broken zipper, lost button? It goes from difficult to easy. But even the easy is impossible without the tools or ability. 

We all have a lot of modern things.  Most break easy and often.  Which of those things do you not want to live without?  Think back about 50 years.  What was in the "modern" home at that time?  Think back 75 years.  What equipment ran the home and property then?  What about 100 years ago?  I look around in my home library.  What surrounds me?  A printer, computer (thanks Max), a shredder, a stereo.  That's all new stuff that I probably don't have the ability to repair and replacements may not be available even if I could repair them.  On the other hand, do I actually need any of this stuff if TSHTF?  It's convenient, that's for sure, but an absolute need?  No.  What about the rest of the things in this room?  Books, shelving, chairs, table, file cabinet.  Bigger stuff.  If any of these items break I won't have to rush to the store to purchase repair or replacement parts.  I can probably fix what goes wrong.  Do I have enough tape, glue, staples, nails, material, and tools to make all of these repairs?  Probably. 

I'm going to start looking at each room with a more critical eye.  How about the living room?  Table, sideboard, sofas, chairs, TV, VCR, lights.  I can probably fix everything except if glass breaks on the table and also the TV and VCR.  I don't have spare parts or pieces.  Even if I did for the TV or VCR I have no clue how to fix them. 

The kitchen is more difficult to assess.  I have a lot of stuff here and more kitchen things stored in the garage.  I have a wheat grinder.  It's an older model that will run forever, as long as there's electricity.  But it can be hand cranked and I have a hand crank for it.  I have an electric dehydrator.  If it breaks I'd try to figure out how to fix it.  If I can't, I can use a substitute (screen, wood, sunshine) to dry food.  What about the day to day things in the kitchen.  The coffee pot... Mine even grinds the beans.  I'm on my third one since they don't last long, but I like it!  If I didn't have the ability to buy a fourth when this one dies in another couple years I do have backups.  Yes, a back up coffee maker that doesn't grind beans.  I also have 1000+ filters.  You just put the hot water into a mason jar, throw your grinds into the jar, screw on the ring but replace the lid with a filter.  Turn it upside down over your mug and you coffee drips in.  I also have a stove top percolator.  There are many different ways to get coffee once the coffee maker dies. 

I expect to be able to use my propane stove for a long time.  Even if I can't get a propane delivery for several years, we'd be able to cook.  As long as the stove doesn't break.  What about the electronic ignition?  Do I have matches if there's no electricity?  What if there is electricity would I know how to fix that?  What if a knob breaks?  Can I repair it or replace it or will I be turning the stove on with a pair of pliers?  What if you have a gas stove and you want to convert it to propane if TSHTF?  It's not expensive but you should buy the parts now and know how to change them out. 

Can I change out the pipes under the sink? The kids just busted the sink stopper in their bathroom.  That's an easy fix; the screw probably came undone and fell off.  Then I realized that not only the screw isn't there but all the parts under the sink have disappeared.  Did someone else try to fix it and threw away parts? 

 How about a dishwasher?  Do I have spare parts?  Do I know what I'm doing if I do have parts?  What will I use as a substitute if that appliance is no longer available? Do I have enough dishpans of good quality?  The dollar store bargain is no bargain. 

Can I fix a drier or will we be destined to using the clothesline forever?  Do I have enough line for the clothesline or will the clothes eventually get hung over the fence to dry?  I got into a debate with someone who said it you can't fix it you shouldn't own it.  I don't agree with that premise, but I do agree that if I can't fix it I better have some sort of substitute in mind if it breaks. 

Let's take our front yard hose as an example.  Within the last month I've fixed it twice.  I could have just thrown it away and spent $35 on a new one.  I had spare parts at home for the repairs so I used to parts.  The next time I was in town I bought a new set of spare parts.  So what went wrong with the hose?  First it needed a new washer.  That's about a 10 second 10 cent repair, yet I've seen some people throw away the hose because it leaked.  No it didn't.  They just didn't know how to do such a simple repair.  Then the hose got a pinhole leak in it.  I cut the hose and put a repair piece on it.  That cost a couple of dollars.  If I didn't have the spare part I could have taken some old irrigation hose that's a little smaller to use in the hose repair.  I'd put that in then clamp each cut end over the hose repair.  What if I don't have clamps?  Wire will work.  I can fix it properly or I can improvise and still get it to work. Or I can buy a new one.  Right now I have many choices.   

Take some notes for the next few weeks.  What did you fix without really giving it a second thought?  What needs to be fixed that you don't know how to do?  Is it worth fixing or should you just get rid of it?  While I don't agree with "if you can't fix it you shouldn't own it" I do agree that we should do a better job of learning how to fix things.  Even the simple repairs, such as a garden hose, will make life much easier when life as we know it ceases to exist.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Better Fired than Dead

I woke up in the middle of the night with "better fired than dead" running through my brain.  I woke this morning right when the shooting happened in DC.  No, this wasn't any type of premonition, don't read anything like that into this.  This shooting did take place at a federal facility, which means nobody is armed except the bad guy.  Everyone is a sitting duck until someone who is armed shows up.  I've heard in this case it took 2 minutes for the first armed officer to show up.  Five minutes after that the full "active shooter" team arrived.  Whether it's 2 minutes or 7 minutes, it's too long of a time.
My last job I wasn't supposed to be armed.  Same with this job.  We aren't supposed to carry a weapon or have one in the vehicle.  It isn't illegal, just against company policy.  I have a CCW permit.  I can carry so I will.  I am almost always armed.  Better fired than dead. 
Now I haven't told anyone at work that I write this blog because I include little bits of what they shouldn't know.  But it always makes me wonder... who at work would tell the boss that I carry?  I can name a few who probably wouldn't but I think most would.  Even if I believe they wouldn't say anything, nobody will ever know that I carry unless I pull it out to save my, or their, life.  A disgruntled person came into one of our company's offices in another city and killed several people.  How does the company deal with it?  We have yearly "active shooter" training. 
Have you ever had this training?  Lock your office door (my office doesn't have a door), hide behind something big, turn off the sound on your phone so nobody knows you are there.  If you choose to go after the shooter you MUST continue your action.  What?  If you run out of your office and you see the shooter and for a second you think you are going to jump him but then you run out the back door that is wrong?  You have to go continue your action of going after the shooter?  So much for the training.
How about if the training teaches us how to booby trap the place.  For fun some of the people in my office and I have made booby traps.  Have you ever seen a pair of scissors with the point facing eye level flying at you from a rigging on the ceiling?  We did that for fun one day.  In only a few seconds I can turn my scissors, pencils, and some rubber bands into a flying weapon.  Have you ever taken habanero peppers and ground them up into a powder?  There is a door by my desk that no longer opens into the hallway.  Well, it opens a little.  I've got pepper powder rigged there. 
I can carry in a school zone but the teacher can't.  I can understand having a rule for women teachers that you can't have a weapon in a purse.  Carry should be carry.  On your body.  I think school districts should change their rules, just like I think the company I work at should change their rules.  Carry on  your person, not in a bag, fanny pack, or a hidden space in your briefcase.  On you! 
Rumor has it the DC shooter had a concealed weapons permit.  There is going to be additional push to get rid of firearms.  There always is after someone shoots up a place, which is all too common it seems now a-days.  But all these mass shootings have one thing in common.  They were all weapons free zones.  Yes, no guns allowed for the good guys, only the bad guys because they don't follow the rules.  After all, they are the bad guys.  We need to keep up the fight to stay armed.  I will stay armed.  As my saying goes (at least to myself), "Better fired than dead."   

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wasted Food

I got off early today and stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things.  We needed all our dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, ice cream.  When I buy these I remind myself that I don't have time to keep a goat or cow.  Those animals take a commitment of twice a day every day.  While I'm working I just don't have the time.  Some people can squeeze it all in.  I probably could have 20-30 years ago when I was raising the first set of kids.  Now, I can't.  I'm too tired at the end of the day.

After shopping I drove home and got it all put away.  Wow, home for several hours before the grand kids get home.  I guess it's chore time.  Either that or a nap!  No, chores win out once again. 

I went out to the chicken and chucker coops.  They had very little water.  It's not that they don't get watered, they do.  But the chickens especially, when they get hot, will jump into the water tubs and splash in the water to cool off.  That works well except they splash out all the water.  Then they get over heated while they are waiting for me to give them more water, which may be several hours later.  They are stupid chickens, after all. 

As I had the water running, I put another 50 pounds of lay pellets into the feeder.  With the price of pellets I'm just about breaking even with the amount of eggs I'm getting.  That's OK, I suppose.  I don't want to lose money.  But, I also look at the chickens as sort of an insurance policy.  You always lose money on insurance, unless you have an accident and the insurance pays up.  Same with the chickens.  You may lose money on them but if there's a shortage of eggs, or of anything at the grocery store, now they will be paying up.  Their eggs will be worth their weight in gold (Figure of speech, I hope they are never worth that much!).

Then I went over to the fruit trees to pick some pears and apples to put into the green salad we were having with dinner.  I noticed a bunch of fruit laying on the ground.  Normally I don't get too upset about that, but today was different.  I raked a bunch of the dropped fruit up and fed it to the chickens and the rest to the sheep.  Sure, feeding the chickens fruit will cut down on their food bill, but what about our food bill?  Chicken food is about $15 for the 50 pounds.  That's about 30 cents per pound.  The fruit is worth more than 30 cents per pound.  I don't think there's anything at the store I can buy for 30 cents a pound!  I shouldn't be letting fruit drop to the ground.  It should be getting canned, dried, frozen, made into fruit leather, or eaten fresh! 

The chickens get the trimmings so it's not like they aren't getting fresh fruits and vegetables.  Tonight for dinner I made a vegetable mixture of tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, garlic, and onions.  All the trimmings from that went to the chickens.  They eat plenty of fresh stuff.  When I include the weeds I split between the sheep and chickens they eat very well.  I've been foolish with the fruit.  Just because the pantry is full doesn't mean I should be wasteful.  Next summer may be a bad fruit year.  This year we had a bumper crop of fruit, but considering the previous two years we got almost nothing, who knows what the future may bring. 

If I bought it from the store I'd sure pay more attention to the fruit and not throw it away.  The same should be said about what grows on the tree.  It's like the store only more convenient! I guess I've had the same mentality as Son and Daughter-in-law.  They are on food stamps and are very wasteful with their food.  They over serve food to the kids and themselves and then throw half of it away. I always believe it's because they don't pay for it.  It's "free".  Sort of the same attitude I've had with the fruit trees.  But that is going to change. 

We have four pear trees and three apple trees that are filled with fruit.  Between this weekend and next I'm going to make sure I put up enough apple sauce and pear sauce to last a year or two.  I'll also cut up apple chunks and pear chunks.  I can them in a light syrup and use them for everything from pies to fritters to cakes to fruit salad!  After that, if there's fruit left that falls to the ground I won't be feeling so wasteful when I feed it to the chickens, chuckars, and sheep.