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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Road Food

I’m generally pretty frugal when on a road trip. However, there’s one area where I tend to blow the budget. I eat too much road food.

It’s really bad when one considers that for many of these road trips I’m going camping. Food and cooking gear is right there with me. So what’s the problem?

One of the big issues is the weather. Often I’m traveling during the cold of winter or when it’s raining. That’s not exactly picnic weather. Sure, I could have a sandwich and munchies in the vehicle, but that’s not much of a break.

A lot of my travel is done during the night. Traffic is lighter. A 2 a. m. picnic at a rest area would be pretty odd and often uncomfortable. It’s so much easier to pull into a 24 hour truck stop and get a nice plate of fat, salt and preservatives.

My food travel stops are more than about food. At least half of it is for a physical and mental break. A walk to stretch the legs is not just nice, it’s necessary. Being waited on is pleasant. If we stop at a Cracker Barrel, my lovely wife will check out the store part to see what’s on sale.

While I’m not going to totally eliminate stopping for road food, my plan is to cut back on it. At the very least it should be easy to start off with some sandwiches and a thermos of coffee. Cooking up a dehydrated Mountain House meal is quick and easy with little mess. The food’s of pretty good quality too.

Maybe stopping for just coffee now and then would be enough of a break and a lot easier on the budget.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Bunkers of the rich and famous

Sales of luxury doomsday bunkers are up. One of the big trends is to turn decommissioned missile silos into hideaways for the rich and famous. Interesting how those who’ve screwed things up for the rest of us are buying bolt holes for hard times. Should society collapse they plan on escaping to their bunkers with media rooms, swimming pools and fine wines.

Frankly, I’d rather take my chances on the outside with the radioactive zombies.

Take a number of rich highly entitled people who are used to getting their way. Now cram them all together in an underground bunker. No matter how big it is, it won’t be big enough to contain all those massive egos. Their skill sets and favorite pastimes involve stabbing people in the back to get ahead. Everyone will be striving to be the Alpha Wolf. That’s going to be fun, I’m sure.

Will they have their security people with them? What’s to prevent the elite from being eliminated by their own Praetorian Guard? Just like the Roman Emperors of old, their biggest threat will be very people trusted to protect them.

If they survive the bunker, then what? At some point they plan on returning to the surface. How will that work out? Any idea how the survivors will treat them? They will have to face people who’ve been strong enough and clever enough to survive. (Perhaps ruthless enough?) There are always survivors. How do think that reunion will play out? Are you going to bet on the hardened survivors or the pasty cave dwellers?

What’s to keep the people outside from sealing the exits and plugging the air vents? Maybe the elite should put more effort into fixing the problems they caused than trying to run away from the consequences.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

I Don’t Work Here

The other day I was in my local Walmart. There was exactly one staffed checkout lane in operation. Of course one of the workers tried to direct me to the self checkout.

“I don’t work here,” I said.

Then I got in line at the full service checkout. Now I’m wondering about how hard it will be to completely stop going there. One of the downsides of living way out in the country is the lack of shopping options. However, Walmart keeps encouraging me to find solutions.

They also keep running out of stuff. The other day they had no bananas. My gas station has bananas. Recently they were out of peanut butter. It wasn’t just one brand or size, they were out of everything. How does that even happen?

Walmart is huge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t fail. Sears and Kmart used to be huge too. Now they are a mere shadow of their former self and shrinking all the time. When the next recession/depression hits we are going to see a much faster contraction in retail. Companies are going to disappear right and left.

I’ve friends who never shop Walmart. However, they travel a lot and have more disposable income than I do. Frankly, it’s easy to make a statement when you can afford alternatives. Then again, just because it’s harder for me doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Walmart’s drop in service and products have been making the alternatives look better all the time.


Monday, August 19, 2019


Some people who once were happy to call themselves Preppers are dropping the term. They are still about able self-reliance, food security, alternative energy, and being prepared. So why do they no longer use the term?

Apparently there are people who’s concept of prepping is to stock up on just guns and ammo. They expect to have to shoot their neighbors when times get tough. That’s a big difference from those who think working with a community is the best way to survive.

Personally, I’d rather feed a neighbor in need than shoot them. Sheesh, is it that hard of a choice? If your neighbors are that terrible maybe you should move. If, on the other hand, if you’ve moved a lot and your neighbors are always bad it’s not them it’s you. You are the jerk.

There have always been people who think the only thing necessary for survival in a collapse situation is having guns. They think a gun will get them everything they need. That attitude will actually get them killed as they will, rightly, be considered a threat to the community.

We live in a weird time. Lone wolf gun guys can connect with other scattered lone wolves across the planet. They reinforce their beliefs. The problem is that when it comes time to actually survive in crisis, what you actually have are the mixed bag of people around you. An under recognized skill is the ability to get along with people who aren’t like you.

Sure, I’ve got guns too, but it’s not the foundation of my preps. It’s the reality of living in the country. I’ve had bears try to break into my house. While I didn’t have to shoot any, it was good to have that option. Then there was time a groundhog was unusually aggressive. Suspecting it might have rabies, I shot the poor thing. Felt bad about it too, but rabies is serious.

To be honest, it is conceivable I might need a gun for household protection, but odds are that are quite low. However, when you live out in the country, it’s a long time before a 911 call is responded to. So sure, I have guns, but it’s certainly not the center of my lifestyle. At my house a person in need is much more likely to be greeted with a coffee and a kind a word rather than bullets.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Power Outage Protocol

When the power goes out at my house I have a protocol that I go through. Well, all the power doesn’t go out, just the few circuits powered by the grid. My first concern is how extensive the outage is.

First I look to see if my neighbor across the road has power. I think they are afraid of the dark so they leave their spotlights on all night. If they are dark, then I look across the lake. That side of the lake is powered by a newer more robust circuit totally separate from my side. If they are down the outage is fairly large.

Then I pull out my battery powered radio and check the local radio stations. Those are usually still fine and often can inform me on what’s going on. There have been times when even those stations have been down. At that point I switch to the short wave band and try to get some idea what’s going on.

Now I can add the text capability of my new Garmin Inreach device. It connects directly with satellites and is not reliant on cell towers. That will allow me to contact friends and family all over the world.

At one time I had satellite Internet, but it was expensive and had a data cap. When cable Internet became available I switched to that. The one nice thing about the satellite system is that I could power it from my solar electric system and stay connected to the world. While that was nice and sometimes handy, it was too expensive to maintain both Internet connections.

Back in the days before cell phones I used to disappear out in the woods for days at a time. I had this idea that the world could fall apart with I was away and I’d never know. Maybe I read too much Science Fiction as a kid. Still, there were times when I’d get out of the woods only to find there really were significant things that happened while I was away. None of them were earth shattering, but they brought home the idea that I really was out of touch.

While I like to disconnect from the world from time to time, I like to do it on my own terms.


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Friends bearing gifts

A good friend of mine came up from downstate. He had some family business to take care of in town and stayed at my house. We had a great evening, went out to dinner and hung with family members. Good times.

He works for a tech company and brought up a couple of computers he didn’t need anymore. That was a huge boost for me. One needed a keyboard and a monitor, but I already had those in storage. It didn’t take too long to get it up and running and it’s a nice desktop computer now.

The other one was a small notebook computer. It had only been used to power a presentation at a conference once. I had an earlier version of that computer and loved it. It was a great travel computer. While small, the keyboard is large enough for even my giant fingers. The screen on this one is a little bigger than my old machine.

The computers are in like new condition. The desktop one was still in the original box and had never been used. The company bought it for a project that got canceled. They were going to throw it away. I’m glad my buddy thought of me.

Both computers run versions of Linux that I’m familiar and comfortable with. They’ll handle my rather basic computer needs just fine. It’s good to have friends.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Increased Hurricane Risk

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has released a prediction for an increased risk of above normal hurricane activity. That’s mainly due to the end of El Nino conditions.

We are well into the season and it’s been pretty mild so far. In fact, there’s nothing in the short term forecast to indicate hurricane formation. I am going to trust NOAA on this one though. We could get some heavy duty weather at the end of the season. That’s happened in the past. Don’t drop your guard due to it being fairly mild so far.

People who live in hurricane areas should already be aware of this. It’s people like me who try to plan trips down south who get caught flat footed. August through October is considered the peak hurricane season. Of course, it’s possible to get nasty hurricanes even at the end of December.

I’m planning a sailing trip around the third week of October so it could be interesting. That’s where being flexible will come in handy. There are contingencies lined up just in case things get lively. There is no sense launching a boat in front of a hurricane. Sailing right after a hurricane is not a good idea either, with the loss of navigational aids, marina destruction, debris in the water, shoaling and everything else.

My big advantage over bigger boats is that mine can easily be loaded up on a trailer and hauled out of harm’s way.