Thursday, March 31, 2022
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
I grew up in the age of duck and cover. My early school years included drills where we’d all line up and head to the school basement. A little reading into the whole nuclear war preparations thing convinced me our drills were pretty useless. You know it’s bad when a sixth grader can figure out it was all security theater.
We have come close to nuclear war. Only a select few knew how close we came until the truth came out years later. It turns out that the general public never knows. Imagine that. Governments keep secrets.
In general I worry about things I can do something about. Sure, I have some potassium iodide pills and know how to take basic precautions. We are not prime targets out here in the country. If you happen to live in a prime target area you have two options. You can move right now or do nothing. If war starts and a bomb hits your city you’ll probably never know about it.
The truth is we are probably in no more or no less danger than we’ve ever been. There’s a lot of uncertainty, but it’s an uncertainty I’ve been aware of my whole life.
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
The recreational vehicle market exploded during the pandemic. Camping was seen as a relatively safe way to get out and do something. There is also the added security of having your own cooking and comfort facilities.
High fuel prices just might put an end to that boom. A lot of people have seriously cut back on their travel plans. It’s been my experience that high fuel prices take a while to really take hold. Most serious RV people plan their travel planned a year in advance. It’s what you have to do to get into the more popular campgrounds and attractions. High fuel prices won’t be the killer this year. Most people will suck it up and go with their plans. Next year will be a different story. Should higher prices persist then the RV market will crater.
In late 2019 I was actually toying with the idea of selling the house and moving into an RV. That’s the sort of crazy thinking you do after spending an unseasonably cold week in a tent. What the heck was I thinking? For less than $100 I could have purchased a propane buddy heater and kept the tent toasty.
There might be some great deals for RVs in the future, but who’s going to want them?
Monday, March 28, 2022
People go a little nuts when it comes to bug out vehicles. What do think you are going to do with that giant jacked up truck with all the gear that gets 8 mph? Expecting to go play road warrior? Think of a bug out vehicle as a single use item and budget accordingly. What are you going to do when the gas or diesel runs out?
I used to convert diesels to run on waste veggie oil. Over the years I had two Mercedes diesels, a Ford F250 with the old 7.3 and a converted ambulance with the new 7.3 power stroke engine. Those were good bug out vehicles. Back in the day it was possible to go behind a lot of different restaurants and pump grease right out of the bins. Then someone figured out that “waste” had value and a bunch of laws were passed. I had a good relationship with a local restaurant and still had a good supply.
Those days are over. The newer diesels don’t run very well on waste veggie oil -if at all. You can no longer get free fuel for the cost of pumping it out yourself. Things change. Even my local supply is no longer there as the restaurant closed. I miss those days as I saved thousands of dollars on fuel costs and the flexibility to use alternative fuels.
I think your bug out vehicle has one job. Get you to your bug out location. You should be able to do it with the fuel on-board. If you are smart about bugging out you’ll leave before the majority of people realize there’s a problem. If you do that your bug out vehicle could easily be something like a Prius. I used to go deer hunting in the backwoods using a front wheel drive Mazda hatchback economy car. The little car easily got around obstacles that big trucks could not avoid. If it did get stuck it was light enough to be pushed out.
During these interesting times what you should be doing is living at your bug out location already. That way you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get there in a crisis. If you find yourself stuck in the big city because of your job -maybe you should rethink your life. I’ve new folks down the road who’s jobs are located in New York City but they work remotely from out here in the woods. They bugged out during the early days of covid. I find them to be good people and smart too.
Sunday, March 27, 2022
The next economic collapse is here -it’s just not evenly distributed yet.
Russia’s collapse is obvious. The Russian economy wasn’t all that great before the war in Ukraine. Western sanctions killed their economy. There are those who believe that Russia is holding out and its reserves will get it through. They won’t. A majority of foreign assets are frozen. Many other tangible goods have lost their western markets overnight. Their tech sectors are particularly hard hit. Some experts estimate the Russian technology sector has been setback decades.
China won’t save them. China has problems of its own. For about a year its real estate bubble has been collapsing. It’s a miracle it hasn’t completely fallen yet. My guess is that the only reason the collapse has been taking so long is that the average Chinese citizen has almost nothing but real estate to invest in. The CCP is aware how badly its citizens are going to react to losing their investments. Of course, the CCP is also destroying some of the country’s most powerful businesses and businessmen for the crime of making too much money. They recognize that money is a form of power and they cannot tolerate power that is not their own. The CCP’s handling of the economy is collapsing it. A surge in covid cases isn’t helping their either.
I’m not going to get into every Western nation and will concentrate on the US. It’s the big dog. Does this feel like 2007 to anyone else yet? This time real estate will be one part of a bigger picture. My guess is that the US economy will die, not from a single blow, but by a thousand cuts. Covid is still working its way through the country. People are sick and tired of selling their time for too little. Billionaires are getting even more obscenely rich increasing societal income disparity. Energy prices are putting the brakes on. There’s a lot of balls in the air and some have begun to fall.
So much for the quick overview. My question to you is: how are your going to get through the coming collapse? How did you do in 2008? If it hit you hard you’d better not be in the same position you were then. It will be worse. Perhaps we shouldn’t be looking at 2008 and we should be thinking 1929.
What are your plans? It better involve solutions to food and fuel shortages. We know that’s happening right now. Even with it currently in progress a lot of people are in denial. I’m dealing with those two issues right now. Our household diet has adapted and we are already using a lot less fossil fuels. 2008’s collapse hardly affected me. If that was the level I thought this collapse would be like I’d be happy. I’m not happy. This will get ugly.
Of course, it won’t get ugly for everyone. Some people have better plans than others. Others know how to quickly adapt to changing reality.
Saturday, March 26, 2022
It’s been years since I’ve purchased a new computer. Normally I pick up used or discarded computers and rehabilitate them. It’s not a big deal to do things like install laptop batteries, keyboards, or other basic items. To improve their performance the memory is wiped and a new Linux operating system installed. I’m no computer expert, but I know how to google stuff. (that’s what the experts do anyway)
Enough time has passed that my computers are showing their age -seriously showing their age. Hardware and software gets buggy over time.
With supply issues and chip shortages it was time to get something new while I could still do so. Of course, being cheap, I picked up a low end Chromebook. It’s not like I’m doing high end engineering. Mostly it’s to connect to the Internet, write, and view photos.
Chromebooks are basically designed to be web connected machines. That being said, they don’t have to be. Since it came in I’ve been aggressively moving files and functions onboard the computer. Even in good times the Internet goes down fairly often out here in the woods. In the time of escalating cyberwarfare all bets are off.
Friday, March 25, 2022
The weather here in northern NH is still pretty nasty. Snow, rain, and sleet are in the forecast as far as one can see. I decided to get a pallet of fiber blocks for the woodstove. They are 100% compressed sawdust about the size of a brick. They burn well. Better yet, the price hasn’t gone up this year.
There’s a bit of heating oil left still. When that runs out I have serious doubts if I will ever refill it. New England generally heats with #2 oil. It’s almost the same as diesel. Diesel can be burned in furnaces and heating oil in diesel engines. Don’t get caught running heating oil in a diesel vehicle as there’s no road tax on it. The government is big on getting taxes.
Next heating season oil might be too spendy or maybe even unavailable. Right now I’m looking at using the woodstove with electric heat backup. Electric is usually too expensive to heat with, but with the price of oil going through the roof the numbers are changing. At any rate, it would be fine as backup. The plan is wire in a couple of 240 volt heaters are they more efficient. It’s an easy job for me.
Closing off the upstairs should cut our heating needs in half too.
We are planning to be able to hunker down here another winter, but we could always throw a tent in the car and drive to the FL woods. That is, unless we decide to sail somewhere.
Thursday, March 24, 2022
He went and done it. Putin has recreated much of USSR. The only thing is he recreated all the crappy parts. Russia will now have a lower standard of living, isolation, more oppressive state police, and technological inferiority. He’s even destroyed Russia’s commercial airlines. While the rest of the world will be living in the 21st century, Russia will be back in the 20th.
If a peace deal was signed today Russia will still be feeling the effects for years to come. It’s much easier to break things than to fix them. As the days drag on the hole gets deeper. A lot of smart people have already left the country and more are trying to get out.
Russia has shown itself to be a risky place to do business. Even the oil industry, the backbone of the Russian economy, has lost western investment and expertise. Not only that western countries no longer want their energy needs reliant on Russia. It will be a huge boost for sustainable energy development.
Putin has sacrificed everything for a military adventure and even that’s not going well. There’s a dark joke going around the US State department. Russia was once thought to be the world’s second most powerful military. Now they are the second most powerful military in Ukraine.
Putin is a cautionary tale. No country should allow one man to have that much power.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on armor and aircraft. Their hand held weapons are doing a number on some really expensive equipment. The economics of war is changing. We are seeing hints how future wars might be fought.
A $5000 missile operated by a single soldier can remove multi-million dollar tanks from the battlefield. Even rich countries cannot sustain that sort of thing forever. The numbers are even worse when a Stinger takes out a combat jet.
Bayraktar drones have proven to be remarkably effective. They aren’t even particularity sophisticated compared to US drones. However, they are something like 70% as effective at 20% of the cost.
While those drones are in the limelight, there are other drones that are much much cheaper doing amazing work. Ukrainian commercial drone hobbyists set up a drone network to provide intelligence to the military. These drones are something that you could pick up from Amazon or Ebay.
A US ally is claimed to have once used a million dollar Patriot Missile to take out a $300 commercial drone.
The lessons from Ukraine will be learned by every mid to low tier country with half a brain. It’s possible to make war very costly to major powers. War has gotten seriously asymmetrical. All you need is a piece of hardware that looks like drain pipe and a soldier with immense intestinal fortitude.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
I screwed up. Seven months ago I thought I’d do the responsible thing and get medical insurance. That was a mistake. I saw a doctor a couple of times this winter and had a couple tests done. In America that generates a sizable bill. Having insurance saved me $38. What a scam.
Guess who’s not going to get paid? If you guessed the hospital you are right. If you guessed the insurance company you are also right.
In the past the hospital was very quick to send my bill to collection. They are welcome to do that again. They can only ruin my credit once. After that I don’t worry about it. As for the insurance company, I guess I should have paid closer attention to the micro print.
So what about Medicaid? Some people asked me that question. Too many strings. They attach your house and limit you to one car. Their “help” is good for the hospital but not for the patient.
Medical bills prevent working class people from acquiring generational wealth. My grandparents house was taken to pay their nursing home bills. My own parents went bankrupt from medical expenses. No idea if I’ll be able to leave my kids anything, but I’m going to do my best to see the Medical Industrial Complex doesn’t get it.
Monday, March 21, 2022
It’s really tempting to get sucked into the steady gloom and doom out there. My news feeds are full of war reports and ongoing pandemic issues. I must admit to leaning into the news a bit much sometimes. Watching Russian armor blow up never seems to get old.
While world events concern me my ability to change outcomes is limited. What I have control over is how I’m going to deal with the repercussions. Fuel and food prices and availability are already serious issues. That has the potential to get a lot worse. There are things I can do to deal with things on the home front.
My garden space is limited and we are already doing what we can there. There are wild edibles around me and we plan to harvest more of them. I am fortunate to live on a lake with good fishing. All I have to do is to walk down to the water, grab a pole, and launch a canoe. There’s a decent variety of edible species and it’s possible to trap a good number of crayfish. Gotta love those little fresh water lobsters.
As for fuel there are options. My car gets twice the gas mileage of the Blazer and the scooter gets over twice the mileage of the car. Between the scooter’s top box and removable saddlebags it can carry over a weeks worth of groceries.
Next winter we probably will use the woodstove a lot more. Oil prices have gone up so much that electric heat is sometimes more economical. It’s likely we’ll shut the whole upstairs down and heat only half the house.
While it’s tempting to get totally focused on the news, don’t do it. There’s a difference between being informed and being overwhelmed. Don’t let the news paralyze you. Do what you can to take care of you and yours.
Saturday, March 19, 2022
Spring -a time of limitless opportunities. My budget: the reality of doing much much fewer things.
I’ve got work to do on the boat, but do I set it up for just local sailing or do I prepare to haul it south next winter and spend a lot of time on it? Different levels of upgrades.
Are we going to go south at all next winter? Sailing? Camping? Both? Maybe instead we’ll spend another winter in NH. If we decided to spend the winter up north, the house is going to need some heating upgrades.
I’ve got a long list of considerations like that. It’s been on my mind. Can’t plan for them all.
Currently dealing with unexpected vehicle expenses, but unexpected expenses should be expected. It’s always something.
Of course, there’s existential threats out there. Maybe what I should be planning for is WWIII? That doesn’t sound like fun at all.
Friday, March 18, 2022
My local covid numbers are almost nonexistent. Many nearby towns that had cases in the hundreds are reporting zero cases. Is it over?
I’d love to say so. Have you heard of the BA.2 variant of omicron? That’s a thing. It’s doing a number in Europe and Asia right now. Actual death rates are up. Of course, that variant is in the US.
On the bright side Canada is relaxing border controls. As long as you have proof of vaccination it’s not supposed to be a big deal to enter. The border is darn close to where I live and I hope to run up into Canada this spring.
China has a serious lock down in place. Their numbers have always been suspect. Judging from the vast areas and number of cities in lock down, it’s got to be bad there. One consideration is that the Chinese vaccine is crap and never worked all that well. There are 3rd world countries that have refused to use it.
We all want to be done with this pandemic, but it’s not time to totally relax. Personally, I’m going out more and doing things I haven’t done in some months. That being said, I’m still following the numbers daily and seeing how this sorts out. You can deny reality but reality bats last.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
I grew up living next to a Russian Orthodox church, so there were a lot of Russian Americans in my neighborhood. My dad was best friends with the Russian monk who ran the church. That was an unlikely friendship as we were not members of the faith. My dad loved to fish but could only eat a small portion of his catch. The monk loved to eat freshwater fish so dad started dropping off the excess. Over the years they became close.
Dad even visited the monk when he transferred to California. Later, when my dad retired to Florida, the monk happened to take over a church just up the road from my dad. After dad passed away I had the monk do the memorial service instead of clergy from dad’s official religion.
In my travels I’ve met a lot of Russians. They were always warm and open to me. Absolutely some of the best people to party with.
In my interactions with Russians I also met Ukrainians. In the United States those communities are often intermingled. They are brother Slavs.
The war in Ukraine is absolutely horrible and I 100% support the Ukrainian struggle. They are suffering for the dreams of a terrible Russian leader. The Russian people have no choice in the matter. The Russian government has information about the war locked down pretty tight so the citizens don’t know how bad it is. I can hardly imagine the courage needed to be a war protester in Russia, but there’s a lot of them.
The best thing that could happen would be the war to end and the Russian military leave Ukraine. Even if they did that today there will still be deep animosity towards Russians, especially among Ukrainians. Nothing like losing everything due to indiscriminate bombing to generate burning feelings for revenge.
The sanctions are definitely taking there toll on Russia’s ability to pursue the war. As is usual in these things, the average citizen is suffering the worse. That appears to be a necessary evil to ending the war. Russian conscripts appear frightened and confused.
Of course, Wagner mercenaries and certain elite Russian units are all in. Screw those guys. Live by the sword and die by the sword.
There’s already a trend in the news media to make Russians in general the bad guys. Don’t fall for it. Most of you probably have more in common with the average Russian than you do with your own leaders.
I expect some people decided to hate this blog post from the title alone. That’s the propaganda machine for you. Certain people, news commentators and politicians, are pushing an agenda of hate to further their careers. Don’t fall for it.
We are all humans on this dirt ball in space. The sooner we learn to get along together, the better.
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
A lot of people are concerned about their safety right now. With all the crap going on in the world it makes sense to have good fall back plans. Never hurts to have an extra bag of rice in the pantry, a garden, access to clean water, shelter, and protection. Fine. Do that. Get the basics squared away. It’s something everyone should do anyway, even in “safe” times.
Then what? I say don’t forget to live. You might be safe hiding in a bunker somewhere, but is that really living? Guess what? Nobody gets out of this world alive. No sense acting like a corpse before your time.
While I’m concerned about the state of the world, I’m also concerned about my state of joy. Friends of mine worry about me when I’m on my long trips and adventures. It’s entirely possible that something bad happens and I end up stranded a long way from home. Then what?
Then I figure it out. You can’t run from death, but you can run from life. Better to take chances and live a little than die while still breathing.
Do you think the people who have million dollar underground bunkers are safe? They aren’t as safe as you’d imagine. Besides the fact bunkers are not impervious to everything, you have to actually be in them for safety. That would mean never going more than a few miles away from the bunker and always being alert to threats. Then again, you could spend all your time in the bunker and die from a fall in the shower.
I think the universe has a twisted sense of humor that way.
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
We just received another eight inches of snow, so of course I’m thinking about sailing. There are warmer days in the forecast. There’s often a window of time where it’s warm enough to work on the boat but really too cold to launch it. During that oh so brief window I like to get things sorted.
The Oday 19 has been holding up well over the years. We’ve gotten a lot of joy out of it and we’ve done things people are scared to do in much bigger boats. That being said the boat could use some love.
The cabin needs new shelves. On a tiny boat getting them right is crucial. A good friend of mine has volunteered to help me design and build them. While he’s visiting I’d love to put him to work on other boat projects. He’s a skilled engineer.
I’ve decided rip out all the old wiring and start from scratch. Over the years there’s been a lot of splicing and rerouting going on. The commercial switch panel doesn’t excite me either. Building a custom one from scratch should work better. Commercial boat electronics seem to be either too poorly built, too expensive, or too expensive and crap at the same time. By building my own I can get exactly what I want.
It would also be nice to add more solar electric power. That might involve building a solar arch to mount them on. Hope my engineer friend can help me with that too.
The trailer could use a bit of work too, but that will be done after I launch the boat on the lake.
My lovely wife and I plan on doing a lot of sailing in New England during the warm weather. It’s up in the air if we’ll bring the boat down to Florida next winter.
Of course, with the way of the world, everything is up in the air. Plenty of things could ruin our plans, but if you don’t make plans for sure nothing will happen.
Monday, March 14, 2022
I’ve heard complaints from people that it would be nice to have more of a break between Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Nobody wants the hoof beats of War coming when the Pestilence Horseman hasn’t ridden off into the distance yet.
Actually, the whole Horsemen of the Apocalypse thing sent me down the information rabbit hole. There’s the New Testament version, the old Testament version -a whole lot of scripture, mythology and tradition. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into any more of that. You can go down your own rabbit hole.
My concern is that we are also dealing with a fifth horseman. His name is Stupidity and he rides upon a Jackass.
He makes everything worse. We have to deal with a lot of crap these days. Let’s not make it worse by being stupid.
Sunday, March 13, 2022
I’ve a new hobby -watching Russian Oligarchs lose their mega yachts. Sure, it’s schadenfreude but they are freaking Russian Oligarchs and deserve what they get.
They are scrambling to get their boats in safe harbor. Countries have been refusing them dockage and fuel. Boats have been hastily pulled out of dry dock and sent to sea with jobs undone and partial crews. From high enough up, it’s like watching cockroaches scatter when the light is turned on.
They are even turning off their AIS devices. AIS is a system that allows boats all over the world to be tracked. The system plays a very important role in preventing collisions at sea. Turning the beacons off is a violation of International law. I guess they’d rather take chances being in a collision than being found. Of course, it’s hard to hide a giant mega yacht.
So where are they going? Vladivostok is a popular destination. I find that hilarious. The whole point of owning a big freaking boat is to be able to show it off in places like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. Keeping your yacht at a bleak cold Russian port kinda defeats the purpose of owning one.
Many of these yachts have been built with the ill gained funds of a corrupt system. That used to disturb me a little, but now I’m a lot better with that. Why? Well sometimes the money came from the Russian military and defense industry. Those boats are floating on shoddy tires for military trucks, ignored maintenance schedules, depleted inventories and other rip offs that weaken the military. In a way, they’ve provided an unintended service to the West.
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Wow! That’s so much more dramatic than saying we are in for a bit of weather. I’m just sitting here watching it move it.
There’s fuel for the woodstove piled up on the porch, good food in the kitchen, and the house batteries are charged up. Better yet, I don’t have to be anywhere until Sunday and even that’s optional.
When you live in a rural area with harsh winters being prepared is just part of the gig. Of coursed, back in the day there wasn’t a Weather Channel around to give the storm a fancy name.
We could end up with another foot of snow. That’s not particularly uncommon for March in these parts. For that matter snow storms in April or even May are always possible. One year a local ski area ran a Mother’s Day skiing special.
Even though there’s a good sized storm coming in I’m thinking that spring isn’t far off. So you know what I’m going to be doing once the snow melts and good weather gets here? Preparing for next winter.
Many winters my lovely wife and I just skipped out on the worse of winter. There’s something to be said for being a Snowbird and heading south.
The Snowbird routine would be different for us next winter than in winters past. The price of fuel is a big one. We could decide to go camping with a fairly minimal rig. I’ve done it before. Start with our Nissan Versa Note with a 5 speed manual transmission that gets 39 mpg.. We put a 105 watt solar panel on its roof racks to power a small solar electric system. That runs our small 12 volt compressor fridge and the electronics. The car is plenty big enough for all our tenting gear and even the inflatable 14 foot double kayak.
Another option is spend the winter on our small sailboat. It’s tight, but we move with the wind and a very efficient Honda outboard.
While southern travel sounds tempting right now it only makes sense to also get the house ready for another winter. I’ve some plans that would drastically reduce our heating costs. Probably should do that anyway -just in case travel is a bad idea next winter. More about that to come.
Friday, March 11, 2022
Nobody hasn’t noticed the rise in gasoline prices by now. It’s not just gasoline, it’s everything having to do with petroleum. Just about everything in our civilization has a connection to oil. Agriculture is a big one. Oil is used in fertilizers, tractors, trucks, pesticides -you name it. Expect it to show up in your food bill and plan accordingly.
Here’s how the volatility has affected me. Living in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire, there’s still plenty of winter left. In fact, I’m expecting about a foot of snow on Saturday. At the beginning of the month I noticed my heating oil was getting low. The oil company only delivers to my area one day a week. Even though I called 24 hours ahead of time, they said they could not get to me that week.
I was suspicious. Instead of getting a full order I told them to cap my order at $300. I figured that between a partial delivery and my woodstove we’d be fine until it warmed up. Well, they delivered the partial order, but the price had gone up to $391.40. Pretty big jump in a week. It made me wonder if they couldn’t fill me on purpose the week before.
It took some time on the phone, but was able to get the bill back down to the original $300. While I’d been a customer with them for a while, I had no difficulty ending the relationship if I had to. There are other fuel companies and other ways to heat the house. Firewood literally grows on trees.
This is only the beginning. While it looks like the house will be warm the rest of this heating season, next winter it’ll be worse. In the next few months I’ve got to decide what to do. I’ll go over that in another blog post.
Anyway, buckle up -it’s going to be interesting.
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
Yep, it’s been a long time. Too much to catch up on so let’s just say I’m back. Let’s just touch on a few highs and lows.
I was in Texas part of the winter. For a number of reasons I didn’t want most people to know my house was unoccupied. That only explains part of my silence.
Some of it was just a matter of being busy with my own business. Stuff happens. Other times I’m making stuff happen.
Like most people I’ve been watching the war in Ukraine. Russia cannot win this. They could destroy the country and call it victory, but they can’t win.
People are freaking out about gas prices. As an old guy who got his driver’s license in the 70s, this feels really familiar. Looks like my 100 mpg scooter will be doing a lot of errands. Just got a new tire for it before tire prices go through the roof. Anything made from petroleum is going up.
So it’s interesting times. Throw another bag of rice on the pile. Keep your iodide pills nearby and your powder dry.
Don’t forget to have some good times too as there’s more to life than just having a heartbeat.
My lovely wife and I are doing fine. We had a bout of covid. For us it was like a very mild cold, but we are vaxxed to the max. I was pretty ticked off because we were staying with relatives who needed our help but would not take basic precautions. One person in the household had a very bad time indeed but recovered.
Unfortunately we lost Brownie the Sailor Dog before Christmas. The poor old girl had a ruptured spleen and died from internal bleeding. It was unexpected. She was a very good dog and there’s a hole in our hearts.
Anyway, be well.