Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Detour - How to find your personal retreat/homestead

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Sorry I am LONG overdue to post a podcast and blog post. So I thought I would give you a quick update on where I am, and what I am doing. I don't want to leave people hanging as we have a lot to cover over the next few weeks with our kits and things we need to get done.

Unfortunately my computer I use for doing my podcast has suddenly decided something is not right. So I have ordered some replacement parts and hopefully will get it back in operation soon.

But today I want to post an article that specifically relates to what I am doing at the moment and why I am late getting anything posted here. I am in search of a home in Nebraska. We are in the process of moving this summer if the plan holds together and as part of this move we are attempting to find a home that will qualify as our own personal retreat/bug in location. So I have been driving back and forth between Colorado and Nebraska and will be taking another road trip again this weekend. So I have been spending a lot of time on the road and out looking for a house. So I thought I should share what I am looking for in a home and give you an idea of some of the things that might be of help to you if your thinking about your own personal retreat or bug out/bug in location.

Personal Retreat/Bug In Location:
Now the term personal retreat or bug-in location could mean many things to many people. In my family have a very limited budget and with the economy being bad and getting worse we are looking for something that meets our needs, has the resources and things that we feel will be essential going forward to be prepared and be able to produce food and possibly income for our family.

When I started this search back in Nov 2009 I had this romantic idea of what I wanted and that it would be away from people as far as possible with a fair amount of land. Well reality is a bitter pill to swallow as the search has worn on I have learned a thing or two about "need vs want", and the budgetary constraints of trying to do what I want. We experienced some pretty harsh weather this winter and we realized that the idea of being "out in the boonies" wasn't going to work when you have to commute daily into "civilization" for jobs and things. So we have learned we have to compromise and to come to grips with what we can afford. The closer you get to "civilization" the more expensive land and homes get. So we have had to downsize our expectations.

I prefer something outside of the city, but not some huge distance away from the city/communities. I am not ruling out an acreage in the city however if I thought the property might meet our needs. I know you will hear many in the survivalist or prepper community talking about bug out locations that are back in the sticks or up on a mountain. I think in a world of cheap energy for transportation something like that would work, but I don't personally believe that will be the case and that fuel will skyrocket in cost and could be difficult to obtain or afford. This limits the effective distances that we can realistically live from family, friends, neighbors, and local communities. We will still need to be able to access local communities and towns for our own needs we cannot meet and to still possibly have access to medical facilities if needed. The next consideration is that we would like to make this a mini hobby farm where we can grow a lot of our own food and still have access to local farmers markets and things like that where we could sell/barter our own excess for things we need with other farmers and to sell into the cities and towns. Obviously your mileage may vary and only you can judge your own needs and what you think is going to work best for you. In our case I think rural but still within some reasonable proximity of the local communities will work best for us.

We started looking for acreages. What we found right away is good land is hard to come by and is very expensive. We are finding that if you can find good land then the house isn't workable or very old, dated, and has it's own share of things that complicate what we are hoping to do. Large acreage is out of the question at this point. The land is just too expensive where we are looking. So as the search has worn on since last fall we are finding that it is hard to find anything that is usable, and is very expensive, or too much of a compromise to achieve our objectives. So the amount of land we have been willing to consider continues to get smaller. So we are still in the thick of the hunt for a place that will work.

We have seen a few that would be an acceptable compromise over the last month and I will be going out again this weekend to look at a couple more places and to visit a few we have seen before to decide if these are still worth considering.

Something else I learned from Jack Spirko over at The Survival Podcast is the concept of permaculture. He mentioned the Dervaes family who have turned 1/10th of an acre of tillable land and turned it into a business and it feeds their family. It was this revelation that opened my eyes to the possibilities, and also helps relieve some stress in our search to find a place with a large acreage. We can do a lot with very little space. If you have not checked out Jack's site and podcast give it a look. Jack is very knowledgable, and like all things in this lifestyle we are all learning together and Jack does a good show.

Here is a sample of some of the info you can find on the Dervaes Family:

Homegrown Revolution:

What's really required?

What are we looking for then you might ask? Well lets go over some of my basic search criteria in our homestead search. You have to remain flexible, and be willing to consider your options and what is the best compromise to get you what you need.

1. Prefer outside of the cities or towns, but within a 30 or 40 minute commute of jobs and shopping.
2. Prefer to be somewhat close to smaller towns and places where we can barter, trade, and sell our wares from our hobby farm.
3. Prefer to stay off of highways, or heavily traveled roads if possible.

Desired Characteristics:
1. Has good southern sun exposure for solar power and for gardening.
2. Has a well, or cistern for reliable water supply that does not rely on public utilities.
3. Has a septic tank, again do not rely on public utilities.
4. A good site for installation of wind turbines for power generation and for pumping purposes.
5. Prefer flat or gentle rolling land that can be easily gardened or farmed.
6. Enough acreage that we can produce enough to feed our family and be able to possibly sell, barter, trade for other things we need from the things we produce on the land. At this point we have compromised down to a least 1 acre minimum for this home, but more would be better if the land follows number 5 above which is usable land.
7. Needs to have a basement or cellar for food and supplies storage.
8. Prefer land with outbuildings(ie barn, sheds, garage, shop)
9. Enough room that a group or extended family can stay at our home comfortably if needed.
10. Fireplace, wood stove, or other alternative source of heating and cooking in the home.

Wants but not essential:
1. Water feature like spring fed pond, creek, or other water feature that could be used in an emergency.
2. Would like to have natural gas or propane for cooking.
3. Would like to have a home that has been modernized with energy efficient windows, doors, furnace, water heater etc.
4. Would like to have updated appliances and kitchen if possible.
5. Would prefer a home with mostly wood, tile, or other hard surface flooring... ie no carpet if possible.

What's your plan?
Next thing that needs to be touched on is your plan. We have been working on our kit up to this point on the blog and podcasts, but we also need to be making our plan. What is the plan if the stuff hits the fan(SHTF)? Are you planning on grabbing your stuff and bugging out? Getting out of Dodge(GOOD)? Bugging in? I know we haven't talked about the plan yet on the podcast or blog but it is coming in an episode soon. I had the good fortune last year of attempting a bug out drill from Maryland to Colorado. I won't get into the details here, but I took an opportunity as we were moving to Colorado to use it as a drill to treat it as a bug out. So all of my planning was put to the test. All I was taking with me was just the essentials and my prepper supplies. Needless to say this is very educational and eye opening. Anyone who is thinking they will use the GOOD plan needs to do some dress rehearsals to see how realistic this is. For me personally I figured out pretty quickly that this was not a good plan and thank God there wasn't a SHTF situation or it would have been UGLY. So our primary plan will be to bug in and our property search will have this plan in mind. If you do plan on bugging out then learn about caching, and pre-staging as much as possible to increase your changes of getting where your going and having what you need. So our bug in plan means the home needs to be as self sustainable as possible. It needs to be able to provide as much of it's own heat, energy, and food as possible. So in buying a place we are looking for a way to make our home more sustainable, more resilient to the economics and variation that can happen in an emergency. While the property most likely won't have all these things at the time we buy it we do pay attention to those details when shopping so that we can attempt to get as much as we need and want right out of the gate. For example renewable energy needs to have a good southern orientation and a clear path for sunlight to get to solar panels. Wind generation needs to have ample space for tower sighting and enough room so that towers can be taken down and tilted up for maintenance. Distance to the home is important as you want to keep wire runs as short as possible. Water catchment and collection is important. The ability to get water even when power is off is essential and most homes with a well use electric pumps. So when considering the power requirements for your home don't overlook your power needs for your well. You might even consider the idea of adding an old fashioned hand pump to your well as a backup.

The ideal vs reality:
We initially started this process last fall and were looking for a geothermal home to address what is going to be a long and ongoing concern with energy and energy prices. We found exactly 2 geothermal homes in the area for sale. One we were very interested in and it was our mistake for not making an offer right away and it sold before we circled back to reconsider an offer. The second geothermal home did not offer adequate space in the home for the needed storage and preps. This makes it a compromise on too many levels. We have not completely removed it from the consideration, but it is lower on the list until we feel we have exhausted all other options. The size of the land is more than adequate. It does not offer the best terrain for gardening or larger scale food production. The property does have a pond on it which would be good for possible stocking with fish to supplement our food needs. There are exterior buildings, but not in great shape and have dirt flooring. Someone had attempted to build a root cellar but it is so small and has been neglected for decades that it is for all intents and purposes useless. So while the home design fit what we wanted the implementation of that design in conjunction of the other features make it challenging and would require a substantial additional investment to make the home and property useful.

So this has left us searching conventional built homes for the right combination that will best meet our needs. So far we see that to find something that meets all our criteria is starting to appear to be impossible. So we are learning the art of compromise and trying to best prioritize our needs so that we make the best choice possible. We have been looking since Nov 2009 so we are trying to be patient, but this is challenging. One of the challenges is recognizing a decent compromise when you see it and acting quickly. We have seen a couple of places now that were a good compromise and by the time we recognized that fact those homes were gone. Funny how that works even in a down economy and buyers home market that people recognize a good thing and jump on it quickly. Those that don't have that right combination of things languish and sit on the market. So we know that there are others out in the market place looking for the same things that we as preppers are shopping for. So we are slowly coming around to the point of learning that hoping for something better when your looking at something "pretty good" will hurt you and you will miss an opportunity. Hopefully we will have the smarts to recognize the next "pretty good" home that we see and make an offer.

Being prepared for what?
The last thing I want to touch upon when looking for our personal retreat/bug-in homestead is what kind of scenarios are you preparing for? What kind of emergencies, disaster, or situation are you preparing for? What is likely to happen vs what "might" happen? As much as we would like to think we are prepared for anything the sad reality is that everything we do is a compromise. We are forced to give up things in order to get other things in the trade off. So deciding what your priorities are is a personal choice and what is most likely to be the things you have to address in your situation.

Check with your local authorities, long time residents, FEMA maps to determine if you are looking at flood plains, fire hazards, or what are some of the things that have happened in the past in your area. Those are the things you need to be aware of and prepared for. Granted we could be preparing for global thermonuclear war, pandemic disease etc, but let's properly weight those threats in your priority list and use that info when selecting your next home(or even prepping your current home). Sometimes the things we choose to prepare for may not be realistic and could frustrate you personal plan and preps. So make sure you do a reality check periodically and make sure your not too close to the situation, and are still looking at the situation with the proper perspective. Emotional involvement is sort of like going to the grocery store when your hungry... Your not going to make a lot of good decisions when your attached to the decisions from a position of weakness/need. So do your prepping now while we have some sunny days to make some hay.

Prepping your current home, or looking for a new home that is more geared toward prepping is not an easy task unless you happen to have an unlimited budget. Finding what we are looking for has been challenging, fun, and educational. I hope at the end of this search we will have something good to report back to you and maybe even some sneak peaks at what we decided to buy and what we will be working with out of the gate as we try to setup our prepper homestead.

I hope you found this interesting. I will post a followup to this over the weekend to let you know how things are going and shift gears back to some of the things we have started on in this blog. Over the next week or two we are going to circle back around to our first aid kits and I will show you what I have been assembling for my First Aid supplies kit, and we will be following up on the Energy Self Sufficiency series and taking you into home energy saving tips and things you can do to put more money in your pocket. So keep us in your prayers, and your fingers crossed for us as we continue our homestead hunt this weekend.

In the News...
The Raping and Looting of Main Street
Morgan Stanley - The Gold Ponzi Schemes at the banks
Bombshell MUST HEAR Audio: How one family demanded to see their gold in the bank vault, and there was none there!
The Canada Bullion Vault empty
Foreclosure - Here comes the tax man
The banks setup the bankruptcy, the Federal Reserve makes the bets to profit from it!

Dylan Ratigan - Exposes the Federal Reserve Con - Part 1

Dylan Ratigan - Exposes the Federal Reserve Con - Part 2

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Be Prepared Channel Podcast now on iTunes!

Just a quick note. I finally got around to setting up an account on iTunes and going through the application process. That has been approved and you can now find my podcast on iTunes. You can subscribe there and have them automatically downloaded to you iPod, iTouch, or iPhone just to make it more convenient.

To find my podcast on iTunes just search for: bepreparedchannel
Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Today is just a quick follow-up to the earlier podcast where we compared two off the shelf first aid kits. I have had a couple of questions about a sample shopping list. So I decided to just type up a list that includes some of the things that I have on my list. As part of this series on getting ready I have found things that I overlooked and didn't have covered myself. So any review is good to sanity check your plan. So here is a sample list. It is far from all encompassing. So feel free to give me a shout if you see something I overlooked.

Sample First Aid(emergency medical supplies) Shopping List

At the top of our list is presciption supplies:
- Prescription medications
you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
- Prescribed medical supplies
such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies.

Over the counter items:

Isopropyl alcohol
Neosporin(triple antibiotic salve)
Hydrogen peroxide
eye wash/saline solution
dry/itchy skin treatmen(Cortiad)
Burn ointment
Sting relief
Calamine lotion
Lip ointment
Pepto Bismol
Surgical scrub
Hand soap
burn gel
petroleum jelly
antibiotic towelettes

Associated Supplies:
cotton balls
cotton swabs
alcohol wipes
sterile sponges
gauze bandages (various sizes from eye patch size up to something to cover a large wound)
surgical dressings
health care gloves
ziplock bags
garbage bags
body wrap bandages
adhesive tape
bandaids(various sizes)

Magnifying glass
Small flashlight
emergency surgical instrument kit(Assorted scissors, probe, sutures, scalpel, hemostat, pen light, tweezers, alcohol pads and ointment)
batteries(for flashlight)

Some things to know:
In the case of prescribed medications talk to your doctor and tell them what your doing. I am sure he/she will understand and will be glad to help you get the supplies and extra prescriptions you need to stock your emergency first aid kit. I am sure you doctor will wish he/she had more patients like you!

Now it is recommended that you have your emergency kit and first aid kit ready in the case of an emergency. That emergency could very well require you to leave your home. So having this packed up and portable is a good idea. Possibly next to a door or exit. Choosing the container, pack, or bag for this purpose needs to be thought out. It needs to be movable or packable by your family members. Each member of your family should have an emergency pack(you might hear some refer to this as a bug out bag). We will get into bug out bags(or BOB's) in a later episode. In a bob you will have a very basic first aid kit sized for individual needs, but not to be confused with the first aid kit we are talking about here.

Why have this larger kit? How long will it take for emergency services to get to you? Will they come in a major emergency or large scale disaster? Don't be one of the people out scavenging for basic supplies. It isn't the disaster that is the issue, it is the way that people react to that disaster that could mean life or death. When things get bad people will panic. So have the supplies you need to ensure your not part of the problem.

I am sure I have overlooked items in my list. There are some things that I would love to have on my list like our military troops use in the field, but frankly the cost is too high for some of these things like burn blankets, IV bags, and various other amazing technology being deployed today. Maybe some day the cost of these items will drop so that we can afford these things. In the mean time we keep our eyes open for possible additions to our kits to improve our preps.

I am still in the process of adding things to my first aid kit, and I am adapting a plastic footlocker with wheels for containing this first aid kit. I will be adding some reflective tape to the outside that indicates a cross like a red cross so that in the dark I will be able to find it with a flash light. I would suggest that all of your emergency kit containers/packs etc are identified in some way that can be seen in the dark. These footlockers are stackable, and with the wheels can be moved by most older children or adults by grabbing one end and letting the wheels do the work. Obviously it takes more muscle and size to stack something like this. I have setup my basic short term kit items all up in footlockers like this so that in the case of an emergency they can be readily moved into the back of my truck and we can leave an area quickly. My short term water storage is the same with containers that have a handle and wheels so that they can be moved by anyone and we can gather our things quickly. I will show you how this is done later on in a follow-up to building our basic kit.

Over the next few weeks I should be able to put the finishing touches on my first aid "footlocker" and I will show it to everyone so you have an idea how I have it organized.

I believe the difference between being a victim and someone who comes through an emergency unscathed is the degree they were prepared. Think of your emergency kit in terms of a 1 month supply minimum and you should be able to address just about any short term emergency. If you search the web you will find many people who learned the hard way with Katrina or with the hurricanes in Houston. You will see their blogs and web sites and what they went through. And you will see many who learned the lessons and are prepared now for the next. Don't take chances. Get prepared now.

Many of us see a long slow emergency developing due to the financial crisis. We are watching the news that the main stream media seems to barely mention and connecting the dots. In that case the short term storage like I mentioned above of 30 days will not last long. This is why we ultimately want to work toward a 1 year storage plan as a minimum. I know I am still working on it myself. There is a lot to get accomplished which is why I urge you to begin this journey now with me. It takes time, money, and work. Don't procrastinate and then wish you had done something. I did that for years and barely got any closer to being prepared than if I knew nothing. Which is worse not knowing any better or to know what what you need to do and have done nothing to help you, your family, and your neighbors? The choice is yours.

In the news...
7 more banks close
Yuan poised to become the new reserve currency

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Episode 7: Our Financial Priorities and Precious Metals

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Today we are going to get into the topic of our financial priorities as a prepper or modern survivalist and discuss how to organize our financial decisions based on our needs as we are learning how to be prepared. I had a couple of friends ask me about this topic of precious metals so I thought this would be a good time to layout our financial priorities and the "how" of getting into precious metals.

Episode 7: Our Financial Priorities and Precious Metals:

Precious Metals types:
  • Numismatic
  • Bullion

Financial priorities listed by importance:
  1. Emergency Cash (at least one month in your possession)
  2. Get out of debt (pick your smallest debt and pay it off, then take the free cash from that and pick the next smallest debt)
  3. Basic Emergency Kit (food, water, first aid, basic supplies to get you through a reasonable amount of time)
  4. Self Defense (skills, training, firearms, security, planning)

Investments (tangibles in this economy will be key, farmland, commodities, precious metals):
  • Precious metals investing, recommend 10% of your regular savings into precious metals
  • Shop around for the best deals, many dealers in this frantic market are very expensive and charging large mark-ups, high shipping, or tacking on high fees.
  • Avoid panic buying
  • Don't buy in bulk, take your time an pay attention to what the market is telling you

Fundamentals of purchasing and selling:
  • Wholesale pricing
  • Retail pricing

Reasonable mark-up vs rip-off:
  • High demand causes price pressure and price mark-up to increase
  • Gold reasonable mark-up in today's market appears to be right around $50 over spot price for a 1 oz gold coin
  • Silver reasonable mark-up in today's market appears to be right around $2-$3 per ounce over spot price.
  • Know what spot price is when buying. We have the Kitco web display here on the blog(on the right hand side of the page, you may have to scroll down to see it) to show you the current prices or you can go out to Kitco.com

Risks and downside:
  • Due to retail mark-up of precious metals it may take some time to recoup the price spread between wholesale spot price and retail price.
  • Due to the price spreads it is difficult to jump in and jump out of the market or flip due to the retail mark-up in prices.
  • Prices are volatile so if you get nervous or sea sick don't what the price of metals!

Benefits of Precious Metals:
  • They are liquid and can be exchanged for cash at any time.
  • Good inflation hedge
  • Tangible and have intrinsic value unlike paper money.
  • Precious metals have survived the test of time unlike fiat currencies

Places to buy:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Stock Market - Melt UP?

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Sorry it has been a while since I posted. Work has been crazy and had me tied up. Today we are going to post a quick update on the state of the economy and the state of the stock market and what is going on.

The Market Melt Up?
CNBC has taken a full time role of playing market cheerleader and pusher of big government bailouts, manipulation, and market meddling... Unless of course your talking about the government talking about the trade practices of these countries we are running the massive deficits with then CNBC(parent company GE) shows it's fangs and pretends that what we have is a free market economy and any pressure to do something about the currency exchange issues or to consider tariffs or other measures is just insane protectionist rhetoric according to the talking heads on CNBC. I really find it hard to tune into this channel just to hear blatant lies and manipulation spin in high gear. Sadly I know I have to tune in just to have an idea of what is going on so I can be prepared for. It is really just very sad.

So the stock market has been in rally mode since March 2009. Looking at the charts and the activity of the markets the volume has been less than 1/3rd of normal market trading volume. Traders are seeing outflows, and little interest from customers which has everyone trying to figure out what is going on. How is it our markets have been able to rally this way and with this kind of volume? Well there are more and more people that are connecting the dots and it is really starting to look like full fledged manipulation by the Fed. Looks like someone at TrimTab's thought the same thing back in January and did the following interview which I think helps explain a lot.

Trimtabs - On Bloomberg

So it appears that something is extremely fishy about what is going on. CNBC even today is reporting trading volume is very very light. So nothing has changed and the manipulators continue to push up the market. The well known, but not acknowledged by the government Plunge Protection Team(PTT) has had it's hands full. It appears they have pushed up the market by 7 trillion which says a lot considering the volume of selling. It surely means that the PTT and Feds have dumped probably 20 trillion into the market to get that 7 trillion in increase market valuation. Pretty scary stuff! It must be nice to own the printing presses eh?

I pity anyone who has or is getting sucked back into the market based on this credit card rally. The US government has dumped trillions in bailouts and stimulus into the economy... And yet no jobs created. They claim the economy is growing but it surely isn't showing up on main street. You want to see the benefits to our credit card spending binge then look to China and India's economy. They are roaring ahead as we export our jobs and manufacturing as fast as a too big to fail banks can cook up some funny money and contracts to get it done with the too big to fail multinational companies that are exploiting our stupidity. And of course our government felt they weren't spending money we don't have fast enough. Just today they approved more stimulus spending called the Jobs bill. Yet another boondoggle of waste being put on the government credit card. The president is out saying this will be the first of many jobs bills!

Folks we are on the fast track to economic Armageddon. The projected CBO deficits just a couple of weeks ago stated we were going to rack up $10 trillion in more debt over the next 10 years. Considering the new spending and fraud since then that number was published makes it pure fiction at this point. Our debt to GDP is skyrocketing based even on the fraud numbers the government produces which does not address the unfunded liabilities of Medicare/Medicaid, and Social Security. So we are in hot water. We will not make it 10 more years at this rate. Those who are still stupid enough to lend us money by buying our debt will have vanished for the exits long before then. Worse yet our borrowing at today's ultra low teaser rates are going to get killed as rates are forced to climb and our government will be forced to either default on that debt or print it out of thin air to pay the bills as the debt payments become an ever growing line item in the budget. It is coming folks, not an if, but a when.

Bank lending is down, foreclosures are up(even though the banks are not foreclosing on people due to the fact they cannot get the houses sold) the numbers are still rising. Sale tax reciepts are declining in 37 of 41 states just polled. So that should speak volumes regarding the real health of the economy. I heard one guy call into Cramer's show and actually suggest something that is incredible and probably true... Americans have stopped paying their mortgages if they are upside down on their loan to house value. They have heard the stories that the banks are not kicking them out so they figure they stop paying them they will get them to adjust the terms, or they may just be banking on the fact that the banks won't boot them and when they finally do they will have gotten to live there for 6mths or a year or more rent free. So the caller says he sees the retail numbers are picking up and suggests that people are taking that money that was for their mortgage and going out shopping with it! You know that guy might just be right! Makes more sense than what the government is telling us.

So Jimmy Cramer is out there today telling you that the market is solid, sound, and it is time to watch for a pullback and jump in... Anyone listening to this momentum trading moron is looking to get their head handed to them. Best of luck if that is you! Trading volumes down, professional traders are saying the game doesn't add up so who you gonna trust? The guys who are admitting they are getting killed or the cheerleader?

Living large on credit cards...
Now imagine a world you were just laidoff. You are out of money, you have bills and debts up to your eyeballs. Ok, for some of us that is this world... but I will continue the story :-) Now instead of immediately going out and canceling any non-essential expenses you cannot afford, economizing your expenses, and looking for ways to cut corners you take out your credit card and start not just paying your bills with it, but going out on a wild spending binge, buying stuff you don't need... And the grand idea is that by doing this it will help you get out of this whole your in!?!? That is the governments plan. To heck with tomorrow, we have credit cards today.

Healthcare - no checks and balances - defending the healthcare bubble

Now to add more gas to the fire Congress and Senate are pushing the healthcare bill through using a slimy parliamentary procedure and will be tacking another $1 trillion dollars(according to the fake numbers out of the government and we know the cost will be double or more the estimates) to the debt all the while lying to us and saying it will reduce the deficit. What they don't want to admit is they are trying to protect one of the last untouched bubbles in our economy which is the health care industry. Rates have gone through the roof, costs for everything has skyrocketed. Why? Because most people have insurance... But how does that make this a bubble? When was the last time you asked your doctor what something costs? Nobody does! Why? Because insurance has it covered. We blindly just do what we are told without using our head and shopping around for the best rates, best prices, and best services. The insurance companies use strong arm tactics to lower costs to them by challenging care you have gotten and refusing to pay for care you have received. So what we have is a system that has grown wildly out of control. Costs are still going up, and guess what? People are losing jobs... IE they cannot afford insurance. Once this reaches critical mass the entire health care system is about to collapse. So the government without admitting what they are doing comes riding to the rescue of the system. They think if they can force everyone to buy insurance we temporarily get the needed cash flow to prop up this bloated pig of a system. Have they fixed anything? No! Have they just added a huge liability to a system which is already stretched? Yes So just like our runaway budgets or our too big to fail banks instead of addressing the problems we are going to try and hyper inflate it to keep it alive.... The end result will be a disaster.

Ultimately many of us won't be able to afford insurance. I know nobody wants to face reality, but that is it. Many of us won't be able to afford the insurance. And until the insurance companies get whiff of this new reality they will not lower rates or costs. Those are the facts. But when that finally happens that the system collapses from all the bloat and fraud in the system of cooked books is run out then maybe, just maybe will we once again be able to afford to go to a doctor and pay for the things we need done out of our pockets. The end result will be costs returning back to reality but hey what can I say? I am a dreamer... But I don't see how the current system stays alive. Now that the government is involved trying to save the health care system we are sure to see it not just fail, but do so spectacularly.

Now if anyone is wondering just how this end run around the constitution, and no checks and balances involved makes any sense I wish I could tell you. The health care bill is apposed by the vast majority of the American people yet these scumbag politicians know what is best for you... and despite the fact that they don't have the votes to do this legitimately they press ahead anyway. Obama went as far as to state in the State of the Union that he will just use executive orders to get done anything Congress and the Senate does not send him that he wants passed. We have stopped even pretending we are a Democracy let alone a Republic. The president should just sent Congress and Senate home since he can just decree anything he wants passed into law. The health care bill will be a disaster for our country over the next 5+ years. Frankly by the time the benefits kick in for the health care bill in 2014 the economy will be struggling with the real possibility of the Greatest Depression. At the rate of spending right now I don't see how we will be on any kind of footing to be able to fund this nightmare legislation. Math has never been the strong suite of the progressives... or the constitution for that matter. I can only hope there will be a rash of states that stand up and pass legislation like Virginia which states that Virginia will not honor the any health care mandates pushed upon the state. So we will have to see how many other states join this bandwagon.

Capitalism on trial?
Is capitalism on trial? Free markets? No, this is the Federal Reserve and it's member banks doing whatever it pleases and hiding behind the Federal Reserve act and behaving as if they are above the law. This is the government meddling with every aspect of the markets forcing mutations and distortions to the market place. It is favoritism and good old boy network that has created this environment of racketeering and fraud and not capitalism. Where are the gatekeepers? Where are the good guys with the cuffs and guns to protect us from the most blatant fraud on a massive global scale by those that are pretending to be part of the system to ensure that our markets work?

You see for our markets to work, for capitalism to work you have to transparency. You have to have trust. You have to be able to see what is going on and be able to make decisions based on the facts and fundamentals. Everything that has and is happening is being done behind closed doors by the good old boy network. Any time data is available for us to use as a yard stick to determine what is going on they take that data away, or change the rules to hide the facts. For example witness the CPI basket used to measure inflation how they substitute anything in the basket that drives up the cost and call it suitable substitution. Of course they exclude food and energy because nobody buys food or energy. Another example is the Fed removing the M3 money supply so that we cannot see the money creation in the system. Any time they don't like the numbers they do anything they can to disconnect the idiot lights from the dash of the economic car. In the current environment with limited visibility, and deliberate behind the scenes manipulation you would have to be insane to put your money at risk in these markets. The game is rigged folks so play at your own risk.

Lies, dang lies, and where are the perp walks?
Well the Fed chairman is out telling us today that demand is high for US debt by foreign investors and that he sees no decline in demand... Oh and the recession ended last year and the economy is stable. Well folks if we could get a Federal Reserve Audit, it is statements like this that very well could land Ben Bernanke in cuffs. One can only hope... We have to demand a Fed Audit. The truth is we have already caught the Fed monetizing and quantitative easing... IE printing money to cover peoples rear ends... So we know how this game works. Even some of the guests/hosts on CNBC know this to be fact that the Fed through private intermediate parties is buying up that debt and pretending there is still foreign demand. This game is rigged folks.

CNBC - Fed buying up to 80% of the debt - Ponzi scheme

Lehman Fraud Explained

CNBC - Fedex showing signs of double dip

So folks CNBC and the talking heads are all out there telling you there is a 'Melt Up' going on and that the recession was over last year. The government and the Fed chairman says the recession is over. They are out calling for DOW 12000 and acting like life is good... But the entire time we are living on credit cards at our kids and kids kids expense. It is theft and it is criminal on so many levels. I can hardly imagine how we are going to be remembered or thought of. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it and what we are doing to those that aren't here to defend themselves. I can only hope and pray that there are enough of us to stand up and demand answers, demand people are arrested, and that we get back to transparency, trust, and honest open markets. Until that happens we are on the fast track to bankruptcy. How many of these moron talking heads will admit they were wrong in a few years from now when the real depression kicks in with the collapse of the economy? Anyone want to take/make any wagers on that one? These are the same experts who didn't see this mess coming... You have to be blind to not see this coming...

Do I have a point?
At this point I am sure your wondering if I have a point in all this ranting. Yes, there is a reason. I am posting this to just warn and remind you that the fundamentals have not changed in this market. The conditions that setup the crash still exist and in fact has gotten worse. The credit and derivatives problem has actually grown. Nothing has changed or been fixed. Only thing that has changed is the Fed and our government has taken to massively printing and borrowing money and throwing it in the system to try and salvage the Titanic.

  • Pay off your debts
  • Build up emergency cash on hand
  • Don't get fooled into this stock market.
  • Don't start spending money you don't have.
  • Carefully choose what you spend, focus on your preps
  • Build your emergency kit - basic needs for food, water, first aid, emergency plan
In the news...
FDIC shuttering more banks
China talking about selling some of our debt for gold
States Facing financial doomsday
New rounds of foreclosures threatens housing market (Banks are already letting people stay in houses just to keep them from being torn up sitting vacant, so this is going to get wild)
The Great Correction

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Episode 6: Energy Self Sufficiency - Part 3 Hypermiling Essentials

Welcome to the Be Prepared Channel. Today we focus on Part 3 of the 3 part series on Hypermiling. If your unfamiliar with Hypermiling please go back and check out parts 1 and 2 to this series. Today we get into the Hypermiling essentials. Things to know that will help you get and track the best results when Hypermiling. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Episode 6 - Energy Self Sufficiency - Hypermiling Essentials Podcast:

Fuel types and things to know:

  • Diesel is 20-30% more efficient than gasoline, and diesels that have been made for the last decade have been a far cry improvement over diesels of the 70's and 80's during the fuel crisis. They are a pleasure to drive, and they return great fuel economy.
  • While I enjoy the fuel economy of the diesels I have to mention the cons also. Today our choices for diesel in cars boils down to Volkswagen. VW quality, and reliability leave a lot to be desired. They are more expensive to own than other more popular brands, so there is a trade off to get the diesel. If not for the diesel I would not own a VW... When will other manufacturers get the clue to give us some really great little diesels?

Winter Fuel and Ethanol:
  • Ethanol will get you lower fuel economy, 1-3% less economy than standard fuel. Winter formulations across most of the US has ethanol blends of 10-15% which doe impact fuel economy. You will notice lower MPG numbers in the winter for a variety of reasons and this is one of them.
  • For the prepper who wants to buy and store some fuel for a "rainy day", these winter formulations are reported to be more stable for longer term storage. So if you want to set some fuel back for such an occasion winter fuel is the best. Don't forget to add Stabil or some other fuel stablizer to you fuel to extend the storage life.
  • E85 is not a good fuel, and many studies are showing that ethanol production is hurting world food supplies and is doing more harm than good. Your mileage will be less with E85 as alcohol is lower energy density fuel.

Purchasing fuel:
  • Find a station that you will purchase fuel regularly
  • Try to use the same pump if possible at this gas station to get similar results with your fueling.
  • Try to fill up to the same place in the tank, so if you fuel until the pump clicks then do that each time. If you have the ability to fuel up to a point you can visually see each time that is even better to ensure equal results when tracking your mileage.
  • Buy your fuel early in the morning, when fuel is colder, colder fuel is more dense and you get more fuel for your money.
  • Gasoline expands and contracts up to 6% by volume as it gets warmer and colder.
  • Diesel expands/contracts very little, 1% or less by volume based on temperature so it isn't quite as critical with diesel, but still a good idea to fuel up when fuel is colder.

Weather considerations:
  • Colder weather hurts fuel economy, air is more dense and provides more resistance, and the denser air is detected by the mass airflow sensor which causes the computer to richen the fuel.
  • Rain, snow provide resistance and can hurt fuel economy.
  • Winter time fuel in many parts of the country is reformulated with ethanol which also hurts fuel economy.
  • During winter months many people will start their cars/trucks in advance of leaving and let the vehicles warm up before leaving, this hurts fuel economy significantly. Best practice is to start the vehicle, let it run for 30-60 seconds and then leave.

Lies, dang lies, and statistics:
  • Keep a log of your fuel stops, keep a notepad in your vehicle and write down the numbers as soon as you fuel. Otherwise you will forget.
  • Don't trust the computer in your car to give you accurate numbers, always get the numbers from your trip meter, and divide that by the number of gallons you just put into the car to get a better figure of the real fuel economy.
  • By tracking in a log or spread sheet you can easily see the highs and lows seasonally, and you can annotate a little about your driving that tank of fuel so that you might understand why it was higher or lower a given tank.

Consider your routes:
  • Consider your routes when driving, sometimes the shortest distance isn't the most fuel efficient on.
  • Look at the number of hills, traffic lights, or traffic patterns that might impede your travel and cost you additional fuel.
  • Check various routes on your routine commute to see if there isn't a smarter ways to go that could save you wear and tear, and fuel.

Vehicle choices:
  • Carefully choose your vehicles based on fuel economy and versatility for your daily needs.
  • Use a site like fueleconomy.gov to help compare vehicles fuel economy.
  • Manual transmissions are better suited for hypermiling and getting good fuel economy.
  • Something to consider is a vehicle that is certified flex fuel so that you have more fuel options if the SHTF and fuel becomes scare. A flex fuel vehicle might be able to use ethanol blends when other cars will not be able to do so for long.
  • Vehicles are a poor "investment" and loose a lot of value, so don't get into debt to buy a vehicle. Debt is cancer, so shop around for something you can buy with the cash you have on hand.
Helpful sites:

In the News...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Finding Dolly Freed

Just a quick post today to share some links I found on Dolly Freed. For those who may not be familiar with Dolly she wrote a book back in the late 70's and published in the early 80's called "Possum Living". She was an 18 year old girl that shared life from what we consider a tough time in our past with high inflation, high unemployment, high energy costs. She figured that if a dumb possum can live without money so can we so the book is called "Possum Living".

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

Well Dolly went on with her life not really seeking out the fame or the limelight. She went on to do some amazing things and is still doing some amazing things. She is now a guest journalist on a web site that I just found and will be linking here and adding to my favorites. Why the big deal over finding Dolly? In the world we live in today everything that was old is new again and her experience "Possum Living" and her life she lives today is a valuable to all of us in the prepper or survivalist community. So I am thrilled to have found the articles about Dolly and that she is going to be taking part and sharing with us. I know I can hardly wait.

So for those of you who haven't read her book here is a neat YouTube.com documentary that was done on Dolly and I will post the links below to the great articles and places she is now hanging out. I hope you will pop out on Granny Miller and say Hi to Dolly and give her the warm welcome she deserves!

Possum Living Part 1 of 3:

Possum Living Part 2 of 3:

Possum Living Part 3 of 3:

Here is a great article on Dolly today:

Where is Dolly hanging out? Check out Granny Miller:

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I do. I am looking forward to learning a lot more from Dolly!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Episode 5: Part 2 Hypermiling Techniques

Welcome to episode 5 of the Be Prepared Channel. Today we follow up with our last podcast where we had Part 1 introducing Hypermiling and why this might be a good idea. Today we are going into Part 2 of the 3 part series on the actual technique of hypermiling and how you can begin to see real savings in your commuting and use of a vehicle.

Hypermiling definition from the experts
The Why and How from the Experts

Episode 5 - Part 2 Hypermiling Techniques

Hypermiling Techniques:
- Drive the speed limit or slower if your vehicle performs better at the slower speeds(hint slower is always better)

City driving:
- Inertia is key
- No jack rabbit starts, slow and easy on the throttle, shift briskly through the gears short shifting in that torque sweet spot.
- Once up to speed constantly scan ahead watching for brake lights, watching for traffic lights. Back off early coast as much as possible and try to time the next light or the traffic slowdown. Inertia is your friend don't stop unless you have to.
-- Drive without brakes(DWB), pretend you don't have brakes, so be watching ahead and back off to keep your momentum and avoid using the brakes.
-- Many modern vehicles have a fuel shut off when coasting in gear, so coast as much as you can instead of using neutral
-- Manual transmissions have a big advantage when hypermiling, but even autos can get benefits from using these techniques.
-- Stop and go traffic kill fuel economy. Wasting fuel sitting at lights, and having to get the vehicle back up to speed kills economy.
-- If your unlucky and get to a light just as it turns red it might be in your best interest to turn off your car. Just don't daydream while sitting there, pay attention so that you know when to start the car again and be ready to go.
-- When parking face out so that you don't have to back up, stop, and go forward. When possible try to park facing downward on a slope or hill so less energy is used to start the car moving.

Highway driving:
- Inertia is key, maintain your speed as much as possible avoid the use of brakes.
- Know your vehicle, learn where you get the best fuel economy on the highway. Most vehicles have a sweet spot where they get the best economy and are the most efficient.
-- Cruise control can help you save fuel by maintaining your speed in that sweet spot.
-- Driving with load(DWL) If you get a device like a scangauge/or instant fuel consumption computer output to monitor real time fuel economy you can practice a technique called drive with load(DWL). This is a little more advanced technique where you do not use your cruise, and when approaching a hill you do not try to maintain speed, but try to maintain the engine(ie hold the gas pedal at the exact position it was before starting the hill climb) load up the hill. Stay in the right lanes, only do this when traffic permits, stay out of peoples way. You can save fuel using this method, and remember to coast as much as you can on the down hill segment of the drive.
-- Cautious use of drafting can help, but please use common sense and maintain a safe distance behind vehicles. Large vehicles like semi trucks even some distance back from them provide some benefit, but be careful about riding on the bumper of these vehicles. Do this at your own risk.

Tools to help your hypermiling:
- Scangauge, instant data and feedback as your driving... Know what is going on all the time, learn from it, and adjust your driving... It makes hypermiling like a game!
- Tire pressure gauge

Useful alternatives(smarter use of fuel when you really need it):
- Motorcycle
- Scooters
- Bicycles
- Walking

Helpful sites:
- fueleconomy.gov
- cleanmpg.com
- ecomodder.com (for the really wild and crazy stuff)
- Tirerack.com
- amsoil.com
- scangauge.com

Episode 4: Energy Self Sufficiency - Save Money - Intro to Hypermiling

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Today we are going to shift gears a bit and talk about daily ways we can become more energy self sufficient. We are going to do a mini series on how we can save money, reduce our energy requirements, and be prepared for the devaluation of the dollar this year. We are going to do a 3 part series on Hypermiling. By doing some very simple things you can save 20-30% in the cost of fuel for your vehicle. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Episode 4: Energy Self Sufficiency - Hypermiling Intro:

What is hypermiling? Some simple techniques that you can use to get 20-30% better fuel economy. It is a challenge to beat EPA ratings for any given vehicle. EPA recently changed the way that they judge this fuel economy to more accurately reflect how the average driver drives and should be more help for consumers when looking at fuel economy, but you should still be able to easily beat the EPA figures by hypermiling.

If your the "average" driver hypermiling will help you. These are simple things you can do that will help you get more for the money you spend on fuel. The real risks to the US dollar in the form of massive inflation will make techniques like this even more essential as we take advantage of the fuel economy our vehicles are already capable of getting. Fuel prices are already climbing and it would not surprise me to see gasoline $4 or more per gallon by this summer. So now is the time to put some more life in your car/truck, or whatever you drive.

Why hypermile? To irritate other drivers? To be unsafe and risk peoples lives?
- Reduce your fuel consumption
- Reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle
- Less stress(believe it or not slowing down, and turning this into a game really reduces stress a great deal)
- Safer driver, I notice that I am paying a lot more attention to everything going on around me when attempting to hypermile. I notice people cutting out in front of me that might cause me to have to slow, or even brake. I notice vehicles when they get on the brakes so that I can back off as soon as possible. I found it is better to give a nice buffer between me and other drivers so that I can avoid the constant jacking of the brakes, and gas as the drivers in front of me play the congo line game.
- Less pollution

1. Vehicle preparation and vehicle energy use
- Tune-up
-- Platinum and irridium plugs and better quality plug wires
-- Air Filter, annual change, or if you have long life filters like the K&N or the Amsoil once a year cleaning.
-- Synthetic lubricants, Oil, transmission, differential fluids, reduce friction, increase fluid life span, improve fuel economy. Use lower viscosity oils whenever you can. So if the manufacturer says you can use a 5-20, or a 5w-30, the 5w-20 will net you better fuel economy.

- Other prep tips:
-- Tire Air pressure, run max side wall pressure.
-- More energy consumed when you run lights, fans, and other electronics in the vehicle. So the fewer items you run the less demand for electricity means less load on the alternator and more fuel economy.
-- Reduce weight in your car/truck. If your carrying extra stuff you do not need then get rid of it. Every 50lbs of extra weight you carry is up to a 1% hit on your fuel economy.
-- If you have a manual transmission know the peak torque numbers and what RPM is optimal for you car and short shift, this means shifting at much lower rpm in the peak of the torque band.
-- If you have an automatic transmission you can adjust your driving style so that the transmission shifts earlier and the rpm's of your engine stay low. Pay attention to the rpm and the shift points. Many times you can let up on the throttle and it will shift sooner.

Funny Hypermiling 101 Video:

Links of interest:
Helpful sites:
- fueleconomy.gov
- cleanmpg.com
- ecomodder.com (for the really wild and crazy car modification stuff)
- Tirerack.com
- amsoil.com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Welcome to another episode of the Be Prepared Channel. Well I recorded podcast on this show, but I found some youtube.com episodes of the gentleman that I was quoting, so instead of listening to me I thought I would just share the videos so you can hear it for yourself.

I hope you checked out the first aid kits, and have put together your own first aid kit. I found it was difficult to find everything just by going to Walmart. The pharmacy section is sorely lacking so a trip to Walgreens, Rite Aid, or your preferred pharmacy store will be needed to really get all the things you need. I will post a follow-up to this and show you my kit, what I purchased, and how I store all these items so that they are mobile if they need to be.

Now about this episode. Some brief background about Lindsey. I heard Lindsey Williams a couple of years ago making a prediction that oil was going to $150 a barrel when it was still $50 a barrel. He claimed to get this info from a former top oil exec. I laughed and didn't give it much thought. Then just as Lindsey had said oil did go to $147 and in the time frame he specified it would. He then came out and said that he was told that oil was going back to $50. Again I scoffed at the idea, and just as he said oil did go back to $50 a barrel and in the time frame he suggested(actually went below $50 for some time). Now Lindsey is giving us an update. Well folks I am not laughing or scoffing at Mr Williams any longer. Please listen and take heed. Think about the things that he says will be affected and think about your game plan. A 30-50% currency devaluation in the dollar this year will cripple us. Now is the time to act.

Please give it some thought before rushing to do anything. I would be cautious about putting too much in precious metals. Remember that if times get hard and there isn't enough food to go around all the precious metals in the world will not help you. He is not predicting shortages as this happens, but how long do we really believe that situation will last?

After watching/listening to these youtube.com clips I think that it is becoming evident that the time is growing short to get yourself as prepared as you can be. It is time to start to accelerate your kit building, and your plan. If you don't already have the basics in place. Now is the time to step up the pace as the time is getting short for getting as prepared as you can.

Segment 1:

Segment 2:

Segment 3:

Segment 4:

Segment 5:

In the News:
Triple Blizzards hit the east coast in a month...
Golden state gone bust?
FDIC is now begging for deposits
Democrats pass extensions to Patriot act and kick it over to Obama
PA man dies when 911 calls go unheeded
Senate moves forward with plan to give the Federal Reserve even more power
Commercial real estate... More trouble ahead