Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Neighbors Doing Good Turns

Awhile back a couple from the neighborhood knocked on the door. An older man who, according to his hat was a retired Army CSM and Vietnam Vet and his wife. The CSM said they walk by here twice a day and we had an abundance of something they enjoy. He asked if they could grab some when they were around. The thing they wanted was something we had in abundance and did not need. Wifey said of course.

The Wife was quite embarrassed by her husband. She asked if we liked egg rolls. Wifey said of course we do. She offered to bring some the next time she made them.

Fast forward to today. I answered an unusual knock at the door around noon. An older Asian women was at the door and she asked if we were going to be around at 5. I said we would be. She said something about egg rolls. Honestly the conversation was pretty broken between us. Had I not known this was coming at some vague point I would have been quite confused.

We were not quite sure what to have for dinner that goes with egg rolls. Well around 5 there was a knock at the door. I answered, as always, and it was the lady. She handed me a plate covered in tin foil. Wifey came to the door and they talked for a minute. After she left we uncovered the plate.

It was a whole bunch of hot, fresh egg rolls and some sauce. Turns out we didn't have to worry about what to eat with egg rolls because egg rolls were what was for dinner. We figured they would be good. At the risk of being offensive if a person who is of a generally non everyday white American culture offers in broken English to make their particular flavor of ethnic food it will be good. They were amazing. Hands down the best egg rolls either of us ever had. The sauce was amazing too.

I guess we are repaid for the nice things we do sometimes in life.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dehydration and Hunger A Mini Training Event

Did a little experiment here on food and water consumption. For 3 days I consumed very little of either. Measurements get complicated but roughly a quarter of my normal intake. I continued normal activities.

Day 1 was just fine.

Day 2 was a bit rough. I was pretty thirsty. Otherwise no measurable affect on performance.

Day 3 was rough. I was quite thirsty. Found myself thinking of water constantly. Small sips here and there to wet my mouth (which worked fine on day 2) only helped for a minute then I was right back to being thirsty. Also the need to go to the bathroom pretty much went away.

On day 3 performance dropped significantly. I was lifting weights with some folks and almost passed out doing a heavy dead lift. Physically capabilities were starting to drop for sure. Mentally I had difficulty focusing or doing complex tasks. Motivation dropped to zero. I was quite tired and just wanted to sleep.

I know that physiologically water is a lot more important than food. The interesting part is that lack of water seems to have made it so I was not hungry. On day 2 I had little desire for food and on day 3 (where I didn't eat anything) that desire was entirely gone. However I did really want to have a date with 2 bottles of Gatorade and an icy cold gallon of water.

As of the end of day 3 I am down 7 pounds over the approximately 72 hour period. To make a guesstimate 5 of that is water. On the plus side it is helping to jump start my slow weight loss (Since roughly March I was down 6 pounds prior to this. Want to lose another 10 from that point.)

What good came out of this? First and foremost a better understanding about how I physically deal with these events in case they happen. Secondly I think there is some value in making your body do what you want instead of doing what it (and your lazy fat ass brain) want to do. This might put denying myself a plate of greasy BBQ, some crap snack or beers 5-7 into perspective.

Also it has drastically reduced (to almost none) my coffee/ caffeine intake.  Not that I necessarily plan to quit drinking coffee but I would like to reduce the amount that I consume daily. Getting down to a cup or two a day (from a pot) would be kind of nice. Honestly drinking coffee in hot weather kinda sucks anyway. Who wants hot coffee when it is 75 degrees at 7am in the morning? In the past when I have quit  (or drastically reduced quantities) drinking coffee I have gotten headaches; guess everything is so messed up right now my body doesn't even notice.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

War Drums and Random Thoughts

So our President wants to give Syria a spanking. Looks like President Obama wants Congress Mommy's approval before acting. Half the democrats are such doves they wouldn't vote to fight anybody, ever and the Republicans love them some war but wouldn't agree with President Obama that water is wet. So this should be fun to watch.

Playing with carry setups. Think the right answer for me is pocket at home and appendix when out. I've been a bit lazy so pocket has gotten more play then it probably should. Not having a good dedicated appendix holster is part of the problem.Looking at getting a Raven Vanguard to try fixing the hardware issue. They fit different sized Glocks without irritating extra space which is huge for me plus at that price point I'll take a chance. Meant to order one today but lost track of time.

Had an awesome lunch down in Lake Charles yesterday. Wonderfully cooked shrimp that were huge. Also had gumbo for the first time which was cool. I like the food down here.

Not having much stuff has been interesting. This has been a good reminder that if you pick the right stuff it's easy to get by without too much. When we get the rest of our stuff it will be time to go through everything again. Last move a lot of stuff was thrown away or donated. This time it will probably be less than last but  we can stand to get rid of some unnecessary stuff. Sort of along those lines I plan to organize some preparedness stuff. Probably look at caching some redundant stuff and using the rest to fill out useful systems. Looking at that as an opportunity to identify small holes in our preps which will be really good. Failing because you could not afford to buy a 5k whatever sucks but what can ya do on the other hand failing because you forgot a $20 cord/ cable/ widget would suck.

Things are looking good for the housing plan. It ain't over till it's over but there aren't many gates left to pass through. Living in a nice place we actually like will be really nice. Hopefully it all works out.

So far this weekend we have been busy. Yesterday we went to Lake Charles which was cool and then fished in the evening. Today we hit a flea market this morning. Some stuff was decent but half the vendors seemed to have stuff pulled from the trash put into piles that were covered with filth and dust at 4x fair market value. Not going back there any time soon. Got some fun plans for the rest of the weekend.

Well I'm bored of writing so it's time to wrap this up. Talk to you all later.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bug Out Dinner- Ramen Style

As usual this bug out meal starts with the Solo Pot 900. My Solo Stove is sitting this one out as open flames are sort of uncool during the spring/ summer in dry fire prone Arizona.

The convenient measuring marks on the side were helpful. Just don't have enough good things to say about this pot.

Good old Top Ramen. Not what you call peak nutrition but it will fill you up and keep you going.

I substituted an egg for the tuna fish. The reason is those little foil packets are fairly expensive and eggs are cheap. Dinner was good. Had a couple of the little candy bars that live in our food bags for desert.

Dinner was cheap and pretty decent. Would get bored eating it every day but thankfully I do not need to do that. Since dinner and lunch are the same thing this pretty much covers me going through the meals individually. Some day this coming week I will eat a whole day of bug out food as a trial run.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Busy Day

I was a busy beaver today. Spent part of the day chasing down some local maps to finish up out navigation kits. Will talk more about that later. Still cleaning up the new shotgun. It's about as good as it will get in terms of finish. I am going to end up painting it or getting it parkerized. Probably parked, however the situation is not desperate so I can wait a bit.

Put together a few more food bags for our BOBs. Wifey and Walker's food has been put together which is good. Wifey's BOB is pretty much done. Might need a couple little things but it's a 90% solution. Got to do an inventory then dig out of storage or order the missing stuff.

Finished Pastor Joe Fox's book Survivalist Family today. A review will come but the book rocks. Just buy a copy or maybe five. You will not regret it.

Cleaned my Glock 19 also. It was pretty dirty from a few range trips and plenty of dust from getting hauled around. Of course being a Glock it still functioned 100%. Honestly it just got cleaned because I was bored.

Since I was doing all that stuff all of a sudden it was 11 at night with no post done. Can't say I regret the productivity but I probably could have written something earlier before I lost focus for the day, Oops.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bug Out Breakfast- Oatmeal Solo Stove Style

My Bug out Cooking setup. A day's worth of food, trusty Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900. The case is for the camera, not sure why it's in the picture.
I cannot claim credit for this idea. Stole it from Viking Preparedness some time back. My food bag contents is 2x oatmeal, 2x top ramen, 2x tuna, a half dozen random granola type bars (whatever we had), 1x big snickers bar, 1x peanut butter, a few instant coffee packs and some various munchies. My food setup is pretty 'bar' heavy. Generally in the field I don't stop to eat. Tend to snack a bit during the day then eat a big meal before going to bed. Aside from mild personal taste differences the only difference between Pastor Joes setup and mine is that I put the accessories into the day's bag. The reason I did that is so I could put the day's food into a side pocket or other more accessible place and go all day. Also it helps IMO to keep a day's munchies separate so you can make easier rationing choices and not all of accidentally eat the last day's munchies.  Don't think there is a right or wrong there, just different techniques.  

My cooking tools. The Solo Stove and Solo Pot 900.  Like this setup a lot. The stove not having the fire rest on the ground is good in dry terrain like the desert where I currently live. I would be comfortable scraping away a small spot (or finding a rock to set it on) then cooking, albeit carefully, with the solo stove. For packing it really helps that they nest together. An MSR type 1qt pot and some other sort of stove would function similarly but take up a lot more space since they would not nest. When the stove is inside the pot there is some empty space. I'm thinking about putting together a little spice and condiment bag to keep in there. It would give me some more options for flavoring.

Breakfast and the pot it goes in. Simple and easy. I did not go with the instant coffee, sticking to the normal drip instead. The reason for this is that instant coffee sucks. I know it sucks and do not feel a need to practice drinking it when an option I like is available.
The measurements on the side of the solo pot help you measure water which is nice.

Didn't bother to take pictures of myself cooking with the solo stove or eating oatmeal. You all know what that looks like. Anyway all was well on the chow front, my oatmeal tasted like oatmeal.

Today I learned a couple thing about my bug out/ whatever food system. 1) Need a plan for washing dishes. A little thing of soap plus a sponge is probably the answer. 2) Before I do this for lunch a fork would be really nice. A spork might be the long term answer.

Probably going to do my bug out lunch tomorrow. The reason I am doing these individually, aside from lunch getting away from me today, is to evaluate the meals individually before putting it all together. This way if for example I feel a bit weak or hungry I will know a given meal (the only change from my normal diet) was the problem instead of it being something in the overall food plan. After testing all 3 meals I will do a day of bug out food.

What are your cooking and food plans? Have you tested them? If so how?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gardening Fun

Well I haven't killed our plants yet. They are now inside/ outside plants only coming in when it is going to get cold. This wouldn't work with 40 plants but for the few we have it's easy enough. Probably care too much about them and have taken to calling them my dirt babies. I find the whole thing pretty calming.

Also I am trying to get some taters going. We had a few that MIL must have got while she was here that were forgotten and started sprouting. I figured why not and tossed them into some containers with dirt. Hopefully they get going.

Today I stuck some green onions into a glass of water to hopefully sprout. The reason for this is that we never need a whole package of green onions, just a little bit. This way I can cut off just what we need for a meal. Plan to do the same thing with some cilantro.

Might just get some sprouts going also. I like them in sandwiches and salads. 

I think this is about as far as the garden is going this year. Next year hopefully we are in a place where I can go a bit further.

Are you getting into gardening this season? Maybe expanding your existing garden.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Food and Fitness

Too many folks are doing a lot of reading and blogging and discussing but not enough DOING.

Food and fitness are the two primary areas people tend to fail in at the most basic level. For goodness sake do something to improve your situation.

Food is easy. We could go at it from a lot of angles but at the most basic level just buy a little bit more of the stuff you regularly eat on each shopping trip. I am talking about shelf stable stuff like dried pasta and sauce, beans, rice, pancake mix, Bisquick, peanut butter and jelly and various canned goods. We will touch on money later but if you can't manage to squeeze five or ten bucks of extra stuff into the budget per shopping trip I recommend looking at your life. If you have some more money and want to stash away some canned staples or emergency food then all the better. I care less how you do it so long as you are doing it. The point is simply that you need to be putting back food in case something happens that disrupts the supply chain.

Fitness is something way too many folks miss. I split off my fitness efforts into another blog because folks would rather talk about other things here. How folks think the world is going to collapse and they are going to be doing all this stuff but lack of fitness will not come into play baffles me. There are way more situations where you will need fitness than cool rifles and emergency food. Sort of like food getting started in any way is a good thing. Eat a bit better and do more exercise. Lift and run or do crossfit, man aerobics or whatever. Heck just go for walks. Doing anything will improve your situation.

In the context we are talking about finances are not that hard either. Avoid debt for obvious reasons. Do some thinking and educate yourself about what is happening and historical comparisons. The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse by FerFal is a bit pricey but has some great info. It's writer has actually lived through an economic collapse which is a lot more than most other folks can say. 
If you have some money that isn't doing anything right now you might want to think about what to do with it. Putting a portion of it into precious metals and emergency food could be a good way to go. 

It is easy to put too much money into firearms.  Most guys who are into preparedness like guns and it's easy to get canalized into stuff one likes. However if you are objectively short on .38 ammo for the nightstand revolver or buckshot for the scatter gun then do something about it. I like a lot of ammo but even the tightest budget will let you put back at least a couple hundred rounds per gun with a bit of dedication and some planning.

Get out and do something! Exercise and stash some food. Look at your money situation and if you need it some ammo. The bottom line is that unless your butt and gut are getting smaller and the pantry is getting filled you are not actually becoming more prepared. A little bit of knowledge put into action is a whole lot better than a bunch of knowledge which you do nothing with.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Busy Saturday: Night Sights, Good Food and Big Fun

Today we were all over the place. This morning we went to the farmers market in town. It was pretty small but was still fun. We got some pistachios and kiddo got a cookie. Ran down to Wally World for a garden hose and picked up some .357 ammo to help fill that shortage and a Blackhawk holster for the Glock 19. After taking it home and fiddling with it I wasn't very happy. The retention seems to be some weird little plastic thing that seems really flimsy. It will get returned on our next trip there.

Recently Tam talked about some night sights. Since I like stealing borrowing ideas from folks who are more knowledgable than me on a given subject and I needed some night sights for my heater a set were ordered. They showed up the other day and I took them to the local gun shop for installation. I should order the tools to do this sort of thing myself but it would probably take forever to recoup the costs. Anyway they were nice enough to put them on right away and didn't charge me anything. These folks understand building relationships and the concept of a loss leader. Since I owed them one and needed some things anyway one of those new 25 round .22 magazines and a Galco Matrix paddle holster came home with me. Both were on the list so it was an easy decision. For small purchases a local dealers slightly higher price is less than shipping anyway. The sites seem quite nice, fast to acquire but still capable of deliberate shots.

We also checked out the local food coop which was great. They had all sorts of interesting food and homeopathic/ alternative medicine stuff. After that we hit a new park which was big fun for the kid. Shortly therafter we went home to make dinner and were in for the night.

Anyway lots of fun stuff happened and the Glock has sweet new sights.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Notes From The Road- Day 3

Well I am safely in Arizona. Got a late start today. Partially because I slept in which was totally worth it. Then I ordered what looked like a quick to go breakfast and waited almost an hour. Ended up not really getting onto the road until close to 11.

The miles flew by and I got some good pictures. Hit rush hour in Phoenix which sucked. Ended up getting a late linner (lunch-dinner) in Tuscon at In and Out Burger. First time I had ever been there. The burger was good but I am not so sure about the fries. Will have to try again to see if it was an anomaly.

Anyway I am at my destination and in a motel for the night. Tomorrow if all goes well I will get into our residence. Wifey and kiddo will follow in a couple weeks when things are set up.

So far Constitution Carry and In and Out are compelling reasons that Arizona is pretty awesome. 

Think I am going to take a shower and hit the sack,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Can't Afford to Prepare

This one comes up often enough that my periodic post on it is about due. I do think it is true that today, this week and maybe month some folks can not afford to put real money into food and whatnot. My first thought is that right now you can do something. Yes I do mean this week. Pick up a box of bullets for whatever gun is in the house. Get a big bag of rice or pancake mix. If you are an adult and cannot pull together ten or twenty bucks to something to prepare this week then you have serious i§ues and I recommend professional help. Beyond this week and month you can start looking at your finances and make some choices. Maybe you need to cancel the super sports package and even cable all together or eat out less. Maybe a big ticket item like a jetski has to go. Now somebody is going to say "TOR I have 12 kids and make 20k a year, so I genuinely can't afford it." I always wonder why folks choose to get into these situations." These folks are not going to get far on the budget cutting side of the equation. That is fine anyway as they do not have a spending problem but instead have an income problem. They need to figure out how to bring in more cash. This means working more or working smarter. These app4o├áches take longer than working the spending side but do pay of in the end. So basically you can either spend less or earn more. Thoughts?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quote of the Day: What Drives Me

"If it doesn't have tits or a muzzle it is no good to you"- Wifey

"I like food"- Me

"Also beer"- Wifey

This was Wifey's way of saying that I don't care about very many things.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Randomness

Today was a pretty good day. Our weather finally snapped out of early spring nastiness if just for the day. We went out to a you pick field which was pretty fun. Kiddo had a good time. He didn't quite get putting them into the bucket but ate it all instead. The fruit we picked was pretty cheap which was cool. Far cheaper (healthier and fresher) than we could get in a store. This was definitely a reminder that we want to be close to our food. Producing some of our food would be ideal but with my job that can be problematic. Certainly we can buy from farmers markets (did it in the South) and if possible look into coop and group buy type stuff.

Went through and layed out my purchasing priorities for the next few months using my Intentional Purchasing Plan. Using this as a forcing function to put more money into medical stuff, alternative energy and food will probably make things much better balanced. Incidentally I planned to buy a bunch of medical stuff to put together a few IFAK's tonight but the Chinook Medical website, or at least my connection to it, is on the fritz. Sure it will be up tomorrow or the next day.

I stumbled onto the Hillpeoplegear site. Their recon kit bags are probably the best way to carry concealed on your body with a ruck on your back that I have seen. The stuff isn't cheap but I have heard good things about it. Don't need anything they make but some of their stuff would be aweful nice and make the outdoors more comfortable. In a couple years when, having squared up more basic stuff, I can afford some luxuries they will get some money from me.

A big highlight in our recent lives is getting hulu plus running through the Wii. We get a lot of TV for $7 a month which is pretty cool. We are enjoying watching Lost. As we have been over here for almost 3 years we are pretty behind the TV power curve. Some new entertainment opportunities are surely enjoyed in our house.

We had a pretty good Saturday here. Tomorrow will be a pretty quiet day as we take care of a lot of household stuff like grocery shopping and laundry on Sunday's. Anyway I hope you all are having a good weekend.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Finally Friday!

It is Friday and thank goodness for that. Work was quiet today so I got a bunch of various stuff which has been waiting forever done. The kind of things that you need to do but always linger slightly below more pressing matter. That was nice.

Getting off work at a decent time set things off to a good start. Wifey made enchiladas and spanish rice which was great. There is beer in the fridge, scotch in the cabinet and ice in the freezer so that front is covered.

We do not have any big plans for this weekend. We will probably take Walker for a ride in his wagon both days. He really likes it, a comfortable seat but freedom to move around a bit, a place to put his milk and Dad doing all the work, what is not to like. It is also a pretty good activity to get out of the house when we don't have anything we need to do. Maybe we will go out to lunch or something. The last few things for my Get Home Bag came in this week so I am going to try and get it all put together. You will see a post on that sooner or later.  There are some various blog admin things I would like to do.

Anyway my weekend is off to a pretty darn good start. I hope yours is also.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I would like to thank MD Creekmore for coming up with this awesome idea for a weekly post which I have stolen from him. It helps to keep me accountable. Remember, reading and typing about preparedness on the internet doesn't actually make you more prepared unless you put the stuff you learn into action.

This week I stashed a bottle of scotch and a bottle of wine. Neither are necessary but comfort items are a good thing to have around. Also we picked up some granola bars and tuna pouches for the bag I am working on.

We sat down and looked at our finances today. What we are spending, what we are saving for the long term and what we can stash toward our next goal. Nothing bad is going on, it is just that our situation has changed some so we need to look at what we can do then figure out what we want to do. I did some thinking and figured out the next few months planned purchases.

On the downside I didn't get to the gym at all this week. Some stuff happened that made a few days not really work but really I just did not make it happen. Going to tweek some things and try working out at lunch. In any case I will hold myself accountable this coming week.

All in all not a bad week here. We made some progress which is a good thing. What did you do to prepare this week?

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Day in the Life

Today was kind of a busy day for us. This afternoon I went and picked up a bunch of used 2T clothes for Walker for $25 that Wifey found on the interwebz. He will still need some more pajama's but the bulk of the shopping is done. The lady tossed in some 3T stuff also. We washed and folded it so everything is ready for when the stuff is needed in a couple months.
Walker is currently wearing 18 month clothes and we have already got his 24 month stuff. We have bought almost all of it used for great deals. Buying stuff used often takes time, especially when you want something specific and are cheap. It is sort of like that saying about construction "you can have fast, right or cheap but only get to pick two." We could get him a bunch of  clothes that he needs tomorrow but we would be paying a lot more. On the other hand if we anticipate our needs a few months in advance we can wait for the right deal to come along.

I found a bunch of toys in a bag by a dumpster. Needless to say I grabbed it up. Wifey went through it all and decided what to keep. We got a ton of new stuff for Walker. Also I found a toddler bed that somebody had thrown away. We will have to put it together and check it out but it appears servicable. We cleaned and sterilized everything (though it seemed clean but you never know) and it is ready for Walker. He really likes the fire truck and having another ball to carry around.

Dumpster diving is one of my favorite things to do. I just love finding free stuff.

Later Wifey decided to figure out how to make some snacks. First she made wheat crackers. The recipe came from Frugal and Simple and they resemble wheat thins. The first picture is before. The dough is rolled out then cut with a pizza cutter before baking.

The second picture is from after baking. The white stuff is a bit of flour that helps minimize stickiness. It is the only white flour used in the recipe.

After that she made dehydrated yogurt bites in the dehydrator. Walker loves these things but they are like $3 for a tiny package! He gets them when we travel and we keep some around for various reasons but they are too expensive to feed to him all the time.

If it wasn't obvious almost all of this stuff except the dumpster diving was Wifey. She does all sorts of things like haunting used stuff boards and cooking snacks to stretch my earnings as far as possible. Also feeding the kid healthy stuff is important to her. It is also worth noting that she can do these things because she has time. If Wifey was working at a full time job she would not be able to do these things.

Anyway that is what we did today.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Marital Decision Making

I am writing about this because it is, aside from money which I have talked about in the past (recap, prioritize and take a long view), the biggest roadblock I see people having in preparedness. I see folks whose preparedness efforts are stalled or seriously slowed, sometimes resorting to hiding spending or prep stuff from their spouse (not a good idea for numerous reasons).  I see marriages (I am going to use the term marriage but if you have a long term partnership that is similar it applies also) strained with bitter survivalists and their frustrated spouses. Different folks make decisions differently and it is very results based. If what you are doing works then by all means keep it up and feel free to discuss it in the comments section. If what you are doing doesn’t work then please read on with an open mind. Hopefully I can help, if just in some modest way.

Here are 3 basic concepts
It really helps to have a spouse with whom you share a similar long term vision. The way to do this is to really get to know someone and make you’re your big long term goals are aligned or at least compatible before committing to a lifetime with them. Somewhere between happily dating for the long term and seriously considering getting married Wifey and I had a series of conversations on what we want our life to be like, how we want to raise children, where we want to live, etc. We both had a few things that were really important to us and if I recall correctly we each had one or two things that were deal makers. We didn’t fight about it and weren’t mean or anything but both of us had a couple things that were serious enough for us to potentially reject the other as a spouse. We did some talking and thinking and figured out what we could compromise on and that we could both accept the others non negotiable issues.

It is sweet and cute to say that love will make it all work out but real life doesn’t usually work that way. If you want to live in rural Montana don’t marry somebody whose dream is a condo in LA or an apartment in NYC  as somebody is going to lose to some degree. (For those who choose a partner then have a significant change of heart on something that puts them at odds with their spouse over long term vision I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe some ideas here will help.) If you want kids and your spouse doesn’t that is an issue. If you are dead set on raising the kids in a protestant church but you are dating an equally devout something else that is an issue.

Next is fairness. No unilateral decisions on major topics. To me major topics would be things that affect your everyday life or reach a monetary point where they are significant relative to your situation. I look at it sort of like a 2 person council where both people have a veto. If Wifey decided we should sell everything we own, donate it to some cult and go live in their compound in French Guyana that wouldn’t work. Why should I get to decide we should liquidate and move to a little ranch 200 miles from anything in Wyoming?  Along the lines of fairness money which is left after the basics of everyday life like shelter, food, utilities, etc should be spent on things you both want to do and or divided pretty equally. Not always exactly the same parse but it should be pretty even over the long run. Yeah that is a harsh pill to swallow but it is fair and right. (Sometimes the survivalist wants to consider everything they want for preps as essential expenses and thus outside of this sort of give and take. Unless the spouse is on board that just isn’t going to work. For us it is figured out on a case by case basis. Some purchases come from our money and others come from mine.)

The last is respect. Sometimes I hear, though it is fair to observe that I am just getting one side of the story, about someone openly dismissing or mocking the concerns or desires of their mate and making decisions by decree. A wife or husband who says that you can’t buy a couple extra cans of soup or a bag of rice at the store because they think it is not necessary. There is no way that I would ever put up with someone treating me like that and neither would my wife. We are both pretty strong personalities so that is not an issue in our house.

I look at it like this. My wife is very important to me. That means things which are important to her are by default important to me, even if I do not understand or necessarily agree with them. At times we have spent considerable time, energy and money on stuff I would not do otherwise, because it is important to her. Lord knows the same is true for her with all the crazy I bring into our house.

Now onto more specific ideas:
-We have had success with floating an idea and letting the other person have time to think about it. Simply mentioning “I have been thinking about…..…” and then waiting a few days or a week or two then talking about it again. This lets the other person think about something, figure out how it relates or affects other things and maybe do some research. This lets them be in the right frame of mind and prepared for a future conversation.

-Don’t set yourself up for conflict. If at all possible avoid this or that situations in favor of more open ended ideas and then deal with the finer details. Instead of we have to do/buy/etc this plan/thing/lifestyle talk about the broad concept you are interested in. Even if you have something specific in mind leave wiggle room to come to an agreement. Also don’t push for a decision on anything right away, especially the first time it is being discussed. Think shades of grey not black and white. The worst case is one where it is yes or no right now that is pretty oppositional as you obviously want to do something right now. You are leaving your spouse no room to maneuver and they either have to go along with your crazy scheme or not. They are either with you or against you, more likely against you otherwise you wouldn’t be having the conversation. Frame the situation in your favor by giving both sides room to maneuver and come to an agreement when it naturally occurs. Better to get most or some of what you want in a week or two than none right now.

We have had luck with one person telling the other about a broad concept they would like to pursue and after they have some time to think about it comparing ideas on how to get there. Example, awhile back we needed furniture, pretty much a whole house worth. Instead of necessarily discussing every piece Wifey wanted to have a furniture allowance so to speak. My wife mentioned this and that we were only going to be able to find so much stuff sitting by dumpsters so we would need to spend some money. After I thought about it a bit the idea seemed sound and I proposed a dollar amount. I think we had the same idea but her letting me come up with a starting point for the discussion/ negotiations was a good way to go. It means that you have an agreement, if not a perfect one, right from the beginning. We have done the same type of thing in numerous other situations.

-Don’t make your spouse be the bad guy. Bring ideas to your spouse that are affordable, logistically feasible, fair (remember, every free dollar is not yours to spend on preps or whatever you want) and pass the common sense test. My wife spiked down my dream (thanks to the Matthew Bracken books) of retiring onto a sail boat like Gabriella Reece in her prime and I have buzz killed Wifey’s ideas to get all sorts of animals that were for sale on Craigs list; having a horse/ alpaca/ pony when you live in an apartment would not work well. However these are extreme cases and it rarely happens. Spending every dollar you have in savings on a sweet rifle is a stupid idea and you don’t need the spouse to tell you that. Not surprisingly, most folks don’t want to move to a shack out in the woods and rather like indoor plumbing. While I am in general on the side of the paranoid survivalist in the relationship I can see that sometimes their expectations or ideas are not very realistic.

-Lastly I have observed that a good way to get the spouse (within reason) to go along with what you want to do is to go along with what they want to do. Or more accurately the opposite is true. I’ve seen folks get into a tit for tat cycle with this and it just makes everybody unhappy. If Wifey wants to do something I am about always agreeable. [With the small to medium stuff if it is important to her we make it happen though the exact dollar amount or timetable may need to be adjusted. For the big stuff we tend to share a common vision of where we are going so it generally falls into place pretty well.] Conversely we act on a significant amount of my ideas. Considering I am a paranoid and have all sorts of crazy ideas that is pretty darn good. The end state is that, within economic and logistical reason we both get most of what we want.

These ideas and concepts have worked pretty well for us. We don’t really have conflict or tension about this kind of stuff and I am able to action a lot of goals and ideas which other folks have difficulty with. Hopefully this will at least give you some ideas.

How have your experiences been when it comes to marital decision making and survivalism/ preparedness?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Building Food Storage in Small Spaces

My long time friend Maggy dropped me a line the other day. She has been on hiatus from our sister blog for awhile as she has been busy having a kid. Anyway she has relocated to a very small apartment (she said the size of a postage stamp) and is looking to rebuild some food storage that got eaten up. She asked my advice on small spaces noting that under the bed was full of baby stuff and thoughts on stocking up beyond ‘if you need one buy two’ plan. Here is my sanitized and slightly edited reply to her:
First of all it has been awhile so I want to congratulate you on the kid and all that stuff. I am happy for you guys. Next there are two separate issues: space and stocking up.

For space: I am really not a huge fan of under the bed. Been there and done that, it just didn't work great. The issue with it is that stuff under there tends to stay under there and not get used, because it is a pain to get to under the bed. Not an issue for a water filter, a case of rifle ammo and some MRE's but for food you want to rotate regularly it is problematic. In my experience if accessing and thus rotating stored food is hard folks won’t do it. If you don’t somewhat regularly rotate food the whole storage thing doesn’t work so well.

I would say first to be more organized in the kitchen (example instead of having 3 drawers of tupperware and other crap have 1 or 2 organized ones) to get the most of the space you do have. Throw away any junk and organize the rest. This should free up some space. Next I would say to look at other shelving/ storage areas in your place. Wifey and I did this with success in the RV. Having a cupboard full of food in a different place isn't ideal but we have to work with what we have available.

Another idea to free up some space is to use small quart or whatever sized containers for staples, rice, beans, flour, etc and keep those in the kitchen. The big bags could then live in a closet or someplace a bit less accessible as you don't need to access them daily, just to refill the jars/ tupperware things.
Really it comes down to prioritization. Thinks we decide are important tend to happen and those we prioritize lower often stall out when they meet any resistance. If you start from the perspective of “I am going to fit X amount of food in my residence, where is it going to go” instead of “How much food can I conveniently fit in the kitchen as it is organized now, without adjusting anything?” there answer is going to be very different.

So in review; first organize the kitchen and then consider using other available cupboards and such outside the kitchen. If it is important, and food is important, then you can find a way.

Restocking on food: The buy 2 cans/ boxes/ packages when you really only need one plan is good. It lets you stock things you are actually eating in better varieties than say buying a case of chili and a case of stew.

The thing is that nobody, except maybe Redacted (her significant other and my longtime friend who doesn’t have a name on here, or I can’t remember it) and he probably did it because he is lazy, wants to eat chili for a month in a row. Far better to have 6 cans of chili, 3 cans of stew, 3 cans of clam chowder and 6 meals worth of pasta with both red and white sauce, etc.

One good way to give your food storage a sort of jump start without getting sucked into too much of any one thing is to get a good baseline of staples. A 20 pound bag of flour, 20 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of corn meal, 10 pounds of beans, a big bag of pancake mix with a large jug of syrup, some peanut butter, jelly, oil and spices and you can eat for a pretty long time, especially since you can cook. That stuff just about doesn't go bad (you can't store a ton of it just in bags but if you cook at all a big bag will get used up well before it would go bad). It doesn't cost a lot and in a pinch you could eat off it for awhile. Maybe do that to get the ball rolling and keep up with the need one buy two and pretty quickly you will accumulate a lot of food you will actually eat.

FWIW the one shelf stable food we probably can't stock enough of in my house is pasta. It is cheap and easy and can be used a lot of ways. Cook a package of pasta, maybe do up some meat and veggies (or not) and toss it in some sauce and you have an easy dinner. In my observation one of the biggest ways for a plan of staple cooking to break down is getting busy. If you get busy and don’t have some reasonable options to get dinner on the table in 15-20 minutes with minimal hassle it is going to be convenience foods or pizza. Pasta is great for this.
Also we eat a lot of rice and I have cereal for breakfast most mornings so we usually have a dozen or so boxes of whatever has been on sale recently.
I hope this gives you some ideas. Feel free to hit me up with any questions it may bring.
If you have anything to add please do so in the comments section.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review Shatter by TC Sherry

This is book two of the deep winter series. To recap the last book began in the winter with a massive earthquake and ended with some other problems. This book sort of skims over the tail end of winter and covers the spring and summer. During this book bad turns into worse. It becomes apparent that the Spokane region and the PNW in general are not going to receive help from the outside and things are not going to return to any sort of old normal.

The Good: This book, as well as the previous book, lays out a compelling vision for a very bad future.
To me it is sort of a “and then what” kind of book. So things went to heck in a hand basket, you get stuff set up initially and after a couple months most of the looters have been naturally selected AND THEN WHAT. Folks start figuring out how to feed themselves in the long term, trade, reorganize society and move forward. That is what this book is about.

Basically in the first book after the earthquake things internationally then nationally go to hell in a hand basket. The dollar collapses and there is war.  In this book things get even worse, and then worse again, like dealing with all that had happened in the first one wouldn’t be enough.

The book brought up some interesting stuff when it comes to property rights, scavenging and ethics. What has been bothering me in a couple books I have read recently, and to some degree the first book in this series is hypocrisy. In this book the main characters actions on the whole were IMO were pretty close to what they expected from others. I won’t say that I agreed with every thing that happened but on the whole it wasn’t offensive and was very thought provoking so that was good.

I think this issue gets complicated if there is a significant die off or long term population shift. There are definitely more questions than easy answers as far as I am concerned. If folks are dead or gone and heirs are not able to be located who does the property belong to? If your neighbor was visiting his cousin in Maine and the balloon goes up at what point do you decide he isn’t coming back? What happens to his stuff?
I think it is pretty clear that stuff which belongs to people who are present or realistically may be present is theirs. However if things get nuts enough that big companies fall apart and such who do their buildings, stores and equipment belong to? Some level of nationalization albeit at a city or county level is likely, at least with this sort of stuff and is probably fairly ethical.

I liked that government didn’t magically go away. It is really a pipe dream to think that some sort of government won’t exist, especially at the local level of city and county. It will hopefully change and help set the conditions for people to take care of their selves, or at least not cause any real problems in a new world though it could get nasty and totalitarian.

In this book there was a sort of barter network that morphed into a sort of general store. For somebody with a knack for that sort of thing, access to a suitable space and some stuff to sort of seed the effort it might not be a bad idea to take some notes about that part. That people were more interactive vs just staying at their homes alone was good I think. People have a tendency to be social animals and it is difficult if not impossible to produce everything you could need or want. It definitely reinforced the desirability of being able to produce, above and beyond your own needs, something which people want.

Personally I do not stock things specifically for barter. However that is at least in part because I am not quite there yet. If one was so inclined they could probably do pretty well with a few hundred dollars of the right stuff. Stuff like kerosene, lamps, .22 LR and small game shotgun loads, sewing stuff, matches, booze, etc.
This book is a good reminder that in many ways local government is more important than at a higher level. To paraphrase Ragnar Benson the county zoning or agricultural commission is far more likely to cause problems in your life than men dressed in black carrying MP-5’s from an alphabet soup agency. This is probably far truer in a long term serious situation as they will have a lot more freedom to maneuver. Bad local governments could turn into little fiefdom’s or Stalinist collective experiments very easily.  It was also illustrated in the book that if people don’t stand up to these things as a group they will inevitably get dealt with piece mill and picked off accordingly.

The Bad:
There was a distinct flavor of population and resource control. Think checkpoints and fuel usage restrictions, curfews, etc. I think these would likely be reality in this sort of situation but it isn’t something I particularly like.
Checkpoints I think would be a fine idea, probably a necessity so long as they didn’t hamper the free movement of individuals in the area and allowed some sort of through passage through for those who need to get someplace. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that there were passes for people who were deemed special which of course included the main characters. Personally in that situation I would be awful curious about who the heck decided which people were special and what the heck they thought gave them the right to say they could move around freely but I could not. They really didn’t go into detail on exactly what these restrictions were or how they affected people who, unlike the main characters, were not deemed to be special, so I can’t say if I really have an issue parse.

Fuel restrictions I have a hard time with. Now if the local government has fuel and is distributing it then some prioritization to EMS, food production, etc makes sense. However telling someone what they can do with fuel they have is another thing. If someone has a 300 gallon fuel tank in the barn and a 74 stingray and wants to go drag racing down their driveway it really isn’t anybodies business but theirs and their neighbors.
A few things happened that were just a little bit too convenient. The main characters stumbled into some stuff in a way that was awful darn lucky. Not so much as to really mess up the book but enough not to show the benefits of having some things squared away beforehand or the downsides of not having them squared away.
The author talks badly about politicians and government officials who are anything other than perfect public servants and folks who said public positions carry privilege. However the main character definitely uses his position to his advantage a few times getting favoritism or special treatment that Joe down the block wouldn’t. It was government choosing winners and losers at a small local scale. Nothing nasty parse, more like good old boy stuff.

The Ugly:
Not really anything ugly about the book in the usual sense that something is worse than the bad. However the book did expose (which is a good thing and thus doesn’t really belong in the bad part) a couple of ugly and very real possibilities. The first is that a default on our debt would cause all sorts of international problems. It is the kind of thing that starts wars. Even if our country fell apart we have a huge and awesome military. Somebody who thought we were weakened and that they could take advantage or attack our allies might be making a very serious mistake. Even if we were pretty tired and confused we could wipe the floor with most countries.

The next is that some places would try to continue suckling from the teat of government. Big, blue rustbelt and New England cities come to mind.

Lastly the balance of government would go all out of whack. Everyone more or less marches to the same drum in normal times and any pull from individual organizations or departments is canceled out by checks and balances or equaled out by pull from other organizations. However as people and agencies had competing visions, conflict over resources and such things might get crazy. The usually boring game of whose budget and staffing will go up by 3%, whose will stay the same and who might (though it rarely happens) face cuts could turn into serious infighting, like 3rd world stuff. Also in a die off scenario the whole line of succession thing could fall apart pretty easily leaving the US without a clear leader.

The vision of massive cascade failures laid out in this series is compelling, disturbing and seemingly plausible. I was familiar with that concept but had never heard the phrase before.

In closing I enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers. It is definitely worth paying $5 for the electronic edition.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Well it is Turkey Day. This is the second time I have spent Thanksgiving in a war zone. The first was a lot easier, maybe in part because of the rose colored glasses of time but mostly because missing my wife and kid is very different from the rents, siblings, extended family and friends.It was as good of a day as it could be. The dining hall did a bang up job. They had everything I wanted and it was all great. Things were pretty quiet and I got to do some reading which was nice.

I have been thinking about what I am thankful for. I am thankful that we aren't worried about keeping a roof over our heads, buying groceries and other basic things. I am thankful that we are able to have Wifey stay at home with Walker. I am also thankful that they are home with family. She gets a bit of help with kiddo when she needs it and if anything happens I know they are in the best place they can be. That is a huge thing off my mind while I am over here. I am also thankful for preparedness books in kindle format, gymnastics rings, bumper plates, crocks, lightweight boots that you can run in, one point adjustable slings, pmag's and my snuggie. Yes, you heard that right I have a snuggie in Afghanistan and it is great.

Well I hope that everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Enjoy great food and drink and time with family. Who knows what can happen by this time next year.
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