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Where Gardening, Harry Potter and The Zombie Apocalypse Meet

Quora

A funny thing happened on the way to the Quora today.

I came across a funny question that somehow brought these things together. The Question:

If humans disappear, and the only thing that survives is a Harry Potter book, would a species discovering it believe that it’s actual history?

You can read the question and answer here on Quora.

https://www.quora.com/If-humans-disappear-and-the-only-thing-that-survives-is-a-Harry-Potter-book-would-a-species-discovering-it-believe-that-its-actual-history

Now you may be asking, “What the hell is Quora and why on earth are they talking about this?” If you are unfamiliar with Quora, I will let you know that it is a wonderful Timesuck.

Quora is a social network allows people to pose questions about different subjects and encourage answers and discussion. You choose the subjects you see and jump in if you have an interest in the question.

For bloggers and other online marketers, it is an amazing little piece of social media. It allows you to answer questions and promote yourself as the “expert” in a certain esoteric field. Preferably its a field that might be interested in what you have to say (or sell).

When I started on Quora (last spring at some point), my interests were astrology, prepping and gardening. By connecting with these communities, I could see what others were talking about. And then write articles on these subjects. That way, I could come back and link the articles as another form of social proof in answering a question.

Early on, I decided to opt out of the Astrology discussions. I found that most of the questions were about Horoscope astrology. It took a lot of time to sift through it and I had no interest in most of it.

Now What about Harry Potter and Zombies?

So with the question I noted above, a couple of my favorite subjects came together. I follow the harry Potter discussion group. That started last May when I began reading the Harry Potter books again. This has become an annual thing – usually at the beginning of the summer. And as I am finding, the other followers of this group are way dorkier than myself – as if that was possible.

But as the question goes, it is like a Dead Sea Scrolls kind of find. What would this piece of pop fiction say to an extra terrestrial or our 2000 year ancestors in the future. Now forget for a moment the Harry Potter part of this equation. Chane the conditions of this story and make it about the Zombie Apocalypse.

Call it a Noah’s Ark flood. Another example is the movie 2012, where the crust of the Earth displaces and everyone dies. Author Graham Hancock talks about this in his books Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods.  Mr. Hancock suggests that the timing the the Flood of Noah may be provable in the archeological record.

And if you consider that civilized society could have existed (think Atlantis), and a flood covered the Earth, who would be left?

Imagine now if the Earth were to be hit by an asteroid, causing a catastrophic flood. Or a Volcano. Or a nuclear war. Would EVERYTHING be incinerated? Would there be survivors? What would happen to them  with all the trappings of life taken from them? No libraries. No internet. Food Shelter Clothing gone. Society gone. It would be full on survival mode. The strongest, the bravest, the smartest survive.

It is against that backdrop that you consider how they might see that Harry Potter novel. Ignore that they would have to figure out the language (remember how long it took history to remember how to read Hieroglyphics). Place it against the backdrop of a new reality. How would they see it?

 

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September National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month

September has been declared National Preparedness Month by the US government. This observance is sponsored by FEMA, and is annually renewed by the President like all of the other super important Observance days and months, like National Ice Cream Day and National Donut Day. So many of these things are put together for congresspeople to justify their existences and say that they have actually sponsored a bill.

While I am poking fun at government programs, I see some value to this, though in a squeemish sort of way, which I will get into in a minute.

Wyomissing ParkMother Nature at work

For us here in Eastern PA, FEMA had some work to do. And this work bears upon the whole idea of being prepared. Note that these pictures were ones I borrowed from the local paper. But in my travels, I passed each of these spots and witnessed this.

Yesterday, August 31, we got some more rain. About 5 inches of rain in about 3 hours. These storms have been hitting this area over this summer. Sometimes 10 miles away and they miss us completely. Other times we just get a part. For us, this was our direct hit day.

Sinking SpringsI was out driving my kids around through the hardest part of the storm. Spent a lot of time driving around flooded roads and behind slower, more cautious drivers. I saw cars deluged on the side of roads, streets flooded, drains clogged, streams over flowing their banks. It was a whole lot of water.

The hardest hit area is called “Sinking Springs.” It’s known for being lowlands, prone to flooding and sink holes.

We received a call in the middle of it from our Daughter in law, crying that her basement was flooding. When I got there, it had reached about 6 inches of water. My assessment was that the sewers had filled and were pushing up into all the homes. After about a 1/2 hour of squeegeeing water into the sump pump, all was better. Luckily they had not gotten around to finishing the basement, so the worst of it was the boxes of Christmas decorations getting wet and an old throw rug.

Many of the other neighbors were not so lucky, and will spend the rest of the holiday drying out their lives.

One of the Newspaper articles noted that the Western Berks Emergency management department would be working on these issues this morning. Since that department consists of one person (My next door neighbor who I named McGreggor in an earlier post) busy is right.

And What the Hell does all this and FEMA Mean about Prepping and Gardening?

The idea of preparing yourselves, is to be ready in case something happens.  When you experience these things, you are reminded of the things you might need and do not have.

Communication: One of the victims of the storm has been the cell phone network. Apparently a T-Mobile substation got flooded out. It rendered about half the cell phones in the area useless (mine included). It works sometimes, and by now may be on. But for about 24 hours, people could not communicate. Power stayed on though.But for a while, people could not get ahold of me.

Food and Water – Not something we had to worry about. We went out the the store and had no problems.

Batteries for flashlights? We needed a flashlight going down into the basement. Had to see if it was safe to walk through. There was one flashlight that only kind of worked. We used cell phone lights. But again, it wasn’t long. A few years ago, our power went out for 24  hours during a snow storm. We had to break out candles and run out to Walmart for touch lights.

As for FEMA, you do not hear much about them unless you know Police of Fire workers (I know both) or follow conspiracy theories. For Police and Fire, FEMA is just another link in the network. They sneak around and do funny things – usually helping the police by doing the time consuming paperwork involved in accidents and disaster.

For the rest of us (at least me), they scare me. Why? Because FEMA are the agents of the government that can enact Martial Law in the case of an emergency. And anyone with that power, scares me. especially when he is my next door neighbor who barely speaks to me. I am not expecting much help from him if the shit hits the fan. We will be on our own. But should the Shit Hit the Fan, consider how much help the authorities will be for you in your life and how much you need to be ready for whatever might happen.

So back to preparedness Month. I will offer you the basic statement from EPA.gov

September is Preparedness Month

Each September, National Preparedness Month encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

Homeowners, families, communities, and businesses can use this opportunity to find ways or help others understand more about preparing for disasters and reducing risks to health and the environment. There are many ways to reduce risks from contamination, leaks, spills, hazardous materials, and other dangers. This page doesn’t include all possible ways of preparing but provides many ideas and links to more information. SEE THE REST BY CLICKING HERE

And there is a surprising amount of good information on this site and a myriad of other government sites (Your tax dollars at work). Its like a bunch of online pamphlets with decent practical advice. I will share more of it later. Funny thing is that most of the advice they offer is the same kind of things that you find on prepper site. But it has a government spin on it. Like, “Do this and then call the authorities.” Its up to you whether you want to rely on government or rely on your self.

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Collecting Water

Last week we received about 4 inches of rain. We were stuck in an east coast weather pattern that brought tons of moisture up the coast from the Gulf of Mexico. And while our little town is about 20 miles from the real deluge and flooding, we got our fair share of rain.

Seeing all this precipitation (and thinking about my water bill) I would love to be able to save some water for some of our less rainy days and weeks. Not only would it be good for me and my yard, it also helps in the whole self sufficiency thing. You ask, what happens during the zombie apocalypse when there is no electricity to run the pumps – meaning no public water system. Our closest water source is just 5 blocks away. But Wyomissing Creek is not big enough to supply the whole Borough.

Of course, storing and using rainwater brings up a whole slew of issues. And none of them cause anything but anger and irritation to me. And most of my irritation is over the potential of my own community finding one or more reasons why they will say I can’t do it.

For me, there would be 2 main reasons for storing rain water. 1) First, my downspouts have issues anyways. I need to do work on them (mostly cleaning) and this would be a great time to include barrels with the upgrade. 2) Second would be to help with watering my garden. With all the rain, I have not had to turn the hose on in the past 2 weeks. But when its not raining, I am watering a lot. The idea of being able to save what is coming down naturally – and having it closer to the garden than my present hose, is appealing.

In looking into these, I have found that they are not too expensive – ranging from between $100-$400, depending on the style and size. On the one hand, cheaper always works. But at the same time, I think the wooden barrels look really stylish.

I will need to get at least 2 of these barrels – for the East and West corners of the house.  They will be in the front – as these are the spouts giving me the most problems.

But What about the Neighbors?

This is the part I am most concerned about On the one hand, I have one neighbor who I know is going to give me a hassle. He gives me shit about everything I do, so I have grown to expect it. He will be the one to glare at me when I am installing it. Then go to the Borough (where he is a council member) to determine whether I have broken any rules and regulations. I know he has already gone to them with other issues. And for my water downspouts, he has been able to do nothing. He tried to get me sited for not pealing paint around these same spouts about a year ago.  But even the fact that it sometimes runs over into his yard has not given his grounds for a formal complaint. It would be just my luck that he will find some reason to get me in trouble after I have paid for the barrels.

If my problems do not go further than an irritating neighbor, I will be blessed. Because there have been so many others who have tried collecting their rainwater where the issues have become serious.  As written on Accuweather.com a couple years ago:

Is collecting rainwater legal in your state?

By by Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather Staff Writer
November 15, 2016, 4:50:11 PM EST

Some U.S. states have laws restricting collection of rainwater, making it difficult for the average homeowner to set up a rainwater harvesting system.

Strict regulations and restrictions have been put in place over the last century. Currently, nine states have laws restricting the collection of rainwater, but the severity of those laws differ.

The issue of illegally harvesting rainwater went viral in 2012 when a 64-year-old man, Gary Harrington, was sentenced to 30 days in jail in Oregon.

In the western U.S., any use of rainwater is subject to legal restriction of some sort. In the 1860s, miners in Colorado experienced water shortages and developed a system to divide water based on a priority system.

This system developed into the prior appropriation system, which is basically calling dibs on water.

“Stream flow is supplied by precipitation in the form of rain and snow, so if the supply is taken away, stream flow will decrease,” Jeff Deatherage, water supply chief in Colorado, said.

However, this issue has nothing to do with the environment. In fact, a number of independent studies proved that letting people collect rainwater on their property actually reduces demand from water facilities and improves conservation efforts.

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My Latest Book Find – Getting Out

Getting Out by Ryan Westfield

Getting Out (The EMP #1)Getting Out by Ryan Westfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s great when you find the right book at the right time. And as I am writing a blog myself that focuses on prepping, its so much fun to see all the things I am researching and writing about put into action in a good story. Water, food, clothing and shelter are just the start. next you must consider what to do about every other person out there trying to do the same thing you are. Staying alive.

It is a not so gentle reminder about how fragile our life is. How we take for granted all the trappings of life. And it makes you really think about what you might do if things fall apart and the shit hits the fan. Are you ready for it? Or will you get left along the roadside unable to fend for yourself?

And guess what. Its a series too. Looks like I have my reading list set for a few weeks!

View all my reviews

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Water Around the World: Is it Safe? and How does it taste?

Some Perspectives about Water from Some World Travelers I have Known

I grew up in Southern California in the 70’s and 80’s. We were always in a drought condition, and would be yelled at for watering the lawn and washing your car.  Tap water tasted like hell, but we always knew it was safe to drink.

We also used to go camping a lot. We would go to the Mountains and the Desert. Our trailer had a sizable water tank that we could drink from. we would also bring a 5 gallon Sparklett’s bottle for drinking. All of this to know we were safe.

montezuma's revengeI wasn’t aware of unsafe drinking water until my Mom starting using the catch-all scare tactic – Montezuma’s Revenge.  The name alone was enough to have us worried. We were told that if you drank unsafe water, you would get it. There was never an explanation about what it was, but diarrhea and barfing were part of it. And that fear alone was usually enough to keep us from drinking from streams or ponds while out in the wilderness hiking.

When we got older, my younger sister studied up on Giardia – AKA the Thunder Shits – which became the new name for it. Either way, the rules were simple. Do not drink from streams while hiking. And when you are in Mexico DON’T DRINK THE WATER! Else Montezuma may come for a visit.

With this in mind, I have always been extra careful with the water I drink.

So when it comes to water – whether it is at home, or when you are away, what things do you think about? I have traveled a little bit – through at least 30 of the United States, Northern Mexico (OK TJ and as far as about 60 miles into Mexico), Montreal, Canada and then a month in Jolly Old England. And with the exception of Mexico, all of the water I have encountered was considered to be “safe”.

That does not mean it was drinkable taste wise. Desert water usually sucks. Many mountain springs taste wonderful, but others have such high mineral content as to taste awful.  Swampy areas (The Caribbean and East Coast USA) taste swampy or like a swimming pool (that is a swimming pool filled with swamp water and Chlorine). They leave much to be desired. As far as big cities go, it is said that New York City has great tasting water. I do not remember myself, though I have been there many times.

So I have asked some of my friends on Facebook who travel a lot about their thoughts are on drinking and traveling.

Iceland Hot SpringsPaul Constantine – who I went to high school with. He has traveled as a tourist extensively:

When you asked this question the first country that came to mind was Iceland. The country is loaded with huge waterfalls and numerous rivers. The water is clean and cold. You can drink right out of the streams. You can’t do that in most parts of the world without getting sick. They use their hot springs as bathing areas.
Most of Europe is like being in the the U.S. you have better water quality in the country side and less desirable water near the major cities. I usually drink bottled water to avoid getting sick.
Natural Springs in BulgariaRoland and Galina Denzel – Also a high school friend and his wife who is from Bulgaria.
I live in an area with hard water, so it’s always interesting to me how ‘slick’ showers feels when I travel. It makes me wonder about the drinking differences.
Many of the places we travel don’t have consistently safe water in the city, so they (and we) drink filtered or bottled, but it’s great when we go to the villages where they get water from wells. The water tastes pretty amazing. This city boy kind of cringes at first, but I’ve never gotten sick from the mountain springs in Bulgaria. They come bubbling straight out of the ground and taste so pure and clean.
Sheldon Forrest – American expat and regular world traveler.
Usually my rule of thumb is anywhere outside Canada, the US, or Europe, to drink only bottled water (plus juice, plus beer/wine). I seem to recall the tap water in Japan was ok, but I relied on bottled water in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and of course India.
Ganges RiverIt was suggested to me to immerse in the Ganges at Varanasi, the holy city, only the water there is totally septic…because it is too far downstream at that point with too much waste entering along the way…but I did immerse at Rishikesh (where the Beatles went to meet the Maharishi in ‘68) because, being in the Himalayan foothills, it is much closer to the source, and it is translucent enough that you can see fish swimming in it, meaning it is water that won’t kill fish, like in Varanasi. Got all the spiritual benefits with none of the health problems.
UgandaThere is absolutely nowhere in Latin America or Africa where I would drink tap water.
NOTE: Sheldon wrote this to me from Paris as he was preparing for a trip to Africa, where he has been for the past couple weeks. This picture is of water buffalo (I think) in Uganda.
Bridget Goodman – Southern California Expat living in Khazakstan.
1) Kharkiv, Ukraine, 2001: Instructed not to drink the tap water, only bottled. Water from shower head either icy cold or burning hot, no in between. Sometimes no hot water for a week, sometimes no water for a day or two.
2) Lviv, Ukraine, same time period: told that because of old pipes there is only water available from the tap from 6-9 am and 6-9 pm.
3) Astana, Kazakhstan, present day: No one drinks tap water. 5-gallon water dispensers in nearly every university office. Frequent leaks and outages mean sometimes no water for a few hours to a day, and then when it comes back the water comes out brown for a while. That’s why I usually have a bottle in the bathroom and one in the kitchen filled with tap water on reserve in case I need to wash hands, brush my teeth, or heat water for a “bucket bath”.
But, final story: going into the hills of Almaty on the way to Big Almaty Lake. Our driver found a place to stop with a natural spout. It was the purest cleanest tasting water I have ever had in my life.
Hope that’s enough.
These different stories about water around the world tell us a lot about the variability of safe drinking water around the world. Consider areas of the world like China and India – with huge populations of people. What about people living in Latin America and Africa. Do they just have a natural resistance to their local waters that allow them to drink it? Or what adaptations have they made to their lives to accommodate for their water. Does it show in higher rates of death and sickness?
These are questions I do not know how to answer. But they make the idea of having safe water to drink seem a whole lot more important than we think about. Is it a mark of civilization that we place such a priority on safe drinking water?
I remember reading the play An Enemy of the People by Henrick Ibsen when I was in high school. It was written in 1882. In the story, a whistelblower discovers that a new costly waterworks project has been compromised by a polluting factory (a paper pulp mill if I remember correctly). He discovers the problem right before the water works is brought online. But before he can tell the town, the people in control stop him – in order to protect themselves from the costly repairs that it will take to make it safe. They demonize the whistleblower to cover up the problem. Seems a whole lot like what has happened in Flint Michigan if you ask me.
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First Batch!

First batch of Pickles

Organic Seed PacksFor this project, it feels like to story of the Little Red Hen. Not the part of the story where she does all the work but will not share at the end, since none of the other’s would help her. But more because getting to this point went through so many steps.

It started Back in March when I bought the organic seeds. In the omnibus pack of seeds there was a pack for pickling cucumbers. I had not planned on planting them, but through them into the germinator at the last minute. and wouldn’t you know, they sprouted.

Then in May when I plowed out the additional gardens at the end of my yard. Thanks to former boss and old pal Dave Lesser for the use of your rototiller. Come to think of it I had better return it.

Then there was protecting them from all the horrible dangers of a garden in our neighborhood. Rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, insane weeds, weeks of watering with no rain. Then the last 2 weeks of 5+ inches of rain.

Here are the Cucumber plantsAs of last night, we had picked about 45 cucumbers, and we have to start preparing them for winter (sounds pretty rustic).

I had wondered if there was something special about Pickling Cucumbers, making them different than regular cucumbers. I still do not know, but I did crunch down a wedge while we were preparing them and thought it tasted pretty good. And if I were to describe them, they do look like, well pickles.

So we started preparing the cucumbers for canning. And what a challenge it was finding a recipe. There are hundreds of recipes and variations available. We settled on a pretty simple recipe we found online.

We have not canned anything in a number of years (probably about 12). We used to make jams and jellies all summer long. We started doing it because my wife loves jelly, but most commercial jellies . . . suck. After Knott’s Berry Farm stopped shipping to the east coast, we needed another source. Over the years, we tried Strawberry, Blueberry, Sour Cherry, Peach, Raspberry and Blackberry. We also tried making juice Jelly – commercial juice out of a bottle.  We were kind of horrified when a “mixed berry” juice jelly became the favorite that we shared.

When I was growing up, we also had a concord grape vine in our backyard and would make grape juice and jelly annually. And I have to say the system my wife and I had was far easier and less messy than my Mom’s system for Grapes.

For Jellies, we also went to the trouble of heat sealing the lids, rather than using wax to seal them. Wax would have taken the process so over the edge with work we would never have kept it up. And so long as you have the right pots and utencils, it is pretty easy. Since we have them all, the process of jarring the pickles went pretty well.

As you see, that is 4 jars down. We have at least another 8 to go plus however many more we may want.

Also considering what we might want to do with the tomatoes, which should start coming in the next week or so. Spaghetti sauce? salsa? Stewed tomatoes?

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What am I Reading?

Feed Your Head

How much do you read?

I am an avid reader and tend to have 2-3 books going at a time – in addition to my all too large doses of social media and the News of the Day. Some are for fun. Some are because I want to learn something. Some to pass the time. Also in order to be sure I have something to do while in waiting rooms or lines at the store or pharmacy. I hate being caught out somewhere, bored, with nothing to do.

Feed Your HeadI saw a meme a while back that questioned how many books people have read since they left school. With a little research at Google, there was a study done noting that approximately 28% of people (I guess in the US, but it did not say), do not read any books within the course of a year (the study was done in 2015). And this was up from 21% back in 2011. Considering that I read about 40 books per year, I find this disturbing.

But more important is the question????

What do you read?

You have heard the saying, garbage in, garbage out. The question goes to what you are feeding yourself on an intellectual level. As we remember what the Dormouse said. The Law of Attraction says you become what you think. So what are you filling your mind with?

As I noted, I am usually reading a number of things. And I would like go into them, because they are fresh on my mind.

Eat Well Move Well Live Well

If you have reading Astrogardens from the beginning, you recall that I was on a cleansing diet in May. The diet basically cut out all unnatural sugar and processed foods. I did spectacularly, losing 20 lbs. But since completing it, the pounds are coming back. The authors of the diet (Roland and Galina Denzel) wrote a more extensive book about cleaner and more healthy living, which I have been reading since June. The idea is that I would really like to keep the pounds off. I am happier being a little slimmer. My pants fit. I have less joint pain. I sleep better. And I feel better about myself eating healthier food. It is more like a textbook – so I am reading it slowly.

Lost Ways

This is a book that has been heavily promoted on social media for years. The description on amazon says:

Lost Ways
Lost Ways

“The SHTF we all prep for is what folks 150 years ago called daily life: no electrical power, no refrigerators, no Internet, no computers, no TV, no hyperactive law enforcement, and no Safeway or Walmart. The Lost Ways prepares you to deal with worst-case scenarios with the minimum amount of resources just like our forefathers lived their lives, totally independent from electricity, cars, or modern technology whatsoever, which means you’ll also be bulletproof against the ever-increasing threat of an Electro Magnetic Pulse, a Powerful Economic Breakdown, Famines, and Natural Disasters.”

Decent description IMHO, especially using the SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan). I have wanted it for a long time because it is so well promoted. Maybe it is the way they introduce subjects – asking an open ended question. It is done in the same effective way as on Ancient Aliens or 48 hours mysteries. It draws you in until you can not wait to read the next line.

I have wanted this book for a long time and decided to buy it last Friday (maybe it was because I was cruising Facebook after drinking a 6-pack, but who knows). It is a little expensive ($37 plus shipping – unless I had used the special price link when you search it on google and got the same thing for $22. Oh Well. Live and Learn.) But so far, I have loved it.

Click Here to buy it if You are interested using the better price.

Lost Ways reads like the Almanac – interesting advice for living life as they did 100 years ago when you could not go down to the corner drug store and had to grow and can a lot of your own food – or hunt and be able to store it. If I was treating Astrogardens like a business, I would be able to write this off as an expense. Call it R&D. This advice is amazing and I plan to share and deep dive a lot of the things I am reading about.

Survivalist bookWhat Every Survivalist Should Grown in His Backyard

This was one of the Free gifts that came with Lost Ways. And it is a great resource. The book goes through a lot of different plants that you should consider having in your backyard that are pretty easy to grow and damn useful in a pinch.

Honestly I was just as interested in this book as I was in Lost Ways, as the way it is presented is a lot like how I wanted to write in this blog. In fact, one of the first entries is about the plant Arugula. I read that yesterday and then went out and harvested some leaves for our salad last night out of my garden.

Harry Potter

As it goes, I have read the Harry Potter each summer for the last 3 years. I have just started the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, on Saturday. Last year or the year before I also read the Screenplay book for Harry Potter and Harry PotterThe Cursed Child. I was excited for something new, but after reading it would suggest forgetting it unless you have a real jones for screenplays. It did nothing for me and the story was not as engaging as the series.

As for the Harry Potter series, I recommend it for a multitude of reasons. 1) I like to read Young Adult novels. As a copywriter, it helps with flow. YA writers tend to keep sentence structure simple and plot lines linear. For what I do, that is important and it is good to immerse myself in that style of writing. While I am at it, I also enjoy the hell out of the stories.

Also, 2) Someone else’s conspiracy is a lot less stressful that the real life crap that is going on. It is an escape from there here and now and just as entertaining as the 20 foot tall Baby Trump Balloon flying over London last weekend. Didn’t Harry blow up his aunt as a balloon at the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban?

And 3) It provides me with inspiration. Especially now with Astrogardens. Harry faces so many of the same themes that I have begun discussing now. Government conspiracies, good and evil, Good guys vs bas actors, fake news. I would not be surprised if you hear more about Harry here. I am thinking of writing a Harry Potter themed ebook in the near future. Watch for it.

So if you are counting, Since May, that makes 11 books. And that is not counting the news on the net.

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Voting with your Wallet – Part 2

Are we in the middle of a revolution now?

Has World War 3 already started? Will we (collectively) only know about it in 30 years when we read about it in  the neatly printed government text books from our government apartments outside the government work camps we are herded into each day?

Consider what the future looks like under a controlled economy. We have been lurching there throughout the past 10, 20, 30, 40 years. And we have been voting for it with the politicians we elect, through the companies we support who provide the products and service we want to buy.

Thrive - What on Earth will it take?
www.thrivemovement.com

For me it is the fear of these institutions and the revolutions they control – The mind control and social control – that have me acting to protect the little patch of earth that I can control. Where my family resides.

So in addition to growing my own food and preparing the best I can for the Zombie Apocalypse, what can we do live in it?

A few years back (November of 2011 – I looked it up), a movie was released that asked a lot of these question. The movie was called Thrive: What on Earth Will it Take. The point of the movie (it is a documentary that shockingly haha did not get nominated for academy awards like similar documentaries by Michael More or Albert Gore) was to question the control structures of this world economy. But it does not stop at identifying the problems. They go into detail about things you can do to move forward without these structures.

PRetty often I visit their site to remind me of some of those actions.  They have a Top Ten list, which I include here, to when your appetite. If you want to read more about them, go to the ThriveMovement website.

Top Ten Actions

  1. Find Your Way to Stillness
  2. Get Informed, Speak Up & Connect with Others
  3. Bank Locally
  4. Buy and Invest Responsibly
  5. Join the Movement to Audit and End the Federal Reserve
  6. Keep the Internet Fair & Open
  7. Support Independent Media
  8. Support Organic, Non-GMO Farming
  9. Require Election & Campaign Finance Reform
  10. Advocate for Renewable and “Free” Energy
  11. Take Part in Critical Mass Actions

And as part of the theme of this post, items #3 and #4 (note if you go to the site, they will be #2 and #3 because they do not know how to number things there) discuss some very specific things you can do about what to do with your life and your money to support life where you live – in the way you want to live. Like with Banking, I bank with a local credit union. Not that I have much money, but I know that they will invest the money with local projects that support our community. No skyscrapers in New York. More like business loans for the businesses in our area.

 

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Voting with your Wallet – part 1

Like a tree falling in the forest, so are the ripples in a pond.

“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” – Dalai Lama

drops in the oceanSometimes you might wonder if your small actions can actually make a difference. Do the choices you make have an impact outside of yourself?

Consider, this morning, I made a pot of coffee and am drinking it in my dining room. I was out already this morning, and sometimes I will stop and get a cup of coffee at a coffee shop (Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Wawa or the local coffee shop Dosie Dough). But today, it was my own pot.

For me personally, I usually drink my own coffee. I brew it very strong and I like it that way. Also, the cost per cup is somewhere south of $.10 per cup. And I drink a lot. It is a choice I make. So consider yourself. How do you make this decision each morning (if you are a coffee drinker that is)? Not everyone is as cheap as I am.

So think of the options you may have. The local gas station. Its convenient. It is on the way to wherever you are going and you need gas. The coffee is passable. Dunkin Donuts. Usually convenient. Likely to taste the same each time. Pretty cheap. Lots of options if you like specialty drinks. McDonalds. See Dunkins. Starbucks. Strong coffee. Trendy. Expensive. The Local Option. A small restaurant you may have near your home or workplace. Convenient – maybe. Friendly – hopefully.

Each option comes with its own positives and negatives. And in the end, may have a negligible effect in the grand scheme of things. Who cares what coffee you drink or do not drink. But it is decisions like this that we might want to put a little more time and effort into considering as we go throughout the day. Can each of them make a difference? Is your choice of coffee like that pebble dropped into water?

Small Choices Big Consequences

The Red Hen restaurant

Small choices and their meanings have taken a rather large part of the discussion in the National headlines this weekend. The case of the owner of The Red Hen, a small trendy restaurant in the Washington DC vicinity. The President’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders,  and her family visited the restaurant over the weekend, and were asked to leave by the owner because the owner did not want to serve someone connected to President Trump.

In itself, this was pretty inconsequential. The Press secretary had the grace to walk away and find another place to eat. And had it not been for social media, and one of the employees of The Red Hen bragging about it online – which quickly went viral, the event would have gone pretty much unnoticed. Just a business, refusing service to someone for their own reasons. But the viral nature of things has made that pebble of discourtesy seem more like The Rock of Gibraltar falling into the ocean. And the ripples will surely be felt for a while.

Why?

The actual act of refusing service and asking someone to leave should not be a consequence. No laws were broken. And from the report of the exchange from all people who reported it, from all political perspectives, though uncomfortable, did not cause much of an uproar or public scene. In our society, choices can be made. But before we make these choices, we should consider what the unintended consequences may be. Like the Tree that falls in the forest, did someone hear it? And what did they do as a result?

Did the owner of the Red Hen consider the effect of refusing service to President Trump’s Press Secretary. Could she possibly have imagined what the result of her decision would be? Did she consider that:

  • Her employee would brag about it on social media?
  • @PressSec would acknowledge that comment on Twitter and say to her over 3 million followers that she had been asked to leave because of her beliefs?
  • The President of the United States would comment about it as well?
  • Maxine Waters would use the event as a nationwide call to action to be rude to anyone associated with the President?
  • A late night host suggested that other restaurants might choose to taint the food they serve to people they disagree with – going so far as to ejaculate in it before serving it?
  • People would flood Google and Yelp with bad reviews about the restaurant?
  • Pictures of her family would be plastered all over the internet with alternating positive and negative comments?

Few people would consider that a small decision in our daily life could have such far reaching effects. The owner and her employees felt that they had to refuse service, because they did not like Mrs. Sanders, and what she represents. Itself, a small decision. But as we see, the consequences are not.

While I could go on and on about the many effects in the whole world (and I would like to because I live for that), it is not relevant to the main purpose of this article. I brought it up because, from the beginning, I started this blog and my garden this year to make a difference. The difference I hoped to make was a small one in the Grand scheme of things. It was to transform my yard into a place where I could grow healthy food for my family and share the experience with others.

It is issues like the one we faced this weekend that assure me that we should be staying closer to home – especially when it comes to food. Who knows when someone might choose to do something malicious for whatever reason. And even if its not malice. I recall stories of high school friends telling about how they would clean (or not) their fast food stores. About how they had swatted flies and served them with food. I can only hope that these were mini urban legends. But I tend to believe otherwise.

Comedian Eddie Murphy performed a Stand-up comedy movie called Delirious. He told a story about eating at a Chinese food restaurant and how people often make fun of the accents. The joke came when the waiter went in back and says under his breath, “I maka special won ton soup for you.”

This is not a new. People have been horrible to each other throughout history. But we might hope that we have evolved just a bit. Since that is probably not the case, We should start be watching ourselves when in public.

 

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Mad Max Pt. 3 – What’s Beyond Thunderdome?

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of this series, you might want to go back and read them.

Mad Max 1 showed a world where people and society were breaking down. The people are living, but the fabric of society was ripping. The line between morals and values was blurring. And the value of life was seen as lost. You saw no bombs, but things looked bleak.

The Road Warrior made it clear that society was lost. What happens when government is no longer there for people’s protection? We see people scraping by for an existence. Joining together when they can, but relying on the good graces of others. And these ties prove to be not so binding.

The third installment, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, takes us a few years down the road from when The Road Warrior takes place. You know this first due to the fact that Max’s hair is longer – very 80’s esque. And also, the desolate desert has moved on. Gone are the recent trappings of the past world.

There is little or no traffic in the way of cars. Lots of getting around on foot or with pack animals.

And as with the first two movies, this one is packed with important takeaways that speak to protecting ourselves now.

Up Another Notch – Better soundtrack

Unlike the previous movies, the Mad Max franchise decided to upgrade with more acting firepower. Well, maybe one names actor – Tina Turner – who is more a singer. But a big name nonetheless. And the bonus was that they get Tina Turner singing the opening song. I often wondered which was the bigger draw for Tina – the chance to act or a vehicle to put out a hit song. Both seemed to work. Here is the song – We Don’t Need Another Hero:

Now you might not see the value of a good soundtrack, but that is my own litmus test. I love music. It speaks in ways that the actors, the script and the setting cannot. It set the mood. And in this case, it lived beyond the movie and helped to bring in new viewers (who were probably confused as hell trying to understand what was going on.

Additionally, the costumes showed a world without the trappings of mass production. In Road Warrior, people were wearing the clothing they got away with in the aftermath whatever apocalypse happened. In Thunderdome, people are wearing much more rag tag clothing. Its either Rags or feathers or leather or whatever people could stitch together. It is truly devolved society.

Bartertown

Bartertown

The One “bright light” in the desert becomes the shanty town city of “Bartertown” Max is led to it after his wagon (sorry no cool cars in future apocalypse world) and camels are hijacked by a flying vehicle (desert life still sucks as much as during the Road Warrior). Max follows it into the distance to Bartertown to try and retrieve his things from the thief.

Bartertown is the conflux of devolved society. People are allowed to come in if they have something to trade (and will pay for the opportunity). It shows the state of society in the apocalypse – no money, all trade by barter. It’s a come together swap meet. Max has to finesse his way in, as he has nothing to trade anymore. He offers his “skills.” He finds himself in one of those “Offers you cannot refuse.” Auntie (the punked out version of Tina Turner). And she conscripts Max to face Thunderdome – a apocalypse-day version of a Gladiator Fight.

“The Law” of the new land is one of power. Power is controlled by dictatorship by Auntie, who uses her own form of Democracy/ Mobocracy to control Public Opinion. They come together at Thunderdome – like a WWE cage-match. But its a fight to the death. The law of Thunderdome:  “Two Men enter, one man leaves.” The offer/deal Max cannot refuse is to kill his opponent. When he realizes that the brute he is charged with killing is mentally challenged, he will not, thus breaking the deal. Which brings up the next law,  “Bust a deal, face the wheel.”

Here brings in a new form of justice, where you are pretty sure this cannot be good. You see a “wheel” that is spun, like on wheel of fortune. And reading through the possibilities, there is a small chance of “aquittal.’ Though the rest speak of potential horror. Amuptation. Death. Forfeit Goods. Underworld. Aunties Choice. As Max spins the wheel, his winner is Gulag. Now what could that possibly mean.

Fast forward to Max sitting backwards on an old horse tied up. In front of the horse’s nose dangles a jug full of water. And they place a large Mask on Max’s head and slap the horse to go running into the desert – where it gets lost, keels over and dies – with Max still strapped to it with this goofy mask on.

So what does this mean to our world today? DEMOCRACY – Consider the number of times in the past 2 years our governmental system has been called a “democracy.” And people say this with a straight face, thinking “democracy” is a good thing. Their lack of understanding about it astounds me. Under a true democracy, the Mob rules. If it comes to an up or down vote, protections on your liberties are basically gone. Think of one of the most well known Mobocracy trials – that of Jesus Christ. Pontius Pilate asked the crowd who they would like him to save. And it was not Jesus, but an actual criminal, Barabas. The founders of the USA considered democracy, and chose instead to make us a republic. This gives the chance for discernment before a wild and crazy, emotional decision is made.

DICTATORSHIP – in the absence of laws, people with power (money, goods) and Charisma will rule. And it is in their best interest to rule with an iron fist. Then the rules become whatever that person may decide.

SURVIVAL – Or survival of the fittest. Consider whether you are able to defend yourself now. Are you physically fit? Are you emotionally prepared for adversity?

And what about the Children?

Now we come to the points that were actually the main reason I began thinking about Mad Max in the first place. Max is then rescued from the desert and brought to an oasis in the desert. And here are a group of Children ranging from very young to teenagers. They have been left here post-apocalypse to survive. And as a result, they have become their own cargo cult. Being young, they have just enough where-with-all to survive and feed the little ones. After that, what have they become?

After capturing Max, they introduce them to their Now. Together, they tell the story of their life, which they tell from memory around the nightly campfire. They call it “Telling the Tell.”

“We got it mouth to mouth, so you gotta listen it. Remember. Cause what you hears today you gotta tell the birthed tomorrow.”

The oldest among them act out the story – with modern props to tell the story. About Captain Walker – the pilot who brought them to safety to this place. With the use of a viewmaster camera they tell a a basic story about how they got there and what they know about their history.

It is in this story, that the true tragedy of apocalypse can be seen. What happens to the history of society. The oldest and the wisest are only as knowledgeable as who they learned from – and how much they remembered. Can they read? It is all fractured history. They take Max as the Hero of their world. He, to them, is Captain Walker, returned from myth. To them, he is the savior. To Max, they are just an encumbrance.

In the end, he steps up and is able to rescue at least come of the children. They fly out of the desert to a city, where they find themselves alone with buildings and more of the trappings of the past. Still spreading their version of the past – telling the tell.

I remember this when I am teaching my own children. Which things do they need to know first? Is it self defense? Is it survival? Is it history? The importance of freedom?

At least for now, much will be about gardening – call it survival.