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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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Garden Pests

The Scarecrow

Peter RabbitWhat do you do about pests in the garden? And from this, I mean bugs and animals that can damage or kill the plants in your garden.

It is funny what I learned about garden pests as a kid. Growing up in the 70’s that meant that most of what I know was learned from Hanna Barbera and other cartoons and characters. Consider some of the famous characters surrounding the war between the gardener and the elements:

Heckle and Jeckle the pesky Terrytoons Crows

Bugs Bunny and not a carrot in the ground that was safe

The Scarecrow from the Wizard of OZ

Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor

Chip n’ Dale were Disney’s addition to the gang.

Its funny how what was once entertainment might not pass the muster of the PC thought police today. But as far as the gardener is concerned, these stories offered credible antagonists in the stories of our lives. On the one hand they are cute loveable animals we want to protect. On the other, they are vicious evil creatures doing damage to our plants, stealing our food and undoing all of our hard work.

This summer has been very much the same for me. And until recently, I have had real trouble with the little creatures who have been offing my crops and wrecking havoc in my garden.

Lettuce PatchOf the 7 types of lettuce I planted, I have only been able to harvest 2 – Arugula (which I have had a lot of) and Romaine. The culprits? Rabbits. And until I got proper fencing around the lettuce patch, it was a gonner.

Our neighborhood has lots of rabbits. There were about 8 of them demolishing everything that came up. And it was kind of funny because they would go a row at a time. The Kale was the first to go. Then the iceburg and butter. And finally the Romaines (red and green).

I did not have proper fencing so I was able to use a few makeshift pieces – a large tomato cage, a dog cage, 2 bed springs and a baby door gate. It does not look as trashy as this may sound. But I will take some credit for its success. As soon as I finished enclosing the lettuce and zucchinis, the rabbits left. And magically, I could start harvesting lettuce and zucchini.

So far, the tomatoes are growing like crazy, but nothing has turned red (my fault for not getting them in the ground until the end of May). Hopefully, within a week or so we should be inundated. But I am not alone here. We have had a crazy amount of rain – and not enough hot sunshine.

The back patches are dedicated to cucumbers melons and pumpkins. The animals got to the Radishes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. All my plants started from seed trays in April. I got them in the ground the last week in May. In looking back I should have been sure to have fencing to protect what I had planted. Live and learn.

For my part, I have not had many problems with bugs – any in fact. Here in Eastern Pennsylvania, the pest du jour is the Lanternfly. Finally something has come forward to overshadow the Oriental stinkbug. Apparently they are very hard on trees. As the summer has progressed, we do see them a lot. There are trees all over the Borough with duct tape wrapped around the trunk. What it does? I have no idea. As bugs go, they seem kind of dumb and uncoordinated.

In retrospect, fencing will be one thing I will be saving up for next year. Plastic fencing is not incredibly expensive. I will invest over the winter and protect my efforts.

 

 

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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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Time to “Roundup” the Victims

Monsanto's Roundup cleverly displayed at out local grocery store

This news is so major I am even willing to link an article from CNN

As Jordan Sather of Destroying the Illusion notes:

Juror awards near $300mill to a man who got cancer from Monsanto’s Roundup.

Work to in understand the Deep State/Nazi infiltration of the food, agriculture, and the “health” industries. Your favorite products may be slowly killing yourself and our planet.

This is a MONUMENTAL decision, paving the way for thousands of similar cases against Monsanto.

Or do I mean MonSatan? Their ending may finally be near!

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/10/health/monsanto-johnson-trial-verdict/index.html