Wednesday, 4 March 2015

08:21 - Barbara is going out to dinner with friends tonight, so Colin and I are on our own. I told him that if he’d catch something I’d cook it. I hope he comes back with a squirrel or a rabbit, but he’s just as likely to bring back a good stick.

It’s currently foggy with a cold drizzle, but we’re supposed to get up to 72F (22C) today. Depending on which forecast you believe, we may have freezing rain and sleet tomorrow, with a low of 23F (-5C).

I see that congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) has reintroduced a bill to address the vulnerability of this country’s infrastructure to EMP, both artificial and natural. My own take is that an EMP attack is extremely unlikely, but the threat of a natural “EMP” event resulting from a coronal mass ejection (CME) is very real and very likely. The planet came very close to being nailed by a massive CME in July 2012, and NASA estimated the likelihood of such an event hitting the planet as 12% between 2012 and 2022. Depending on the severity of the CME, such a strike could cause anything up to and including the electrical grid being down for months to years, which would wipe out not just electric power, but communications, transportation (including food), and even water purification.

It seems that such massive events occur on average about once per century. The last one was the 1859 Carrington Event, which was also the first one that humans really noticed. Before that, we had no electricity, no electronics, and nothing else that would be affected by a massive CME. Humans just took no notice of earlier events because the only evidence of them would have been magnificent aurorae. But one thing is for sure: we’ll notice the next one. One credible study suggested that a Carrington-class event occurring today would result in the die-off of 65% to 70% of the US population within 12 months, most by starvation.


Posted in personal, prepping | 43 Comments

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

08:45 - I’m still working on the section I (first month) chapter on security and defense. I just finished the section on protecting your home and started the section on organizing and protecting your neighborhood from looters, which are the primary threat during a short-to-medium term emergency. Just ask the folks in areas near the Ferguson riots, or indeed in any of the many other areas that have recently faced threats from civil unrest. I have a final, short section on firearms to write, recommending a shotgun and/or a .22 rifle for each adult or teenager, and then the first draft of that chapter will be complete.

As always, I’m trying to keep things as simple and inexpensive as possible. Some preppers can afford to spend $100,000+ on a rural retreat and another $100,000+ on supplies, but not many can afford that. So I’m trying to keep things as practical as possible for my expected average audience. That means many people will take issue with my recommendations, which is fine. If you can afford more and think it’s justified, spend the extra money. But many people will be pressed to buy even basic preparation supplies, and it’s them I have in mind.


Posted in prepping, writing | 20 Comments

Monday, 2 March 2015

08:01 - I finally “borrowed” my first book under Amazon Prime yesterday. I’d given up on trying with Barbara’s and my monochrome Kindles because every time I tried it would lock up the Kindle, requiring a complete reset. Something in the firmware of those older Kindles doesn’t get along with our D-Link wireless router. I figured out the problem one time. It has something to do with the B/G/N mode setting on the router, but it’s not worth the hassle so we just keep our mono Kindles in airplane mode. Fortunately, the WAP works fine with Barbara’s Kindle Fire HDX, so that’s what I used to borrow the book.

Once I’d downloaded the book to Barbara’s Kindle Fire, I used the Amazon website to download the book to my hard drive, dropped it into Calibre to strip the DRM, and transferred it to my mono Kindle. We do all our reading on our mono Kindles, so formerly I’d download every title twice, once into a directory of books for my Kindle and then a second time into a directory for Barbara’s Kindle. That was getting old, so now I routinely download the book once, drop in into Calibre to strip the DRM, and then we can transfer it to either Kindle without worrying about which copy works on which Kindle.

The book I borrowed is Alpha Farm by Annie Berdel, which several websites had recommended. If I were going to waste time writing a review, the heading would be “Stop her before she writes again”. Like most prepper books I’ve seen, fiction and non-fiction, this one is complete garbage. Even elementary school spelling, grammar, and punctuation escapes this woman. The book is full of misused and misspelled words, run-on and fragment sentences, and odd constructs that leave the reader with no clue what the author intended to convey. She apparently doesn’t even realize that she’s supposed to use periods to end sentences. The narrative switches back and forth from first- to third-person, and even characters switch back and forth between names. The author has apparently never met a woo-woo conspiracy theory she doesn’t like: HAARP, chemtrails, government causing severe weather and earthquakes, vaccines causing autism, and on and on. Fortunately, I’m a very fast reader. I got through this piece of crap in half an hour or so, but that certainly was a wasted half hour.


Posted in personal, prepping | 56 Comments

Sunday, 1 March 2015

08:51 - With it likely that Greece will crash out of the euro in the coming weeks, it seems that they’re already printing up massive stocks of new drachma notes in denominations up to 10,000 new drachma.

If and when that happens, you can bet that Greece will set the initial exchange rate at parity, effectively defaulting on their euro-denominated debts because that new drachma will very quickly lose a huge percentage of its nominal value. Those who currently hold $300+ billion in Greek debt will find that 90% of that value has evaporated.

I’m surprised that the Greek government hasn’t (yet) instituted capital controls. Capital outflows from Greece are already huge and are accelerating. In January alone, they amounted to about €1,000 for every man, woman, and child in Greece. This from a very poor country, where most people don’t have two euros to rub together. Everyone who is able to do so is getting his euros out of Greece, knowing that they’ll soon be replaced 1:1 with worthless new drachmas.

The eurozone believes it has the mechanisms in place to isolate Greece and prevent the contagion from spreading. They don’t. They’re prepared to stick fingers in a leaking dike, but they’ll find themselves facing a tsunami that will overwhelm their defenses. The rest of the PIGS will follow Greece, leaving all of southern Europe reverting to native currencies. Eventually, even France will be forced to follow. As Thatcher and others pointed out at the time, the euro always was a bad idea, a currency without a country. We’ll be watching it break up over the coming months and years.


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Saturday, 28 February 2015

08:16 - The supply of 5.56/.223 ammo is already drying up. I just checked Cabela’s for 5.56/.223 ammunition, and it seems that they’re no longer selling it on their website. I suspect that Emperor Obama’s diktat may have something to do with that. He seems determined to use his last two years in office to destroy what’s left of our Constitutional rights by ignoring Congress and the Supreme Court and ruling by executive decree. Sometimes I almost wish I were religious so that I could hope he’d rot in hell.

Those of you who are prepping might be well advised to treat firearms acquisition as a matter of urgency. If you’re not yet armed, drive down to Dick’s or Gander Mountain or Walmart and buy a 12-gauge riot shotgun or three. Do it today. The best bargain going in this class is the Mossberg Maverick 88 security model, which currently sells for less than $200, but any short-barrel Mossberg 500 or a Remington 870 is also a good choice. While you’re there, pick up as many buckshot (#4 or #00) or rifled slugs as you can afford, but at least 100 to 250 rounds per gun. Do it today, but expect the place to be crowded.


12:19 - Barbara and I just got back from a Costco run. Paul and Mary were busy this weekend, so we took advantage of the extra space in the Trooper by filling two shopping carts and buying bulky stuff like cases of toilet paper, paper towels, and paper napkins. I got very little shelf-stable food this run. Two 3-liter bottles of olive oil, a few #10 cans of fruit and vegetables, six jars each of spaghetti sauce and applesauce, and a couple 5-pound cans of lemonade powder.

Posted in news, prepping | 36 Comments

Friday, 27 February 2015

07:59 - Well, Obama couldn’t get congress to ban AR-pattern rifles, so now he’s trying to ban ammunition for them by executive order on the basis that 5.56/.223 ball ammunition can be fired from pistols and therefore qualifies as banned “armor piercing” pistol ammunition. The issue is that while nearly any rifle-caliber round can penetrate the soft body armor used by cops, very few pistol-caliber rounds can do so. Obama’s position is that since there are pistols that can fire 5.56/.223 rounds, that ammunition can be banned. And there are in fact pistols that can fire that round. In the late 60’s, I fired a Remington XP-100 bolt-action single-shot pistol that was later available in 5.56/.223, and in the early 70’s I shot .223 in a break-action single-shot Thompson-Center Contender. So what? Both of those pistols and others like them are clearly 100% sporting pistols. I’d be willing to bet that no cop has ever been shot with any of them. By Obama’s definition, almost every sporting rifle caliber can be banned because nearly all of them short of elephant-gun rounds are available in one or another pistol model. Anyway, the 2nd Amendment protects the right of the people to keep and bear armor-piercing pistol bullets, or indeed any other weapon.

Work on the prepping book continues. I’m still working in section I (the first month), on chapter I-9 on security and defense.


11:33 - Amazon really understands customer service. On December 18th, I ordered this humidifier, mainly because Consumer Reports recommended it highly. It had about a thousand customer reviews on Amazon, about half of which were five-star. What concerned me was that about a quarter of the reviews were one-star, and most of them mentioned that it had died after a few days’ to a few months use. Those one-star reviews worried me, but for $30 I decided to take a chance. That’s about what it costs to replace the filter set in our large roll-around humidifier, so I figured if this little one lasted an entire season it’d be worth it.

It worked great until Wednesday evening, when it died after only a couple months’ use. Yesterday, I went to the order page on Amazon for this item and clicked the icon to return it. Amazon asked if I wanted a refund or a replacement. I told them I wanted a refund, which they issued immediately to my credit card. The next page gave me return options, all of them free. I could print a label and drop the box off at a UPS store, print a different label and UPS would come and pick it up at my house, or return it myself and be issued an $8.24 credit for return shipping. I chose UPS picking it up from my house and clicked on the Print Label icon. As it turns out, I don’t even have to print a label. UPS will come to pick up the box in the next few days, and they’ll have the label with them. Other companies should take lessons from Amazon to learn how to do customer service right.

Posted in news, prepping, writing | 28 Comments

Thursday, 26 February 2015

08:08 - They changed the forecast. Yesterday morning, they were predicting 3 to 6 inches, but in the afternoon they changed that to 5 to 8 inches. We ended up getting maybe 3+ inches here of wet snow. The roads aren’t bad. I just came back from walking Colin and it’s mostly heavy, wet snow on top of slush. In some places the slush is frozen solid and crunchy, but mostly it’s just wet slush. Barbara just left for work in the Trooper. She shouldn’t have any problem getting to and from work. Tomorrow morning may be another story, though. Today is to be right around freezing, but overnight it’s to drop 5 or 10 degrees below freezing, which should turn all of this semi-melted slushy stuff into sheets of ice.

Work on the prepping book continues. Right now I’m working in section I (the first month), writing the chapter on security and defense, chapter I-9.

Repeat from yesterday: I just finished the first draft of what is tentatively designated Chapter I-8. It’s from section I (the first month), and it covers Electricity, Lighting, and Communications. If you’d like a copy of the PDF, email me at thompson (at) thehomescientist (dot) com.

I should emphasize that this is a first draft, direct from my keyboard. I haven’t done any editing or rewrite at all. There’ll be typos I’m sure. There may even be major missing sections that I somehow forgot to include. There aren’t any images yet, and I haven’t even started to format it for print. The final chapter may well look a lot different.

If you do get a copy, please keep it to yourself. Don’t post it anywhere. This really is rough, and most authors wouldn’t even consider letting anyone see their work at this early stage.


Posted in personal, prepping | 31 Comments

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

08:51 - If you believe the BBC, which is always risky, rats may have been getting a bad rap all these years. A new paper reports that rats were not the carriers of the Black Death. Instead, it was apparently gerbils who carried the plague bacterium, which I still think of as Pasteurella pestis. Just one of many Gram-negative species that has caused untold death and suffering to humanity.

Barbara drove the Trooper to work again today. The forecast calls for more winter weather coming in this evening, with anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of snow depending on who you believe. She’ll decide this afternoon whether to come straight home from work or stop at the gym. We’re under a winter weather advisory until noon today for black ice from the remnants of yesterday’s snow, with a winter weather watch starting this afternoon for the snow expected this evening.

I’ve reached the stage in the prepping book where I already have a ton of material written but it feels like I’m only about 10% done because there’s still so much left to write about. This has happened on every book I’ve ever written, but it always seems to come out okay. Right now I’m working in section I (the first month), writing the chapter on electricity, light, and communications.


14:50 - I just finished the first draft of what is tentatively designated Chapter I-8. It’s from section I (the first month), and it covers Electricity, Lighting, and Communications. If you’d like a copy of the PDF, email me at thompson (at) thehomescientist (dot) com.

I should emphasize that this is a first draft, direct from my keyboard. I haven’t done any editing or rewrite at all. There’ll be typos I’m sure. There may even be major missing sections that I somehow forgot to include. There aren’t any images yet, and I haven’t even started to format it for print. The final chapter may well look a lot different.

If you do get a copy, please keep it to yourself. Don’t post it anywhere. This really is rough, and most authors wouldn’t even consider letting anyone see their work at this early stage.

Posted in news, personal, prepping, writing | 49 Comments

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

07:30 - We woke up this morning to find everything covered in white. We got an inch or two of snow overnight, which no one had forecast. Light snow is to continue for the next few hours, with an additional accumulation of maybe an inch. No one knew it was coming, so the city trucks didn’t pre-treat the roads with brine. There aren’t even any plows out so far this morning. The high today is to be right around freezing, so the roads are likely to remain a mess. There’ve already been dozens of accidents reported. Barbara is going into work this morning, driving the Trooper, but she’ll be running late.


Posted in personal | 55 Comments

Monday, 23 February 2015

09:48 - Work continues on science kits and the prepping book.

With the amount of text I’m generating for the prepping book, I decided I really have no choice but to break it into two volumes. The first will cover the first day through the end of one year and the second beyond one year. I hope to have the first volume complete by late spring.


Posted in prepping, science kits, writing | 13 Comments