Saturday, 2 July 2016

11:07 – Our next-door neighbor Bonnie called Barbara last night and offered her a dozen fresh eggs. Barbara is going up there this morning to spend some time with Bonnie and bring back the eggs. I’m going to run one of my interminable experiments. In Olden Days, people preserved eggs by coating them in sodium silicate (waterglass) solution, which sealed them against air. They could then be stored at room temperature for weeks to months without going bad. But vegetable or mineral oil works just as well for sealing eggs, so I’m going to try sealing two or three of them and setting them aside in individual containers at room temperature. I’ll pull one out at the one, two, and three month points and test it. Not that there’s any scientific testing needed. A rotten egg makes itself known immediately with an intense odor of hydrogen sulfide gas. Once you’ve smelled that, you’ll never forget it. Interestingly, hydrogen sulfide gas is actually lethal in lower concentrations than hydrogen cyanide gas is.

The other day, Lew Rockwell linked to an interesting post by Gaye Levy at, 15 Ways To Prepare for a Rogue Wave of Collapse. Gaye makes the same point I’ve been making here and elsewhere for a couple of decades now. FTA:

Will There Really Be a Catastrophic Collapse?

I first wrote about the coming “rogue wave of collapse” in 2011. What I write today is a very different article. Back then, I was almost sure that a global collapse, economic or otherwise, would happen within months. Clearly, what I envisioned did not happen, or at least did not happen in the manner expected.

My current opinion is that these past six years have brought an insidious and sometimes imperceptible decline in life as we knew it before the crash of 2008/2009. I believe there is a high degree of complacency and most folks figure “this is just the way it is”. My guess is that many have conveniently forgotten what it was like to get regular raises, purchase health care insurance at a reasonable price, and look forward to retiring at age 65.

As I’ve been saying, I don’t really expect an imminent catastrophic world-changing event. Could it happen? Sure. There are any number of threats that could occur at any moment, from a Carrington-class coronal mass ejection to a large cyber attack that takes down the power grid to a lethal pandemic to a massive earthquake on the NMSZ that cuts the country in two, separating the food producers west of the Mississippi from the eaters east of the Mississippi. Worse yet, most of these events are inevitable. We know with a very high degree of certainty that we WILL be hit by a massive CME, that a large earthquake WILL occur in the New Madrid area, that a lethal pandemic WILL occur. But probably none of those will occur this year or next year. Probably. I’ve made a SWAG that the chance of a catastrophic event occurring within the next year is about 0.03. Three percent. So while occurrence is unlikely, at least in the short term, the consequences of any of these would be catastrophic, with potentially tens of millions of people dead in the US. That kind of threat is obviously worth paying some attention to.

I read one time that the most successful way of forecasting the weather for tomorrow is to predict that it’ll be pretty much the same as today. And that’s pretty much the way I predict the future in other ways. In other words, we’re going to see a continuing slow slide into dystopia, until one day that slide turns into a precipitous fall off a cliff. That day may come tomorrow or it may not come for many years or even decades, but that day will arrive. When it does, I want to have water to drink, food to eat, fuel to heat our home, guns to defend ourselves, and so on. That’s the main reason why I prep.

But there are other, less catastrophic reasons to prepare. The price of everything keeps going up, as I see in both business and personal life. An item that cost $5 the last time I bought it now costs $5.50. And this goes on, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Of course, it’s not the value of the items I’m buying that increase constantly, it’s the value of the dollar that decreases constantly. So, given the choice between holding dollars that are constantly losing value and hard assets, I want to put at least some of our dollar assets into things that hold their value. Inflation is simply a hidden tax on assets, and it’s not going away anytime soon, barring a complete collapse of the dollar (which I’m also not expecting anytime soon).

Prepping also insulates preppers against personal problems like a job loss or unexpected major expense. If something like that happens, I want to be prepared to live from our pantry for months or longer. Certainly, there are unavoidable expenses that must be paid for with dollars, but being able to minimize outgo in dollars is certainly a worthwhile goal. And then there’s the simple peace of mind that comes with a deep pantry, knowing that if there’s a disruption in deliveries we can do without any outside supplies for quite a while.

Friday, 1 July 2016

09:32 – I got an interesting email from a guy who’s about my age, and has been a pharmacist for almost 40 years. He started in a hospital pharmacy, worked for an independent drugstore for a few years, and for the last 25+ years has worked for a national drugstore chain.

Things have changed a lot in that time. Years ago, he spent a lot of time keeping track of inventory, discarding drugs that were nearing expiration, and manually ordering to replenish the supply. Nowadays, it’s all computerized just-in-time. They get a delivery every day, with the computers at the central warehouse deciding what items to ship and how much of each. The only time he has to order manually is if he needs oddball items for which the demand is sporadic. If they need something they’re out of, it’s delivered via overnight express. He said that’s why having prescriptions partially filled is a lot more common than it used to be. I’d actually noticed that myself. In the last several years, Barbara has had several prescriptions partially filled and we had to return the next day to the pharmacy to get the rest of the prescription.

This guy has been a prepper since 9/11. As he says, most preppers understand that JIT inventory systems for supermarkets mean that there’s only about a 3-day supply of food in local supermarkets at any one time, but most don’t realize that the same or worse is true of pharmacies. If the trucks ever stop rolling for any reason, local drug inventories will be exhausted very quickly. Especially because in a serious emergency, just as with supermarkets, what would normally be a 3-day supply will disappear in a few hours as people refill prescriptions to make sure they don’t run out.

His advice for people whose lives depend on medications is to convince their physicians to write prescriptions for the longest term and most refills they’re willing to do and that their insurance will cover. Refill them as soon as possible, and ask your physician if each medication can be stored in the freezer. With the exception of some liquid medications, notably insulin, most can. Store any excess medications that are freezable in the freezer, where they will remain usable for years to decades.

For those of us who don’t routinely take prescription medications, the most important thing to store is antibiotics. You might never need them, but if you do it may be the difference between life and death. I wrote about that here, including links to specific antibiotics at Interestingly, not long after I posted that article six months ago, aquabiotics received a visit from the feds and stopped selling antibiotics. Just the other day, I visited their site and found they were again offering antibiotics. If you haven’t already stocked up, you might want to grab some now while the getting is good.