Month: April 2017

Sunday, 30 April 2017

08:53 – It was 64.5F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0645 this morning, sunny and calm. There were half a dozen cows up near the back fence. Colin and the cows just looked at each other. When I checked the thermometer yesterday mid-afternoon, it was up to 82.2F (28C), the first time we’ve hit 80F this year.

I’m closing out the books for April. Barring any more orders coming in today, we’ll finish April slightly above April of last year. YTD, we’re roughly 33% above last year’s numbers for kit units and revenue, and slightly above the 2015 YTD numbers. We’re still well behind the 2014 numbers, but even so we’ll have a pretty decent year if the current trend continues.

We had barbecue chicken for dinner last night, using a can of Costco chicken and a pint of our homemade barbecue sauce. It tasted fine. As I commented to Barbara, the flavor of the sauce is strong enough that it doesn’t really matter what kind of meat we use with it. I’d even try barbecue diced-Spam if Barbara would let me get away with it. She’s not a big fan of Spam, although I have a couple of cases of it in our LTS pantry.

We have a quiet day planned.

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Saturday, 29 April 2017

09:21 – It was 64.3F (18C) when I took Colin out at 0715 this morning, sunny and calm. The cows are back in the field along our back property line. Until six months or so ago, there were always Black Angus cows in that field, anything from half a dozen to three or four dozen at a time. They often clustered right along the back fence. Then last autumn they disappeared from that field. About the only time we saw them was every few weeks in a field up along the ridge line several hundred yards to our west.

When I took Colin out this morning, he did his usual. Trotted down to the bushes along the road, sniffed them thoroughly, and peed on them. But this morning, he spent hardly any time doing that and then headed toward the back fence at a fast trot. When I walked around the side of the house to see what he was up to, I saw him down by the fence with half a dozen cows watching him. They got used to him pretty quickly after we moved in, and vice versa. They don’t pay much attention to him, and he ignores them unless they get too close to his fence. Then he does his stalk/pounce/ferocious growl routine and they quickly scatter. This morning, everybody ignored each other.

I noticed that one of our hand sanitizer bottles was getting low, so I checked Walmart, Amazon, and Costco to see what they carried. Walmart had Purell, Barbara’s preferred brand, at a good price, so I went ahead and ordered a case of twelve 12-ounce dispenser bottles and a 2-liter dispenser bottle, which I’ll actually use to refill the smaller bottles.

We keep bottles of hand sanitizer in each bathroom and the kitchen, as well as the small dispensers Barbara keeps in her purse and her car, so we go through a good bit of it. It’s effective against most pathogenic bacteria and some but not all pathogenic viruses. It kills enveloped viruses (those with a lipid envelope surrounding the virus) but isn’t nearly as effective against non-enveloped viruses.

The key determinant of effectiveness is the percentage of alcohol, either ethanol or isopropanol, that the sanitizer contains. The optimum is about 65% to 85% ABV. Any less than 65% and the sanitizer becomes much less effective, and more than 85% is actually counter-productive. Most of the name brands are 70% ABV, but the generics and house brands are often less. The CVS generic, for example, is IIRC 63%, and I’ve seen no-name stuff that contains 45% or less alcohol.

With this new order, we’re up to maybe 8 liters, give or take. One squirt is typically 2.5 mL, which is plenty. At that rate, we have enough on hand now for maybe 3,200 applications. That’s enough for the four of us for probably a year if I extend it with the 91% IPA that I keep a couple gallons of on hand.



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Friday, 28 April 2017

08:47 – It was 51.7F (11C) when I took Colin out at 0645 this morning, sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and no wind. Oddly, when I looked out the door 15 minutes later, the south tree line was almost invisible because of heavy, very brightly-lit fog. By the time Barbara came out to the den at 0730 the fog had pretty much dissipated.

Barbara came back with most of what I put on the Costco list. One exception was the vanilla extract. She said Costco was out-of-stock on it and had a sign posted that it might be quite a while before they were back in stock.

I’m tempted just to pick up a bottle of the artificial stuff. The real stuff at Costco costs $15 or $18 for a one pint (473 mL) bottle. The artificial stuff from McCormick costs more like $5 for a one quart (946 mL) bottle. I’ve taste-tested real versus artificial, and there isn’t much difference tasting them directly. Once they’re mixed in a cake or cookies or whatever, I defy anyone to reliably pick which one’s which.

I’m increasingly running across truly disgusting news articles. Here’s one from the morning paper. FTA:

A Winston-Salem woman was convicted Thursday of forcing a 12-year-old girl into prostitution, resulting in the girl being raped by adult men over two years, getting pregnant and contracting a sexually-transmitted disease.

Twelve Forsyth County jurors found Flora Riano Gonzalez, 39, of the 1800 block of East 25th Street, guilty of sexual servitude, felony child abuse involving prostitution and felony child abuse involving sexual acts. Judge Richard Gottlieb of Forsyth Superior Court has scheduled a sentencing hearing for 10 a.m. today.

In any rational society, this woman would be dangling on the end of a rope by now.

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Guest post, some thoughts on radios, and why it’s hard to get a straight answer from a ham…

In response to this question-


You seem well-informed on the subject, so what are YOUR recommendations for someone looking to just get a few radios?”

I’ve consolidated some of yesterday’s discussion in one place.



The important question to start with is ‘what do you want to do?’ With that info, you can narrow the list.


The first separation is listen vs talk. No license required to listen. To listen, get a scanner. Most transceivers will scan, but they are much slower. To talk, see below.

If you want to monitor your local area, (and it’s fun but you aren’t necessarily gonna get the inside scoop), you need a couple of scanners. I like analog because they’re cheap. They work well for scanning ham bands, or the analog FEMA interop freqs.  Analog scanners will also cover the GMRS and FRS bands, weather bands, marine (almost everyone in the US is near a coast or navigable waterway), air, etc.  If you are rural, you may have more traffic on analog than other areas. If your area has gone digital, you need a digital capable trunk tracker scanner. The Uniden Home Patrol II is a bit long in the tooth, but is widely recommended. I like mine, but it needs a bunch of tweaking to the internal channel list. Setting up scanners takes a bit of thinking about what you want to monitor too. I shut off all the dispatch channels because they run constantly here.  You may be in a slower area, and want to hear the dispatches, but even in a rural area, I think you’ll be surprised how much work your cops and EMS people do.  For other sources of good intel, your highway motorist aid guys probably still use analog and they’re a good source for high water and road debris info. Same for the ‘talkback’ channel for your local news teams to talk to their ‘in the field’ guys. There is a lot of interesting stuff even during normal times.  Radio Reference is the definitive web site for frequency info.

The other type pure listening radio for preppers is Shortwave. After trying dozens of radios and listening at least a couple of nights a week for the last year, I’ve concluded that there’s not a lot of info actually on SW. By definition, the state broadcasters are running propaganda stations. Most of the other stations are religious.  The airwaves are NOT awash in alternative news stations.  But even so there are things to listen to, and post SHTF, there might be other broadcasters or other content. It’s definitely overblown in the prepping world though.  Other than music, I listen to a ham focused show out of Havana, a ham focused show on one of the religious broadcasters in Tennessee, and everyone’s favorite conspiracy guy broadcast by a station in Florida.  Shortwave is also a fun, quick way to check band conditions without firing up your HF ham rig.

For SW, I like older “communications receivers” like the Kenwood R-1000 or the Yaesu FRG-7700. They have continuous coverage from the low lows to their highs at 50mhz. They are usually used on AC power but also may have battery inputs. For off grid, I love my Panasonic RF-2200. Over a year of checking thru the dial a couple of times a week, on one set of D batteries.  Like the AC models, it is a larger model.  Larger models will generally give you much more sensitive tuning and bigger dials, which is GOOD.  For pocket or on the go, I’m really liking the little Sony ICF 7600 I took to the Virgin Islands. It’s got digital tuning but you can comfortably just tune thru the bands. LOTS of other radios with digital tuning will “chuff” or take a second to tune every single time you push the UP or Down button. For scanning around that is REALLY tedious. The Sony is very smooth tuning up and down.

You’ll notice that this stuff is all older. Yup, it is, but the designs stood the test of time.  And it’s non-critical or covered by spares, and is cheap compared to current gear with the same capability.

I’ve decided the little pocket analogs are almost completely useless and the pocket digitals are pretty useless for just tuning around.  Also, don’t worry about single side band or having a Beat Frequency Oscillator on your SW radio so you can listen to hams. They are almost impossible to tune in given the smaller dials, and across a dozen portable radios, I couldn’t consistently hear SSB conversations. If you want to listen to hams, get a ham radio.  [there are other factors too, like where the band pass filters start and stop that can make SW listening on a ham radio, or ham listening on a SW radio problematic.]


When it comes to talking on the radio:

If you are thinking about getting a ham license, and want to get started cheaply, the baofengs are a great entry point for a tech or general license. DON’T buy a used radio unless you can get some guarantee that it works. You want to get on the air, not work on radios. If you want something better than the chinese radios, any of the big three, Icom, Kenwood, or Yaesu, that have the features you want, will be great. ALWAYS check the reviews at before buying. They will address any reliability or useability issues, esp for something that’s been out for a while. I’d buy cheaper, and fewer features unless you’ve decided you like ham radio as a hobby or decided that you need a digital mode. Buy a dual band radio that has 2 meter (144mhz or VHF) and 70cm (440mhz or UHF). Don’t buy a single band radio unless it’s very cheap or you are planning for a dedicated use like data or APRS.

For HF (getting more than a mile or two away, or for HF data modes) I’m gonna say, there are great values in 20-25 year old gear. My Yaesu FT 847 works great.  There are many classic models from the time period that are well regarded, still run well, and are cheaper than comparable new models.  Any voice work on HF requires a General or Amateur Extra License.

There are multiband mobile radios that include HF but due to power and antenna limitations, they aren’t the best choice if you are gonna do a lot of HF.

Mobile radios make decent home stations too, if the power limits are ok for you.

Antennas are critical to your success talking on the air.  Some of the radios (like FRS) are intentionally crippled by requiring attached (and crappy) antennas.  There are lots of books about antennas, making your own, or buying, and the classics are available used for very low prices.  The web is full of antenna projects too.

Some people recommend tube radios for EMP survivability but they are harder to use, need more power, and are physically bigger. Probably better to get another modern radio and put it in a metal box if that worries you.

Moving to radios that don’t require a license, the most common are the ‘blister pack’ small form factor walkie talkies.

I have buckets full of FRS/GMRS radios (blister pack) that I buy when I see them cheap ($1-3). I don’t trust them for anything critical though. I use them when I’d rather not yell but don’t trust them for anything farther than that.

I’ve also bought motorola business radios when I see them cheap. They are bulletproof unless the batteries leaked, but anything will be destroyed by leaking batteries. After years of using moto radios in the field, I may be biased, but they just keep working.  A blister pack Motorola business radio is a good compromise between a $10 FRS and a $1000 ham or commercial high end walkie.

There are real differences between a $1200 moto walkie and a $30 one. Those differences might not be important to you, but don’t discount them. Sure, you can easily replace your $30 radio with a spare if you are where the spare is. It’s NOT so easy to replace if you are out USING it and the spares are at home. If it’s critical gear, buy quality.

I’ve mentioned before that I think CBs are worth having. There is still a lot of CB use in more rural areas, and among the Off Road crowd. There are also some people in the prep/liberty/militia/patriot movements that advocate a super set of CB known as “freebanding.” They use modified radios or ‘export only’ models that include access to freqs outside the Citizen’s Bands. They are illegal for most people, are NOT obscure, ARE easily monitored, and get you very little for the additional cost/risk/complication and learning curve.

A side note on licensing. Many of the freqs and radios are restricted to various licensed individuals/businesses/or classes of people. Some are enforced, some are not. FRS doesn’t need a license, but is supposed to be restricted to non-business use. GMRS requires a license, which covers your whole family for a number of years, and is a ‘fee only’ license. CB dropped the individual license requirement, but there are still restrictions on power output, antenna heights, and even attempting to reach beyond certain distances. Ham frequencies and modes and power output are all subject to different license requirements. Technician and General ham licenses are not difficult to get with study, and will give you almost all the privileges that the very hard Amateur Extra license does. MURS describes frequencies for business use and does not require individual licenses. Most of the blister pack ‘business’ radios use MURS freqs. There are some other freqs and modes available (baby monitors, dakota alert, Moto 900mhz walkies, that don’t require individual licensing).  Some preppers advocate one of the more obscure frequencies and modes but you won’t be hiding when you press the transmit button, and there are ways for anyone motivated to eavesdrop.  BTW, it’s illegal to encrypt or otherwise attempt to hide the content of your communication on the ham bands, and also illegal to use them for business (with one specific exception for used ham gear) or to be compensated for your use of the bands.

Some online preppers have recommended getting marine radios and using them on land. This is a really bad idea, with very little upside.  It’s specifically prohibited by law. The Coast Guard takes a very dim view of this abuse, and they are set up to direction find transmissions. Just don’t do it.

Every month, the magazine of the ARRL (QST) lists enforcement actions the FCC has taken. The vast majority are for CB violations, followed by willful interference violations on ham bands. Hams will report you if you are on their bands without a license. Just don’t do it. There are guys that LIVE to direction find you, record you, challenge you, and they will remember you if you later get a license. Given that, there are WAY more violators than there are people prosecuted. But if you do get prosecuted the fines are not small, and the FCC tacks on “respect my authority!” fees too.  Get properly licensed and get on the air to practice.  It’s no different than the recommendation to gun owners to get training and practice.  You’ll learn to use the gear you have, be able to judge its usefulness and appropriateness for YOU, and to make changes if needed.

One of the biggest frustrations for new hams is getting a definitive gear recommendation. Experienced hams will almost always say “it depends” and “what do you want to do?” For preppers, it’s a lot easier. Start with the baofengs. Add a dual band mobile (in the car or on your desk) from the big 3. A good basic walkie or HT as hams say, is the Yaesu FT-60r.  Most will consider that an upgrade from the baofeng HTs.  Stay away from re-purposed public safety commercial radios until you’ve gotten farther along in the hobby, or unless someone local can set it up for you (and keep it up.)

In general, look for radios that can be programmed by pc with a cable. That will be WAY easier than doing it by hand. That said, I’ve got about 4 freqs programmed in my HT. How many more can you keep track of?

I hope that helped some, I’ve written 10’s of thousands of words on the subject here and in other blog comments.



(opinions are my own, correct me if I’m wrong, ask any questions you might have.)

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

08:37 – It was 57.1F (14C) when I took Colin out at 0645 this morning, gray and breezy. Barbara left at 0745 to run errands down in Winston. She’ll make a Costco run on her way back.

I gave her a small shopping list for Costco. In addition to the fresh stuff that she’d mentioned–ground beef, rolls, bread, butter, etc.–I’d added my stuff:

♦ one 50-pound (23-kilo) bag of bread flour
♦ one 50-pound bag of white rice
♦ one 50-pound bag of white sugar
♦ three #10 cans (3 lbs. each) Costco regular coffee
♦ one box of 312 tea bags
♦ one or two cases of evaporated milk
♦ large bag of chocolate chips
♦ one or two two-packs of peanut butter
♦ one bottle Costco vanilla extract
♦ one case of green beans
♦ case of tomato paste
♦ canned cream soups

Nutritionally, that’s roughly 300,000 calories. Call it four person-months. Barbara commented that she’d read on my page that we were taking a break from adding food. I said that we were, except that I planned to continue adding bulk staples incrementally.

Barbara feeds Science Diet dry dog food to Colin. He gets one cup (106 grams) twice a day. It’s 19.6% protein, 14.9% fat, 2.4% crude fiber, and 58.0% carbohydrates. Colin also gets lots of treats and human food throughout the day. I made a rough estimate of his total food intake to use in planning how much LTS food we need for Colin. In a long-term emergency he’ll be eating what we eat. (Unlike cats, which are obligate carnivores, dogs are, like humans, omnivores.) Long story short, it turns out that Colin, at 65 pounds, needs about 0.5 person worth of nutrition.

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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

10:23 – It was 51.7F (11C) when I took Colin out at 0645 this morning, sunny and breezy. The rain is finally over. We have almost 8 inches (20 cm) over the three day period starting Saturday. Barbara is off to the gym this morning. We’re working on kit stuff this afternoon. She’s making a flying visit to Winston tomorrow, leaving around 0800 and returning home in the afternoon.

Science kit sales are holding up better than I expected. We’re in our slowest period of the year–February through June–but units and revenues for each month of 2017, including April, are noticeably higher than same-month 2016 numbers. As we do every year, we’re using this slow time to build inventory of non-perishable kit components in anticipation of the rush that starts in July. By August, we’ll be shipping kits faster than we can build them, so we want to have enough subassemblies already built to let us just assemble kits on the fly.

When Barbara read my page the other day about Sam’s/Walmart versus Costco/Amazon, she said she really, really didn’t want to start going to Sam’s. She just doesn’t like it, and she doesn’t care about the politics. She says Costco stuff is better quality other than name-brand canned goods and so on, and the staff is much friendlier. I understand her position. I even agree with it. It just annoys me to support businesses that take political positions that oppose everything I stand for. Barbara is going to make a Costco run when she’s down in Winston, so I’m doing a shopping list for her that includes more dry and canned foods.

Pat McLene has an interesting article up, What do you have in your prepper radio shack?

I agree with most of what he says, with a couple of exceptions. He recommends the BaoFeng UV-5 VHF/UHF handi-talkies, which I don’t think are the optimum choice. Pat has bought a 20 pack of them, and I wish him the best. But I think he’d have been far better off standardizing on the BaoFeng/Pofung UV-82. The UV-82 is very similar to the UV-5, but it’s more robustly built. Even more important, its receiver’s sensitivity and particularly selectivity is noticeably better. The price is about the same, $30 give or take. I standardized on the UV-82 in part because I can buy five or six of them for the price of one comparable Yaesu unit. And the Yaesu is hard-wired to transmit only on the amateur bands, while the UV-82 can be programmed to transmit on any frequency within its range (136 to 174 MHz VHF and 400 to 520 MHz UHF). I have similar issues with his choice of Yaesu mobile units, which are also limited to transmitting in the amateur bands. BaoFeng/Pofung/BTech make similar mobile units with no such restrictions, and again they sell for a small fraction of the price of comparable Yaesu/Icom units.

If you do buy any of the BaoFeng HT’s, do yourself a favor and order real name-brand Nagoya 771 whip antennas for them. The supplied rubber duckie antennas are what we used to call radial dummy loads. Their performance is pathetic.

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

09:59 – It was 45F (7C) when I took Colin out at 0740 this morning, gray and blowing drizzle. We’ve had about 7.3 inches (18.5 cm) of rain since Saturday morning. Things are a bit soggy at our place, although there are no standing pools of water in the yard. Elsewhere around here there have been roads closed due to flooding and some bridges under water. Rifle Range Road, where the Alleghany Rifle Association shooting range is located, is under water, as is the bridge adjacent to the range.

While we were watching TV Saturday evening we heard a loud crash that seemed to come from the garage. I ran out there to check, assuming one of our shelving units had collapsed. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. Barbara checked the front porch and back deck. Nothing. I went downstairs and checked every room and closet. Nothing. So we decided there must have been a car accident out on US21 or something and thought no more about it.

Sunday, Barbara pushed the button to open her garage door. The garage door jammed after rising about an inch. First thing yesterday morning, I called Shaw Brothers, which has become our go-to place for any kind of repairs we need. If they don’t do it, they have someone to call who does do it. They called their garage door guy down in Elkin and he showed up about 1330. It turns out the big door spring had broken, jamming the door in position. He did a temporary fix to the spring, but said it wouldn’t last long. He’s going to pick up a replacement spring and come back in the next couple days to install it.

We commented to him that the house was only about 10 years old and that the original owners/builders had generally done a top-notch job. They didn’t chince out on materials or finish until they ran out of money towards the end of the project. They ended up installing low-end Frigidaire appliances (hawk, spit) and we wondered if they’d also cheaped out on the garage doors and openers. He said no, that they’d installed top quality stuff, but that garage door mechanisms and openers were rated for X number of cycles and that under moderate to heavy use ten years was about average for them before they needed major maintenance. My garage door is the one further from the entrance to the house, so it’s probably gotten much less use than the one where Barbara parks. He checked it over as well, WD-40’d all the springs, cables, and rollers, and said we should be good to go as soon as he replaces the spring on Barbara’s door.

After dinner yesterday, Barbara and I went to the first class for the General Class ham radio license. Besides us, there were three people at the class. Sam, who’s the instructor, is an Amateur Extra licensee who’s been active since 1978. He mentioned he’d been born during WWII, so he’s probably in his early 70’s. The two other guys, Todd and Charles, are in their 40’s or 50’s. Both of them hold Technician Class licenses, which they’re looking to upgrade to general.

We’ll meet three more times over the next two or three months to cover the rest of the material for the General exam. The test is administered by Volunteer Examiners. For a General Class test, there have to be three examiners who hold Amateur Extra licenses. Sam is a VE and there’s one other Amateur Extra guy locally who’s also a VE, so they’ll have to bring in a third Amateur Extra VE to have enough VE’s to administer the exam.

I told Sam that I’d have to take the Technician Class exam before I could take the General Class exam because the FCC has no record of my original license back in the 60’s. That’s no problem. A candidate can take one, two, or all three exams at one session, so I’ll do both at one time. In fact, I may just go ahead and take all three. If I pass the Amateur Extra exam in addition to the first two, that’d give us three Amateur Extra licensees locally. I could easily then qualify as a VE, so we’d have enough locals to administer exams without bringing in someone from outside.

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Monday, 24 April 2017

09:18 – It was 45F (7C) when I took Colin out at 0715 this morning, gray and drizzling. We’ve had 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) of rain in the last 24 hours, and more than 6 inches (15+ cm) over the last three days. That’s basically a month’s worth of rain in three days. And it’s still drizzling.

The more I read about Costco’s and Amazon’s politics, the more I think we should be patronizing Walmart and Sam’s Club instead. The former two are just what one would expect from companies headquartered in coastal Washington state, while the latter two are what one would expect from companies headquartered in fly-over states. The former are major supporters of the Democrats, Obama, and Clinton, while the latter are major supporters of the Republicans and Trump.

There’s no real difference to us in terms of convenience to patronize Costco versus Sam’s Club. The nearest outlets of both sit a block apart in Winston-Salem. Sam’s Club actually carries a wider range of items, although both carry items that the other doesn’t. Neither has free shipping on many items, although Costco has more items available that way than does Sam’s. Sam’s free shipping is limited to a few classes of home electronics and (bizarrely) motor oil. But Sam’s also has free shipping on most Augason Farms products, which is a point in its favor.

I think I’ll talk to Barbara about re-joining Sam’s Club and making most of our warehouse store purchases there. I’ll find out what she gets at Costco that Sam’s doesn’t carry, although I think that’s pretty much limited to fresh meats. Sam’s carries meats, of course, but I’m not sure about their quality versus Costco.

Another email overnight from Sarah. They close on their new house in Deplorable-land a week from today, and have been packing like mad. She says it’s amazing how much stuff there is in their apartment. They’d initially intended to hire a moving company to transport their stuff, but when they got quotes they decided just to rent a truck and move it themselves. Better them than me, but at least they’re young and fit. They’ve arranged with friends to have a moving party and help them get the truck loaded up once they’ve officially closed. I’d offer to go over to their new place and help them unload, but it looks like it’d be a five or six hour round trip on back roads.

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

08:54 – It was 45F (7C) when I took Colin out at 0715 this morning, gray and drizzling. We’re to have heavy rains today and tomorrow, with a flood watch in effect through tomorrow evening. Our property is high enough that we don’t have to worry about floods. It’d have to rain for forty days and forty nights for us to be under any real threat.

We had fudge as an evening snack yesterday. I’ll give this effort a C. It tasted fine, but it didn’t actually set up into a dry fudge. Instead, it was goopy. The next time I make it, I’ll cut down on the liquid significantly.

I was just reading an article about ISIS slavers. If this article can be believed, and I see no obvious reason why it shouldn’t be, ISIS actually publishes a printed price list for Christian and Yazidi girls and women. Prices range from $43 for a woman aged 40 to 50 up to $172 for a girl aged 1 to 9. If you’re a resident of Turkey, Syria, or the Gulf States, you can buy as many as you like. Residents of other countries are limited to a maximum of three slaves per order.

This obviously isn’t our problem, but it’s still more evidence (if any is needed) of why no sane citizen of Western countries should treat muslims as anything other than the scum that they are. Of course, what can we expect from any so-called “religion” and “culture” whose founder took a nine-year-old girl as a wife?

islam has been at war with Western civilization for a thousand years. It’s time we recognized that we’re at war with them. Not with “muslim terrorists” or “muslim radicals”. We’re at war with islam itself.


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Saturday, 22 April 2017

10:02 – It was 57F (14C) when I took Colin out at 0645 this morning, gray, damp, and foggy. We’re to have rain on and off over the next several days. Barbara is volunteering this afternoon at the historical society museum.

When Barbara was down in Elkin a couple weeks ago with Frances and Al, she bought some fudge at the general store. I’ve been wanting to try making fudge ourselves, but was put off by the memory of the last time I made it, probably 40 years ago. Back then, I used a double boiler (which we don’t have) and a candy thermometer. Temperature was critical, and the procedure was pretty involved.

But I came across various “easy fudge” recipes on the internet, and decided to give one a try this afternoon. It’s indeed pretty easy, calling only for semi-sweet chocolate chips, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and part of a stick of butter. The procedure consists of putting everything in a microwave-safe bowl and zapping it several times on medium until the chocolate is just melted.

I’m making one change. Instead of sweetened condensed milk, I’ll use evaporated milk with sugar added. The materials are pretty straightforward:

4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk
1/3 cup of butter

And the directions are equally straightforward:

  1. Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium until chocolate is just melted (5 – 7 minutes), stirring occasionally to mix.
  2. Pour mixture into a greased 9×9-inch glass baking dish and refrigerate until set.

All of the ingredients except butter are suitable for long-term storage, and that can be substituted for with a third of a cup of oil (or even water) and four tablespoons of butter powder. We’ll cheat and use the microwave, but in an emergency we could easily use a pan on the cooktop instead. I’ll post tomorrow about how our fudge turned out.

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