Friday, November 30, 2012

The good enough idea
       The intent of this post is to focus on the military in the new world USA.
            The idea could apply to many other things, too. Use your imagination, if you will. The subject is as big as the new world USA.
            The subject  of this post is the a good way way to downsize the American military. The mission remains the same...defend our Country and our way of life.
            Now my perspective is that when we went all volunteer a few decades ago, many thought the idea of the Reserves and the National Guard would continue as in the Vietnam timeframe. In others words, they would probably never be activated and deployed in harm's way. Said another way, this was a political decision (to activate and spin up) that most politicians would pass on. Even I thought, so, too, and at the time.
            Now look at what has happened. Surprise, surprise. Many Americans in the Reserve and National Guard have been spun up and deployed into combat. Good on them, and their Families, Americans all. And today's population and politicians supported all this.  And some people did die in combat. And the Families at home did have crummy health care while their spouses were away. And it all sorted out, including welcome home parades for these fine people who did return home.
            It just sort of didn't sort like I even predicted decades ago.
            Good on we Americans who help defend our Country these days.
            So how are we going to downsize in the next decade?
            Now to me it is about defense of our Country, not protecting jobs.
            One can expect much friction in this regards, too.
It’s a bit long, but I choose to share this article with you just to give you ideas. Sourdough pancakes appealed to me.
You may have a years worth of wheat (or more) stored, but will you be able to make it into bread and other baked goods after TEOTWAWKI? Sourdough is the solution for preppers. No need to worry about expiration dates on your commercial yeast packets, a properly cared for sourdough starter can last indefinitely, providing an unlimited source of yeast. There are several known sourdough starters in the United States that are over 100 years old.
Sourdough is a method of bread preparation that has been used for thousands of years. It probably originated in Egypt around 1500 BC and was widely used until the Middle Ages. Today, true sourdough is rare (store-bought “sourdough” bread is usually artificially flavored [with vinegar to make faux sourdough]) but making a comeback among artisan bread bakers. With modern conveniences of dry yeast and cheap store-bought bread, homemade sourdough bread has fallen out of favor with the general public, but mastering the sourdough technique is helpful for anyone choosing to decrease their dependence on commercial goods.
What is sourdough?
Sourdough bread products utilize wild yeasts and friendly bacteria to leaven the bread (i.e. cause it to rise). A small amount of sourdough starter is added to a larger amount of flour and the dough is allowed to ferment for a time. During the fermentation the dough is pre-digested, making it more palatable and nutritious, and the chemical process releases gases, causing the dough to rise.
Sourdough gets its name from its slightly tangy flavor caused by the production of lactic acid by the lactobacilli during fermentation. Though it is usually associated with bread, it can be used to make many different kinds of yeasted (for example, pizza dough) and unyeasted (for example, muffins) flour-based baked goods.
Why sourdough?
Modern bread recipes require a continual dependence on dry yeast manufacturers. On the other hand, sourdough is a self-generating, never ending supply of yeast. Sourdough has many further benefits and advantages for the prepper as it is simple, versatile, and nutritious.
Sourdough may seem intimidating for a beginner, but the technique can be quickly mastered. Cultured yeast requires a specific temperature in order to activate and rise. Sourdough is more forgiving, especially for flat breads. Many recipes call for just four ingredients (flour, water, salt and oil) in varying proportions. For example pizza dough, crackers, bread, biscuits, tortillas, pita and rolls can all be made with just these four ingredients.
Sourdough is also versatile. With just a few more ingredients on hand, a myriad of other baked goods can be made including muffins, cinnamon rolls, noodles, cookies, english muffins, crepes, cake, pot pies, pocket pizza, pancakes and waffles. An additional benefit of sourdough is that it pre-digests the flour in a way that gives the dough a lighter flavor and texture, making whole grain versions of baked goods like cinnamon rolls more appealing than their non-soured, whole grain counterparts.
Furthermore, utilizing the sourdough method increases the nutritional benefits of baked goods. As previously mentioned, the souring process gives baked goods a lighter flavor and texture, making whole grain goods more palatable to picky eaters. Whole grains are higher in B vitamins, fiber and minerals than refined grains. Furthermore, souring breaks down phytates which are present in whole-wheat flour, anti-nutrients which inhibit the body’s absorption of minerals. The souring process also makes whole grains easier to digest and breaks down some of the gluten. In recent years, many people have developed sensitivities to gluten (possibly because of our modern bread-baking techniques) but many of these people can tolerate baked goods that have a long souring time, because the gluten is pre-digested for them.
How to make and care for a sourdough starter.
As previously mentioned, sourdough involves using a little sourdough starter mixed into a larger amount of flour. Therefore, the first step to making sourdough baked goods is to make (or obtain) a sourdough starter. If you plan to make sourdough goods on a regular basis, you will want to have a sourdough starter on hand at all times. That means once you make or obtain a starter, you will want to continuously feed and maintain it, although you can take breaks by putting it in the refrigerator for up to a couple weeks.
Sourdough starters can be purchased from various internet sites. They come dehydrated, and you just add water to reactivate them. If you know someone who makes sourdough goods, you can get some of their starter (I have given starter to at least four of my friends since beginning my sourdough journey a year and a half ago.)
Another option (which is also a great skill to learn for future use) is to make a homemade starter. There are as many opinions on how to make a starter as their are recipes for using your starter. I will give you the method that I used, but feel free to research others. Most people say that it is easier to start a sourdough starter when it is warm outside, but I was able to begin my starter pretty easily on the first try in the middle of a December. (Granted, I do live in a coastal area where winters aren’t too cold.) Regardless, it is helpful to keep your starter in a warm area of the kitchen (such as next to the stove, crockpot or in the oven with the light on).
To make a starter from scratch, take a cup of water and a cup of flour, and mix together in a glass bowl, large mason jar or ceramic crock. It is important to use non-chlorinated water, as the chorine can inhibit the growth of the helpful lactobacilli in your starter. If you use unfiltered tap water, leave it on the counter for 24 hours before using it to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Make sure to only use wooden or glass utensils to stir, as metal can react with the starter. After stirring, scrape down the sides of the bowl or jar. Cover with a cloth to keep out dust.
Let this mixture sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 12 hours. Then remove half of your water/flour mixture, and add another half cup of flour and half cup of water. Continue removing half of the mixture and adding more flour and water every 12 hours. (I aim to do it while making breakfast and after making dinner, which is about 12 hours and coincides with my time in the kitchen.) After about 3-5 days you should start to see some bubbles forming around the side of the glass and/or on the surface of the starter. This shows that wild yeasts and bacteria are starting to colonize the culture. You will want to wait until your starter is very active before attempting to bake with it. Bread shouldn’t be attempted until the starter is well established, as it requires the most yeast activity to turn out well. Once your starter is established, you don’t need to throw out half of it every time you feed it, but plan to use it regularly so that your don’t have too much starter building up (you can use up extra starter by making pancakes, I share a recipe for that below).
Caring for your sourdough starter is simple, but it must be faithful. Keep in mind that your starter is full of living, active bacteria and yeasts. It must be tended to and fed like any member of your family. Keep your starter in the warmest part of your kitchen except for in the hottest parts of the summer, when you may want to keep it in a cool part of the kitchen (such as on a low shelf of a cabinet... but don’t forget about it!). Your starter needs to be fed at least twice a day. (I shoot for first thing in the morning and then after dinner at night) with equal parts of water and flour. You can rest your starter in the refrigerator, during which time it only needs to be fed once a week, but don’t let it go for more than a few weeks in the fridge without pulling it out and using it. Store your starter in a glass bowl or mason jar, and stir it with a wooden spoon or other non-reactive utensil. Your sourdough starter should never come in contact with metal (though I sometimes use a stainless steel spoon for a quick stir after feeding it, as stainless steel has low reactivity,) After feeding your starter and stirring, make sure to scrape down the sides to discourage the growth of mold. Always cover your starter when not in use to keep out bugs and dust. Fruit flies are especially attracted to the scent of sourdough starter.
Depending on your rhythm of life and frequency of baking, you may choose to keep your sourdough starter on the counter continuously (during which times it needs to be fed at least twice per day), or you may choose to let it lay dormant in the refrigerator for periods of time (during which times you only need to feed it once a week.) I have used both methods in my year and a half of doing sourdough, because of varying life circumstances. To give you an idea, I will provide some examples from my experiences with sourdough.
For my first six months of doing sourdough, I was feeding seven people three meals per day (my husband and I had four foster children plus my mother living with us) and my starter rarely went in the fridge. I was making sourdough baked goods on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times per day. I was continually taking from my starter and continually feeding it. I rarely had too much starter and often faced the problem of not having enough due to poor planning or forgetfulness.
Then the four children went back to living with their birth mother, and my mother moved out, and I was down to cooking for two. I was pregnant and trying to up my protein intake, and I decreased the amount of grains that I was preparing. During this time, I kept the starter in the refrigerator and sometimes went for 2-3 weeks between uses (without feeding it for the whole time and it survived. Sourdough can be very forgiving!)
Currently, we have a college student living with us, two babies and frequent guests over for meals. I keep my starter out about half of the time, and in the refrigerator the other half of the time. I usually lay out a meal plan at the beginning of each week, which helps me to know when I need to keep it out and build up the starter, and when I can leave it to rest in the refrigerator for a few days. All this is to say that you can make sourdough fit with your lifestyle, and it will bring great benefit if you do.
Sourdough Recipe Tips
Few modern cookbooks include sourdough recipes, but there are an increasing number of recipes to be found on the internet. It can be intimidating to know where to start for someone new to sourdough. I have found the most reliable recipes come from sites that emphasize traditional foods and preparation methods. Here are some terms and other things to be aware of when choosing recipes to try.
Souring time. The longer the souring time (also called rising time), the more nutritious the end product will be. Look for recipes that call for 8-12 hours of fermentation, which is enough time to break down most of the phytic acid. If a recipe calls for a shorter time than this, it often requires supplemental commercial yeast.
Percentage of hydration. In some recipes you will see terminology about the percentage of hydration. This has to do with the flour/water ratio of your starter. For example, 100% hydration means that a starter is fed equal parts of water and flour. I find that a starter fed equal parts water and flour works for most recipes, but to be safe, you can stick with recipes that call for 100% hydration until you are more familiar with sourdough baking. If a recipe does not specify the percentage of hydration, it is usually safe to assume they are calling for a starter fed equal parts of flour and water.
Your flour. Store bought flour is more compacted than freshly ground flour. So, depending on the type of flour you use, you might need slightly more or slightly less than a recipe calls for. I have found that the more times that I make a recipe, the better the idea I get for how the dough should look and feel, and I can adjust accordingly. If possible, use freshly ground flour. Not only do whole wheat berries store longer than flour, but freshly ground is the most nutritious form of flour. By some estimates, flour loses 90% of its vitamins within three days of being ground. (Although refrigerating or freezing freshly ground flour will slow down this micronutrient loss.)
Sourdough bread requires more skill and patience than other sourdough products. Approach bread baking as a learning experience, and expect to make a brick from time to time, especially at the beginning. Instead of throwing out a dense loaf, grind it up into bread crumbs, store it in the freezer to use when you need bread crumbs for a recipe, or feed it to your chickens, ducks or pigs. To ensure success with bread baking, make sure your starter is very active and that you allow the bread to rise in a warm place (I like to put it in my oven with the oven light turned on.)
I will leave you with a recipe for sourdough pancakes, which is probably the sourdough recipe that I use the most. It is easy and forgiving, and a great recipe to start with as you learn sourdough. Even a weak starter that is just a few days old can be used for this recipe. When you have an excess of starter, this is a good way to use the extra up quickly. It is also a quick and easy breakfast for when I fail to plan ahead, as it only calls for starter and requires no souring time.
2 cups sourdough starter
2 tablespoons sweetener (honey, brown sugar, etc)
4 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda

Heat your seasoned griddle to a medium-high heat. Mix together all ingredients except the baking soda. Add the baking soda right before you are ready to pour the batter. Cook the pancakes on the griddle until they are golden brown on both sides. 1/3 cup of batter per pancake makes about nine medium sized pancakes. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I don't care anymore
       If the new world USA as we know it today goes down, so be it. I've made up my mind, and made my peace. So be it, one could say.
            Now after the intervening catharsis period (a Greek term), things will probably get better, with other resulting lower standards, probably.
            So I am planning for the worse, and actually have been for a while. Even yesterday I ordered another crossbow, which is meant for hunting, but people can be in that equation, too. I just love screwing with people's minds, and by the way, I have guns and ammo, too. Once a Marine, always a Marine, so to speak.
            And even today I ordered a second axe, just to make my point, and be ready, too. And for sure I have wood to split using these axes. And I have other axes and wood wedges, too.
            Now I will wait another hour or so for things to warm up enough for me to go out and cut and split some more wood for me to burn just to be warm and keep my pipes from bursting from freezing. In the meantime, the wood stove has enough hickory wood to keep warm coals in it, and also have enough to fire up any new cut and split wood I put in it.
            Welcome to my future. Maybe it is your future, too?
            Now I do care about some things.  Like what will the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference)  championship game (between Fl State and Ga Tech) score turn out to be, today? I expect Fl State will win, and will also think about this when I am cutting and splitting wood, today. Now I am a male, and all this thinking does make me happy. Plus the exercise does make me healthier, and probably stronger, too.

The hollowing out of America
       The present situation has been decades in the making. And, at least to me, the phrase hollowing out is always been associated with military. Now one can argue it applies to the whole Country.
            And an old expression comes to mind.  "There are no poor Marines, only poor leaders".  One can argue that this expression also applies to the whole Country. And leadership positions exist throughout society, be it in politics, business, education, public safety, Families, culture;  the list goes on and on.
            One can even argue that the large growth of single parent Family homes can be laid at the feet of leaders who promoted the policies that got the Country to this state.
            Now it will probably take a serious result to get the electorates attention. Such a result could be starvation, freezing, and even plagues that will kill a lot of people that didn't have to die, but now they may. After all, if times get hard, human ingenuity and willingness to suffer are human traits that will help those that do survive.
            Another old time expression comes to mind. One must replenish the well in order to keep it working.  A more modern expression might refer to car batteries. One must recharge it to keep it ready to start the car every so often. Without a recharge, there is no expectation the car will start when we need it to.
            Now I've heard the relatively recent expression "the perfect storm" applied to the present situation. In my opinion that is just too short thinking. My opinion is that poor leaders over a long period of time have led us down the primrose path, another old time phrase, now going on for decades; and the well is almost obviously dry, and all will go thirsty when it does. Figure out that allegory as it applies to you where you live.
            And unfortunately, it may take a calamity for the well to begin filling up naturally.  And hopefully some good future leaders will help this process along, which will probably take decades. Now in this case, the voters, and human nature,  have a lot to do with this solution, too. They, the voters and human nature, alone can stop this hollowing out of the new world USA, and start making sure effective leaders are in place to lead us to a better future.
            It sure looks like we can kill the goose that lays the golden egg, another old time expression.  But we can also stop killing the goose, and letting human nature be exploited by savvy new leaders, if we choose.

The Governing Class and the Decline of America

By Steve McCann
The United States will not reverse its descent into the abyss of financial and societal bankruptcy until the current political and governing establishment is replaced. That will not happen until the American people, who have been deliberately ill-educated and deceived, experience first-hand the early stages of the turmoil and suffering extant in Europe and elsewhere.
While professing to care for the interests of the average person, the underlying motivation for the vast majority of the governing class or Establishment is first and foremost self-aggrandizement and the acquisition of wealth. While a few may be motivated by ideology, the preponderance are not.
There are no offices on Connecticut Avenue in Washington D.C. with signs reading "The Republican Establishment" or the "The Democratic Establishment"; rather it is an amalgam of like-minded groups with one common interest: the control of the government purse-strings and the attendant power contained within.
The Republican and Democratic political establishments are made up of the following:
1) many current and nearly all retired national office holders whose livelihood and narcissistic demands depends upon fealty to Party and access to government largesse;
2) the majority of the media elite, including pundits, editors, writers and television news personalities based in Washington and New York whose proximity to power and access is vital to their continued standard of living;
3) academia, numerous think-tanks, so-called non-government organizations, and lobbyists who fasten onto those in the administration and Congress for employment, grants, favorable legislation and ego-gratification;
4) the reliable deep pocket political contributors and political consultants whose future is irrevocably tied to the political machinery of the Party; and
5) the crony capitalists, i.e. leaders of the corporate and financial community as well as unions whose entities are dependent on or subject to government oversight and/or benevolence .
The current iteration of the Democratic establishment was begun during Franklin Roosevelt's 12 years in office as the Party chose to follow the lead of those such as Benito Mussolini in Italy, who promoted government as the source of all salvation and survival. This philosophy fit in nicely with those whose egos and drive was directed toward the aggregation of power and wealth.
The Republican members of the governing class, with the exception of the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the Republican controlled House of Representatives from 1995 to 1998, have been content since 1946 to merely slow down the big-government policies of the Democrats, while publically decrying their tax and spend policies. However, in truth, many have been comfortable with reaping the financial and ego-gratifying rewards of such indifference.
Since the1950's this overall scenario has been tolerated and generally ignored as the nation was experiencing overwhelming and seemingly endless prosperity. The Democrats, with the tacit consent of the Republican establishment, promoted an ever-increasing litany of government programs to ostensibly help the people, under the rubric that the nation could not only afford it but was, in fact, obligated to guarantee a "decent" standard of living for everyone. Further, in the 1960's the American left, as the Republican establishment turned a blind eye, began to dominate the education agenda. The public's children were no longer taught American history and the importance of individual liberty; instead, the basics of capitalism and wealth creation were demonized. Additionally, the essential characteristic of a flourishing republic -- a society wedded to honor, decency and integrity -- was demeaned and ridiculed.
Thus the citizenry has become more willing to not only vote for whoever promises the most financial security, but they are now easily susceptible to unconscionable demagoguery and are increasingly tolerant of dishonesty as well as unethical behavior. Today, with the advent of welfare, food stamps, near endless unemployment benefits, free health care (Medicaid), and a myriad of other state and federal programs, the Democrats have succeeded in creating a virtually permanent voting bloc. One the Republican Establishment now claims, if they wish to win future elections, they must pander to as part of a new strategy of inclusion. Yet, by their acquiescence and indifference over the years, they helped create their electoral dilemma.
How have all these promises and deceptions perpetrated on the American people placed the nation's financial future in jeopardy? Since 1956 the United States has seen a phenomenal growth in its Gross Domestic Product from $3,700 Billion (inflation adjusted) to $16,100 Billion (+335%). However, government spending at all levels has grown from $978 Billion (inflation adjusted) to $6,400 Billion (+554%) and the nation's debt, $2,250 Billion in 1956 (inflation adjusted) is now $16,300 Billion (+625%). (source:
As of today, the nation's true indebtedness (promises that have been made for spending obligations, less all the taxes the Treasury expects to collect) exceeds $222,000 Billion. The indebtedness to Gross Domestic Product ($16,100 Billion) is a staggering 13.8 to 1. The United States is not facing bankruptcy, it is bankrupt.
Yet there is no sense of urgency or desire on the part of the governing class to level with the American people. This nation is living on the residue of the economic growth begun in the 1950's and accelerated in the 1980's. That tidal wave of prosperity has ebbed. The United States has entered into a death spiral of unrestrained spending, excessive taxation, printing near worthless money, and stagnant economic activity. Rather than be straightforward with the populace, the governing class is content to paper over the problem by the usual shell games of phony long-term spending cuts, more borrowing, and prevarications about the efficacy of raising taxes on "the rich."
The true nature of the GOP establishment's motivation has been exposed by their reaction to the Tea Party movement. This grassroots rebellion was the first manifestation of the awareness by a large portion of the American public of the nation's problems and ultimate consequences. Despite the overwhelming success of the Tea Party working within the Republican Party in the 2010 mid-term elections, nearly all of the Republican elites downplayed their success and fell-in with the mainstream media and the Democrats in their well-worn and gratuitous aspersions against these concerned and patriotic Americans. The Tea Party movement poses a threat to not only the accumulated power of the governing class but their livelihoods, thus the concerted effort to marginalize them by any vile or preposterous means possible.
The United States finds itself in a circumstance once thought unthinkable. An ill-educated and near morally bankrupt society increasingly made up of those dependent on government combined with a governing class whose primary interest is themselves. The nation cannot, therefore, make any meaningful course correction unless and until the people finally understand they have been lied to and conned by the current establishment. That will, in all likelihood, not occur until America faces imminent collapse and the citizenry turns on those who brought the nation to its knees.
Read more:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dropping out and worse casing things
       In the end, I've got to take care of myself. And my Family, too.
            I can't count on my various governments helping me. That's it.
            These governments have their own priorities, and also suffer from much the same problems as the rest of us.  So, again, I can't count on them. This idea applies elsewhere, too, like in tribally ruled areas.
            I imagine myself as having become jaded. Said another way, I used to talk and write until I was blue in the face. Now I am more preoccupied with practical things that benefit myself and my Family.
            Even now it is all over but the counting. Everything is on a roll, and it is too late to reverse it...maybe soften it...but it is going to happen. Yep the talking time is over. Bad times are probably coming, and a prudent person should anticipate  and plan for this.
            Even before WWII, the Naval Academy graduated a class early in 1941 just because most could see a war coming. I feel much the same today in 2012.
            Now many haven't done so, like planned ahead, or counted on the governments above them, and I guess that is usual. But to me, that also means I can be cruel, like they had their chance, and now they will die from cold and starvation and plagues; and maybe me too if I can't adequately protect what I have, or go down fighting for what I do have. Obviously I think I can protect my Family OK.  That's how jaded I have become. It's a crap shoot, and I am having to bet my life. What a sad state of affairs that I can even think this way.
            Now I am so jaded I don't even waste my time assigning blame. Whether it is the politicians we elected (and their appointed minions), lying as a way to rule, a century of liberalism, the culture we have developed, or even things like dumbing down our populace through poor education, poor morals, none of this really matters to me anymore. I've got bigger fish to fry, like staying alive and being warm and fed for an extended period.
            2013 is going to be a bad year, I suspect, and so do many others, I also suspect.
            Now there is good news, too. Mostly it applies to the survivors of whatever comes our way. We humans are ingenious, and that will help things along in the future, whatever that turns out to be.
            But it is the intervening time that will be terrible. So be it. That's why I can be jaded, even in spite of my Golden Rule instincts.  And it will affect us all, some more than others. So much for my religion.
            Last I do believe in the vote, and if the majority voted for their politicians, and their Family to die in misery, so be it. I just wish they knew what is probably coming.

Self Reliance and Morals
       Here's a clip from a blog that is almost timeless in its list...
            Fiction books are a great way to introduce morals and valuable skills without seeming to lecture. In books such as My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, Sam not only learns survival skills such as making fishing hooks, building a shelter in a hollow tree, and making clothing from deer hide, he also learns lessons about courage, independence, and making peace with solitude. Likewise, Brian in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series learns how to gather edible plants and build a raft from driftwood, but he also learns about self-discipline and perseverance. Other titles include the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare.

Downsizing ideas
       Been there, done that. Here we go, again.
            Forget the law, just cut the funding for the people who man the ships and ground gear, including the aviation gear. Even cut battalions and aircraft carriers and their air wings, too, and through the people funding side of things. 

            The Navy usually calls it moth balling. The USMC usually calls it things like preserving, including old time terms like “going into cadre”. I don’t know what the Army or Air Force call it.
            Basically we Americans are preserving the gear, putting it into mothballs as best we can, and anticipating if we to have bring it back and man it later. Usually ammo production is being reduced, too. 

            The politicians are just hedging their bets, and wishing for the best as they save money. 

            In this case, to get the gear out of mothballs, and spin it up, including manning the gear, does take time, like usually a year or more. After all, we Americans do have to get and train the people, plus restore this gear, build schools and other facilities, etc. I suspect most politicians think they can just borrow their way if need be. 

            In the meantime, we Americans just knee jerk, as best we can and with what we have left over.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I've got mine. Do you have yours?
       What a sad state of affairs if I am reduced to having to use the wood stove way of heating and cooking during the cold season. Up until recently, I have done it for my own idealistic reasons, mostly to prove and rehearse I can do it, and also to enjoy the benefit, too, which I do enjoy, even If I do also have to wear long johns, but what's new?  Now I can report that also there is plenty more of this split and seasoned hickory type wood like in this below picture, and really any type wood, on the land I live on.  Plus I can use it for cooking food, if I need to. And I can do it manually, again if I have to (mostly with German manufactured gear by the way). Right now I do enjoy all the benefits (like chain saws and wood splitters) that our ancestors passed us to pursue, enjoy, maintain, and protect.
            But I simply don't want to have to depend on this more primitive way like my ancestors did.  I still prefer going to the grocery store, and using my electric stove to cook and bake with. Am I spoiled? I don't think so.  And I can revert to older standards if I need to...yes I can.  Yep I can still be idealistic if I want to, and that's my point. I don't mind being idealistic, but having to be reduced to some kind of lower level of existence because of human causes simply offends me. Said another way, I still want to be in the driver's seat, and I don't want to be a serf. That's simple enough for me.
            Last I perceive, sense if you will, that other humans, mostly in leadership positions both elected and appointed may want to decree or whatever that I live this way, while they live another warmer and better fed way, and my taxes pay for their way. Now in the leadership by example idea, then I can live with it under certain circumstances.  But I suspect most leaders don't want to go this more primitive route for them and their Families, though. Well if my sense is correct, then it is time for change in the new world USA, like there are better alternatives than the picture suggests as my main option if times get hard.
            Yep, I've got mine. Do you have yours?  On this question and situation, are such the seeds of change, maybe even a revolution? And we don't have to lop off people's heads like the French did during an earlier time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Don't they know the tipping point has already been passed?
       All the discussion about the financial cliff misses the mark to me.
            Many decision makers had to make decisions about how to proceed over a year ago, at least to me. They had to use existing laws and regulations and taxes to help make their decisions.
            So why do so many seem to think they can go right up to the beginning of 2013 to get around to the forecasted fiscal cliff, and expect miraculous results immediately if they happen to change the laws and regulations and taxes just before then? Of course I point my thoughts towards our federal executive and legislature, but also many others, too.
            Now I read that any effort on the part of our federal executive and legislature, if successful in their mind, may ameliorate the worst of the negatives, and it may. When one adds in the "human factor", who really knows or can confidently say what will happen? Maybe the federal Senate will even pass a budget after three years?
            But for sure the "tipping point" has already been passed. The die has already been cast to say it another way.
            And to me that means 2013 is probably going to be a bad year, and I am planning ahead for such a situation, like so many who have to live in the real world. Mostly to me that means having food and warmth as 2013 begins during the cold season in the northern hemisphere.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wood stove basics
       First a quick background. I have three wood stoves over two cottages, two wood stoves which have bimetal spring thermostatic valves, and the other is more primitive, though it does have a primitive screw type thermostat, too. In the case of the primitive one, one must usually get up during the night to restock this stove with wood, which I do have plenty of thanks to where I live. The other two wood stoves will generally burn all night if stocked up before one goes to bed.
            Also most wood stoves are sold as "wood only". The alternative where I live is coal. Now generally to heat or cook with coal, one has to have oxygen coming up underneath it to make the coal burn. Now here locally, I have such a grate to put in a wood stove, and a nearby good quality anthracite coal seam to boot. Now right now this is theory only, but I think I am on to something which I plan on using, like burning coal in a wood stove for heat and cooking. In other words, I have not rehearsed it, yet.
            Now three more things one should know come to mind.
            First is that wood stoves work best when working on top of a bed of coals. Since most wood stoves come with ashes removal pans, one just has to figure it out best for your stove, kind of like getting married and figuring out your spouse. Now for me, I make sure I have a bed of coals which does fill up the underlying pan. And I do have to dump excess ashes, every so often. Now where to dump the ashes is a personal decision.
            Second is to expect burn off and even smoke on your first use of a new wood stove.  Mostly it is just the new metal coatings used to make the stove burning off. Generally, most humans don't like the smell, and even your smoke alarm may go off. So your choices are simple. Just do it all outside, or open your windows.  All should be OK after that first burning.
            Third, is that one can usually cook and bake on top the wood stove. For example heating broth for those out in the outside elements can be a big deal for these same people returning from their patrols that protect our food and our homes. And you can use the wood stove for that purpose.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander
       This expression applies to all, including the USA and Iran.
            The idea, said another way, is that we citizens can have our tax money spent in ways that bleed us dry in the long run. There are many books already written on this subject. Generally the theme is the decline of nations.
            Just look at WWII, for example.  Our ancestors in the USA got themselves into a war, lost hundreds of thousands of lives, incurred huge debts to fight the war, and endured many sacrifices. Even in the "Cold War", we built many air defense sites to protect many cities and locations from Soviet bomber attacks.  All this cost money, and we supported it by our taxes and representative's votes. Even Britain went through this process earlier, and at least are leaning forward during the times we live in today.
            Now even a relatively small regional power is doing much the same. I refer to Iran. I suggest they are bleeding themselves dry, that is their leaders are bleeding the citizens taxable income that they collect and can spend in order to include achieving their leaders goal of eradicating Israel, and the Jews in general. In the meantime the Iranian citizens also suffer a lot just from the various embargoes imposed on them. The obvious example is the missiles and rockets they build and export/smuggle to achieve their goals that do cost money. And they have so much, mostly due to energy income. It sure likes their leaders are bleeding themselves dry, like they can be exhausted of money and influence in the long run. In this case, if you even buy this argument, what are they going to do then? And don't forget they are mostly Shiite, and Persian to boot, so they have their own local problems with all their Arab neighbors and Sunnis, too. Add in things like they have divided command, the Army of God and the military, all competing with each other for financing. And competing oaths, I would add. Yep some of us still take our oaths honestly. And have you ever been rocketed? I have, and I did not like it.
            Others have tried this before, by the way. The Germans in WWII had the SS and the military competing for funding and control, too. The Japanese had the Army and the Navy each trying to win their own war their way. Both lost, I note.
            Is this a case of the tail wagging the dog?  It sure looks like it, that is is Iran exhibiting influence beyond its capacity to follow up, including taxable income that can be collected? Will they even use nuclear weapons, now that our present USA government as well as the local Arab governments have allowed this to apparently happen? Desperate people often do desperate things is often what happens, and why I worry. There is plenty of precedent for this, by the way. And depending on the season, even the monsoon winds and season would influence where all the contamination will go. For example, the recent tsunami in Japan had a lot of debris end up in Hawaii and north America. Then what are we humans going to do?
            Are we going to go the route of our ancestors, and all the suffering they endured? It sure looks it could happen to us, like in our lifetime.
            Now for me, I just want to make some local electricity from water power (with some solar, too), and grow some food in the warm season, and put some of it up for the cold season. After all we do have eat year round, and I have to worse case that my local grocery store will be down.  Even, while I don't hunt, I am even learning how to use snares to catch animals like rabbits, like before the coyotes eat them. After all, they have to eat, too.  Heck I will even start a fox hole today just to protect myself from fellow hungry human beings who have to eat, too. What a sad state of affairs if you should think like I do, and sense what is probably going on.
            I suspect many others are thinking this way, too, if you interpret all the buying frenzy going on during this holiday season in the USA.
            After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  Figure that out as it might apply to you where you live.

Another way to look at things
       Suppose the political world in the USA is changing. Some may say the status quo is changing. Others may even say things like the Republicans and the Democrats have had their chance over the last century or so, and see what that has gotten us. Academics may call it a paradigm shift. Even the old Bob Dylan song laments the times they are a changin'.
            Let me suggest another similar theme. Our past new world USA is mostly based on ideas, not people. That's what makes us special in this new World. In other words, our future is based on ideas, not status quo circumstances we were born into, some of which are now over a century old circumstances and ideas.
            How many today know about dialectical materialism, a construct of communism's ideas around 1850. What a waste of time this idea is today in 2012, for another example. Now even the idea of liberalism, sometimes called progressive ideas,  sure looks like another failed idea we humans have tried.
            Even old timers opposed to change probably still eat some of the new foods that past immigrants introduced.  For example many like Italian foods and cooking styles, but remember there was a time when this group of Italian immigrants were a sub-class in the USA. After all, most of us today like lasagna and spaghetti and other such tomato and pasta based meals, none of which came from England, in my opinion.
            So I suspect another third party will arise in the new World USA, and as always will be uniquely new world USA.  In 2012 who knows what it will look like in our future, or even be named in the interim. Who really cares right now?
            Now I do know the political opponents call it the Tea Party today.
            Last, in the change period, I suspect human living times will be hard, like really hard. I have even heard the term harsh. Maybe it will be like birth? Only so many survive, both on the baby side and the mother side or things.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The time perspective
       Age has provided me time to think about perspective on events.
            Many others, like geologists, also say this. Change in geologic events usually occurs over a long period of time, like much much longer than most people's lifetimes.  Often the times are in millions of years for gradual evolution, though they are sometimes shorter, like during catastrophic evolution, like a comet strike or a giant volcano or a long term nuclear contaminated area.
            Even human events are subject to such ways of thinking.
            For example, for my politics, the period of Obama in the USA is most likely going to be bad in the light of history. Of course, only time will tell.  But a bit of perspective, like a century, is probably best to review the impact on humans both in the new world USA and the rest of the old World.
            To continue this example, suppose human events like financial collapse and major wars erupt and governments changes occur, then probably the perspective of a century or more is better than the current event time frames. Think of it as long term thinking, vice short term thinking as a way to insert perspective into reviewing what is happening. Now of course we all live in the short term, but the perspective is still probably more long term. An example might be something like a dictatorship arises as a short term solution, but disappears in the long term solution. Well then perspective probably best puts things in place. Perhaps perspective even suggests the real problem is continuing over-population, or exponentially expanding energy demands to improve quality of human life.
            So much for examples. There are a zillion of them one can conjure up.
            So back to perspective. I think it is a difficult subject to teach, but I also believe it can be taught, or at least the idea planted in people's minds.
            In the meantime I, as an old man, have the advantage of having it brew in my mind over my time. That's something not taught in my schooling.  Perhaps the school of hard knocks has provided me experience with perspective, but more likely it just brewed over time. Who knows?  Even I am not sure.

Is dictatorship coming back in to fashion?
       Now the idea is as old as humanity, and has failed before, but it sure likes we present day humans want to try it again in so many places.
            Often it is an egomaniac, like Obama, that influences the action. Also often are ideas like the Muslim Brotherhood advancing their religious way done on the rest of us. Even Pol Pot in Cambodia had his ideas, too, and many millions died as a result. Starving to death is not a fun experience. And often it also a tribal leader just expanding his way to rule. How about a king or warlord in a serfdom just being himself. The ideas are more limited than many may think.
            What amazes me is that so many want this way in 2012 as a way to be ruled, the presupposition is that we want to be ruled.
            Also there are alternatives, like a new third party in the USA based on ideas.
            Now for me, I prefer the vote, and a public education for the population, but that is just me.
            And I've made my peace, like many will die in the cold and hungry ways along the way of evolving to whatever our future becomes.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Being warm in the cold season
       There's lots of ways to be warm during the cold season. Said another way, there is no right or wrong, good or bad way, just many ways that might appeal and work for you and your Family. Bottom line is being warm during the cold season.
            Of course the caveats first, so you don't have to try read between the lines in this post. My experience and this post is shaped by 10 years of living in the country, preceded by 20 years in the Marines, and a lifetime of doing sports. Plus I read a lot. Now presently I live at 36 degrees north latitude in east Tennessee at altitude 2,000 feet. Some may say that is warmer than where they live and they are probably right. Some may say that is colder than where they live, and that is probably right, too.
            Five quick stories first. I once lived in a tent with a dirt floor where it never got above freezing for over thirty days straight, and my main job was outside. Now that was cold to me, though the locals in that part of Korea thought it was normal.  And I once lived in Saudi Arabia in January and in the desert, and there was ice in my canteen in the morning in January. Shaving in the early morning dark with cold water was a bummer. So much for the idea of the desert always being hot year round. Third, where I live now there is such an idea as a freeze line, like the world can be an ice crystal palace above a certain elevation, and just cold below that line. Fourth, I once spoke with a lady from Nebraska, and they (she and her husband) had their daughter go out to the barn to chop up to 12" of ice out of the electrically heated water trough just to water their horse. Last, a lifetime of sports and camping has influenced me, too.  Most of my experience in this area is outside, and a good sleeping bag is really appreciated for sleep.
            Now I could go on, but for this post choose to limit my own stories.
            And some of being warm during the cold season is mental, attitude, whatever. Like 68 F in the warm season is a nice air conditioned temperature, but generally considered cool during the cold season. Of course, humidity has something to do with that, too. So one solution to being warm during the cold season is just to use the thermostat if you can. Now whether it is healthy, or affordable, is your decision. And our ancestors often built houses with up to 14' ceilings just to get through the warm season before we had electricity.
            Another solution is to just put on more clothes and even long johns, usually in layers. Now if you are a couch potato, maybe more clothes will help as you lay around, but if you exercise either through work or sports,  probably less layers will be better for you. Also a good zipper around the neck and chest area helps many in places where the temperature or your work varies during the day. I can remember knowing this, like really being chilled for 15 minutes until my body warmed me up during a run up the eastern seaboard of the USA during the winter. And some Vaseline on the skin, or something like it, sure helped the exposed skin.
            Last ideas that might help you. Being wet during any season, especially the cold season, makes things much more uncomfortable, often miserable if one outside stops moving.  Knowing that there is warm anything in the end, be it coffee, ramen soup, or just broth, is a big morale booster. That idea implies a team effort, like someone else under the roof will have warm anything ready when the other comes out of the cold, maybe wet, weather.
            So one can be warm during the cold season, and the possibilities and options about how to do so are many.  Now you do have to figure it out for your Family and where you live.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How to make cooking stock
Maybe these links will give you ideas about what to do at your home.
I thought of it on Thanksgiving, and what you do with the turkey carcass besides just throwing it away.
Anyway, here’s some links.
Now if you are worried about germs and getting people sick (most of us are), consider just pouring it over dry dog food. Now dogs have shorter gullets (than humans) and higher acid content to kill germs, so they will be OK. Plus you can do the look and smell test for it, too.

Carving a turkey

Now there's about  a zillion ways to carve a bird for you, your Family, and friends.

Here's a link to several ways to do the deed, just in case you get "volunteered" to do the deed.

One benefit is that you might avoid beginning a new tradition named something like the day of red gravy caused by cutting yourself.

Here's one link you might enjoy:

Thanksgiving, 1789

George Washington's proclamation was not without controversy.

It is hard to imagine America's favorite holiday as a source of political controversy. But that was the case in 1789, the year of our first Thanksgiving as a nation.

The controversy began on Sept. 25 in New York City, then the seat of government. The inaugural session of the first Congress was about to recess when Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey rose to introduce a resolution. He asked the House to create a joint committee with the Senate to "wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God."

The congressman made special reference to the Constitution, which had been ratified by the requisite two-thirds of the states in 1788. A day of public thanksgiving, he believed, would allow Americans to express gratitude to God for the "opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness."

Boudinot's resolution sparked a vigorous debate. Rep. Aedanus Burke of South Carolina objected on the grounds that a Thanksgiving was too European. He "did not like this mimicking of European customs, where they made a mere mockery of thanksgivings."

Rep. Thomas Tudor Tucker, also of South Carolina, raised two further objections. "Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do?" he asked. "If a day of thanksgiving must take place," he said, "let it be done by the authority of the several States."


Tucker's second reservation had to do with separation of church and state. Proclaiming a day of Thanksgiving "is a religious matter," he said, "and, as such, proscribed to us." The Bill of Rights would not be ratified until 1791—but Congress had just approved the wording of First Amendment, and that debate was fresh in everyone's mind.

It fell to a New Englander to stand up in support of Thanksgiving. Connecticut's Roger Sherman praised Boudinot's resolution as "a laudable one in itself." It also was "warranted by a number of precedents" in the Bible, he said, "for instance the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple."

In the end, the Thanksgiving resolution passed—the precise vote is not recorded—and the House appointed a committee. The resolution moved to the Senate, which passed it and added its own members to the committee.

The committee took the resolution to the president, and on Oct. 3 George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer." He asked Americans to render their "sincere and humble thanks" to God for "his kind care and protection of the People of this Country."

It was his first presidential proclamation, and it was well heeded. According to the "Papers of George Washington," compiled by the University of Virginia, Thanksgiving Day was "widely celebrated throughout the nation." Newspapers around the country published the proclamation and announced plans for public functions in honor of the day. Religious services were held, and churches solicited donations for the poor. Washington himself sent $25 to a pastor in New York City, requesting that the funds be "applied towards relieving the poor of the Presbyterian Churches," in the words of his secretary.

Thanksgiving feasts in New England at the time of the nation's founding were similar to those today, says Charles Lyle, director of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield, Conn. The museum recently hosted an 18th-century-style Thanksgiving dinner using recipes supplied by a local food historian, Paul Courchaine. Turkey and pumpkin pie were on the menu, along with venison pie, roast goose, roast pork, butternut squash, creamed onions, pottage of cabbage, onions and leeks, and Indian pudding, made from cornmeal and spices.

In a bow to contemporary tastes, several wines were served at the museum but not the one Americans were likely to have drunk in the 18th century—Madeira, a high-alcohol-content wine fortified with brandy. Before the Revolution, Madeira, which came from the Portuguese-owned Madeira Islands, was considered a patriotic beverage, since it was not subject to British taxation. It was Washington's favorite drink.

Washington was keenly aware of his role as a model for future presidents. He once remarked that "There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not be hereafter drawn into precedent." That included his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, which set the standard for Thanksgiving Proclamations by future presidents, a list that included James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and then every president up to the present day.

The tradition begun by George Washington has survived without further controversy. Since the original debate in the House in September 1789, no member of Congress has complained that Thanksgiving proclamations are too European, a violation of the separation of church and state or, most especially, not what the American people want.

Ms. Kirkpatrick, a former deputy editor of the Journal's editorial page, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. She is the author of "Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad" (Encounter Books, 2012).