Monday, July 7, 2014

Electromagnetic pulses

Here's an interesting graphic that shows the consequences of a massive solar EMP...

Starting in the center, you can see that power generation is hit the hardest.  The transformers that the grid relies on are big, expensive...and not protected from EMP.  It would take years, literally, to replace them.  Scientific American had an article detailing the consequences and I talked about them here, but Business Week just posted an article about what would happen (the graphic's from that article) and basically, we're screwed. 

If you rely on municipal water and waste treatment, you need to consider alternatives.  My septic system has a pump because it has to regulate flow; the ground percs too well and the system has to slow things down so as not to overwhelm the drainfield, so in this worst case scenario, eventually the system will fill, and fail.  Although this isn't something that will happen this week as far as anybody knows, preparedness involves thinking through the what-ifs like this.

Water's not so much a problem here in the PNW where I live, and I've got two large stainless pots and the makings of a Berkey knockoff from plans on the Web to filter rain water, and the parts to make a water collection system.  But waste treatment...that's another kettle of...well, it's a problem. 

Barter

What have you got to barter?  I looked online after finding out I missed  some ‘summer of survival’ event’s barter podcast, and went looking to see what folks recommend.

Here’s what I found:

Site one:  Food, batteries (but no charger), ammunition, candles propane, books.

Site two:  Alcohol, candy, salt, children’s toys, lighters, spices and garden hoses.

Site three:  Crystal light, coffee, candy and condoms (list was longer; these four stood out ‘cause of the alliteration)

Now, I have actually done a test with candy.  Six-month-old vac-packed candy has lost flavor.  All of the candies I tested, black licorice, chocolate, mints…all of it lost taste (and I was very thorough and tested everything several times).  As for children’s toys, well, if someone needs a way to entertain their kids and doesn’t already have crayons, they’re not getting my box of 64.  Spices?  Will only last so long before they start losing taste.  Salt?  Don’t use the stuff unless I’m cooking something that requires it or cleaning cast iron; I've been working on a container for literally years.  Garden hoses?  Seriously?  Batteries but no charger?  Um…no.

I happen to have extra sardines.  You offer me a Mercury dime.  Um…can’t eat a dime – sorry (I do have a few put by but more for professional services than goods).  Gemstones?  Can’t tell if they’re real; seriously, some rhinestones…  Gold?  Seriously, how am I supposed to know it’s real gold?

Be judicious in what you put aside for barter.

Some of what you’ve put by can be good for bartering, and things like toothbrushes (nobody mentions them, but it’s pointless to have toothpaste without an applicator), stain removing toothpaste (my personal favorite as it removes stains and seems to keep plaque down to a dull roar – get the Crest stuff), Listerine, and floss are in my opinion good to have enough on hand to barter with.  Other things like tampons in more than one size, bandaids (get cloth because some people are sensitive to the plastic ones and in my experience, cloth adheres better), hydrogen peroxide or that green disinfectant you can find at the grocery store (rotate regularly), Neosporin or similar (rotate regularly), toilet paper, and wet wipes (the ones for your counter as well as your parts, and in small packages) are all good.  Hand soap, and shampoo are good additions…and that’s just the bathroom stuff. 

You can get ibuprophen in smaller bottles for barter, along with other OTC pain meds; medications that deal with allergies like hay fever are also good.  Nasal decongestants…the list obviously goes on.  Better to have a little of everything than a lot of one thing, though, because rotating through a Costco-size bottle of this or that takes time and some medications lose their effectiveness or can even become toxic if too old.

What I find myself going to the store for most (other than food) is hardware.  Exacto knife blades and box cutter blades don’t hold an edge forever; screws and nails and the like get used and you run out.  I have extras, but I also have the means to sharpen what I have because eventually, there won’t be any more it TSHTF. 

Look around at the things you use every day.  What do you eat or use, what is so ubiquitous, that its loss would be difficult to work around?  That’s what you need to have on hand, and it just might make good barter material as well.   

Even if it’s sardines.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book worth looking at regarding household safety and avoiding accidents

Although it’s geared toward the older adult, there’s a lot of good information regarding basic home safety in Living Safely, Aging Well by Dorothy Drago.  Household sources of injury, as well as a discussion of intrinsic (internal) vs. extrinsic (external) sources of danger abound, and it covers health and wellness as well.  Things like extension cords, health issues that affect balance, and watching to avoid drug interactions (which pharmacies today do, but still…) are included.

One thing that everyone needs to do is watch their health – the old saw ‘when you have your health, you have everything’ might overstate it to a degree, but good health is well worth protecting especially in hard times or when you are in a survival situation.

Preventing accidents is part of being healthy; broken bones, burns and other ailments are, for the most part, preventable.

Taking the long view

The ex bought a house in a rural area, and it’s all electric.  His idea of preparing for emergencies consists of asking for one of the Mr. Heaters (lovely things; they run off of propane canisters, and he took the older one, hahaha, and I’ve got the brand new one in the box) and a single burner butane stove from among the supplies and tools I’ve put by to date. 

All electric.  And in the process, saddled himself with a 30 year mortgage that he won’t be able to afford when he retires…if he retires.

Preparedness involves more than having a spare can of beans on hand.  It consists of thinking in terms of both long and short term.  In other words, never buy a rural all-electric house with a 30 year mortgage when you’re 60 just so you can play music loud.

Could he have found something else, something better if he had waited?  Probably.  Patience is indeed a virtue when searching out your ‘perfect’ place.  And could he have found something closer to where he works, given that his new commute will be six times as long, adding two hours to his day?  Probably.  He’s mumbled something about getting a new, more fuel efficient vehicle, and that means an expense that he’ll either have to save for or a monthly loan payment…but it won’t make his commute shorter, or put power to his house in an emergency.

This is not preparedness at its best. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Only two nails....or, never assume the former owner knew what they were doing...

Only two nails held in the old back door on the Liberal Prepper's house.  Two.

Give it a good grab, and you'd have been right in.

Fortunately, the ex is working off the projects he left undone, per mediation agreement that he do so, and he replaced the door with one that had been used elsewhere. 

It needs cleaning, and it needs to be foamed around the frame, and it needs trim on the outside and inside, but it's held in with....

....more than two nails.

Never assume that the former owner knew what they were doing; obviously, this time they kinda didn't. 

Very fortuitous, this lack of nails, it turns out; gave me an idea on how to strengthen the doorway.

You see, the outside door being replaced was made for 2x6 framing.  Most modern houses are made with 2x6 lumber, and the outside walls are that thick.  The door being put in place wasn't made for 2x6 construction, however; it was made for 2x4 construction.  You find this a lot; for some reason you have to get an extension kit or order the door and frame for a 2x6 wall. 

The graphic above shows how the door frame on a 2x4 door is extended with another piece of wood.  Unfortunately, this doesn't do much for security when the extension is on the outside of the door, because the weakest spot in the door frame is that 7/8" or so of wood on the inside of the door frame between the hole for the latch and the inside of the door frame.  Go check out your door and you'll see what I mean.

Now, the door being put in place having been made for a 2x4 construction scenario, ordinarily it would be placed flush with the inside of the 2x6 door frame because otherwise you run into issues with the hinges and can't open the door all the way.  In this case, however, the door can't open flush to the wall anyway; there's a dryer and a water heater in the way.  Putting the new-ish door and frame in flush with the outside of the 2x6 construction leaves the width of 2x lumber on the inside, like so:
This is a view from the inside of the new-ish door and its frame; left to right, the color of the paint in the room (not LP's choice), the grey color of the outside of the sheetrock on the wall, the edge of the sheetrock (the white stuff), the door opening framing, the door frame and the door.  Now, between that door frame and the inside edge of the existing framing for the door opening is where that space the width of 2x lumber is.

Note that there's still only that itty bitty bit of wood between the latch and the inside of the door frame...but now there's this space.  And the Liberal Prepper has these pieces of wood.  Old wood, close grained, long enough to make pieces to put in place and screw into the door opening framing top to bottom, to be between that door frame and the inside edge of the framing for the opening.  Screw that nice old piece of wood to the door opening framing (shimming it to match the profile of the door frame, of course), and presto...the space between the latch hole and the outside edge of the frame on the inside of the door is now 3 inches.  That's a damn sight harder to kick in than 7/8" of pine...

Not a bad improvement over two nails.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oh, shit...

URLs don't display well once clicked, so highlight this text to find the link in case you can't see it...