Monday, August 31, 2009

Stupid Is As Stupid Does 

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe.
--Albert Einstein

It appears as though my Raiders - once again - suck dirty dog ass. Someone remind me: I'm a season ticket holder BECAUSE....?

I had to actually buy beer today for an upcoming event. Normally, I bring along a 5-gallon keg of my homebrew (equal to 2 cases and a 6-pack), but I'm hoarding it for the upcoming football tailgater season (the highlight of the games) and our upcoming Oktoberfest party.

So, I went to BevMo (I don't know if these are national - they're kind of like liquor warehouses). The beer I wanted was $11.99 for a 12-pack - a half case. I needed a total of two cases.

They had two of the twelve packs. I asked some mouth-breather if they had any more in the back, as there was nothing left in the aisle.

" Uhh, no. We only have wuts out there."

So I asked if I could get the same 12-pack price if I bought four 6-packs.

"Nope. You gotta pay 4 times the 6-pack price." Six-packs were $7.75 a piece.

Fucking asshole. So I put back the two twelve-packs and started looking for another beer. I found another acceptable brew for the same $11.99 per 12-pack.

You guessed it - only two of them left. I looked up top, and spied a whole, boxed case on the upper-most shelf. Sweet! I grabbed it and was off to the checker.

She scans the twelve packs just fine. When she gets to the case, she starts cracking open the box. I tell her I want the whole case.

"Sorry. This is a case of 6-packs. You gotta pay the 6-pack price." Also, 4 times $7.75 each. Fuck me hard.

I'm guessing I turned very bright red in the face. The clerk looked a bit worried.

As I was turning to walk away, to offer me consolation, she said, "Don't worry. You don't need to put the beer away. I'll do it for you."

I don't know if I've ever produced such a loud belly laugh!

WTF? It's not like people were in there throwing elbows to get at the last 6-pack of beer. Me and one other guy were the only people in there. Aside from the 6 employees that were shuffling their feet to look busy.

So instead of making a $50 sale, they've got one pissed off customer that just made the decision to shop elsewhere (and Yes, I hold a grudge).

It's not like their prices crush the competition. I don't know if this was some sort of loss-leader promotion or if they're just incredibly inept. But they ain't gettin' my business any more.

Get this: A while back, I wrote about how a childhood friend of my wife - an avowed communist - was invited to a "special people only" event with Diane Feinstein. They kept the lid on it so none of the Town Hall protesters would cause a ruckus.

So this woman has a couple of boys. They are both half-black (from their now-dead father - long story). The oldest boy was a big old bubba. Very good football player, but dumber than a retarded earth worm.

He went to a JC and somehow, he got an athletic scholarship to attend USC (can anyone say, "Diversity"?). He never played a down in his two years there, but he was smart enough to actually get his degree. Awesome.

Not knowing what to do with his life, he decided he wanted to become a doctor. Not of philosophy or literature, but of medicine. Really.

He now attends Harvard Medical School on yet another "diversity" ticket. I shit you not.

Dumber than a retarded earth worm, and he's going to be telling you to turn your head and cough, or be adjusting the stirrups for your pelvic exam. Oh Lord.

The teacher's union-member commie mom is a big Barry supporter (shocking, I know). After the Di Fi get-together, she called my wife to say her son is having some sort of meeting with someone famous. My wife tells me she thinks it was some politician.

Someone named Henry Gates.

I damned near coughed up a lung.

I explained to her that Gates was not a politician, per se. He was that Harvard racist, Black Studies professor that cried, 'RACISM' when he was arrested by a white cop a while back. The cop that taught the Racial Diversity training for his police department.

The guy that then had a brew with Barry and the cop on the White House lawn.


It's good to be connected and the right ethnicity, I guess. I gotta go get me a tan...

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Field Expedient Rocket Stove 

Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business.
--Dave Barry
I've been researching different way of cooking in an emergency situation. I carry a homemade Penny Stove in my GHB. They are excellent for this purpose - small, heat up quickly, are pretty powerful, and don't use a lot of fuel.

They have their downsides, though. You need to carry fuel with you. While I carry mine in the fuel carriers designed for backpackers, it can sometimes be disconcerting knowing this fuel is kept in my car.

Even though they are thrifty with the fuel, when it runs out, the stove is useless. I needed to fix that. I needed a field-expedient stove that used wood as the primary fuel.

Of course, there's the campfire. Very easy to make, but not very efficient for cooking. By their very design, they throw off lots of heat.

I've made Dakota firepits. They work wonderfully, and are very efficient. But, like campfires, they're not portable. You use it where you build it.

It seems like I kept being brought back to coffee can-based stoves. It looked like the most effecient design was the Rocket Stove.

So I built one to test it out.

A Rocket Stove has a number of features. There is the large outer shell, an inner "L" shaped chimney and fuel feed ramp, and a shelf on the feed ramp to provide lots of air in the combustion chamber/chimney to provide a high level of efficiency.

Here are the basics:

The cool thing about rocket stoves is they can be made out of all kinds of materials, from bricks and clay for use inside of a home, to coffee can-sized for use while camping. It's the design that's important.

The first time I heard of a Rocket Stove was a year and a half ago over at the Dragon's place. He made a very nice one that is super efficient.

I wanted to make one that could be thrown together out in the field with discarded cans, items I keep in my GHB and things scrounged in the wild. My backyard would be considered "the wild" for this little test (and NO, I wouldn't allow myself to "find" my power tools in the backyard!).

That's two dog food cans, a larger coffee can and a multi-tool. The two dog food cans would make up the "L" and the coffee can would be the body.

Using the can opener on the multi-tool, I removed the bottom of one of the cans. This would act as the fuel feed hole. I lined it up at a 90 degree angle with the other dog food can to determine where I'd need to cut a hole in its side to complete the "L".

I marked it out (yes, with a Sharpie I keep in my GHB!) and made pie cuts with the point of the knife in the multi-tool (it cut through the can like butter).

Note: When making these cuts, make one center-to-edge of circle cut first. THEN make your other cuts from the outside of the circle towards the center. Your cuts are much more accurate. On the smaller can, while opening up the hole a bit, I was making one of the cuts on the upper part of the circle, and the knife ran on me, cutting the can to the very top of the lip. The reinforced banding on the lip was the only thing that kept me from slicing open the whole can.

After A LOT of tweaking, I got the cans together. I then lined up one of the dog food cans on the coffee can, marked it out and made similar cuts and slapped everything together.

Front view:

Top view:

You'll notice all of the "mess" in the top view from the folded edges of the can holes. I just pushed these flat with the pliers of the multi-tool to clean things up.

I had nothing for the ramp that is used to create the air channel in the feed tube. DING! I keep tins of sardines and kippered snacks in my GHB. The kippered snacks come in a long slender tin. The lid would work PERFECTLY!

I opened the tin, at the kippered snacks (I love these things!) and fashioned the fuel ramp. I basically measured it to length, and folded it so it was the same length as the can. I then folded down the sides of the lid to provide the stand-off to allow airflow. It sat in the can perfectly.

You need to add some sort of insulation between the outer walls of the chimney and the inner walls of the coffee can. It helps to make the stove more efficient. I poured some sand and dirt from my backyard into this void. Some of it started escaping from the bottom of the hole in the coffee can. I grabbed some aluminum foil from the fishing kit in my GHB and stuffed it into the voids. It kept out SOME of the sand/soil, but not all of it. I only filled the void up perhaps half way.

The last thing I did was punch 8, 1/2 inch air holes about a half inch below the rim of the coffee can. Since I intended on using the top of the can as my pot stand, I needed to provide a way to keep the air draft alive.

Now to see if this puppy works!

I scrounged up a piece of a stake made from oak to use as my fuel. I used my Kabar survival knife to split the pieces into usable sizes. I also grabbed an ashtray to start my fire, as it was windy and I didn't want to have my kindling blowing all over my backyard and catching stuff on fire. Here's what I started with:

Starting at top center of the picture moving clockwise: The rocket stove, 1qt camp pot, ash tray with 1 Vaseline-soaked cotton ball and two pieces of kindling with feathered edges, a fire sparker, the multi-tool, a nesting fork-spoon-knife kit, the lid to the pot and three bundles of differently sized oak stake pieces. Please note that this is ALL the fuel I was allowing myself.

You'll also note - right above the pot lid, a bag of light brown stuff. That is one of my Just Add Water (JAW) meals.

My test would be to bring 2 cups of water to a boil and to make myself some soup. Might as well be practical here!

I got the cotton ball flaming with a single strike of the sparker (these cotton balls RULE!) and threw in the two feathered pieces of kindling. They were then put into the feed ramp of the stove.

It was cranking out flame virtually immediately!

I threw the pot on top, and started my clock to see how long it would take to bring the water to a boil and cook my meal.

The flame promptly went out. I removed the pot, and it started right up again. Apparently, the air holes I punched into the coffee can were inadequate for the job. I found that I needed a very aggressive fire to keep it alive with the pot on the stove.

It took approximately 10 minutes to get bubbles to form at the bottom of the pan. I was never able to get a full boil going. I dumped the JAW soup mix in the pan, gave it a stir and covered it up.

I alternated between pushing more sticks into the fire chamber, removing the pot to get the fire going again, and stirring the soup. All told, it took another 10 minutes (for a total of 20 minutes) to cook the soup.

Very impressively, those little bundles of wood shown in the picture above were all I used. In a camp fire or even a Dakota fire pit, that would have been gone in a minute. I had perhaps a 1/4 cup of ash after the fire.

So, what did I learn?

Pro: Very sturdy. Very Cheap. Very fuel efficient. Portable.

Con: Dirty. Even though it was very efficient, there was a ton of soot on the bottom of the pot. No more than you'd have with a campfire, but with its touted high efficiency, I expected less.

Other than that, it was pretty damned impressive. My design didn't allow for enough air to reach the fire chamber with the pot on the top. That's not a problem with the Rocket Stove, it was a problem with how I put it together.

Along a similar line, the coffee can diameter should match the diameter of your pot, if at all possible. This will allow more of the flame coming up from the chimney to "lick" the bottom of the pot and give you quicker desired temperatures.

I'd guess it took me about a half hour to make the stove. I went slowly so I wouldn't cut myself on any of the exposed edges.

It was a good exercise. I will probably put one together that is more like the one Dragon made - more precise, sturdy and larger. It could be brought along when car camping or similar situation or used at home during an emergency when you didn't have access to utility-provided fuels, electricity or other stored fuels.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Rapist Next Door 

How does shit like this happen?

The above image (click to enlarge) is of the 2-acre lot in Antioch, California, where some twisted bastard held a kidnapped child for 18 years. He repeatedly raped her, and he fathered two children by her, now aged 15 and 11.

Go to Google maps or Zillow.com and key in '1554 Walnut Ave., Antioch, Ca' to get a feeling for where this property was located.

While not a typical Antioch residential neighborhood, it is certainly not out in the wilderness.

The back of the property, where the kidnap victim lived for all 18 years, had neighbors on all 3 sides. She lived back there in huts and sheds.

It appears as though some of the neighbors DID call the authorities. None of the authorities apparently had the skills to notice anything was amiss. No one noticed that the little girl never went to school? Or played with the other kids in the neighborhood? OR GAVE BIRTH TO TWO CHILDREN IN THE FUCKING BACK YARD?!

This bastard was a registered sex offender. He had physical visits by his parole agents, TO THIS HOME, at least once each and every year he was holding her. Perhaps the problem was because they came - every year - on his birthday. Perhaps he had the time to cover his tracks for each visit, since he knew exactly when "the authorities" were coming.


We lived in Antioch for 14 years - from 1988 to 2002. This property is on the other end of town - it's actually closer to where we live now in another town.

We moved because the city was falling into disrepair - gangs had started openly tagging neighborhoods and businesses - and no one seemed to give a shit. Our boys were coming out of private elementary school and starting public high school. The town we moved to had a new high school with a great reputation. They were NOT going to attend Antioch High.

Perhaps the Antioch police were too busy with the gangs. Perhaps the parole agents each had too many felons to do a thorough job.

I don't give a shit. The primary job of government is to protect the rights of its citizens. They ALL dropped the ball, big-time.

It seems as though we have plenty of police and inspectors to make sure you are meeting the ADA laws, the fence height laws, the house color laws and the other codes where Nanny can make a buck when you cross the line.

Apparently making sure a child doesn't get raped for 18 years isn't worth the trouble.



Thursday, August 27, 2009

What They're Not Telling You 

It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press,” he said. “This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.
--Mark Lloyd, the nation's first, Chief Diversity Officer
Before I de-construct the recent FDIC report on the health of the US banking industry, I just wanted to kick around something that is very disturbing to me.

The socialists realize that the term, "Fairness Doctrine" is dead. Too many Americans understand that it is nothing but code for "censorship."

Not to be rebuffed in their efforts, they are using a backdoor approach to getting their plans employed. They simply installed the above-quoted Mark Lloyd at the FCC, and are letting him use the bureaucracy to get the job done.

To get their vision for America in place, Barry - or any politician running the joint - need to have a compliant press. They have it now with regards to TV, newspapers, and most magazines. The sole, glaring exception is talk-radio. It is the thorn in their side.

Here's what I wrote in September of last year -
Regardless of whether Barry O or Johnny Mac becomes president, I think conservative talk radio is in trouble. Barry will run right at it and push the Fairness Doctrine as new FCC policy. Conservative radio has called out enough powerful Republican politicians whom they no longer consider as conservative, that the days of this radio format may be numbered.
Again in January of this year, I made a similar prediction -
... I think one of the very first issues on Barry's agenda will be to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. It will silence the one significant threat to his ability to control the message in the media - Talk Radio.
Barry is seeing that talk radio is able to get unfettered information out to the masses. The masses (that would be us) are reacting - and not in a way that Barry is appreciating. It has (at least temporarily) killed the Cap and Trade bullshit. The Health Care boondoggle is on shaky legs. His administration's economic "reports" are roundly mocked as being nothing more than 'fluff' pieces.

He cannot let this continue.

Under the guise of 'diversity' - which only a racist would be against, right? - Lloyd is proposing to institute a teeny, weeny fee. A fee equal to the entire operating budget of a radio station to pay for government controlled radio -
Lloyd has written in at least 2 different sources that he believes all radio broadcast companies should pay to the government a fee equaling the company's entire operating expenses in order to fund public radio (NPR). The effect of this will, of course, drive most privately owned broadcast companies out of business.

And this is what Lloyd and Obama want. The 'diversity' of which they speak is not just about content but about ownership. They want minorities, which usually favor liberals, to own much of the broadcast entities doing business in the U.S. today.
I'm telling you, folks, if this isn't stopped, the next station on the Barry Express is the Internet. Blogs will be targeted for closure or regulation. We have a high-level federal employee in the nation's communications regulatory agency who thinks the First Amendment is a "distraction".

To call that 'chilling' would be an understatement.

Why did Barry choose the FCC as the first federal agency to install a Chief Diversity Officer?

Why not Commerce Department, or the FDA, or the Interior Department? I know, I know, rhetorical question...

The FDIC finally released their report on the State of Banking. It's not a pretty picture [gasp] -
The U.S. added 111 lenders to its list of “problem banks” in the second quarter, a 36 percent increase that pushed the group to a 15-year high.

A total of 416 banks with combined assets of $299.8 billion failed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s grading system for asset quality, liquidity and earnings, the most since June 1994, the Washington-based FDIC said in a report today. Regulators didn’t identify companies deemed “problem” banks.
What the "reporters" failed to report is that one year ago - 2Q 2008 - there were 117 banks IN TOTAL on the problem report. The current 416 banks represents an increase of 258% in one year (remember, a 100% increase means it doubled).

Banks are sucking wind, regardless of the 'green shoots' that Barry is planting in your butt. All of the Nanny accounting, "get out of jail free" cards have been played. They are having to report their actual earnings. The numbers of non-performing loans is still skyrocketing, and it's showing in the bank numbers -
FDIC-insured banks reported a net loss of $3.7 billion in the second quarter, compared with a $5.5 billion gain in the first quarter. The loss, the second quarterly one the industry has reported in 18 years, was driven by increased expenses for bad loans, the FDIC said.
So what? you say. Why should you care?

Because YOU'RE going to get to pay for the coming shit-storm.

I've written before that when a bank goes tits-up, it costs the FDIC fund about 25% of the bank's asset size to make things right (although that seems to have increased to about 35% recently). For instance, a $100 million in assets bank will cost the fund around $25 million.

They've just reported that nearly $300 BILLION of NEW crappy banks just hit the radar. That means it will likely cost $75 billion to make it right.

For all intents and purposes, the FDIC is insolvent, and will need to borrow from its line of credit (I forget if it's with the Federal Reserve or the Treasury Department). That means more bonds will need to be sold. Bonds with interest that our tax dollars will be paying.

Alright. So what was in the full FDIC report that the compliant (or ignorant) media didn't tell you about?

From the very first paragraph in the report -
Quarterly earnings were also adversely affected by writedowns of asset-backed commercial paper, and by higher assessments for deposit insurance.
Commercial paper means business loans. It can be lines of credit, real estate loans, or term financing for things like equipment and vehicles. Seeing as they called them 'asset-backed' loans, the reasons for the writedowns could be because the business stopped making payments OR the value of the assets securing the loans has decreased in value. Neither of these bodes well for us. American business is in trouble.

From the same paragraph -
Almost two out of every three institutions (64.4 percent) reported lower quarterly earnings than a year ago, and more than one in four (28.3 percent) reported a net loss for the quarter.
Two out of three banks are doing worse than a year ago (hey, I thought things were looking up!) and a quarter of them posted losses. Why isn't this reported as top-of-fold, headline blaring information?

From the very next paragraph -
These negative factors [commercial paper and other writedowns] were partially offset by higher noninterest income (up $6.5 billion, or 10.6 percent), increased net interest income (up $3.4 billion, or 3.5 percent), and a $1.5-billion reduction in realized losses on securities and other assets. Gains on asset sales (up $4.5 billion), increased trading revenue (up $4.5 billion), and higher servicing fees (up $3.6 billion) were the largest contributors to the year-over-year improvement in noninterest income.
Higher noninterest income. Gains on asset sales. Increased trading revenue. Higher servicing fees.

What dat mean?

Banks are not making their money by lending out money and earning Interest Income. They're selling stuff off. They're earning income on the stock market (trading revenue). And they're charging YOU higher fees for the pleasure of them holding your money (or charging you for formerly free services). They look more like investment houses than like banks.

Glad to see the bailout money is going back into the economy where it is stimulating like crazy.

So, where are all of these net charge offs coming from (loan balance minus asset sales income equals net charge off) ?
Net charge-offs continued to rise, propelling the quarterly net charge-off rate to a record high. Insured institutions charged-off $48.9 billion in the second quarter, compared to $26.4 billion a year earlier. The annualized net charge-off rate in the second quarter was 2.55 percent, eclipsing the previous quarterly record of 1.95 percent reached in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The sources of these charge-offs? Commercial loans (up 85.3%), credit cards (up 84.5%), real estate construction (up 117%) and single family residences (up 41.1%).

Well, we're out of the woods now, right? All of the bad times are behind us. The shit has been identified and things are ship-shape.

Not so much -
The amount of loans and leases that were noncurrent (90 days or more past due or in nonaccrual status) increased for a 13th consecutive quarter, and the percentage of total loans and leases that were noncurrent reached a new record. Noncurrent loans and leases increased by $41.4 billion (14.3 percent) during the second quarter,
That means we have AT LEAST another $41 billion in hits to absorb.

There is lots, lots more, but you get the picture.

You need to think of banks as the canary in the mine. If they're making money, America is making money. The reverse is true, as well.

The Cancer is now plainly visible on the business side of the economy. The commercial loans are going tits-up. That means they don't have enough customers. We knew that because we see how the unemployment rates - even the massaged number from Nanny - continue to climb.

People have maxed out their credit cards, and stopped making payments. They've stopped making their house payments. Term loans to consumers - car loans and the like - will be next to show a beating. They let the credit cards go to hell because they don't lose anything - other than their credit rating. Car loans will be paid up to the bitter end if at all possible.

Someone tell me how we get out of this. If Nanny keeps taxing and maxing out the national credit line, we may get a short-term buzz, but nothing more. The bill will have to be paid eventually.

I don't even want to think about it any more...

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can of Financial Whoop-ass 

The great, unreported story in globalization is about power, not ideology. It's about how finance and business regularly, continuously insert their own self-interested deals and exceptions into rules and agreements that are then announced to the public as "free trade."
--William Greider

Kind of a heads-up on some disturbing financial trends. Are these "dots" connected? If so, what does it mean?

A starting point: The current national deficit is a shade under $12 trillion (as I was typing this up, the site was unavailable, as too many people are hitting the site!). When Bush left office, it was around $10 trillion, which was an increase of about $5 trillion over 8 years.

Today, the Administration says that their plans will increase the deficit by a mind-numbing $9 trillion. If you do the math, 12 + 9 = $21 trillion by 2019. The in-the-bag Washington post (mistakenly?) quotes an Administration source saying it will be $23 trillion by 2019 -
All told, the White House predicts that the nation will have to borrow an additional $9 trillion over the next decade to finance the annual deficits, driving the accumulated national debt to nearly $23 trillion in 2019 -- or 76.5 percent of gross domestic product, the highest since 1950.
Regardless, it is a number that simply can never be re-paid. Hey, a trillion here, a trillion there, who cares? It's for Barry.

Also, where do they get the 76.5% of GDP figure?

Our GDP is currently $14 trillion a year. For the $23 trillion deficit to equal 76.5% of GDP would mean that in 2019, Barry & Company are predicting our GDP will be a hair over $30 trillion a year - or more than double the current national productivity.

For that to be true, that means our economy will need to grow by AN AVERAGE OF 8% A YEAR FOR 10 YEARS IN A ROW. Have we EVER grown at 8% in modern times?


According to this data (an Excel spreadsheet, BTW), since 1970, the single highest annual growth we've seen in GDP was 7.19% in 1984. One year. Yet they want us to believe that we're going to exceed that for 10 years running?!

Did anyone in the press ever take a fucking math class in college? Or were they too busy in their, Swallowing Socialist Dogma 401 graduate class?

A report is supposed to come out today from the FDIC on its financial health. This should be interesting.

At the end of the first quarter, the FDIC had a cash balance of $13 billion. Since then, a butt-load of banks have gone belly-up. The cost to taxpayers for this is $16 billion.

That means that they are in the hole, which is against federal law (LOL!).
Vekshin goes on to report that 56 bank failures since March 31 have cost the FDIC an estimated $16 billion. (For comparison, in the 1st Quarter, bank failures only cost the FDIC $2.2 billion.) That $16 billion bank rescue would fully deplete the FDIC fund as it only had $13 billion at the close of the 1stQuarter. It’s possible the FDIC has already tapped into its line of credit at the Treasury Department without setting off alarm bells to the public.

The FDIC is required by law to maintain a reserve ratio, or balance divided by insured deposits, of 1.15 percent. It was at 0.27 percent as of March 31. It could be near zero at the current moment.
So, will they report that they have had to make emergency borrowings, or will they fudge the numbers - much like the budget deficit numbers described above - with the compliant press remaining silent on the issue?

These next two stories go hand-in-hand -

If you have watched any sort of financial news, you know that the US Treasury is paying virtually nothing for our debt. It's how they've helped to keep a lid on the economy -
A new global reserve system is needed after the global financial crisis exposed the U.S. dollar-based system as flawed and risky, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said on Friday.

The "dollar now is yielding almost zero return," Stiglitz said in a speech at the United Nations regional headquarters in Bangkok. "The current global reserve system is fraying. It's falling apart. The issue isn't whether we go to a new system. The question is do we do so in an orderly or disorderly way."

The build up of the U.S. deficit, debt and "the boiling up of the balance sheet" is cause for anxiety, he said.
It seems that some countries are taking this warning to heart. Including the biggest buyer of our debt, China -
China reduced its holdings of US government debt by the largest margin in nearly nine years in June, according to data from the US Treasury.
While they currently hold more US debt than they did at the start of the year, the disturbing thing is that they did their reduction the same month that Treasury Secretary Geithner was over there selling them on the strength of the US economy.


Are these dots connected? If so, what will be the likely result of all of this?

With deficits projected to climb (and actual numbers will more than likely be higher), we need more money. It looks like we've got another bailout on the way - via the FDIC. More cash draining down the toilet.

We can raise the needed cash in a number of ways: We can raise taxes, borrow more money, or simply print it up to cover our costs. We're currently doing all three things.

Barry WILL raise taxes. You're a fool if you don't think that will happen. And it is unrealistic to think it will be targeted at only those making $250,000 or more. That lie has already been exposed with the cigarette and liquor tax increases, which hit everyone. The income tax "bar" will be lowered as well.

We're going to see excise and sin taxes go up, or they'll hit us with some sort of Euro-styled Value Added Tax (VAT) so Nanny can get a cut of everything - including food - without making it look like taxes are being paid by the naive consumer.

Borrowing more money is already becoming problematic. Nations are running away from the dollar. The risk/reward calculation just doesn't make sense any more. The Federal Reserve Bank is becoming one of the major buyers of Treasuries, which is scary in its own right. We're taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another and calling it 'revenue'.

So we're going to have to print up more money. Buckets of it. This can ONLY lead to inflation, with hyperinflation the likely outcome. The already weak dollar will have even less purchasing power.

The bottom line: Because of increased taxes, you're going to have fewer dollars to buy goods and services. Those dollars you do have, will have less purchasing power because of inflation. If a "bank holiday" is called because of loss-of-confidence in banks, you may lose unrestricted access to the money you need to stay alive.

Rock, meet the hard place.

What do you do? I've preached these things before, but they still hold true -

1. If you have debt, try to eliminate as much as possible. Whatever is left, get it into a fixed-rate product. Unless Barry allows lenders to unilaterally adjust contracts to track inflation (which is not too far-fetched considering what they did to the GM bond holders), that portion of your expenses will be in a very good place.

2. Do whatever you can to reduce your reliance on purchased goods and services. Buy whatever you need as early in the production stream as possible. Buy whole wheat and grind it yourself instead of buying flour. Buy large pieces of meat and break it down yourself. Buy seeds and grow your own vegetables. Hunt, fish and forage for "free" food. Teach yourself how to can and otherwise preserve foods. Take advantage of a bounty whenever possible.

3. Hoard and hide what you absolutely, positively cannot live without. While I think it is unlikely - at this point - that the government will confiscate privately-owned goods, we have a lot of precedence that the government has no compunction in relieving you of your personal (and real) property when it is for "the greater good." Just ask farmers during the (last) Depression, people that owned gold, the Kelo family in New London, CT, or "assault rifle" owners. Remember: "The Greater Good" is based upon the world views of those in charge at the time. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, is no longer just a catchy little Maxist dream.

4. Pay attention and have a plan. As depressing as it can be, staying abreast of what is going on in the country is so very important. Set up some mental "trip wires" of events that you think may signal a turn for the worst. Watch for trends. Price increases, unemployment increases, bank failures, business failures/lay offs, etc. Along the same lines, question "happy news". If you see a story about an up-tick in some important indicator, verify the information. For instance, if a headline reads, "Unemployment Numbers Improve," see if unemployment actually went down, or were the losses just less than Nanny had predicted?

5. Reduce your tax profile. Buying goods and services earlier in the production stream is one great way to do this. Also look at garage sales, Craigslist and other similar venues. You can often buy new or nearly-new goods more cheaply and with no tax. Craigslist also has a Barter section. Of course, it's illegal to not pay your taxes. Do what's right for you and your family.

6. Unless you can provide for 100% of your needs through personal production or barter, have at least some of your reserve funds in gold and/or silver. How much depends on how likely you think a severe economic down-turn might be. If you need a real-life example of the utility of gold and silver in a recent, ongoing economic downturn, read about what is going on in Argentina. And remember: It is not an investment; It is a hedge.

What is the down-side to this? If, by some miracle, taxes don't increase, crushing inflation does not appear, and prosperity is returned to America, what have you lost? Nothing that I can think of.

Maybe you're not traveling the world quite so often, or buying a new car/boat/toy every other year, but the lives of most folks will be largely unchanged. Except, you'll be prepared and less likely to become dependent upon Nanny.

Not a bad thing in my book...

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Hooch, Part 2 

Well, between Scotch and nothin', I suppose I'd take Scotch. It's the nearest thing to good moonshine I can find.
--William Faulkner

Two weeks ago, I started a 5-gallon batch of high-alcohol fermented beverage - some hooch.

The batch is now fully fermented. It came out at 15.5% alcohol content! To put it into perspective, beer is generally in the 4-7% range, and wine is usually in the 10-12% range.

So far, the results are mixed.

When you make a beer or wine, when the fermentation is complete, the yeast dies off, and flocculates - falls to the bottom of the fermentation bucket. This leaves you with a fairly clear liquid that you drink.

The Turbo Yeast that I used doesn't seem to want to 'play nice.' The resulting liquid is very cloudy.

I decided to run the liquid through a make-shift strainer. I took 3 clean terrycloth towels and placed them in a colander on top of another bucket.

It did absolutely nothing.

I decided to, "kick it up a notch" and run it through a coffee filter. Nuttin'.

I ran it through 5 coffee filters stacked on top of each other. Nada.

Now I was pissed off. I went out and spent $25 to buy a Brita water filter. It uses activated charcoal to 'scrub' the water you pour into it. My concern was that the filter would clog from the yeast and I'd be forced to continually buy more and more filters.

I didn't care - I wanted a clear liquid!

So much for the activated charcoal -

If you compare this picture with the first one, you can see a slight clarification of the liquid, but not much.

I am not pleased.

Before I started with the straining, I dropped the temperature of my fermentation fridge down from 66F to 50F. Typically, this will cause the yeast to fall out of solution to the bottom of the bucket. I gave the yeast 24 hours to flocculate. It obviously didn't work.

Soooooo, I took the bucket, and put it into my freezerator - a freezer that I have retro-fitted to serve my beer. It is temperature controlled to maintain a 42F temperature.

I'm going to let it sit for at least a week to see if I can get nature to clear up the brew. If this doesn't work, I may have to go with a type of plate filter that is used on wine. The rig costs $60 or $70, and the filters run around $4 each (and you need 2 per batch).

I do plan on making up a number of batches of this hooch to experiment with some other techniques and uses, so I might be able to justify the cost, but this is clearly not something I had planned for.

You guys know what this 'hooch' is used for - commercially - right? Take a look at bottled mixed "cocktails" such as the hard ciders, or Zima, Smirnoff Ice and the like. Most will say something to the effect of "fermented malt beverage" or as plainly as "beer."

The reason for this has to do with our liquor laws. A beer and wine liquor license is much easier to obtain than a distilled spirits license. You can sell these stronger alcoholic beverages right next to your beer and wine without having to upgrade your license.

Related filtration topic:

Last week, I helped a couple of friends to set up their homemade Big Berkey water filters. We drilled the holes and got everything set up.

The house we were doing this has a large swimming pool that the owner plans to use as his emergency water supply. To show him the effectiveness of the filters, we filled the bucket up with water, and waited anxiously as it filtered it into pure, potable H2O. These filters don't just filter the water, it purifies it to 99.99999% clarity.

The water trickled down to the bottom bucket, and it was high enough to allow us to use the spigot and pour ourselves a glass.

The owner took a sip, and scrunched his face up in disgust. I figured he was kidding around.

Not so.

I had explained to him that the Black Berkey filters scrub all of the bad crap out of the water. VOC's, pesticides, heavy metals, chlorine, bacteria - everything you might be worried about.

The information on the web site also had this information -
yet they leave in the healthful and beneficial minerals that your body needs and....
This is a good thing - normally.

What I didn't know, is that this guy adds salt to his pool. Apparently, the salt goes through some kind of gizmo that produces all of the bug-killing chemicals needed to keep the pool clean. But the water is salty.

Salt would be one of those "healthful and beneficial minerals" that makes it through the filter!

He's now ordering up some additional 55-gallon water barrels....

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.
--Sun Tzu

OpSec is a term used by the military that is a contraction of Operations Security. The idea is to ensure your enemy doesn't get wind of what you're planning for in your next mission. Think of the saying from WWII, "Loose lips sink ships."

It also has to do with adding inconsistency to what you do - don't be predictable, or your enemy will be able to anticipate what you're going to do next, even without having to gather any information.

In the latest episode of The Colony TV show , they had to deal with a man and woman who laid a claim to the group's building and its contents. The guy literally had a key to the back door, and walked right in.

Some of the group was leery, but a couple of the male members decided to give these two strangers a complete tour of their facilities, security and resources. Simply because the guy had a key to the door.

They spilled their guts, and not surprisingly, the strangers turned on the group. They didn't want to live by the rules of the Colony, and a good deal of resources were lost in a very short period of time.

If these two ever decide to come back with some of their friends, they now know the security arrangements, the head count, the skill-sets, the weaponry, power, food and water capabilities of The Colony. Unless the group makes some changes, they are a plum waiting to be picked.

A reader of this blog sent me a link to this document Secret Freedom Fighter - Fighting Tyranny Without Terrorizing the Innocent. It's an interesting read, to say the least. If you have a Scribd.com account (free to set up), you can download the booklet in PDF format.

The book is largely based on the idea of OpSec - keep your pie-hole closed, and you are much more likely to be successful in what you're trying to achieve.
If I have any criticism of their efforts [people publicly fighting Nanny], it is that they have been too public. Too many of them will be easily identified and targeted by the authorities in control.

Take the case of the Mormons. Everybody in the country knows that every good Mormon is supposed to have a year's supply of food on hand. When the crunch comes, the first thing the military dictator's local representative is going to his list of members. A week later, the Mormons will be standing in the soup lines along with everybody else, only it will be their soup we'll all be eating.
He's right on the first part - if confiscations are to occur, Mormons will be targeted because everyone knows that's where the food is.

What he gets wrong, I think, is thinking that they'll end up in soup lines. I think the way you'll be able to identify Mormon homes is by the head count of Nanny bureaucrats that were sent to "repatriate" the food - that are now stacked like cord wood on the steps of these homes.

So who knows your plans, capabilities and resources? Who knows where you keep your emergency food supplies? Who knows where you've cached food, water, weapons and ammo? Who knows where your precious metals are stored?

Can you trust everyone on that list? Can you trust them not to disclose your information, either through casual disclosure, or under threat from someone more powerful - like the government or some street thug with a knife to their baby daughter's throat? Do you trust them with your life?

Do you have contingency plans for the possibility that your privacy - your OpSec - is breached?

Most folks have some sort of a firewall or virus scan on their computers to keep hackers and malicious programs off of their systems. They perform back-ups of their hard drives so they don't lose everything in the event of a total system breach.

Do you have "flags" in place that might indicate a breach to your preps? Do you have back-up resources pre-positioned for the possibility of having your main plan obliterated? With finances, we are told, "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket." Pretty damned sound advice, I think.

Have you added a level of unpredictability to your plans so that a moderately intelligent person could not deduce what your contingency plans may be?

Do you have some supplies that are "hidden" to be used as "ransom" in the event of a breach?

How long could you survive after the sudden loss of everything you have worked so hard to acquire? Would you be in that Nanny soup line or would you have other supplies and resources at your disposal?

No soup for me, thank you very much...

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Media Bias 


Thursday, August 20, 2009

No More Mr. Niceguy 

There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country, if the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance.
--Walt Whitman

I poached this article from Bitmap's site.
In a move some fear is a reprisal for opposing President Obama's health care plan, Democrats sent 52 letters to health insurers requesting financial records for a House committee's investigation.
Reprisals? Ya think?!

Challenge, 'The One' and you're suddenly hearing the rubber glove snapping onto the bratwurst-sized fingers of the examiner, with the reassuring, "This will only be uncomfortable for a moment."

An open letter to the health care insurance industry -
Welcome to 'The Show'.

I read that a couple of pinheads in Congress have sent you guys a letter asking for some pretty detailed financial information. They want you to disclose who has made over $1 million for the past few years, what kind of conferences and events you have attended, and how much you're spending on gifts and hookers entertainment.

Tell them to shove it, or you'll be sorry.

Tell them that as a publicly traded company, you dutifully follow the same rules as every other publicly traded company. You publish the salaries and other compensation of your senior executives. You provide an income statement and balance sheet, and all of the other minutia required by law.

Those laws do not include the disclosure of confidential personal information of your rank-and-file employees - regardless of how well compensated they may be. You refuse to break the myriad of confidentiality laws simply because they want to use your companies as the latest pinatas at the Health Care Reform party.

Tell them you won't participate in their grandstanding. You won't participate in their public witch hunt. You won't participate in their egregious abuse of power.

Let them know that, if they don't like it, they can change the laws. Warn them to be very damned certain that their new law had better apply to every publicly held company in this nation. If they abuse your Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law, you will come at them tooth-and-nail.

You will literally spend your very last dime fighting them. You will sue them. You will give money to every single political opponent of theirs that pops their head up. You will produce national advertising exposing every facet of their personal and professional lives. You will smear them, just as they are attempting to smear you.

Tell them that you realize that if you capitulate to their demands, your demise is at hand anyway. You will not sit by and watch all of your hard work and effort be robbed from you for some political experiment. Tell them, "Not on our dime! Not on our backs!"

Now, you are reasonable people. Tell them you do have a compromise to offer. If they will require a full and detailed financial exposure of the Federal Reserve Bank, the Office of The White House, Americorp and every single "community organizing" entity that receives our federal tax dollars, you will consider their request. But only after you've seen that the American people actually get the disclosures. You're un-trusting, but have reason to be.

So, there's your offer. They can take it or leave it. Fight or don't fight. Disclose or don't disclose. You don't care. You've had it with their shenanigans, and you won't play by their lopsided rules any more.

Sign it,

Hugs and kisses,

The Evil Health Care Insurance Industry

HA! They'll cave.

OT: I wrote a few weeks ago about fraudulent cashiers checks popping up all around the country. This trend has INCREASED. I'm getting email notices from the FDIC on an almost daily basis about new fraud cases.

If you accept cashiers checks, either personally or in your business, take a minute and call the bank to verify that the check is legit. You are assuming the check is as good as cash (chuckle) but you may get left holding the bag.

As Ronnie said, "Trust, but verify."

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To Protect and Serve... 

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Many of you may have heard about the murders of the toll-taker and her friend that happened here in Northern California.

This sequence of events is sickening -

Recently dumped boyfriend (Burris) slashed the tires of a truck whose owner (Everette) had lent to the ex-girlfriend (Ross).

Burris watches the truck, waiting for Everette to call for a tow truck. Burris walks over to the truck with shotgun in hand, and kills Everette.

Two armed, Marin County sheriff's deputies (on-duty, in street clothes, in their cars at the toll plaza) see the muzzle flash - from 50 feet away. And do nothing.

Burris walks up to (ex-girlfriend) Ross' toll-booth, and shotguns her. Still nothing from the deputies.

Burris jumps in his car and escapes.
One [deputy] saw the muzzle flash in the south parking lot, where police say Burris shot Everette. Moments later, Burris jogged out into traffic toward the toll booth [where he subsequently slaughtered Ross].

The attack lasted less than half a minute. One of the deputies alerted her dispatch center in Marin County during the shooting, and the other used her car to block traffic so other drivers would not blunder into the gunman's sights, Richmond police said. They then checked on workers in the toll booths and the adjoining Caltrans building.
The deputy blocked traffic while citizens are being slaughtered. They finally caught him, a few hours later.

The cops were 50 feet away when they saw the muzzle flash. Seventeen yards. Even an average shooter, much less one that is expected to be proficient - such as a police officer - could place 10 rounds into an 8 inch circle at that distance (Oh wait... cops get to have the large capacity magazines us common California citizens are prohibited from owning, so they'd have more chances to stop the slaughter).

But because it's California, no one was armed and able to save the life of the toll-taker. Except the sheriff's deputies, who chose to do nothing.


Of course, this will get spun by the press and the Brady Bunch as people can't be trusted with ANY guns. Hell, they're slaughtering government employees now!

So, how do we protect and serve OURSELVES? With practice.

I went to the range yesterday with a buddy I haven't seen in 10 years or so. My old college roommate.

Most ranges in our area don't allow any type of rapid fire. Most require at least 1 second between shots.

While this somewhat limits the type of training you can do, there are still a number of self-defense exercises you can follow to keep your skills up.

Prep: Set up your large target with 4 smaller targets - in a diamond pattern. One top center, one bottom center, one middle left, and one middle right. All as widely spaced as the base target will allow.

1. Load 4 rounds into your magazine/cylinder. Start with your preferred two-handed grip, with your gun held chest-high with muzzle pointing down at a 45 degree angle (I believe some folks call this the 'high compact' position).

Extend the gun out-and-up to acquire the left-middle target as quickly as possible. As soon a you have your sight picture, fire. Count 'one thousand one'. With arms still extended, acquire the right-middle target, and fire.

Retract the pistol to the high-compact position.

Immediately re-acquire the RIGHT-middle target (the one you just shot), fire, one-thousand-one, acquire the left-middle target, fire, retract.

Clear the gun and reload.

I do this at 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards.

2. Repeat this exercise using the top-center and bottom center targets.

3. Repeat this side-to-side exercise one-handed strong-hand.

4. Repeat this exercise top-to-bottom one-handed strong-hand.

5. Repeat this exercise, side-to-side, two-handed, weak hand.

6. Repeat this exercise, top-to-bottom, two-handed, weak hand.

7. Repeat this exercise, side-to-side, one handed, weak hand.

8. Repeat this exercise top-to-bottom, one handed, weak hand.

Remember to count the 'one thousand one' before you move the gun to the next target (don't fire, move to the next target, THEN count one thousand one). The intention is to develop quick target acquisition skills while STILL putting lead on the target (I use 6 inch stick-on targets). Expect the acquisition and fire times to be longer as you move the target further away from you.

A shot that misses the target is a waste of ammo, and could result in an innocent being hit in real life. You want speed AND accuracy.

This will use up 128 rounds if you do all 8 steps at all 4 distances. It took me about 45 minutes yesterday. If you're worried about using up too much ammo, cut it in half and do the 8 steps at 7 and 13 yards. You'll get a good mix of up-close and semi-distant practice.

DO NOT cut out the off-hand and single-hand stuff. It would sure suck if you were shot in your strong hand and had no practice shooting with your off-hand.

Especially as the bad guy was walking up to a loved one with bad intentions in his eyes...

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fear and Freedom 

Fear has its use but cowardice has none.
--Mahatma Gandhi

We're learning to fight fire with fire.

There has been a very effective propaganda piece that has seen a lot of time on right- and libertarian-leaning websites and blogs. The Obama Socialism Joker -

This image has simultaneously brightened the days of liberty-loving folks, and seriously pissed off the socialists.

I call that a success by any standard!

What is great about the image is its simplicity. The insincere painted smile, coupled with the voodoo-like possessed eyes and the simple statement: socialism.

Fucking brilliant! It's disturbing to look at. It sells danger, deception, untrustworthiness and fear. Fear sells and it moves people to action.

It reminds me of the, "This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs." commercials of the 1980's (?). Simple. Straight-forward. Get's the point across: Do drugs, fry your brain.

The government got a big head, and took a good thing and screwed it up, IMO. The 10 second, "This is drugs" commercial was now a 30 second rub-your-nose-in-it morality play.

It lost the punch of the original.

So what is propaganda?
information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
It's really marketing of an idea or an ideal, and we're in the middle of a war of ideals.

Our side needs more of this. Stuff that can easily "go viral" and spread across the Internet and not be stopped. Stuff that gets so big, even the MSM has to take notice (and promptly disparage).
The poster, which bears a very superficial resemblance to Shepard Fairey’s famous Obama Hope illustration, has been pasted on freeway supports and other public surfaces. It has a bit of everything to appeal to the drunk tank of California conservatism: Obama is in white face, his mouth (like Ledger’s Joker’s) has been grotesquely slit wide open and the word “Socialism” appears below his face. The only thing missing is a noose.
WTF? You know you've hit the bullseye when the socialist pull the Race Card out of their asses on something that doesn't even brush up against race.

We need to stay focused. Keep the message simple. Don't do what Nanny did and mess up a very effective anti-drug message.

Sell the fear you feel towards Barry's Vision Of America. This is a war we can't afford to lose.

Want a lift in spirits and enthusiasm? A family member sent me this commercial that was made for a tax-day Tea Party that was held in Alabama -

Hell yeah...

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Sweet Tooth 

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.
-- Alex Levin

I have a sweet tooth. Big-time. I only half jokingly say that I have coffee with my cream and sugar, not the other way around.

I'm seeing some news reports of a potential spike in sugar prices. Take a look at this article. It seems that our protectionist government limits sugar imports. World sugar prices are $0.22 a pound. US prices are $0.35 a pound. Thanks for looking out for us, DC.

So what would a guy like me do for his sugar Jones if sugar supplies suddenly dried up, or became cost prohibitive? Raiding bee hives and getting the hell stung out of me doesn't sound like a good idea.

My wife likes this sweetener called Agave Nectar. It's a natural sweetener made from the agave plant. This is the plant that is used to make tequila. For tequila, they cut up the core of the plant, roast it, then make a mash of sorts to extract the natural sugars. Once you have sugars, you can do with it as you please - syrups, crystallized sugars, fermentation - whatever you wish.

Hmmmm. Let's see. What do I have experience with in extracting sugars from raw materials?

Malted grains, of course! I've been brewing all-grain beers for decades. As long as I have access to malted grains, I can make a sweet liquid. Hell, in a pinch, I could malt my own grains - from my buckets-o-wheat for instance, if malted barley became unavailable (I hope my sweet tooth never becomes THAT desperate!).

Malted corn, rye, barley, wheat - hell, any grain you can get to sprout and then dry out will work.

When you brew, you mash the crushed grains by steeping them in hot water. This process transforms the starches in the grain into sugar. You then wash the sugars off of the grains (in a process called lautering). The resulting liquid is called wort (pronounced 'wert'). Depending upon the quality of your crushed grains, the temperature of the mash and a number of other factors, you will end up with a wort with a sugar content roughly in the 10-12% range.

You boil the wort, adding hops for flavoring and bitterness, and to help evaporate the liquid to increase the sugar content to the 13-18% range.

Cool it off, add the yeast, ferment, consume.

If I want to make a sweetener, I need to leave out the yeast, and increase the amount of water evaporation. I want to concentrate the sugars, not have them consumed!

I found two primary types of syrup made here in America: Maple syrup and cane syrup.

The maple syrup has a starting sugar content of around 2% - I couldn't find anything on the starting sugar content of the cane juice.

What they both had in common was the general techniques for turning the juice/sap into syrup. You boil the hell out of it, and when the temperature reaches 7 degrees above boiling - 219F - you have syrup.

What was a bit disconcerting is the volume of juice/sap you needed. To get 1 gallon of maple syrup, you need 40+ gallons of sap!

I needed to do a test.

I took a quart of water, and added a quarter pound of cane sugar. On my hydrometer, I got a reading of 1.046 specific gravity. That equals 11.5% sugar content (on something called the brix scale). So I'm starting at about the same point as I'd be by making a mash, and am WAY ahead of the game with regards to maple sap.

OK, a little bit of math (don't glaze over on me here!). I boiled everything down until I hit the magical 219F degrees. I ended up with right around 5.5 ounces of syrup. Since I started with 34.5 fluid oz of "cane juice" (32 oz of water "grows" to 34.5 oz of sugar solution once the cane sugar is added), that means I reduced it by a factor of 6.27. If I take the original sugar percentage of 11.5 and multiply it by the 6.27, I come up with a 72.14% sugar solution. Pretty damned close to the published maple syrup numbers of 67%.


It's thinner than a corn syrup like Karo or imitation maple syrup. It's about the consistency of real maple syrup - kind of like the viscosity of vegetable oil. Sweet as hell, though!

I have some extra malted barley laying around, so I think I'll make up a batch of wort and give it a go.

The cost/benefit equation is iffy, at best. You use a LOT of fuel to boil down the syrup. For the sample I made, I used my kitchen stove gas burner for an hour straight, on high. An inexpensive fuel source is the key to making this stuff economically.

I'm going to try and produce a quart of malted barley syrup, so I'll make up 2 gallons of wort to give myself some cushion. From what I've read, this should take in the neighborhood of 2-3 hours. I'll do some hard math calculations at that time, so see what the cost per ounce comes out to be.

Oh, and not to worry about "wasting" grains for my sweet tooth. The spent grains from a brew can be added to dough for a healthier homemade bread, fed to animals as part of their diet (horses supposedly LOVE the stuff), or added to compost piles.

There is also a technique in brewing called 'parti-gyle'. I've used this in the past to make two different styles of beer from the same mash. You take the first runnings from the grain, and make a high-alcohol beer. You re-mash the remaining grains, and get a weaker run-off that can be used to make a weaker style of beer.

This weaker run-off - as low as in the 5-6% sugar content range - could be used for syrup making. Beer AND syrup from the same batch of grains.

Waste not, want not...

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Saturday, August 15, 2009


Don't find fault. Find a remedy.
--Henry Ford

As you might have noticed from my past few posts, I'm concentrating on things I can control. Personally of late, I've been working on getting some better cash-flow into my business, developing my skills, preparing as best as I can for what I think is coming.

It has become too draining to focus on things over which I have virtually no influence. The deck is simply stacked too high.

Barry lies about the health care plan, and the compliant press go along, gleefully spreading the propaganda. When people begin to call, "BULLSHIT" to the lies, they are painted as unpatriotic mobsters and thugs. More MSM compliance.

When even that proves ineffective, they start with the demonizing. A man, exercising at least two of his rights - free speech and the right to bear arms - is hysterically painted as some sort of threat to society [BTW, well done, sir, for maintaining your composure with Matthews. I can't say that I would have been so calm.]

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

The presumption of Matthew's bed-wetting is that regular people are not to be trusted. He points to the presidential assassinations and failed attempts as proof.

Consider this: Every president in the last 100 years has been surrounded by guns - government guns.

What is so maddening is that most regular people seem to agree with Matthew's view - only government guns can be trusted. That somehow, because you've taken a government oath, you are somehow anointed as 'trustworthy'.

Good Lord, how have we found ourselves in this upside-down world?

We have this great country because of the principle that government guns could not be trusted, and private guns were the guarantee for personal liberty. We built these beliefs into our Constitution.

I want you to add up the number of government officials assassinated by citizens, and compare it to the number of citizens assassinated by government officials. Ruby Ridge and Waco alone make the comparison lopsided. Work in the number of citizens killed by local police and federal alphabet-soup agencies and the comparison is off the charts.

But WE'RE not to be trusted.

I can't continue to waste energy on things I can't change. No Nanny State is going to become a place where I will talk about what can be done to insulate myself from the madness of the lemmings and their circus trainers. I can't change what the press does, or reverse a law when a government official does something stupid.

I can insulate myself against their actions.

I'm not folding up my tent with regards to railing against Nanny - I'll still do some posts about grotesque abuses of government powers - but by and large, they will be the exception, and not the rule.

I'm going to do more stuff on how we as individuals can help maintain and increase liberties for ourselves and for others. For example, instead of bitching about how the government and the press try to oppress dissent, I may do a post on how to organize a Tea Party. The focus will be on the action, not on the reason for the action.

One of the topics I'm going to more deeply investigate is propaganda. The socialists in government and the press are masters of the techniques. We who love personal freedom have to learn from their successes.

I want to talk about things to deaden the blow, and how to make their jobs more difficult when they intrude into my life without my permission. It's time to actually exercise some rights while we still have them.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Berries and Bullets 

The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.

Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the nine-millimeter bullet.
--Dave Barry

A buddy of mine and I went out and spent two hours picking blackberries. We did pretty well.

That, my friends, is 4 pounds, 5 ounces of fresh, ripe blackberries. At $5.33 a pound in the stores, we did OK.

We headed out for the Sacramento Delta levee roads to hit some of the bushes right on the road. At the first bush, we collected perhaps a quarter of a pound. The further and further we got off the main drag, the better the haul.

A couple of the bushes we hit looked almost untouched. We stopped at a total of 4 massive hedge rows of the stuff, and only picked the stuff that was easily accessible.

There was one problem: Spiders.

Click the picture to check out this sweet little pup -

These were some big-assed spiders - some perhaps with bodies of an inch and a half. They were everywhere on the windward side of the bushes. Not a spider to be found on the other side.

My guess is that they did this to get the grasshopper and crickets that were in abundance to blow into their webs. They were so thick, you'd think there wouldn't be enough food for them. We just took stick and moved the webs aside to get to the berries.

A portion of the berries will become blackberry jam (yessum!) and the rest will be crushed and added as flavoring to a portion of my hooch - a blackberry brandy of sorts. I'll ziplock these and freeze them, since the visual quality of the berry is irrelevant for this purpose.

If I get motivated, I may head out again for more berries to make an actual blackberry wine. The road we were picking on is 14 miles long, and we only picked from perhaps 2 miles of it.

LOTS of berries still available. I would say that the bushes we hit, the unripe-to-ripe ratio of berries was at least 10 to 1, probably higher. Should be a nice, long, plentiful season...

Just before I left for the berry pickin', another buddy called about ammo. He was up in Reno at a gun show (I had to pass, and NO not for the berries!). He's picking me up a butt-load of 9mm and .223REM at some very decent prices - much better than anything offered online.

In fact, the .223 is cheaper per round than anything I've purchased in the last 2 years, except for one small purchase 18 months ago. He got the 9mm for the same price as we got it back at the last gun show in April.

All name brand - all new, factory stuff.

So why is it in such abundance at gun shows, but not online or in gun stores? This just doesn't make any sense to me.

Here's a video of my wife getting the berries ready for the hooch...

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Soupin' It Up 

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.
--Ludwig van Beethoven

Speed is king.

At home, we nuke foods in the microwave - we can't get our "meals" down our gullets quickly enough. In a grid-down situation or while camping, fuel resources may be limited. You want food to be prepared quickly, with as little valuable fuel consumed as possible.

Wyn had a video post about a group that teaches bushcraft and survival skills - Bushcraft On Fire. I sniffed around their site and YouTube page (60+ videos of some decent stuff).

The videos Wyn posted were about making soups using natural greens and legume/grain flours. This was right up my Just Add Water (JAW) alley! What I like about these recipes is that by using flours, the cook time is considerably reduced. After your water comes up to a boil, you only need 3 or 4 minutes to have a meal!

First up, it required some legume and grain flours. I broke out my Family Grain Mill and made flour out of dent corn, yellow split peas and lentils.

I was surprised by the lentils. Very yellow on the inside. When I grind stuff, I put it through 2 or 3 progressively finer steps so I don't over-stress the mill. Here's what the green lentils looked like after the first "crush" -

After I made the flours, I followed two of the recipes to the letter. First, corn chowder -

Corn Chowder

Approx. 3 1/4 c. hot water

1/3 c. rounded fine corn flour or Masa (here's what I do. I put cornmeal in my coffee bean grinder and grind it until it's flour, quick and easy!!)

3 Tbsp. pea flour

1 Tbsp. chicken or vegetable bouillon

Hot sauce or cayenne pepper is awesome in it too!

Whisk flours and bouillon into your hot water and cook, stirring, for 1 minute over medium high heat. Cover and turn heat to low; cook 2-3 minutes. Serve with broken corn chips. Makes 2 hearty bowls full.
The result was an edible, pretty flavor-less, though fairly thick soup. It passed the "standing saltine" test. Still, definitely NOT a chowder.

I added some black pepper and a shot or two of hot sauce, and it was much better. I think this would be very good with some sort of smoked meat - ham or bacon come to mind. Some parboiled corn kernels would work nicely as well.

It's a keeper recipe with some minor adjustments for the JAW recipe files.

Next up was the lentil soup.

Just from looking at the recipe, I could tell it was going to be VERY thin. And it was.

Lentil Soup

4 c. hot water

2 tsp. lentil soup seasoning (See below this recipe)

4 Tbsp. green lentil flour

Have your canteen [your cooking pot] over medium heat (knock fire down to hot coals), whisk lentil flour into boiling water and add soup seasoning (below). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook 2 minutes. Serves 3-4.

Soup seasonings

8-10 Tbsp. salt

2 1/2 Tsp. garlic powder

3 Tbsp. black pepper

7 Tbsp. parsley flakes

5 Tbsp. dried chives

3 Tbsp. onion powder

3 Tbsp. paprika

Combine and store in airtight container (Keep in your kitchen and EDC kit)
As suspected, this was more of a broth than what I think of as a soup. It needed some sort of binder, as the lentils would separate from the liquid after a few minutes. It did not pass the "standing saltine" test -

The flavor was pretty good, though. I made up a batch of her Soup Seasoning, and used it to flavor this stuff.

It needs to be thicker, IMO. I guess if you were sick at home and just wanted some watery nutrition, it would do the trick. If I were out camping or in an emergency situation, I'd want a more substantial soup. As with the corn chowder, smoked meats would go very well with this.

In general, though, it's a keeper. I'm going to play with the recipes a bit, and I'll pass along any insights I come across.

Since I was spending the late afternoon and evening with preps, I decided to dehydrate some mushrooms.

I LOVES me some mushrooms! The problem is, when they're out of season, they're expensive as hell. If you buy the dried ones, you might as well hand over all of your gold and silver reserves to buy a couple ounces.

Another thing: I prefer the regular, white button mushrooms. They have a very good flavor, but don't over-power a dish. I had purchased some dried Shitake mushrooms which I used in a lasagna dish. I was OK with them, but my family went on strike!

So, I took 2 1/2 pounds of mushrooms and cut them up. When I was done with the dehydrating, I was left with 2.8 ounces! When I filled the trays, they were all packed very tightly (but not touching). Not so much afterwards -

They took a long time to dry out, as well. It took 2 hours at 90F, then 7 more hours at 130F.

Oh, and don't make the mistake I made. I finished drying them out last night, and just turned off the dehydrator. When I turned it off, they were crisp little 'shrooms. This morning, they had sucked up some moisture from the air and were pliable again. It took another 30 minutes in the dehydrator to get them crispy again.

I took two ounces and vacuum sealed them in two separate packs. I'm going to play with the other 0.8 ounce in some of the soup recipes.

Last item:

I took the split pea and lentil flour, plus the soup flavoring mix, and put them in mason jars. At the bottom of the picture is the two packages of vacuum sealed mushrooms -

I had also decided to add a paracord wrap for some knives I've been working on. I've been going down to Goodwill and buying old stainless steel butter knives for a quarter a piece. I grind them to shape, then sharpen.

They ain't pretty, but they're sharp as hell, and seem to hold an edge pretty well.

I'm going to make a couple of neck knives with a Trout and Bird knife style blade - not so pointy. I'll be putting wooden handles on those to improve the look, utility and longevity.

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