Hey, preppers. Maybe a generator isn’t the best investment…


Are you prepping for an electricity-dependent lifestyle? Or will you “go native”, following in the footsteps of our pre-electrical ancestry?

The tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest last weekend were a real eye-opener for beginner and intermediate preppers. I consider myself a little above intermediate in my preparations for emergencies. And even though the tornadoes were well south of us, I still found myself unecessarily scrambling when the power went out.

We had enough flashlights, but our youngest daughter had “borrowed” our brightest one and had not put back where it belonged. It took some searching in the dark with a smaller flashlight to find it.

The battery-less, wind-up flashlight my oldest daughter intended to use in emergencies was buried under piles of clothes in the basement bathroom and I just happened to find it when checking the sump pump.

And, while we did have enough candles for a few consecutive evenings of power outage, they were all of different sizes and types. We needed more, and we needed several with glass enclosures to reduce fire risk. What would have really been nice was if I had remembered to replace the batteries in the electric “camp lantern”, and maybe bought one for each room in the house.

Photo of a gas-powered portable generator

A portable generator in an emergency can ease the situation. It can also cause problems.

The biggest thing we were wishing for was a generator. It’s been on my list for a while, but because it’s easily one of the most expensive preparation items one can buy, obtaining one has been a financial challenge.

Most people buy a small, 3500 watt generator to switch between a freezer and refrigerator. For my family’s unique needs, I had to include enough wattage/amperage to run a freezer AND refrigerator, a sump and ejector pump in the basement, a well pump to pressurize our drinking water, and (for cold Chicago months especially) our furnace. And, the system had to be automatically self-starting and self-testing. At the present going rate of about $1/Watt for most generators, that puts me in the $10,000+ range. Especially if I want to be able to turn on any lights.

Several years ago, we did an appreciable amount of research on the cost and setup of a range of systems: from whole-home generators to generators that would run only the items noted above. Our goal was to have a setup that would automatically kick in for a short-term power outage (my wife and I not being mechanically gifted), but also have enough reserve fuel and capacity to take care of our power needs for a month or more (anticipating a man-made or natural EMP event or power grid hacking attack).

We were about to buy a system from a local installer when it occurred to us that, in the increasingly likely event there is an EMP triggered by the Sun or by a rogue country, a generator would be somewhat useless.

Why? With fuel from a municipal natural gas line, there is no guarantee that gas will continue to be delivered. Line pressure could be difficult if not impossible to maintain when the demand for gas soars in a power outage. What if the central pressurization plant has no power? That means no gas for your generator.

There are huge impracticalities and dangers in storing hundreds of gallons of gasoline, kerosene, or diesel fuel for liquid fuel generators. Also, think about this: in an emergency, do you you want to use your gasoline for electricity, or for spare fuel in case you have to Get Out Of Dodge or drive somewhere to get supplies?

Small propane bottles, while safer to store, are troublesome depending on how much space you have. Constantly swapping out smaller bottles that quickly empty could be a real non-starter in a situation where exposing yourself to mobs, nuclear fallout or chemical attacks is an issue.

Storing fuel in the form of a large, fixed-base propane tank is impossible in some communities with zoning ordinances that prohibit it. Sure, you could probably afford to ignore city ordinances after a disaster, but by then it’s too late.

And, by the time you get into the range of features and wattage that puts you in an optimal position of preparedness, you’re looking at systems that are largely digitally controlled, and which would be set up to supply power to digitally-controlled home systems. If there’s an EMP, your $10,000+, digitally-controlled generator would become a useless, and expensive, lawn decoration. Even the smaller generators have digital components that would render the setup useless if the circuit board got fried.

Sure, you could store spare digital controllers inside Faraday cages and hope they’ll still be okay after an EMP event (and that you’d know how to replace the fried one). But that still doesn’t address the fuel storage issues noted above.

So, even though we still wished we’d had a generator this past weekend, when we thought about it, spending $10,000 on a system that might never work as intended was a huge loss of survival value when compared to what that money could buy today in food, medical supplies, gas masks, guns, ammo, clothing, other preparation-focused home improvements, and other gear. We seemed to be better served by learning how to live a pre-electrical lifestyle in a long-term catastrophe than by trying to maintain a short term, 2013 existence.

There are others who have come to this conclusion as well. I’m not saying nobody should ever get a generator. But, you should carefully consider whether it’s the best idea for your situation, or if old-school living is a better option.

What’s your plan? Will you be investing in keeping up an electricity-dependent lifestyle, or will you “go native”, following in the footsteps of our pre-electricity ancestry?

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Declare Food Independence! Grow an Apocalypse Garden.


So, the world has ended and you don’t know where you’ll get your next meal? This is one case where you’ll want to be ON the grid.

In preparation for this or next year’s global economic collapse, I built and grew this garden.

Apocalypse Garden: Not your grandfather's Victory garden, but it'll do in a pinch.

Apocalypse Garden: Not your grandfather’s Victory garden, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Grow your own food in a limited space

Grow (lots of) your own food in a limited space

I actually had a dream one night in February about doing this. Even though I can’t now recall the details, the feeling of the dream was of extreme urgency and it focused on planting and growing LOTS of food, both for my family and for charity.

In hindsight, it was good I had paid attention to my dream. The midwest, where I live, is in the grip of a brutal drought. Temperatures as I write this are expected to soar into the 103-105 degree range today, and even higher tomorrow. It hasn’t rained significantly for over a month now and there is still no rain in sight.

But I’m ok. This garden is thriving due to our mineral-rich, non-flouridated, non-chlorinated well water being sprinkled on it each evening. My corn stalks are twice the height of some of the “drought-resistant” farmer varieties I see today from the roadside.

Anyway, after the dream I had, I wondered how I would do this without having to remove turf (a task which I hate with a white hot hate). Research revealed that a square foot gardening approach, using raised beds made of wood, is the best way to avoid this pain (and a trip to the chiropractor).

After having put it all together, I can verify that square foot gardening is MUCH more preferable to digging up your lawn as with a traditional garden. You can just build and lay down wooden boxes, put newspaper in the bottom, then fill them up with the soil mixture of your choice. It also makes managing a garden a more tailored and specific approach than the row gardening we usually think of. That extra attention for each plant results in higher yields.

So, for the impatient (or for the Johnny-Come-Latelys trying to catch up), here’s how to build an Apocalypse Garden. Later in this article, I’ll talk about planning and cost.

You’ll need:

  • a piece of property with an area big enough to grow supplemental food for your entire family + charity (your own, or “borrowed” from a farmer or neighbor friend). With square foot gardening, it doesn’t have to be much property.
  • 8″ x 12′ lengths of cedar siding, with V-groove on two sides (cedar is rot/mildew resistant)
  • 2″ x 2″ x 8′ furring strips
  • 3/4″ deck screws
  • table saw or miter box with handsaw
  • chop saw, circular saw, or handsaw
  • cordless drill
  • band clamp
  • measuring tape
  • twine (for laying out grids)
  • staple gun (for stapling the twine to the boxes)

Assembly Instructions

  1. Measure your garden area. Be sure it’s in a spot where there is lots of sun all day long. Also call your local utilities to make sure it won’t conflict with any gas or power lines underground, just in case you do later decide to dig a garden rather than have a raised bed garden. It’s a good idea to “make the math easy” by measuring out in dimensions of even numbers divisible by 2. My garden measurement is 20′ by 44′. This gives me a 2′ buffer/barrier on all sides (for mulch or insect-repelling flowers), and a total of twenty-one, 4’x4′ boxes arranged in a grid so that there is exactly 2′ of space between them. The 2′ space between the boxes is wide enough for an average push lawn mower to get between them to cut the grass and is comfortable for using a weed trimmer to keep the grass from growing too high around the boxes. It’s also just wide enough to get in a comfortable kneeling or sitting position to tend to the grids.

    Graph paper sketch of a basic square foot garden layout

    Graph paper sketch of a basic square foot garden layout

  2. 4' lengths of v-groove cedar siding

    4′ lengths of v-groove cedar siding

    With the table saw or miter box set at a 45° bevel angle, cut four, 4 foot lengths of cedar siding, with the ends beveled “inward” (45° miter joint) so you can make a box.

    To my math and woodworking-challenged brain, this was the hardest part. You have to get as close as you can to complementary 45° angles on each end’s cuts so that you get a perfect (or as near to perfect as you can get) 90° corner when the box is assembled. However, it’s worth it in the long run. Mitering the ends reduces waste. It also eliminates the problem of having to cut square ends, but making sure that the two “inner” boards are cut shorter than the two “outer” boards so that all the sides measure exactly 4′.

    Reserve and mark with a pencil or pen the first of the cuts you make as a model for the rest, using it to measure out the other three from your lengths of siding. This is important for consistency of the first box you’re making which will be a model for the others you build on top of it.

    If you make a mistake with the miter configuration on a board, set it aside for making 2′ x 2′ boxes later. Two by two boxes are good for “nesting” on top of soil already within a 4′ x 4′ box, or as standalones.

  3. Cut furring strip into 5" blocks, four to a box

    Cut furring strip into 5″ blocks, four to a box

    Cut four, 5″ lengths of furring strip lumber. These are for the inside corners.

    You usually can’t find these 2″ x 2″ x 10′ lumber cuts in cedar (usually only pine), so they’re not as rot-resistant. Metal brackets like you use for decking would have been better, but they were too expensive.

    Besides, if these rot, I can just replace them very cheaply. In hindsight, I might have dipped them in Thompson’s Water Seal or linseed oil to further resist rot, but some gardeners would hesitate to add these compounds to their wood for fear that they might leech into the soil and contaminate the crop.

  4. Band clamping the corners at 90 degree angles

    Band clamping the corners at 90 degree angles

    Setting the sides together in a box on the floor, with the “tongue” edge of the siding touching the floor, dry-assemble the box using the band clamp to hold all four sides together. The band clamp working against the mitered ends will have friction enough to hold the box together until you can screw the 5″ long furring strip blocks to the inside corners for permanent support.

    Drilling the pilot holes so the cedar boards don't split

    Drilling the pilot holes so the cedar boards don’t split

  5. Place the furring strip blocks in each corner, sitting on the ground.Having them sitting on the ground, rather than trying to center them between the top and bottom edges of the board, ensures that the 5″ furring strip blocks are flush with the “tongue” edge of the box. This is important if you want ease of assembly when stacking boxes as your soil depth needs change. This way, you won’t have to clear dirt off the top of the block when you assemble more boxes on top.
  6. Drill pilot holes smaller than the diameter of the screws in the places where you will fasten the boards to the furring strip blocks. This will keep the cedar siding from splitting as you fasten everything together.
    Use two 3/4" decking screws to secure each corner

    Use two 3/4″ decking screws to secure each corner

    Use two screws on each end (4 screws per side) for maximum strength. At the end of this process, you will have one, fully assembled garden box. Use this one as the “standard model” for building the others so all your boxes are uniform in dimensions and angles.

  7. Use the first side you cut and marked for the model box to measure and cut subsequent pieces of siding into 4′ lengths.
  8. Flip the model box over so that now the “groove” edge is touching the floor.
  9. Assemble the next box on top of the “model” box by inserting the grooves of the next four 4′ lengths into the tongues of the model box’s sides. Band clamp and gradually tighten the band clamp as you adjust this new box so that the corners are nice and square (90° angles). Cut and place more 5″ furring strip blocks in the corners, and screw it all together as with the first.
  10. Repeat steps above for creating box upon box until you have enough, or the “stack” gets too high to work on. Then separate the boxes (boxen?) by prying them apart with a screwdriver at the points where the ends of each level’s 5″ furring strip blocks meet.
Building boxes on a stack for uniformity

Building boxes on a stack for uniformity

Now, just take these puppies out, toss ’em on the ground where you want to grow a garden, layer in some newspaper, and fill them up with rich, healthy soil. Plant and eat, my friend!

Planning

The planning process begins in the winter, well before you begin to plant, or even build your boxes. You need to figure out things like which vegetables will do well in your zone, which sizes of boxes to have, what your family eats (or will likely eat) the most, adding in nutritional needs, what you can likely barter, and what crops are likely to be “bumper” crops for charity or for bulk usage at home.

Again, it’s important to think of how you cook and what you eat to determine which mix of vegetables and fruits you’ll likely use. It makes no sense to grow, say, boxes and boxes of onions if nobody in your family likes them (unless that’s a good sale, barter or charity item in your area).

With a traditional garden you typically work with a homogeneous soil mixture in a large garden area consisting of rows of plants. The point of a square foot garden, of course, is to garden individual plants using 1′ x 1′ spaces to separate your plants according to their type, nutritive needs, and growing season.

Additional advantages of square foot gardening include easier weeding, more attention to detail for each plant or plant group growing in a grid space, flexibility about where you can plant food (especially in limited spaces), among other things.

For example, if I want to use, say, four of my 1×1 spaces in a box for a certain type of plant requiring a delicate balance of soil mixture, I can easily dig out just the squares in the grid where I need that soil, maybe put some cardboard, plastic, or wooden dividers in to create a barrier between the two soil types, and then introduce my custom mix just into those grids.

I sketched my layout on graph paper. Note that you’re not limited to the sizes and configuration I’ve presented above. You can lengthen your boxes as much as you want (strawberries do well in beds built to 12′ x 4′). The only limitation you’ll want to impose is no more than 4′ wide on a side. That will make it easy to reach in and tend your plants.

For pest control, you can paint the box sides with fox or coyote urine granules dissolved in water. This keeps away the rabbits (fox) and deer (coyote) and, as I found, has the added bonus of keeping Max, my tomcat, from using the boxes for nature’s call.

Also, lots of insects hate the smells of certain flowers such as marigolds. I haven’t done this yet, but you can use the outer buffer space to build a “wall” of insect-resistant flowers around your garden. It’s like a force field against bugs!

For seeds, I went online to ParkSeed.com and Gardeners.com, two of my favorite online gardening providers. They’re not the cheapest, but I was looking for more than my local “big box” gardening store could provide. I picked out varieties that I knew would do well in my growing zone and that my family would eat. I tried to avoid hybrids and “Big-Ag” seed brands and instead sought to buy heirloom seeds wherever possible. That way I could avoid GMO crops and “legally” (blech) preserve some seed for subsequent years’ crops so as to cut my costs even further as time goes on.

I used Word to build a simple table to represent the garden and typed letters of the alphabet in each box keyed to represent each plant. This combats the “what the heck did I plant there” and “is that a weed or is it food” problems I often encounter as the plants begin to germinate.

As a homeschooler, I also tried to get all scientific and began building a journal of data on each plant I planned to grow, and a log where I could record what was working well and what was not. I wanted to use it as a homeschool unit study. But a) my kids just aren’t as interested as I am in gardening, let alone all that data (unlike government schools, we don’t force subjects on our kids before they’re ready or interested) and b) it was starting to get in the way of the ultimate goal of actually planting the garden.

Cost

The method behind my madness was in looking towards and beyond a deep, global financial disaster like the one on our doorstep right now. Make no mistake, folks. Just as this garden isn’t your grandfather’s Victory Garden, this financial crisis is not your father’s recession, or even depression. NOBODY knows where this is going, nor how it will end, because NEVER in the history of the world has our society been so complex.

Gold flakes for breakfast again?!

Gold flakes for breakfast again?!

So you’ve invested in gold? You can’t eat gold, my friend. Though, maybe you’ll want to eat it when the bottom eventually falls out of that market and the food supply is dwindling. When the SHTF and TEOTWAWKI happens, there is going to be a big hurt put on developed nations. I shudder to think of what will happen to our brothers and sisters in developing nations. May God have mercy on all of our souls.

I wanted my project to be one that would be sustainable in the event that the Home Depots and the Lowes and the Menards of the local area suddenly ran out of inventory, or shut down altogether. Therefore, the design I came up with was as minimalistic and as modular as possible without sacrificing too much longevity of the final product. I didn’t want to have to repeat the major overhaul cycle very often, but I also didn’t want to spend a lot.

I lost track of specific costs in the middle of the build process, but my estimate for how much I’ve spent on what you see in the photos above is between $1,000 and $1,500. That’s for a fairly big garden capable of supplementing, or replacing if necessary, nutrition for 7 to 9 people. Not too many folks have that kind of money just lying around, and such means will be impossible for most when the end of the financial world comes (which is a good reason to build this NOW). However, you’d be surprised at how quickly even meager means can accumulate if you just do without some non-essentials for a few weeks or months. It’s definitely manageable.

If nothing else, consider this an investment rather than an unrecoverable expense. The first year’s yield will probably not pay for it, but subsequent year yields will.

Still not convinced? Just ask yourself how much you’d pay for any amount of food security in a crisis and you’ll have your Return-On-Investment calculation right there.

See Birth of a Square Foot Garden for an alternate method to the one I’m showing here. That way is more expensive and work-intensive than my method, but also builds in some great convenience features and looks much nicer. My way isn’t pretty but looks better than a row garden. It isn’t cheap, especially when compared to gouging out a chunk of ground, dumping in some dirt, and planting away. But, for those with limited space, bad soil, or bad backs, it is much more scalable and manageable for the money you’re spending than other square foot gardening container ideas I’ve seen. Seniors with walkers, canes, in electric scooters or even wheelchairs can manage a raised bed, square foot garden. Not so easy with row gardening.

I did already have one cost advantage going into this. In another area of my lot, also about 880 sqft, I had placed a traditional garden several years ago. At the time, before we knew the “lay of the land” of our new property purchase, it seemed like a great place. So, we bought several cubic yards of topsoil pre-fertilized with cow manure and hauled it from where it was dumped in the front yard all the way to the back. We planted all sorts of stuff and then sat back and waited for the bounty.

The garden was a flop. The problem ended up being that it didn’t get enough sunlight, what with our yard being in a depleted-and-converted gravel pit and backing up to the incline of said gravel pit, and trees on that hill blocking the afternoon sunlight. By about 2:00pm on hot June days, our plants were starved of direct sunlight, resulting in scrawny, pale plants that died before fruiting.

Fast forward several years, with multiple dumpings of grass clippings and compost on the “failed garden”, and “suddenly” we found ourselves with 12″ of premium, fertile black topsoil. I cannot say enough good about layered composting of grass clippings, folks. Forget the garden waste recycling brown bag kabuki theater your local Waste Management and government puts you through. Just pile that stuff in an unused corner of your yard and wait five years.  Add a container, worms and compost accelerator if you don’t want to wait that long. Either way, you won’t be shelling out hundreds of dollars for what I like to call “baggies of soil” at the garden center. You, like the independent American Patriot you are, will have made your own dirt. 😉

Planting

Once you’ve built all the boxes you need, get the area ready by mowing any grass as close as you can to the ground. I mean really crop it by setting your mower to its lowest setting. That will give you a head start on killing the lawn under your boxes so that you don’t grow more grass than lettuce.

Next, lay out your grid how you like it. I’m an OCD kind of guy, so all my garden boxes had to be in a perfect grid of 3 boxes by 7 boxes with 2′ of buffer space on each side of a box. But do it however you like. The only things that really matter are sufficient drainage under each box and ensuring that as the sun travels across the sky, the taller plants won’t cast a shadow over the smaller ones. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, that means placing taller plants to the North, shorter plants to the South.

Now, put down a couple of layers of newspaper as a blocking barrier for the grass underneath. It will choke out the grass there and eventually decompose. Besides, all that liberal B.S. “journalism” is cheaper than landscaping cloth and so is good for this at least, right? And, you’re helping the environment, so pat yourself on the back. Maybe. If that makes you feel good or something.

Fill each box with your topsoil mixture. You can go with Mel Bartholomew’s special mix, buy topsoil locally, or use your own compost. Mel’s Mix and his canonical square foot gardening methods (though more expensive) are really good for keeping weeds at bay. If you don’t mind some weeding (I find it mentally cleansing, character-building, and a good squatting exercise for leg muscles) topsoil or compost will do. Weeding is also a great chore bribe for when your kids want something and you want a little quid pro quo.

Like cereal in a box, the soil will settle after a bit, so be sure to have more soil on hand to top it off after the settling has occurred. Break up any clods to help speed this up and make your soil mixture and consistency more uniform. Add earthworms for aeration. If you’re doing the layered compost like I did, you should already have the worms step covered.  Follow any other great green thumb advice you prefer or that works for your area with regards to soil.

Of course, it’s not REAL square foot gardening unless you establish a grid. With your boxes laid out and filled, you’re ready to create the 1′ x 1′ grids on top of each box. Some people use thin furring strips cut to fit horizontally across the top of the box. Others, like me, use twine stretched and stapled to the edges of the box. The grid is there to help you place your plants neatly in the centers and to aid you in managing the soil requirements, watering, feeding, and care of heterogeneous plant groupings within a single box, so don’t skip this step.

Completed square foot garden boxes, filled with soil, and gridded.

Completed square foot garden boxes, filled with soil, and getting started with gridding.

Now you’re ready to start planting.  There’s a lot to be said for starting seedlings and transplanting. I’m not that kind of gardener…yet. It just takes too much effort for me to find a place in the house in February that the kids won’t disturb, gets enough sunlight, won’t be tempting as a litter box for the cat, etc. I just plant and pray after the first frost, like our grandparents used to do, and 9 times out of 10 I get a good result. I do have plans to convert an old aboveground pool deck into a greenhouse and chicken coop, but that’s a subject for a future post.

So, just stick those seeds in the individual grids according to the instructions. With square foot gardening you’ll want to modify what your typical Burpee-type seed packet says (Park Seed is remarkably square foot gardening friendly in all its labeling, though sometimes they skimp on the seed count).

Use the Square Foot Gardening Plant Spacing table, and common sense, as a key. For example, with carrots, I used the “four finger method” of sticking four of my fingers into the soil as far apart as I could stretch them. This placed depressions for receiving the seed at the optimal distance from each other across the 1′ span. Repeat three or four times to fill the 1′ x 1′ square, then do the same to all the other squares in the box.

But, don’t make the mistake I did. With square foot gardening and thick-growth seeds like carrots, you don’t need to plant every carrot seed in the packet. Just sow between one and three per spot in the grid and you avoid all the thinning later.

Now, for things like pole beans, peas, and other “climbing” or “trellising” plants, I lashed bamboo poles together with zip ties, tied nylon twine between the spaces, and created a structure for them to climb as they matured. This is the fun part because there are literally dozens of ways to do this per plant. Get creative and try different ideas.

For my potatoes (Yukon Gold variety), I’m simply stacking boxes using the tongue and groove of my cedar siding! To add more soil depth for my carrots (Scarlet Nantes), and corn (sweet, of course), I likewise stacked on another box and added more soil.

Political and Social Implications

Be aware that the Obama administration, which is in bed with Monsanto, is working hard to make sure that small farms and maybe even homegrown gardens cannot be used for capitalistic ends. Therefore, if you intend to sell fresh produce or capture seeds from your garden, be prepared for the eventuality that bills-to-become-laws like SB.510, the “food safety” bill, will go down the slippery slope these types of laws tend to go down and brand you a criminal for doing so. [sarcasm] Don’t be surprised if that bill passes with a clause that all produce growers must pray to Monsanto when saying grace over the food. [/sarcasm]

But things We the People are losing the ability to control aside, if you are physically able, it is up to YOU to maintain your dignity and freedom. Take care of YOURSELF and YOUR OWN FAMILY, no matter what the government is telling you it will do for you. The guaranteed outcomes they promise simply can’t be counted on, nor are they worth the cost. YOU are the master of your destiny and the captain of your soul. Don’t fall for the rhetoric that the “smart guys” in Washington D.C. will take care of you in a crisis. They won’t.

Listen to centuries of conventional wisdom and learn to care for yourself and your neighbors through being charitable. Apply what you’ve learned about gardening to helping others through neighborhood or community garden systems. There’s nothing like being the community expert on growing or providing food to buy you “protection” from hoodlums or mafiosos trying to take advantage of a dire situation. Also, charity, the pure love of Christ, is disarming to anyone marching into your house and demanding your food.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked. You will be blessed for doing so.

Northeastern Atheists Reject Well-Wisher’s Sentiments, Thumb Noses at God


The attitudes and rudeness of some in the face of true, life endangering peril is truly astounding. Take this man’s comments, for instance:

Northeastern Atheists Reject Well-Wisher's Sentiments, Thumb Noses at God

You can read the responses at NYC Mayor: City May Turn Off Power where most other Northeasterners chastise the man for so callously disregarding the well-wishes of others. Still, there are some co-atheists who join him in his negative sentiments.

This kind of attitude, sadly, is becoming more prevalent as people either forget God, or outright reject him in the same way a toddler rejects his parents’ attempts to placate him during a temper tantrum. I wish they could know what I know about God and His deep care and love for us.

It is a teenager’s nature to say “I HATE YOU!” to his parents when things don’t go his way or when bad things happen, even when his parents didn’t exactly cause those things deliberately and would rather he learn from the situation. Similarly, it is the way of atheists to shake their fists to the sky (at what, they don’t know) and proclaim curses against God, who is simply waiting for them to learn and grow from the natural adversities of life.

Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century pop...

Image via Wikipedia

That is the purpose of this life…not to be cushioned in a bubble so that nothing bad happens and everything good happens. That would be a very dull and boring life indeed.

Easy for me to say, living in the Midwest where no hurricane activity happens and in a part far enough North to not see a whole lot of tornado activity, right? Not all adversity is storm-related. We can’t assume that just because a person appears to be living a charmed life that they haven’t experienced, or won’t experience, some kind of tribulation. Some atheists would be wise to realize this.

The notion of feeling like you’re so self-reliant that you don’t need God to protect you for any reason whatsoever is just so much spitting into the wind. It’s to blind oneself from the hugely destructive possibilities of both nature and mankind. Prayer DOES work, even if it doesn’t work as the person praying the prayer intends. Having had much experience with answered prayers, I can say definitively that had God answered my prayers the way I had wanted Him to, I would have brought down much more difficulty on myself than His ignoring them might ever have done.

God knows what is best for us…whether we choose to acknowledge Him or not. Trust Him, and not the “arm of the flesh”.

Review & Outlook: The Road to a Downgrade – WSJ.com


Folks, I just can’t say it any better than this.

Review & Outlook: The Road to a Downgrade – WSJ.com.

Then came Mr. Obama, arguably the most spendthrift president in history. He inherited a recession and responded by blowing up the U.S. balance sheet. Spending as a share of GDP in the last three years is higher than at any time since 1946. In three years the debt has increased by more than $4 trillion thanks to stimulus, cash for clunkers, mortgage modification programs, 99 weeks of jobless benefits, record expansions in Medicaid, and more.

The forecast is for $8 trillion to $10 trillion more in red ink through 2021. Mr. Obama hinted in a press conference earlier this month that if it weren’t for Republicans, he’d want another stimulus. Scary thought: None of this includes the ObamaCare entitlement that will place 30 million more Americans on government health rolls.

 

Let’s put it this way. If you have a chunk of money to invest, or at least keep from losing, who are you going to trust? The financial experts with skin in the game at WSJ, or the Obama sycophants at HuffyPost?

Are you ready for an EMP attack?


I’m in the middle of researching how to prepare my family for the risk of a massive EMP attack on the United States. I have food storage, am off the grid for water and sewer, have researched raising chickens for protein, and already have gardening skills. My final step to get off the grid is to purchase a natural gas generator with a propane tank for backup in case the local gas company can’t get it to me from direct gas line.

Eh? An EMP attack, you say? What’s that?

When a nuclear warhead is exploded on the ground, the result is devastating, but usually limited to a certain radius depending on the size of the warhead. The nuclear fallout, while also a big problem for people downwind of it, is not as permanent as Hollywood leads us to believe as the half-life of the radiation is quick to dissipate it, along with weather and other natural processes. (See my post about Hiroshima).

In short, it takes a lot of warheads to destroy a country the size of the U.S. by brute force, ground zero devastation alone. We learned that through the multiple wargame scenarios of the Cold War.

However, when a nuclear warhead is exploded at high altitude, the effects are much more devastating.  That’s because of a phenomenon called “electro-magnetic pulse“. Basically, the explosion, while not producing dreaded nuclear fallout, produces high energy radio waves that fry all electronics within a huge geographic region.

Now, think about how much we depend on electronics and computers to run our lives. One warhead can instantly cause hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure damage. Not because that warhead wiped it all off the map, but because its radio wave emissions essentially cooked the circuits that run that infrastructure.  Your car won’t start, your computer won’t boot, your phone won’t work, your bank can’t transfer money, your grocery store can’t resupply, and hundreds of other similar disaster scenarios will take place.  To reconstruct that infrastructure can take years, if not decades. And we might never fully recover with the effects of social upheaval and invasions from opportunistic foreign invaders.

It would take, at most, four nuclear warheads of modest yield launched over four quadrants of the U.S. from space lift adapted, container-based launchers in international waters (see also “Club-K Container Missile System” while it’s still available for view by the public) to produce an almost total, decades-long technology blackout of the U.S. and even parts of Canada and Mexico.

America would instantly be sent back to the era of the 1850s for a long time, leaving us extremely vulnerable in a world that would suddenly be technologically 160 years ahead of us.

More info on EMP effects:

http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/future-weapons-emp-bomb.html
http://www.futurescience.com/emp/emp-protection.html

So, who would launch such an attack?

I’m keeping a close eye on what’s going on with Iran. A few years ago they were launching ballistic missiles from the Caspian Sea and exploding them at apogee (highest point in flight). The press called it “a failure” because the rockets blew up. But, of course, they were ignorant (or deliberately misleading) of the fact that if you’re going to launch an EMP attack, that’s exactly what you’d want.  Placing two off the east and west coasts in international waters, launching them in an arc over each of four quadrants of the U.S., and detonating the warheads at between 60 and 200 miles up would be absolutely devastating.

Now Iran also has four submarines. They just took delivery of them last week. They don’t appear to be capable of launching ballistic missiles, and while Iran’s submarine program appears to have the relatively local goal of controlling the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf, they could also be valuable as defensive support for container-based launches.
Take these quotes from Ahmadinejad, and particularly this one:

Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved…

We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization… we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.

That was in October 2005 when he gave a speech at a conference ominously entitled, “The World Without Zionism”.

Notice the graphics Ahmadinejad displayed at that conference. The U.S. is going to be hit before Israel. Very, very frightening.

And, indeed, that’s the intended effect.

Ahmadinejad has had 5 years since then to test missiles and build his nuclear “energy” program. It’s almost certain he has already acquired at least one nuclear warhead, if not more, either from his own efforts or from bartering with North Korea, Russia, China, and/or Pakistan.

And why is Ahmadinejad telegraphing his intentions like this? Why not use the element of surprise?

The short answer is, he doesn’t need to.

What did Obama do just after taking office? First, he scrapped the Bush-era missile defense system saying a newer, better one would be placed in Europe. (How that would defend us against an attack in international waters in the Pacific is anybody’s guess).

But, then he killed the missile defense program with our allies in Europe, which ticked them off so much that it’s doubtful we’ll EVER get a chance to set up another system.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in favor of missile defense asked “why now” when funding was cut for the program. Well, it should be obvious to them, shouldn’t it? Especially with the bowing and scraping Obama has done with respect to the Islamic world before and during his presidency.

After Iran gets nuclear capabilities, there are over 30 other Islamic nations that will be clamoring to get them. Indeed, they have already filed paperwork with the U.N. in this regard (source pending).

Read “The Nuclear Jihadist” to discover how really bad the nuclear situation is over in the middle east. The news will not tell you.

Truly, the next scariest thing to the proliferation of nuclear arms in the Islamic world is the proliferation of evidence that “President” Obama is working behind the scenes to ensure the destruction of the United States and Israel.

What isn’t being said (enough) about the Gulf oil spill


A dear friend asked out loud on Facebook today what people made of the total absence of benefit concerts for the oil spill cleanup. Most of the folks that organize these things are wracked with guilt. They’d never admit it, of course, but they know deep down that it was extreme environmentalism that drove us away from safer land and near-shore drilling to the very risky “10 miles out and one mile down” scenario in which we find ourselves now. This disaster is partly, if not mostly, on them, so they’re not exactly eager to start raising funds for the cleanup.  They would then have to deal with the PR consequences that would come from admitting the folly of pushing America in the direction of the deepest sea drilling ever attempted in lieu of land-based drilling. They need to explain how the added risk was worth it.

We also have the Department of Energy to thank for this. The Department of Energy was instituted on 8-04-1977 as a result of the energy crisis of that time with the express purpose of reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Part of its mandate was to develop both clean energy sources AND fossil fuels in parallel so that a) we’d have an inexpensivesource of energy through our fossil fuels here at home while b) developing renewable and cleaner solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and anything else that could be discovered. The wide-eyed plans of the time called for acres and acres of solar energy plants, and even plans to beam concentrated solar energy from space to the ground via large orbiting microwave transmitters.

But something went horribly wrong.

It is now 2010. We still depend on foreign sources of oil. We’ve shut down all but a few of our refineries, and even those aren’t running at top capacity or maintained very well. We are now prohibited from using our own underground sources for oil. We’re no closer to a viable, efficient fuel cell technology than we were in 1977. Solar efficiency has only gone up 10% since then. The cleanest, most abundant and efficient, and measurably environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear power (yes, nuclear…it’s not your father’s nuclear). Other nations are building plants by the dozens, but we’ve become so paralyzed by the stigma of the word “nuclear” that we decided to cut off our own nose just to spite our faces. Nobody in the science community who wants to keep their credentials and funding dares utter very loudly our need to restart and rebuild our nuclear facilities.

The budget for the DOE is now over $25 billion a year. They have 16,000 federal employees and approximately 100,000 contract employees.

33 years, two generations of federal employees, and hundreds of billions of dollars later and we’re no better off than we were in 1977. In some ways, we’re worse off, especially now that we have to go so far out into the ocean for oil that one mistake costs the world its oceans.

Who would like to contact their congressperson and demand a restructuring or even outright elimination of the Department of Energy?

The savings from eliminating that department alone would help pay many of the costs associated with the oil spill clean-up.

If that sounds like crazy talk, ask yourself if you’d keep going to the same doctor after discovering that each time you take his prescriptions, you inexplicably keep getting sicker. At some point, we have to stop the sickness by refusing to take our “medicine” and getting a second opinion.

But should you hold your breath for the media to come out and talk about these things? The answer is a demonstrable “no”, as evidenced by this breathless rhetoric (appropriately entitled “If There Was Ever a Moment to Seize”) coming from Bill McKibben of Firedoglake.com, who seems stuck in the pre-ClimateGate past:

The planet’s future (and [Obama’s] legacy) will, in the long run, be defined by his response to global warming, which is clearly the greatest problem humans have ever faced.

If we were rapidly running out of oil, scarcity would drive up its price and make alternatives affordable without needing subsidies. But Obama left out the facts about our abundant untapped onshore reserves. As Heritage Foundation energy expert David Kreutzer notes,

  • ‘He also could have noted that billions of barrels of “easily accessible” oil have been turned into “impossible to access” oil by federal regulations and moratoria that block any access. There is still a lot of non-deep sea oil available off the coast of California that can be accessed from onshore. And, don’t forget, there are the 10 billion barrels in ANWR. All of this oil has been placed completely off limits by federal regulations.’

Instead, Obama’s speech simultaneously condemned overspending and denounced subsidies to big oil–even as he proposed spending billions more in new subsidies for the competitors of oil and gas.

Nuclear power, however, has far more abundant potential and needs only the lifting of government barriers rather than subsidies. As noted by Heritage’s nuclear expert, Jack Spencer, “the monthly cost of producing electricity from uranium-based fuel remains slightly less than coal and substantially less than natural gas or oil” because, “Nuclear power is the least expensive form of electricity produced in the United States.”

But nuclear does not fit political correctness. So another proposal is a backdoor subsidy that does not give government money directly toward alternative energy but instead dictates that utilities must generate certain levels of our electricity from sources like wind and solar (but not nuclear) — a so-called RES “renewable energy standard.”

But for anyone who believes we can power America solely through windmills (even though it is costlier), dream on. This would require 55,000 square miles densely packed with nothing but windmills. That’s like emptying the entire state of Wisconsin and making it all windmills all the time. But our lights would still go dark when the wind wasn’t blowing.

Solar power is even trickier than wind power, requiring rare elements to build solar cells, plus daylight and large surface area.


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