Friday, May 23, 2008

Hot Tip:

Target has some emergency preparedness knick knacks in their $1 bin. Some of the things that I saw were mini first aid kits, light sticks, emergency blankets, inflatable pillows, Cutter bug spray, cheapo swiss army knives, flashlights, splinter removal kits, a 5 in 1 emergency whistle and some small lexan bottles. There were probably a few other things that I can't remember. I got this tip from Arfcom so I'm assuming that it's the same at Targets everywhere.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

So This is What Peak Oil Looks Like

The price of oil has been getting a lot of media attention in the last couple of days. $10-$14 a gallon gas is just over the horizon! People will starve because they're pouring all of their money into their gas tanks! American Airlines wants to charge $15 for carry on luggage to help offset fuel costs! It's all big oil's fault! The speculator's are driving up prices! This is probably just a bubble that we have to figure out how to pop! There has to be an answer! We've all seen this coming for a while but now that it's getting to the general public they're demanding action. Realistically, there's only one answer. I'll get to that later, though.

Whether or not we've hit peak oil there are a few things that we've got to realize. Production isn't going up. Whether or not OPEC can pump more oil they're not doing it. They've demonstrated that they're perfectly happy keeping production at the current level or even a bit under that as long as people keep paying more and more for it. The longer they can keep that up the better for them. I guess they're not as dumb as we thought?

Oil is a commodity. The market dictates the price. It wouldn't be this expensive if people weren't willing to pay for it. The price is certainly extremely volatile right now but it's not going to settle down until we hit a price that's more than people are willing to pay or can afford.

We aren't the only ones in the mix, though. The demand in India and China just keeps going up and up and up. If we decide that we don't want to pay anymore then OPEC will just start selling to them. Then what do we do? We can start using our own reserves but first our government has to let us drill. Even if we could start drilling tomorrow it would take time and money to get to the point where we could extract a meaningful amount. Even if things went perfectly and we started production tomorrow our supplies wouldn't hold out for long. Eventually we'd end up right back where we're at now.

It's obvious to me that we're living through peak oil. There are still plenty of reserves out there. We'll continue to discover new wells with a few billion barrels of it here and there. We might even start drilling in old wells that we'd previously closed because it wasn't cost effective to keep them open. There may be plenty of oil left but ol' Jeb aint gonna become a millionaire while he's shootin up some food ever again.

The cheap, easy to get to oil is gone. The oil wells that we've been "discovering" recently are extremely expensive and difficult to get to. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if the oil companies have known about them for years. Why bother even acknowledging them if they weren't cost effective? What's left is just so expensive and difficult to extract that the price of oil has nowhere to go but up. That's why it's becoming expensive. If we keep using it then it will eventually become prohibitively expensive. It won't go away until we find a better energy source, though. It might cost $12 a gallon to fill up your tank but if you've got the money you'll be able to fill up if you can find a gas station with inventory.

Everyone is looking for an answer that allows us to maintain our standard of living. It aint happening folks. The economy is going to suffer. Businesses will have to cut jobs. People won't be able to afford to drive 50 miles one way to work every day. We'll have to trade in our SUVs for rice burners. America is going to suffer. There's just nothing else that can replace oil right now and when it becomes too expensive we're all going to notice it. The end of cheap oil isn't going to bring civilization to it's knees. It's just going to shake things up for a while. Then again that's probably what the smart Romans were saying during the transition to the Dark Ages.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don't Get Too Excited

The end is inevitable! The writing is on the wall! We're watching it all unfold as we speak! I've been seeing this type of stuff pop up more and more lately because of things like the natural disasters that have been occurring, gas prices and the economy. Part of the problem is the ready availability and ease of distribution of information. This is a new phenomenon. We don't have to rely on the mainstream media to tell us what's going on on the other side of the world, anymore. It's a lot harder to let things go unreported. When a disaster happens we know the details almost immediately after the fact no matter where it happened in the world. Instead of reading about it in the morning paper or waiting until the 6 o'clock news to find out about it we get it all shoved down our throats 24/7 on the internet and on 24 hour news channels. Basically in the last decade or so we've been hit with doom and gloom overload.

Another problem is the fact that the earth's human population is spreading out and growing rapidly. A lot of the places where people are settling are already known to be prone to natural disasters. Then one hits and people are shocked when it kills a lot of people. For decades we knew that Katrina was a disaster waiting to happen. We know that the New Madrid fault will decimate the midwest when it goes. We know that when the San Andreas fault goes it could turn California into an island and Arizona into ocean front property. We know that Yellowstone could blow up and when it does it will likely wipe out a huge chunk of the US and send the rest of the world into another ice age. Then there are the tornadoes and the hurricanes...

These are all potentially devastating disasters that could happen just in the US. When you put things into perspective it's pretty easy to see how fragile we are and how destructive nature can be. Of course when these things happen people will be pointing to Revelations and calling for the end of civilization like they always have. When these things that we've already decided are inevitable finally happen people will act surprised or try to find some type of pattern. It's pretty simple really. The more people there are the more likely that people will be affected by natural disasters. Of course when a huge hurricane travels harmlessly over the Gulf of Mexico we hear almost nothing about it.

Of course this applies to things like news on the economy or virus outbreaks in Asia as well. In a lot of ways information like that is even more scary. That type of crisis could potentially affect every one of us no matter where we are. There are also so many variables involved that we can't really understand the scope of how bad they are. Then there's the fact that a lot of times we just don't understand what's going on (no matter how well we think we do). It's also almost impossible to predict the results.

Obviously this is the kind of stuff that we're preparing for. If you live in Florida then you're bound to get hit by a hurricane eventually. If you live in California then you're going to have to deal with a few earthquakes. Our economy relies on periods of recession where the market corrects itself. There's only so much oil in the ground. Eventually we're going to run out. Big government is getting more and more intrusive in our lives.

You can take steps to avoid some of these things. You can move to an area that's not prone to disasters. You can pay off your debt. You can store a few years worth of food in your basement. You can buy a fortress that's a hundred miles from anyone. Just don't get too carried away with your preps. Do what's best for you. Don't do what might be best for you if the world happens to end someday. Odds are that it won't. You could divorce your sheeple wife, sell your house, buy a trailer, park it on a piece of junk land and live out your life with no stress and no debt.....and no comforts. How happy will you be with your decision after twenty years when society is still chugging along, though? Do you want to buy that farm in the country because you think that it's the only way that you'll survive the "inevitable" collapse or are you really so sick of modern life that that's honestly the life that you want for you and your family?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another Busy Weekend

I've been hitting it hard in the yard again. I finished my dog's pen and I got most of the work done on my garden. When I'm finished I'll have 5 or 6 4x4 square foot garden planters in the back yard. I plan on concentrating more on obscure cash crops. Heirloom tomatoes sell for around $5-$10 a pound around here. Exotic peppers are pretty close. It's amazing how much people will pay for stuff that they can just grow in their back yard. I'm also going to plant some hops vines (the "how to homebrew with your preps" post is coming once I finish my all grain setup). I'll be eating a lot of what I produce but I want to use it for supplemental income as well. "Normal" produce is so cheap that I just can't justify doing all that work to get stuff that I can buy for a couple of bucks. Even with most food prices going through the roof fresh fruits and vegetables are still really cheap.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Alternative Food Sources

Things have gotten ugly. The grocery stores are like war zones as people rush to stock up before the shelves are empty. As you watch everything unfold on the news you start to realize that you're missing a few things yourself. Dealing with the unruly crowds at the supermarket just doesn't seem like a good idea, though. So where do you go?

Gas stations are a good start. They probably won't be much better than grocery stores, though, since a lot of people will be trying to get gas at the last minute and they'll be grabbing what they can along with their gas. Most gas stations do sell a lot of convenience items these days, though. If you have a gas station that's close and a bit off the beaten path then it should be easy to beat the rush. If there's a line at the pump then it might be a good idea to just skip the gas and start hitting the shelves before everyone else gets the same idea.

Places like Walgreens and Family Dollar also sell groceries. These places are usually pretty quiet. Like convenience stores, people tend to go here to pick up a few odds and ends. If they're panicking and stocking their pantry at the last minute then they're probably going to hit the grocery stores first. The downside is that there are usually only one or two cashiers and a couple of clerks working at places like these so once people catch on it'll get chaotic a lot faster than at grocery stores.

Obviously it won't be long before the smaller stores start getting hit as hard as the bigger stores. There are plenty of other options, though. Restaurants usually keep a good stock of food in the back. If you eat out a lot it's pretty easy to get to know some small restaurant owners that might just help you out if you show up at their back door during an emergency. Even if you don't get to know the restaurant owners it should be easy to convince the manager to give you something if you offer a big wad of cash.

Pet stores and feed stores are another option. You'll be limited in your selection but who else is going to be mobbing the feed store to buy bags of corn and wheat? Most people probably won't be thinking about rabbits and guinee pigs as food sources until they're already starving. These aren't your best choices but they're certainly better than nothing if you can't get anywhere near the stores and you've only got a few week's worth of food in your house.

Going to where the food eventually ends up is great and all but it's got to come from somewhere. Warehouses will have a ridiculous amount of food. These are the places that keep all of the stores and restaurants stocked. A lot of these places will allow anyone to open up an account. Some of them are even cash and carry. Then there are some that won't do business with the general public. Find out where these places are now. Get to know them ahead of time and start doing business with them now. That way when the ball drops they'll be more likely to help you out when you show up during a crisis. The downside to this idea is that you'll probably have to do some driving to get there and a lot of industrial areas are surrounded by pretty bad neighborhoods. Use your own judgement.

Then there are farms. Start going to farmer's markets. Some of them will let you pick up right at their farm. Offer to help out where you can. If there are riots in the streets then they'll probably want some extra security. Get to know the farmers and you might just have a permanent food source. Once again, if you live in the city then you probably don't have a farmer for a neighbor. The situation dictates whether or not you'll even have a chance of getting out to your farmer buddy's land during a crisis.

Obviously the best option is to have your preps squared away well in advance. There's no substitute for a good stock of food, the ability to grow a garden and being able to raise some type of meat animal. That's not always an option, though. If you just have to go out and get the last of your preps at the elventh hour then think outside the box. Go to places that most people won't be thinking about. During a crisis your best bet is to stay as far away from the crowds as possible.