Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My new years resolution

My new years resolution is to buy a few acres in the boonies. I'll either buy a trailer and park it out there or just put up a small cabin. If things get really bad then I'll have a place to go. Even if things don't get bad I'll have a kickass place to hang out on the weekends when I just want to get away from it all. I already know where I'm going to buy my land. Growing a decent sized garden will be feasible. There's plenty of wood and water in the area. It's far enough out of the way that everyone and their mother won't show up if things get ugly. It's close enough that I could walk there in a few days if I had to.

I don't exactly see myself longing for a disconnect from consumerism but when the lights stop turning on when I flip the switch, the heater stops coming on when it drops below a certain temperature and walking down the street makes me a little nervous whether I'm carrying a gun or not then I'll probably be willing to drop everything and move to the country. Hopefully that day never comes and I just end up with a nice little retreat to escape my day job. If that day does come then I just hope that everything I learned in my free time will be enough to keep me and mine comfortable in the future. Unfortunately, that day seems to be getting closer and closer every day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mmmm corned beef

Several months ago I bought a couple of vacuum sealed bags of corned beef at the local supermarket. They were only a couple bucks a bag so I jumped on them. They sat and sat in the meat drawer of my refrigerator until the other day when I finally decided to cook one of them. The "expiration date" on them was July 4th. I cut the bag open half expecting a rancid, stomach turning odor that would surely force everything from my stomach that's been digesting for the last couple of days. Surprisingly enough I was greeted with the wonderful scent of "fresh" corned beef. It was a bit more ripe than usual but that only added to the appeal. I decided to cook it to see how it would turn out.

I tossed it in a stock pot, dumped in the contents of the spice package that it came with, filled the pot with water until the beef was just covered and began cooking. After letting it boil for about 10 minutes I lowered the heat to a simmer and left it alone for a few hours. It must have been the most tender, flavorful corned beef that I've ever put in my mouth. I'm not exactly the pickiest eater, though, so I decided to let my wife try it before I passed final judgement. Even she loved it and for once in her life she finished everything on her plate! At this point I could have mentioned the fact that she was eating something 6 1/2 months past the "best by" date but that would have surely spoiled her taste for it. As much as I wanted to just to prove a point I held back.

Despite the fact that it was absolutely excellent we still had a lot left over. There's only so much that two people can put down. Especially when you can feel your arteries clog with every bite. So I took the leftovers and decided to make some corned beef hash. It turned out every bit as wonderful as the original roast. My wife is going to be pissed with all of the smoke in the house because I heated up the cast iron skillet a bit too much but she'll understand once she puts that first bite in her mouth (I hope). The fan over the stove has been on for over an hour and I've had a window cracked long enough that I can feel the temperature dropping in the kitchen. At least the hash turned out really good, though!

So what's the moral of this story? Don't pay attention to "best by" dates. Use your own senses (including the common one) to decide if what you've got is safe to eat or not. These days it doesn't hurt to throw it away just to be safe but a time may come sooner than you think where you'll actually want to be able to rely on your instincts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

When to Buy and When to Sell

The economy is going nuts right now. The stock market is extremely volatile. The precious metals market is defying all reason. Gas prices are in the gutter. Property values just keep getting lower. Firearm and ammo sales are through the roof which is resulting in higher and higher prices. Then again, prices have only been going up and they never seem to go back down in the firearms market. So what do you do if you want to preserve some of your wealth?

If you've got money in the stock market then you need to start thinking about getting out of it. It's down a LOT right now but this is not a buying opportunity. It'll probably go much lower. For the most part I got out of the stock market at the beginning of the year. What I have left won't start taking a serious hit until Obama gets into office and starts trying to bankrupt the energy industry so I might as well wait until the beginning of the year so that it gets applied to '10s taxes.

Gas is a pretty good thing to invest in. If you know that you're going to need gas then getting a few gas cans and keeping them full and rotated will pay off down the road when gas prices shoot up from $1.50 to $5.00 a gallon within a few months again. Hopefully that won't happen for at least another year but I'm not so sure that the establishment can keep prices artificially low for that long.

I've been writing this blog for over a year. Since I've started I've been promoting gold and silver as a good investment. For the last several months the "spot" price on gold and silver have been ridiculously low. I even made a post about it when I first noticed it tanking. Try buying gold or silver for the "spot" price. A lot of people are taking advantage of the spot price right now and then turning around and reselling for a good percentage over spot. One interesting entrepenureal endeavor that I've been hearing about lately are people who are holding "tupperware parties" where people bring their gold and the guy holding the party makes an offer on it. Obviously, the offer is well under market value but it's still high enough that the people with the old junk jewelry that's been tangled up in the bottom of their jewelry box for years feel like they're making out like bandits. On the other extreme the big hedge funds are selling gold futures by the ton because gold is the only thing that's still worth more than it was worth a few years ago. Now is an extremely good time to be in the precious metals market in one way or another. Even if they never shoot up exponentially (which is very very likely unless the powers that be manage to pull a really big, cute, fluffy rabbit out of their asses within the next year or so) it's still pretty easy to find people willing to sell at spot. Then it's just as easy to find people willing to pay you well above spot right now. The rule right now is if you've got it, save it. If you can find someone willing to sell it then buy it and either save it until the price goes back up or sell it for a profit.

Gas prices have been going down down down. The same economic games that are keeping the "official" price of gold down are keeping the price of gas down. Gas follows completely different rules than gold, though, so low gas prices in the market actually translate to low gas prices at the pump. When the "market price" goes back up then the price at the pump is going to go up right along with it. The price is going to go back up. Most of us can't store enough to make a big difference when it does go back up but you can offset some of the future price increases by buying a few gas cans now and keeping them full. How many gas cans can you fit into a corner of your shed or garage? How hard is it to not allow your gas gauge to go under 1/2 full?

Overinflated real estate prices are obviously what got us into this mess. I don't even want to go into all of the details of this horrible mistake by the powers that be. Suffice it to say that real estate prices are nowhere near as low as they should be. As more people lose their jobs, more people default on their mortgages and salaries start to drop the price of real estate will continue to follow suit. The price of real estate (like a lot of things with value) is all about perception, though. Even with prices as volatile as they are there are still some extremely profitable deals to be had. If you educate yourself and you're smart you can still make a ton of money in this business.

Firearms are another animal altogether. They follow their own rules. Obviously new laws and the fear of possible new laws being implemented have a lot of influence. Metals prices have something to do with it as well. We saw it a couple of years ago when prices on ammo doubled or even tripled in the space of a year or so. When Regan signed the law that banned the new manufacture of automatic firearms for the civilian market prices became absolutely ridiculous. When Clinton's AWB came to pass the prices on "preban" semi autos and high cap magazines went through the roof. When the AWB sunsetted the prices dropped again. Now, with Obama about to enter the oval office, prices are skyrocketing again because people are tripping over themselves to stock up. The prices still aren't ANYWHERE NEAR as high as they'll be if Obama actually does manage to get another ban passed so if you've got the extra cash and you feel like you need something then now is as good a time as any to get them. If you're buying in anticipation of a ban then stick to "evil black rifles", semi automatic handguns and high capacity magazines. Just don't stretch yourself trying to buy that stuff. It might be a while before you ever see a return on your "investment". Personally, I don't think that it'll be at the top of Obama's priorities after he gets into office so we'll have at least a year before we've got to worry about it. I see a buying opportunity within the next 6 months or so being much more likely if you're the one with cash in hand and the people that spent all of their extra cash in anticipation of a ban start to get desperate.

We're in for a wild ride. There is very little optimistic news out there in regards to the economy. It's going to get more and more turbulent. Keep in mind that while a lot of wealth is destroyed in times like these there are people picking up the pieces and profiting greatly. We're all going to go through some hard times. All that matters is how you come out of it. Create your own opportunities and you'll be fine.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So I splurged a little

I went out and bought a puppy a few days ago. He cost me a few hundred bucks which probably could have been used for other preps. I'm pretty well set in most areas, though. The only spot where I'm sorely lacking is the off grid retreat with fully functional bomb shelter so he didn't set me back too much from that goal.

Pets are something that I feel like everyone should have. I'm a dog person myself. Even if all you can get is a little one he'll be enough to at least warn you of trouble before it's on top of you. Some of them are even better at taking care of pests than cats are. They're cheap to take care of and, for the most part, can take care of themselves. They say that just petting a dog lowers most people's blood pressure a few points. They're definitely a good stress reliever for me. After a long day at work spending time with the dogs is probably my biggest stress reliever.
A lot of times I even prefer their company to people.

Picking a breed is important. Different breeds have different temperments and characteristics. Obviously, if you're allergic to dogs, then you've got to be much more careful about what breed you pick. Either that or you have to find a different pet. If you've got small children then you've got to pay attention as well. If you want a good guard dog that can do more than latch on to a toe and attempt to bark people to death then you don't want to get a chihuahua. the newest addition to my household is a shih tzu. They're great house dogs that are very hearty, great with kids and tough enough to be able to rough house with bigger dogs. They're not that yappy but they'll let you know when they think something's not right. I've also got a samoyed. They're a great, all around working breed. I have no illusions about mine. He's so old and spoiled that if I ever actually needed to use him as a working dog then I'd have to work with him 10x harder to have any hope of him being able to do anything useful. He's smart enough and eager enough to please that he'd try to figure out whatever I ask of him. I picked him because they tend to be intelligent, well behaved, protective without being overprotective and well tempered.

Make sure that you do some research before you pick the dog that you want. Make sure that you can take care of it. Don't get a teacup poodle if you've got 6 rambunctious kids. Don't get a great dane if you live in an apartment. Don't leave a brand new puppy home alone with your jealous pit bull. Don't feed them crap food. Figure out what you want out of a dog and then find a breed that meets those criteria. Educate yourself and it'll be easy to figure out what to expect. If you bring the dog home and then realize that it's not the right breed for you and your family then it's probably already too late for the dog. That's exactly how most dogs end up at rescues, in pounds or abandoned. This post might not pertain as much to urban survival but if it helps a pooch or two survive bad owners then it'll be worth it. Then again, I doubt that you guys are the types of people that dog lovers need to worry about.