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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 21, 2018

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Around this same time last year the heat in my digs quit on me.  I have a fairly typical boiler setup that runs on natural gas.  I'm not too good with doing mechanical repairs anymore, its tough with only one arm that works right.  I was never very good at it even when both arms worked though.  So trying to diagnose and repair this problem myself was out of the question. I didn't notice the problem right away, I am pretty accustomed to and comfortable with the cold.  I just threw on another layer of clothing and figured I was getting cold leakage through the windows and doors because it was so cold outside.  Temps had dropped into the negative digits farenheit.  So I go to sleep all bundled up with an extra blanket too!  This is Eskimo style living, they about never got undressed through the winter.  They even had special flaps in the clothing so they could excrete or have sex without undressing. lol.

I woke up sometime in the middle of the night, I don't remember exactly the time, maybe 2AM.  My fingers were numb, they were outside my blanket arrangement and I wasn't wearing mittens.  So now I finally go check the thermostat, which is BLANK.  I think the temp was in the 30sF.

So I call the emergency maintenance number for the complex, and miraculously a maintenance man does show up in around 20 minutes.  He works on the boiler for around an hour and thinks it is fixed.  Sounds to me like it is on and the thermostat shows 38F, so I thank him, bundle up some more and add mittens and back to bed, this time in my -40F rated sleeping bag.  I sleep comfortably, but when I wake up the digs are still pretty cold, but not as cold.  The boiler was working but it wasn't pumping the water through the pipes too well.  So another call to the maintenance department, another visit and this time the MM upped the pressure and it did finally work properly.  That was the only emergency heat call last year, rest of the winter season things worked just fine.

I learned a few things from that experience though, the most important of which was that I was under prepped with NO Electric Space Heaters!  I never bought one of these in my prepping because I was always working on the premise of having no electricity available in a total collapse scenario.  So at least as far as heat goes, I didn't deem an electric space heater as a necessary prep.  I did however buy electric cooking gear in case I ended up homeless to use in cheap motels to heat up soup and so forth.  In only a partial collapse situation or your own local problems though with personal infrastructure, electric space heaters are a MUST HAVE prep!,266_.jpg So after this episode I stocked up on electric space heaters.  I got the small ceramic kind with a blower as well as the oil-filled radiator type.  More on the advantages and disadvantages of each type later.

Besides that, over the summer I also experimented with methods of heating using FIRE for my Stealth Van Bugout Machine, SaVANnah.  This involves heating up Rocks which you can then wrap in a towel and shove into your sleeping bag by your feet to keep your toes warm or keep in your pockets as hand warmers.  You can find out more about these techniques on the Diner YouTube Channel.

Fast forward to this winter, and through December the heat was working just fine.  We had a pretty mild December though, and our first real COLD SNAP didn't come until January.  Heat operated fine until the cold rolled in, then it collapsed in the middle of the night AGAIN.  This time when I woke up with cold fingers, I wasn't so dumb.  First thing I did was check the thermostat, and it was down to 55F.  Not as cold as last year, I caught it early.  So now it was time to dig into the HEAT PREPS! The first thing was to insure I had a Warm Spot in the digs to retreat to if the temps became so low as to be unbearable inside the digs, even layered up.  To do this, I took my Oil-filled electric radiator and dropped it in the bathroom, a small interior room with no windows and put the setting on maximum.  The oil filled radiator doesn't provide Instant Heat like a ceramic one does, but because of its thermal mass once it is up to temperature it provides more steady heat to the room.  The bathroom is also a small space, maybe 100 sq ft.  I closed the door, and within an hour the bathroom temperature was in the high 60s.  I actually had to shut the heater off because it was getting too hot in there.  If I had to, I could bring my laptop in there with a makeshift desk, a cushion for the Throne (lid closed) 🙂 and keyboard out Doom without freezing to death.  I could also bring a sleeping pad/air mattress and bag in there if necessary, although since my best sleeping bag is good to 40F Below it's hard to imagine a situation where that would be needed as long as the electricity is functioning.

Next I took one of my small ceramic heaters and dropped it under my desk near where my feet rest while keyboarding out the Doom.  This would keep my toes warm, and the confined space under the desk allows only one outlet for the heat as it moves upward, directly past where I am sitting.  This would allow me to remain at my normal position rather than having to move the Diner Command & Control Center into the bathroom.  lol. Finally, I dropped an Electric Blanket under my sleeping bag to radiate heat upward and keep me toasty warm through the night if the bag insulation wasn't doing a good enough job.  Also unlikely to need to switch this on, but in place just in case.  It uses much less electricity than the space heaters, and while you are asleep you can switch them off saving energy, money, and reducing your Carbon Footprint.

As it turned out however, I really didn't need to use any of the electric backup heating systems, because I have another appliance in the digs which operates on Natural Gas fed in by pipes, the STOVE!

After getting all the electrics set up, I turned on the two front burners of my stove to the high setting and just let them run.  Inside 2 hours or so, temps in the digs were back up to the 60s.  Before going to sleep, I shut the burners off to reduce the chance of fire burning the place down.

The gas stove is a relatively simply device which although it has some electronics added to it these days is mainly just a valve which lets the gas out at some rate, slow if you have the valve mostly closed, fast if you open it all the way.  Although most of them these days have an automatic sparking electric starter, even if your electricity is out you can start them with a Bic Lighter, or even Flint & Steel.  So during the duration of my heating woes with the boiler which lasted several days this time, the stove picked up the slack and kept the place warm and cozy.

In terms of getting the fix done this time, the MM was a bit slower to arrive on the first call, took almost an hour.  After perusing the varios valves and tapping in various places, he determined the problem was with a fan that does exactly what I have no idea.  However, he did not have such a fan and would have to come back the next day with it.  Would I be OK?  I said sure, no problem, the stove is picking up the slack here.

Next day he comes back with the fan and installs it, and the boiler does indeed seem to spring back to life!  At least it is making noises like it is alive anyhow.  MM leaves, and now I wait for the heat to come back up in the digs WITHOUT the stove burners on.  I go to sleep comfortably again in my sleeping bag, but wake up as usual after a couple of hours to take a piss.  This is an every 2 hour thing for me these days.  Exiting the sleeping bag, the digs once again feel a bit cool, and in fact the temp has dropped from when I shut off the stove burners.  So I call the Emergency Number to see if I can get him back, but the manager asks me if I can hold on until morning so I say OK.  I flip the stove burners back on here for an hour before going back to bed and surf some Doom on the internet.

Out with the old…

By the next day when the MM returns, the heating system has begun to actually work, the issue there is that once all the pipes are low in temp it takes quite some time for the boiler to get the whole system up to your set temperature.  Especially true if the pumping system is not working so good, which was the case for my system.  It wasn't just the bad fan, the whole system had more or less reached the end of its designed lifespan, around a decade.  Planned Obsolescence in action.  On returning to check out the problems, the MM announced to me he had received approval to REPLACETHE BOILER!  I got a whole new system!  For FREE! 🙂

Now, had I been a "homeowner", this whole episode would have cost me $1000s.  3 visits from the MM, one where he spent about 4 hours replacing the fan.  Cost of the new boiler, around $700 for this one I think.  5 hours of installation time with 2 contractors working on it.

While he was at it also, I had the MM fix my outdoor electrical outlet so my ceramic heater would work outside and I can sit in comfort on the porch even in winter.  He also fixed the SQUEAK my fridge had developed over the last few month, replacing the compressor motor there. By catching this one in advance of a complete failure, I saved myself the possible loss of all my frozen meats and refrigerated goods.  Again, I got all this repair work done for FREE!  You have to figure in these bennies of renting when you measure against the so-called financial benefits of "ownership".

Getting back to the main topic here of heating, had my gas AND electric not been operating, I have a Plan C of my indoor safe kerosene heater, and a Plan D of making an outdoor fire on the porch to heat up rocks to bring inside as hand and foot warmers and sleeping bag warmers.  I hope never have to go all the way to Plan D.

…and in with the new!

What this also should tell you is how generally unlivable most McMansions will be after SHTF Day arrives.  Even if you are still getting NG or are running your heat off your own propane tank, the various fans, pumps and solenoids that control these boiler systems WILL give out on you, in all likelihood inside around 15 years.  In my case, not only were the fan and pump bad, the tank itsef was corroded through which is why the whole thing had to be replaced.  Acidic water in this neighborhood. If you want a resilient heating system, it should be as simple as possible, aka a Fireplace/Wood Stove arrangement.  However, most McMansions aren't built in a way where such an arrangement would be very efficient at keeping the whole place warm.  Too many rooms and the heat wouldn't circulate without some type of forced air blower system, once again adding complexity and hardware provided by industrial manufacturers.

What you really want in terms of a dwelling is an open space where the fireplace can do its work heating the whole main room, and an open upstairs Loft space where the heat flows upward to naturally without obstacles.  You can add to this one big ceiling fan to circulate the warm air back down again to keep a more even temperature for the whole dwelling.  The only thing one of those needs to operate is an electric motor, and there are plenty of those around to scavenge for years to come from automobiles, power tools etc..  However, even without the ceiling fan, an open space arrangement works the best for wood heating.

The best form of dwelling for this purpose is a Dome which needs no interior walls to hold upt the ceilings and roof.  However, few homes are built in suburbia as domes, so this choice isn't too generally available unless you build one yourself.  Options include Geodesic Domes and Monolithic Concrete Domes, and they can go from lightweight and portable to heavy duty and able to stand up to an F5 Tornado or a CA Wildfire.  Other important factors to consider in heating your home are the Insulation, Thermal Mass & Total Volume of the home. Smaller the better, and these days McMansions are built to grandiose proportions that NOBODY needs to live in.  I have many folks I know with McMansions that have living rooms ALONE large enough to house a half dozen people, and then there are the other 10 rooms in the 5000 sq ft behemoth.  It's beyond ridiculous how large some of these dwellings have become.  You can easily house and raise a family of 4 in a 1000 sq ft dwelling.  Typical Pioneer Cabins were around 600 sq ft, and often these folks had 6 kids growing up in them.

Insulation is one area where the Age of Oil provides advantages.  Modern foam core insulation is fabulous for keeping temps outside that are either too hot or too cold from infiltrating the dwelling.  You also don't want too many windows, even double pane glass, because there is always leakage around the seams.  Shutters on the outside are good to have, as well as drapes inside for further insulation around the windows.

If you have a large thermal mass inside the dwelling, this can help offset temperature changes throughout the day, hot or cold.  A large brick fireplace/stove arrangement is probably the simplest thermal mass arrangement you can set up.  You heat the bricks up with fire when it's cold, then they will radiate heat into your dwelling even after the fire is extinguished.  You seal up your dwelling with shutters and drapes to retain the heat when the fire is not burning.  Similarly, you can drag cool night air through the chimney to cool it down with a fan, and this will help keep your digs cool during the day if you seal up.

Even better on the thermal mass level are the Monolithic Domes, where the whole structure provides the mass and is insulated from outside temperature changes with polyurethane blow foam.  Such structures also have little leakage between the outdoor and indoor environments.

Whatever system you choose for heating your dwelling, the main thing is to keep it as simple as you can without reliance on Industrial Age technology.  To keep your total energy costs down, the smaller the better on the total size of the dwelling.  With creative design, you can partition off areas that really NEED heat, and those that don't.  Your kitchen and bathrooms and anywhere with water pipes will need heat, most of the rest of the rooms dont need it except for comfort.  Keep all your rooms with water pipes flowing into the core of the building.

Regardless of your setup, you will always need a source of fuel if you live in a cold climate, which most people in North Amerika do these days.  In fact over this winter so far, it has been colder in places like Norfolk, VA than in Palmer, AK where I live.  You have a primary source, usually natural gas or oil.  A secondary source, the electric grid.  Generally your last resort in the typical dwelling is wood, but it has to be available in the neighborhood, and most suburban locations don't have too much of it left.  So you might have to start burning your furniture on those cold winter nights when the Polar Vortex comes to your neighborhood. lol.


Death of a Mall Man

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 7, 2018


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Death of a Salesman was written by Arthur Miller in 1947, and is widely considered one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century.  It's a play about broken dreams and the lifetime failure of the protagonist, Willy Loman.  It's a sad and depressing play about the failure of the American Dream which doesn't seem too odd now, but this play was written in 1947, right after the end of WWII and at the beginning of the grand explosion into suburban housing, car mania and endless consumerism we live in today.  Some folks hitched a ride on the great bandwagon of prosperity that came with this expansion, but many did not and ended up much like Willy Loman did. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the Great Consumer Culture never really was the great success it was made out to be, the illusion continued to be sold from the 1950s onward, right up today with the online retail giants of Amazon and Alibaba.  The illusion is falling away though now, most significantly in the form of Mall closures all around the country.  The "Anchor" stores of large retailers like Macy's, Sears and JC Penney are all downsizing as fast as they can to avoid Bankruptcy, with new store closures announced on a monthly if not weekly basis.  This will not of course avoid bankruptcy in the end, but it does drag it out and delay it, in some cases long enough for Vultures like Eddie Lampert to strip mine the rotting hulk for whatever assets are still left.

Although folks just a decade or two younger than myself may not believe this, there once was a time here in Amerika before Malls dotted the landscape and before rampant consumerism became the cultural religion.  When I first returned from Brazil in the late 1960s, there were no Malls at all.  The consumerism in those days was happening in the Department Stores like Macy's, which were the first outlets for all the merchandise being produced in the aftermath of WWII.  In fact you can say the whole "Black Friday" sales gimmick was kicked off by Macy's with their Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.  The Media of the era backed this up with films like "Miracle on 34th Street", with Edmund Gwynn playing a Macy's Santa and the young Natalie Wood playing a little girl who really BELIEVED in Santa Claus.  The film was a completely shameless promotion of the lifestyle being sold, complete with the perfect Suburban House being handed by Santa Claus to Natalie and her parents at the end of the film For the Millenials who like to drop in and blame the Boomers for the rampant consumer culture we have now, catch the date on "Miracle on 34th Street", it was produced in 1947 also, the same year Arthur Miller wrote Death of a Salesman.  Sense a little cognitive dissonance here?  Which narrative do you WANT to buy into?  Most people want to believe in Santa Claus, the dark side of reality is not so pleasant. In any event, this all predates the arrival of the Boomers on the scene, they were just starting to be born in 1947 and did not have a whole lot of control over the direction the culture was being pointed by those who stood to make a profit off of this type of wasteful living.  It in facts predates even the Greatest Generation, the parents of the Boomers who returned from WWII to buy suburban tract housing just being built on the GI Bill.  You can see the beginnings of this as early as the late 1800s with the first Sears Catalogs for buying by mail order.  Sears was at one time before its long downhill slide the Amazon & Alibaba of its era rolled into one .

As I mentioned, when I returned to the FSoA from Brasil in the late 1960s there were no malls to speak of, and really this was true right through the 1970s, although I think they started to put them up at the end of the decade.  The oil crisis of the early 70s was over, the Dollar was freed from the Gold standard and credit was flowing out fast and furious to the well connected.  The first mall I remember going to was called I think the Galleria,and that was in the early 1980s.  It seemed pretty impressive to me back then, although I know compared to some of the monstrosities built later it was probably pretty small.

The malls quickly developed their own culture, particularly among the teenagers of the time and Mall Rats were born.  Generally high school age with some of the older ones sporting their own carz to haul themselves and a few friends to the Mall parking lot, it was a place to gather, smoke weed and try to pickup girls if you were a male.  I was a little too old for this scene at the time, but I observed it as I walked around and window shopped all the great merchandise all in one place.

The malls had their heyday from the mid 1980s until the late 1990s and are the best example of the conspicuous consumption mania that dominated this period.  More credit flowed out to build more malls, and more new roads to get to the malls which were usually pretty far out from a city center because that was the only places you could get enough land at a cheap enough price to build one.  This spelt the death knell for many shopping districts in the small to medium size cities and they began to wither and decay.

You can look at this period as the "blow off top" of the Amerikan Retail market which began with Sears in the late 1800s.  There was just a ton of STUFF being sold in these places and there was always something new and cool you just HAD to have, especially if you were a teenager.  How were people AFFORDING all this great new stuff though?

The building mania of roads, malls and subdivisions provided many jobs in construction at a pretty good wage through the 80s and 90s, so there was some money flowing out into the suburban consumer's bank accounts, but overall it was stagnating pretty significantly.  Most of the money being spent at these malls was still more debt, now Credit Card debt as Visa and Mastercard vastly expanded the number of people they would offer credit to and the computer and communication systems evolved to become all automated.  "For everything you ever wanted but could not afford, there's VISA". Everybody got a Visa card in those years, even college students with no income.  Even if you were the rare person who could fog a mirror but did not qualify for a bank issued card, you could get store issued credit cards from all the major retailers, Sears, Macy's, etc.  You could stack your wallet full of them, and it just seemed like Free Money.  Small monthly payments at first, but the buying every time you went to the mall became habitual.  Those small bills got bigger and bigger, and there were more of them coming in every month.  Your total monthly bill was now more than you had discretionary cash to cover.  By the time you graduated college, between the credit card bills and the student loan bills, there was no money left to pay rent with, even if you found a job.  It was back to Mom's basement for the next decade while you tried to pay off the bills.

Mom & Dad also got addicted to the credit cards and shop till you drop at the mall, and they weren't making any more money either.   For them though, the Banksters came up with another solution to ever increasing household debt, the HELOC loans.  The equity built up over years living in a McMansion was refinanced, all the bills consolidated at a lower monthly payment and Mom & Dad were free to spend again!  Unfortunately this backfired for many in 2008 when the sub-prime Real Estate market went tits up and many of these McMansions went underwater.  Dad, an aging Middle Manager somewhere got laid off, the McMansion got foreclosed on and this was another formerly middle class family reduced to abject poverty.  All the equity in the home had been burned up at the Mall, and now besides not having a home to live in they still had the accumulated debt on the refinanced mortgages, which were now recourse loans the banks could continue to hound them for.

Although the process started before the 2008 Financial Crisis, the process of store closures in these mega retail palaces vastly accelerated at this time.  People simply had neither the income nor the credit necessary to keep up the Shop till you Drop lifestyle.  Teenagers no longer got a car on their 16th Birthday as a de riguer gift from Mom & Dad, now they got a smart phone instead.  Instead of gatheirng together at the Mall to socialize, they instead spent their time on Social Media.   If they did have any money to buy some electronic toy or fashionable article of clothing, they did it online with the smart phone, not at the shops in the mall.  Once the big retailers closed their doors in a given Mall, foot traffic decreased exponentially and the smaller shops and food courts that depended on that traffic began to shutter their doors also.  Many of those Malls built in the 80s & 90s are now empty and rotting hulks, awaiting demolition if the township they are in can find the money to demolish them.  Many more will close this year, and in the years to follow.  This model for the culture is finished, although a few places still hang on as the local employees hope for a miracle turn around to save their jobs.

The motivation to write this article came from an article I read published by WaPo on New Year's Day 2018, First, this town lost its Macy’s. Then Sears. Now, all eyes were on J.C. Penney.  The article is too long to paste in its entirety, but there are a few interesting observations made I would like to reflect on.

First let's look at the location of this Mall and the economics of the neighborhood.

There were four days until Christmas, and this customer had decided against shopping online to come to a real store and talk to real people. To Barbara, that meant she had to provide something he couldn’t get from clicking buttons on a computer. Could the Internet assure the customer that he was making the right choice? Could it praise him for being a thoughtful husband? Could it make sure that he was getting the best possible deal?

That was what Barbara could offer at the last remaining department store in the only mall in Hermitage, a city of 16,000 in Western Pennsylvania. J.C. Penney used to be one of three anchor stores at the Shenango Valley Mall. Then, one day last March, both Sears and Macy’s shut down, becoming two of the more than 500 department stores that closed across the country in 2017. Headlines have called the shrinking of these American staples the “retail apocalypse.” In Hermitage, employees called it “the funeral,” because of the way it sounded as customers lined up to make their final purchases. “I’m so sorry,” they said. “I’m in shock.” “What are you going to do?” “What am I going to do?”

What might have been just a sign of the times in a bigger city was a life-changing and economy-altering loss for Hermitage, the kind of place too far from anywhere to be considered a suburb, but too developed to be considered rural or to attract visitors with small-town charm. The closest thing Hermitage has to a downtown is the intersection where its mall sits, surrounded by McDonald’s, Walgreens and Dunkin’ Donuts. The biggest buildings down the road are Kohl’s, Kmart and Walmart. The retail industry is the third-largest employer in town, just behind health care and manufacturing.

So where is Hermitage?  Let's look at  the map.

As you can see, Hermitage sits about dead center between two "major metros", Cleveland and Pittsburgh, on what used to be some of the best farmland in the world.  Somewhere along the way, probably in the 70s-80s this area was developed as a suburban bedroom community for those cities, as well as the more minor metro areas of Youngstown and Akron.  However, even by the 80s all these towns were in decline in the heart of the Rust Belt.

The neighborhood has no "charm" like an old New England town or an old town along the Mississippi River that got left behind when the interstate highways were built, so it doesn't even have that going for it.  It never developed any real economy outside the service economy for the locals of medical care, restaurants and retail.  With retail going down the toilet, there's not much left there in the way of local employment, and it's not like you can drive to Cleveland to find a high paying job either.   What is left to drive the economy there?  Aging Boomers who are collecting Social Security and Pensions about covers it.

Next let us look at the Demographics demonstrated in this article.  The main focus is on a Jewelry Salesperson who got her job for the Christmas Season, Barbara Cake.

Barbara Cake shows watches to customers at the J.C. Penney jewelry counter. (Dustin Franz for The Washington Post)

But come November, J.C. Penney was still open, and the most important season in retail was about to begin. Sharon Loughner, the general manager, was confident that the rush of holiday customers was on its way and, with little choice of where to go, that they would be coming to her store. She would need more workers to do all the extra fetching, folding, stacking and selling, and so she put out a call for seasonal employees.

Among the parade of well-qualified applicants from Hermitage and towns nearby came Barbara, a 67-year-old woman who seemed to represent all that retail used to be. She was impeccably dressed for her interview. She planned to wear a pantsuit each day. She talked about catering to the customer’s every need. She addressed everyone, no matter their age, as “sir” or “ma’am.”

For J.C. Penney to succeed, it needed employees like Barbara, whose necklace and bracelet, Sharon noticed, coordinated perfectly with her outfit. Sharon thought of the department where the sale of a single item could equal a dozen sweaters in ­revenue.

“How would you like,” she asked Barbara, “to work behind the jewelry counter?”

Wait a minute…since when has a 67 year old retiree been the ideal retail saleswoman?  Back in my younger days, the department store sales people were all in their 20s or 30s the most.  If you weren't out of sales on the floor level and into management or working as a buyer for the store by the time you were 40 you were a complete LOSER.  Now you have aging retirees lining up for these positions which pay barely over minimum wage, and they need to meet their daily quotas too!  Great way to spend your retirement years!  Barbara needs to do this so she can save up enough money to buy Iphones for her Grandkids.

Barbara accepted, not thinking about the arthritis in her hands that would make it hard to work the small clasps, the plantar fasciitis in her right foot that would act up if she stood for hours, the reading glasses she would need to see the small numbers on the price tags. She had been an executive secretary for 30 years, and now, a few years into her retirement, had done the math on her savings, her mortgage payment and her grandchildren's Christmas gifts and decided it was time to return to work.

The job at J.C. Penney was guaranteed only until the new year, but if she worked hard enough, she thought, they might keep her on. As a “sales associate,” she would be expected to sell about $1,500 worth of merchandise a day and would bring home $8.50 an hour, before tax.

She studied up on diamond ratings and learned to lock the jewelry counter’s glass cases to help prevent shoplifting. She learned not to ask if customers had J.C. Penney credit cards, but to assume that they did, so they would feel like they should. “And that will be on your Penney’s card, sir?” She survived Black Friday, perfecting her response to unhappy customers: a hand over her bedazzled brooch and a sincere apology. “I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t have the Fitbit here.”

It's all so pathetic and sad, particularly considering the people immersed in this decaying culture have no understanding of why it is occuring or why their hopes and dreams that things will improve in the future will not come to pass.  We're not looking at a "cyclical downturn" here, this is a structural problem with capitalism and the energy intensive economy it was built on.  To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, "The jobs at the Hermitage Mall are going boys, and they ain't never comin' back".


Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more
They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back
To your hometown

The jobs that were available to provide money to BUY goods in the retail economy over the last couple of decades were jobs that where the work was SELLING the goods, like Barbara Cake is still trying to do in the Hermitage JCPenney Jewelry department.   The jobs actually MANUFACTURING these goods disappeared in the decades before that and were offshored to places like China, India & Mexico, where labor could be purchased at a much cheaper price.  So there wasn't much left in the way of remunerative work besides becoming a part of the retail/service economy already.

Paradoxically, while by the numbers retail sales have been climbing back out of the sewer since the Great Recession of 2008-10, retail jobs have been decreasing at the same time.  Steve Hansen on Global Economic Intersection recently covered this phenomenon in his article, Death of Retail Employment Growth.

Pundits continue to rejoice in the improving retail sales pointing to an improving economy. But consider this: inflation adjusted retail sales per capita is barely at the levels seen before the Great Recession (blue line in graph below).

The per capital retail spending curve roughly approximates median household income (red line in graph above). Most of the middle and lower classes spend all they make. My point is that retail sales is limited by population and their income.

However, the noteworthy aspect of retail is the contraction of the retail workforce (red line in graph below) all while inflation adjusted retail sales(blue line in graph below) continues to expand into record territory.

Another way to look at the data in the graph above is the rate of year-over-year growth where the difference is more apparent.

Many blame the shakeup on Amazon's AMZN (U.S.: Nasdaq) presence in the retail marketplace. Of course, their e-commerce model coupled with their automation / robotics adoption is putting pricing pressures on the entire retail industry.

While there has been much play in the Newz about automation coming to Driving in the form of self-driving Carz & Trux that will eliminate millions of driving jobs in the Taxi and Trucking industries, in reality the retail industry is much more amenable to automation than driving is, and frankly I am surprised this hasn't gone further, faster.  Most of the Grunt level jobs in retail, be it stocking shelves or running a cash register are extremely repetitive and they exist in a controlled small environment, unlike carz on the road.  Robotic Pallet Jacks could easily negotiate the aisles and stock the shelves and self-checkout scanning kiosks already exist in most of the larger food stores and superstores like Walmart.  So even forgetting for a moment about the transition to online retail through Amazon and Alibaba, any surviving Brick & Mortar stores have a lower potential number of retail jobs that would be available.  1 clerk can monitor 10 self-checkout kiosks instead of 10 clerks on individual registers.  That's a 90% reduction in jobs right there! I can also envision a system where you have to swipe your card and pay for an item even before you take it off the shelf.  This is the way the old "Automats" used to work, where you had to drop your quarters into the slot to get the door to open and take out your Tuna Fish Sandwich. There actually was one of these places still functioning on 14th Street in NYC in the 1970s  when I went to High School in the neighborhood, although they had their heyday in the 1940s to 1960s. Vending machines were the succesor to that. You already have kiosks in the airports for Best Buy where you can swipe your card and get a new Bluetooth Headset for your Smart Phone if you forgot it in the rush to get to the airport.  I can easily see entire aisles in the store with these type of kiosks instead of regular shelves.

There is just about no job in the retail industry that couldn't be easily roboticized, and if BAU were to continue long enough I would certainly expect this to occur.  It is however all extremely energy intensive and very complex, and besides that it still depends on the consumers having MONEY to buy the shit in the kiosks!  Where are they going to get this money?  This sector of the economy is about the last one with jobs left for J6P, what is left after those disappear?

At his point you need to start talking about the UBI, or Universal Basic Income.  Nice idea in principle, but in practice if you pass out a fixed amount of money for people to spend, you ALSO need to control the PRICES for the items they buy with this money, at least the essentials like food, housing, transportation, communications and health care.  Without price controls, the providers of these goods & services will keep raising their prices to the maximum the market will bear, leaving everyone just as impoverished as they were to start with! Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I don't expect BAU to last long enough to see all retail and all transportation of goods to be roboticized to any significant degree.  Retail is shutting down already too fast for this to occur.  As I write this article, both Macy's and Sears announced new Store Closures and employee layoffs, in the case of Macy's numbering around 5000 new folks on the Unemployment lines.  Both of these corporations have long been destined for Bankruptcy, and you wish somebody would put them out of their misery already.  Like a lame horse, watching the suffering dragged out is quite unpleasant.

For myself, watching this aspect of our Industrial Consumer Culture head inexorably toward its inevitable death is quite similar to my visit to the Boeing Museum of Flight, where the development of the aircraft industry is celebrated.  There I suffered Cognitive Dissonance between my knowledge of how the aviation industry has expanded warfare and made it more deadly on the mass scale, and my admiration for the technological prowess involved in building these machines.

In this case, while the overall Consumer Culture disgusts me, I admired the architecture and sheer SIZE of these malls when they first went up, and I LIKED having all those stores in one place to walk around to and at least window shop.  At the time I was quite unaware of DOOM and how unsustainable the whole model was, it seemed like this was the mark of a successful society and economic system.  After all, here in the FSoA we were shopping at STOCKED Malls, while the Soviets over in the USSR were lining up just to buy food at the grocery store!   Capitalism was SUCCESSFUL!  Communism was a FAILURE!

There was a certain amount of truth to that also, looked at in terms of Instant Gratification.  What the system was doing though was mortgaging out the future, with the expectation of an infinitely growing economy, which is of course impossible in a Finite World.  Capitalism was a fabulous model for burning through resources at the fastest possible rate, meanwhile creating waste and pollution at previously unimaginable levels.  One trip to the dump or the "landfill" in your neighborhood should be enough to convince anyone with functional brain cells the model is not sustainable.*489/120709+landfill.jpg

So where do we go from here?  For a time, Amazon & Alibaba and other online retail will replace the Brick & Mortar retailers, but they also are limited in their lifespan and will last an even shorter period of time than the malls did, which if you count it from the very beginning in 1980 or so to say 2020 was 40 years.  From my POV, the online model gets max 10 years from now, but that is only assuming there isn't a collapse of the Monetary System or a major Thermonuclear War.  Even without those cataclysmic events though, if the consumers are not being issued out enough credit to buy the merchanidse, it just won't sell.  An ever decreasing percentage of the population has access to such credit, generally issued out in the form of wages.  Without a UBI or something similar to keep the commerce going, it's finished.  As mentioned above though, UBI has its own set of problems, and besides that the political and financial Elite are not predisposed to handing out Free Money to anyone but themselves.  If all else is failing though, it may be undertaken and work for a short period of time.

What comes after this is anybody's guess, although it is likely to be a much more local system utilizing direct barter rather than money.  Also nearly certain at this point is an enormous reduction in the global population as the overall syatem of money and trade fails in ever larger circles beyond just the retail goods sold in malls.  In fact in many of the poorer countries, large segments of the population are already being priced out of affording food, which leads to increasing political destabilization in those countries.  Some quite large countries like Iran and North Korea can be included here, and these countries have means to strike out militarily if existentially threatened by food shortages, which seems likely.

Until this does turn into an armed conflict though, the best the local in any neighborhood can do is to try and develop some Food Security with long lasting foods in storage or means to grow your own, or both.  If you have lived inside it for a lifetime as I have, don't feel too guilty about mourning the demise of the Malls and all the great stuff they were selling for the last 40 years.  It was a dream, a hallucination, a mirage sold to all of us by those who stood to make an enormous profit from it and live richer than any King, Pharoah or Emperor from the past.  Unfortunately with such dreams, you eventually do wake up from them, and reality sets back in.  Then you gotta deal with that.

2018: The Year of the BIG ONE?

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 31, 2017


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It's Christmas Eve 2017 as I begin this blog, which I will publish next week on New Year's Eve as my 2017 wrap up blog and maybe some predictions for 2018.  Unfortunately, both looking backward and forward, I'm not terrifically motivated nor do I have any great new insights to keyboard out I haven't keyboarded 1000 times before.  Not like there is any shortage of collapse material though, in fact 2017 was a Banner Year for Collapse on many levels!  I don't think any year since the shit show began in earnest in 2008 has had as many good Collapse stories as 2017.  So motivated or not, I will squeeze out a year's worth of collapse turds, and then tomorrow flush them down the toilet to make room for another load coming soon to our world.

By himself, from his Inauguration onward, Donalditry Trumpovetsky has filled the newz pages of the MSM and the Blogosphere with a steady stream of complete bullshit and insanity.  The Hill has done me the favor of compiling a Top 10 list of Trumpofsky Turds.

The Memo: The Top 10 Trump controversies of 2017

The Memo: The Top 10 Trump controversies of 2017
© Getty Images


President Trump’s first year in office has produced a relentless stream of controversies.

Trump’s willingness to flout political norms has outraged his critics, even while it has delighted his supporters.

In a sign of just how tumultuous 2017 has been, some stormy episodes that would have been enormous stories under other presidents do not even crack the Top 10 list below.  

We found no space on the list for a Trump speech to the Boy Scouts in July that drew widespread criticism for its overtly political nature; nor for his suggestion that TV anchor Mika Brzezinski was bleeding from the face due to cosmetic surgery; nor for his jab at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as “Pocahontas” during an event honoring Native American veterans.

Here are the ten biggest Trump controversies of the year.


  1. The firing of James Comey

The decision to fire FBI director James Comey was the biggest self-inflicted wound of Trump’s first year.

It led directly to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — and to a world of pain for the president. 

Top aides have been indicted, the Russia probe has hung over his first year in the White House and the president himself faces questions about whether he obstructed justice.

Comey delivered dramatic testimony to Congress after the firing. His words were carried live nationwide by at least a dozen TV networks.

The widespread suspicion — though Comey did not explicitly say this — is that the FBI director was fired because he refused to back off an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“It’s my judgment I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said.

Trump was reportedly advised against firing Comey even by some of his most stalwart aides, including then-chief strategist Stephen Bannon. He went ahead, and the reverberations dominated the rest of the year. 

They will echo into 2018.


  1. Charlottesville

Trump’s reaction to a rally by far-right activists in this Virginia city dominated August, and led to some of the strongest criticism of him from within his own party.

The “Unite the Right” rally stretched over the weekend of Aug. 11 and 12. Among those attending were unabashed white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. They had come to the city to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.

Predictably, there were clashes between those attending the rally and left-leaning groups opposed to them. A protester, Heather Heyer, was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by a man reported to have far-right sympathies. According to police, the ramming was an intentional attack.

Trump initially said that there had been “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” The response, suggesting a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and those who protested against them, caused a furor. 

The controversy deepened further when, at a subsequent appearance, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides.”

In addition to a blizzard of Democratic and liberal criticism, Republicans including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney all publicly dissented from Trump’s position.


  1. Travel ban

Trump had been in office for just a week when he signed an executive order that led to protests in streets and at airports.

The first version of the travel ban that the administration tried to enact banned most travelers to the United States from seven nations with majority-Muslim populations.

Trump and the administration argued such a move was necessary to protect the United States from the threat of terrorism. But it ran into immediate legal challenges. Lawyers argued there was clear religious animus and discrimination, a point that they reinforced by highlighting Trump’s campaign-trail promise to enact a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States.

The first version of the ban became bogged down in the courts, as did a second iteration.

But the White House finally got a victory in early December, when the Supreme Court allowed a third version of the ban to go into effect while legal challenges to it are ongoing. 


  1. Taking a knee in the NFL

Trump has had a contentious relationship with the NFL dating back to the 1980s, when he was a prominent investor in the rival United States Football League.

But he kicked things into a completely different gear this year, hammering players who opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial injustice.

Trump put himself squarely in the middle of the issue during a speech in Alabama in September. Campaigning for incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who would go on to lose the GOP primary, Trump said people would “love” if NFL owners reacted to a player taking a knee by saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired!”

The outburst initially produced a greater degree of solidarity among the players. Trump, though, was loath as ever to back down, and hit the players and owners several more times, especially via Twitter.

It was not clear who won the fight politically, though Trump has repeatedly noted a decline in TV ratings for the NFL.


  1. “Little Rocket Man”

Trump’s unorthodox approach extended to the international arena. 

His supporters see his disregard for diplomatic niceties as a long overdue move toward American assertiveness. His detractors regard it as reckless and dangerous.

The most vivid example came in Trump’s ongoing feud with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In a speech to the United Nations in September, Trump called Kim “Rocket Man” — a simultaneous reference to North Korea’s missile program and the Elton John hit often played at Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign. 

During the same speech, Trump said that the United States would “totally destroy North Korea” if it felt it had to do so.

In response, Kim called Trump “the mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and threatened to make him “pay dearly” for his rhetoric. 

Trump called Kim “a sick puppy” — and modified his nickname to “Little Rocket Man” — on subsequent occasions.


  1. A controversial condolence call

Trump had already shown during the 2016 campaign that he had no compunction about tangling with the relatives of U.S. troops killed in combat, if they criticized him.

Last year, it was Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of a U.S. Army officer killed in Iraq in 2004. The Khans appeared at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in support of Hillary Clinton.

This October, it was the family of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four U.S servicemen killed in an ambush in Niger.

The row began when Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), a friend of the Johnson family, told a local NBC News affiliate in Miami that Trump had told Johnson’s widow, “you know, he must've known what he signed up for.” 

Wilson accused the president of having been insensitive and said that Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, had said that Trump did not seem to recall her husband’s name.

On Twitter, Trump insisted that Wilson had “totally fabricated” what he had said. Members of Johnson’s family, however, stood by Wilson’s account.

The controversy followed on the heels of a related Trump flap, when he claimed, inaccurately, that former President Obama and other past presidents “didn’t make calls” to bereaved relatives.


  1. Indictments

The Russian probe led by Mueller began delivering its most serious problems for Trump in late October, when former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Richard Gates were indicted on charges related to money laundering.

A lower-level campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, was also indicted. The bigger threat for Team Trump in that instance was the revelation that Papadopoulos was cooperating with prosecutors.

The biggest news of all came in December, when Flynn, the former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. 

Flynn, too, struck a deal with Mueller’s team. 

Flynn’s flip is the single most dangerous element so far for Trump and his closest confidants.  


  1. Kirsten Gillibrand “would have done anything”

The president reacted explosively after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said he should resign in light of the accusations of sexual assault and other misconduct that have been leveled against him by more than a dozen women. 

“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Charles E. Schumer and someone who would come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump,” he wrote on Twitter.

The suggestion that Gillibrand “would do anything” for campaign cash was widely seen as a sexual innuendo. 

But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president, arguing at a media briefing that "only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way.”

Other female Democrats, including Warren, came to Gillibrand’s defense, as did a number of media figures.

Gillibrand herself accused Trump of “a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice.”


  1. Sean Spicer and the inauguration crowd

Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer set the tone for much of what was to come on the first full day of the Trump presidency, lambasting the media for their coverage of the previous day’s inauguration.

Among his criticisms was that the media had not recognized that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”

The in-person crowd at Trump’s inauguration was significantly smaller than the audience for Obama’s equivalent event in January 2009, as photographic evidence made clear.

Spicer also got several other facts wrong in his broadside, but he continued to stand by it as long as he served in the White House.

After he left, he was asked by the New York Times if he regretted the episode.

“Of course I do, absolutely,” he replied.


  1. The Mooch is loose

There has never been a White House communications director quite like Anthony Scaramucci.

The financier and Trump friend — “The Mooch” to fans and foes alike — was appointed by Trump on July 21, and fired 10 days later.

Spicer resigned as White House press secretary on the same day Scaramucci was tapped by Trump. Spicer was soon followed to the exits by his friend and ally Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff.

There had not been any time for that tumult to settle down before Scaramucci gave a profane on-the-record interview to The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, in which he attacked Priebus and Bannon in crude terms.

There was no way back from there. The arrival of retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly as chief of staff spelled the end of Scaramucci’s short and tempestuous tenure.

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency.


This list of course barely scratches the surface of Trumpsky's gaffes and daily Twitter embarassments.  The issue here is these stories come so fast and furious that they get pushed out of the newz stream after a day or two to make room for the next one.  Besides the "Top 10" Controversies with El Trumpo, we also have lists of his Top 10 Impeachable Offenses too!  However, with both houses of CONgress pwned by the Repugnants at the moment, any kind of move to actually impeach his Trumpness is unlikely to gain any traction.  So we are probably stuck with him dropping Trump-Turds all over the White House through 2020. This does not however answer the question of what will occur in CONgress in the 2018 Midterm Elections.  Several Diners have expressed the opinion that the Deplorables remain enamored of Trumpty-Dumpty despite his many falls and shattered eggshell and will continue to vote Repugnant no matter how quickly it impoverishes them.  They also make the case the districts are so well gerry-mandered the color coding is about impossible to flip anywhere.

There is a lot to be said for these arguments, but in this case @DonaldDumbkopf is so pathetically awful it's hard for me to imagine how the Repugnants can maintain control of BOTH the House and Senate in 2018.  They currently only hold the Senate by a pathetic single seat.  Trumpovetsky's popularity numbers continue to plummet, pretty soon they will be in the negative imaginary numbers.  CONgress Critters are announcing their "retirements" by the truckload, either because they can't stand working under Trumpsky or because they grabbed some intern's ass in 1968, or both.  So I think the 2018 elections are a real crapshoot and pretty tough to call.  You can be sure though that if one or both of the houses of CONgress fall to the Demodopes, the current lockup in Goobermint will get an order of magnitude worse.

Speaking of ass-grabbing and other sexual "harrasment", I can't help but be astounded how quickly this took off and became a first class Witch Hunt forcing numerous Politcos, Hollywood Movie Stars and Corporate CEOs to resign their positions.  Not that I have much sympathy for these folks, but I also am astounded how quickly they all capitulated to just being ACCUSED of something that in most cases happened over a decade earlier.  No criminal charges were brought back then, and for the most part no criminal charges are being brought now because unless they actually RAPED somebody, what they were doing wasn't illegal and still isn't.  You can certainly argue that there is a lot of abuse of power here and that women have been the proponderance of the victims of this, but that was the way the culture was organized.  The "casting couch" in Hollywood goes back to its earliest years, if a young actress didn't put out for the Film Director or the Studio Head, she was back to waitressing in a Diner in no time. One thing I don't understand is why some of these guys don't just DENY the accusations?  Who is around to testify whose ass got grabbed at what 1980s party where everyone was wired up on Coke?  You don't even have to lie, just use the "I do not recall" defense, because you were probably so wasted you DON'T recall grabbing some ass at a party!  However, just about uniformly they have all capitulated to the #MeToo foks and resigned or been fired from their juicy high paid jobs.

The height of this nonsense came with the shit-canning of Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame.  Garrison was a well known introvert and hardly fraternized with ANYBODY over the 40 years he told his stories over PBS radio shows.  One fucking woman says he "touched her naked back" 20 years ago and Garrison gets the boot?  WTF?

Moving into the future, I can't see how any male could function in a work environment with this Sword of Damocles hanging over your head all the time.  Where do you meet women if not on the job? Just about anything can be considered "unwanted attention" or "sexual harrasment".  Nobody can have any FUN anymore!


The Strafing Run of Mother Nature


Moving off the Political Clown show of 2017 and over to Climate & Disasters, we had a steady train of these all year, and for a while there in Novemeber not a day went by without some community being completely wiped out by a hurricane and then the aftermath of infrastructure damage.  A full 3 months after Puerto Rico got levelled  by Irma/Maria, they STILL don't have electricity restored to the whole island.  In many places, "restoration" of electric power doesn't mean the grid is back up, it means the Army Corps of Bozos has brought in generators to bring some power back to individual communities.  Also entrepreneurial Ricans are doing well selling generators & inverters these days too!

Puerto Rico without electricity

Not too much followup Newz on what is going on in the FSoA and Brit Virgin Islands these days, but my guess is they are mostly still swimming in shit.  On the upside, if you are looking for a cheap sailboat, many of these slightly damaged floating homes can be purchased for pennies on the dollar now. The Hurricane Parade of 2017 in the Carribean was followed closely by the CA Wildfires, culminating with the Thomas Fire which became the largest fire in modern CA history, chewing up over 270,000 acres of real estate and at least 1000 or so expensive McMansions.  Endless great Armageddon style pictures from these conflagrations every day, if this didn't drive home to the Newz Consumer that there is a slight problem with sustainability of the suburban lifestyle in CA I can't imagine what will. What you can see from the diagrams of the fire is where the CA Fire folks set up their fire lines.  Huge swathes are left to burn, and what they do is circle the wagons around the rich enclaves with a lot of expensive McMansions built on them.  Getting Special Attention and a LOT of firefighting help from CA Prisons are neighborhoods with people like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Rob Lowe living in them.  So mostly these Jeweled Communities were "saved" by the brave Firefighters/Prisoners working for $2/day and/or some time reduced from the sentence.

However, even though the structures of the Rich & Famous were mostly Saved, they still had to breathe the air until they finally blew out of town to take an air conditioned hotel suite in Phoenix.  The McMansion is still gonna stink like smoke unless they can get the insurance company to total it, raze it to the ground and build a new one, even though it didn't burn at all.

Precisely how many tons of carbon were released into the atmosphere by these fires I do not know, but given the fact that SoCal looked like China for 2 straight weeks and they were handing out filter masks like confetti it was pretty significant.  Not even all the carz driving around LA every day make the atmosphere look THAT bad.  However, at least this acreage is unlikely to burn again next year, but you can't say the same thing about some new Hurricanes dropping in on the Carribean and the GoM next season.  I really wonder what the response will be if Houston gets hit by ANOTHER hurricane next year?  $Billions$ already spent this year, now you gotta go fix it AGAIN?  How many times will people rebuild in the Land of Perpetual Mold Spores? The last of the Collapse Storiez I will cover for the 2017 Recap Edition of Sunday Brunch on the Diner is the Bubblicious Bitcoin Banquet, where speculators are still having a field day Pumping & Dumping Crypto-Currency bullshit reaching ridiulous valuations and based on NOTHING.  This form of "money" didn't even EXIST a few years ago, but now is "worth" $100s of Billions if not Trillions of Dollars.  Meanwhile, a new story pops in just about every week of some exchange that got hacked or some scam being run by some con artists in Hong Knog or Singapore to make some money off this mania.  Somebody is going to be left with a very big bag of NOTHING when this one finally plays itself out.

There remain however numerous crypto-currency FANATICS out there who see this nonsense as the SAVIOR of money from the centralized control of the TBTF Banks controlling the global central banks.  What nobody seems to grasp is that it doesn't matter WHAT you use for money, gold, paper, digibits whatever, if you don't have the resources to value the money against, it's worthless.

Anybody who actually HAS some money these days is in a frantic search for some way to protect their paper wealth from theft by Da Goobermint through Taxation or theft by the Banks through Inflation.  Crypto Fanatics are basically people in the world of finance trading around a lot of virtual debt with nothing to back it up at all and besides that is incedibly energy intensive and loaded with complexity that makes it impractical for most of the population to use in any meaningful fashion. The illusion of wealth is being perpetuated by the ever rising stock market, which really only keeps going up because more debt is pitched at it every day.  Energy companies, Tesla, Amazon, Alibaba, NONE of them actually make an organic profit.  All they do is expand the level of their debt every year, as does Da Goobermint as well of course.  This expanded level of debt makes it appear there is a GDP increase, but there really is not.  On a per capita basis, each year we all are incrementally poorer and deeper in debt.  Anyone who believes all this debt can EVER be paid off is in serious need of a Reality Check.

So as we move onward here into 2018, some sort of Reset has to come, but will it actually arrive in 2018?  What form will it take, and how pervasive will the effects be through the economy as a whole?  It's really a Fool's Game to try and predict this, what you really need to do is Hedge as best you can against the possibility this IS the "Year of the BIG ONE".

So, how do you hedge?  Here are a few suggestions, more or less in order of importance.

#1- Have a stockpile of long lasting foods and alternatives for producing electricity at least through temporary disruptions.  You don't need a full blown off-grid Solar PV & Wind Turbinesystem for this, although it's a nice prep to have if you can afford it.  At least have a generator and deep cycle battery and inverter though.  Small emergency setups that can carry you through a couple of weeks without grid power can be put together for under $1000.

#2- Get out of/Stay out of Debt if at all possible.  Many people are too far underwater on this to completely get out now, but you do the best you can and definitely don't take on new debt unless you absolutely have to just to stay alive.  The last thing you want in a SHTF scenario is to see your bank account locked up because you didn't make your last mortgage payment and the bank has frozen your account.

#3- Have a decent size STASH OF CASH that can carry you through at least a couple of months where you can't access your bank account.  Right now here in the FSoA we still do HAVE cash that works, the Almighty Dollar, and the paper version is not going to disappear here overnight, or even hyperinflate overnight either.  It's very fungible currency and you can use it to buy more food and preps pretty much right up to the minute of SHTF Day.

#4- Have a good BUGOUT PLAN in place.  If you at least have a car, you can have a decent bugout plan to GTFO of Dodge if your neighborhood happens to be the latest one to be leveled by Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Wildfires, Drought or Political Upheaval.  Have a selection of different destinations depending on how things shape up, and alternative routes to get there.  Hopefully have friends/relatives at the other end of your bugout plan to join up with.  Have provisions for shelter on the road and for cooking.

#5- Have PERSONAL PROTECTION that is sufficient to at least keep the average Zombie at bay.  You don't need a fucking arsenal for this, but a good semi-auto pistol, a shotgun and a rifle with a scope is probably not a bad idea to have in the car with you.  You can leave the RPGs at home if you don't have room. lol.

I would NOT suggest anyone currently employed in the Industrial economy quits their job to go live in the Tropical Rainforest or the Alaska Bush, even if you are fairly conversant with living the Full Primitive.  You would have to be Cody Lundin to make it out there by yourself or even with a small Tribe.  You will need to see how society reorganizes and become part of some group to be able to make it through the Zero Point.

These principles are timeless and do not prevent you from living a "normal" life for as long as BAU continues.  They don't cost a fortune either, you don't need gobs of money to buy your own Doomstead and set it up with off grid power systems, etc.  You just need to remain flexible, mobile and out of DEBT.  It's about the best you can do, and when TSHTF in your neighborhood, then you can get to the task of figuring out what you will do in the aftermath.

Maybe it comes in 2018, maybe it takes to 2020 or 2025, but a reset is coming down the pike here, as sure as the SUN☼ rises each day over the horizon.  Be ready for that day when it comes.

Remember the Boy Scout Motto. BE PREPARED!

Eat it Raw

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 17, 2017

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As regular readers of the Diner know, I have numerous health issues stemming from my spinal injury.  Among these issues for me is an almost total loss of appetite and difficulty eating more than just a few bites of food at any time.  Also a reduced ability to actually taste the food I eat. I was thrilled down in Seattle when I actually managed to eat about 3/4s of a Tuna Sandwich at the Museum of Flight.  It was a very good Tuna Sandwich too, consistency wise.  For someone who was as big a Foody as I was, this is perhaps the most depressing aspect of my injury, even worse than the issues with walking.  The only upside to it is I am not getting fat despite my lack of exercise, in fact I am steadily losing weight. At home in order to get some nutrition down my pie hole, I have experimented with numerous gimmicks and enthusiasms of various foods I can tolerate eating a little at a time.  For a while it was Soups.  I would heat a can of one of my favorite Progresso or Campbells Chunky Soup, and then spend a couple of days eating it by the spoonful right out of the pot on the stove.  I would reheat as necessary, and add a little water to replace the water that boiled off during each reheat.  However, I got tired of this and bored with it and 2 days on the stove turned into 3, then 4.  I started having to put the soup in a tupperware and refrigerate it to keep it from going bad.  Then this leftover soup started sitting in the fridge for a week or two and going bad anyhow.  I stopped opening cans of soup at this point. My next enthusiasm was Salads, mostly augmented Greek-Style Tomato salads.  I could buy just 2 or 3 Roma Tomatoes in the produce aisle, a block of Feta Cheese, a Red Onion and Kalamatta Olives in a jar and this formed the basis for my salad.  The only thing perishable in there that doesn't last that long in the fridge are the tomatoes, everything else will last a month and more with a vinagarette dressing of some type.  Keep your block of Feta wrapped up tight in plastic, that lasts a couple of months easy.  Kalamatta Olives in the Jar?  Probably last a year in the fridge even after you open the jar.  Further augmentation came from canned gourmet veggies like marinated artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, straw mushrooms etc.  These salads lasted easily a week in the fridge a few bites at a time, but I became bored with them too.

Then I went on a Fresh Fruit & Cheese enthusiasm. Clementine Oranges (the small ones, didn't they used to call these tangerines?), Bananas. Cubed Watermelon & Seedless Grapes mostly for the fruit; Brie (and other soft cheeses), Havarti, Gouda, Gorgonzola and really whatever appealed to me in the Gourmet Cheese display at Fred Meyer or was on a half-price sale.  The Bananas don't last long, you have to eat all of them inside a week or so or they start to turn black and get mushy inside.  Grapes and Clementines last pretty long in the fridge, but they start dehydrating and after about 3-4 days are not so juicy.  Cubed Watermelon lasts a surprisingly long time in a tupperware container in its own juices, up to a couple of weeks it is still pretty crunchy, sweet and juicy.  The cheeses you have to remember to wrap well in plastic after you cut off a hunk for a meal, and always use a nice clean knife rinsed with hot water to remove bacteria on the knife.  Not a bad idea to hold the blade over the stove fire either to further sterilize it.  This also important later for the meat and fish cutting.  If you do all that, your wedge or block of cheese should last in the fridge at least a month before you start seeing Green Mold growing on it.  You can often just cut this off, because it is only growing on the outside surface, the interior is still fine.  In fact, you can eat the part with the mold on it too, that won't kill you and it doesn't change the taste that much.  Just looks a little gross.

This brings us to my current enthusiasm, RAW ANIMAL PROTEIN.

I moved to this enthusiasm for a couple of reasons.  First was the EXTREME Edema (swelling due to fluid retention) condition I have in my legs, which on top of the spinal injury and general loss of strength from that has brought it to the point I can't even stand up if I don't have hand holds and bracing to do it with. The Nurse Practioner I was seeing as my Primary Care Provider before I ditched her for a Physician's Assistant who is equally clueless suggested that the Edema problem might stem from a lack of protein in my diet.  I am fully aware of this nutrition problem, however she did not have a good suggestion on how to SOLVE it since I can't hardly eat anything at all.  I pitched the idea of a feeding tube, but she informed me Medicare won't pay for that unless you are on your death bed in hospital.  So I have to get the right foods down my own gullet myself, somehow. So, OK, on the assumption a lack of protein is the proximal problem causing the edema, how can I increase my protein intake?  Well, I have always liked Fish, and even got into eating Raw Fish in the form of Sushi & Sashimi in my college years when I started haunting Japanese Restaurants around NY Shity.  Today, there are Sushi Bars in the major Food Superstores which provide a pre-rolled Sushi plate for anywhere from $8-$15 depending on the type of fish and the size of the plate.  So I started with this.

Of course, due to my low appetite, I can't finish a typical Sushi Lunch plate from Fred Meyer, which usually has about 2 rolls worth of some decorative Sushi concoction that appeals to the Amerikan palate.  Around here, this is mainly Tuna Rolls, Salmon,and California Rolls which have the fake Crab Meat in them with some avocado and cream cheese.  Thing is, while the fish inside is still good the second day, the rice starts to dry out very fast and the texture isn't as nice. Still edible even after 3 days, but really only good the 1st day. Besides that, these rolls are MOSTLY rice, the amount of fish in them is pretty small.  I am interested in JUST THE FISH, not all the decorations or the rice either.

This vid is the shorter one which doesn't show half what gets pitched out when sectioning up a Salmon for Sashimi.  I figured I would spare you watching the head, spine and skin getting pitched out also.  Waste, Waste, Waste.

Back in Edo Japan, I suspect Sushi was what the Peasants ate, while Sashimi which is JUST THE FISH is what the Samurai ate.  The fish was the expensive part of the meal, the rice was filler and calories so the Peasants would have enough energy to work and feed the Samurai.  Samurai needed the fish protein to develop big strong muscles to wield swords with which they could behead the peasants.  The Sashimi JUST THE FISH meal is made even MORE expensive by the fact that in preparing sashimi, only the very BEST parts of the fish are used.  You can't believe the amount of WASTE when a Sashimi artist goes about filleting and slicing up a fish to lay out on a decorative plate.  In modern restaurants, I suspect most of the parts discarded by the Sashimi artist go in the trash, not even composted.  However, going back to Edo Japan, I suspect these parts were collected to make Fish Broth, which again the peasants got to use to make soups and supplement their protein intake above the pitiful amount of fish usually contained in a Sushi Roll. The only platters that have a little more fish on them in the plastic containers at Fred Meyer are the Nigiri Sushi, which is basically a slice of raw fish on top of a pile of rice.  You only get 8 pieces total though, again up here usually Ahi Tuna and Salmon.  The box costs you $12, and I suspect there is no more than 1/4 lb of fish there.  That is working out to $48/lb!  They don't serve a straight Sashimi plate at Freddie's, for that you have to go to the Sushi Bar at our local Japanese Restaurant, Tokyo.  Here you will pay around $25 now for around 12 pieces of fish, usually Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail and Octopus.  Maybe about 1/3rd lb total here.

So, I decided that instead of shopping for my Sashimi at the Sushi counter, I would go straight to the Fresh Fish counter!  Bring it home and slice it up myself!  This cut the cost for JUST THE FISH by at least half.  There are pluses and minuses here with doing this. Some fish like the Tuna is really EZ to slice up into nice bite size pieces to dip in your Wasabi-Soy Sauce dipping mixture and eat with a bit of pickled ginger.  You do now have the added cost of buying the wasabi and soy and pickled ginger, which all comes included on the pre made Sushi plate, so this reduces your savings, plus you have the work of slicing the fish so the savings aren't quite as much as you hoped for overall.

Salmon is much harder to slice into nice Sashimi size chunks.  It tends to fall apart as you slice, plus you have to get the skin off the back side of the fillet.   They also use larger salmon at sushi bars than you normally find at the fish counter or would buy just to feed yourself.  There is no way I can get the size chunks of salmon equal to the size of the tuna with the salmon I have bought for this so far.

Octopus is usually not available at the fish counter here, and neither is Yellowtail.  So recently I tried Sea Scallops, which I never had in a Japanese restaurant as part of a Sashimi plate.  Had them cooked as an appetizer Scallops Bata Yaki which is quite good, but not raw. I didn't like the texture raw too much, they are a little too soft eaten raw for me.  I am now sticking to cooking the scallops in butter and garlic which is pretty fast and EZ to do.  Finally, I am trying Rockfish (Striped Bass), but it is still in the freezer so I can't report on that one yet. Speaking of Freezing, this is a significant aspect of eating all raw meats and fishies, unless you catch them yourself right out of the water or hunt it down and eat the meat right after the kill.  Raw fish and Raw meat can contain bacteria and parasites which can be quite harmful and even cause death.  Most of the time they don't, and in my long history of eating this stuff raw, I have never had so much as an upset stomach, whereas I got Tomaine Poisoning twice off of cooked meat which practically killed me.  Only in recent years have I taken to the practice of freezing and thawing raw meats before eating.

The reason is this.  If there are parasites and bacteria inhabiting your fillet, if you freeze to -4F for about 4 days, this will kill them as effectively as cooking does, and it doesn't destroy the flavor or texture like cooking does.  So as an additional security/health measure here, I do the Freeze/Thaw before slicing up my Sashimi.  In fact, just about all the "fresh" fish you buy at the fish store nowadays has already gone through one or more of these cycles.  The fish are collected up on large industrial fish processing ships where they do the fillet work, vacuum seal them and throw them in a Liquid Nitrogen Bath which flash freezes them down to something like -321F (-196C).  Then they go through a series of transports generally finally ending up on a Reefer truck where the temp inside the box maybe is around 20F, depending how hot it is outside.  When they get to the Food Superstore, they go in another Freezer, this one down to maybe -10F until they are ready to sell it.  Then it thaws slowly in a refrigerator set around 35F over a couple of days and is put out in the refrigerated display counter for sale.  Pretty much no bacteria or parasites live through this, and your fish is generally quite safe to eat raw right out of the counter, assuming the minimum wage paid fish mongers working behind the counter clean as they are supposed to every night on closing.  I basically took to doing an additional Freeze-Thaw cycle after buying just to add a little insurance here, but at least for Freddie's Fish, I would eat it raw straight out of the counter. This brings us to the next RAW counter down at Freddie's, the MEAT counter.  I actually took to eating raw meat quite a bit before I got into eating raw fish in my college years as the Japanese restaurants proliferated around NY Shity.  After returning from Brazil in my late preteen years, I missed the Churascaria's we often ate at there, where the meat was brought to you on the spit at your table and sliced off right onto your plate.  So I took to BBQing meat myself on a little cast iron Hibachi in the small back yard we had in our NY Shity Queens McMansion which mom got as part of the divorce settlement.  I started with Hamburgers of course, and quickly discovered that a really JUICY burger should have a nice pink inside.  For me, pink turned to RED after a while, although for anyone else I was cooking a burger for I kept it to pink or even well done if they asked for that.  I could never understand that though, well done dries the meat out and it's like eating leather, albeit in the case of burgers its ground up leather.  A well done steak though is like eating the soles off a Cowboy Boot.

Once I realized I liked my meat on the BBQ "Pittburgh Rare" (charred on the outside, still mooing on the inside) I started experimenting with eating the meat RAW right out of the package immediately after I brought it home from the grocery store when it was still nice and bright red straight out of the grinder.  Just ground beef for hamburgers at first on this, and it was DELICIOUS!  Just a pinch or two at a time at first also.  I didn't get sick, even though I had already heard about all the dangers of eating raw meat.  Then I read about "official" gourmet meals like Steak Tartare which featured raw meat, and I decided it was OK to eat this stuff.  After all, carnivores in nature who don't have control of fire eat their meat raw all the time.  I suspect by eating it a small amount at a time for a while I built up my gut so it could digest the stuff well without my getting sick. With the beef, I tried some other cuts  besides hamburger raw, but really unless it is ground up the only one that is any good for raw eating is Fillet Mignon, which is fairly expensive.  Around here these days it comes in aroun $16/lb.  Good ground sirloin though you can get for $4/lb on sale, and the taste and texture are pretty close to the same as Fillet Mignon.  I do occasionally buy the Fillets though, because when you slice them up they LOOK a lot nicer and the visual component of eating is part of the pleasure, one of the parts I can still enjoy.  Up at the top of the page here you see one of my Steak Fillets sliced up Sashimi style, with some Au Jus dipping sauce.

It's the dipping sauces that throw a fly in the ointment as far as keeping your costs down when going with the raw eating, both with fish and with meat.  These days, if you mosey on down the sauces and marinades aisle in the Food Superstore, the choices are endless and these bottles go from anywhere from around $2/bottle if you catch a sale to $8/bottle.  You don't really NEED a dipping sauce of course, and some of the time I will do without a dip to just enjoy the flavor of the RAW MEAT by itself.  However, many of these sauces are REALLY good and enhance the raw eating experience. On the upside to this, once you buy a bottle of a particular kind of sauce it lasts a long time.  You only need about a tablespoon worth for a whole fillet for dipping as you go.  My current methodology on this is to pick one sauce I haven't tried yet each time I shop and buy a bottle of that, hopefully ON SALE.  One that came in very cheap recently was Dumpling dipping sauce and it's my current favorite.  Thai Peanut sauce is also very good, and of course Teriyaki sauce.  I've had a few failures too, I thought Chinese Hot Mustard might be good, but it was too overpowering for the meat.  The choices are pretty endless here particularly in the Asian Foods aisle, just find your own favorites.

While I am comfortable with both Beef and Fish raw, I don't eat either Pork or Chicken raw.  With pork, I have been told too many stories about Trichonosis and never could bring myself to trying it.  On the BBQ, I always cooked it through until there was no pink showing in the middle, still trying to keep it juicy though.  Similarly with chicken, a few times early on I under-cooked my chicken on the BBQ and it was still gooey and slimy on the inside when I bit into it.  This grossed me out and I always make sure my chicken is cooked through now, however I prepare it.

Now that I have given a not so brief history of how I developed a taste for eating RAW animal protein, I'm going to tie it into collapse issues.  As with my prior post on Luggage, it might not be immediately clear how my diet relates to collapse.  It doesn't really HAVE to relate, since the Diner is both a Collapse Blog and my personal blog, but in this case there is a connection.

One thing for me personally is that these days I am more consumed with my own personal issues of Health Collapse than the collapse of the society at large around me.  When you have the Grim Reaper stalking you all the time it's tough to fix your mind on anything else but fending him off for another day.  However, there are many issues with the food consumption here which apply more generally in the World of Collapse. The first issue is one of COST.  The fact here is that despite not being a very rich Amerikan (in fact a pretty poor one by measures here), I CAN afford to buy what are some of the most expensive cuts of meat and fish on the market to try and up my protein intake.  That's partly because I don't buy much of them because my appetite is so depressed, but much more it is because producing this food is so heavily subsidized in Amerika, and relative to income food is a pretty small part of your daily living expenses, even if you are fairly poor.  If you are SUPER poor and qualify for a SNAP Card, you can STILL afford these foods if you are wise about how you spend your monthly food budget.  I have demonstrated that on numeros occasions in the SNAP Card Gourmet series.  For the vast majority of the world though, these foods are out of the question, they have daily food budgets in the $2/day range (and even less!).  In all probability these foods aren't even available in the markets to buy, even if you had the money.  I doubt sashimi quality Ahi Tuna steaks are available at the markets in Rio, for instance.

The next issue is the cost to the environment.  As most of us Kollapsniks are aware, cattle ranching is extremely water intensive and overall pretty destructive to the local ecosystems.  The space the cows take up and the land used to grow their feed is land taken away from all the other creatures that might be living there.  Over in Brazil, square miles of rainforest are burned every day to make room for more cattle ranching. This argument is often made by vegans who want to get the whole human population to swear off eating meat. Here in Amerika though, this leads you to a major Economic problem if Amerikans actually did this.  Meat is the staple food of the Fast Food industry, from Burgers to Tacos.  Every Mickey Ds and Taco Bell would have to shut down.  Those places are among the few still employing people!  I doubt you could convert them over to selling fast food Bean Sprouts and Soy Burgers either, the consumers would riot.  "What?  No BEEF?  It's What's for Dinner!"

Not only do you lose the fast food workers, you lose all those people employed in the Feedlots and Slaughterhouses as well, not to mention the folks doing the local butchery and packaging up the meat into scrumptios looking foam & plasic containers!  While many of them might be re-employed growing bean sprouts, this will take a while in transition.  Shifting the Food Economy here off its focus on Meat is not something you could do overnight, anymore than you can shift the Carz & Trux economy back to Oxen drawn carts.

Finally in terms of the Collapse Blogosphere, this brings up an old debate I had with Gail Tverberg, and one which in fact led to my quitting her website and quit cross posting her blogs.

Gail is a pretty good actuary, and she had some good insights early on to the direction things were going.  However, she also fancies herself to be an Anthropologist and she is a believer in Near Term Human Extinction as well, although she doesn't explicitly admit that in her blogs.  You can read it in the subtext though of the commentary on Our Finite World.

Gail has a theory that because Homo Saps have evolved Small Jaws, we have to cook our food and thus require fire to survive.  So in her opinion, once we can't access fossil fuels anymore, Homo Saps will burn down all the remaining forests on earth in order to cook their food and heat their homes.  This is just nonsense.  Homo Saps will die off much too fast to burn down all the forests, and where most of the remaining forests are is where most Homo Saps are NOT.  Mountainous regions, regions with no available ground water, etc.  No way to transport the wood from where it is growing to the places people live for them to burn it. The fact is of course, small jaws or big jaws, you don't need to cook most foods for them to be digestible by a current Homo Sap.  My current diet is just about ALL raw foods, or fermented ones.  Besides the Raw Meat & Fish, the fruits I eat are all raw and the cheeses are all fermented.  I don't eat grains that need to be cooked.  My diet is basic Paleo, Fat and Protein.  I don't think I turned my stove on once in the last month, and I am not starving (although granted I am losing weight).  If my appetite was better though and could eat more, I would have no problem existing withough cooking my food, and in fact without most most of my teeth either!

The need to heat your home is also a pathetic argument.  Inuit and Aleuts up here had almost no fuel to work with, they simply lived in small dwellings where their own body heat kept the domicile warm enough through the winter to survive.  Gail is so thoroughly middle class she can't even imagine that, I doubt she has ever been winter camping a day in her whole life.  So to her, when she can't get heating oil for her McMansion, she will go Extinct one winter as she freezes to death.

In order to live on this kind of diet though, those foods you can eat raw do need to be available for you to access.  So if you are going to survive on raw fish, you do need to live near the coast and have a boat to go out and collect fish with.  If you are going to eat raw meat, you either need to be raising it yourself or live in a neighborhood where there is wild game sill roaming around.  If you are going to eat fermented cheeses, you need to be raising Goats or Cows that provide the milk for this.  If you are going to live on fresh fruits, you need to live in a warm climate where these things grow on trees reasonably rapidly.  Finding ONE spot where you can get them ALL is pretty tough of course.

Also true is that currently there are too many people walking the earth to live this way.  That however will NOT be true moving into the future.  A significant percentage of the population is bound to die off.  As more people go to the Great Beyond, there will be more food resource for the remaining population.  Unclear at the moment is precisely how big a percentage of the population needs to buy the farm before this becomes feasible, but I suspect a 99% Dieoff would do it.  That would still leave 75M Homo Saps walking the Earth, which is a long way from Extinction.

Meanwhile, for myself it is a challenge every day to find stuff I can eat to keep this meat package motoring along for another day while I chronicle Doom on the internet.  The RAW MEAT is the current leader of the pack here for me these days, in some tasty dipping sauce.  YUM!

Luggage: Packing for Collapse

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 17, 2017

Discuss this article at the Bugout Table inside the Diner

A Baggage Planning Guide for Kollapsniks

You may be wondering what Luggage has to do with Collapse and why I am writing this article for the Doomstead Diner?

If you have been following the stories of the last week in Sunny Incendiary California, you have no doubt been treated to many stories of people who escaped "just with the clothes on their backs".  Others with a bit more warning packed some things at the last minute, but it was relatively willy nilly, whatever was around to grab.  A few relatively intelligent people had their carz pre-packed and ready to go, but that was only AFTER the Ventura fire really got rolling.  Just about everyone was taken by surprise when Ventura ballooned up from 50 acres to 50,000 acres in a matter of hours.

Your Luggage, that which you can carry with you by hand if necessary, constitutes your FINAL BUGOUT set.  I have written about this before in the Bugout Bags series, here I'm going to expand on this and go into a little more detail on the bags you want packed and ready to go ALL THE TIME.

I've been a Luggage Freak since my first years in Elementary Skule after Kindergarten, when I first needed to start carrying with me my notebooks, pencils and pens, rulers and eraser and my Lunch bag too!  Then maybe a rain slicker and hat if the weather looked like it might change later in the day.  There was a lot of stuff to pack for a day at Skule! I was living in Brasil at the time, and back in those days pretty much the only school bags you could find were the kind you carried with your hand by a handle on top.  Sometimes they had an auxiliary shoulder strap, but it was always very thin and cut into your shoulder uncomfortably with any significant weight. They also broke at the attachment point of bag to strap in short order if you carried them this way regularly.  On these cheap bags, the attachments weren't well reinforced. Carrying by hand of course took one hand out of service for doing other things, plus your arm gets tired if you carry a heavy bag by the handle for any significant length of time.

Having some experience with Backpacks as a camper, I always wanted one of those for carrying my Skule Gear.  However, the ones available in those years were too big.  Chinese and Indian women and children were not yet sewing up millions of backpack-sized school bags in endless configurations in those years.  That didn't take off until numerous years later, in fact it wasn't until I had graduated from HS bags of that style began to appear, now including well padded shoulder straps as well as wheels, copying the airline bags.  This has driven down the price of these bags, and you can get really nice ones in the $20 range.  2 or 3 of these bags in different configurations is an important aspect of your Luggage Arsenal. One of these bags should contain copies of all your most important documents, themselves encased in some kind of case or water-tight bag inside the backpack.  It is the Essentials Bag. Birth Certificate, Passport, Property Titles, Auto Registrations, Marriage documents, tax records etc.  You want the originals similarly protected, but they need additonal protection and should be stored separately.  Bank safe deposit boxes are one choice, burying them in a waterproof safe box another..  For the scramble to GTFO of Dodge though, copies are good enough.  Your Wallet with your Credit/Debit Cards, Medical Insurance Cards, CASH, Blank Checks, FSoA Passport Card and Drivers License is even more important, this NEVER leaves my person.  I sleep with it in the pocket of my pajamas.  My smart phone also is also never more than an arm's reach away.  At the desk, it is plugged in to stay topped off on charge all the time.  When I go to sleep, I plop it next to my pillow.  When I visit the Throne, it comes with me to surf the web while I exert the effort necessary to excrete.  There is no Bugout Situation I can envision where I would not have my Wallet and my Smart Phone with me.

The Essentials Bag is always kept in a "go out the door" location.  This can literally be by the front door, or in my case I keep it by my desk where I am sitting almost all the time I am not sleeping, which itself is a location only a few feet away from the desk.  If I feel a quake (happens regularly here), I am out the door with my essentials bag in under a minute.  That is on Cripple time.  When the legs worked right, I was out the door in 10 seconds.  I made that trip out the door twice in the last decade, in neither case did the building come down but if it did I would not have been crushed under it.

Even in a Wildfire situation though where a neighbor or a fireman pounds on your door to rouse you and inform you of the MANDATORY EVACUATION and you look up on the hillside and see an inferno bearing down on your McMansion, you generally have more than a minute to get packed up and rolling.  Again in the reports from CA, residents evacuating usually took 5-10 minutes to throw a few possesions into bags, throw the bags into the SUV and put the Pedal to the Metal to run the gauntlet through the Inferno and hopefully to safety.

If you have that 5-10 minutes, you can do a lot better than just the Essentials Bag, with the Full Luggage Kit, previously packed and also all ready to go at a moment's notice.  What is the FLK?

The FLK is the full gamut of bags you can take with you on an airplane, bus etc but still manage to carry them all yourself in some manner.

The typical FLK consists of 4 bags, the aforementioned Essentials Bag, a Carry-On Wheely Bag you can bring yourself on the plane and 2 more larger Wheely Bags you can check in the baggage compartment, now at $25/each as long as you stay under the 50# limit for each of those bags.

RE's current FLK (approximately, not the exact models I have but close)

How do you carry all those bags at once?  There are a couple of alternatives.  Usually, I stack the two medium size bags with the smaller one on top, and the Essentials Bag on top of the large bag, then pull each of them with one arm.  At least I used to do that, now I get the Airport Wheel Chair Jockeys to do it for me.  However, you can also carry the Essentials Bag on your back and make a "train" out of the wheely bags to pull them with one hand if necessary.  Only do that on flat ground though, uphill too heavy, downhill uncontrollable.

The luggage manufacturing people over in Pakistan also provide these in many configurations made of different materials, from very soft-side stuff like Duffels to semi-soft side ballistic nylon to true hard side made from various polymers or sometimes aluminum.  Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Soft Side

Advantages: Generally the lightest in weight themselves, and when empty can be folded up and stowed away taking up little room.  Also usually the cheapest alternative.

Disadvantages: Provide the least protection from damage to interior items, and little to no security against theft.

Best Use: Extra clothing you can easily replace if stolen, sleeping bags, tents etc. Semi-Soft Side

Advantages:  The rigidity provided around the edge of the bag to hold shape offers some protection to interior items.  They also usually come today with their own wheels, so you don't usually have to fully carry them, just wheel them around from the luggage carousel to the taxi, etc.  Because this is the most popular type sold in stores like Walmart & Target, they also come in pretty cheap.

Disadvantages:  Significant increase in the weight of the bag itself, meaning you have less cargo capacity (mainly an airline problem).  When empty, you can't fold them up for stowage, although when purchased in sets they will usually "nest" when empty so you only have the footprint of the largest of the bags to stow in a closet or under the bed.  Almost as low security as soft bags, all it takes is a pocket knife to cut through the fabric of the bag, so if you are in a shelter for instance, your personal property is not very secure when you are not around, even if the bag is locked. Hard Side

Advantages: Provides the most protection for interior items, both from damage in transit as well as security against theft.  It takes a bit more than a pocket knife to break into one of these bags, although granted not a lot more.  They are also more waterproof than either of the other types of bags, although they will not survive a complete submersion without the interior items getting soaked, unless you also seal them in waterproof bags.  If you live in a neighborhood where Flooding is a problem, you definitely want to waterproof your valuables as best you can.  If they are Full Aluminum, they also will serve as Faraday Cages and protect from EMPs and identity theft of RFID chips you may have inside.  Weight varies tremendously on hard side luggage.  You can get some variations even lighter in weight than semi-soft, but the materials used can be expensive or they skimp on thickness and they are not as strong and will develop cracks over time.  They can also get "torqued" with bad baggage handling and misalign when trying to close them, rendering them pretty much useless.

Disadvantages:  Like Semi-Soft, they don't fold up for stowage but they also do nest when empty, so not too much difference here.  Possibly a more attractive target for thieves, since they figure if you are using hard side luggage you probably have valuables in it.  Rather than break into it, they may simply take the whole case if they have the opportunity.  Use a cable lock on some fixed object to minimize this risk.  The frame on your cot in the shelter probably will work for this.  In the airport, lock to the row of seats you are taking your nap on while waiting for your plane to be deiced.

What goes in them?

If you add the 3 bags of a typical luggage set to your Essentials Bag as already packed and ready to go out the door bags in a fast evacuation scenario, you have a LOT more room to work with and can carry much more of your personal belongings.  Now it becomes a challenge of deciding what should go in these bags and how it should be organized?  There is no single answer to that question, since for some people it might mean photo albums and family memoribilia, for others it might mean stuff you will need while you live on the road or couch surfing with friends and relatives until you (hopefully) can return home. On the photo albums issue, in the modern world this shoudn't be a problem at all.  Nobody has so many pictures in photo albums they won't all fit on a Micro-SD Card that fits in your wallet.  You can also store on DVD-R and have copies sprinkled around to friends and relatives.  Also store them up on the Cloud.  The folks who have this problem are generally older folks who never figured out how to scan a picture, or who were too lazy to do so.  I don't have a lot of sympathy for this problem.

Other memoribilia though can be tougher.  Your dad's Purple Heart from WWII maybe fits, but you're not going to pack his Dress Uniform.  Your daughter's Gold Medal from L5 State Championships for Gymnastics maybe fits, but you're not going to pack all her leotards from the time she was 5.  Your prized Fender Guitar signed by Eddie Van Halen won't fit any of the luggage, but maybe you can carry it on the side.  You definitely can't carry the Steinway Piano though, that is firewood.

I'm not big on the memoribilia conservation, so I allocate my space more to what I think I will need with me to make my time as an evacuee a little more comfortable and tolerable, if not pleasant.  In order from smallest to largest, here is how I distribute out what I want ready to go in an emergency situation.

22" Wheely Bag

Mostly electronics and communication equipment.  Laptop, Tablet, Spare phones, Small Cameras, Flashlights, Chargers, SW Radio, Walkie Talkies, Batteries.  Also in this bag goes some road food, water bottle and various small tools.  Since all these things are rather dense, the weight of this bag can be quite substantial and you have to watch the weight more than the volume of stuff you drop into it.  Remember you may have to hoist it into an overhead compartment on the plane.

25" Wheely Bag

Change of clothing, underwear, socks, hoody sweatshirt, rain jacket & hat.  Not a massive amount of clothing, this can mostly be easily replaced at the nearest Target once you reach a safe location.  Still good to have some extra clothes though in case problems are more widespread and there are no open Targets.  This bag still has at least half the space empty, which I have my big camera kit in, a camping stove, mess kit and some freeze-dried Mountain House food.

28" Wheely Bag

This gets 3 items which take up just about the whole bag: sleeping bag, pad & popup tent.  Since I live in a cold climate, remaining space is for additional layers of winter clothing: Hat, Gloves, Scarf, Insulated vest, long underwear, insulated jacket.  Bulky stuff but not heavy.  If you are not worried about real cold weather, you have a lot more room to work with.

The only bag not packed and ready to go all the time is the Electronics bag, because I use that stuff all the time.  It also needs to be regularly charged up.  However, it is all also close by me all the time and it doesn't take long to throw it in the bag.  The two larger bags sit packed all the time in the front closet.  Total time to get out the door and into SaVANnah (my full-size raised roof conversion van & emergency home-on-wheelz, aka BUGOUT MACHINE!) in the event Mt. Redoubt goes Ballistic, about 5 minutes.

SaVANnah on a Bugout Rehearsal Run

What type of luggage you choose is to some extent a matter of preference, although soft side is really only appropriate for clothing and your sleeping gear made of cloth.  Stuff that can't be damaged by the luggage monkeys handling your bags.   For the rest of the bags, it's either semi-soft or hard side.  When I moved to Alaska, I had already been living out of bags and containers during my trucking years.  However, the containers (PVC generally) really weren't good for taking on a plane, so I bought a set of 3 semi-soft bags from Victorinox, the Swiss Army Knife people.  I always was satisfied with the quality on their pocket knives over the years, and the bags held up pretty well. This set of luggage has lasted me over a decade for many trips.  However, recently one of the carry handles on the largest bag ripped off, but even more disastrous was I used the medium size bag to transport some frozen Sockeye Salmon and Alaska King Crab down to Seattle for the Great Tombstone Adventure, and they leaked melting fish water into the bag.  It STUNK on arrival in Seattle and had to be sent to the Land of Away.

So I decided it was time for a new set of luggage, and this time I went for a 2 piece true Hard Side set with aluminum frames which came in at the amazingly low price of $70.  For BOTH of them.  I remember when Samsonite luggage like this sold for $100s of dollars a piece.  There has been a lot of deflation in luggage costs.

I was concerned the quality might not be too good, but they have already arrived and seem sturdy enough to me at the moment.  We'll need to wait for the next Adventure to do a field test on them.

To finish up here on organizing your Emergency Bugout luggage, I mentioned that it was a good idea to have at least 2 or 3 of the smaller backpacks as part of your ensemble.  Why do you need that (or at least want it) when you are already maxed out with 4 bags, 2 for carry-on the plane and 2 more to drop in checked baggage?  Well, you can drop more than that in checked baggage, but it will be expensive.  Besides that, more than 4 bags and it becomes about impossible to move them around yourself, even just from baggage carousel to a cab outside. The reason is for organizational purposes where you do "Bag in a Bag".  Particularly with larger luggage, if you don't have your stuff inside organized in some way and just throw it in the bag, digging around to find it when you open up the bag messes up the whole bag.  Also you often can't find what you are looking for at all!

These bag in bags differ markedly from the ones you use independently.  For those, you like to have a heavy duty material for the bag along with some exterior compartments and attachment points for bungees and other stuff.  For the bag in bags, it is just the opposite.  You want thin lightweight material for the bag, and few to no exterior pockets.  Extra pockets on these bags just makes it too complicated, you forget which pocket on which bag you stored something.  Many bag configurations work well for bag in a bag.  There are lightweight backpacks, gym bags, mini-duffels, laundry bags etc.  Generally you should spend no more than $10 for a bag in bag.

Also mentioned was waterproofing the interior contents of your bags, particularly if your main concern is flooding.  No bag that is light enough to be a travel bag is going to be completely waterproof.  Generally all 3 types will shed water pretty well from light rain/drizzle, at least if not left out too long.

For harder rain, the soft side luggage fails first.  If you haven't done anything else to protect and waterproof the clothing inside, it will be soaked in at most a couple of hours.  However, it's EZ to vastly improve on this problem with a simple disposable lawn waste bag lining the interior when you pack it.  Or you can use multiple smaller trash bags.  The same is true for semi-soft side luggage.

Hard side luggage is pretty much impervious to rain no matter how hard it is coming down, with this exception: Hard Side Zipper Closure bags.  The zipper has cloth to either side where it attaches to the bag, and this is a failure point for the leakage of water.  Besides that, it makes the hard side luggage as vulnerable as the other two types of luggage to EZ theft with a pocket knife.  Don't ever buy hard side luggage with zipper closure!  It defeats the entire purpose and all the advantages of hard side.

Hard side does have one advantage in flooding situations, which is if it is not to heavily loaded it will float, at least for a while.  They are not water tight to submersion though. If you are really obsessive and worried about water damage, particlarly to electronic devices, you'll need to get water-tight cases or bags for them.  These are available in a myriad of sizes and configurations as well, generally sold in the Fishing & Camping dept of your local Superstore.  The issue here is the more of them you use, the less actual serviceable room you have inside the containing bag.  I don't bother with these, flooding is not my major concern and I don't see much likelihood of the luggage getting submerged in an evacuation.

Once you have your complete Evac Luggage Kit organized and ready to go, for the Kollapsnik Prepper it offers great peace of mind that you have done the best you can to be ready for collapse when it shows up on your doorstep, as it can at any time, anywhere, as the folks in SoCal are now aware.  When it does show up, there is often little warning and no time to figure out all the stuff you need, find it and pack it up.  If you have done it in advance though, you can be out the door in 5 minutes with a decent kit of stuff that will keep you fairly comfortable for a week or two at least of couch surfing while you figure out how you will afford to rebuild your McMansion, considering your workplace also burned down and you have no job either.  Your luggage system will not solve this problem.

Death From Above

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 10, 2017

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On a strictly Tourista Level, the Highlight of my Great Tombstone Adventure down to Seattle was the excursion K-Dog and I took to the Boeing Museum of Flight, which is a HUGE facility just loaded wih cool historical aircraft of various kinds.  Airplanes are not small things, particularly the modern jets and bombers, so this place takes up acres of space.  Given my limited ability to walk even a few feet without sitting down to rest, touring this museum without the assistance of an EV powered Cripple Cart was out of the question.

Unlike Walmart or Safeway which kindly provide Cripple Carts for the crippled and overweight shoppers,  Boeing does NOT provide these marvelous devices for the touristas who come and pay $23 a pop for the opportunity to view up close and personal these behemoths of the air, possibly the greatest monument to the Age of Oil that exists.  There is no single symbol more impressive than the Jets and the Rockets produced over the last half of the Industrial Age than these machines.  Even the older ones from the first half made of wood and fabric are pretty impressive, given the technology of the day.  I fortunately rented my own Cripple Cart for the week down in Seattle, and had it to tour around the museum.

As a person who both reviles what the techno-civilization and profligate burning of fossil fuels has done to the planet but ALSO admires the technological prowess of the age, visiting this museum brings up conflicting emotions and a lot of cognitive dissonance as I propelled my Cripple Cart around from plane to plane and read many of the displays which chronicled the History of Flight.

I rode on many of these jets, from the typical Boeing 707 to the great behemoth itself, the 747.  I rode the 747 back in the 1970s, when the upstairs was still a lounge for First Class passengers and not just extra seats.  Production has ceased for the 747 as a passenger aircraft, and going forward here only a few will still be produced for hauling heavy freight.  Those 4 big engines produce a LOT of thrust, that's why the 747 was able to piggy back the Space Shuttle to move it around after it glided back down to earth without power.

You don't generally need all that thrust just to move meat packages around taking vacation trips to St. John or Hawaii, it's not very fuel efficient.  747s were cool transport back in the 70s when the fuel came cheap, but in today's market they are money losers.  They're only really good on the most travelled routes like say NY-London, but you always have to make sure they are packed solid so you have to overbook the plane for that.  The more passengers, the more overbooking is necessary.  Flying more smaller more fuel efficient planes is more profitable, or really less of a money loser since nothing in that industry ever really makes a profit.

The same problem killed the Concorde and the SST, the Supersonic Passenger aircraft that were supposed to revolutionize air travel by cutting flight times down to like 3 hours NY-London.  Terrible fuel efficiency here, and besides that the cabin is so small it's like flying coach on a regional jet.  7 hours in First Class in a big fat comfortable seat with free booze is WAY better than 3 hours in a Concorde, so rich fucks didn't pony up for this expensive flight more than once for status.  The only reason a few travellers flew on this White Elephant for a few years was for the status.  Nobody REALLY needed to make it over to London in 3 hours.

Besides that problem for the Concorde was the SONIC BOOM problem.  They couldn't fly the plane at supersonic speeds over any land routes that maybe there were some rich fucks who wanted to buy some status on such a flight, like say NY-LA.  Noise pollution complaints came from everyone underneath the plane all along the route.  This aviation boondoggle lasted a few years and disappeared, but there are rumours Elon Musk is trying to bring something similar back, firing Rockets up on ballistic trajectories to hop rich fucks around the world at top speed!  More money being flushed down the toilet here. Other aspects of the Flight Museum were quite interesting, I did enjoy seeing the type of aircraft that Amelia Earhardt tried to circumnavigate with, that was a very cool looking plane.  I also found the display of the development of Alaska Aviation and the mail routes that funded that to be quite interesting.  To this day, Alaska remains totally dependent on flight to hold the state together as a political unit and to move resources the population needs around the state.  Because it is so mountainous, there is hardly any road system for Alaska beyond the main highways that connect the Kenai Peninsula up though Anchorage then on to Fairbanks.  There are however numerous native villages sprinkled around the state, mainly along the coast as fishing was their historical source of food.  Barges supply these places with the diesel they use to run their generators, since besides not having roads to get there they are not connected to the grid in any way.  To get milk and other fresh produce in there, it's all done by plane at exorbitant prices.  For all the foks who make their living by working 2 weeks on/2weeks off up on the North Slope drilling for Oil, they commute there via plane as well. Individuals who want to have one of those Remote Cabins on a lake off the road system have their own planes, usually single engine float planes they can land on their private and secluded lake.  Obviously, to be in this bracket to own a private plane, even a small single engine Cessna takes a lot of money.  Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, CPAs and other criminal racketeers are the ones who buy these properties and the planes to get to them.  Getting the materials into these places to build the cabin can be quite the challenge, even if you cut the logs for it where you build it.  This is usually done with Snow Machines in the winter, which travel over the snow and frozen lakes much faster than you can travel in a 4-wheeler during summer.  The rest of the year if you DON'T have a float plane, you are basically stuck at your cabin and you better have enough supplies laid in until the first snowfall, unless you want to spend a full day just getting to the closest store on the road system, which probably doesn't stock much besides Spam in a Can and Potato Chips.  If you want any kind of real choice of foods, you're going to need a car parked in their lot and then drive from there to a population center like Fairbanks or the Mat-Su Valley.  With a float plane, you can do all this a lot faster just flying into Anchorage, shopping and flying back.  This does use a fair amount of gas of course. The Museum of Flight isn't JUST about planes though, a huge aspect of it is Rocketry as well.  The development of Rockets is covered from the Nazi V-2 program run by Werner Von Braun that bombed London, all the way through the Space Race with the Ruskies, the Apollo Program, the Space Shuttle and on into the projected future of Mining Asteroids too!  Somewhat surprisingly, there is not a Larger-than-Life Statue of Elon Musk at the center of the Space Pavillion.  Somehow, the general population actually BELIEVES this guy will build colonies on Mars inside 20 years, when we haven't been able to even get a single Homo Sap there and back in the last 50 years since we supposedly dropped a Man on the Moon.  Elon is a bigger GENIUS than all the scientists and engineers that worked for NASA for the last 50 years?  It's just preposterous poppycock, but I give Elon credit for selling it well to Wall Street.  He burns through $BILLIONS$ in debt faster than I can burn through a $5K limit on my Master Card, and they keep shovelling more debt money at him every day!

As interesting as all this stuff is, what you really gather from walking around or cruising your Cripple Cart around the Boeing Museum of Flight is what has REALLY driven the development of flight over the last few centuries, beginning really with lighter than air balloons in the 1700s was not freight delivery or passenger planes for travelling about willy-nilly, but WARFARE. By far the preponderance of planes and the most spectacular ones are all war planes of one sort or another.  The ability to go great distances at high speed in relative safety, then drop the Death From Above  on the enemy behind the front line of the battle was a HUGE advantage for anyone who had this power, and it was recognized from the minute that Orville & Wilbur Wright got the first engine powered heavier than air craft off the ground at Kitty Hawk. Until the planes were developed, balloons mainly served for doing reconaissance to ascertain the position of the enemy, they weren't attack aircraft.  Even the early wood and fabric planes of WWI were not really ground attack planes, they didn't have enough payload capacity to carry much in the way of bombs.  With a machine gun mounted on the front firing bullets perfectly timed to miss the spinning propeller, they could do Strafing Runs on ground combatants, but really those were more defensive weapons to shoot down the planes of the enemy when they ran into each other above the battle itself.  WWI Pilots became famous for being "Aces" not for all the people they killed on the ground, but rather for the few other pilots of these flimsy planes that were also in the neighborhood trying to do recon they managed to shoot down.  Mannfred Von Richtoffen (The "Red Baron") tops the list here with 80 Kills, which is pretty impressive considering he had to pull them off one at a time and not lose ONCE!

However, compared to the number of people one pilot can kill today dropping one blockbuste MOAB down in the middle of a Syrian suburb, it's chump change.  This bombing ability really only took off in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War, with the shift in planes from wood & fabric to aluminum & steel, with MUCH more powerful engines, albeit still prop engines at this point.  The Picasso masterpiece Guernica commemorates the carpet bombing of that town, one of the first to be razed by Death From Above in the 20th Century.  Many others followed of course in WWII, from the fire bombing of Dresden until finally the annihiliation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Fat Man and Little Boy, the first 2 Nuclear Bombs ever dropped on earth.  Still the only two, but for how much longer that will remain true is an open question.




The airplane industry has never been profitable on its own, it always has been the recipient of huge subsidies from Da Goobermint coming from the Pentagon to build new and better airborne killing machines.  The consumer level commercial aircraft emerged in the aftermath of WWII much in the way the automobile industry did, creating an economy to justify building all the factories and burning all the oil necessary for producing more and better war machines. WWII really never ended.  It became a perpetual air war to gain hegemony over the entire world, and essentially make the "One World Order" possible.  The FSoA had the Jump Start on this with manufacturers like Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas and Lockheed, but the Ruskies could read the writing on the wall and knew if they didn't keep up in Air Power, they would end up under the thumb of the Western Illuminati, who controlled the High Ground of the Air.  They developed their own aerospace industry in under a decade after WWII, an amazing feat.

Thus began the Space Race, which was really less about exploring space than it was about perfecting jet and rocket engines to use down here on earth to power the warplanes and jack spy sattelites into low earth orbit.  Back to the Recon aspect of the development of flight there.

The One World Order never became possible in the end, because the "secret of flight" couldn't be contained, and competing factions of Illuminati in Mother Russia and now China as well have developed aircraft as good or better than those produced by Boeing and the rest of the aerospace industry here in the FSoA.  All these factions are at pains never to go up directly against each other, only rain down the Death From Above on the countries that can't fight back this way.  If/When the majors ever go up directly against each other, you will have a lot of very expensive hardware coming down out of the sky as flaming meteors in very short order. Moving into the future, the ability to produce and to power these machines will be vastly reduced, until it finally disappears completely.  Of course, the Military will be the last to see their Jet Fuel rationed, the commercial jets flying to St. John & Hawaii will be grounded long before them.  With the end of air travel will come the end of the Tourist Industry which grew up around it.  For many small island nations around the world, the Tourist industry is all they GOT for bringing in FOREX.  Just about none of them is self-sufficient anymore for food, so these places are going to see a very rapid depopulation.  I won't say Dieoff at this point, since at the beginning they will mostly become Refugees and head for…somewhere else.

The end of projecting military power through the air will end the type of world Goobermint we have known since the end of WWII.  Global conflicts over resources will become local conflicts over resources.  The planes will disappear from the airspace, irreperable, irreplaceable and without fuel to propel them.  Gas powered land transport will continue a while longer, but that too will disappear as the road & bridge infrastructure they use decays and the roads become impassable for wheeled vehicles.  There will NOT be a massive Orwellian State running your life at this point.  There will more likely be a few local Warlords duking it out for hegemony over a few square miles of farmland that still has some decent water falling on it.

The timeline from now until then is open to question, it depends on too many variables.  Could be 5 years, could be 50 though I doubt the latter.  The trajectory though is very clear.  What goes up must come down, and we are on the way back down now regardless of the Snake Oil being sold by Elon Muskrat.

In the end, the invention of aviation and flight was among the most destructive aspects of the Age of Oil, perhaps even more destructive than the Automobile.  It made war "clean" and "invisible" to anyone who was not on the wrong end of a bomb being dropped in their neighborhood.  "Surgical Strikes" became a part of the Newzspeak, conveying the idea to the public that bombing could be done as cleanly as a surgeon wielding a knife, with no "Collateral Damage", another euphemism for DEAD CIVILIANS.  The number of dead people is always manipulated and the Newz coming out of a war zone always carefully filtered.  You never know REALLY what is going on out there.

At the same time of course, just about all these machines, even the primitive early ones and the biggest most destructive modern ones are a testament to human ingenuity, and they are quite beautiful in their own way.  The lifestyle they provided a small percentage of the population on earth for the last 50 years also was quite pleasant.  If you were one of those people (as I was and still am) who could afford to fly around even just coach on a commercial jet to go to far flung places for holidays, this totally revolutionized living.  You can live in Alaska and zip down to Washington for Thanksgiving Dinner with friends.  You can bring along frozen Alaskan King Crab with you to share with them for dinner.  Without the airplane, none of that will be possible anymore.

That day is coming soon to an airport near you.

K-Dog casts a spell from the Boeing Control Tower

The Great Tombstone Adventure

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 3, 2017

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Day 1:


The Adventure Begins…

I am off in about 6 hours from now on the Great Tombstone Adventure down to Seattle-Tacoma, to meet with my Pro Stone Cutters and also to spend some time over Thanksgiving with K-Dog.

The last couple of days have been pretty hectic (for me), getting my final packing done and also getting the Digs cleaned up some so in case there is an unannounced Home Invasion next week while I am away the management will not be unhappy with the state of things.  I didn't mess it up too bad from the last time I brought in the Pro Cleaners, about 6 months ago I think.  I got the bathroom tub and toilet all scrubbed out with Ajax and all the dishes are done and the sinks clean and empty and all kitchen counters scrubbed down.  It's not a perfectly organized typical dwelling of course since it is mainly stacked with boxes of Preps and not Furniture, but IMHO it doesn't look too bad.

The other big deal for today was to get cleaned up for this trip so I don't stink everybody out.  Showering and changing my clothing is a real ordeal for me these days, and I do it as rarely as as I can manage and still stand my own stink.  Particularly difficult is changing my socks, because first off it is difficult for me to reach so low, second picking my legs up to get the sock on when I don't have my hands to help (because they are holding the sock) also a real challenge.  Elon Musk needs to invent a sock-putter-oner Robot for cripples.  ::)  I did real good today, it only took 15 minutes to get the old socks off and 30 minutes to get the new socks on.  :icon_sunny:  Total showering and dressing time today was only around 2 hours.

After the dressing adventure, I headed out in a minor snowstorm to send off a contract to the Cemetery in Springfield for my Casket Vault.  MO requires a Concrete Bunker for your corpse and casket to be dropped into when you Buy Your Ticket to the Great Beyond.  This is true for many states.

My regular Limo Driver James is due to pick me up between 6AM-6:30 for the drive down to Ted Stevens Airport in Anchorage.  Weather and road conditions are dicey, so we are leaving early.  It's not REALLY a Limo of course, it's James' used SUV, but when I close my eyes it looks just like a Limo!  :icon_sunny:  James has shipped my crippled ass back and forth from Ted Stevens for the last 2 years.  I have his direct phone number and pay him cash off the books.  On this trip, I packed him up a Food Present for the holidays, I unloaded my freezer of numerous Ribeye Steaks I will never eat, as well as some Mooseburger from the last time I went hunting before the accident.   That's the last of the game meat RE will ever hunt down.  It probably has freezer burn because I didn't vaccuum seal it, so it may go in the trash or to the dogs.  Steaks are all vacuum sealed though, and last time I BBQed one up (about a year ago) it was still as good as the day I dropped it in the plastic and froze it.

Besides the Care Package I put together for James, I also boxed up a good deal of food for Thanksgiving Week at K-Dog's place.  Remains an open question as to how much of this we will cook up  However, this was a GREAT opportunity to empty out my Freezer!  :icon_sunny:  OK, it's not empty yet, only 1/4 empty, but at least now there is some ROOM in there!

I also rented a Cripple Cart for myself for the week down there so my mobility would be enhanced.  I fit on the small ones the Rent-a-Cripple-Cart people offer, only $175/wk!  :icon_sunny:  They bust up into 5 pieces which weigh no more than 25 lbs each and do around 8 miles on a single charge at walking speed of 4mph or so.  This is much more walking around than any normal person does in a day, so should be just fine assuming it is as EZ to get in and out of the Carz as the salesman sez it is.

Assuming all goes well on my delivery to the airport, I will update once I am safely esconced in the waiting area for my flight to Seattle.  Actually, this time first I get to stop off in Juneau.  That's a first for me, I've never had anything but non-stops to Seattle before.  Chalk up another location I have hit on my global travels in this iteration of my immortal soul.

Day 1:

I am safely inside the terminal at Ted Stevens Airport and past the TSA gropers and Peeping Toms.    8:30 AM, we started out at 6AM, I got up at 4:30 AM to finish packing my bags.  Mainly to get the food in packed in a small cooler with a frozen bottle of water.  Should easily be good for the day.  Plane boards at 10:30AM, stops off in Juneau the on to SeaTac for a 5PM arrival time and meet up with K-dog.

Main last minute corrections was I underestimated the weight in food and when I tried to lift my big suitcase onto the wheels I couldn't do it.  I'm not talking picking it up, just getting it from lying flat to standing up.  It was definitely overweight by at least 10 pounds.

I made this mistake last time going down for the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼.  The bag ended up costing me $100, $25 bag fee + $75 overweight fee.  It's $50 to check 2 bags.  So I go out the next smaller size suitcase to move the food into.  Problem was, by this time James was due to arrive and I don't pack very fast.  Ended up James came in and repacked the bags for me.  :icon_sunny:

Once packed up, the drive was pretty OK, a few slick spots but not snowing and traffic was light.  Downsides, I forgot my neck pillow and food  goody bag for the flight.  James stopped for gas so I had him buy me a bacon/egg//cheese muffin and a coke.  For the neck pillow, I sprung for another one inside the airport, at twice the price you pay at Walmart.  Oh well.

I've got my wheelchair parked across from the bathroom with my carry on bags on it, which also serves as desk for the laptop.  The Wheelchair Jockey doesn't stay with you when you are waiting for the plane, so cripples are on their own at this point, until the plane loads when they get another WJ to wheel you down the ramp to the plane.  Then you gotta walk yourself into the plane, which I can still do as long as somebody wheels in my carry-on.  Not sure what they do if you have ZERO use of your legs.  ???   :icon_scratch:

RE Airport Wheelchair

OK, gotta pack up the gear and take a bathroom trip before I go wait for the plane.

Probably won't check in again until I make Seattle.

Day 2:

Got in to Seattle a couple of hours late, due to a snowstorm in Juneau.  I have been flying the Anchorage-Seattle  leg for the last decade, and in all those years I NEVER got a stop in Juneau. they were all non-stop.  This time I got this stopover on the "local" which after Juneau stops at  Ketchikan and Sitka before finally ending up in Seattle.  This is mainly a flight for people doing intercity travel in Alaska.  For those of us heading all the way to Anchorage, you switch planes in in Juneau for a direct flight the rest of the way.  Anyhow, by the time this plane got loaded up, the snow volume had increased to maybe 2"/hour and visibility down to a quarter mile and the wings were all iced up.

So we got put in a queue to get deiced, they had to clear the runway, and we had to offload some weight and the load had to be rebalanced.  Two people got booted off (airline employees deadheading), and the rest of the weight was offloaded from the freight on the airplane.  Once we did get off the ground, the rest of the flight was routine, although K-dog had some trouble locating me at the right baggage carousel.  Despite the fact I had been up since 4:30 AM and K-Dog had worked all day, we still stayed up until around 12:30 AM discussing Doom.

The following morning we decided not to go out to do any shopping but just hang out and wait for the delivery on the rental Cripple Cart I ordered up for the week.  The Wheelz4Feet folks were right on time at 2PM and I took a quick spin on it just to test it out.  K-Dog did some raking of the leaves out on the lawn and I swept some off the porch.    After that I took and hour nap until the cart arrived and we got a quick lesson on how to disassemble and reassemble it for storage in your car trunk.  This model comes apart into 5 pieces, none of which are supposed to weigh more than 25 lbs so I should be able to get them in and out of the minivan myself.

RE Seattle Cripple Cart

I took it for a quick spin before we went out for errands, and it doesn't go very fast (max 4mph), but it has pretty good torque and was able to haul my crippled ass up some pretty steep hills in K-Dog's neighborhood.  It has an 8 mile range on a single charge, which is more than I will use it for in a single day.  I didn't need it yesterday at all because all the places we had on the agenda either had their own cripple carts or were short walks from the parking lot through the front doors of wherever we were going and not a lot of walking around.  It should get more use touring around homeless neighborhoods to shoot some pics and also we plan to go to the Museum of Flight over at Boeing on Friday and that place is HUGE.  K-Dog has actually never been there even though he has lived in Seattle for 40 years.  Hope to get some good pics in the museum.

Tomorrow I drive to Tacoma to meet with the Tombstone people, and Tuesday is a free day, not sure what I will do.  Wednesday & Thursday are Thanksgiving dedicated and Friday is the museum.  On the weekend we will probably do more toruing of Seattle.

OK, next up for this morning is to go drive over to pick up the minivan from Enterprise, which I need to get ready for.  I'll try and update again tomorrow.

Day 3:

Monday was the BIG DAY for the meeting with the Chief Cutter for my Tombstone at their Tacoma facility, about 30 miles from where I am staying, an Quality Inn in Renton outside of Seattle.  I moved out of K-Dog's place because couch surfing for 10 days had a few problems, not the least of which was getting up off the couch itself to get to the throne.  This hotel is excellent, and I got it for the same bargain price or $75/night I paid for the Bates Motel on the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN.  They gave me an EXCELLENT Cripple Room, right across from the Elevator and the Ice Machine.  This place will be my new Seattle Digs when I visit down here.

K-Dog also had to go back to work on Monday, so I was on my own with my Dodge Grand Caravan Rent-a-Car and my Wheelz4Feet Rent-a-Cripple-Cart esconced in 5 parts in the back, plus my computer bags with all my drawings and specs loaded in the car, which is very nice.  Backing Camera and everything!  :icon_sunny:

RE Seattle Cripple Cart 2

If I were to buy (or lease) a new car to finish out my years as a Happy Motorista in the Age of Oil, it would be a DGC.  Dodge basically invented the Minivan with the Caravan, and they have refined the concept over the years to the point now it is PERFECT for what it is designed for as a family transport vehicle, but also as fabulous Cripple transport.

My favorite part is that it has the Big Sliding Doors on BOTH sides, and they are powered so take no strength to open or close these doors, or the rear hatchback, also run by servo motors.   This means your remote Key Fob will also open and close these doors for you.  You can add any electronics you like of course besides the backing camera, like an on-board nav system and wi-fi.  The only minor deficiency for me as far as Alaska is concerned is it no longer comes in an AWD model, they got rid of that option to make room for the Stow-n-Go seating.  However, FWD operates OK in the snow, especially for the kind of Plain Jane snow driving I will do on mostly cleared and flat roads.  I can get a lease on one of these brand new for under $300/mo, which is in my budget.  If I can manage to bring SaVANnah down to the Lower 48 next spring as my vehicle for travel there, then I am seriously considering splurging on one of these for my Alaska Wheelz.   I'll keep my 2002 Ford Explorer SUV as my true 4WD vehicle for the winter days that are super sucky and I need to drive somewhere.

Back to the Adventure, Seattle-Tacoma traffic is bad in any weather due to geography issues and perennail road construction and repair issues, but add in the New Normal Regime of intense rain just about all the time and it's a nightmare.  It was raining Cats & K-Dogs when I left the motel, but I left after the main Rush Hour and so it wasn't too bad heading for Tacoma, moving along around 50mph generally.  The problem came when I made it to Tacoma an my Nav Queen on the smart phone told me to get off at Exit 134, which was CLOSED due to construction.  I couldn't get off either until Exit 130, over 4 miles down the road, and on the OTHER side going back, the traffic was Bumper-2-Bumper.  So it took me 45 minutes to make it down from Seattle to Tacoma, now I figure it will take me another whole hour just to make it back to the exit I was told to get off but couldn't.

I lucked out here though.  As I neared Exit 130, the Nav Queen re-routed on back roads off the interstate to my destination, which was actually in between exits 130 & 134.  So this little detour only cost me about 10 minutes, and I was pretty much On Time for the meeting with my Cutter Pro from Dover, Tom.

RE Seattle Tombstone Tom

We had a nice long chat about the specifications for the Tombstone, and I got a little tour of the facility from Tom of the Sandblasting machines,which are quite neat.   Putting this thing together looks quite possible, the main issues are what the costs will come to and how long it will take to get hold of all the stones for final assembly.  The latter looks like 6-9 months.  That's a LOOONNNGG time for me to have to keep this decrepit Meat Package above ground to see the results of all this design work!  lol.

On the way back from Tombstone Planning, I made a stop-off and Prep run to Walmart for some Food items I needed for dinner with K-Dog and his son, and also was able to drop some food goody bags on a couple of homeless people outside Walmart.  Our own meal for the night was a Tomato-Olive-Feta Greek Salad, Alaskan King Crab with Drawn butter & Fresh Lemon and Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce.  Unfortunately, we were so busy chatting doom and prepping and cooking food I neglected to shoot pics of this fabulous meal.  :(

OK, that's all for Day 3, and right now Day 4 is just hanging out in the motel.  I will probably do a wash to fill the time until K-Dog gets off work.

Day 4:

Tuesday was Day 4 of the Great Tombstone Adventure and was supposed to be one of the days I went out to hand out food goodie bags to the Homeless.  Unfortunately it turned into a classic Seattle full day with no breaks of driving rain and the Homeless were all hidden away, who knows where?  There are plenty of them of course, but the Gestapo keeps razing the camps just about as fast as they get established.  So I gave up on this tactic and returned back to the motel for a day of domestic chores until K-Dog got off work.

First on the list was laundry, which is a pain  in the ass to do at my digs because the laundry room is in another building.  In the motel here, it's just down the hall past the breakfast room, and actually cheaper than my home laundry.  So I didn't have much, but what I did have with me is now nice and clean and fresh smelling from the scented laundry detergent they gave me for FREE at the desk.  :icon_sunny:

My next project was to repack my big Checked Bag, which had to be done for several reasons.

First off, it was already messed up from digging through it for various items since I arrived, but more important the second checked bag I brought along mainly for the food I brought down with me is History and has been sent to the Land of Away.  One of the containers I used to hold some frozen fish leaked some of the water that melted from the fish, and the bag STUNK!  It was a pretty old bag anyhow and not a size I use usually because it's too big for carry-on but smaller than you want to use for checked bags, where if you are going to pay a fixed price of $25 you want to use the biggest bag you can and still stay under the 50# limit.

Third reason I had to repack was because I had to fit in a Hand Blender kit I had shipped to K-Dog which is great for making soups and sauces.  This one is the top-of-the-line, stainless steel kit from Kitchen Aid which is better than the El Cheapo I have at home.

The box it came in was quite large and I was a little concerned I would not be able to get the blender and all the attachments into the bag, but once out of the box the whole kit is pretty compact in its own little carrying case for the Traveling Chef and it fit in the suitcase OK, now with neatly folded and washed clothing and a few other odds and ends.   I am pretty sure I am still under my 50# weight limit as well.

After that I did some web surfing to look up churches and shelters that are handing out food or holding free Thanksgiving dinners to go around to and hand off my food goodie bags for further distribution today.  So after I finish this diary entry, that is the project for the early afternoon today.  After that I am going out to do some more Food Shopping  :icon_sunny: for tonight's dinner, which will feature Alaska Sockeye Salmon and Maryland Crab Cakes made with Alaskan King Crab.  On Monday we feasted on Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce, King Crab Legs with Lemon Wedges and Drawn Butter and a Tomato-Olive-Feta Greek Salad which we will have again tonight because we made a big batch.  I forgot my camera to get some pics of Monday's Cooking Fest, I'll remember to bring it tonight.  I did get some pics of the still Frozen crab legs and salmon I took out last night to put in the fridge for defrosting overnight though.

RE Seattle Crab Salmon

Are those the BIGGEST crab legs you ever saw or WHAT?  Before I sectioned them up, they were about 3' long each.  That was one MONSTER size King Crab!

Thanksgiving Dinner itself tomorrow still remains an Open Question & in dispute as to what will be cooked if anything.  I  personally have already eaten more food in the last 4 days than I do in a month at home, so I am not too concerned with this.  Also have already cooked up most of the food I brought down with me from Alaska, so that won't go to waste.  K-Dog & Son fortunately both have very expansive appetites and can put away Mass Quantities. lol.

OK, gotta get rolling on the day here and look for food giveaway places.

Happy Turkey Day Diners!

Day 5:

One of my objectives here in coming down to WA besides the Tombstone and sharing Turkey Day with K-Dog was to hand out some FREE food to the local street people who don't always show up at the shelters to get the help they need.  So we made up Lunch Bags with a Turkey-Swiss sandwich on Rosemary Bread, Red Potato Salad and a piece of fruit (Orange or Banana).  This was the bag lunch type my mom sent me to school with through Junior High (except she didn't use artisan baked Rosemary bread, it was white Wonder Bread).

The bags are EZ and convenient to pass out the car window when a panhandler at a stop light is asking for money.  Giving them the food directly, they can't spend the money on drugs or booze.  Unfortunately though as I mentioned, we're getting the typical New Climate Regime here of near constant inundation with wet precip, and the panhandlers and street people are in hiding.

So I had to go to Plan B on this, which was to find a Food Pantry or Soup Kitchen that would hand the bags out for me, and I found a place in Renton called Hopelink which does that.










The Hopelink manager inspected my box of bags of sandwiches, potato salad and fruit and it passed muster, so she promised to hand them off for me.  Mission Accomplished!  :icon_sunny:  I'm going to try the direct approach again on Friday & Saturday, maybe the rain will cooperate and let up some.

If you are going to do some charity work, I highly recommend researching local organizations like this and giving directly to them rather than big corporate charities like the Red Cross or Christian Children's Fund.  Definitely avoid giving any money to the Holy Roman Catholic Church, which is the apotheosis of Evil.

The other main errand for yesterday was making another Prep Run for Food, for the Crab Cakes and Panko Encrusted Salmon I intended on whipping up last night for dinner, as well as maybe some fixin's for the BIG ONE, Thanksgiving Dinner today.  K-Dog did finally make an Executive Decision that the Turkey Day festivities would go forward regardless of objections, but the menu was not established as of around 2pm yesterday.

I saw ON SALE at Safeway some Bone-In Choice Standing Rib Roasts for the bargain price of $6.99/lb, but K-Dog had picked up a Turkey on the way to work and left it in his trunk to begin defrosting.  Not being a veteran cook or Turkey selector, he bought a pre-cooked whole Smoked Turkey, so we don't really have to cook this one,just re-heat.  I'll spruce it up some though in the reheat and it will be interesting to see how it shapes up.

Far as the Crab Cakes and Panko Encrusted Salmon go, K-Dog Jr. went out to the Movies last night so we put off making those dishes for Turkey Day, which besides the Turkey itself will be mostly non-traditional, but still a cornucopia of food for mass consumption in the Thanksgiving tradition.  Later this morning we will go out for some final fixin's to add to the current All-Protein menu.  Well, not quite all-protein, we do have the Greek Salad in the fridge which has been marinating overnight.

Rest of the day should be spent pleasantly in a Cook-Fest, shooting the shit about Collapse and other topics.  Then tomorrow a visit to the Boeing Flight Museum and trying to hand out more sandwiches and probably leftovers from the dinner, which we probably won't start actually eating until late afternoon or early evening.

Hope you all are having as pleasant a Turkey Day as I am this year, as we walk our way a little further down the Collapse Highway.

Day 6:

The BIG DAY of the holiday week arrived yesterday, the day we all here inside the Belly of the Beast celebrate the Cornuopia of FOOD provided to us by agribizness and the Thermodynamic Energy of Fossil Fuels.

As conspicuous consumption holidays go though, Thanksgiving is a reasonably worthwhile one to celebrate, it IS nice to have plenty of food to eat with family & friends, and aside from the usual drunk relatives and arguments around the Turkey, it was always one of my favorites growing up.  We had the biggest McMansion on my mom's side of the family after the divorce along with a big Dining Table about 8' long made of a solid slab of Jacaranda hardwood from the Rainforest in Brazil we had imported back here when we returned via the Moore-McCormick shipping line which plied the trade between South America and North America in the 50's-70s mostly.  The boats took passengers as well, and I returned from Brazil with my mom on one of these boats with the furniture over about a week of time, where I watched the movie "Flight of the Phoenix" with Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough and Hardy Kruger about 11 times.  It showed twice a day. lol.

Anyhow, we would usually have over anywhere from 20-30 relatives, lay out the Turkey in the middle of the big table with the side dishes dishes surrounding it and eat it Buffet Style around the living room.  A few times when we had smaller crowds around 12 or so, we would have a sit-down meal at the Big Table which sat around 10 Adults, and set up a couple of card tables for the kids for another possible 8 this way.  In either case though, beginning at Age 11 right after we returned from Brazil, I became the Chief Turkey Carver for our Thanksgiving Food Fest.  I took great pride in carving the Turkey and then laying it out in a decorative fashion to be appetizing looking.  I also became the Chief Turkey Cook shortly thereafter, because my mom always over-cooked it and dried it out. Recent years since my move to Alaska have seen me invited over to a few Turkey Day Dinners held by families of gymmies I coached or by owners of the gyms I worked for through the period.  At first I accepted these invitations, but I found being the "Lonesome Old Guy with No Family" at these gatherings to be quite depressing overall.  It definitely did not improve my attitude for the day over staying home and eating a Swanson Turkey TV Dinner or Subway Turkey Hero.  So I stopped accepting such invitations several years back and along with Christmas just "celebrate" the day on my own in my own way.

This year was a bit different, I got an invitation to Thanksgiving Dinner at the McMansion of a fellow Diner, and I had to travel down there anyhow to do my Tombstone Planning with the Cutters I have contracted to do this job.  I also wanted to make another effort at a SUN project, and hand out some Food to the Homeless.  The first project was pretty successful, the second not so successful due to a lot of Negative Waves being thrown in my direction.  The best laid plans of Mice & Men oftime go astray this way.  No big deal though, I rearranged the plans and mostly was able to get rid of all the food I bought for this expedition.

It did reinforce with me though that I will never again accept an invitation from somebody else's family for Thanksgiving.  They have their own baggage that comes along to these Food Fests, and I am not a part of that baggage, nor do I want to be.  Family HAS to be together during these celebrations, it's part of being a family.  You are stuck with these folks whether you like them or not.  Friends can generally dodge this obligation, and I will dodge it from now on again until I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond.

Day 8:

The Great Tombstone Adventure is basically over, the only thing left is the trip back to the Last Great Frontier.  I am back in my Biz Hotel in Renton, and have a pickup from a cab scheduled for 4:30AM for a 7:30AM flight to Ted Stevens Airport in Anchorage, where James my Limo Driver should be there to pick me up at 10:30 and deliver me back to the digs for a successful round-trip completion of this Journey, still above ground level.  :icon_sunny:

I returned the Cripple Cart yesterday and the mini-van this morning, then K-Dog picked me up at the rental car location and we went to get some Cinnamon Rolls from his favorite Diner and Baker of these culinary delights to go with your morning coffee.  After that we took another touring drive in the Mercedes, this time up to Redmond to visit the Microsoft "Campus" HQ of the Big Gorilla.  After all these years consuming BG software to run my laptops, making a pilgrimage to the Mecca of Microsoft was almost a Bucket List essential.  LOL.


K-Dog used to work there as a Contract Employee, and he doesn't have a whole lot of nice things to say about the Big Gorilla, from the way they treat their employees as Serfs to the crap they serve up as software, but I never ended up working for them at any point and mostly their stuff has worked OK for my purposes over the years.  My main beef with the BG is the Digital Copyright Protection they were instrumental in creating along with Apple with the attendant limitations on the free exchange of ideas and human knowledge.

The campus is dropped on 500 now VERY expensive acres of property in Redmond, which the BG bought up from farmers who used to inhabit that neighborhood.  There are a few "Gentleman Farmer" Hobby Farms still in the neighborhood on maybe 5-10 Acres, likely owned by upper level management personnel with fat paychecks who like to keep horses or raise pigs or do some gardening to relieve stress.  Those places probably go $5M-20M, and there isn't a McMansion in the neighborhood I think that sells for less than $1M, particularly if it has a water view or is carved into a mountain side like an Anasazi Cliff Dwelling home prior to their disappearance.

After the tour of Redmond, we headed back for the Biz Hotel, with a stop off at Panera Bread for our final meal together on this trip.  The next time I expect to be down in the Sea-Tac neighborhood is when all my Stones have come in and are ready for Final Assembly into the Tombstone.  That probably will take 6-9 months according to the Pro Cutters, hopefully I won't Buy My TIcket to the Great Beyond before that.  After that, the next trip would be around a month later to MO to see the Tombstone placed on its plot where it will rest until it is incinerated when the SUN☼ Goes Red Giant.  OK, maybe not that long, but it should last a pretty long time and be around for Great Homo Sap Population Knockdown & Genetic Bottleneck, which IMHO will come before the end of this Century.  My living, breathing corporeal meat package is unlikely to see anything but the very beginnings of this, which will take some time to play out.

Anyhow, gotta do my final packing for the trip home, this time non-stop to Anchorage no stop in Juneau fortunately.  Main question is whether I stayed under my 50lb limit on the checked bag.  I will check in again from the gate waiting area after I pass through the TSA Peeping Toms & Gropers.

Day 10: Coda

I am back in the Digs at my familiar position at the Diner Command & Control Center of my desk and the Dell All-in-One Big Screen computer.  :icon_sunny:

The trip went like clockwork, cab driver was On Time at 4:30 and we made it to the Alaska Airlines check-in in about 20 minutes.  Only traffic we hit was on the airport ring road itself, since lots of Biz Travelers take these early morning flights on Monday Mornings.  $23 cab fare, plus I gave a generous $7 tip.

I flagged down a baggage handler as soon as I completed the automated check-in at the kiosk and had him radio for a Wheel Chair Jockey to push me over to the bag check area to get my big suitcase into the belly of the plane.  I got to jump a fairly long line here to have the bag weighed and put on the conveyor.  :icon_sunny: It turned out to be 2 lbs overweight, but I was able to shift out the overage into my carry-on bags and did not get an overweight charge.

From there it was off to TSA Peep & Grope, and again I got to jump a long line waiting to go through security.  Being a Cripple probably saved close to an hour of time waiting at these two locations.  I didn't get a Pre-Approved Pass from TSA again, so I had to take off my shoes and take my laptop & tablet out of the carryon, but they did at least let me keep my belt on so my pants didn't fall down.  It's hard enough keeping them up even WITH the belt!  I have NO ass left and NO hips.

So I got groped a bit and swabbed, and then was freed to be rolled to the gate, which we made it to by around 5:45 for a 7AM boarding time.  Again, Cripples Go First in Boarding, so I got rolled down the jetway and the flight crew helped get my carry-ons stowed, and the plane took off on schedule, in fact about 5 minutes early.  Only 3:20 minutes with a tail wind and we arrived around 10 minutes early.  James was there with the Limo to pick me up, and no traffic coming up to the valley.  Checked both my cars, they both start.  :icon_sunny:

I'm going to spend the rest of the day today resting & recuperating, and same all day tomorrow.  Then I will get moving on the remaining projects, tele-conferencing on the Tombstone and gping in for Round 50 with the Docs to try and get some handle on the edema in my legs, which has moved up past the knee and into the thigh and prevents my knee joint from operating properly and is amazingly painful.  There must be some Med Skule Grad out there who can figure this one out and find some way to at least treat the symptoms if not address the cause.  If I don't get some relief, the end of my walking days on Earth is probably no more than 6 months away.  The downhill progress over the last month has been amazing!

I'm also going to see if I can get some In-House help that Medicare will pay for, and find out what other services are available for Cripples here in the Valley.  I'm going to hold off buying a new Cripple Cart for myself around here until I get some answers to these questions, and also until Spring when I don't have to deal so much with inclement weather.

Overall though, I am very satisfied with this trip and its outcomes.  I am reasonably sure now I will get the Tombstone I want whether I am above ground long enough to see it completed or not.  I had a great time with K-Dog as usual, and I actually did a bit better than usual with the eating.  I actually ate 3/4s of a full size Tuna Sandwich at the Boeing Museum of Flight, made some pretty good crab cakes and a tasty salad.

Now that I made it back home, even though the legs are hurting and the rest of the Meat Package doesn't feel too good either, I am quite happy.  I have tidied up my life pretty well.  I can take my Final Walk into the Great Beyond at Peace with myself and this iteration of my Immortal Soul on Earth.  I am ready now for the Grim Reaper when he arrives at my doorstep.  I will offer him a Beer, and then go with him to see what is in store for me when I cross the Great Divide.


Scenes from Seattle

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 26, 2017

Two Trotskies at the Boeing Museum of Flight

The Trotskies Plan Global Takeover in the aftermath of Collapse

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner


My Adventure down to the Lower 48 is just about over (I jet set back to the Last Great Frontier on Monday Morning), and overall it has been a very successful trip, although not without glitches.  The weather was not exactly cooperative for one thing.  On my previous trips to Seattle I have lucked out and had really nice weather.  Not so this time; in more typical Seattle fashion it rained about every day at least part of the day.  Usually the part of the day I had something planned to do outside.

I'll have a more complete travelog next week after I return to the Last Great Frontier and have more time (and energy!) to write.  I have been absolutely POOPED every evening returning to the hotel the last 3 days.  My stamina ain't what it used to be.  For today, just a pictorial essay of scenes from this Adventure.

RE's Mobile Wheel Chair Airport Diner Admin Office

RE with his Rent-a-Mini-Van and Rent-a-Cripple Cart disassembled in the back

RE on the assembled Cripple Cart Ready to Roll and explore Seattle powered by Renewable Electric Power

Wild Mushrooms growing from a Maple stump by K-Dog's fence.  Can anybody identify this variety?  Edible?  Poisonous?  Psychoactive?

Tombstone Showroom with Tombstone Tom, Monument Artist

Tombstone Sandblasting Room

RE imported Alaskan King Crab & Sockeye Salmon for the Food Fest

Salad for the Food Fest

Daily Morning Hotel Breakfast Buffet

Great Asian Foods Supermarkets in Seattle!

K-Dog points out landmarks from the Boeing Airfield Control Tower

K-Dog points out our location at the Boeing Flight Museum

RE Flips Nixon the Bird in front of Air Force One (the actual one both he and JFK flew on!)



Blast from the Past: Meet the Diner Admins

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 12, 2017

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It has been a really bizzy last month for me, with several big projects in the works.  This week particularly bizzy since I am prepping up for a jet setting trip down to the Lower 48 and  burning some Jet Fuel to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday with friends, as well as meet with the Stone Cutters who I contracted with to do my Tombstone, which is a totally Custom Job.  Finding people who would take on this job was not EZ, believe you me!  I will have more on the Tombstone once we have everything nailed down, and at least have the stones ordered up.  It will take a while to be finished, probably 4-6 months.  I hope to stay alive long enough to see the IRL rendition of the copious number of 3D drawings I have made to get it explained to the Cutters.  These guys are CHAMPION CUTTERS!

…at least they appear to be so from all the conversations and exchanges I have had with them to date, but I really must get down there to see them in person and check out the facility.  I just HAVE to see the CNC machines they are using to cut this Granite!  I wasn't even sure what I designed could be cut in Granite, but my chief CAD man says no problem, we can do it.

Besides the Tombstone Project    I have been working hard  at Archiving the Diner, so that after I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond  all this shit written about the Collapse of Industrial Civilization doesn't instantly ALSO go to the Great Beyond once the bills for the Server stop being paid and/or the Internet Goes Dark !  So between these two projects, I haven't had a whole heck of a lot of time to do any writing.

So, to fill in here for the next few weeks I am reaching into the vast Diner Archives to republish some older articles, videos and audio.  I am kicking off here with one of the first vids we did on the Collapse Cafe ,  which was just a brief historical chat about the founding of the Diner between myself and my long time partner in Collapse Crime and fellow Admin, Surly.  This one is just chock full of technical goof ups and problems, as I still was not too familiar with the software Google was dishing out at the time and not used to engineering and trying to listen, think and talk about Collapse at the same time.  lol.  So it never got published on the Diner Blog, although it did go up on Diner YouTube.  But I am putting it up anyhow, because this is how the Vids got going.  The whole last half of the chat got lost due to a YouTube gllitch too, so there's only about 7 minutes worth here.  They get a bit better in later recordings on the techy end fortunately, and further ones I republish will be technically more tolerable, although I wouldn't go so far as to say professional. lol.

It's only around 4 years old.  Amazing how much better condition I was in such a short time ago.  When your health goes south, it can go fast indeed.

Once I get back up here to the Last Great Frontier and have my crippled ass safely esconced again back in my digs, I'll get back to the bizness of chronicling collapse here on the pages of the Doomstead Diner .  I'll also get back to recording new rants on the topic as well, since I have several requests for these to make a comeback.  As for the videos, I don't think I will make too many more of those, at least not ones where my corporeal self appears on camera.  I look like shit and can't stand watching them.

Now, hopefully I can stay above ground until the end of the month at least to get the meetings with the Cutters done.

Symbolizing Life & Death

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Published on The Doomstead Diner November 5, 2017



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When I began first reading, then commenting and then blogging and ranting on the subjects of Collapse in 2007, the main topics of conversation across the collapse blogosphere were on Energy & Resource depletion (specifically Peak Oil) and Economics (specifically the Financial Crisis which began with the collapse of the investment banks Bear Stearns & Lehman Brothers).  The second of those two topics was what got me interested in questions of collapse, its causes and what the potential outcomes might be.

At the time, there wasn't a whole lot of debate about either Climate Change or Extinction on the sites concerned with Collapse, it was Energy and Economics ideas being batted around.   As I recall on the Peak Oil Forum there was one commenter who brought the topics up fairly regularly, but he was in an extreme minority.  Since my main interest is in the economic end of the collapse, I was quite happy in this environment of discussion, although granted I still got in plenty of heated arguments!  Not to mention getting banned from a few of the websites. lol. forward from 2007 a decade later to 2017 and the situation has exactly reversed itself.  Now the dominant discussion through the collapse blogosphere revolves around climate, the environment and speculation about extinction for Homo Saps along with most of the rest of the biosphere, if not all of it.  It's got to the point now you can't even post a link on Reddit about a chain of 45 Bookstores shutting down without some Extinction aficionado dropping in the commentary with a "Stores Closing is not Collapse.  Stores always close down."  Which is true, but not in the kind of numbers we are seeing and not all across the board through many retail chains, restaurants and even Big Box stores like Circuit City.  Sears of course is rapidly on its way to the Great Beyond, they just announced yet another 63 closures to come right after the holidays just after all of Sears Canada was shut down.  Sears of course was the biggest retailer in the world before Walmart and the Internet showed up.  They definitely missed the boat on shifting to online retailing, but they were so invested by then in brick & mortar real estate that it would have undermined their own property holdings.  Sears really was a REIT in its last years, the perceived value of the company was not in its sales but all that juicy commercial real estate space they owned all over the country.  Now of course, this real estate is becoming increasingly worthless by the day.  It's not like a Mall landlord can go and find another client to drop in that space at the drop of a hat.  Said operators are of course currently being bailed out by Da Goobermint.

Anyhow, back to the topic at hand, its almost impossible now to find Kollapsniks to discuss these issues with because they are all so preoccupied with Climate, Environment and Extinction.  Problems with available Energy, Economics and Geopolitics are barely worth mentioning with the atmospheric CO2 making its inexorable climb upward and the Oceans threatening to inundate all the coastal cities.  I'm not sure if that is supposed to occur before or after all the fish and phytoplankton die? ???  icon_scratch    These problems are very serious and they do threaten the existence of all life on Earth, at least in this iteration of the geological record.  One does have to remember though that there have been 5 prior Mass Extinctions, and in all of them Life on Earth rebounded, regardless what the instigating cause of the extinction was.  In some cases perhaps an Asteroid Impact, some cases maybe Super Volcanic eruption, some cases maybe Who Knows?  We do know of course in all the prior ones Homo Saps could not be held responsible for them, we did not exist as a species at the time but they happened anyhow. self-aware, sentient & sapient creatures here now though, what the angst really is about is not so much the extinction event itself, but the generally held belief within the Extinction community that Homo Saps first off are responsible for this, and that second if we just got our shit together and used our Big Brains that evolution gave us in a constructive manner, we could put a stop to this.  You might make the case this might have been possible had we started around the time Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring back in the 1960s, but at this point the door has been open for too long and the Horse left the Barn quite some time back. The industrial civilization we live under is a Juggernaut, it's a Bullet Train with no brakes.  No one person can effect enough change to stop the trajectory of this juggernaut, and not even a Movement of people could do it now, even if you could get one together which you can't because there are too many competing interests that make a profit from industrial society and because most of the population doesn't want to give up the creature comforts that come with it, as long as they still have them.

On the biological level of reproduction, we are no different than bacteria in a Petri Dish, Yeast in a Vat or the Reindeer on St. Matthews Island.  We exploit the environment to the maximum level possible for its available energy, until the energy runs out, then there is a mass dieoff over a fairly rapid period of time.  Unless during the growth phase there are Predators in the environment also that keep your numbers in check, any species will do this.  Homo Saps reached the point where we conquered just about all our natural predators, including disease.  At least for a while with technology and high energy input we did anyhow.  Ever speculate on how much electricity it takes to run an MRI or CAT scan for just ONE patient?  I've had plenty of time to speculate on this while lying inside these electronic coffins for those of us with a fast ticket to the Great Beyond.  I Googled it for this article, and in a study done by PE International in 2012, the average exam takes about 15 kwh.  So that is about half what the average FSoA McMansion owner uses a day to run his fridge, air conditioner and Big Screen TV in his McMansion, which isn't too bad except of course they run a dozen of these a day and that is just ONE machine in ONE Hospital!

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has undoubtedly reshaped the medical landscape. They offer a means of diagnosing disease and elucidating brain function. Unfortunately, these machines have a cost. They necessitate the employment of a large and expensive cryogenic high-field magnet. [1] As a result, not only do they consume enormous amounts of energy, but they also deplete a finite resource: helium.

Just How Much Energy?

According to a report published in 2012, the United States performs 97.7 exams per population of 1000. [2] Given that the population of the US is 314,900,427 as of 2010, this means roughly 30,765,772 exams are performed in the US per year. [3] In a study done by PE International in 2012, the average exam takes about 15 kwh. [4] Given this, the US consumes roughly 461,486,576 khw a year. This accounts for roughly 0.01% of the U.S.’s energy use, given that the US uses 4,158 billion khw. [5] Because the standard of living is growing particularly in China and India, the energy costs globally will likely by increasing by a very large margin in the future.

How Much Helium?

Large amounts of helium are needed to cool the superconducting wire to temperatures as low as 4 degrees Kelvin. However, this cooling requires large amounts of helium. According to NEMA, MRI machines consume about 7000 tons of helium annually. [6] In 1996, it was estimated that the US used about 2.6 billion scf. [7] If one extrapolates the upward trend in helium consumption, then let’s very roughly say that about 5 billion scf of helium are used annually. [7] That would mean 27% of the U.S.’s helium is being allocated towards the use of MRI’s every year. Sources conflict on the exact amount of extractable helium left on the planet, but the amount is finite. [8]


MRI's are quite costly, and with a growing population, are not sustainable. However, the MRI has become such a staple of modern medicine that we cannot simply eliminate it. More energy efficient MRI's are needed. Shoujun Xu has developed a method to eliminate the need for cryogenics using a optical atomic magnetometers. [9] Such developments are promising for the future of medical imagining.

© Spencer Nam. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.

Without these scanning devices, modern medicine as we know it today won't exist.  The doctors are clueless what might be wrong with you until they get their test results back and the report from the Radiologist.  To be truthful, even if they DO get the scan done and get the results, they STILL can't diagnose the problem!  That's been my experience over the last year anyhow…OK, wait, I am going off on a tangent here. point is at the moment we have no other effective predator here for Homo Saps other than Homo Sap himself killing each other through warfare, but believe it or not as much of that as we have ongoing, it's currently still not enough to get the Death Rate to exceed the Birth Rate on a Global basis.  Disease is starting to make a comeback now as predator, between the Super Bugs that are resistant to all anti-biotics, new strains of viruses and the lack of clean drinking water in many neighborhoods, including those in so-called 1st World Industrialized nations.  See Flint, MI.  One has to expect the Death Rate to continue to climb here over the coming years as there is less available energy for hi-tech medicine and providing clean drinking water and effective sewage treatment plants in the large cities that have sprouted up like mushrooms on a cool morning in Kennett Square, PA since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  Particularly since the 1950s-60s with the so-called "Green Revolution" and the application of high energy oil based fertilizers and powerful pesticides to industrial agriculture.  So there is some self-regulation in the system, although it's not working fast enough for the Nihilists & Misanthropes on Nature Bats Last who would like to see all of Humanity DEAD ASAP!  In the words of the Church of Euthanasia, "Save the Planet.  Kill Yourself."

I have little doubt that if the Church of Euthanasia was still a going concern, they would have the Extinction Symbol hanging behind the the Altar while the Faithful drink the Kool-Aid, eat the Oreo and genuflect.

Speaking of NBL, its proprietor and Nihilist-in-Chief Guy McPherson (aka "Dr. McStinksion here on the Diner) is one of the pundits who has made bank on the growing fretting over imminent extinction, jet setting around the world to deliver his message of hopelessness and apparently abusing a few of his female groupies along the way.  He beat Kevin Spacey by a few months in having the Dark Side of his character outed.  Now everybody is getting outed for this transgression.  This is the latest in distractions from the MSM hitting Faux Newz daily.  He would be doing a lot better these days on his website if he had a more squeaky clean sex history, but dems are da breaks.  Doesn't look like Kevin Spacey's career is going to be doing too well either over the next few years.

Dr. McStinksion's name came up inside the Diner again recently, when one of the Diners put up the Extinction Symbol, which apparently has been floating around since at least 2014 or so, but I had never seen it before.  It's up at the top of the page here heading the article, along with the SUN☼ symbol for Life.  The admonition along with the extinction symbol is that you should:

Create the extinction symbol in a temporary non-toxic medium where people will see it. restriction of a "temporary, non-toxic medium where people will see it" is quite limiting.  You can't spray paint it on a wall, spray paint is an oil product and toxic.  You can't write it on the toilet stall wall at Walmart, because ink is also a toxic oil product.  You could scratch it in the dirt or sand, but that would wash away with the first rainfall.  Longer lasting but not too harmful would be to carve the symbol into the bark of a tree.  This doesn't usually do too much harm to the tree, although I am not sure the tree huggers would approve of this anyhow.  Electric & Telephone wire poles would be OK though, the tree is already dead.  Chalk on the sidewalk works OK, although a lot of fossil fuels are burned to mine the Calcium Carbonate that chalk is made from.  If you find wet cement somewhere you could draw it in that and hope it's not smoothed over before the cement dries.  Cement also though is a very energy consumptive material in mining the limestone.  It also uses up a lot of sand, and the planet is running out of that too.  Mainly though, if it is going to gain any public traction it probably would have to be on Leaflets glued to walls and poles like rock concerts used to be advertised.  So far going back to 2014, I haven't seen the symbol anywhere, thus my ignorance when it was dropped on the Diner last week.

What is the purpose of dropping this symbol down everywhere basically in isolation with nothing to explain it?  It would take recognition of what the symbol MEANS in the viewer to begin with, like the old PEACE symbol from the 60's.  That also must have taken some time to gain traction.  Googling again, it turns out the Peace Sign was originally designed in 1958 for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The peace sign was really designed in 1958 by British artist Gerald Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which was having its first major march in England. Holtom explained that the symbol superimposed the semaphore letters “N” and “D” over each other., a campaign like that is a good place to launch a Symbol for a movement, but even so it took until the mid 1960's for this to really catch on and become a symbol of the counter culture movement.  I remember back to the mid 1960's watching newz on TV, and really I didn't start seeing this symbol until probably 1967, with the Summer of Love in the Haight.  So nearly a full decade to get general recognition of a symbol, and do we have time for a full decade to pass now before we radically change direction?  No, we don't, we are already out of time to stop mass extinctions.  However, if the Extinction Awareness people really want to get their Symbol launched, they will need to get a big march going like the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament did, at the very least.

Now, it's not like I am unaware of the extreme gravity of these problems, and I recognize that the folks who want to see the Extinction Symbol everywhere to try and WAKE PEOPLE UP are Homo Saps with good and noble intentions, but to me this is a lot like continued climate research.  There is already enough evidence to lead any reasonable thinker to the conclusion we're headed for an extinction, hell it's already underway through a good part of the food chain.  Insects are dying and the birds that feed on them are dying too.  What is not clear of course is what the timeline is on our own extinction, just that it is an inevitability.

So to me, we should be devoting our scientific and engineering knowledge not to try to fix what is terminally broken at least on our civilizational timescale (although likely not on the geological timescale), but rather what we need to do in order to make the best of a bad situation and stay alive as long as we can.  On the individual level, this is what the patient with Terminal Cancer usually does, rather than give up and die he goes on the Chemo and Radiation and tries to stay alive, even though he knows he is likely DOOMED in the end regardless.

So that is why I contrasted scribbling the Extinction Symbol with the SUN☼ Symbol if you are going to carry around chalk to do symbol writing on the sidewalk somewhere.  The Extinction Symbol is a DEATH SYMBOL, and it's going to attract the Nihilists & Misanthropes the same way Nature Bats Last and Dr. McStinksion do.  It's not going to do much to attract the average J6P, who at this point won't even know what it means and if he does figure it out he won't worry about it as long as he still has a job and beer in the cooler after work and the NFL playing on the Big Screen TV on Sundays.  The SUN☼ symbol on the other hand stands a chance of attracting people interested in developing a Sustainable Living lifestyle, insofar as that is possible in a world with a rapidly changing climate.  It focuses on the positive, rather than the negative and it promotes ACTION on things you actually have control over in your own life and community.  The drivers for extinction go far beyond this, they are systemic and part of the biological flow, that repeats itself in cycles and likely will do so until the radiation output from the SUN☼ exceeds what eukaryotic organisms can withstand, estimated to be at max 500M years from present day.  Then after that in a few billion more years when the surface of the Earth is completely barren of life and the only remaining organisms are surviving around the sulfur vents at the bottom of the ocean the SUN☼ will go Red Giant, boil off the Oceans and even those organisms will go Extinct too.  So Extinction is guaranteed here, and all you are quibbling over is the timeline for it and what caused it.

In this case, the preponderance of evidence (although not all) supports the idea this particular Extinction Level Event is being caused by Homo Sap, and thus is in some way worse than prior events which came from "Natural Causes".  Asteroid Impacts and Super Volcanic Eruptions are "Forces of Nature".  But isn't Homo Sap a Force of Nature also?  We are just obeying the Laws of Nature as it was bred into us from the time we evolved.  Exploit the environment and procreate to the MAX.  That's how species become successful.  Some people believe that because we have "Wisdom" and "Sapience" we should be somehow different than the bacteria, the yeast and the reindeer, but in aggregate our network intelligence is no greater than theirs and we are subject to the same constraints and imperatives.

Extinction will come when it will, as Death comes to all living creatures.  You need to reconcile yourself with the fact that death is an inevitability.  Life is precious while you have it, but nothing lasts forever.  In the grand scheme of the Universe, does it really make a big difference if we go extinct in 20 years, 100 or 1,000,000?  It's going to happen at some point.  In the meantime, you do the best you can to last as long as you can.  That is why I promote the use of the SUN☼ Symbol rather than the Extinction Symbol in trying to raise awareness of the problems we face.  If you feel the Extinction Symbol will do the job better, then you should scribble that in chalk on the sidewalk as you cruise about town.  If like me you feel the SUN☼ Symbol is the better choice, then scribble that.  Or scribble them both if you have the time.

I of course will not be cruising around town scribbling either symbol, I do my scribbling over the internet here on the Doomstead Diner.  The legs don't work right for mosying around town to scribble on the sidewalk, and once I got down on my knees to scribble, I wouldn't be able to get back up again.  So here is where I will post the Symbols of LIFE, not DEATH.

I will leave it to Dr. McStinksion and his crew of Nihilists & Misanthropes on Nature Bats Last to post the Extinction Symbol there.

The Diner Atavachron

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 29, 2017


Discuss this article at the History Table inside the Diner

I first became obsessed with preserving my intellectual material a few years ago when we had a major crash of the Diner, which took over a week to finally resolve.  At the time, most of what I had written was only on the Diner server and in the WP and SMF Databases, I didn't take copies of the stuff as I wrote it.  I generally write first draft, stream of consciousness with no edits.  MILLIONS OF WORDS documenting the Collapse of Industrial Civilization just GONE, All GONE!  Fortunately, my Code Jockey friend Harry was able to retrieve pretty much all the material, and the Diner went back into normal operational mode.  However, in the intervening week, I went through a period of complete heartbreak, although I tried to deny it to console myself.  "It's all just Dust in the Wind" I kept repeating as a Mantra as I shuffled my crippled self around my digs, making my little circle from the bed to the bathroom to the computer to the porch, rinse and repeat each day.  It's not like too many people will ever go back and read all those old blogs of course, hell not that many people read them when they were brand spanking new!  At the same time though, I spent ungodly hours writing all that stuff, and even if it's not important to anyone else, it's important to me!

So, once Harry got the blog back up and running, I set off on my first archiving project, which was to create a "Doomstead Diner  Beta" blog on the FREE WordPress site with my own articles on that site.  That project took quite some time because each article had to be individually hand pasted over to the site.  I'm sure some Code Jockey could take the whole Diner WP database and transfer it en masse, but I don't know how to do that.  However, in the end I got the job done, and now at least those articles should stay up on the web until WP goes outta biz or the Internet Goes Dark ™, whichever comes first .  I haven't updated the site though with new articles over the last 2 years or so, but now I have a new and BETTER archiving project I am working on! icon_sunny web server I drop on the material will eventually become inaccessable, and so is not a good long term storage medium.  The BEST long term storage medium remains, believe it or not, PAPER & INK.  Good acid free paper in a controlled environment can last 1000's of years.  Problem with paper & ink though is at least for me, it would be unwieldy to say the least to try and print out everything I have written over the last 20 years on the internet.  Lord only knows how many reams of paper this would take and how many HP Ink Cartridges, and then where and how to store all of that?  I would need at least a good size Storage Unit and then you have to pay for those things monthly. my next idea was to store on Micro SD cards, which come in quite cheap these days for a LOT of storage, you can actually get them up to 2 Terabytes, although this much is totally unnecessary for me even including all my Audio & Video stuff.  128 Gigs would be more than enough, as long as I compress the video down anyhow.  There are problems with the Micro SD card solution though, for the long term.  First, they are easily wiped out by an EMP discharge, so if there is either Global Thermonuclear War or the SUN☼ has a Carrington event, unprotected they are finished.  So I figured then to drop them in small Faraday Cages made from Aluminum Capsules.  This does protect them from an EMP, but there are other problems with solid state flash memory besides just EMPs.  They're not "forever" in maintaining the integrity of the information, the digibits eventually randomize.  The Geek sites say they will only hold your information for around 10 years, which isn't very long compared to paper and ink! Sad  I think they actually hold information longer than that, since I have some old cards that still work OK, but they definitely don't last longer than say 50 years, still not too long. I finally settled on as the main storage medium were DVD-R discs, written for Read-Only, which profess a lifetime of 100 years holding the information integrity intact.  They are impervious to EMP, because the storage is Optical and not electronic.  The plastic they are made from is even better than the plastic bags filling the ocean these days, and that shit lasts FOREVER.  No test has been performed to see how long the informational integrity on a DVD-R REALLY lasts, because they haven't been around for 100 years yet.  That is just an estimate.  So I am crossing my fingers that they last longer than that, especially if placed in a controlled environment.

The secondary method for the archiving is just good old fashioned paper and ink, but I obviously can't do all of it.  So I selected out a few choice articles to print, about 100 pages worth in a super tiny 6pt font you need reading glasses to read unless you still have eyes like a hawk.  Like this sentence but smaller.  Those pages are vacuum sealed with an Oxygen Absorber to keep them from deteriorating.  Again, the plastic used for the vacuum sealing is extremely long lasting and durable stuff.  Limitation of the paper medium is that only text and graphics can be represented, you can't put video or audio on paper.  So that nixes a lot of stuff from the get-go on this medium. the medium established, the next big issue was actually getting all this stuff either off my hard drives or off the cloud on the web and organizing it up.  This is the project I am still engaged with, and it occupies a good deal of my time these days, so I don't have as much time to write new stuff.  I have burned through most of my backlog of unpublished articles for Sunday Brunch, so I may miss a week or two over the next month or two getting some Doom of the Week written for publication on the Diner.  I'll fill in by republishing some "Blasts from the Past" of older articles that many new Diners have not read.

Besides the archiving project, I also have another Adventure planned down to the Lower 48 for Thanksgiving Week.  For me, every excursion leaving the digs is an Adventure!  lol.  I hope to spend time in the various Homeless encampments around Seattle, and I also have scheduled meetings with the monument people I have contracted with to build my Tombstone, which is quite the challenge!  I'll have more about the tombstone in a later article once we get all the plans finalized.  It's still a big question mark as to what can actually be done, and finding the stone cutters who can/will do it and for what price.  So I don't want to put up designs that aren't going to actually be produced.  Suffice it to say though, if I can get the whole thing put together, it will be a one of a kind in the world!   lol.  If you are leaving something behind to last until the SUN☼ goes Red Giant, it should be distinctive! icon_sunny

Anyhow, to close up here for this Sunday Brunch, the attitude of many people is once you're dead, YOU'RE DEAD, and what you did on earth while living no longer matters anymore.  Dust in the Wind, as it were.  I don't subscribe to this school of thought, to me what you did on Earth during any given insertion of your consciousness into a Meat Suit here as a corporeal package matters to some degree.  You affected the lives of others who will follow you, friends, children, students, readers all to some degree.  They in turn will affect those that follow them.  What can you leave on earth after your spirit passes to the Great Beyond and leaves the meat suit?  Going back as far as 40,000 years, one artist left  a sculpture which exists to this day.

Architects and Engineers from the Greek Hellenic period of antiquity left behind them the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

The Ancient Egyptians left behind the Pyramids.

I have nothing so grand to leave behind me when I Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond ™ .  I don't have the money or the slaves to build such things in any event. lol.  I have only my writing and my observations on the nature of the world we live in made over the last quarter century or so on the internet.  That is my Legacy.  So on my way out the door here now, I am tieing it all up and putting it in a package that will last (hopefully at least) as long as the Egyptian Pyramids. I will have features of the design for preservation in upcoming articles. Only time will tell on that one, and I will be long gone from this meat suit when the day comes all I ever did is erased forever from this segment of the space-time continuum, which almost certainly will occur when the SUN☼ goes Red Giant at the latest.  I am not too hopeful that Aliens will arrive before then to rescue humanity, or that Elon Musk will do it either.  No matter what though, even when all the physical media fail, the ideas will exist for all eternity as part of the existential reality.  Ideas are immortal.

How I Survived Collapse: Chapter 25

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 22, 2017

Discuss this story at the Collapse Narratives Table inside the Diner

I have complaints from quite a few Diners about "abandoning" the "How I Survived Collapse" novel, which I didn't really do.  It's just that there has been so much else going on in the Global World of Doom along with my own personal life that squeezing in time to write more chapters has been difficult and put on the back burner.  However, this week we have a BREAK from the non-stop Hurricane Train and Strafing Run of Mother Nature (at least until Super Typhoon Lan makes landfall in Tokyo on Monday morning), and Spain hasn't yet broken out into complete Civil War.  So this is a pretty good slow week in collapse to get up a new chapter of HISC.  In this one, Kenny & Karen go for a picnic. 🙂


It was a beautiful spring morning as Kenny and Karen began their ride on the two powerful American Quarterhorses Quickdraw and Mr. Ed, with the big Siberian Husky Huckleberry leading the way.  Damp branches squished under the hooves of the horses, and there was the fresh smell of new Pine Needles growing in the air.

The trail along the creek bed was fairly wide, with enough room for the horses to travel side by side, so Kenny and Karen had a nice chance to share their lives and experiences, and gain a deeper sense of bonding.  Occassionally at locations where the river bank became steep the horses would have to go single file with Mr. Ed and Karen leading the way as they negotiated wading through the more shallow parts of the stream bed, which occassionally was fairly rapidly moving in some narrow sections.  Overall though, it was not a major river even during this high water period and the horses had no problem negotiating the stream, moving gingerly along the edge of the creek an gaining good footing with each step.  It was pretty slow going all the way though, so it took well over an hour for them to make it to the spot Karen had picked out for the Picnic.

The conversation along the trail quickly centered around prepping and the future of Industrial Civilization.

"I have to say Kenny, you have made some choices and decisions I really could not have imagined making before I went to college.  I really had no idea about any of this stuff at the time, although mom did always say Karl was a kind of eccentric Doomer.  I didn't know he was my dad then though, and I didn't pay much attention to it.", Karen recalled.

"It was sort of accidental, my Karma I guess." Kenny mused.  "I just got hooked on surfing the internet, and then I ran into the Doomstead Diner.  Then I kept linking to more and more sites and I realized there was no way that this civilization could continue onward the way it was going.  So instead of focusing on going to college, I decided to focus on preparing for the world to come."

"Well, you certainly saved a lot of money that way!" Karen joked.  "I'll be paying my college loans out of my Tips at Quinn's until the Sun Goes Red Giant!"

Kenny laughed.  "Probably not that long.  The monetary system will crash and nobody will be paying off any of those loans at all.  No working money to do it with.  Of course, that will be a major clusterfuck all around, so you can't really look forward to this outcome that much, even if it does get you out from under the debt."

"How did you decide to do the Stealth Van living thing as an option?  You seem to have enough money from your landscaping business to afford a regular apartment?"

"It made CFS, or 'Common Fucking Sense' as RE likes to call it.  I really don't need an apartment, it's a waste of what money I do earn.  Why should I pay money to some Rentier who profits off me just because he has a title to a property?  I should pay some scumbag landlord part of my daily wages just because he "owns" a piece of land and a building on it?  It's also flexible and let's me set up shop just about anywhere, at least as long as I can get gas for it anyhow.  I considered the idea of fixing up an old sailboat and doing the Seasteading thing instead, but of course here in Montana there's not a big shoreline around. lol.  Besides, I already had my Landscaping business going, so I didn't think making a move closer to the ocean was a great choice.  You have to play the cards you are dealt, and this seemed like the best choice for me at the end of High School."

Karen nodded her head.  "Yea, I guess it does make 'CFS'.  Still, don't you find living in a Van rather cramped?"

"Not at all.  I only do 3 things inside the van.  Drive it, sleep in it and work at the computer on my desk.  I would have to drive anyway for work, when I'm asleep I am unaware of how big it is and when I am on the computer it's just me, the keyboard and the screen.  All the rest of the time I am outside doing something, or maybe in a public space like the library or the gym or the mall.  The only minor hassle is toilet and shower facilities, but there are plenty of public ones available.  For what I need for living space, I just can't see spending $1000/mo on rent.", Kenny replied.

"Doesn't it get cold in the winter?", Karen asked.

"Hell no! It's a small space, easy to heat.  A couple of kerosene lanterns burning is usually quite enough as long as temperatures are above freezing, if it gets really cold I have a 23,500 BTU Kero Heat Indoor Safe heater that will cook you even if the outside temps are 30 below.  I only had to use it a couple of times last winter, and only for short periods of time.  It has its own carbon monoxide detector and auto-shutoff, and I have a separate one besides to monitor while working at the computer.  I never have it on while I am sleeping.  If it is really cold, besides my Western Tamarak Mountain Sleeping Bag good to 30 below, I have a 12V DC electric heating pad to stuff inside the bag.  This also will cook you if you set it too high.  It doesn't burn that much juice, my two 120 Amp Hour VMax Deep Cycle Marine batteries easily can handle to load for several nights without a recharge.  I only had to use that system once last winter too."

"What about all the rules and laws against living in a vehicle around here?  Don't the police give you hassles?", Karen inquired.

Kenny laughed.  "Yea, that part can be tricky, especially in town.  Outside of town around here, not a real problem at least as long as you don't stay in a location more than a couple of nights.  In town, you definitely need to change locations every night, but that isn't hard to do.  I scope out new locations all the time, and I have a dozen really good ones, and another dozen for variety which are not so good because they lack amenities like a 24/7 bathroom.  I can always use the truckstops though, both the TA and the Flying J love getting your bizness for the night.  Of course, the showers in those places cost you $6 and the Buffets aren't that great, but they don't give you any grief for parking overnight.  That's how Truckers live.  Anyhow, I'm just about never at the same location twice in a month, and so far I stayed under the Gestapo Radar for over a year."

The two horses plodded along the trail a bit further, and then the creek opened up with a large pool of water held back by a beaver dam.

"OK!  We're here!" Karen declared.

"Wow, this is a really nice spot Karen!  I bet we could improve on the beaver dam also and set up a water wheel for doing mechanical tasks too!", Kenny said enthusiatically, his Prepper brain always at work.

Karen laughed. "I figured you would say something like that.  I thought of it myself actually.  Dam engineering was my main interest in my Civil Engineering studies.  I actually have design already for one to drop in here at this location, I have it in 3D done in Sketchup on my Lenovo 8" tablet if you would like to see it.  I pulled the terrain features off of Google Earth, so it's pretty realistic looking.  Maybe you have some suggestions for improvement?  I never considered doing mechanical power transmission, just electric.", Karen offered as they unpacked the lunch from the saddlebags on Mr. Ed and Quick Draw, along with a big red & white checked tablecloth to set the feast out onto and hopefully keep the ants at bay for the duration of the meal.

"Sure, I'd love to have a look at it!" Kenny enthused, as he got the Southwest Black Bean Progresso Soup for a starter course on the Jet Boil butane camping stove.  Karen pulled out her tablet from the saddlebag and the two Kollapsniks spread out the big 10' X16' Camo Tarp Karen had packed as a picnic blanket, along with a couple of aluminum mess kits and Hobo Knives to eat with.  Cutting up a head of Romaine Lettuce and another of Raddichio and several Roma Tomatoes, she added some crumbled Feta Cheese and Kalamatta Olives imported from Greece, then sprinkling with a Greek Salad dressing picked up off the shelves at Whole Foods for a delicious and crisp Greek Salad.  She had already prepared the sandwiches the night before, smoked chicken and bacon from Karl's smoker and hen house and Swiss Cheese imported from France, along with a thin slice of Red Onion and fresh slices of Avocado along with a light slathering of homemade Mayonaisse on the crusty loaf of French Bread, split into two halves.

As they dipped their spoons into the Black Bean Soup, Kenny looked closely at Karen's schematics for a more substantial dam on the river to support a nicro-hydro electric generating system.  It was quite robust, but they would have to haul in quite a bit of Portland Cement, Sand and Rebar, along with diverting the river to get the foundation in.  It was a MAJOR project, and if they were to do it before SHTF Day, they would need a lot of permits, and also Kenny wasn't sure Karl owned the land this far from his Doomstead.

"This is a HUGE project Karen!", Kenny exclaimed.  "Does Karl own this land on both sides of the creek?  No way we could do this unless he owns all of it, and we would still need to get permits for it I am pretty sure.  It also would draw attention to us as Doomsteaders.  Everybody in the planning office for the county would know about it, not to mention the equipment rental people and additional help we would need for building it.  You're going to need a pretty serious size work crew to construct this thing, 4 or 5 people will not be able to get it done."

"I think Dad owns the whole valley, except for the cabins he sold off nearby.  I didn't consider the problem of all the people who would find out about the Doomstead if we did it though…", Karen replied as she forked up a Kalamatta Olive, Roma tomato slice and some Feta Cheese.  "I also didn't really think about all the Heavy Equipment and additional manpower we would need for building it here.  These are problems we didn't consider in Civil Engineering school!" she said with a laugh.

"That's one of the problems with being immersed in techno-industrial civilization, you take for granted everything you need for building something will be available, the only constraint is how much money you have available.  In our circumstances, we don't have much money constraint because Karl has so much of the toilet paper, but we have other constraints we have to consider with any project we undertake.  I think we will need to redesign this one from scratch on a smaller scale, and move the location a little upstream where I think we can get a better drop on the water, although there will be less of it and not so much pressure.  That spot up there looks like it might work." Kenny said, pointing to a spot about 100 yards upstream from the bank of the creek they were picnicing on.

"That's not going to put out much power Kenny", Karen mused.

"I't doesn't need to put out all that much Karen.", Kenny replied.  I just wanna see if I can gear it up to do some simple tasks like trun a saw blade to do some rip cutting or a lathe or turn a sewing machine.or small loom for weaving.  I figure to use some scrap Marine Propellers for the turbines."

"Well, that could work…", Karen replied quickly.  "Power transmission would be pretty difficult to the shore though where you would run the machines. It's a pretty long stretch to the shore where you could set up your machines.", she said, her engineer brain beginning to hum.

Kenny pondered on that, it would be a long way to run a drive shaft to the shore.  "Well, maybe we could build out a platform to closer to where the turbines are."  Kenny suggested.

"Yea, that's possible." Karen agreed.  "However, damn good chance the platform gets washed downstream during the spring runoff and flooding, she advised.

Kenny refused to be defeated in the idea.  "We'll just have to make it temporary then, like with the funicular railway and cable car system.  Set it up when we need it, take it down when we're not using it.", Kenny said firmly.

Karen laughed. "You don't quit easily Kenny!" she exclaimed.  "This would be a lot bigger set-up/take-down job though.  That would take a LOT of wood to build that platform."

Kenny and Karen continued batting ideas back and forth as they finished the bottle of Château Rayas 1995 she had pulled from Karl's Wine Cellar, getting a nice buzz on.  Kenny pulled out a spliff from the stash he had picked up from Kareem for a little taste of weed before heading back to Karl's place on Quick Draw and Mr. Ed.

"We're not going to have time to go on a float down the Clark's Fork River now Kenny, we spent way too much time going over plans for the dam.", Karen remarked as the horses and Huckleberry negotiated a slow walk back to Karl's Doomstead.  "We could drive out to the launch site though and camp overnight, and take off early in the morning for a real nice run.  The water isn't running that fast right now, but it still should be pretty good.", she offered.

Kenny had no plans made for Sunday, and there was no fast excuse he could come up with to beg off on overnighting with Karen at a camping spot by the Clark's Fork River.  Besides, he didn't WANT to beg off!  Even though he currently had a new relationship going with Kirsten and was still having the occasional tryst with the housewives he cut lawns for, at the ripe old age of 20 years old his mind was RULED by the sausage hiding behind his zipper.  Karen was a HOT TICKET!

"Sure!  That sounds great Karen!", Kenny replied.



Ranting Collapse 2017

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 15, 2017

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The Frostbite Falls Daily Rant is BACK!  At least for today, anyhow.

A few weeks ago we received a very large DONATION to the SUN Foundation for developing Sustainable Communities, which is the 501c3 Non-Profit arm of the Doomstead Diner.  Said donor is a fan of my audio rants, so in gratitude for his generosity I promised him I would do a new Rant.   I haven't done any audio rants in over a year, mainly because they are a SHIT LOAD of work! LOL.  OK, other reasons too, I got going on other projects and venues like Utoob and writing the How I Survived Collapse novel, but the main deal was the workload for the rants.  Still, Diners do like them, so I will try to do them again periodically.

In case I don't get a whole lot of new ones up, in conjunction with another project I am currently undertaking I am Archiving many of the Diner files on the FREE cloud on Google Drive.  This week I got 66 Audio mp3s up in a new Doomstead Diner folder which is open to the Public for FREE downloads of numerous interviews and rants.  You can also access many of these and more on Diner Soundcloud, but Google Drive is better because you can download the entire folder, plus it will stay up even after I croak and stop paying for the Soundcloud Channel.

Since it has been so long between Rants, I made this one a Catch-Up Rant, covering Collapse Bullshit that has been occuring over the last couple of years, although of course with a focus toward the recent Doom we have been experiencing by the Truckload.  This of course made it fairly long at around 17 minutes, so it might take you through half the time it takes to weed your garden or feed the pigs to listen to it.  Here's are a couple of Snippets from the Rant:

It's pretty tough to determine what or where the greatest havoc is in the world right now with the Hurricane Train having decimated pretty much the whole Carribean, Florida and Houston and 120K people evacuating Bali as Mt Agung threatens to Go Ballistic on the other side of the planet.  10,000 Cows are still stuck there though, so assuming it does erupt there will be a lot of Well Done steaks on Bali, if you can dig them out from under the lava after it cools down.  This is stuff happening right now, which tends to pull your attention in that direction, but this is supposed to be a Recap Rant, so I have to get in Mr. Peabody's WAYBAC Machine and travel back in time to about when I took the extended Vacation from Ranting, which I estimate was around the time the POTUS primaries were getting underway.  I estimate that was when I switched off the microphone because I can't find any rants I did during the period, and I surely was doing plenty of ranting in text blogs.  So we'll start there in catchup.

The campaign for POTUS was so full of Tragedy & Comedy I don't think even Shakespeare would know where to begin with it.  I'll randomly select the THEFT of the Demodope Nomination by The Clinton Gang in the Showdown at the DNC Corral.  Dirty Tricks to Voter Fraud, it all was evident but of course as usual nobody gets even indicted, much less prosecuted or convicted.

Meanwhile, Donalditry Trumpovetsky over on the Repugnant side confounded all the Pundits and rounded up enough votes from "Deplorables" to win the nomination over there.  The Repugnant establishment was fit to be tied, and a mad scramble ensued to find SOME kind of coalition they could work with and Goobern the FSoA if they happened to get elected.  Which they did after even more egregious hanky panky than during the Primaries, trying to manipulate the election than went on regardless of the bullshit.  Emails were leaked, collusion with the Ruskies to hack the election was alleged, but again of course no indictments to be seen anywhere.  Various agencies are still "investigating" the bullshit, and will come back eventually with more bullshit but no indictments.

…and to FINISH

What you have here is a catastrophe that exceeds even the vast capabilities of the FSoA Military to cope with.  It's the result of decades if not centuries of poor planning, colonialism, capitalist rape, racism and environmental destruction.  It was an accident waiting to happen, and now it has.  The Puerto Ricans are the victims of this.

As bad as that is, it's still NOTHING compared to the kind of dislocation we will face when SHTF Day makes it into the core countries.  Now you are not talking a few paltry MILLION people left twisting in the wind, the FSoA by itself has 350M.  Then of course there are all those Billions oc Chinese and Indians, and when the FSoA and it's monetary system go down, they go down too.  They most certainly won't be stepping in with helicopters and hospital ships when SHTF Day comes to the continental FSoA.  Everybody will have their own problems, and there will be nobody out there to ride to the rescue.

What Puerto Rico hopefully does is WAKE PEOPLE UP to the fact the FAST COLLAPSE scenario is very real, and in general more likely than the Long Emergency of James Howard Kunstler or the Slow Catabolic Collapse of John Michael Greer.  Industrial Civilization has a very few lynchpin systems that it depends on to function, and when they go away for whatever the reasons, climate, war, economics or politics, the essence of the way we live is stripped away virtually instantaneously.  It's not likely to happen at the same time everywhere unless we get Global Thermonuclear War, but town by town and region by region more places will fall off the cliff the way Venezuela and Ukraine and now Puerto Rico have.  For these people, Collapse is not some theory about something that might happen sometime in the distant future.  It is THERE. NOW.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.

I'll have a full transcript of the Rant available for Diners who request it, just contact me Inside the Diner.  The full transcript will likely also be published on Global Economic Intersection later this week.  It's just not the same without the Audio inflections though, you really miss out if you just read these things.  My Pirate Radio friends know what I am talking about here.

Anyhoooo…without further ado, here's the last 1+ Years in Doom, Rant Style from RE.  Hope you enjoy.

Requiem for an Automobile

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 14, 2017

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So I am working as my friend Brian's "Property Manager" for the apartments he rents up here, which basically amounts to showing the place to prospective tenants.  Only two of them fortunately in a McHovel he converted to a an upstais/downstairs set of apartments.  Rented out the top one a few months ago, the bottom one has been vacant a few months.  I have shown it to half a dozen prospective tenants, so far no takers.  Brian hasn't kept up on the maintenance and it needs a fair amount of work.

Anyhow, I had an appointment to show it today at 1PM, and I head out to my cars around 12:45.  The place is only around 2 miles away.  I decide I will give the Mazda a little workout to freshen up the battery since I hardly ever drive it.  As usual, she fires up just fine, an amazingly dependable vehicle the entire decade I have owned her.  I am not halfway out of the parking spot when I hear POW! and the car lists to the right.  I figure SHIT, I got a blowout!  So I back the car back into the spot and get out to have a look.  No, it's not a blowout, the tire is fine.  THE FUCKING STRUT GAVE OUT!

It's the Finger of God this happened when & where it did.  If this happened while I was driving at any speed at all, if I could keep control of the vehicle to avoid an accident that also would be Finger of God material.  As it was, it was only a minor inconvenience, after re-parking the car I went over to my Ford Explorer and took that over to the rental apartments to show them.  I wasn't even late for the appointment.  Havng spare carz around comes in handy at times like these.  Usually though, 3 carz is a bit of overkill, 2 is enough.

Now, I can't say I wasn't warned about this.  The last time I brought her in for an oil change (over a year ago), the Mechanic Jockey told me the struts were about rusted through and driving on them was dicey and I should replace them.  However, price tag on that was over $1000 and I only paid $900 for the car to begin with 10 years ago!  So I took a pass on getting the job done, kind of thinking maybe the Mechanic Jockey was just trying to get me to fork over for a big repair job.  Turns out of course here he was telling the truth.

So I get back home after the McHovel showing, and have another look and take the above pics.  It's DECISION time on the Mazda.  Do I have her towed to the Repair Shop or to the Junkyard?

I know it makes CFS to send the Mazda to the Land of Away for many reasons.  First off, the car is a 1989 with plenty of rust on it, I bought it for $900 10 years ago and even fully working I probably could not get more than $500 for it today.  Second, I currently have 3 vehicles in the parking lot, and according to community rules the max you are supposed to have is 2 per unit.  Third, keeping 3 vehicles all battery charged and working through the winter if you don't drive them every day is almost a daily maintenance task once it gets really cold.  Fourth, I only have one spot with a carport, which means when it snows I have to clear the snow off 2 carz to drive them.  This is a pain in the ass even if you are not crippled.

Unfortunately though, I am Emo about the Mazda.  I think of her kind of like the Racehorse John Henry.  He didn't win the Kentucky Derby, but he raced a LONG time and he won a LOT.

His final race record stood at 83 starts, 39 wins, 15 seconds, and 9 thirds with $6,591,860 in earnings. He was twice voted the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year in 1981 and 1984, of which his 1981 election is notable in that it was the first in which the victor received all votes cast for that award. That feat has since been matched only by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015.[4]

The Mazda also raced along the roads of the Eisenhower Interstate a long time, almost 30 years through the Age of Oil, 10 of them with me as the Car Jockey.  She was amazingly dependable through all the Alaskan Winters, the 4WD was necessary on many occasions.  No repairs necessary EVAH except to get new battery and tires.  Still runs great to this day, except of course now she has a Broken Leg. When a horse has a broken leg, the best and most humane thing to do is to put her down, aka KILL her.  But Putting Down the Mazda is hard.  The car gave me 10 excellent years of service up here on the Last Great Frontier. I know how the owners of John Henry must have felt when they had to put him down.

John Henry was euthanized at 7:05 pm EDT (2305 UTC) on October 8, 2007, at the age of 32. He had developed serious kidney problems in August 2007, while Central Kentucky was experiencing a heat wave. On October 6, he stopped responding to veterinary treatment, and the decision was made to put him down. Many who worked with him had the chance to say their goodbyes, including McCarron, who was notified of the decision to euthanize at 4:30 pm, arrived at the park at 5:30, and stayed with him until shortly before the veterinarian arrived.[5]

For now, the Mazda sits in her spot in the parking lot while I empty out more of the flotsam and jetsam of my own life that resides inside her.  I will get the shit out of her the rest of today and tomorrow, assuming we have a break from the constant rain we have been getting up here for the last few weeks.  Monday I will go over to my Mechanic Jockey and see what he will give me for the hulk.  The tires are practically brand new, I bought them 2 years ago but hardly drive the car at all.  The Battery also quite new.  Engine and tranny, both good.  Also has a full tank of gas, I recently filled it.  I at least hope to recoup the towing costs in selling it for junk.

Dust in the Wind.  All we are is Dust in the Wind.  Carz too.

Requiem for a Pirate

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 8, 2017

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I got the news this week that an old friend, Randy Ripley had died last month, at the age of 63.  Pretty much the oldest friend I had, since we knew each other from childhood in Brasil.  I wrote about Randi a few years ago in my article Pump Up the Volume.  It was an article about the Pirate Radio years of the 1970s when I was a small part of that scene.  Randy ran a small Pirate out of his parent's basement in Flushing, Queens where we both ended up living after spending the 1960s in Brasil.  We were friends from about the time I was 6 years old and Randy was 9 and stayed friends until about the time I left NY Shity to go out OTR as a Trucker.  At that time, I lost contact with just about everyone I had been friends with. I was in my middle 30s at the time.

Even before that though, Randy and I drifted apart, as our lives took different paths quite early on.  I was a top student through Junior High when we spent the most time together and I went on to one of the NY Shity specialized high schools for Science & Math, Stuyvesant.  Randy couldn't manage HS for any number of reasons, and he dropped out in his Junior year.  When he did, he went full on into Pirate Radio, and built his WQLB Radio Station basically from scratch from Radio Shack parts and Army surplus equipment.  It was housed in the basement of his parent's house in Flushing.  During this time, I would usually only see Randy once a week or so, when I would come over to play some chess, watch some TV and then we would go On the Air late at night on WQLB, reaching out a few miles in northern Queens and into a bit of Long Island. My On Air handle in those years was Stony Stevenson (taken from the Kurt Vonnegut novel Between Time & Timbuktu). He didn't have much of an antenna then, later though he got a tower and the reach was further.  We could make Manhattan if it was pointed the right way.

The reasons Randy couldn't hack high school were many.  First off, he was Legally Blind.  He could read, just he had to have a book right up on his nose to be able to do it.  Same when we watched TV together, he would sit up very close to the TV screen to be able to make out what was going on.  What was truly amazing about him though on this level was his ability to do fine work with electronics and audio tape of the era.  He was very meticulous and would work up close to do all the soldering and splicing of tape to make his audio productions, which is what kept him bizzy after dropping out of HS.  If it was just his blindness, Randy could have made it through HS, and probably gone on to an engineering degree with no problem.  But that wasn't his only issue.

Besides being legally blind, Randy was also a homosexual and a hippie and he had no friends in the Queens HS where he ended up, Bayside HS.  He was very anti-establishment and wasn't interested at all in the material they were dishing out there for him to learn.  So he dropped out and retreated to his parent's basement, much to their consternation.  In those years, before Pirate Radio really became his thing and he got WQLB running, I was pretty much his only friend AFAIK.

Battles with his parents were endless, besides being unhappy with him dropping out of skule, they were Christian Fundys and he was totally anti-religion.  He also was running an illegal Radio Station, which certainly would have got them in trouble if he was ever caught (which he never was in those years, the FCC was quite incompetent).  His sexual orientation which at the time he identified as Gay also gave them fits.  After a few years he decided he wasn't actually Gay, but in fact Transgender.  This is well before all this stuff became fashionable, it was not Mainstream at all.  He wanted THE OPERATION to become a She.  In the end, Randi won this battle with them, and I believe they ended up footing the bill for the surgery.

When I went on to college, my visits with Randy became much more sporadic, maybe once a month I would drop in to visit with him at the new place his parents moved to, also in Flushing.  Main reason for the move was he & they couldn't get along in the same living space but they couldn't make a complete break at that time, he wasn't self-sufficient enough.  So they moved into a townhouse type home with 3 apartments, and he had the top floor.  A short time after they moved in there he got the operation and He became a She, now spelled Randi instead of Randy.  She had upscaled her Pirate Station quite a bit, and the apartment also sported a nice living room with a big couch and big color TV (for the era).  It had a kick ass stereo system in the living room with the speakers wired into his Studio, which was one of the two bedrooms of the apartment.  He also generally had on hand a good size stash of Ganja to smoke, and at the time I was a Weed Smoker.  So when I visited with my mom in our Flushing house every so often, riding the #7 Flushing train from Times Square at one end of the line to Main Street at the other end after taking the #1 train down from Columbia, I would buy a 6-Pack of Heineken (my Beer of choice in those years) and walk on over to his house, about 4 blocks away.  Sometimes we would do a Radio Show, other times just watch TV and smoke dope.  On my shows, Randi would do all the engineering and I would just talk.  I never really learned to do all the engineering tasks for running a good radio show by myself.  That's where my Ranting in Audio here on the Diner was born though.  I was in my early teens when I started doing that.

Randi is in the Center, 3rd from the right

After college, our lives drifted further apart and Randi got ever deeper into the world of Pirate Radio as he hooked up with the Yonkers crowd and Allan Weiner, another self-taught genius.  Allan bought a bought a big rusting hulk of a vessel moored in Boston Harbor he named the Sarah, fixed up the diesel engines to make it seaworthy again and fitted it out with a transmitter and studio to broadcast from offshore.  The crew of Pirates all went out on that boat and broadcast as RNI, Radio New York International toward the coast of Long Island.  They lasted about a week as I recall before they were shut down and arrested by the FCC.  I had the opportunity to go on that adventure, but I didn't take it.  I am sorry for that to this day.

I completely lost touch with Randi over 20 years ago, although I got periodic reports from my mother who was friends with his mother, so I knew she kept on with the Pirate Radio and moved from Flushing to Woodstock.  What I only learned in the last week with the news of her death is that many of this crew of Pirates remained in touch with each other for all these years in between, and continued with careers in radio of one sort or another, both legal and illegal.  I find that amazing because I have no friends going back that far in my life.

Randi's life was an odd one, and she certainly did not fit into the society she was born into.  She did have one legit job that I know of, she worked as a producer on the Alex Bennett show on WPLJ early on when I was still in my teens.  I went into Manhattan a few times with her to sit in the control room, and met Phil Ochs not long before he commited suicide.  There was another person who didn't fit well into our society.

Otherwise though, Randi mostly lived off SSI Benefits she got as a result of being Legally Blind, and then after her parents died I am sure she inherited a tidy sum of money from her father, who had a successful career as a drector in the fisheries department of the UN, but was almost certainly really CIA.  So if she did hold any paying Radio gigs later on it wasn't because she had to work, just because she wanted to do Radio.

Pirate Radio holds a lot of meaning in terms of freedom, and the efforts made back in the 70s by the hippies and the malcontents around at the time were worthy efforts, but of course in the end doomed to failure.  Like folks in the Environmental Movement, they got to open the door a crack, but then it got shut in their faces and for the next 40 years since they have been just spinning their wheels in the frustrating attempt to get something besides Corporate Propaganda up On the Air.  For the last few years we have seen the door open a crack again with the advent of the Internet, Blogs, Podcasts and YouTube channels.  That also will shut soon enough, either through Goobermint repression or through economic collapse, it's a race to see which one kills it first.  In the longer term, it's also too energy intensive and complex a medium to continue onward in the post-collapse world.  For a while once the Internet Goes Dark after SHTF Day, Radio may make a Comeback as a communication medium, over the Shortwave transmitters of HAM operators.  Just have to see how that one goes.

Randi never participated much on the Internet, her eyesight precluded that in the early years of mainly text and I suspect she never became comfortable with the medium to switch into Podcasting.  So at 63 years old, she finished her life the way she lived it, as a Pirate Radio freak.  63 is not that old, but not that young either, so she had more or less an average lifespan, a little on the low side these days if you go in to the medical industry grind, which she chose not to do.  Nothing wrong at all with that choice.  I myself am immersed in it, and it positively sucks.

Did Randi have much Happiness through her life?  Not really I don't think but she did find something she had a passion for and pursued it for her life walking the earth, and there is a lot to be said for that also.  I am sure now that she has crossed the Eternal Divide into the Great Beyond, she is setting up a new Pirate Station to broadcast from there.  Tune in at 91.9 on your FM Dial after midnite and perhaps you will catch her show.

You can listen more about the life of Randall Ripley in this Podcast from another old friend of his/hers:

You can read more memories HERE from another friend.



Puerto Rico: Canary in the Coal Mine of Collapse

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Published on The Doomstead Diner October 1, 2017

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Maria is another one of those Collapse Gifts that keeps on giving.  Although the impact of the storm itself was quite horrific, the aftermath has been far worse.  Puerto Rico has now become the Poster Child for what FAST COLLAPSE looks like.  For those of us who observe and chronicle collapse as it progresses around the world, Puerto Rico is the Canary in the Coal Mine.  It's a window into what life will look like for many as our energy supplies dwindle.

Although it took a Hurricane like Maria to wipe out the infrastructure of Puerto Rico in one fell swoop, the island was already well on its way toward this before Maria came a-calling.  They are officially bankrupt, the power company also bankrupt, the infrastructure aging and in disrepair, and on top of all of that over the last decade there has been mass migration out of Puerto Rico by anyone young with skills who could get out.  So not only does the power company have a money shortage, they have a manpower shortage too.  They don't just have to re-string wires in this one, first they gotta GET to the wires rebuilding and clearing roads, then they gotta put in a whole lot of new poles, which have to be shipped in because they don't have any trees left there to make them out of.  Quotes of a "few months" to get a full grid operational there again are laughable.  They might get San Juan lit up again in that time period, but not the whole island.

The instantaneous removal of all grid power in Puerto Rico demonstrates clearly how dependent all industrialized countries are on a functioning electrical grid.  Particularly true in hot climates, where without A/C now many buildings are simply uninhabitable.  Office buildings are often build without windows that open, turning them  into ovens when the A/C goes out.  Similarly, many modern McMansions are not built with the kind of shaded porches, ceiling fans and ventilation that older southern climate homes were built with.  No A/C in these dwelling, and you will sweat to death in no time.  It's no help on that front either that there is little Potable Water circulating anywhere to keep yourself well hydrated. after the A/C on the high power consumption items we all rely on is the Food Refrigeration issue.  By now, all the food stored in everyone's home refrigerator and freezer has gone bad if it wasn't eaten already.  Some larger stores and warehouses might have generator backup, but most of the Bodegas the typical Puerto Rican buys food at do not.  Even if they do have generators, gas is running scarce and driving to get it or have it delivered is blocked by debris and still flooded roads in some places.  For all intents and purposes, any perishable foods on the island are no longer consumable.

Is a massive relief effort underway to get new food to the people of Puerto Rico?  If you call 7 air cargo C-130 transports and a couple of Navy ships a massive relief effort and give this "high marks" in the words of Donalditry Tumpovetsky, you are a few cans short of a six-pack.  Again, this might bring enough food in to keep the folks in and around San Juan from starving, but it's not enough capacity to feed an island with 3.4M Human Souls living on it.

In fact what needs to be done here is a FULL MOBILIZATION of the FSoA Coast Guard, and FSoA flagged Container Ships need to be commandeered to bring in massive food aid and building materials to various ports all around the island.  It's also just nonsense that they haven't been able to reach remote villages because of impassable roads.  They have HELICOPTERS!  They might not have enough choppers to get aid out to all these remote places, but they can certainly go there, survey damage, talk to the Mayor and give him a Sat Phone, etc.

Besides the nonsense on not knowing the status of these places is the nonsense in terms of the Death Count.  Do you really believe on an island with 3.4M people, most of whom live in poverty in ramshackle "non-traditional" housing, only 12 people died?  With raging floods all over the island and wind speeds topping 145 MPH?  Debris flying everywhere and power lines down all over the place?  Besides that, quite obviously with no power in many hospitals and nursing homes and no A/C old folks and sick folks are going to be dropping like flies here, starting about now.  They have medicines that need refrigeration that go bad just like food does.  We'll never get an accurate number on how many people die as a result of this catastrophe, Da Goobermint would never admit to it.  Big Death numbers only happen to 3rd World Nations like Bangladesh, not to FSoA Citizens!

A/C and Refrigeration are proximal problems immediately hitting individuals, but there are of course many other dependencies on electricity any industrialized neighborhood has to deal with.  Anywhere there are high-rise apartments, you need elevators (Lifts for the Brits) to be transporting you up and down from the upper stories.  While it is possible if you are in good shape to walk 12 flights of stairs in the morning to go to work and when you get home at night, it's pretty darn hard to do this 2 or 3 times a day when you send the kids out to play or you need to go grocery shopping, etc.  Besides that, in most locations there simply is not enough gravity fed water pressure to push water up more than about 6 stories.  So in order to have flushing toilets and running water on the upper stories, you need pumps which are of course electric powered. don't only need the pumps in the tall buildings though, they are all over the place through the water delivery system, both on the way in and the way out.  On the individual level in more rural locations, people use individual electric driven pumps to bring well water up from below ground, in some places where the aquifer has been depeleted from quite deep underground.  You can't jack that deep water up with a hand operated pump.  On the grander scale, towns and cities use big ass pumps to move water all through their systems on the way in, and on the way out it has to be pumped to sewage treatment plants, themselves also dependent on electricity to operate.

Somewhat less threatening in the Basic Needs department but in many respects also quite threatening to life in Industrial Culture is the failure of the Communications Infrastructure.  Pretty much all the Cell Phone Towers are down in Puerto Rico, so they are CUT OFF from communications not just within the island, but across the pond to their relatives living here in the continental FSoA.  One has to remember that more Puerto Ricans live on the continent than live on the island.  they had a Diaspora in the 1950s & 1960s that sent many impoverished Puerto Ricans to live in the Slums of NY Shity, where I lived though not in the slums.  I lived in the lower middle class neighborhood at that time.  This is known as the "Great Migration", and occured in the aftermath of the Great Depression and WWII.  A Hollywood dramatization and Musical of this period became an Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, "West Side Story".

Like the Blacks in NY Shity, the Puerto Ricans lived in Ghettos and were the Underclass, and were referred to as "Spics".  As in, "I don't Spic English".  Puerto Rico itself was mostly left to languish as a colonial protectorate, they never got Statehood like Hawaii did.  Much of that due to prejudice against the Spanish speaking population.  Hawaii was largely White, and became an important Military base during WWII in the Battle of the Pacific against the Japanese.  It remains an important military base to this day, now in the battle for hegemony over the Pacific with the Chinese.  Of course, in a full on War with the Chinese, Hawaii would be OBLITERATED by a man-made Hurrican courtesy of Chinese cruise missiles.  They wouldn't even need to use Nukes to do it, the current generation of conventional Blockbuster warheads would do the trick just fine.  Hawaii is not a big place. to the current problem of Puerto Rico though, I think we have established what the SCALE of this problem is, it is truly HUGE.  So what is the response of Trumpsky to this.  He is sending ONE Hospital ship and maybe about another dozen naval vessels of various kinds.  This for an island of 3500 square miles with 3.4M FSoA Citizens living on it!  It's just Window Dressing for Photo Ops of the Coast Guard and National Guard making Heroic Rescues.  90% of them will come in and around San Juan, so the TV camera crews can get there.

Beyond the inadequacy of the rescue mission is the complete lack of a PLAN to get that infrastructure back up and running, in some fashion.  PREPA, the Puerto Rican national power company like Puerto Rico itself is DEAD BROKE, $9B in their own debt aside from the $70B in debt the Puerto Rican Goobermint has.  Even before Maria, the scuttlebutt was that PR would "Privatize" the electric grid and sell off what assets they had for pennies on the dollar.  However, let me ask you, what IDIOT would buy the electric grid of Puerto Rico and try to fix it up to make a PROFIT off of it?  The capital investment here is enormous, the entire grid has to be essentially replaced.  Then you are going to sell electricity to an impoverished population with no money to buy it?  Does this sound like a good bizness plan to you?  Not to mention anyone currently on that island with the means to get off will do so long before you finish constructing a new electric grid.  The only people who will be hanging out and sweating while you do the repairs are the poor people.

Now, while Puerto Rico is certainly in the worst shape here of those islands that are getting some media attention (Cuba and the Dominican Republic are barely mentioned in the MSM, and both took quite large hits, Cuba from Irma and the DR from Maria), it's not the only place that has had its lifestyle and economy decimated by the STRAFING RUN OF MOTHER NATURE.  The Tourista Traps of the FSoA and Brit Virgin Islands were also smacked down hard.  As a Recovery issue, these islands present a *somewhat* more tractable problem than Puerto Rico does, because they are physically smaller and the populations are much less.  However, even in these places it is hard to see how they will get their Tourista based economies running again given the level of destruction of the infrastructure. off, they need to dispose of all the TRASH left behind by Maria and Irma, and that is easier said than done on tiny islands that don''t have a lot of space for Landfill. There's a lotta fiberglass that needs to go to the Great Beyond.   In this case, they have full island's worth of garbage to dispose of.  Somehow, if they are to recover, it will have to be shipped off island to…somewhere in the Land of Away where all the flotsam and jetsam of Industrial Civilization eventually ends up.  But who will pay for the shipping and who will take all the garbage?

Then they also have to source the people and the equipment to do the cleanup.  You can be sure the rich fucks with retirement homes and mansions on these islands won't be doing the cleanup themselves of course.  They will pay for locals to fix up their own properties, which provides an interim substitute for the Tourista Economy they mostly lived on during the Good Old Days before the STRAFING RUN.  However, this isn't a job that can be done with a few chainsaws and some human labor.  You're going to need heavy equipment, lots of it.  Caterpillar Front End Loaders, Daiwoo Back Hoes, Hitachi Dump Trucks, the WORKS!  You need operators for those things who are trained, not your average local who was a bartender before Maria arrived.  Who pays to import all the equipment and trained personnel?

Before any Tourista bizness can get rolling, the airport needs to be fixed up and the ports and marinas repaired.  No self respecting Amerikan Tourista is going to fly into an airport with no Air Conditioning!  The Cruise Ships need ports they can dock at, and the Yachties need Marinas they can moor at.  Only once all these things are in place can you BEGIN to hope to reopen restaraunts and bars, but of course you have to rebuild those too, and who pays for that?  Owner Operators of most of the smaller places didn't make a whole lot of money in the good times.  You expect many of them have spare cash around now to rebuild?  Not likely, so they will have to take out loans from…somebody.  It is like the Puerto Rican Electric Grid though, what IDIOT would loan money into this disaster?  It's never going to get paid back.  Without the loans though, this economy can't get restarted.  There's just no money circulating at the moment. of the photos from Ground Zero of the few biznesses now open show signs for "CASH ONLY".  This because since communications are down they can't process any credit or debit card transactions.  The thing is, few people use cash anymore, so there isn't enough of it circulating around the economy to do all cash transactions.  Not that there is a whole lot left to buy at this point.  One thing I definitely did not see were signs saying "Gold or Silver" only.  not a good sign for the Gold Bugs.

Besides the credit cards being down, so is the airline reservations system, so they are having to do all their booking (and rebooking, and re-rebooking…) by hand with pen and paper.  They're also down to about 1/10th their normal flight schedule, so there are people there who have been sleeping in the airport for a week now.  With NO air conditioning!

As bad as the situation is in Puerto Rico, this is still better than it will be after SHTF day moves into the core countries, because at least PR can look to the FSoA for SOME help, even if Donalditry isn't doing a very good job with it.  When the FSoA goes into crash mode, there's no Big Brother or Cavalry to come running to the rescue.  What could cause a collapse on such a massive scale across the whole continent?

Far as weather, probably nothing could do the whole continent at once.  However, more storms more often could provide the "Death by a Thousand Cuts".  They don't have to all be Cat 5 hurricanes either.  More tornadoes, more snowstorms and ice stormms in the winter.  They all perpetually damage infrastructure that has to be rebuilt if the neighborhood is going to continue living the Industrial lifestyle.  More and more meighborhoods wil drop off this map, and the lifestyle will inexorably shrink down.  How long this will take is anybody's guess since it depends on so many factors, not the least of which is the weather which is pretty unpredictable.  Simultaneously you have the economic  consequences of each one, and the political ones as demonstrated with Puerto Rico.  Notice nobody is talking about the Fedral Budget these days or how any of this rebuilding work is going to get paid for?  The numbers they are pitching out are laughers too, $40B won't even TOUCH a rebuild of Puerto Rico, not to mention St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.

In terms of an instantaneous, Global Wide SHTF day, there are really only a few possibilities for that, I can only think of 4 that might pull it off all at once.  On the Geological level, a Supervolcano blowing off and covering the globe in ashfall would do it pretty well.  A collision witha Planet Killer Asteroid would bring the End of Times down to less than a day, you wouldn't have to worry about living in a post-collapse world in that scenario.  On the man-made level, Global Thermonuclear war could destroy industrial civilization globally inside a few days.  The only other one that could bring about a full Global Collapse on such a short timeline would be a complete collase of the Monetary System with all trade coming to a halt, including Oil and Food.  That would still probably take a few months to play out, and I am sure Emergency Measures would be put in place.  However, much like the emergency measures for Puerto Rico, they won't be able to meet the needs of Billions of people all at the same time., this doesn't need to be Global in scope and all-at-once to qualify as "Fast Collapse".  It's ALREADY fast collapse measured against how long it took to climb up the Industrial Ladder, which you can peg as starting in around 1750 or so with the invention of the Steam Engine.  It's kind of arbitrary when you peg Collapse as beginning here, there were signs of it as early as the 1960's & 70s, but it really hit an acceleration phase in 2008 with the Financial Crisis, so I will use that as the "Start Date" for Collapse.  So it took from 1750 to 2008 to climb UP the ladder for 258 years, and to slide DOWN to where we are now, only about 9 years so far.  In that 9 years, NUMEROUS countries have gone off the cliff one way or the other, including but not limited to Greece, Venezuela, Ukraine, Syria and Myanmar.  Halfway off the cliff are places like Brazil, Argentina & Mexico.  Now they are joined by Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and probably the Dominican Republic & Cuba too, but not much Newz is coming out from those places.

Here in the FSoA, both Florida and Houston got hit hard but it is being spun as though they are both back up to BAU here already in a month, which simply can't be true.  Definitely not true in the Florida Keys and I suspect not much of Western Florida either where Irma made landfall again after the Keys.  There is no follow-up on how many of the Oil rigs and Refineries are back up and running down in that neighborhood either.  ALL of these places lost a HUGE portion of their rolling stock of Carz, estimates in Houston are that 500,000 Carz were TOTALLED.  You HAVE to have a Car to get around anywhere in TX, Public Transportation simply doesn't EXIST for the most part.  It's not like most of these folks can just go to the bank and yank out even just a downpayment on a car, most of the population has less than amonth in savings, they live paycheck-to-paycheck.  So BAU is highly unlikely to be operating as usual in Houston as of right now.  Collapse has arrived there for many.

For Collapse-Deniers, no disaster in any given location will convince them that Collapse is in progress as we speak.  They will always come back with the retort "there have always been Hurricanes, there have always been Tornadoes, there have always been Snowstorms, there have always been Wildfires", and so forth.  That's all true, but the issue is how hard and how often they are hitting along with the steadily decreasing ability to rebuild after they move through the neighborhood.  It's almost impossible to quantify this in any real fashion, but it's pretty obvious to me at least that we are reaching the point where things are breaking down faster than they are getting fixed up.'s not likely to get much better as we move forward through Collapse, and where you are located makes a BIG difference as to whether your neighborhood gets impacted sooner or later in this ongoing calamity.  Living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico is NOT a particularly good choice of locations.  Neither is living in the numerous Flood Zones sprinkled around the continent near rivers and tributaries.  Forested areas in the Mountains might not be a good choice if they are suffering Drought and Wildfires may be imminent.  Earthquake prone regions might not be such a good choice either these days either.  Certainly the Mexicans aren't to happy with their location at the moment.

Which of course means the "Safe" areas to ride out collapse are pretty few and far between, in fact such a place may not exist at all, as in truly 100% Safe.  So if you do have the ability and means to make a move, you have to weigh the risks in any given neighborhood.  Based on what occured with Harvey, Irma & Maria, Island paradises and lviing on a small Yacht as a Sea Gypsy don't seem like great choices on the risk scale.  Large cities don't seem too good either.

Personally, I think the best methodology is to stick with a good Bugout Plan, and Options of places to go when TSHTF.  As demonstrated in Puerto Rico, there ARE no good Bugout Plans for most people, only a few who have boats and GTFO of Dodge before the Behemoth arrives.  You don't want to be stuck on a baking island in an airport oven sweating your nuts off for a week waiting for a flight out.  Assuming you have the MONEY to buy one.

By NO MEANS is the Puerto Rico story over.  Little Newz has come out from outside of San Juan.  With the heat there, there is no way more people have not succumbed to heat stress as the days pass.  Of course, finding the stories in the MSM will likely be difficult.  That is why we run the Doomstead Diner.  Look for contiuing coverage here as it drifts off the pages of the MSM and the people of Puerto Rico are left to Twist in the Wind.

Equifax: Eye of the Financial Hurricane

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 24, 2017

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I'm taking a break from the Hurricane articles at last, despite the fact over the course of the week Maria did a Strafing Run through the SAME islands that Irma took out a couple of weeks ago, and in addition made a direct hit on Puerto Rico this time as a Cat 4, basically wiping out San Juan.  Not that it was ever possible, but there is NO WAY PR will ever be able to pay off the debt they have now.  To rebuild, they'll need NEW debt!  Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are going to be heading for the shores of the continental FSoA by the boatload.  The population there was already shrinking precipitously.  There's not going to be anyone left there to Tax!

Anyhow, for This Week in Doom Sunday Brunch article I'm going to talk about another type of Storm, the Financial Storm that has emerged from the Equifax Data Breach.

For those of you who don't know, Equifax is one of 3 Credit firms which collect data to pass on to banks, insurance companies, landlords, jobs etc with your Credit Score, which determines whether you will get that Car Loan, or Mortgage, Apartment or Job, etc.  Essentially, they control your life under our current monetary system.  If you don't get the Thumbs Up from the Credit Bureaus, you can't buy in to the industrial economy in any real way.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but for most people who aspire to a McMansion, a Car and a good paying job, if your credit is rat-fucked it's a very distressing problem.

It's bad enough when you rat-fuck your credit yourself by going in too deep on the Credit Cards, or buying Carz and Trux and McMansions on loans you can't afford, but it's orders of magnitude WORSE if you didn't even make the charges yourself, which is what can happen when some Hacker gets hold of all the information that Equifax stores in their database.  This includes not just your SS#, bank account numers, credit card numbers and payment histories on everything.  It's your financial life history, in a digital nutshell.

The data breach of Equifax took out 143M Amerikan Konsumers Financial Information and put it in the hands of whoever it was that pulled off this hack.  When you consider the fact that there are only around 350M Amerikans all totalled up and lots of them are kids or illegal aliens without SS#s, that's basically everyone in the FSoA who has a Bank Account of some type.  The breach isn't just a transient thing either, it is for LIFE.  Unless you are on top of it all the time watching for unauthorized Credit applications under your Identity, any time for the rest of your life somebody could use this information to set up an account which YOU would be held responsible for.  Defending yourself against such attacks is quite difficult, expensive and time consuming.  Not to mention how it can fuck up your life, preventing you from getting that covetted high-paying, hi-tech job you paid big bucks training for in some Kollege somewhere.

Various "solutions" to this problem have been put forward on the net by various financial websites, the main one being to FREEZE your credit reports, thus not allowing anyone to check the credit, which of course means you can't get any more credit, even yourself!  It wouldn't be a bad thing if EVERYONE froze their credit in the grand scheme of things, that would surely bring the Monetary System to its knees in short order.  This however is unlikely to happen, particularly since Equifax, Experian & Transunion (the other two corporations in this bizness) make it as hard as they can for you to do this.

The lawsuits are already beginning to roll in.  This was pretty clearly a case of negligence and incompetence in the upper management of Equifax.  From Wolf Richter:

Carson Block, the infamous short-seller who among other things peeled back some of the layers covering up Valeant’s murky business schemes and crushed its shares and made a ton of money in the process, missed out on the Equifax disaster. Not having divined what would happen, his firm Muddy Waters failed short Equifax shares before they collapsed 35% in six trading days.

But he didn’t miss out on the hack: He was one of the 143 million Americans whose data, including Social Security numbers, got stolen in the Equifax hack. And on Friday, he sued Equifax.

The lawsuit, reported by the Financial Times on Sunday, accuses Equifax of negligence in its failure to protect his personal identifying information from criminals, and of not disclosing the hack in a timely manner. He is seeking damages of at least $500,000 for the “stress, nuisance and annoyance” of having to deal with the consequences of the hack.

The suit notes that Equifax’s business revolves around being a “secure storehouse” for data and providing a clear financial profile of consumers that lenders and other businesses can rely on.

At a minimum, Equifax should have but didn’t patch a vulnerability in Apache Struts, an open-source framework for developing web applications in Java. The Apache Foundation disseminated a patch on March 6 but Equifax didn’t implement the update. ArsTechnica explains the omission:

Three days later, the bug was already under mass attack by hackers who were exploiting the flaw to install rogue applications on Web servers. Five days after that, the exploits showed few signs of letting up.

The hack occurred after mid-May. On Friday, Equifax said that it had finally patched the vulnerability on July 30, nearly five months after the update had become available, and a day after it had figured out that it had been hacked. This must have been one of the most glorious oh-shit moments in corporate history.

Block’s lawsuit names 11 senior executives at Equifax, including CEO Richard Smith. Two of the named people, chief information security officer Susan Mauldin and chief information officer David Webb, were sacked on Friday “effective immediately.”

Particularly imcompetent here seems to be the CIS, aka "Chief Security Officer" Susan Mauldin.  Her degree is in Music.  WTF does Music have to do with Security for a Financial firm with a huge computer database?  I would think you would want to hire an experienced Hacker for this spot.  Somebody with a track record of being able to find flaws in a system and exploit them.  But no, they hire a fucking flute player for this position!

Where the Negligence comes in here is they actually KNEW about this flaw months before the hack, and did nothing to patch the hole.  I confess to being somewhat negligent on my own computers with not patching holes and not keeping my anti-virus software updated, but all I have on my computer is my own shit.  I am not storing the personal financial records of 143M people!

So anyhow, the fact of the matter is that at this point you have to figure your credit information has been compromised and dispersed to various nefarious people who will attempt to use this information to get some FREE MONEY from the banks.  Free for them, you get the bills later.  But with 143M people to choose from, who will these crooks pick as victims?  They're going to pick the people with High Credit Scores and High Assets they could use as collateral for big loans.  They're NOT going to pick people with Low Credit Scores and Low Assets.  If you are a stickup artist and there are 2 potential Marks on the street at 2AM, one a homeless person sleeping in a refrigerator box and the other a wasted Wall Street trader in an Armani suit and Italian Leather shoes leaving one of the Watering Holes in SoHo, which one are you gonna hit?  You're not gonna get much from the Homeless Guy, but you could strike the JACKPOT with the shit-faced Wall Street Trader!  Maybe he has a few Ben Franklins left in the wallet after the night of debauchery!  Maybe he has a Diamond Ring and a Rolex!  The Italian Leather Shoes might even fit you!

No different for the Digital Rip-Off Artists here, and even easier to pick out the best people to steal from, since you have ALL their financial information!

Which is why I am not in the least bit worried about Identity Theft here or my Credit Info being hacked from Equifax.  WTF is going to want to steal my identity?  My Credit Score is so low it is measured in the Negative Imaginary Numbers.  The reason it is so low is not because I don't pay my bills, it's because I buy nothing on Credit.  I haven't used a Credit Card in 25 years.  I buy only Used Carz for CASH.  I don't buy places to live, I rent them as I need them, where I need them.  Forget opening up a credit account you could steal from if you have my information, *I* can't open up a credit account with my own information! lol.  I don't think they would even give me a LIAR loan for a McMansion!  So for the most part, this whole Equifax scandal simply amuses me.  Other than assisting in collapsing the monetary system, there is little it will do to affect me personally.

All of which should teach you a lesson.  Your best protection from Theft is to not have anything worth stealing.  You know who complains the most about Taxation as Stealing?  RICH PEOPLE!  People who make $250K and more, who ALSO will be the priumary victims of Identity Theft.  I pay just about NOTHING in taxes, and even if they raised my tax rate and that of others like me with my Poverty Level Income to 100%, it wouldn't raise Jack Shit in money to pay off the National Debt.  To get that kind of scratch, you need to take it from the people who actually HAVE it. As Willie Sutton said when asked why he Robbed Banks, his response was:

So I am 100% IN FAVOR of Taxing the Living Shit out of the Rich in this spin down.  95% Tax rate on all income $200K and up.  No personal Assets worth over $10M, confiscation of all Private Jets and Big Ass Yachts. No ownership of multiple homes. Since there won't be a market for these items anymore, you won't be able to sell them off for CASH, but you could use the Yachts for Homeless Shelters.  You might think that Personal Asset number of $10M is pretty high (I do), but I figured it on a 1% ROI which would give an annual return in Retirement of $100K.  I figure with the max income of $200K, this should be plenty to live on in retirement.  I don't want rich fucks making $200K and up to have to suffer too much.  I am a compassionate guy. lol.

No matter how you look at it though or how you try to do the wealth redistribution, the whole deal is highly deflationary, it has to be because there is just going to be much less STUFF left to buy, for any kind of money at all.  The issue for the society at hand is to figure out how to most equitably distribute the resources that are left, and capitalism sure as hell won't do it.  It didn't do a good job of distributing resources when they were plentiful, WTF would you think it would do a better job when they are in deficit?

Unless you find a more equitable solution to the problem of diminishing resources and continue to see "reverse wealth redistribution" where money is stolen from the Poor and given to the Rich, you will eventually see full on Class Warfare here, and I'm not talking about the kind of warfare where money is simply pilfered from bank accounts, I'm talking about the kind that occurred during the French  & Bolshevik Revolutions, the kind where the Poor People finally get thoroughly pissed of enugh to bring on the Torches, Pitchforks and Nooses.

In Puerto Rico today, as we speak, we see a vivid demonstration of just how fast an industrial based economy can slide off the cliff, sending millions of people into poverty who were formerly at least "lower middle class".  All it really takes is for the electrical grid to go down, and that can occur for numerous reasons besides a Hurricane.  Even without Maria, this was destined to occur, Puerto Rico simply could not afford to maintain that infrastructure or pay for the energy it used.  This did speed up the process of FAST COLLAPSE by quite a bit though in that location.

For your own location, it is difficult to say how long it might be before SHTF Day comes to your Neighborhood.  If you are deep in the Heart of Darkness in New York Shity, if no major storms come on a STRAFING RUN to take out the infrastructure you depend on, BAU might lat another 10 or even 20 years.  But it won't last forever, and when it does collapse, it won't be slow.  It will be like Puerto Rico, and happen in an incredibly short period of time by all measures.  John Michael Greer is very wrong with his hypothesis of "Slow Catabolic Collapse".  That is not how Collapse works at all.  When the lynchpins that underpin the society are pulled out, it all goes down very fast.

If Collapse has not yet arrived at your doorstep, you still have time to PREP UP!  No, you can't make all provisions for all things that might occur to you, but you can at least not be an IDIOT!  Potable Water, Food, Shelter first.  If you don't actually have the preps before the event, you are SOL from the get go.  Don't be one of the IDIOTS trying to buy batteries and bottled water at Walmart the day before the Hurricane is due to arrive.  Equifax, Harvey, Maria… they are all just Canaries in the Coal Mine.  If you do not think this kind of FAST COLLAPSE can happen to you, I suggest you think again.

The Strafing Run of Mother Nature 4: 2017 Autumn of the Apocalypse

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 21, 2017

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I was going to take a break from Hurrican Reporting and devote my next article to another form of storm, the Financial Storm surrounding the breach of the Equifax security of Credit Data and the sprinkling out of SS#s and all the rest of your personal data for nefarious people to use in Identity Theft, for the rest of your LIFE.  I actually got most of this article done already, but then Maria waltzed into town, with a direct bead on the FSoA Virgin Islands and after that Puerto Rico, with the Eyewall targeting the capital city of San Juan.  As if Puerto Rico didn't have enough problems being totally DEAD BROKE even before Maria came a-knocking.

So now, here I am once again sitting here safely in my digs on the Last Great Frontier of Alaska at 6PM my time while ALL HELL is breaking loose down in the Lower 48, the Carribean and Central America.

Maria has been on a Bee Line for St. Croix in the FSoA Virgin Islands and looks set for the Eyewall to make FIRST CONTACT in the next couple of hours.  It's a BULL'S EYE direct hit like Irma pulled on Barbuda.  St. Croix will be FLATTENED.

Puerto Rico and the Capital City of San Juan are also on the Navigational Chart of Maria on her journey across the High Seas for a STRAFING RUN there as well.  Puerto Rico has NEVER been hit by a Cat 5 in recorded history.  As I write this post, Maria's winds have kicked up to 175 MPH and the Barometric Pressure has fallen to 909 millibars.  This is lower pressure than Irma kicked out at her strongest.  The lower the pressure, the stronger the hurricane gets.  The only saving grace here is that Maria is not as big as Irma was, and the Eye she presents is not as wide covering so much territory.  It's a "pinhole" eye, very small only maybe 10 miles in diameter at this point.  However, for the folks in the path of that eyewall, this is BAD NEWZ.  Like a spinning Figure Skater who pulls her arms in to speed up a spin, the smaller the Eye in one of these behemoths, the faster the wind speeds are.  They may yet still increase further before landfall on Puerto Rico, but they are already at CATASTROPHIC level.

As if this was not enough, today Mexico got hit by a massive Earthquake which demolished buildings and already the official Death Toll there is at 248 and steadily rising.  Multi-story concrete buildings collapsed inside Mexico Shity, and that wasn't even the epicenter.  They just HAD an earthquake 2 weeks ago which killed 90 people.  In a gesture of Humanitarian aid, they offered to assist after Harvey hit Houston but then had to withdraw the offer after that one rolled in.  This latest one comes on PRECISELY the day in 1985 they got hit with a big one which killed in the 1000s..  They actually were staging Earthquake drills right before this one occured.  Whether this saved any lives, I don't know but one hopes it did.  It's still an amazing coincidence though and makes you wonder.

The pics so far coming out from Mexico are horrific in their destruction, although at least the whole city wasn't obliterated like Barbuda was after Irma.  The scenes aren't too much different though.

Barbuda after Irma

Mexico after the Quake

Of course, these are only THIS WEEK'S disaster Feature Stories.  Although the MSM has already left them behind, let's not forget…

Houston after Harvey

Florida after Irma

This is only the shit Mother Nature has been pitching for the last month.  We also have the "Rocket Man" Kim Long Dong over in North Korea pitching out the Missiles:

North Korean Missiles

Less visually arresting but possible more DANGEROUS than all of the above was the Data Breach at Equifax.  The Identity information for 143M "customers" of the Credit system was compromised, which basically is about every adult who has a Social Security Number.  That information is now out there in the ether for any nefarious criminal to use to impersonate your identity and set up credit lines which will be charged to YOUR credit record.

That's not enough DOOM for you this month?  Catalonia in Spain wants to hold a Referendum to Secede from Spain, but Da Goobermint of Spain doesn't want to even ALLOW the people to vote on this!  This is "Democracy" at the End of the Age of Oil and the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  From Reuters:

September 19, 2017 / 11:57 PM / Updated 2 hours ago

Spanish police raid Catalan government to halt banned referendum

Did I happen to forget that Pennsylvania went BANKRUPT this month?  They can't pay their bills.  That didn't even happen in the Great Depression!  Filling the potholes is becoming a problem.



















Not to mention of course paying a few teacher salaries, sanitation worker salaries and of course those pesky PENSIONS they are on the hook for!

Do I want to review the problems with Da Federal Goobermint Budget and Deficit here at this point?  No, first off because we are already overloaded with DOOM, second because nobody even cares about that shit anymore and knows all they will do is hike the debt ceiling again, and third because there are no good Graphics to go with that story! lol.

I could of course go on and on with the many other facets of Collapse directly confronting us at the moment, but I think this is quite enough.  From Climate to Economics to Geopolitics, there are massive threats on every front, some of them being realized in real time as we speak, but about all on the edge of the precipice of a Tipping Point.  Something's gotta give here.  BAU cannot stand up under this kind of pressure indefinitely.

After each and every disaster of the last month, POTUS Donalditry Trumpovetsky has PROMISED every disaster area under the FSoA Umbrella the FULL help of Da Federal Goobermint in Disaster Relief.  Let us do a short conservative estimate of the damages JUST to territories under the FSoA Umbrella here.

Houston:  Gotta be $100B there at least.  You're not hearing jack shit from Houston these days, because that disaster was overrun in the MSM by the succeeding ones of Irma and Marie that followed it, but to be sure this place is no where near recovered. In the direct aftermath, Da Federal Goobermint "authorities" talked about a "years long" recovery project.  Does this sound like a Katrina "recovery" or what?

Florida:  That one dwarfs Houston, since it was spread out over such a large area.  Again being conservative, that is $200B

FSoA Virgin Islands:  This one is chump change compared to the first two, $20B would probably do an OK job for rebuilding them they are so tiny with such low resident populations.  They might actually get some decent money to rebuild, since they are such important Tourista destinations in the neighborhood.  Billionaires like Richard Branson have Private Islands down there and need services and working Airports for their Private Jets. (OK, I know his island is on the Brit side of the VI divide, but he probably uses the airport in St. Croix)

Puerto Rico:  While I have been writing this article, Maria made her STRAFING RUN directly across the island as a high Cat 4, finishing off the trip by making a BULL'S EYE DIRECT HIT on San Juan.  Not a lot of information has yet come out of Puerto Rico, other than 100% of the power grid is down.  A few deaths have been reported so far, but a real death count will never be tallied up, or at least reported by the MSM.  No matter how bad the devastation is in Puerto Rico, the MSM will move on to the next disaster of the week arriving somewhere else in a World of Collapse.  I'm sure you can tack on another $230B to the $70B they currently owe and can't repay for a nice round figure of $300B there.

So all together here in the last month, the FSoA has racked up over $600B in liabilities on the balance sheet.  A $Billlion$ here, a $Billion$ there, pretty soon you are talking about real money.  WTF is the $MONEY$ to pay for all this shit supposed to come from?  This is PENTAGON territory money!  The FSoA NEEDS this money to fund the War Machine!  They can magically find this money every year to fund the military or pay off disasters in select locations but they CAN'T find $45B in Chump Change to get Pennsylvania out of the hole?  What is wrong with this picture?

The fact is of course, it is NOT Da Goobermint who is issuing out the money here, it is the International Banking Cartel, through the proxy of the Federal Reserve Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of the TBTF Banks.  The money is credit to buy the resources and products of the Age of Oil, and they will only issue it out to those who they can still maybe get some return on for it.  So Houston will get new credit, because without Houston you have no oil industry at all!  Florida will get credit, because you can't let a full state like that with retirees still paing taxes and tons of expensive real estate and golf courses go down the toilet either.  Puerto Rico on the other hand, you can probably let Twist in the Wind, like the Europeans have been letting Greece Twist in the Wind for close to the last decade.

Although most of the current models say that Maria will take a right hand turn after she does her STRAFING RUN along the north shore of the Dominican Republic over the next couple of days, there still remains a decent possibility she will track far enough west to do another STRAFING RUN along the East Coast.  That will cost a lot too, but if it targets lower Manhattan Island and Wall street, you can be sure all the credit necessary to rebuild Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase will flow out copiously to those neighborhoods.

Collapse is becoming positively BIBLICAL in scale these days, so how anyone can still be a denier absolutely boggles my mind.  It's all around you in the Newz, and it's all around you in the stores closing in your neighborhood, from Radio Shack to Sears.  This is FAST COLLAPSE.  It is ongoing as we speak.  "BEHOLD, the Mighty Hand of God!"

Let There be Light!

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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 17, 2017

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The recent two major Hurricane events and the Power Outages which have followed led me to writing this Prep article on being prepared for such eventualities with good lighting gear.  On begining the article on Wednesday, there were still around 6.5M people without power in FL, and still 200K around Houston without power as well.  Hurricane Jose is now threatening to do a Strafing Run up the East Coast of the FSoA, although at the moment a landfall doesn't seem likely.

Until you are without it, you don't think much about the necessity of lighting in industrial civilization, but it is everywhere.  Many buildings have interior rooms with no windows.  After dark, city streets become unsafe without streetlights.  Cooking your dinner if you didn't get it done before Sunset requires lighting.

Fortunately these days, unlike A/C which requires GOBS of electric power to run, lighting only requires a tiny fraction of this and you can have enough power stored in batteries of various types to stay well lit for at least a few weeks without any power generating capacity at all.  If you have only a few portable solar panels to deploy, you can pretty much go indefinitely as far as lighting is concerned in a disaster zone.  Sadly of course, after a week or two, the lack of refrigeration, A/C, potable water and flushable toilets will probably become a bigger problem than a lack of lighting.  Nevertheless, lighting ranks very high up in the list of preps you need to make either for a localized disaster or even TEOTWAWKI.

Portable lighting has always been a passion of mine, since my youngest years living in Brazil in the 1960s, when we experienced Power Blackouts probably at least twice a month in those years.  They weren't even powering all that much really, even though we lived in an upscale Penthouse apartment right off Ipanema Beach we didn't have Air Conditioning, just ceiling fans and big windows that actually opened up.  All that was being powered were the Incandescent light bulbs, the B&W 18" TV and the Refrigerator inside the apartment and then the Elevator that got you up and down from the Penthouse to the Ground Floor where you walked outside and if you had to go somewhere the Driver picked you up to deliver your Rich Fuck Little Kid Ass to your friend's house to play Cowboys & Indians or something.  Which he did with a big smile all the time because he actually had a paying job and his girlfriend was the Cook and she scarfed up all the leftover food so they got fed for free too!  They all went back to the Favelas at night to sleep except for one live in maid we had a room for next to the pantry.  She was a teenage cousin of the cook as I recall. When the lights went out though, it was NASTY!  Not only was the TV off and you had to walk 12 flights of stairs to get in and out of your digs, there wasn't even any LIGHT to find your way from the bedroom to the bathroom to take a shit or to the kitchen to get something to eat out of the fridge before it went bad.  This was very stress inducing shit for a 7 year old boy brought up in industrial culture to have to endure!  It was at this point in my life Flashlights (Torches for you Brits out there) became what turned out to be a life long obsession.

Back in those days, neither the flashlights or the batteries were very good.  The flashlights were cheap plastic or real thin metal casings, the bulbs were incandescent and didn't put out much light and the batts weren't even Alkalines, they were crappy Ray-o-Vacs that gave you maybe 2-3 hours of juice before the light dimmed to imperceptible. Duracell Batts weren't even on the market in those years.  If you kept a spare set of Batts in the Kitchen Junk Drawer, after a couple of months you were lucky if they still worked.  There were no rechargeable batts or flashlights on the market at all in those years.

Returning back to the FSoA in the late 60s, at least at home having a good and working flashlight at the ready all the time became less necessary.  The grid in NY Shity was much more dependable than that in Rio de Janeiro, there were only a few occasions I recall where we experienced blackouts of any extended period.  The only one I remember was the Blackout of July 1977, when the juice went out for 2 days.  We had flashlights and we muddled through, although some food went bad.  We never lost water or sewage though, it wasn't a natural disaster; it was a power grid problem due to lightning (so they said).  Fortunately, I was not stuck in an elevator for that one.  That has to be a fucking nightmare.

Where Flashlights did become very important again was in my adventures at Summer Camp, both the primitive one and the plush one for rich kids.  In both cases, after dark set in if you didn't have a working flashlight you couldn't even walk the trails between the buildings in the plush camp to get from the Rec Hall where the dances were held back to your cabin, and you definitely could not go out on a 2 AM RAID on the Girls side of camp without a flashlight! At the primitive skills camp, a flashlight was also a necessary item.  Sometimes we would not make good time and get caught out on the trail after dark and had to hike the last mile or two to the planned campsite in the dark.  Or we might JUST MAKE IT by dusk, but setting up the tents and cooking dinner all had to be done by flashlight.  Needless to say, every summer I burned through dozens of these disposable one-time use batteries from Ray-o-Vac and Eveready.  This was very distressing to me, since I had to buy the batts from the camp "canteen" out of money my mom deposited to my account for the summer which also had to go to buy Cokes and Almond Joy bars, which were my favorite candy snack of the era.  The more money I spent on Batts, the less I had for Cokes and Almond Joy Bars.  Fortunately when I ran out of money mom would usually replenish the account with another $20, but I usually had 2 or 3 days to wait before said money would appear in the account.

At about this time the first RECHARGEABLE flashlights came out, and I coveted one of these but never got one during the camping years.  They were rather large and clunky things at the time, and the batts were permanently installed, not replaceable.  There was no place to buy such batts in that era even if you could replace them when they wore out from too many cycles.  I think the technology on them was Ni-Cad, but not sure on that.

Flashlights gradually improved over the next 20 years or so and so did the Batts, but it was still Incandescent Light technology for the Torches, and still mainly disposable Alkaline Batts to power them although Ni-Cad rechargeables became more available in the AAA, AA, C & D sizes these lights take.  I started buying rechargeables and a charger for them at this point for my flashlights.

The real REVOLUTION in personal, portable lighting though came just in the last decade or so, combining two relatively new technologies, Diode Lights and Li-I rechargeable batts.  The current crop of lights now available is far more powerful than the old stuff, and they are being manufactured in far higher quality than the old El Cheapo Flashlights as well.  There is a big market for them amongst the Survivalist/Doomer/Prepper crowd, and some of them come in at some fantastically high prices also, you can spend over $200 for a Flashlight!  I recently spent that much for a pair of Sunglasses though, so I can't really be holier-than-thou with anyone who chooses to spend that much for a flashlight. I have managed to keep it down to under $35 for any flashlight so far in self-defense against charges of excessive spending on preps. What you get for your money here are extremely bright lights, measured in "lumens" these days.  In selling their lights, manufacturers used to boast about "candlepower" not "lumens", and you can't really do a direct conversion because they measure different things.  I have both a 1,000,000 Candle Power Spotlight and a 1000 Lumen Flashlight though, and eyeballing it the spotlight appears about twice as bright as the flashlight, although it is more of a focused beam so it is hard to tell.  Both are REALLY bright though! 🙂

The Spotlight was my first super bright light I purchased as I got into Doom and Prepping around a decade ago.  It's rechargeable and I have hardly used it but kept the charge on it by keeping it plugged in all the time, so it still works fine.  Not sure though how long it would work for if it wasn't being charged all the time.  This brings up an issue with all the rechargeable batts, is they really don't last forever and they degrade over time in their ability to hold a charge.

I have had numerous issues with devices other than flashlights as far as rechargeables are concerned, particularly those which are sealed inside devices and can't be replaced, at least by you the Konsumer.  It is another form of Planned Obsolescence.  The batts installed on many of these devices, from wireless headphones to cell phones usually wear out from charge cycles after around 2-4 years, depending on how much you use the device and how assiduous you are about keeping it charged up.  This really pissed me off with some Wireless Headphones/Mics I used for numerous of my Collapse Cafe Doomer Discussion forums you can find on the Diner You Tube Channel, including such Collapse Luminaries as Gail Tverberg, Ugo Bardi, Steve Ludlum, Tom Lewis, Paul Chefurka and others.  6 months after purchasing one of these to get rid of the wire hanging off my head in the videos, it stopped taking a charge.  No way to put a new rechargeable batt in it either!  I gambled and figured maybe I got a Lemon and bought another one.  Same thing happened to that one 6 months later too.  I got soured on devices with rechargeable batts because of this.  I still will buy them because some devices you just can't get in any other configuration, and on the sealed ones the manufacturers now have "licensed contractors" who you can bring your device to who will change the batt for you and "properly dispose" of the old one.  For a fee of course. Current Flashlights however are not this way for the most part, although some older ones like my Black & Decker Spotlight have an embedded rechargeable batt you can't easily change.  Recent models have come out though which will take either 3 Typical AAA, C, or D Alkaline one-time use batts, or a similar Ni-Cad or Li-I Bat of the same dimensions.  The difference between using these different types of batts has blurred now as well, because the Alkalines have improved a LOT since my years in Summer Camp, and boast a shelf life of 10 years!  In use, they tend to last longer than the rechargeables do, so if you don't have a source of electricity to do a recharge (like say in the aftermath of a hurricane) they will do better than rechargeables, especially if you have a few spares.  You can buy them in large packs of 20 batts in some cases, and store them in a cool dry spot in the basement (don't leave them there if you expect flooding!).

So I have both Single Use Alkalines which in my 500 Lumen flashlight will supposedly give 5-6 hours of run time, as well as rechargeables which I know through testing give about 3 hours of run time.  That is leaving the light on all the time until the light starts noticeably dimming.  You're also kind of insane if you use more than 500 lumens for practically any situation you can dream up, I do have a 1000 Lumen one but you never need that much light!  There are 10,000 Lumen ones out there too if you want to buy one!  Some of the Survival Websites advertise super high lumen lights that will supposedly Blind a Bear and provide Bear Protection, I am not sure if I believe that shit or not.  Other than that though, WTF do you need such a bright light for?  You do not need to light up the whole neighborhood, just maybe the 50' in front of you!  500 Lumens does that EZ.

The thing besides this is, even in a disaster situation you don't leave the light on full time, you switch it on and off for a few seconds or most minutes at a time when you need some bright light.  I have other more low-tech sources of low light like Candles and Kerosene Lanterns that provide enough light to move around my digs quite well without needing to turn on a high power flashlight, and really these sources of light serve most of your needs in a disaster situation, except perhaps for the initial phases when you are getting set up or dangerous times like high winds outside when you don't want to have anything burning.  In the days (weeks?) following the disaster though, candles and kero lanterns will provide most of the light you need after dark.

"After Dark" is another important consideration, because for the most part the only thing you should be doing after dark is SLEEPING!  You don't need lights when you are asleep, in fact it's easier to do when it's dark.  Here in Alaska in the summertime, sleeping can be a tough thing for many people, requiring stuff like Blackout Shades on the windows and Sleep Masks.  I am usually OK just pulling the cover over my head, but it can be annoying.  Back in the Good Old Daze before we had any sort of electric lighting, people just went to sleep after dark, because even burning Candles was relatively expensive for them.  On the other hand of course in Alaska, in the Winter you will need to use some lighting method unless you completely hibernate and sleep 20 hours a day. lol. Besides that, in the current Hi-Tech era, you have other sources of light that you run which put a glow on your digs.  As long as I have my computer monitor turned on keyboarding out the DOOM over the internet, it basically lights up the whole room, which is my main living space including the Kitchen area.  I can walk around without a Flashlight without tripping over anything quite easily, although fixing dinner by this amount of light isn't really possible except for simple things like microwaving a Potato Skin or boiling up some Ramen Noodles.  My computer is kept going in a disaster situation by a HUGE 120AH Deep Cycle Marine Batt which will drive it for quite a few days non-stop, but again I wouldn't run it non-stop during an emergency, only maybe an hour or two each evening to check up on how the repair work on the grid was going and to make some posts to the Diner to pass on my experiences during the disaster, whatever it was.

Besides the full computer screen being up and running for lighting, I also have my Smart Phone.  That usually rests next to my Pillow. and when I need to answer the Call of Nature in the middle of the night and take a trip from my bed to the Throne in the the bathroom, I just flick on the phone and that provides plenty of light to negotiate my way to the Porcelain God without tripping over anything or having to turn the lights on anywhere on the route.  Then once resting comfortably on the Throne I can surf the web with no other lights on, since the Smart Phone is providing its own light to the backlit screen. 🙂

So for me, the typical Flashlights are just a small part of the arsenal of tools of prepping that keep your lighting situation within reason, and the Flashlights themselves don't get used that much.  I turn them on and off a few seconds or minutes at a time to do specific tasks I need a lot of light for.  The way I use a flashlight, a typical alkaline battset, non-rechargeable would last several weeks, probably months without a recharge necessary.  This would not be true if you use a flashlight all the time to maneuver about something like a Cave of course. What is a bit more interesting to me these days in the department of Portable Lighting is not the luminosity or source of power, but rather the various configurations they now come in besides just your typical Handheld Flashlight.  You can get ones with Clamps that will clip onto things, Magnets that will stick them to Refrigerators, Tower Style with lots of Diodes to function as lanterns, etc.  My particular favorite though are the Headlamps.

I first became enthused on the prepper level with Headlamps when I ran into the posting of Ferfal, who chronicled the Collapse of the Argentinian Economy in 2001-2003 or so.  Headlamps provide the obvious advantage of leaving both your hands free to do other tasks, while at the same time the light from the headlamp is always directed at exactly where you are looking.

There are many El Cheapo versions of Diode Headlamps now available on the market in any Walmart Camping section, down as cheap as around $5, and I have experimented with a few of them.  They work OK for most tasks you would use a headlamp like this for, say fixing dinner or cleaning your Gun in preparation for the Invasion of the Zombies the following morning.  However, there are now better ones on the market than this, and I picked up one that has not one but THREE lights on it and claims 1000 lumens (I don't think quite that, it's a little dimmer than my 1000 lumen flashlight), has rechargeable batts which are REPLACEABLE by the Konsumer as well!  In terms of continuos run-time, I have tested this one as well, it gives 3 hours of continuous light from a full charge, but much like a handheld, I can see few circumstances I would run it continuously for so long.  In terms of price, it came in quite cheap at $25, which is comparable to the price I paid for my 1000 Lumen Aircraft Aluminum heavyweight light running on 3 D size batts, which actually came in a set of 3 for $50 including a smaller version at 500 Lumens running on C cells and a Pocket version running on 3 AAA cells as well.  All 3 are real solidly built and appear as though they will last quite a while.  The fail point on these lights is the On-Off switch, which if/when it fails is hard to replace or fix.  Over a long enough duration of time this WILL occur, so the light won't work forever, even if you can get batts for it.  All I hope for though is about 10 years of service.  I won't be above ground longer than that, if I make it that long it will be miraculous, not to mention an excruciatingly long time to die given my current condition.

Overall, Lighting is a SOLUBLE problem as we move forward in collapse, it doesn't take much JUICE to get a diode light glowing, and the diodes can still be produced quite cheaply.  A few now pretty cheap solar PV panels can keep them charged up, or if you have a generator and a little gas it won't take long to get them topped off and ready for another couple of days of service as you slog your way through the disaster of the day in your neighborhood.  Compared to the more major problems of the loss of A/C in hot climates, the loss of refrigeration of food, or the loss in sewage treatment and water pumping for the neighborhood as a whole, this one is soluble quite easily for you individually.  It is however a problem that the majority of the population ignores, evidenced easily by the fact that as soon as a disaster oncoming is announced by the MSM, all the dopey lemmings run out to buy Bottled Water and Batteries and empty the shelves of them.  This scene replays itself with every fucking hurricane, every fucking flood in advance and every fucking earthquake in the aftermath.  "OH! Shit!  I need batteries! What? Walmart is OUT?"  The deep level of stupidity in the population remains astounding to me.  You can't drop a few of these things in the closet BEFORE the MSM tells you it will arrive tomorrow?  WTF?

Don't be a complete idiot. You don't have to go completely over-the-top with prepping like me, but JEEZUS, at least have some working flashlights and extra batts around you don't have go shop for at the last minute!  It won't help you with the A/C problem in the hot climates, but at least you will be able to see where you are going as you bake to death!

The Strafing Run of Mother Nature 3: The Dimming Bulb Aftermath of Irma


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Published on The Doomstead Diner September 12, 2017

Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner A while back I wrote a series of articles called "The Dimming Bulb", discussing our decreasing ability to keep electric power moving through the copper wires of our electric grids to the end Konsumer as we slide down the Seneca Cliff on the far side of the Age of Oil.  This aspect of energy decline in availability and affordability is often overlooked in the face of all the problems that come from the transportation industry and lack of fuel for the Carz and Trux.  In fact though, it may well be that lack of ability to keep electricity moving through our metro areas with high populations and a voracious need for this power may be what brings TEOTWAWKI before lack of gas for Happy Motoring does.

Just about everything in our society depends on having electricity on demand.  To begin with, the residential konsumers of the JUICE in Florida are currently watching their freezers defrost and if they are not cooking or drying the meat they have stored, they are going to lose a lot of food to begin with.  All the large municipalities have sewage treatment plants that use gobs of electricity.  How well and how long these can be run on backup generators is an open question.

You definitely CANNOT run all the streetlights of a city like Miami or even fucking Naples on backup generators, so until you have general grid power restored those suckers are LIGHTS OUT.  Would you feel safe walking around the streets of Miami with no streetlights functioning?

A day after the Big Event everyone is breathing a "sigh of relief" here that they "dodged a bullet", but the real problems of recovering from such a broad swath of devastation remain ahead.  It remains an open question exactly how quickly Florida Power & Light can restore the grid statewide, and until they do BAU for people without power just isn't possible.  How many currently have potable water coming out of the taps?  No statistic on that is available AFAIK.  How many have had their carz ruined and can't get to work, if they still have a job to go to?  Somehow I doubt many people will be stopping at Starbucks tomorrow for a Frappucino on the way to work.  How are people who have little to no savings and live paycheck to paycheck going to pay their rent if they lose the next 2 weeks of work?

I woke up just in time this morning to see Irma make landfall in the Florida Keys here in the FSoA.  Not much in the way of Newz or Info coming out of the Keys since then.  I imagine Key West was pretty much flattened St. Maarten's style, although maybe not quite so bad since she hit in Key West at low Cat 4 wind speeds.  She picked up some translational speed from the crawl speed across the north Cuban coastline, scooting up to 14 MPH to make the rest of the trip across the straights to make a second landfall near Naples, FL on the West Coast.

This location for GROUND ZERO disappointed some Doomophiles who were hoping for a full on Eyewall decimation of the skycrapers and hotels in Miami, which did not occur.  The concept that we "dodged a bullet" here or that this event was a "dud" because Miami wasn't completely wiped out is only in the mind of the Kollapsnik who was looking forward to total devastation of that city.

What occurred instead was a much more widespread event, over the whole of the Florida Peninsula.  It could have been much worse of course, either a run up the east or west coast would have kept hurricane strength longer and brought more storm surge in.  Instead, after making landfall in Naples, Irma worked her way into the interior, more or less targeting Orlando and Disney World while the wind speeds dropped to Cat 1 and then to tropical force winds.  As I write this now, she is just south of Orlando, and points north of the former center and eye are still being hit with powerful rain bands, along with possible Tornadoes hitting along that route.

From here, she is scheduled to head north into Georgia still packing Tropical Force winds and a lot of rain is destined to fall around Atlanta with some decent remaining wind behind it, so you are going to get more flash flooding and more downed power lines in that neighborhood as well by the end of the week.  All of which speaks to the INFRASTRUCTURE problem, which is the real problem here, not the wind speeds Irma had on landfall in one particular location.  This is a behemoth which is affecting the entire Florida peninsula and beyond. The main issue already obvious tonight is that 7M Florida Power & Light Konsumers of Energy are currently without power.  This exceeds the record previously held by Wilma with about 3.5M customers without the JUICE, and that is a LOT of wire to restring over a very broad area.  Currently, Houston 2 weeks after Harvey STILL has about 200K Energy Konsumers without power, and they didn't lose near so many with Harvey, and distributed over a much smaller area.  Irma has basically taken out the electrical system of the entire state of Florida!

In any number of ways, you can say FL "dodged a bullet" here, in that it could have been much worse if Irma hadn't decided to do a Strafing Run on Cuba before heading for the FSoA.  Heading for the West Side of FL, Miami was spared the worst of a dead on hit from the eye wall, although they still lost 3 cranes, have plenty of flooding and the power is out to most of the county.  The West Coast track turned out less bad than expected also, as the Eye moved inland pretty early so Tampa/St.Pete was spared inundation from storm surge.

Less Bad than Expected was of course much less bad as what occured in St. Martens and Barbuda, and also apparently across the north Cuban coastline inclduing Havana, where stories are still sketchy from at this point but they are apparently still under a lot of water, with many of the new Tourists Hotels in bad shape.  I don't think anyone will be booking vacations in Cuba anytime in the near future.

Far as Florida is concerned, although no single location got the ULTIMATE in destruction (well, except maybe Key West which probably got flattened). 7M 12M customers without electric power is a LOT of wire to re-string!  According to the "authorities", they have 17,000 linemen including an undisclosed number from out of state ready to spring to the job on Monday Morning of getting the JUICE back to their Florida customers, who are currently sweltering in the Florida heat & humidity without HVAC while their Frozen TV Dinners go bad in the Freezer.  Considering after 2 weeks there are STILL around 200K people without power in Houston, one can figure it will take at least a month to get the full grid back online in FL, since the outages are spread over a much wider area.

Waking up Monday morning, we are in the post-coital phase of the intimate contact with Irma, and for the most part the pols are indeed crowing about how we "dodged a bullet".  Miami took some flooding, sure, but they flood all the time these days.  OK, we lost 3 cranes, but we have dozens of them!  OK, the power is still out, but no problem, the crews from Florida Power & Light will have the lights back on in a jiffy!  Back to BAU in Miami in no time! 🙂

The NEW UPDATE though is that it's not 7M without power, now it's up to 12M!  That's basically the whole fucking state of Florida, they only have a total population of 20M!  From WaPo:

That was the grateful mantra on the lips of many on Monday, even as an estimated 12 million Floridians prepared for a dark night without air conditioning in the muggy post-storm swelter. Though there was significant property damage in the Florida Keys and in some parts of southwest Florida, officials said it was remarkable that so far they are investigating just a small number of fatalities that came as the storm made landfall. It was unclear how many were directly related to the storm.

The lack of electricity across most of South Florida was the most pressing and crippling problem. Millions could remain in the dark for days or even weeks as utility companies struggle to navigate impassable roads and floodwaters to slowly restore power. Things not so good over in Naples though, and even worse down in the Florida Keys, where the "authorities" won't be letting anyone back in until at least Tuesday while they asses the integrity of all the bridges connecting this string of low-lying islands built up as Tourista Resorts over the course of the Age of Oil.  This is the "Margaritaville" neighborhorhood Jimmy Buffet made famous.  When Jimmy first hit it big time as a rock star, the first thing he did was buy himself a yacht and park it in Margaritaville as a getaway if things ever went south for him.  After that he got into planes too.  As has become obvious here, Magaritaville and the Banana Republics may SEEM like bucolic safe havens in the good times, but they have their own set of risks and overall are not sustainable in the least in the way they are currently inhabited.

Doing still WORSE than the Florida Keys are the Tropical Paradises of St. Maartens and Barbuda, which actually did get hit full on by Irma while she was a Cat 5 packing 185 MPH wind speeds.  Both islands basically LEVELLED, and now descending into chaos while their various Colonial Owners the Brits, Frogs and Little Dutch Boys scramble to organize up food aid and police protection from roving gangs of Zombies.  All three countries are sending in additional Police/Military to try and restore "order" on these islands.  Ex-Pats are huddled in their McMansions in fear of the next Home Invasion, although they probably have nothing left to eat either, since anyone stupid enough to be living in a McMansion in one of these places probably did not have a large supply of Preps either.  These are the type of folks who go out the day before a hurricane is due to hit to buy batteries and bottled water.  That is prepping up to them.

Economically, it's hard to see how these islands will ever recover to be the Retirement Paradise they were for apparently about 75,000 Brits, not sure how many Frogs or Dutch Boys.  The cost to restore Barbuda was estimated in one article to be around $100M.  There were something like 1600 people living on Barbuda when Irma came knocking on the door for a short vacation there, so that comes to $62,500 per person, which includes the poor locals who serve as maids and cooks and drivers as well as the retirees who are mostly living on pensions.  You think any of them has $62,500 to pony up here to rebuild the infrastructure?  Hell no, the Brit Goobermint will have to do it, and they can't even maintain the infrastructure on their own island these days. Beyond this, MOST if not all of the Ex-Pats whose Mailbox Money incomes drove the economy will not stay in these places now, they are going to grab the first plane flight or boat ride out of there and never go back.  Carnival Cruise lines is already sending ships for them.  The infrastructure won't be rebuilt for a long time, if ever.  The Brits, Frogs and Dutch are not going to fork over the money necessary to rebuild these places, they are total money losers now and for the forseeable future.  The income generation capability they had as Tourista destinations is gone.  All they will do is try and get the current set of Ex-Pats out of the place and then let the locals Twist in the Wind.  Best they can hope for is that their citizenship as a Homo Sap born in one of these colonies will allow them to move to the Home Country, but they don't have much money to make that trip and probably no relatives or support structure to grab onto once they get there.  They have a bit higher status than the refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, but not much.

There probably will be consolidation of these people on the islands that did not take such a bad hit, which will of course only serve to strain their resources also.  The destitute Newbies will be despised by the locals and a drain on their own limited resources.

Electric power is only part of the problem of course, MOLD & MILDEW are a bigger problem long term.  One has to remember that many of the flooded "buildings" aren't buildings at all, they are trailer homes which if they were flooded, the owner simply waits for the water to recede then puts all his stuff out to dry in the hot Florida SUN.  Except by the time he does this a few days later, the MOLD has already taken hold, and it is almost impossible to get rid of when it does in a trailer.  McHovel owners can strip out drywall and MAYBE eradicate mold, but getting it out of a trailer when it takes a grip is about impossible.  You have to TOTAL it at this point and send it to the Land of Away in some junkyard or landfill, but the people who own them and live in them usually can't afford to replace them.  Add another Human Soul to the list of Homeless People. Because this wasn't the "Ultimate Disaster" it might have been, the MSM will likely quickly forget it as they have already forgotten about Harvey & Houston despite the fact more than 200,000 people remain without power and over 20,000 are still in shelters.  There will be a new and better disaster to focus on in short order.  It will likely take quite some time to get all the electric power restored, if they can even do that before the next one rolls ashore.  Meanwhile, these repair bills don't come free you know, Da Federal Goobermint doesn't just hand out free money to fix up your local grid. The money is loaned to the Municipal Goobermint, which then has to raise taxes in order to pay for this new Bond Issue.  Problem here would be that local Municipal Goobermints in FL (and everywhere else) ALREADY can't collect enough taxes for bills they ALREADY have!  You think cutting a few more Teachers of Sanitation Workers off the payroll will pay to restring all the wire in Florida?  Not too likely.  However, for BAU to continue forward, these loans MUST be issued out, and they will be backed by the Full Faith & Credit of Da Federal Goobermint, which of course itself is ALSO quite bankrupt.

This will keep working until it doesn't.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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