Bugout Plans

Panic at the Costco

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 15, 2020

 “Who needs four horsemen when one will do just fine?”  ― Charlotte Hale, Westworld  


There are two schools of thought as to the consequences of the current coronavirus pandemic:

1) This is the BIG ONE.  The US is still in "no data, no problem" mode. Ten days behind Italy. Watch for a near-vertical spike when testing begins and denial ends.

2) This is NOT the BIG ONE. While the "infectabliity" factor oif the disease is ten times greater than the flu, its lethality is relatively low, aside from the elderly, the sicks, and the poors. Making the disease a gift to the capitalists by way of reducing overhead. "Buy the fucking dip, 'cuz nothing matters."

Most of us who frequents sites like Doomstead Diner would agree that whether you’ve been personally touched by coronavirus or not, one is well-advised to  be prepared with essentials to weather an interruption of several weeks in business-as-usual (BAU.) But many people do not, and have neither the interest nor means to prepare for much except tomorrow.. Homeland Security’s emergency and disaster prep site, ready.gov, suggests: “Store a two-week supply of water and food,”  Prepper types think in terms of months– two, six, 12 months. The site also advises checks of any prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply and a refill of nonprescription drugs, which is Prepping 101.

So with my son-in-law arriving and our household down to its last sixpack of TP, I decided to make a Costco run– one of the most desperate actions of my life. It was absolutely shithook berserkers. I had no idea I was about to take my life in my hands until an overweight woman on a motorized shopping cart decided that I was an unnecessary obstacle between her and the tinned chicken. I escaped with my skin intact, but a couple of old folks left in my wake may have be hurt.

I didn't look back.

When people fail to develop a plan about what they actually need in advance, a natural response is to snap up things they don’t need and will never use as a hedge against future uncertainty. So there is a great deal of unplanned panic buying.  Costco is crowded on weekends, and I had been there amidst crowds, but had never seen it as crowded as March 13. Many cleaning supplies were also completely plundered and not on offer. There is also sheer price gouging opportunism, as you'll see below.

Now I have a better idea why.

After six weeks of denial, dithering and deception, Fat Orange has found that you can't bully, intimidate or gull a novel coronavirus as easily as, say, a US Senator.

In the absence of clear leadership frorm an administration who views the pandemic as a distraction from its re-election marketing message, the states have taken the lead. We've decided to Cancel Everything. The effort is to limit exposures, meaning avoiding crowds and preventing the sort of spike in exposures and sicknesses that overwhelms hospitals and health care systems, as in Italy. "Social distancing" is the new watchword, and it overlays perfectly with my preferred lifestyle, which is heavy on "leave me the fuck alone."

Here's a reasonably complete list of Coronavirus closures: List of events, sports, and more canceled amid COVID-19 fears. Even NASCAR postponed a couple of events, which may sink in with the doorknob-lickers.

Covid-19 is everywhere. It will be everywhere it has not yet reached. As a "novel" virus, we have no built-in "herd immunity." And it will change our lives in ways we cannot predict.

How did it come to this?

The approach of the Trump regime to date has been, "no data, no problem." Trump's approach from jump has been to minimize the problem, mock the sufferers, game the numbers, and blame Obama. (If you'd like to check that assertion, someone already has: A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus. You're welcome.) You are quite correct to note that any lead time the US may have had has been squandered in fecklessness. Countries from Singapore to South Korea are managing to test large portions of their populations, but in the US we've administered 11,000+ and turned away God knows how many more.

The other day, I heard the governor of Ohio say they probably had 100,000 active cases working in that state alone. Today, the Ohio Department of Health believes 100,000 Ohioans are carrying coronavirus, confirmeing that. In Virginia, within a week we've gone from two reported cases to 45 reported cases and one death.  There is even a case now in RE's Alaska, The Last Great Frontier.

For his part, Trump tells a nation terrified of coronavirus that none of this is his fault. At a news conference last week, Trump lied, insulted reporters, and explicitly refused to take responsibility for his own actions when directly asked.

.At one point, Trump was asked about the admission of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that our lag in testing was “a failing.” And he was asked if he takes responsibility for this failure.

Trump’s response: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

The president claimed that “we were given a set of circumstances and we were given rules and regulations and specifications from a different time,” and this existing legal infrastructure “wasn’t meant for this kind of event with the kind of numbers that we’re talking about.”

It’s an astonishing claim, and it’s astonishing because Trump has spent the better part of his term dismantling the federal government’s pandemic fighting infrastructure.

And why can't you find your bleach, wipes, and cleaning supplies? The Hand Sanitizer You Can't Find Is In This Putz's Garage. Because someone decided to make a market out of your misery.  "Retail arbitrage" has created individuals who have found in this global panic a route to becoming real jerks, inspired by news of the potential for over 1 million American deaths to turn a handsome profit.

The current pandemic isn’t one specific person’s fault, but there are individuals who have found in this global panic a route to becoming a real jerk.

Chief among them is Tennessee’s Matt Colvin who, with the aid of his brother Noah, was inspired by news of the potential for over 1 million American deaths to turn a handsome profit.

The retired Air Force technical sergeant is the new face of price gouging, thanks to a profile in Saturday’s New York Times. Beginning March 1st, Colvin, whose primary income is reselling collected goods on sites like Amazon, hit the road and bought as much hand sanitizer as he could find. For a while, the money was rolling in. But when his prices soared, Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces rightly shut him and his fellow panic profiteers down. He estimates he now has 17,700 bottles of the virus-killing ooze, as well as hand wipes and all the other highly sought after materials you can’t find in a store right now. The cleaning products are collecting dust.

This is the kind of behavior you get when so-called "conventional morality" is replaced by worship of the free market. "Retail arbitrage" sounds so much classier than "rapacious price gouging" and "disaster capitalism."

Karma, your table is ready. 

A Movement to Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic

The absence of Federal leadership and the resultant blamestorming has failed us in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Slow reactions, public appeasement policies, and an urge to stabilize the economy to preserve re-election prospects (to say nothing of the need to impose "message discipline" via Mike Pence on the experts) are keeping them from taking the measures it takes to protect millions from this disease. It is time for us, and up to us, as citizens to take action now and do our part to "flatten the curve" and fight COVID-19.

Putting it bluntly: #Stay The Fuck Home! Wash your hands frequently! And stay away from Costco.

Stay safe.

banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Bugout Bags 2

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on February 28, 2016


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In the first installment of this series, we looked at the different types of bags available for your Bugout Bag last ditch set of preps that you can take with you, absent having a car for transportation, or gas becomes unavailable thus rendering the car worthless.

The other criteria in this analysis is the Bugout Bag arrangement is NOT designed for a Wilderness style Bugout where you plan on going out into the Bush to do your best Bear Grylls style survival attempt. For that kind of thing, you need a much different type of bag setup, something along these lines:


A travois system like this allows you to carry substantially more than with even the largest of backpacks, and unless you plan on climbing mountains is going to be negotiable through most back country bugout scenarios.  Most of us however are unlikely to be heading for the bush when TSHTF in your neighborhood, the more likely scenario is the kind of migration being undertaken by Syrian Refugees, which employs a variety of public transportation systems, mostly boats, trains and buses.




If you're a bit more well off than most of these folks, you might be employing air travel as well, in which case you need to comply with a variety of rules issued out by both the airlines themselves and the TSA.  So you want your bag arrangement to comply with those rules. In part 1 we discussed many of the choices available for bags that fit the profile and 3 basic bags meet all the criteria well, so in this part we will limit to those 3 bags and what you might want to have in them.

The choices will vary between individuals and also depend on the type of SHTF scenario, but in just about all cases will not include items that are considered essential for Wilderness bugouts, tools like Hand Axes, Campsaws and animal traps for instance.  In this type of bugout you are not aiming for a place that is off grid and primitive, rather you are aiming to get away from one neighborhood where industrial civilization has already broken down catastrophically and get to another neighborhood where it is still semi-functional and you might be able to find work, or at least not be in daily peril of having Death from Above dropped on your head by NATO bombers.

Our Industrial Society Bugout Bag set consists of the following:


               Personal Item Backpack                Carryon Wheely Bag                        Large Hard Size Suitcase

The total volume for all 3 bags comes in around 10,000 cubic inches, and we set the maximum total weight distributed through all 3 bags at 150 lbs.  In fact you'll want to try and come in under that, because besides the $25 per bag basic charge on an airplane, you also get overweight charges for bags over 50 lbs.  Alaska Airlines for instance adds a $75 charge for bags weighing 50-100 lbs.  If you do have more weight than 50 lbs (including the suitcase) in the checked bag, it's better to have a duffel folded inside the big suitcase, and then when flying distribute the weight between the two bags.  Then you'll only pay $25X2 for $50 total instead of $25+$75 for $100 total with overweight charges.  When you collect the bags off the luggage conveyor you put it all back in the hard side case for further travel around on shuttles and in taxis and on trains.  Of course, if you are going to be hoisting an 80 lb bag onto trains you better be in good shape!  lol.  Realistically, 50 lb in the big suitcase, 35 lb in the wheely bag and 15 lb in the personal item backpack is a better way to go.  The lighter you can travel, the better.

Now that we know our bags and their limitations, we can start to plan what to drop in each bag for the Final Bugout.  One important principle is to have a certain amount of redundancy with each bag, each one should have the ability to function at least partially on its own with important items like a flashlight, some extra socks and underwear, a Swiss Army Knife etc.  Of course, when travelling on the plane you have to put all your knife type tools in the checked bag, unless they are super tiny.  With the latest TSA rules, you can bring on really small knives and multitools where the blade is less than around 2".  I haven't tried this yet, but that is what the rules read on my last trip down to Oregon a couple of weeks ago.

As mentioned above, choices will vary considerably between preppers as to what should go in the bags, my selections are heavily weighted towards electronics used for web communications and photography and video.  So I have more laptops and cameras than most people would have.  Otherwise though, my selection of stuff should be pretty universal for most people.  With that caveat in mind, let's go through the contents of the bags, starting with the smallest up to the largest.

http://www.backpackstrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/leather-backpacks-2.jpgPersonal Item Backpack

  • Small Electronics: Cell Phone, chargers (AC, DC, Hand Crank), Folding Keyboard, Blue Tooth Mouse, small camera, GPS, SW Radio
  • Emergency Tools: Flashlight, Lighter, Swiss Army Knife, Small Leatherman Multi-tool, Hobo Knife, Small Adjustable Wrench, Wire Saw, Carabiners, paracord, Stainless Steel Water bottle,Mylar Emergency Blanket
  • Clothing: Xtra socks & underwear, gloves, rain hat, emergency poncho, scarf
  • Food:  Energy Bars or Gorp, Fruit, Sandwich, small hard salami or jerky


http://travel.spotcoolstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/osprey-meridian-review.jpgCarryon Wheely Bag

  • Electronics: Small Laptop, chargers, webcam, Folding Solar PV Array, extra batteries (rechargeable with wall charger), HD Camcorder, 200W DC–>AC inverter, FRS Walkie Talkies, spare cell phone
  • Emergency Tools: Flashlight, Lighter, Large Folding Knife, Large Leatherman Multi-tool, Hobo Knife, Wire Saw, Folding Scissors,  Small Socket Wrench set, Crank Up Emergency light/radio/charger, Water bladder or folding water container
  • Clothing: 1 X-tra set of clothes, pants, shirt, thermal insulated polypropylene socks, underwear, long underwear, Zip-up sweatjshirt, Winter Hat, Balaclava, Insulated Gloves,Gore-tex Rain Jacket, Sneakers
  • Cooking Tools: Folding Camp Grate, Small Aluminum pot, Sterno Cooking Fuel (except during air travel), tea light candles, 12V Immersion heater
  • Food: Energy Bars or Gorp, Freeze Dried Mountain House or Bear Creek Soup, Hard Salami

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HjjkT6-SL._UX385_.jpgLarge Hard Side Suitcase

  • Electronics: Large Laptop, chargers, Interchangeable Lens Camera, 4-channel Audio recorder, microphones, headphones, Bluetooth Speakers, 5W AC–>DC Transformer, 500W DC–>AC Inverter
  • Emergency Tools:Flashlight, lighter, Screwdriver set with interchangeable bits, Hammer with claw, Wire cutter, small electric drill & hand crank drill, Hacksaw, clamping pliers, rope, paracord, monoline filament, piano wire, bungees, wire ties, carabiners, tarp clips, Gorilla Tape, Folding Water container, Water filter
  • Shelter & Sleep: Sleeping Bag, sleeping pad, Bivouac or Tube Tent (1) Tarps (2), Aluminized Insulated Emergency Blankets (2) Folding fiberglass tent poles (3), tent stakes (8)
  • Clothing:  Xtra clothing set, Insulated Vest, Winter Jacket, snow pants, underwear and socks, sandals
  • Cooking tools: Single Burner Electric Hotplate, Single Burner Propane campstove, Propane Cannisters (except during air travel), tea light candles, sautee/fry pan
  • Food: Energy Bars or Gorp, Bear Creek Soup, Dried Rice, Dried Legumes, Beef Jerky, Hard Salami


As you can see, each bag has at least some food, and some container for water.  They all contain some fuel for cooking/heating food as well, at least Tea Light Candles.  With the large case, you can probably carry up to a month's worth of emergency food, though hopefully you don't have to access it too often and can acquire food while on your migration.

You also have emergency shelter if necessary, although again hopefully you won't need to use that either, but rather be able to shelter cheap motels, hostels, churches and even in train stations and bus depots and the like while on the move.  When you finally make it to the Promised Land (wherever that might be for yourself), you'll obviously need to find more permanent shelter of some type.

One final note for this installment, in each of the bags I listed some small items which I actually do not usually have in the bags, but rather carry on my person utilizing Cargo Pants and a Cargo Vest.  That will be the next chapter in the Bugout Bags series.

The SNAP Card Gourmet: 002

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 9, 2014


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kuroda-laughingIn this week where the Japanese have gone FULL RETARD in their Monetary Policy and Vlad the Impaler gave a Speech which actually made some political sense, making our local Politicians look like the hacks they are, it’s tempting to use my Sunday Brunch space once again to look at the Big Picture, but I also want to follow up on my first SNAP Card Gourmet episode and get rolling on the great experiment of eating on a SNAP Card budget.  So for a while here, the Sunday Brunch offering on the Diner will be all Food Related, and I’ll save ranting and analyzing the ongoing Geopolitical and Economic Clusterfuck for other dishes served up during the week.

Getting rolling on the SNAP Card Budget isn’t easy, particularly for the individual.  It’s a bit easier for a family, because you can buy more Bulk purchases, which drive down the cost quite a bit.

Eggs are an EZ example here.  If I buy eggs by the Dozen (about as much as I will usually eat of eggs in a week), around here they come in around $3/Dozen right now.  However, if I buy 5 Dozen, I get them for $2/Dozen, a HUGE 50% savings! The same is true for a 5lb bag of Potatoes vs a 20lb bag, etc. So you want to buy in bulk as much as possible, especially for Staples that have a long Shelf Life.

In order to get started on this as an Individual, my first week I am going to focus on buying Staples in medium bulk, which will insure I won’t go the least bit hungry the first couple of weeks, but it will be a mighty limited Diet overall, eating pretty close to the same damn things every day which gets very boring.  Boring is not the only problem though, you don’t want to eat the same stuff every day because to capture all the vitamins you need, variety is important.  However, for 2 weeks you can eat the same stuff over and over again and not die from Scurvy or some other vitamin deficiency. The important Criteria for Week 1-2 is to have plenty of food for the period, keep the price down below $25  to save for better foods and more variety, and begin some storage of longer lasting foods to improve variety as time goes by.

DAY 1: JP Morgan Chase just dropped $140 on my Newly Issued SNAP Card!  I recently lost my job as a NASA Engineer after they shut down our SETI program.  I have applied for a job with Richard Branson at Virgin Galactic to develop Space Tourism for the 1%, but haven’t heard anything yet on my Resume.  At least I can EAT this month though! Thank you Jamie Dimon!


My Future Job with Virgin Galactic

Until Richard gets back to me, my Food Purchases for the next 2 weeks are…

5 Dozen Eggs- $10

5 lbs Alaska Potatoes- $6

2  Green Peppers- $2

2 lbs Onions- $2

4 Heads Garlic- $2

2 lbs Spaghetti- $4

2 lbs Rice- $3

1 pckg Breakfast Sausages (14)- $2.25

2 Jars Spaghetti Sauce: $2.50

1 pckg Hot Sausage: $6

1 lb Ground Beef $5

1 Container Italian breadcrumbs- $2

2 Pkgs Bear Creek Chili- $6

For the next 2 weeks, I will be eating 2 meals a day, a Breakfast with Eggs, Meat, Potatoes & Onions, and Dinner of Spaghetti with Meatballs and Sausage or Chili with Rice.  The only real variety will be in how I prepare the Breakfasts, it is going to be very boring 2 weeks of eating.  However, it is only costing me $52 out of a $70 Budget, and I should have plenty of Potatoes and Eggs left at least, and possibly other leftovers as well.  So $18 will be conserved in this initial period.

If hungry between the Breakfast and Dinner, I will simply eat a couple more eggs or some leftover Spaghetti.

So now, let’s have some COOKING FUN with this simple set of ingredients!  I’ll start with the eggs, since there are a lot of ways to prepare them and even if you don’t have a lot of variety here in ingredients, at least you can make things different from day to day with some different preparations.

 photo PICT0600_zpsed9e854f.jpgMy personal favorite for the Morning Breakfast is very traditional, 2 Eggs Over Easy, Breakfast Meat of some type and Hash Browns.  If you can’t get hold of breakfast sausage, you could always substitute Squirrel or Earthworms for Breakfast Meat of course. For the Hash Browns, you use leftover Baked or Boiled potatoes usually, but you can also just Nuke a Potato in the microwave and then throw it on the skillet with some onions, garlic and peppers. Usually to have some potatoes available for hash browns,  I let the potatoes and garlic slow cook for 3 hours along with a couple of soy sauce packages and a ketchup package all scarfed up for free and in the larder here.  I’m not using any of my preps I BOUGHT, but I will use freebies I have collected at the beginning to add some flavor to this stuff until I can afford some decent spices.

I like Over Easy because you can thicken up the Yolk to make it like a nice Sauce if you don’t break the yolk in the cooking, which of course is something of a challenge depending on your cooking utensils.  When I first started cooking Over Easy Eggs, I would drop both in the pan, cook over medium flame until the egg white firmed up, then split them with the spatula and flip each half individually.  Here is a demonstration of this basic method, which is very Low Class overall as cooking technique goes.  lol.

After a few months of making my own breakfasts though when I was a kid, I decided I should get COOL and flip both eggs in the pan without a Spatula like I saw the Pros doing on TV.  Needless to say, I messed up numerous times doing this, and even now it is still a bit of a challenge to catch the eggs just right so the yolks don’t break on you when you do it.  However, if you really want to impress your girlfriend with how good a cook you are, if you pull this off flawlessly its just about as good for getting laid as playing the Electric Guitar. LOL. Thank God I am Left Handed, because with my now Semi-Paralyzed Right Arm, I couldn’t flip an egg with that one to save my life, and impressing Babes with cooking technique is the least of my concerns these days. LOL.

Obviously, there are many other ways to prepare your eggs, scrambled, omelletes, soft or hard boiled etc, but right now I’m limited on both type and amount of ingredients inside the SNAP budget, so you can’t do too much here.  I’m looking forward to buying some Cheese, but I want to buy in bulk for this so I am saving up for it.  In next week’s episode, I will have some more interesting egg breakfast preparations than just Eggs Over EZ.

The two main Lunch/Dinner meals are equally simple and basic, though with the Spaghetti and Meatballs/Sausage there are a couple of tricks to extend out your limited meat supply.  I’m taking 2/3 of the 1 lb of ground beef to make Meatballs, and the other 1/3 I will brown with onions and garlic to go in the Chili.

To extend the number of Meatballs I can make from 2/3rds of a pound, I smush in 2 raw eggs and some seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1/2 a cup.  This also makes the meatballs more flavorful and they have a nicer texture.  The first order of bizness is to brown all the meat in a skillet, and then drain off and conserve the fat.  Here’s that proceedure:

After you have browned and drained the fat off the meat, set it aside and then saute up whatever veggies you have to put in to the Sauce and Chili.  Veggies up here are fairly pricey, although I often get them free from friends who do gardening.  However, since many SNAP card recipients don’t have access to fresh veggies friends grow, I am not going to use those in the accounting here and just stick to what I can afford on the SNAP card budget.

Once the meat and veggies have been initially prepared, all that is left to do is throw everything into the slow cooker and let simmer around 3-4 hours.  If you do have some spices in the larder, add your favorites here!  Oregano, or Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme!

Just one Word here…PLASTICS!

Once you have your Spaghetti Sauce and Chili cooked up, you transfer it to a container and drop it in the fridge.  Each day all you cook up the rest of the week is some Rice or Spaghetti, ladle out a helping into a small pot to heat it up and then pour it over the carbs.  Alternatively, you can cook all the spaghetti and rice at once also, and then make portions for each day in Microwaveable containers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis gets us through Week 1 & 2, and there should be leftovers of some things at the end of the 2 weeks, we’ll see how much.  In Week 3, I’ll buy some more bulk goods and try to stay under $30.  With the $52 spent in weeks 1&2, that is total $82, leaving me around $58 to finish out the month with.  I should be able to put together some nicer meals in Week 4 with the savings.  What they might be depends very much on what I see On Sale in my visits to the Food Emporiums, so I can’t predict at this point.

https://s.yimg.com/ea/img/-/100127/homeless-family-400x300-15m069s.jpgOne final note as far as Doom is concerned.  Obviously, this paradigm assumes a kind of Bizness as Usual, with food available at markets and money that functions to buy it.  I am NOT here developing cuisine and recipes to live on if you cannot get hold of any food at all this way.  The objective here is to simply see how little you can spend each week on food in the BAU paradigm currently operating to help keep your overall expenses down.  it is also applicable only in 1st World countries, much of the stuff you might currently still buy simply is not available in 3rd World countries.

There are many other things you want to do to reduce total expenses also, such as moving into smaller living spaces, carpooling with friends and neighbors and limiting and consolidating trips you take that require Gasoline to accomplish.

Probably the most important way to reduce expenses is to get together with others and pool resources, such as moving in with friends or relatives, or creating buying cooperatives amongst people who live separately.

My current goal with this project is to see if I can reduce my total monthly expenses to what a Minimum Wage worker earns each month, around $1200, for a yearly income gross around $14,400.  Hopefully I can get under that so I can have Savings besides.  I will be including my monthly communications bill in this total, for my phone and internet connection, because really it is not possible to live in this economy without these things and have a semi-normal existence.  Without good communications connections, if you are a laid off IT worker for instance from NASA SETI, you can’t post your Resume on the net or have a cell phone for Richard Branson to call you at.  These are basics in the society we live in now, if you fall so far off the cliff you lose access to this, your downhill spin to homelessness will be very rapid.

As you can see from the Videos & Pics, my package of ground beef made 9 Meatballs, and I divided the sausages into 3 parts each, for a total of 15 sausage sections.  Total of 24 Meat servings, which I divided into 3 pieces each serving.  Each meal comes in around 1000 calories, and the breakfasts similarly at 1000 calories for 2000 calories/day.  Both meals are very filling, and more than I really need, so actually I end up with some leftovers.

http://www.lousfoods.com/wp-content/uploads/0076026300029_500X500.jpgThe other main Dinner meal for the 2 week initial period is very EZ, and is good for storage too, the Bear Creek Chili is dried food requiring no refrigeration.  I ended up just using one of the packages, so the other package will be used next week and reduce my expenses for week 3.  All you do to prepare this is add water to the mix and throw it in the slow cooker, brown the remaining ground beef in a skillet with onions and garlic and add that to the mixture with a can of tomato paste, then ladle it over rice to serve.  Hopefully you know how to make rice.  You boil it or steam it.  Duh.  Make as much as you need to fill out your calorie requirement for the day.

With my leftovers, all I am going to buy for next week is some stew meat $6, a large block of cheddar cheese $7 so I can make cheese omelletes, baked potatoes with cheese etc, butter $4 sour cream $2.50, flour $2.50 and cooking oil $2.  $24 total.  Together with the $52 from the first 2 weeks, that is $76, leaving me $64 to finish out the month.  I will make my first “gourmet” meal during this week, and buy more staples to fill out the larder and make more variety possible in month 2.

It is worthwhile to note this is much harder to get going for a single person than for 2 people living together.  You can get to more variety quicker with 2 people.  Also worth noting is that you can supplement a lot from Food Pantries if you qualify, but in the first month I am not considering that part of it.  Since I do not qualify for food pantry assistance in reality, I can’t get one of these boxes of food, but I know what goes in them since I volunteer at a Food Pantry.  So next month I will also buy what goes in a Pantry Box but not include what I spend on it in the food budget.

In SNAP Card Gourmet 003 next week, we will make a simple Stew and Cheese Omelettes, and maybe a Surprise Meal as well.  See you then!


The Joy of Coppicing

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Published on Tales From Foxwood on January 16, 2014


A cleanly-cut stool with a ring of moss

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Last week I cut the first section of coppice in the woodland. Having no experience of this before I employed the help of a friend who is a seasoned coppicer to see me through the first season and make sure I was doing things correctly.

What is coppicing? A lot of people are not familiar with this practice which has been employed for thousands of years in Britain and other temperate regions, so an explanation is in order. Coppicing is simply the act of cutting down certain species of hardwood trees, such as oak, hazel, chestnut and ash, while they are still young enough to regenerate. This is done in the winter, when the ‘life force’ of the trees has retreated down into the root systems. By cutting off the trunks at between 3 and 6 inches the tree stumps will start sprouting shoots when Spring returns. These shoots are then protected and allowed to grow, and in another 12 years I will be back to cut them off again – although next time there will be four or five stems instead of one.

When I first bought Fox Wood just over a year ago, it was an abandoned coppice wood with brambles growing everywhere and some of the trees in a derelict state. The woods were planted about 25 years ago when it was part of the local estate – the Trevarno Estate – which was a big local landowner with family ties stretching back hundreds of years. Locals say it used to be full of pheasants which ‘gentlemen’ would periodically come along and shoot as they were flushed out by drivers. The estate went bust and was sold to a Russian oligarch (so I’m told) and the small parcels of woodland were sold off to individual buyers. Fox Wood is about six acres, with a two acre field attached. You can see it shaded in blue of the Google map image below.

A view of Fox Wood from above

Work has not yet finished on the coppice this year. The next thing I need to do is make some tracks for a horse to pull the logs into the field. Until I know exactly what to do with the wood I need to keep the trunks as long as is reasonably possible. The maxim is ‘Keep it as long as you can for as long as you can’. If I cut it all into short lengths I might miss up the opportunity of selling it as building materials. A friend knows someone with a horse trained to extract wood, so hopefully I will be able to borrow it for a day.

Once the wood has been extracted then I need to surround the whole area with fencing. This will be quite a big job and pricey too. I have never seen a deer in the area but locals say there are a few muntjac (a small Chinese deer) roaming around. If a deer were to graze on the new shoots in the Spring then this would be disastrous and might result in the death of all the trees. Therefore deer fencing has to be erected.

Rabbits are another problem. There are hundreds of them in and around the woodland and so I will need to put up a rabbit-proof fence and dig it into the ground all around. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t stop there: there are rabbits actually living inside the area that will be fenced off. Thus, I need to contact a local known as ‘the ferret man’. He will come over with his ferret and put it down the rabbit holes. The rabbits will then be chased out and into nets, where they will meet their end. I’m told he will accept payment in rabbits, so it won’t cost me anything.

Unfortunately, due to laws preventing people from living in the woods they manage it is necessary to erect high fences to protect the new coppice. In times past the woodlander would have been able to erect his bender within the coppice and thus keep away any deer, which have an acute sense of smell. I’m told they are scared off by the smell of human urine and so will be encouraging any people working in the woods to head to the boundary when they feel the call of nature.

The reason the coppice is cut in large sections is to let in light. If we were just to cut a few trees every here and there the canopy would soon close over the stumps and no light would be available for the new shoots. They would die. By cutting half an acre at a time light is allowed to flood in and all of the stumps can regenerate at the same rate. To most people it looks like environmental devastation – but in fact it is quite the opposite. The trees have been planted relatively close together to encourage them to compete for the light. This makes them grow straight, and it also makes them grow quickly.

The half acre has been clear cut to allow light in
The actual work of coppicing was done with chainsaws. In the right hands these are invaluable tools and can save a huge amount of time. I expect chainsaws to be used even when oil is in short supply, but eventually their use will probably fizzle out and people will have to revert to the old ways of cutting wood. The two-man bow saw is the best tool in this respect, and I’ve heard reports that they can be almost as fast a chainsaw – although you’d have to have a very fit and strong individual on each end of it!

When Spring comes the coppiced area will be covered with an abundance of wild flowers as long-dormant seeds suddenly find themselves with a supply of sunlight. This will attract a lot of different species of insect, including many butterflies and moths, which in turn will attract birds and other predators. I’ve read that coppiced stands often provide refuge for several species of rare butterfly, bee and bird. I’ll be keeping my eye on this and will post some more pictures in the spring. Here’s a picture of what it should look like:
A coppiced section of woodland in spring – image from www.wildgardens.co.uk

In twelve years, when I come to coppice this section again, there will be five times as much work as each stump will have sprouted multiple trunks. In their uncut state the young trees are called maidens and their trunks can often be twisted and gnarly. The new growth will be a lot straighter and easier to work with, but for now I have a lot of maiden trunks to put in the wood store. What will I do with them?

Selling them as long logs for construction is the easiest way to make money out of them – but also the least profitable. The more processing I can do, the more I will earn. As a bare minimum I will be cutting them into lengths approximately six feet long and then splitting them lengthways with a tool called a froe. A froe is a bit like an axe that you hammer down through the grain of the wood. These split pieces of chestnut can be sold or used as fence palings. Myself and another woodland neighbour are building a large coop in which to keep chickens, so quite a few of these will be used for that.

But generally speaking, most of the wood from this year’s coppice will be used for construction projects on my own land, including raised beds, a wood store, a compost toilet and Hugelkultur beds.

Other pieces will be sold to various local greenwood craftspeople I’ve got to know since we started up a coppice and woodland skills network in the local area (more on that in another post). Some will be sawn up as logs for our own use and for sale. With the price of natural gas and electricity increasing so much, many people are installing wood burners to heat their homes, and the price of logs is rising in response. It’s something of a waste to use a high quality wood such as chestnut or oak for fuel, so I will try to minimise this and use only the small diameter branches. I’ll probably also make bundles of faggots, which will burn well in our new wood burner that is due to be connected to the central heating system in our house this summer. I will also be making charcoal with many of the offcuts using an old oil drum later in the year.

Wood is also a de facto currency. I have many offers of people willing to work on the land for a day in return for a car boot full of logs. The woodland effectively pays for itself. What’s more, I’ve planted around 150 young trees, including a few birch which will be used for firewood and making birch sap wine. I will have a further 300 oak saplings planted from seed to use in hedges or sell to other people establishing woodlands.

Fox Wood, as it lies in the landscape of west Cornwall

Whatever wood is left will sit and season in the woodshed. I haven’t built the woodshed yet, but it’s on my list of jobs to do in 2014. One of the many good things about chestnut and oak is that the natural tannins in the wood preserve it for up to 50 years without the need to treat it with chemicals. I can build my woodshed at leisure in the spring or summer. In the meantime I will continue to learn more greenwood skills so that I can increase the value of my wood products. Ben Law, in his excellent book The Woodland Way, says that you can increase the value of your wood 800% by making bespoke green wood furniture, gates and other things. This is something I fully intend to do. I’ve already been taught how to make a long bow (see below) – so making my own shave horse is another job for this year.

Greg works a piece of ash with an axe to make a long bow

Working in a woodland setting has to be one of the most enjoyable ways to make a living. It seems incredible that this time last year I was sitting at a desk in a city and dreaming of doing what I am doing now. I see coppicing as one of the most sustainable ways to make a living. Woodland can be bought quite cheaply, compared to agricultural land, and trees require very little maintenance; they just grow! In today’s industrial system woodland is undervalued quite substantially and is priced in terms of the extractable timber. This represents quite an opportunity for anyone looking to make a sustainable living. Even a patch of old spruce or fir is packed with opportunities. The conifers can be cut down and used as construction materials or firewood while you plant up the cleared area with broadleaf species – and it doesn’t need to be that big, two or three acres or more should be plenty (see this, for example). And despite what I wrote above, there are ways in which you can live perfectly legally in your woodland. You’ll have to be quite inventive to start with, but the law will either have to change or it will break down soon enough as planning departments struggle with cutbacks and are overwhelmed with people inventively living on their own land.

There can’t be many easier ways to capture the sun’s rays and turn them into energy and useful products. Furthermore, by clearing glades you can plant forest gardens to grow annual vegetables, fruit and nut trees and many other things that will provide for a subsistence living. People are an important part of the woodland ecology and I look forward to the day when the woods are filled with people again, harvesting timber, making products and burning charcoal. That is truly a future to look forward to.

Woodlanders and crafts people get-together at Fox Wood to share a bowl of hot chilli and a jug of hot cider

The Light Brigade of Doom

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 22, 2013


Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

A while back when we got going with our Podcasts, one of our first Guests to discuss the oncoming DOOM was Guy McPherson of Nature Bats Last.  In the Taxonomy of Doom Scenarios, Guy fits under the rubric of what I call “Uber Doom“.  Guy projects a high likelihood if not certainty of Near Term Human Extinction inside the next Century.  I myself fit under the rubric of “Full Doom“, which projects out a pretty massive knockdown of human population, but not necessarily an Extinction Level Event for this species.  The conversations we had with Guy were entertaining and informative, I’ll include them here for folks who have not listened to them as of yet.

The relationship the Diner has with NBL sorta simmered on the Back Burner until recently, when Guy published a couple of my articles on NBL.  As a result of that, I found out about technical problems Guy was having with NBL, and offered our help in resolving them, under the theory Doomers should stick together even if they don’t have precisely the same spin on the end game here.  Result here is that as of today, there is a New NBL on a New Server, and we hope it works real well for the Uber Doomers on that site.

In publishing my spin on NBL though, in commentary I have already been subject to quite a bit of derision regarding my philosophy and how I am approaching the oncoming problems we face.  As opposed to most websites where my views are considered extreme and TOO DOOMERISH, on NBL I am not Doomerish ENOUGH!  Rather than answer each and every individual comment that has been made inferring that I am unrealistic, in denial, not conversant with all the issues etc, I thought a better idea would be to write an article looking at the different Attitudes that are extant among people who are aware of the issues we face here.  In  so doing, I hope to clarify this, and eliminate or at least reduce the number of comments my articles on NBL elicit which are so far off the mark it isn’t funny.  Assumptions being made by many of the commenters are entirely wrong, made only because they have their own  ideas and spin and have not looked at all at how we approach these issues on the Diner, and now on SUN :icon_sunny:as well.  So let me now elucidate the problem as I see it overall.

Once you grasp hold of the many problems we face coming down the pipe here, not the least among them being a Non-Zero likelihood of Near Term Human Extinction, there are a few way you can react to this:

1-Party Like it’s 1999.

Party like it is the End of the World, well, because it IS the End of the World!  Nothing can be done about in anyhow, so go out in Style.  Of course, if the world does NOT end on your timeline and you spend all your money partying it up BEFORE TEOTW comes, the succeeding years will be more difficult than they otherwise might have been.

2-Starship Hale-Bopp

Queue up for the next Comet passing reasonably near Earth and attempt to Hitch a Ride on the Starship trailing it.  Since we don’t have enough decent Spaceships available at a reasonable Ticket Price to make Earth Orbit, you will need to divest yourself of your Corporeal Baggage and try to Thumb them down in Spirit form as they blow by here.  This of course was the Heaven’s Gate  meme, and who knows maybe it worked?

Heaven’s Gate was an American UFO religion doomsday cult based in San Diego, California, founded in the early 1970s and led by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1927–1985).[1] On March 26, 1997, police discovered the bodies of 39 members of the group who had committed mass suicide[2] in order to reach what they believed was an alien space craft following the Comet Hale–Bopp, which was then at its brightest.[3]

3- Bemoan it on the Internet

Relieve your frustrations through Daily Posting on a variety of Blogs and Forums dedicated to TEOTW ideas.  Complain about the sad state of Homo Sapiens, greed and stupidity while you while away the days, weeks, months or years it takes until the Internet Goes Dark.  We do our share of this on the Diner, so I can’t say this is without value.  It has a cathartic effect to do some venting on this issue.  However, you can overdo a good thing here, and miring yourself in dismal thinking is not real productive overall.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BhaQdAImYwE/Ugptn4XtgrI/AAAAAAAAhz0/WUXxe3OJrGQ/s1600/Cocoa_Puffs_shirt_link.jpg4- BAU Denial

Look at every Fact & Factoid available, and construct a rationale for why it won’t actually happen, then just go on living your normal life convinced you have resolved this issue and the Doomers obsessed with it are Fruit Loops or Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

5- Take on the CHALLENGE!

Figure if TEOTW is a possibility, challenge yourself to see just how long you can actually keep going!  Why be the First to Die here rather than the Last?


I am in the Door #5 Camp, despite the fact in the original Let’s Make a Deal, Monte only had 3 Doors available.

Why pick Door #5?

Well, first and foremost, there is no Absolute Guarantee that we will get complete wipeout.  When Toba went Ballistic, 10K Human Souls made it through that one.  Second, for the AGW crowd, there is no absolute proof you get runaway warming that does not reverse even with CO2 levels at 1000 ppm, and right now we are only at around 400.

First of all, how much does atmospheric CO2 rise if you add 3000 GtC to the system in a (geologically) short period of time? Zeebe et al. did this calculation and the answer is about 700 ppmv – quite a lot eh? However, that is a perturbation to the Paleocene carbon cycle – which they assume has a base CO2 level of 1000 ppm, and so you only get a 70% increase – i.e. not even a doubling of CO2. And since the forcing that goes along with an increase in CO2 is logarithmic, it is the percent change in CO2 that matters rather than the absolute increase. The radiative forcing associated with that is about 2.6 W/m2. Unfortunately, we don’t (yet) have very good estimates of background CO2 levels in Paleocene. The proxies we do have suggest significantly higher values than today, but they aren’t precise. Levels could have been less than 1000 ppm, or even significantly more.

During the PETM, temps on Earth rose significantly higher than today, and CO2 also despite no Industrialization we know of.  Nevertheless, the Earth was able to recover and all life was not extinguished.  So there is also a Non-Zero possibility that this time again the Earth recovers; if this is the case all you as HS has to do is figure out means to make it through a few tough millenia to come.  When the Going Gets Tough, the Heliopaths* get Going!

(*Heliopath is my terminology for folks involved in the SUN Project.  “Following the Path of the SUN” :icon_sunny:)

In terms of some of the other Door Choices, I find it a waste of time to be getting all bent out of shape over whether HS is responsible for this or not.  We have always been living on Borrowed Time, another Supervolcanic event or another Large Asteroid Collision is a GUARANTEE inside the next 100K-300K years at the outside.  All the geological signs I see point to a near term GW effect regardless of what HS did or does in the future.  The Yellowstone Caldera IS filling with magma, and the earthquake swarms there ARE on the increase. All you need to do to see how much geotectonic activity is increasing is go review the charts produced by DLindquist:

So we were going to face this stuff down sooner or later no matter what Homo Sapiens did during our existence on Earth.  Life here was always a temporary thing, just as your own corporeal existence is a temporary thing.


So, in essence I consider myself a fortunate man, I got to be alive at the CUSP of what is likely to be either an ELE or a VERY serious Bottleneck of Population on the order of the Toba Cataclysm 75,000 years ago.  If 10,000 Human Souls could make it through that one, it can be DONE AGAINI have a challenge before me only one other generation in the last 75,000 years of human history ever faced before.  That is not just the challenge of a Lifetime, it is the challenge of MILLENIA of Lifetimes.

The Toba eruption or Toba event occurred at the present location of Lake Toba about 73,000±4,000 years[6][7] ago. This eruption was the last of the three major eruptions of Toba in the last 1 million years.[8] It had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as “mega-colossal”), or magnitude ≥ M8; it made a sizable contribution to the 100X30 km caldera complex.[9]Dense-rock equivalent (DRE) estimates of eruptive volume for the eruption vary between 2,000 km3 and 3,000 km3 – the most common DRE estimate is 2,800 km3 (about 7×1015 kg) of erupted magma, of which 800 km3 was deposited as ash fall.[10] Its erupted mass was 100 times greater than that of the largest volcanic eruption in recent history, the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which caused the 1816 “Year Without a Summer” in the northern hemisphere.[11]

The Toba eruption took place in Indonesia and deposited an ash layer approximately 15 centimetres thick over the whole of South Asia. A blanket of volcanic ash was also deposited over the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian and South China Sea.[12] Deep-sea cores retrieved from the South China Sea have extended the known reach of the eruption, suggesting that the 2,800 km3 calculation of the erupted mass is a minimum value or an underestimate.[13]

…The Toba eruption has been linked to a genetic bottleneck in human evolution about 50,000 years ago,[28][29] which may have resulted from a severe reduction in the size of the total human population due to the effects of the eruption on the global climate.[30]

According to the genetic bottleneck theory, between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, human populations sharply decreased to 3,000–10,000 surviving individuals.[31][32] It is supported by genetic evidence suggesting that today’s humans are descended from a very small population of between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs that existed about 70,000 years ago.[33]


I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain’t gonna lose. -Freddie Mercury

Not if you Party like its 1999 will you be there after the Zero Point though.  Not if you Hitch a Ride on Hale-Bopp will you be either.  Nor will it do you a whole heck of a lot of good to just bemoan the TEOTW on the Doomstead Diner or Nature Bats Last or Deny what is coming and live life BAU EITHER!

brigade460x276Your ONLY chance (which may be very small, but still Non-Zero) is to TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE!  What’s the worst that can happen?  You fail and die, but that would have happened anyhow, so not a downside risk in this case.

For those of us involved in the SUN Project :icon_sunny:, we will not go down without a fight.  We will NOT GIVE UP.  We will not QUIT until the Fat Lady Sings.  The very WORST that happens is we Die With Honor, doing what is right.  BEST case, we are the 10,000 who make it through the Zero Point, as another group of Homo Sapiens did 75,000 years ago when things looked REALLY BAD and the Skies Went Dark. We Ride into the Valley of Death Unafraid.  We are the Light Brigade of Doom.

I leave you today with the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The Charge of the Light Brigade


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.


Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Skilling up for the Future

Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on December 15, 2013

Greg demonstrates how to turn a branch into a longbow
Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner
As the end of another year hovers into view and the long dark evenings invite reflection we naturally start to ask ourselves what the next year will bring. On the economic front, things don’t look as rosy as we are told they are. The global economy is still running on the fumes of smouldering credit notes and the only difference now is that political and financial elites are telling us via a compliant media that the economy is fixed. Yet debt levels in all sectors are continuing to rocket and the feeling remains that this fragile economy is like a huge and intricate sculpture made of glass and could shatter with the slightest tap. Where will the tap come from? Will it be a China/Japan war? Will the ascendent Islamic militarism spill over from Syria and Iraq and come home to haunt the perpetrating nations? Or could it be a relatively minor black duck event, such as Slovenia’s credit collapsing and causing a cascading failure?

Who knows, is the short answer, but things cannot keep on grinding along as they are now. I now find myself wishing that things would speed up a bit before it gets much worse. With the signing of the latest ‘free trade’ agreements last week we now have the spectre of trans-national corporations being able to sue national governments for ‘lost profits’ based on national policy. A few have been quick off the mark to launch legal suits against countries and just in the last few days we have seen a Canadian gold mining company sue the Costa Rican government for protecting its rain forests, Philip Morris  suing Australia for trying to stop teenagers from smoking and the nuclear power industry suing Germany for phasing out nuclear power.

It will surely only be a matter of time before the likes of Monsanto sue European countries for protecting their citizens from the failed experimental poison that is GM food. Signs that they are getting ready to do so are evident if you look for them in op-ed articles in the press. So, to me this seems like the end game of out-of-control capitalism. People might be meek and compliant in the United States but in many corners of Europe, South America and Africa this is decidedly not the case. Might we soon see the whip back as people, indebted and impoverished, can take it no longer? Is a revolution on the cards? I’ve been reading about the history of Poland recently and that country would seem to be a contender for launching a revolution – the Poles don’t take much crap.

These are big questions and it’s interesting to speculate on the weighty matters of our age – yet it’s easy to get caught in the headlights, transfixed on ‘the news’. But from a personal point of view, being well informed about world events doesn’t amount to much of a survival strategy – we need to do other things too. Knowing the intricate details of how hedge fund managers are looting retirees’ pensions might be interesting on a cerebral level but it won’t feed you or keep you warm.

And so I find myself reflecting on what I have done and learned that is of practical value in 2013, and what I need to do next year.

Firstly, a big part of my year has been taken up with my piece of woodland. Having only owned it a year I’ve done what all good permaculture manuals tell you to do: I’ve observed it. This has been useful. I now know which bits get the sun at different times of the year, what kind of soil I have (good, with a ph of 7), where frost pockets form and what kind of animals and plants thrive there. This has all been very useful but I couldn’t just sit there looking – time is pressing! – so I was also doing and learning. I’ve learned an awful lot about trees and the art of coppicing, and I’ve learned about soil and how to enrich it on the one acre field that forms the centre of the woodland.

But what should I do with all that wood? It is mostly oak and chestnut, so it is far too valuable for firewood. Instead I have been learning to make things with it and thus add value to it as much as I can. I went on a bow making course last week with my friend Greg Humphries. He showed me how to use an axe to sculpt a piece of ash into a flexible bow. I also learned how to use a shave horse, a drawknife and a froe – and I’ve had a local blacksmith make me up a set of these tools that should last me a lifetime.

A longbow is potentially useful (and very dangerous!), although for the time being I’m sticking to my .22 air gun for the rabbits and squirrels which ruin everything I try to grow there (my descent from mild-mannered ex-vegetarian to ‘take no prisoners’ small mammal hunter was swift). As someone put it to me ‘You can either have squirrels, or you can have a woodland.’ And given that I am planting at least a hundred trees – mostly fruits, nuts and berries – next year, I can’t afford to share them with invasive rodents no matter how cute they look. Especially when they taste so good in stews.

Next year I am planning to learn how to make charcoal with the offcuts. I’m also planning to make rustic garden furniture, fence posts and a set of trestles for my wife’s upholstery business. Furthermore, I’m inoculating some piles of logs with different types of fungus to sell to local fancy restaurants, attempting to plant mistletoe seeds into the boughs of some large oak trees to sell at Christmas, and about 20 other small money making ideas that I’ll detail later on.

I’ve learned to identify locally edible wild plants thanks to the delightful Rachel Lambert, who has taken me on a couple of coastal forays. She also showed me which seaweed is edible and I figured out for myself how to harvest and cook mussels and limpets, of which there are millions here. I haven’t been out mackerel fishing yet, but that’s something I plan to get up to speed with next year, along with learning to sail.

I’ve ramped up my home food and drink production this year, making several different wines for the first time (the dandelion was a great success, but the plum was a disaster). Next year I aim to make 100 bottles – not only are they good to drink but they make great barter items and presents. I’ve also made sauerkraut for the first time, and have been experimenting with different sprouting techniques for pulses and beans. I’ve also been experimenting with making cheap, nutritious food using as little energy as I can, and spend at least two hours a day cooking. Next year I’m making a straw box for slow-cooking (I have also picked up an old pressure cooker and a recipe book from the early 1980s). I’ve given up eating wheat after reading Wheat Belly – probably the best thing I have done in ages as it has cured all manner of ills at a stroke.

Community is probably more important than anything else when things start going wrong, so I’ve been trying to get to know as many interesting people as possible in the nine months I’ve been living in Cornwall. I’ve joined the local Transition group (Transition Penwith) and can count on meeting people who ‘get it’ through that. I have met some interesting people through our children’s school and have been a member of various other groups, such as a Tai Chi club. Furthermore I’m now working in a shop one day a week at the local organic farm – Bosavern Community Farm – and was even nominated to be a board member there (but decided to pull out – long story). This part of Cornwall is packed with people who are making their own – often unusual – way in the world, which is why we chose to live here in the first place.

Furthermore myself and the folks who own the woodland next door to ours have put together a network aimed at connecting woodland folk in west Cornwall who are interested in reviving coppicing and orchard arts. We were partly pushed into this by local NIMBYs, suspicious of what we ‘hippies’ are up to in the woods, but it has got off to a great start. At our first meeting we thought only a couple of people would turn up, but in the event there were 16 – and a further 50 expressing interest! It seems that there are a lot of people out there who are keen to see a revival of woodland work as part of a more sustainable future.

All of these networks, activities and groups eat a lot of time, meaning that I haven’t been able to devote much to another trans-national project that has kicked off – the SUN (Sustaining Universal Needs) Project – initiated by RE at the Doomstead Diner along with a few of this blog’s regular readers and commentators William Hunter Duncan and Lucid Dreams. This is another exciting JDI (just do it) project that isn’t encumbered by bureaucratic red tape or idealogical orthodoxy.

All of this relates to another skill that has been more or less forgotten by most people in this day and age – democracy. For a democracy to work properly it has to be made up of informed and engaged participants. Yet most people today think that democracy is something clever and smart that we export to the oil-rich countries we have just invaded, a bit like Burger King and KFC. Indeed, it has become almost interchangeable with ‘capitalism’. This idea of democracy has to be rooted up and thrown on the weed pile along with the other weeds such as ‘technological salvation’ and ‘ infinite economic growth’ and ‘efficiency’. Being part of a group and/or participating in local political debates is therefore of prime importance if we want to have a better future. It should be something they teach at school.

So, there are lots of skills to learn, and the thing is that you can’t learn them all. Anyone who tries to become completely self sufficient will either have to be very very capable indeed (and still will have to live a very frugal life) or will learn the hard way that no woman is an island.

So, those are my skills, tell me yours.

Earth Moving

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

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Published on Epiphany Now on December 3, 2013

ninja fox

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I’ve got a lot of opinions about the world.  Opinions about what is real and what is propaganda in service of the Matrix.  Opinions about spiritual matters and meaning, about the best way to raise children, how a hole is best dug and what a good beer should taste like.  Opinions are like assholes in this world full of them.  So, due to my particularly cranky, old jaded man like attitude towards the state of affairs in the world, I’ve decided to just start being the change as an MO.  So expect more pictures and videos in the future…and probably less opinion about the world.  Less social criticism…more doing as William Hunter Duncan has recently propounded.

So I dug that swale out and then it rained.

I know I sound like an idiot, but I can assure you that I am no idiot.  When I moved to this property in February of 2012, all that you see in the above two videos, at least in the fenced in section, was nothing more than bermuda grass, dandelions, and wild garlic that was all cut on the lowest setting with a riding lawn mower.  I have grown lots of food, and I have imported loooooots of free biomass.  The system is maturing all around.  I’m growing soil and capturing rain water and sun energy.  It’s beautiful.

I’d say, outside of being here everyday for my family, the best part about dropping out of the Matrix is the ability to live my life how it is supposed to be lived.  My wife told me the other day that she had read a blog written by a hospice nurse about the most common regrets that patients on their death beds have.  The most common was regret for not having the courage to live their lives on their own terms, and not due to the worlds social and programmed expectations.  That is what I’m doing.  I’m living my life based on my moral north, my bliss, doing what I’m meant to do.  My wife and I are fulfilling our purposes together, with children, and it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever participated in.

I ask you, dear reader, what is an hour of your life worth in dollar figures?  Not just one hour, but an endless precession of hours, until they end that is, upon your death.  What is that hour, just before you die, worth?  Personally I am incapable of putting a dollar amount on even my last second, much less hour.  This is where you must put meaning into perspective.  I’ve met the reaper in person, up close and personal.  I know his inevitability, and the hubris created between his inevitability and our pride and selfishness.  The irony is that the most selfless thing you could possibly do is to undergo your own self actualization.  Because it’s true that you cannot possibly expect to be loved if you can’t even love yourself.

I believe the job that we all must do, for the world, for our children, and for ourselves, is to fulfill our purposes.  Not to blindly follow the programming that tells us that a job is the highest good.  Make your own damn job, and that job is to do what you are called to do, and not what you are paid to do.  The money will come, as if by magic, and you might find that the Stones were right, you’ll get what you need.  Do not be afraid to live your life for your highest purpose.  After all, there is a high probability…if you live your life on the terms of others, that you will regret it on your death bed.

Winter Garage Greenhouse

                                                                                                                                                                             Off the keyboard of William Hunter Duncan

 Published Originally @ Off The Grid in Minneapolis

Discuss this article in the  Diner Forum

Three scrap sliding glass doors, recycled lumber and some acrylic glass I found in a dumpster. The rack is covered with 3 and 4mil poly sheeting, a greenhouse within a greenhouse.



This old radiator I inherited from the blogger @ Eighth Acre Farm. The idea is, one more thing to collect solar energy. The effect is probably not negligible, but probably not that effective. It should be facing the other way, the long side facing the sun, but there isn’t room.



The view from inside the garage. I had been pulling the rack inside every evening, as it has wheels. But the garage tends to be like an icebox, and it occurred to me, perhaps the concrete of the driveway is radiating heat somewhat during the night. I’ve been leaving the rack outside now in the greenhouse, just opening it up to add water, every third day.



The temperature at floor level inside the rack seems to stay around 40 degrees, no matter what, cooling somewhat in the evening when it is exceptionally cold outside: 3F the lowest outside this year. The bottom of the rack is covered with a sheet of 1 1/2in, rigid pink insulation.



The lowest of the four racks. Below are four bulk cooking oil, plastic containers, filled with water. They should be painted black (but I keep forgetting to buy black paint.) Otherwise, solar energy seems to pass through without heating the water much. Though, it seemed to me that of the four racks, this lowest one sprouted second, though now there does not seem to be much difference between the lower three racks, in terms of growth. In fact the plants in this lowest rack appear more yellow now than those of the upper three racks.


Early sprouts. I have seen the soil temp on days when there is sun all day, @ 60F. Lately though we have seen much sun in the morning, overcast most of the afternoon when the sun is strongest. Even on cloudy days when the temp outside is in the 20’s, I have seen the soil temp @ 50F. Here it is actually lower than the air temp at the bottom of the plant rack, about 38F, @ 11am on a sunny morning after three or four days of sun in the morning, cloudy the rest of the day.




The racks are about 10in wide, 70in long and 3.5in deep. I filled each with 3in of potting mix, scattered spinach, lettuce and lambs quarter seed, about 30 different varieties, and then applied 1/2 inch of homegrown compost. Here are several different kinds of plants sprouting, on the second level. Spinach, lettuce and lambs quarter appreciate cool temps.



The real magic seems to be on the top rack, about twice the growth, about twice as fast, the plants appearing much healthier. Heat rising, of course. I imagine the soil temp here is more moderate, and warmer generally.




I planted, the second weekend in November. Three weeks of growth, slower than it would be, planting outside in the spring, but not by much, at least not here @ the top level. We are still three weeks away from Solstice, when the sun is lowest in the sky, so growth is not going to speed up. After Solstice, there might be a gradual increase in sunlight, but temperatures outside on average will be less than they are now, for the following two months, January and December.  In March the greenhouse will be for starting the spring and summer vegetables.


While I have heated this greenhouse using nothing but solar power, my intention is to insulate the garage, and build a rocket stove, pulling the racks inside over-night. Burning small amounts of wood, I hope to moderate overnight temperatures around the rack, to moderate temps inside it. At present, because the racks are shallow, soil temperature fluctuates too radically 60-38F, considerably more than it would in the garden in the spring. Heating the garage even slightly, overnight, would help maintain soil temp generated by the sun, putting less stress on the plants, making consistent growth more likely.


Otherwise, I am happy with the progress. It would have been better to start a month earlier, at the beginning of October, so the plants would not be at such a tender stage when the temperature dropped outside consistently below freezing. Still, I’m hopeful that I will have some edibles by the Solstice, with slow growth throughout the winter.

Slow Cooking, Local Food Production and Barter Economics

Off the keyboards of RE & Nobody

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Published on Reverse Engineering October 13, 2011


Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

http://www.moonmoth.net/paelks/history/wayback.jpgNormally during the week these days I  post up articles from our Cross Posting Blogger friends, since I don’t have time anymore to write more than 1 a week these days as we get the new Sustaining Universal Needs website set up.  Very SLOW week though in terms of new Blogs from the regular Cross Posters, so tonight I went back into the Reverse Engineering archives to dig up some Oldie but Goodie material which is not generally available for reading (only our Founding Members have access to those archives).I went back in Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine 2 years just about exactly to dig up this series of posts I wrote on Slow Cookers and how you can use them to enhance your Food Security.  Even MORE true today than it was back then.  Hope you like the Blast from the Past.RE

Small Electric Cooking Appliances

Just back from my weekly Prep Run, this week’s purchase was a small 1.5 Qt Crockpot on sale during the month of “Crock-tober” for just $10. Why buy a small electric cooking appliance like this when the electric grid might collapse in the next 5 years?

Thing is I don’t think it will collapse that fast, at least not here in the FSofA. I think there is a lot of room for Rolling Blackouts, Brownouts and of course higher prices forcing rationing.

So, why the small Crockpot? I chose the smallest size because I’m single and 1.5 quarts of Rice, Beans and Beef Jerky is about as much as I would consume in a day. The thing about Crocks aka Slow-Cookers is that unlike a Microwave or even Hot Plate, they have a very low power draw, in fact I can power it with my Inverter and bank of Batteries. Of course if I used it that way I’d likely run down my power faster than my PV cells and Wind Turbines could replenish it, but in a short duration blackout I could do that for a couple of days I’m sure. I’ll have to calculate up the Amp hours at some point to get a real estimate, or more likely just wait until the problem arises and see how quick it eats up the juice.

In the most likely event of rolling Blackouts and Brownouts, say your neighborhood gets power twice a day for maybe 3 hours. This is when you cook up your stew. The low power consumption means even if your house is only getting say 10 Amps you’ll still be able to use it without blowing the fuses. Chopping each portion of the grid up into Quarters this way would conserve a LOT of power.

http://gregandcathsadventures.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/rio-de-janeiro-024.jpgAnother good small electric device to have is a small electric Tea Kettle or Coffee Pot. If the Water supply gets a bit contaminated, you can boil enough each day to have some potable drinking and cooking water available. Add a small Thermoelectric Cooler, and you even have some refrigeration.

With just slightly more power available, small electric appliances like Toaster Ovens and Hot Plates also can be useful cooking tools to have. So I have those also, which is also good in the event you Squat on some McMansion somewhere which has been stripped of its appliances or they are busted. Assuming you can somehow get power into the house (and there are ways to do that by pirating the main power line (which is how its done in the Favelas in Brazil and other slums), you can quickly set up a functioning Kitchen in the house.

Of course I also recommend having Propane fired Camping Cook gear as well and at least two 5 Gallon Tanks always topped off. However, I think for at least the next few years in most places in FSofA there will be enough electric power around to run the small appliances, which you should do rather than use up the Propane, which should be saved for real emergencies.

Of course the final cooking method is to have a portable outdoor Grill which burns either Wood or Charcoal, and you should have one of those also. Again in the event of an extended power outage, you use this before you use up your supply of Propane, unless the propane is readily available to buy which it probably won’t be.

So, the Order of Operations here to maintain your Standard of Living on a cooking level is low power electric first, wood/charcoal second/ propane as the last resort. When you run out of all 3 methods, you are in the deep doo doo and your days are probably numbered.


I am now all enthused with my 1.5 Quart Pesonal Slow Cooker Crockpot! What I did today in the morning was throw some Beef Oxtails, Mushrooms, Onions, a can of diced tomatoes and some sour cream and seasonings into the crockpot while I scribbled some math problems on the Whiteboard at 8AM and let it simmer all day until I dismissed the students at 2PM. Man was it delicious, and still some left for tomorrow!

Now of course, I may have some problems getting hold of some of these items as we proceed along here with the crash, but I can substitute caribou or bear meat for the oxtails and I have seasonings enough for years. The Crockpot cooking method is one I have never really used but I love this low power electric method of cooking. I have nice cast iron Dutch Ovens also and can do a similar type of slow cooking in them over a low heat fire.

Good news locally on Food production, one of my co-workers now has 13 laying hens and she can’t give away the eggs fast enough, she is getting 7-11 per day. She gave me a dozen today. I suspect when things get bad, everybody around here will have Chickens. Main thing is keeping them warm in winter, but this doesn’t take much heating. Really, if you just keep say 4 Sled Dogs in a Doghouse/Chicken coop with wire fencing between them it probably would be warm enough even without artificial heat so the chickens would not freeze to death.

Bad news, there has been a shortage of locally produced Milk because of the closing of one Dairy and then a shortage of Cows because people who were producing milk got rid of them. We need to breed up or import some more cows or goats if I am going to have sour cream to drop in the recipe.

Not as worried today about Starvation Issues up here when the collapse comes. Low population, plenty of food production potential locally. Lots of firewood and coal even when the low power Crockpot doesn’t work anymore. Long as everybody pulls together, we will be OK.



I read a marvelous article on the Low Tech website last night cateloguing the Dutch Golden Age and the use of Peat as a thermal energy source, which accounts for the main reasons the Dutch were such a powerhouse force in the pre-Industrial Era from around 1300-1600 or so. Gave me much to ponder on, and I’ll probably write something about this next weekend. No time to write such an article during the week. Thanks again to Peter for bringing this Website onto the radar here on Reverse Engineering.

For tonight, I just want to develop my thoughts on Slow Cooking, which since I bought my little 1.5 Quart low electric power Crockpot has been my latest “enthusiasm”. So enthusiastic was I today that I returned to Fred Meyer to buy this time a large size 6 Quart Crockpot which has a”Snap-shut” lid arrangement so after you slow cook whatever it is you do, you can Transport it without it sloshing out of the container in your Bugout Machine.

This 6 Quart Model ran me $30 in the sale month of “Crock-tober” at Fred Meyer, but with every purchase of a Crock over $25 in price, you got “fixins” to drop in it to make some Chili. 1lb of Fresh Ground Beef, Chili Seasoning, Tabasco Sauce, Cans of Beans, Diced Tomatoes and Tomato Paste all worth in total about $10 at current prices. So actual cost of the Crock to me was $20, since I will brew up the Chili and eat it as lunch for a couple of days here now.

Now, as we all know, much of the FOOD I am currently dropping INTO the Crockpot to stew up to a delicious Meal may not be available to me down the line here, but that is not a real IMMEDIATE problem in the FSofA right now. The foodstuffs are mostly still available, its PRICE issues the Family has to deal with that are getting difficult.

Thing I like right NOW about the Crock is how CHEAP I can eat a delicious and nutritious meal here by buying some canned and raw foods On Sale as they occur, along with of course whatever it is you grow in your garden or the Chickens you or a friend has laying eggs, etc.

The SNAP card program at the moment I believe will provide most Amerikans about $200/mo or $50/wk to not starve on. Using the Crock and sale foods, how CHEAP can I actualy eat here on a weekly basis? This is my Experiment for the next Month, but I’ll tell you my Early Returns based on just a couple of days, which is I think you can easily eat very well on about $2/day, similar to what the average Egyptian lives on, but likely with better quality food than said Egyptian.

Dump into your 1.5 Quart Crock 1/2 lb of Meat (oxtails in the first trial run) for about $3, fresh mushrooms and garlic about another $1, a can of diced tomatoes $1.50, a few scoops of Sour Cream another $1.50 and a Seasoning Package of Lipton Beef Onion Soup $1 and let stew, then spoon over 1 cup rice $.50 each meal. Total cost of the Crock stuff, around $7. Its VERY rich in calories, too much of it and you get lethargic, I know because I over ate my first batch and felt like napping the rest of the day. Anyhow, said Stew lasts about a week spooned over the Rice, about $1.50 a day total there.

So, while Da Goobermint will issue you enough Funny Money to BUY $50 of Groceries per week, in reality all you need here is around maybe $15 to stay well fed buying what is on sale or generally cheap to drop in the Crock. This leaves you a $35 SURPLUS each week if you stay conservative in what you eat.

What do you do with this surplus? Use it to create some Yummy Soups or Chili or Stew that you sell by the Cupful out on the street at say $1 per Cup. Cheap nutritious food you undercut the prices at Mickey Ds with. You turn your $35 surplus of Goobermint Snap Card money into at least $70 of CASH per week, probably more than that. Yo are now fed and have some cash to work with each day to buy some gas for the Bugout Machine. Not Big Money of course, but you stay above water this way. Remember, because the Crock is low power, you can use the DC Outlet in your Bugout Machine to cook up your yummy Stews and Chili, you don’t need a home to do this for your fellow Hooverville residents.

The key element here is to eat cheap and efficiently, and hopefully have surplus to sell to people at whatever price they can afford to pay. Long as you are eating well, any money you make is a Bonus. In the Great Depression, Pretzel Vendors would sell their Pretzels at a Nickel apiece. They would buy some flour and cook up the pretzels over some coal early in the morning, salt them up and get a few nickels to keep going. Same idea here, just you use your Bugout Machine and the Crockpot to make soup or chili to sell.

Not a strategy to get RICH, just a way to make it throough the ZERO POINT, while you ofer some food to pople they can afford to buy, long as you are working with a monetary system. Eventualy, you Barter it when the monetary system fails.

You’ll need some way of getting the FOOD to put in the Crock of course. If that is not available, junk the crock and figure out something else to make it therough the Zero Point obviously.

For myself up here on the Last Great Frontier, I don’t intend to try the “sell a Cup-a-Soup” paradigm out on the street, but rather incorporate the Food I am being GIVEN into my Education paradigm. Today another Mom gave me a Moose Roast letting me know the Moose Meat was rather Tough this year, which means its EXCELLENT to go in the Crock Pot! A few hours of slow cooking tenderizes even the toughest meat cuts. Stew it all day with some Alaska Grown Carrots and Potatoes and some of my vast collection of Spices, and besides teaching your kids all day while you Hunt or Fish, I’ll feed them as well as myself at Lunchtime a very Nutritious meal! Its my Barter Version of the School Lunch program run by Da Goobermint to feed poor kids, except better because I am a better chef than your typical Hairnet inthe School Lunchroom. LOL.

The KEY here is everybody has to start getting into the food production Bizness in some way, be it Greenhouses, Edible Landscaping, Hydroponics, Raising Chickens, Fishing whatever. To fill out the Calorie content, we’ll still need some large scale farms doing the Grain production and so forth, but long as your neighborhood has some tract of land suitable for such production, combined with the rest of personally produced and bartered foodstuffs, you should have enough and a decent variety also.

The further out you are into low population zones the more plausible this is, but I don’t think you absolutely must be on the edge of the Arctic Circle either. Actually, I think th paradigm could work even in Wisconson or Ohio or New York, though the Big Shities there are still TOAST.


From Nobody

This is your calling.  You were born to re and you can’t wait.  I think what will be a mortal nightmare for many will be great fun for you.  This is no revelation in this forum;   now and then I just like to shake myself and look again at something familiar.

There is something odd about all this obsession with slow cooking.  I’ve been, here in the land of granite kitchens, endless appliances and personal chefs – cooking for 4 for over a year now with a toaster oven.

..and a crock pot.   Bought em both Day One.  You’re right about the crock pot and for a while, it will suffice.  Don’t forget beans though; the slow cook is great on the legumes.  I get though, that you are in the land of meat.

Any community that gets you, having your fun, will be very lucky.

It isn’t going to be like you say though.  I mean, I live that way now – minus the SNAP.  It’s like you predict, for many people, now.  The working poor or the not-working poor with kids.  All it takes is kids and there you are.  No safety net if you’ve got kids.  That’s the first thing you notice when you become a parent; any illusion of safety or that sense that you’re alright; you’ll get by… just goes like it was never there.

Because you’re a teacher, you get this far more than most persons on their own.

When the mom gives you the meat and you cook for the kids; don’t some of those kids just love you?  You deserve it.  Finding the joy of feeding the hungry will be all that’s left but it won’t be that easy.  As smart as you are and as far-reaching as your thinking is, I just know there’s a wrench in the works for us.  It’s not going to be just staying in the saddle and thinking on your feet; it’s going to require a spiritual shift.


I think it’s my calling to to write about the collapse, I’m not sure its my calling to survive it very long. If God had this plan for me, he would have made sure I took better care of myself so I wouldn’t be such a physical wreck already.

Far as the “great fun” I will have, I’m already having it writing. The collapse gives me endless topics to write on and has given me a better window into understanding human nature and human history. If it hadn’t begun while I was walking the Earth, I would have gone to the Great Beyond ignorant of many things I understand well now. So in this sense I am greatful it is occurring, which you could interpret as not being able to “wait” for it.

Once the Big Show really does arrive here in earnest, if I am still alive I don’t think I’ll have much fun with it then. I’m probably better prepared for it psychologically then most people though, I expect it and won’t be taken by surprise, but then neither will any of the other folks in this group.

The kids are another issue entirely of course. Since I don’t have any of my own, I’m not directly responsible for any of them, I am thankful for that. However, since I work with many of them for years in one way or the other, my relationship with them is deeper than the typical teacher, its part of the paradigm I am running. I have some melancholy moments when I watch them, really so clueless as to what is happening here. They all are getting their Iphones now at 9 or 10 years old, they all implicitly believe this world will continue on as they know it. I don’t burst that bubble because its just pointless to do so, the knowledge wouldn’t help them right now. Best thing for me to do is to try to give them a happy childhood where they learn some important skills, mainly how to THINK.

The Crockpot paradigm I’ve been writing about the last couple of days is far different in abstract than in reality, I’m sure after a few months of eating chili and stews of various kinds I’d be as bored to death with them as you likely are by now. Boredom in eating though is something we have to become used to again, go just a little ways back in history and most folks had a very limited diet. Spices to perk up foods were quite rare and expensive, and in fact were a driving force for the trade routes that sprung up over time.

What did Inuit eat? Well, Algonquins were the ones who coined the name “Eskimo” for all the tribes up here, they didn’t call themselves Eskimos. Eskimo translates loosely as “Raw Meat Eater”. They ate meat raw because generally they didn’t have much in the way of tools for cooking, no pots and pans, not even clay pottery.

Fortunately, even in the worst case scenarios I can come up with, we should have cooking tools of some sort available for quite some time to come, I’m sure my cast iron cookware will last a century at least. However, the spices will likely disappear from thsi part of the world pretty quick. Even just getting Salt may be difficult, and this is an essential from a nutrition standpoint, though if seafood is part of your diet you get enough salt eating just that. However, without salt food overall is pretty bland in taste.

Eventually, people who grow up without all the great varieties of food we have become accustomed to won’t miss these things, but anyone who did including kids now will have a difficult time adjusting to it. They’ll miss it even more than their Iphones.



Crockpot Dumpster Diving

Despite the fact that Nobody pricked a bit of a hole in my Crockpot thread here with the REALITY of eating a Crockpot diet for an extended period of time, I’m going to continue on with Useful Ideas for Crockpots as the Collapse proceeds in earnest.

The place I REALLY see great usefulness with a Crockpot is in Dumpster Diving. As you all know, I used to work as a Chef for a brief period of time, after I left the Med Biz and before I took to the road in the Big Rig. The amoount of food we pitched into the dumpster each night was pretty astounding, not just the plates of half eaten meals served up to the customers, but also vast number of Bones with decent amount of meat still on them and all the marrow still in there. Lots of pieces of carrots near the tip or the end, pieces of onions, blah blah.

Now, all pitched into the dumpster, this stuff looks pretty gross, and left too long can smell pretty gross also. However, long as you Dummpster Dive pretty quickly, you can shovel out a lot of very nutritious food, just it looks very gross and not appealing to eat. What do you do about that?

Answer: You take a whole pile of the stuff and about an equal amount of Water and Simmer it for a few hours in the Crock. Then you strain it for the Broth. Allt he bacteria will be dead, and 90% of the nturients will have been extracted from the solids into the broth. Fish Bones, Chicken Bones, potatoes rendered to soluble starches,vitamins etc MOST of it will be in the liquid, and it will probably taste and smell pretty good, not unappetizing at all.

Add to that later some of the fresh veggies you grow in your garden or make an Egg Drop Soup with some of the eggs from your chickens, and POOF, you make a first class Soup that will keep you going quite well. You just need to be near enough to a still functioning restaraunt to Dumpster Dive it right after the lunch or dinner crowd leaves.

Obviously, once the restaraunts stop functioning this paradigm won’t function long, but its probably a good method for Big Shity dwellers to supplement their SNAP Cards with for a while here. The more nutrition you can access through Dumpster Diving, the more you can use the SNAP card to brew up Cups of Chili to sell to people below Micky Ds prices and so get some CASH to work with.

Besides this somewhat distasteful method of accumulating enough food and caloris to keep going in the Big Shity, out in the boonies where lots of plants grow, if you dig up enough ROOTS of just about any plant, there are starches and vitamins in those roots that are digestible. Cellulose is not digestable, though the roughage will help keep your colon clean, but roots contain a lot more than just cellulose. You do not have to be a wizard identifying Edible Plants for this, just start digging. If the root has some bulky portions, its likely to be starchy. Rinse it of most of the dirt, boil the living shit out of it, strain and eat. You won’t starve, you won’t get food poisoning either. Dont be afraid to throw a few Bugs into this stew either! Grasshoppers, Beetles, even Cockroaches will add good Proteins and Amino Acids to the liquid if you boil it for a long enough time.

Remember, ANY living organism has msot of the stuff you need in your body to make it work. Water is the Universal Solvent, and ANYTHING boiled for a long enough time extracts most of the nutrients. It even behooves you to throw otherwise Inedible stuff into such a stew, like Bark or Grasses. There are nutrients contained in them that will be extracted into the mix.

A FEW plants and Bugs have some poisons in them that also would be extracted here, but they are remarkably few, and mostly won’t kill you if you happen to make this mistake of dropping them into the stew. Hopefully you learn quickly which ones they are.

Mostly though, remember that you are TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN. You can eat just about anything that lives and gain something from it. Cellulose is not digestible for you, so you can’t get calories this way, you cannot eat grass like a Cow. You most certainly can eat just about any ROOT like a Monkey does though. The Crockpot will make it a lot less gross as well, and predigest it for you. The operation of the Stomach is to use acid to digest out these things, the Crock uses Heat to do it. Long as you can find enough living organisms to drop in the crock, you will SURVIVE.

Food SURROUNDS you. It just not food you are used to eating, but its out there anywhere where Life is out there. Your Crockpot can help you absorb it into your system, long as you still got some way to heat the crock.

Chained to the Cross

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on November 8, 2013


Discuss this article at the Seasteding Table inside the Diner

AVENTURA at anchorThere is no calendar aboard AVENTURA, and I often lose track of what day it is. Actually, down here – south of many borders – the seasons are so similar to each other, that I often lose track of what month it is! But I always know when it is Sunday. That’s because a veritable armada of cayucos will stream by my boat on their way to church.

A few weeks ago one passed very close, and as always, I waved with neighborly enthusiasm. Seven or eight of the kids waved back just as vigorously. But there was one young, teen-aged girl who responded differently. Apparently she had never been so close to one of these sailing boats, and she studied it carefully. I watched her gaze drift from bow to stern and then from the waterline to the top of the mast. Then she noticed my boat’s name which is the Spanish word for “adventure.”

With the cayuco only 10 feet away, I delighted in seeing her happy smile as visions of travel, freedom and exotic elsewhere’s danced in her head. But swiftly her face changed, and I witnessed something that a man in his Middle Years never wishes to see in the eyes of someone so young. As she looked directly up at me, I watched as her youthful joy was suffocated by despair. There was surrender in that look – the realization that her dreams for a life that could cross over the borders of her birth, might never be achieved.

This experience touched me so deeply that I created this little story, which tries to depict what she is experiencing at this threshold moment in her life. And even if this tale is not accurate in the case of this young woman, it surely is for someone else her age – and probably for many, many others out there who also feel caged by the circumstances of their birth.




I will name her Dolores, which is the Spanish word for “sadness.” She was the second born of 8 children. As is often the case, in an effort to keep up with her older brother, she tended to be tomboyish. If he could row the cayuco across the bay in 20 minutes, she would try to do it in 18 minutes. If he caught 4 fish she would strive for 6. But one thing that they did not compete in was sea turtles. They both loved the big creatures, and would drift for hours amongst them in their little native canoe.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_B12ademvvek/THbbjHJ4FPI/AAAAAAAAARE/OnD_U2rAtyo/s1600/Turtle2BabiesReturning.jpgFor her 10th birthday, her father took her on a turtle-watching trip at a remote beach. As the female labored most of the night laying her eggs and covering them in the sandy nest, the volunteers quietly explained to Dolores the entire process including how the tiny hatchlings will have to race down the beach to the safety of the sea as predator birds and animals attack them.

It was a momentous night in her young life. Besides being inquisitive about the mother turtle, Dolores asked the volunteers many questions about their lives and their dedication to these animals. She learned that a person had to be at least 18 years old and very carefully trained before they could qualify to be turtle beach monitors. She also discovered that some of them were studying marine biology with a specialty in sea turtles. Dolores felt a bit like her beloved turtles that night. She sensed that she had stuck her head out of her own shell and glimpsed her future.

At school she found a helpful teacher who encouraged her and brought her books and magazine articles about the turtles of the sea. The more she learned, the more she wanted to know. Could it be that one day she could go to university and become a marine biologist and then travel the world studying and helping these gentle animals?




And now at 13 years old, her family cayuco is passing beside AVENTURA. My sweet, little boat is the perfect symbol for all that she seeks in life. But it is not just a fairy tale illusion. It is a real thing – tangible evidence that people can voyage to strange new lands, see unusual creatures and savor exotic adventures. And it lives where the turtles live – in the sea.

As her cayuco heads across the bay to the chapel, the young girl pivots and looks back at the lovely AVENTURA once more. Even from 30 yards away I can sense her longing and her sad resignation. She is headed to church, which is supposed to be a joyous and liberating experience. But Dolores is wise beyond her years, and she understands that it does not emancipate her – it enslaves and crushes her.

Yet, even though she intuitively recognizes this, she cannot possibly imagine how masterfully the church orchestrates this. For over 20 centuries they have perfected their subtle incarceration methods so brilliantly that the prisoners barely realize that they are captives. Allow me to explain how profoundly and malevolently they dominate so many lives around the world.

Here in Latin America, when a baby is born, it is extremely likely that it will be designated as a Catholic child. A few weeks later a baptismal ceremony further reinforces this status. As the little one finds its way in the world it receives loving guidance from its parents. It learns that fire and snakes and lightning are dangerous. And it is also taught that mangoes ripe from the tree and fish fresh from the sea are delicious. A bond of sublime trust is formed between parent and child. So when these adults, who have provided so much helpful knowledge about how the world works, also teach it that religion is a good thing, why would the youngster not believe the parents?

And this is further reinforced by the pageantry of the religious services. Things are different inside the church. It is quieter and solemn and reverent. The kids aren’t running around wildly, and the person at the front wears very unusual clothes. He gives some sort of fancy speech that the adults all follow carefully. Afterwards the grown-ups behave as if something important has happened.

So if the child’s parents say that religion is a good thing and if the ceremony at the church is so extraordinary, then it is natural for the kids to accept their place in the flock. And the term “flock” is appropriate here – for the church controls them as thoroughly as a shepherd dominates his sheep.

http://what-buddha-said.net/Pics/hell.n4.jpgThe keystone of the church’s indoctrination is the concept of hell. The young people are relentlessly warned that if they do certain things they will suffer grotesque agony for all of eternity. Most of the “sins” that will condemn a person to this horrible fate are irrelevant to typical kids. After all, they are not going to murder someone or worship false idols or rob the local bank. But as soon as they reach puberty, they get hammered by a Catholic edict that they barely knew even existed. Thou shalt not use birth control.

After the epiphany that Dolores experienced on the beach with the mother turtle, she realized that her desired path in life was different from most of her peers. Although there was much charm in her Indio village life, her dreams swept towards the far horizon. She wanted to venture beyond the boundaries of her birthplace, and embrace the wider world. To achieve this she would need to succeed in both high school and university.

Just when Dolores was recognizing this, she noticed that many of the girls just a few years older than her were suddenly dropping out of high school and having babies. When she asked them why they didn’t wait a little longer until they finished school, they confessed that the pleasure of sex was so extraordinary that they couldn’t restrain themselves. And since the almighty church insisted that if they used birth control they would burn in hell for a million years, they had risked unwanted pregnancies because sexual passion can be so overpowering.

Because Dolores had not yet reached puberty, she convinced herself that she could forego sexual desire in order to fulfill her dreams. But when those potent universal yearnings started to pulse through her young body, she too felt herself being swept along. She went to her mother seeking guidance. Why can’t a person enjoy the wonders of sex without having to risk bringing an unwanted child into the world? Since her mom had never questioned such things herself, her only response was, “…because the church says so, and they know what’s best.”

But with the exquisite vision of her future blurring and darkening before her eyes, that answer was not good enough for Dolores. So she asked the teacher who had been so helpful to her, if there wasn’t some other way, some other option? As an instructor in a Catholic school, the sympathetic teacher hesitated, but then decided to answer truthfully. She told her bright young student – so overflowing with curiosity about life and the world – that there was another way. She explained that there are reliable and affordable methods of birth control as close as the nearest drug store. And she added that millions and millions of people around the world use them without fear or guilt, because they have not been told that by doing so they will burn forever in hell.

And then the confused young student said, “But if the church cares about us so much, why would it destroy my dreams for the future – my simple dreams that harm no one and can help the turtles?”

The good teacher paused and looked Dolores in the eyes, “Your question is a just and sensible one, but the answer is very complicated. Anything I say will probably confuse you even more. But in only a few more years you will discover the answer for yourself. And it will be much more powerful and valuable to you because you found it on your own!”




It was only a few days after that conversation with her beloved teacher that Dolores passed by AVENTURA in the family cayuco headed for church. Had I known the source of the anguish that was so clearly visible in her eyes, I might have shouted out something like this:

The church does not care about you, Dolores. It seeks only to further its own power and interests. Witness how its birth control rules crush your dreams and force you down a life path that you do not desire. Ignore the church. It is a dictatorship that wants to dominate your heart and your mind and your body. Cast it off like a scorpion on a shoe, and race out into that wide world that beckons to you so powerfully. Listen to the murmurings within you. They are the voices of our race and the echoes of the centuries. They will serve you well.”

Enslaved by Our Stuff

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on October 29, 2013

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

We were still … and we were solitary. The wind had been mute for two days. Our only companions were our brethren in the sea and the sky. No other human presence disturbed this deep blue mirror, stretching to the horizon. AVENTURA and I were becalmed but content.

I rigged a shade awning and went below for a cold drink. My tiny refrigerator is powered by a solar panel. A cold young coconut was awaiting me. I opened it with my machete, inserted a straw and savored it beneath the awning. My back rested against the mast and my thoughts drifted as aimlessly and contentedly as my boat. Gradually, the word “contentment” inspired a meditation on what I consider one of the great curses of the modern world … Stuff.




We have been led to believe that acquiring more stuff bequeaths us greater freedom and happiness. I heartily disagree, and to support my position I will call three wise men as witnesses. Here is Thoreau’s opinion on the subject: “A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things that he can live without.” Mark Twain had an apt quote on the issue as well: “We have turned a thousand useless luxuries into necessities.” And Bertrand Russell was even more emphatic with this quotation: “It is our preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”

http://www.mommybrainreports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/walmart-renovates2.jpgIn other words, we are enslaved by our stuff! And it is more insidious and malignant than traditional slavery, because we are not forced to submit to this enslavement, we voluntarily do so. Materialism has become the true worldwide religion. If most people were told that for the rest of their lives they could only go to either the church or the mall, which would they select? They would choose the Temple of Shopping.

What makes this situation even more tragic is that our worship of stuff is not just some innocent, unavoidable human trait. Almost any anthropologist who has spent time amongst the 85 or so indigenous tribes, who still survive far from the tentacles of industrial-techno civilization, will verify that there is an amazing lack of private property amongst these (misnamed) primitives. They possess very little stuff, and much of what they do have is communally shared. So, the greed for things, which consumes modern humanity, is not intrinsic to our nature, it is manipulated into us.

And the exploiters who condemn us to the treadmill of “more, more and still more,” do not do this benevolently. Their motive is to further enrich themselves and to increase their control over us. Does the concept of “planned obsolescence” profit the makers of the products or does it benefit the consumers of these items? After you have answered that obvious question, step back a bit further and ponder how we have allowed ourselves to be reduced to the status of “consumers.”

Our culture programs us so thoroughly and yet so subtly that we do not even perceive our captivity. Just as the fish is unaware of the water that it is immersed in, humanity is unmindful of the severity of its enslavement. Certainly the desperately poor in the world realize that they are captives to the daily struggle for survival, but the more well-to-do have also lost much of their freedom. Consider this downward human trajectory:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R43PIRYz4x4/Tww5KnStd_I/AAAAAAAAAlE/5E07QmoFlc4/s1600/human-evolution-go-back.jpgOur hunter/gatherer ancestors survived independently for over a hundred thousand years using their amazing physical and mental powers in a fairly hostile world. When they encountered a mirror-like pond, they could look at their reflection and see a strong, lithe, smart, human animal that could fend for itself and protect its tribe.

But with the advent of agriculture came the ascension of rulers and priests. These ruthless manipulators swiftly recognized that in order to exploit the human animal, they would need to domesticate it. A person that could feed, clothe, shelter and protect herself or himself, would not consent to subjugation. So the rulers imposed dependency through division of labor. The hide tanner relied on the barley grower who needed the well digger who depended on the tool-maker. Life became compartmentalized and the subtle slavery began.

Shortly after that came a further diminishing of the wondrous, free, and empowered human animal. This arrived with the imposition of political boundaries. People were now designated as Assyrians or Egyptians or Babylonians. Next, came the religious divisions which further reduced human autonomy. So the wild, independent, almost feral, human animal had now been domesticated so thoroughly that they had morphed into a citizen and a churchgoer. What a sad and pathetic degradation.

And as the human caravan continues down the centuries, rulers and priests still dominate us. They constantly rein in our independence as they transform us into serfs or slaves or soldiers or salesmen. And now, without even realizing it, we are suffocating beneath the ultimate indignation. We have been degraded so profoundly that we don’t even cringe when we are called consumers. Step out of the cultural programming bubble and contemplate that. On the one luxuriant planet amongst millions of dead ones, we are the most highly-evolved species, and yet we spend our brief time here … SHOPPING. This is insanely tragic and repellant. It is also why the few dozen hunter/gatherer tribes still in existence, feel sorry for us. And why they do not wish to adopt our “civilized” ways.




The mandate to “buy, buy and buy some more” is so all-pervasive in our society that it is difficult to even notice it much less escape it. But emancipation IS possible. Through the help of Thoreau, Twain and Russell, I managed to liberate myself. Perhaps, as homage to these wise ones, I can help a few of you to unshackle yourselves. Settle in for a few minutes and let me acquaint you with some of the Evils of Materialism that the consumer culture cheerleaders never mention:

  • WE ARE NOT OUR STUFF – People who wish to get rich by selling us things that we do not need, try to convince us that unless we purchase the hot new item we will be conspicuously inferior to our peers. They are trying to manipulate us into the belief that a person’s character corresponds to the size of their stuff-pile. Things become status symbols. Because my car is pricier than yours, then I am a better person. But only an advertizing-addled fool believes that. For the most successful accumulators of stuff are usually the most ambitious, immoral and ruthless members of society. Almost everyone knows in their heart of hearts that the qualities that are the true measure of a person’s worth have nothing to do with stuff. Character traits like wisdom, compassion, serenity, humor and subtlety of mind will always surpass garish mansions and shiny cars.
  • STUFF-LESS HAPPINESS – I have fewer things than almost anybody I know, and yet on a day-to-day basis, I am happier than almost anybody I know. In fact when people visit my boat for the first time there is often an awkward silence as their eyes glance around the cabin. Then they will sheepishly ask, “Ray, where’s all your stuff?” My honest answer is that indeed, I am poor in stuff, but I am rich in time, friendship, health, adventure, freedom, relaxation, travel, etc. This perspective is reinforced as I watch the nearby Indio kids play joyously with just a stick and a coconut, while the ex-pat kids are cursing at their electronic games because their batteries are low.
  • CONSUMERS VERSUS THINKERS – Those who have gained control of any society do not want the vast majority of the people to engage in critical thinking. If the population did so, they would no longer tolerate the obscene wealth disparity or the ever-growing police/surveillance grid or a reverse Robin Hood economy that robs the poor to give to the Wall Street rich. So the citizenry must be distracted and placated. Stuff is the opiate that the Elites use to defuse any rebellious tendencies. Give them gigantic plasma TVs and iEverythings and the latest violent video game, and they can control them like two-legged sheep.
  • STUFF STRANGLES INTEGRITY – When I was in Vietnam I often tried to unravel the mystery of how anyone could invent Napalm and still live with himself. It took me decades to realize that even that horrendous depravity was connected to our worship of stuff. The thinking runs like this: Since everyone else has nice houses and new cars and the latest HDTVs, then I need those things too, in order to maintain my self-respect. Therefore, if the job pays enough, I will just ignore the consequences of what I am inventing. So even though this high tech weapon causes grotesque tomato-sized tumors on innocent children, I will rationalize that away with the delusion that I am spreading democracy. But if stuff wasn’t so godlike, more people would refuse to accept despicable jobs just because they pay well.
  • CONSUMERISM IS CONSUMING THE PLANET – By worshipping stuff and embracing an extravagant, constant- growth lifestyle we are poisoning the air, fouling the rivers, sweeping away the topsoil, decimating the ocean fisheries and generally wreaking havoc on our biosphere. Those 85 indigenous tribes are not doing this. It is our shop til you drop mindset that is fueling this human engine of destruction.



I lost track of time as I pondered these things, and was momentarily startled when my thoughts returned from the real world to this, my preferred world. AVENTURA and I were still becalmed, but as she knows even better than me, the sea is never truly still. The undulating movement is so miniscule and yet so monumental that it seems like the pulse of the planet. It comforts me deeply, because it feels like Gaia is breathing.


The Road to the Future Leads to the Past

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on October 16, 2013


Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

An ordinary sunset was about to turn extraordinary. AVENTURA was resting between voyages – way down south in the Banana Latitudes. We were anchored in a cove so serene that the birds seemed to fly at half speed in order to preserve the tranquility.

A native cayuco slowly emerged from behind one of the islands that frame this tiny bay. A man and a woman were gently rowing their dugout canoe through the pale, peach-glazed water. When they swung their bow around and faced the west, I recognized the young couple. They had stopped by yesterday and traded a freshly-caught fish for some cooking oil.

They stowed their oars in the cayuco and drifted about 30 yards off my starboard side. She leaned her back against his chest and his chin cradled the top of her head. Although the twilight panorama that we were savoring was only mediocre, I suspect that their contentment was as transcendent as mine.

Suddenly, this exquisite peacefulness was destroyed by the roar of an outboard engine as a shiny American powerboat came blasting through our little sanctuary. Two overweight guys laughed drunkenly as they watched their wake nearly capsize the little native canoe. I looked over at my neighbors and shook my head in disgust. They responded with body language that said, “Sad, sad, sad.”

A few minutes later, with the euphoric spell broken, they slid a fishing line into the water, and then started to row towards a nearby island. As I watched them depart, I realized that every element of this dusk-soft panorama was so elemental, that it could have taken place 500 years ago.

While their cayuco drifted to the south, with the lovers lazily fishing, I turned back to the west and caught a glimpse of the drunken gringos roaring out of sight. Because I am blessed (or cursed) with the philosopher’s need to contemplate such symbolic vignettes, I began a meditation that took me deep into the star-plush night.




Yesterday, when the couple rowed over to barter their fish, I complimented the young man on his well-crafted cayuco. With a mixture of modesty and pride he said that he had carved it himself, just as his father had taught him. And he mentioned that one of his earliest childhood memories was watching his grandfather teaching his dad his boat-shaping technique.

A single tree trunk, a few hand tools, and skill passed down the generations, was all that was necessary to create this handsome cayuco that could be used for transportation, fishing or twilight romance. How simple and exquisite; and how out of step with the misnamed “real world.” By contrast, the speedboat that had just annihilated the silent beauty of this little cove was a perfect symbol for our industrial-techno society.

As the Sun Sky surrendered to the Star Sky, I decided to carefully ponder the differences between these two vessels. An hour’s contemplation confirmed that they are an excellent metaphor for the chasm between the primitive-tribal worldview and modern-civilization. The contrasts are stark and sobering and they are a perfect illustration of the somewhat enigmatic title of this essay: “The Road to the Future Leads to the Past.”

Go to any shopping mall, anywhere on the planet, and show 50 people a photo of a cayuco and a picture of a high-speed powerboat. Then ask them this simple question: “Which of these boats will become extinct in the near future?” A huge majority will respond that the little Indio canoe will soon be gone. But I firmly believe the opposite, and hopefully I can also convince you. But before examining the future of these two types of water-craft, let’s consider how profoundly different they are in the present.

  • Simplicity The cayuco has exactly one moving part – the paddle. On the other hand, the power boat has hundreds, if not thousands – all interwoven amongst mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and electronic systems.
  • Health-promoting A lean, powerful human animal smoothly paddling a small boat is a universal and enduring image that can be traced back thousands and thousands of years. But an overweight, “look at me” speedboater is a phenomenon that has been around for less than a hundred years.
  • Nature-friendly The self-propelled cayuco allows one to blend with nature and savor it. A motorboat with its screeching outboard engine assaults nature and scares away all of the nearby neighbors of the sea and the sky.
  • Non-polluting The speedboat imposes its noise pollution on any creature in the vicinity. The exhaust from its engine spews poison into the air. And a more subtle form of pollution is the lack of bio-degradability of the fiberglass hull. The wooden cayuco will rot away fairly swiftly, but the power-boat will try to outlive the pyramids.
  • Personal satisfaction Admittedly, the owner of a gaudy new power-boat will experience some ego-stroking as he pulls into his local marina. But compare that to the pride of an Indio, who has just finished carving a cayuco. Imagine the joy he feels as he admires her sturdy but elegant lines and his delight when his excited children climb in to go for their maiden voyage.
  • Fossil-fuel freedom Astronomical gas prices or crippling supply interruptions are meaningless to the person in the dugout canoe. But these issues can convert that shiny pleasure boat into a money vacuum or a haunting, unused relic.


I was still contemplating fuel dependency, when I heard a shout of delight from the couple in the cayuco, who were now a hundred yards down the bay. They had caught a fish. Soon they built a fire on the beach and prepared their meal with cavemen simplicity, by cooking it on a stick bent over the flames. When it was ready they rotated it to let it cool. Then they enjoyed it by just pulling off delicious chunks of the fish with their fingers.

Watching this lovely couple enjoy their little feast in the same manner that their ancestors did 10,000 years ago, turned my ever-pensive mind to how much more complicated it would be for the chunky, drunken gringos to catch a fish and enjoy it for dinner. It would probably involve very expensive high-tech equipment and an underwater fish finder. As for the rustic campfire, it would be replaced by a propane barbeque grill. And this brought me back to that question that I posed earlier – “Which one of these boats is headed for extinction?” And this leads to the more significant interrogative, “Which one of these modes of living is headed for extinction?”




Most people today, believe that the problems our planet faces are serious, but not overwhelming. They comfort themselves by thinking that we can muddle along until some miraculous solution appears. Having carefully researched the possibility of societal collapse for many years, I vehemently disagree.

My term for the possible disasters that confront us is the Big Bad “E”s. This stands for Economy, Energy and Ecology. I could discuss these three meta-systems individually for hours, but it is their interconnectedness in today’s society which I find most troubling. Let me focus on just one – contemporary food production, or what is normally called Big Ag. It will be obvious how intertwined and precarious every aspect of modern daily life is.

In the U.S. during the Great Depression, there were still many family farms scattered throughout the nation. So when the economic collapse hit, most of the farm children who had migrated to the big cities, could return home and at least have survival food. Nowadays about 98% of agriculture is conducted on massive corporate farms, so the family farm safety valve no longer exists.

And these monolithic agribusiness tracts are entirely fossil fuel dependent. You will not find many farmers tilling their fields behind mules or scattering manure on their soil. Every step of the modern agricultural assembly line relies on fossil fuel inputs whether it is fuel for the tractors, combines and trucks or natural gas derivatives for the fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

Ecology also entwines itself negatively in Big Agriculture in both directions. As the climate crisis deepens there are more extreme weather events that destroy food production such as severe droughts or devastating flooding. And because factory farming is so artificial and inorganic, it contributes enormously to climate destabilization. The fuel inputs in modern, large scale agriculture are so vital that some people have observed that we actually “eat oil.” This may or not be an exaggeration, but I believe that the way I phrase it is completely accurate – “Without oil – we do not eat!”

But the young couple feasting in the firelight on their just-caught fish, are completely independent of modern food processing. Certainly, they sometimes go to town and buy a few staples and some treats, but if that was no longer available, they would still survive. But the hefty, drunken boaters are utterly dependent on their supermarket. This led me to assess the other basic elements of survival and how well-prepared the natives are.

However, before evaluating these differences, let me clarify my terminology. The couple that I describe in this story, are what I consider Fringe Indios. Their ancestors were here long before the arrival of the white people, and due to their self-reliant capabilities, they will remain after the whites are “gone.” I refer to them as “fringe” because unlike the 85 or so remaining indigenous tribes who live almost completely cut off from the modern world, these Indios exist on the fringe of it. Here’s why they are so much less vulnerable to a “real world” collapse:

  • Water They have never been connected to any form of “the grid” whether it is electricity or piped-in water. They know which local streams are good for drinking and they know how to catch sky water.
  • Food Besides fishing, they also are skilled at foraging the shoreline. In the surrounding jungle they know which fruits and plants are edible. They are also skilled at primitive, low-tech cultivation. Cooking is mostly done with pots and pans over open fires.
  • Shelter The roofs of their homes are woven from palm trees. The only hand tools necessary for building the remainder of a house are a machete, hammer and saw. They sometimes use nails but they can also connect the timbers using twine at the joints.
  • Health They haven’t completely lost the knowledge of which local plants are medicinal and their simple style of living insulates them from most of the “diseases of civilization.”
  • Security The Indios have very little that a typical marauder would desire, which is their first line of defense. But should things become dangerous in spite of this, they can retreat to the deep jungle where most human predators would not follow.

The little campfire on the beach had now gone out, and I could hear the young couple splashing in the water. A few minutes later their play became quieter and more rhythmic. I sighed deeply, for it comforted me to realize that these lovely human animals were now pleasuring each other where the water meets the land…the same place from which our forebears had emerged so many millions of years ago.




Then my thoughts returned again to the drunken power-boaters who were probably sitting at a bar back in town laughing uproariously over how they had almost capsized “a couple of Indians” that afternoon. These so-called civilized beings are supposedly “my people.” Certainly I was raised in that milieu. But miraculously, down the decades I was able to separate myself from the conventional human voyage and to view it through a different lens – from the outsider, sea gypsy perspective.

But it has been profoundly disturbing to carefully observe our species. With our enormous brains which bless us with the power of self-awareness and of language and of the arts, we could have achieved so much, but instead, we have squandered these gifts so foolishly and destructively.

Rather than accepting and relishing our place in the natural order, we deceived ourselves into believing that we could rule over Nature and use it as we desired. Our hubris in this regard became so extreme that we embraced the fool’s quest for infinite growth on a finite planet.

We never achieved our higher order consciousness when it came to conflict resolution. So every century has been stained with needless blood and mutilation. We chose competition over co-operation, excess over moderation, and mindless worship of trinkets over authentic, interpersonal living.

And we let our big brain technologies seduce us. We unleashed gargantuan forces without wisely pondering the consequences. So now we are poised at the edge of the abyss. Our human intelligence and power has been so distorted and corrupted that we are on the verge of destroying our planetary support system. We are on the threshold of annihilating much of the life that exists on the one single planet amongst millions that can support life. How insane and tragic is that?




Just as my depressing ruminations began to overwhelm me, the young couple came rowing by. They nodded to me and smiled. Even though there was no moon, they glistened radiantly in the starlight. A reassuring peace came over me, for I knew that if the monstrous Leviathan of modern civilization did come tumbling down, these two lovers would survive. THEY are the road to the future that leads to the past. And perhaps on the second try, humanity will do better on that road…

View From the Bugout Machine

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 2013


Discuss this article at the Bugout Table inside the Diner

Very entertaining week in the world of DOOM, on the Grand Scale with the Goobermint Shutdown (still in place as I begin this article), and on a more local Diner level with last Sunday’s Collapse Cafe, which brought together several Collapse Pundits to discuss the Limits to Growth model.  Besides that, Sea Gypsy Ray Jason published another of his Essays from aboard his floating Seastead AVENTURA, this time taking to task most of the major Religions of the world for their historical behaviors, and promoting Pantheism as a better choice for Homo Sapiens as we move into the future here.  Said essay got all the Usual Suspects on the Diner involved in YET ANOTHER of the endless series of debates of Spirituality that sorta keep the Word Count up inside the Diner.

Besides that, I recently gave up part of my Anonymity on the Net when I added the Video Collapse Cafe panel discussion to the Podcasts we do, so I figured I might as well do some Stills as well to go with that, thus Birthing this new running column on the Diner I have titled “View from the Bugout Machine“.  Starring in this series besides me is recently named Tardigrada, my circa 1983 Tioga RV Bugout Machine running on a GM Chassis.


After some chat with other Diners on a good name for my Bugout Machine (some other suggestions were HMS Beagle, Darwin’s ship; HMS Bounty, Fletcher Christian’s Escape Vehicle and the TITANIC, which turned out a poor choice of Bugout Machine for all concerned.  LOL),  I settled on going with Tardigrada because of my great respect for these hardy little creatures which can survive temperatures near Absolute Zero and Radiation Levels generated INSIDE the core of the Fukushima Spent Fuel Pond too!  KILLING a Tardigrade is a CHALLENGE!  LOL.


Obviously of course this is metaphorical, and I harbor no illusions that Tardigrada will enable ME to survive Fallout dropping down around here from Fukushima or other Nuke Plants and devices that might blow off in the future here.  Still, it is a tough vehicle, still on the road after 30 years; still no Leaks in heavy rains or during Snow Melt on the roof; and it also withstood in the last week a Tree falling on top of it too during an Alaska Windstorm!  Also, though Tardigrada enables me to make a Final Bugout while topped off with gas with a range maybe 500 miles or so from where currently Parked, once that Gas Tank is EMPTY, it Stays as it Lays. So, in making the FINAL BUGOUT, hopefully I choose the RIGHT location to head for.

The nice aspect of this paradigm is you do not have to make the choice NOW as to final location, you can WAIT and see how things are going, and in fact continue to participate in your local Industrial Economy as I still do, until I CAN’T anymore.  In most good Bugout Locations, the availability of the current types of Jobs available is pretty small.  People are actually EVACUATING many smaller towns in places like Maine and Montana because there are no Jobs for them in these places.  A consequence of that is the local Convenience Store/Gas Station closes up due to lack of customers, resulting in the inability to get fuel for your vehicles unless you are willing/able to drive many miles further than the Remote Community you chose as your Doomstead Location.


In the ideal Bugout Paradigm of Straddling Two Worlds, the current semi-functional Industrial Economy and the future post-SHTF economy, you live somewhere you can still find gainful employment earning FRNs, while you plan and equip yourself to make a rapid change of location when you perceive the Collapse accelerating at such a pace it is soon to engulf your neighborhood.  Ideally as well, you don’t want to wait until AFTER TSHTF to make the Final Bugout, like AFTER Martial Law has been declared might end up too late for moving your BM freely along the road system to get to your Destination Bugout Location, so you do try to stay aware of what is going on and hopefully anticipate this in JIT fashion, a week or two maybe before it occurs.

You do need to have Destinations mapped out, along with alternative routes to get there that your Bugout Machine can Negotiate.  Then another plan for how you will handle it once you get there, which depends a lot on how many people are involved.  Ideally, you have several people with BMs who all plan for this together, because as mentioned many times on the pages inside the Diner, the Lone Doomer survival paradigm is not very good.  However, the further out you go, the more possible it is for smaller groups to have good Survival Potential.

For many reasons, many if not most people cannot leave the Industrial Paradigm right now.  Family ties for one, and realizing also that leaving has its own set of risks, so you may have better Survival Potential staying within your community, depending again on the type of community it is.  For myself for instance, at the moment since I live in what is already a pretty low population zone with decent resources, this community might be better to stay with then to head for the Bush.

So for me, the Bugout Machine paradigm gives me the most Choices possible, and does not require me to give up current work or put all my Eggs into One Basket of a given Doomstead.  Although I have a lot of respect for Sea Gypsy’s paradigm on a Sailboat, I could not be living on one in this neighborhood too reasonably and still maintain my job and so forth.  For the most part, unless you have very portable form of earning income, such as perhaps writing or doing IT Programming, it is tough to do the Straddle 2 Worlds idea with Seasteading.


Many limitations exist with the Gas Powered Bugout of course, not the least of which is that once the gas is no longer available at the pumps in your neighborhood, you only have what you have stored up in gas to make a Final Bugout.  Besides that, anywhere you go with it, no matter how well equipped you are will be a challenge to set up as a Sustainable Location on such short order.  However, if the place you are leaving looks bad enough, then you risk that problem.


OK, that is all for Bugout Machine Paradigm analysis for this first installment of View from the Bugout Machine, now I will digress here into RANTING on all the bullshit that went down in the last week here of Industrial Civilization collapse on Da Goobermint level.  Main one of course being the complete BULLSHIT of the “Goobermint Shutdown”.

Anyone with half a brain here realizes Da Goobermint has not REALLY shut down.  CONgressman are still Grandstanding and getting paid for doing so, along with their staffs.  Nancy Pelosi I am sure is still flying back and forth from her district to Washington on the Taxpayer dime.  Taxes are still being COLLECTED by the IRS to pay for Pelosi to Jet Set across the whole Lower 48 for this purpose!  Has the IRS been shut down?  I hardly think so.  Drone Pilots sitting at work stations at Langley are still being paid to manipulate the Joysticks to shorten the lifespan of some Afghani Women & Children, and FBI Wire Tappers are still getting paid to read your latest SEXTING Message to your Wife to better protect your Security.  Such Essential Personnel cannot be Furloughed, Life As We Know It in the Fascist State would come to a grinding halt!  LOL.

What is closed up are various arms of Goobermint that provide some nice Service to people, like Public Parks for instance.  Or Environmental Protection people, since as the Chinese have well demonstrated, protecting the environment is Non-Essential service of Goobermint.  Education is wholly non-essential now also, since producing dumbed down worker bees for the failing Industrial Economy is no longer necessary here.  There are dumb-ass worker bees all over the GLOBE these days who can easily substitute for them, no problemo.


There is an Annoyance Factor with all of this stuff, WWII Vets can’t go and have a rally at their Memorial without knocking down some barricades, and Sovereign Man Simon Black might have a problem getting a Visa to travel to Latvia on his Amerikan Passport, but he can always use the Chilean one or Lichtenstein one in a pinch.  For the most part however, other than the stream of Newz Storiez hitting J6P about Da Goobermint shutdown, it’s not having much effect on most people.   The furloughed workers are mostly getting a Paid Vacation here, since in all likelihood if this follows the Map of Prior “Shutdowns” once the Kabuki Theatre comes to a close, Helicopter Ben will print up enough to send them their Back Pay.

WILL this follow the same Map as the prior shutdowns though?  This remains an open question, because behind this Bullshit Budget  issue is the Debt Ceiling issue, which more or less should be coming down the pipe around October 17th. In this case, if the Jokers & Clowns being overpaid THROUGH the shutdown to Grandstand in CONgress don’t jack up the Debt Limit of Da Goobermint Credit Card, they will actually RUN OUT OF MONEY!  On a Bookkeeping level, SOMEBODY won’t get paid, though of course one Fund could be used to pay another in the analogue of having numerous Credit Cards and using one line to pay another.  The sums involved are so large though it’s hard to see how this could be disguised for any length of time, and it definitely has some effect on the Bond market, particularly if some Coupon goes unpaid.

What NOBODY in this Kabuki Theatre acknowledges or owns up to of course is that this is NOT a Fiscal/Monetary problem in reality, it is a RESOURCE problem, particularly with respect to the resource of ENERGY.  Not even David Stockman, who wrote a MASSIVELY long Rant called Sundown in Amerika EVER addresses the Energy issue in his analysis.  I’m not going to paste the whole damn rant here, just the first paragraph. Go over to Zero Hedge via the link to read the whole ball of wax.


Remarks of David A. Stockman at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University, September  26, 2013

The median U.S. household income in 2012 was $51,000, but that’s nothing to crow about. That same figure was first reached way back in 1989— meaning that the living standard of Main Street America has gone nowhere for the last quarter century. Since there was no prior span in U.S. history when real household incomes remained dead-in-the-water for 25 years, it cannot be gainsaid that the great American prosperity machine has stalled out.

David goes on AT LENGTH that makes my word counts look microscopic to discuss the various failings of Keynesian Economics, but not ONCE in this entire diatribe does he acknowledge the fact that Oil Prices which back in the 70’s-80’s were around $10-20/bbl are now hovering well ABOVE $100/bbl


Hello.  LOOK at that chart and tell me you can’t see precisely the problem with the economy since 2005.  Energy, which our entire Industrial Economy runs on went through the ROOF.  It started getting NASTY back there in the 70s, where after a LOOONG period from 1880 to 1948 or so came practically FREE started to actually cost something like $2/bl in 1950.  The whole industrial economy as it built up steam from 1880 onward came on the back of near ZERO cost energy!  Now we actually have to PAY for this stuff!

I don’t care what Economic System you dropped in here, give the Austrians a run using Gold, it would not make a damn bit of difference.  You CANNOT MAKE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING.  Roughly 100 years of mispricing the cost of energy allowed the Industrial Economy to develop completely dependent on this cheap energy, which when it started to run thin in the 70s began the Volatile Phase of dislocations, hovering inside the $10-30 Band through 2005 but then going Parabolic until it hit the Tipping Point in the $100 range, where all the systems start to break down.  This is where we are NOW, and it has about ZERO to do with the Clowns & Jokers we have in CONgress at the moment as to why we cannot meet our bills. Nor does it have a whole lot to do with Keynesian Economics either, other than the fact Debt Financing allowed the game to be played a while longer than it otherwise would have.  Without this game, we would have hit this same wall back in the 70s, and our Industrial Ubermeisters were not interested in giving it up at that time.  They still are not, but debt financing a game where the resources simply are not THERE at cheap EROEI  does not work. NOBODY we elect could fix this problem, not and still maintain all the things we have come to take for granted based on Cheap Energy. You know, things like Lights coming on at the Flick of a Switch and NFL Football making it to your Plasma TV every Monday Night in Football Season.  So these things ARE disappearing now, just they are doing so on a Geographical basis as one after another Peripheral Countries are cut off from the Credit bandwagon for buying Oil.  We don’t yet see the the real repercussions of this in the FSoA, because for now the Greeks, the Cypriots and the Spaniards are taking the biggest hit.  Every gallon of gas they do NOT burn in those locations is a gallon left for more Happy Motoring in the FSoA.  However, this is winding inward at a fairly rapid pace now, and supplier/mercantilist economies like Japan are also being hit.  If people in Spain cannot afford Gas, they don’t buy Toyotas.

Everyone who is embedded in the top level of our Goobermint, and really even the subsidiary levels down to Municipalities is completely bought in to the Industrial Economy.  Not only can they not change the idea of Perpetual Growth, they can’t advocate for anything other than continuing the paradigm.  Their constituency won’t accept the idea they have to VOLUNTARILY give up the fabulous living standard that Cheap Energy afforded to a few people, mostly people living in the FSoA and Europe through the Age of Oil.

After 10 straight Millenia of EXPANSION, with endless GROWTH always expected, accepting the idea that CONTRACTION is necessary and we cannot survive at all without that is difficult on all levels.  As a society, it is unlikely this will be accepted until it is forced on people.  Forced on them it will be.

Your choice is to simplify and become less dependent on copious energy for your life, insofar as you are able to do so.  You probably cannot drop off the grid entirely right now for many reasons, and perhaps it is not the best choice YET for you to do so.  It is not as I see it now the best choice for me, I LIKE my life overall and I’m not as suited to living a subsistence life in the Bush as I was a decade ago.  However, it does provide me a measure of Peace in this spin down to know I CAN make the FINAL BUGOUT.  I won’t last too long, but some of my friends and their children might.  Its a lot better way to go out than having my face ripped off by Zombies in a Big Shitty anyhow.


The Sea Gypsy Tribe: START UP MANUAL

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

Published on the Sea Gypsy Philosopher on July 18, 2013

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner



In my last essay, I proposed an unusual response to the possibility of global societal collapse that previously has not been suggested. My core message was summed up in these 30 words:

“I believe that if there is a near extinction catastrophe, a sea gypsy tribe has the best chance of both surviving and replenishing the human population in the wisest manner.”

For those of you who may not have read that article, I encourage you to do so before continuing with this one. THAT piece provides the “why to” background information for my belief that economic, energy and ecological disasters are very possible in our near future. It then suggests that various sea gypsy tribes scattered about the planet provide an excellent survival and re-seeding option. THIS article provides the basic “how to” information for anyone who was inspired by my message, and would like to join our movement. My sense is that there are three potential types of candidates. I refer to them as Seekers, Converts and Recruits.

The Seekers are skilled ocean sailors who are already out there cruising, but who are searching for more meaning in their vagabond lives. The frenzied, hollow, shop-til-you drop, electronic doo-dad hologram that modern life has become, was no longer tolerable; and so they sought the comfort and authenticity of Mother Ocean. Hopefully, my essay awoke them to the probability that there are many other liked-minded sailors out there, who are also looking for their tribe.

The second category is the Converts. This group is also already out there enjoying the cruising life in their ocean-ready sailboats. But their basic philosophy is very different from that of the Seekers. Here is a good way to describe the conversion that would be necessary for them to be drawn towards the sea gypsy tribal value system. If they previously thought that The American Dream was good for the planet, but now realize that it is extremely destructive for the planet, then they are ready to hoist their Earth Flags and join our clan.

I classify the third group as Recruits. They have no sailing experience, but they are mindful of the lunacy of modern life and are searching for other, more fulfilling paths. Many of the core sea gypsy tribal values resonate with them. They understand that infinite growth on a finite planet is delusional. They sense that the vast problems caused by too much technology cannot be fixed with more technology. And they do not want to contribute their energy and vision to an increasingly more Orwellian police/surveillance State. They are fed up, and they wish they had a boat and knew how to sail it.

The main purpose of this essay is to convince those Recruits that they CAN learn how to sail and they should buy a boat. Also, I wish to reassure them that this can be done much more quickly and affordably than they might imagine. As for the Seekers and Converts, my purpose is to help them upgrade their cruising sailboats into state-of-the-art, ocean-going survival pods. Let’s begin!





The vast majority of sailors are NOT wealthy yachtsman. They are regular people who learned their skills without spending a fortune doing so. Your local Parks and Recreation Department will often have low cost sailing instruction. Don’t be put off if it looks like the lessons will be conducted in tiny boats, because it is actually best to learn in small craft, since they are so responsive to the moodiness of the wind.

There are also low-cost sailing clubs in many towns as well as programs offered through community colleges. The back of most sailing magazines will list programs where you can learn sailing. The costs range from reasonable to extravagant. Just hitting the docks at your local marina is a very inexpensive option. Most sailors are pleasant, easy-going people. If you express an interest in learning, and offer to swap some help with boat projects, you have a good chance of picking up some free instruction. Volunteering to crew on local racing boats is another option. You will initially be given simple tasks, but if you pay attention, you can swiftly learn a lot. There are many “how-to” books that provide excellent instruction on the basics of sailing. Many libraries will carry some of these. Otherwise, they can easily be googled up.

So, as you can see from the preceding inventory, there are lots of ways to learn basic sailing. Once that is achieved you will need to acquire “cruising skills.” In a way, this is even easier, because the sailing magazines run a steady stream of articles dealing with topics such as anchoring, dinghy selection, outboard motor repair, food provisioning, navigation and various potential emergencies at sea. A couple of inexpensive subscriptions to sailing magazines would provide you lots of valuable information. And many libraries have current and back issues of these periodicals. Another excellent, inexpensive resource is the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. They offer many free and low-cost courses in such topics as safe boat handling, first-aid and coastal navigation.




34′ Hunter 34
US$ 27,900
Groton, CT
29′ Hunter 29.5
US$ 25,000
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21′ 4 ” Hunter 22
US$ 24,862
Mystic, CT
30′ Catalina 30 Sloop
US$ 24,900
New London, CT
Springline Yacht Sales, LLC Annapolis Yacht Sales Springline Yacht Sales, LLC Springline Yacht Sales, LLC

Just as there are many options for learning how to sail, there are also lots of ways to find a suitable boat that can be both your joy and your protector. When friends ask for suggestions, I recommend fiberglass boats in the 30 to 45-foot range. My preference for fiberglass is because they are light but strong. They are also low maintenance and since they are the most prevalent on the market, they are reasonably priced. There are certainly merits to the other hull materials – steel, aluminum, wood and ferro-cement – so if that is your preference, indulge it!

http://www.wheretraveler.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/Bumfuzzle-Family-Aboard-Dec31-1-1.jpgMy size recommendation is based on the fact that the majority of the sea gypsy community is likely to be couples. Less than 30 feet and things get a bit cramped. And when it is more than 45 feet, the vessel becomes difficult for just 2 people to handle because of all of that weight and power. Additionally, the 45 feet size should adequately take care of the needs of families with kids.

While you are learning basic sailing, you will probably start noticing boats that appeal to you. Owners love it when a stranger approaches them and says, “That sure is a fine looking boat…what kind is she?” By window shopping your nearby docks and by paying attention to the boats in the magazines you can become fairly knowledgeable quite swiftly.

Here is another important tip for quickly increasing your knowledge. Go to a website called yachtworld.com. Then click on their “brokerage” section and type in specifics such as “used, sail, fiberglass, 35to 45 feet and under $60K.” Most of the listings that pop up will have multiple photos of the exteriors and the interiors as well as the “specs” or specifications for that vessel.

Once you have a better sense of your needs and wishes, you can get serious in your search. Start locally by walking the nearby docks and searching for boats with “for sale” signs. Check the classifieds in your local newspaper and also in any free “shopper” papers. There are also regional editions of Sailboat Trader which can usually be found at convenience stores.

Many sailboat designs have “owners’ groups” who find each other on the Web and exchange information about their boats. So, for example, if you found yourself desiring the venerable old Pearson 424 design, you could google up their owners’ page and see if they know of any sister ships for sale.

There are many listings in the back of the sailing magazines. Besides the glossy national publications, there are several regional ones that are published on newsprint that are also very helpful. Latitude 38, which originates from San Francisco is a good example of one of these. Almost all of these are free and almost all sailing magazines have complimentary online versions.

And, of course, there are also professional boat brokers. These folks are quite different from the typical used car salesman who is trying to close the deal while you are there on the lot. Brokers realize the magnitude of your purchase, and they don’t try to rush you into a decision. Most marinas will have some marina brokerages nearby or you can locate them in the yellow pages or online. And speaking of the differences between buying a car and a sailboat, you’ll be happy to learn about professional yacht surveyors. This is a specialist who carefully examines the vessel and then makes a thorough written report of its strengths and deficiencies. Banks and insurance companies require this. But for “cash and a handshake” purchases, this is not necessary. However, considering the value of the investment, a yacht survey is usually well worth the expense.



Hopefully, my suggestions will help you find your dream boat. When that happy day arrives, your focus will then shift to preparing her for the rigors and joys of the open ocean. There are a few excellent books to help guide you through this process. My favorite is READY FOR SEA by Tor Pinney, because it is well written and contains a wealth of information that is understandable even to a novice.

It is important to emphasize that ocean sailboats are complex creatures. There are MANY systems that are vital to a sea boat that are not needed in your house, apartment, condo or yurt. Here is a list of some of them:

Anchors/autopilots/bilge pumps/diesels/dinghies/GPS/ham and SSB radios/ life-rafts/outboard motors/radars/roller-furlers/solar panels/winches/wind generators/and windlasses


Now I realize that this might seem daunting, but most used boats on the market are already equipped with many of these systems. And more importantly, that less-complicated but stationary house will not help you escape in the case of a societal meltdown. Now I could devote thousands of words to arguing the merits of any of these pieces of gear, but it is far better for the novice to research this on their own. Pore through the magazines and “how to” books and ask other sailors on your docks. Another excellent source for information on properly outfitting your boat is the West Marine Catalog, which is available free of charge from this nationwide nautical hardware store. Scattered within its pages are short “advisors” on just about every boat system you would desire.




SPECIFIC SEA GYPSY TRIBE PREPARATIONS Everything that I have described thus far would apply to anyone who wanted to wander the wide waters on their own sailboat. Now I will outline some specific preparations for long-term self-reliance in case civilized society starts to unravel. I emphasize that my hope is that this will never occur, nor am I claiming that it will occur. But there is much wisdom in “hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst!” This is the portion of this essay that is directed not just to the “Recruits” but also to the “Converts” and the “Seekers.”

The most vital needs in a survival situation are probably:


http://image.made-in-china.com/43f34j00ZKnEVfFllucy/Seawater-Desalination-Reverse-Osmosis-Water-Maker-BWD-500L-.jpgWATER A human can survive for weeks without food, but only for a few days without water. On a sailboat there are two basic ways to stay supplied with drinking water. The low cost option is to “catch” water directly from rain showers. I call this sky water and it is delicious. I use an awning that dips towards its mid-point and funnels the rain through a hose directly into my tanks. I let the first couple of minutes of rain wash the awning clean, and then hook the hose up to the tanks. Then a foot-pump down at the galley sends the water to a Brita pitcher which then filters it. In my decades of cruising I have never run out of water and that includes ocean passages of up to 30 days.

The second option is a reverse-osmosis water-maker that converts sea water into fresh water. There are both manual and electric versions. The electric ones only need to be run for a short period each day, in order to produce far more water than you need. They are low maintenance and some of them can also be pumped manually if there is a problem with your ship’s electrical supply. As for the problem of oceanic acidification, I have not heard any reports from my friends with water-makers, saying that this has become an issue. I also assume that the manufacturers are paying close attention to this and beefing up their filters.

FOOD Non-perishable foods are the mainstay of a survival vessel. Most sailboats do have refrigeration systems that can be powered by solar panels and/or wind generators. But these fridges are mostly devoted to lengthening the edibility of perishable foods such as meat, dairy products and vegetables. On an extended voyage, or if supplies ashore are cut off, there will be no food left to cool. So the fridge will just become a glorified beer cooler.

Nowadays, many more boats are using freezers, which greatly increase one’s perishable food capacity. These require far more energy, and usually necessitate running the diesel or generator for an hour or more each day. But since this essay foresees a world without readily available petroleum, a sizable solar or wind generation capacity is required to keep a freezer functioning.

Because I have always been on the impoverished end of the sea gypsy financial spectrum, I have mostly sailed without refrigeration. But I have not suffered because of this. A quick inspection of my ship’s cupboards reveals the following wealth of long-term foods that are readily available from any grocery store:

Almonds/beef stew/black beans/Bragg’s liquid aminos/brown rice/canned beef/canned chicken/canned clams/canned fruits/canned salmon/canned shrimp/canned soups/canned veggies/cashews/cereal/crackers/dried fruits/egg noodles/fruit cocktail/garbanzo beans/gouda cheese/honey/jelly/lentils/long-life bread/long-life /mac and cheese/mayo/nutritional yeast/oatmeal/paella mix/pancake mix/pasta/peanut butter/powdered/eggs/powdered milk/protein powder/red beans/salami/sardines/spaghetti/sugar/tea/tofu/TSP/whole wheat flour/etc

This inventory should demonstrate that eating aboard an ocean-capable sailboat is not just beans and rice drudgery. Furthermore, I supplement these supplies with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. I have dozens of the large #10 cans filled with such treats as beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki and dehydrated broccoli. A little water and a very short cooking time and you have delicious meals.

I also keep a supply of canned bacon, cheese and butter aboard. If you google up “survival foods” you will find contact info for purchasing these extremely valuable products. Growing my own alfalfa and mung bean sprouts has been a tradition aboard AVENTURA for many years. A large jar of these tiny seeds will provide you months of tasty sprouts that are alive with nutrition.

There are also old sailors’ tricks for extending the life of perishable foods without refrigeration. For example, potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage will last quite some time if stored in cool, dark locations. Raw eggs can be coated in Vaseline to extend their usability and I wrap apples, oranges and zucchinis in aluminum foil to help keep them fresh.

An important component of the onboard, long-term food supply will be fishing and foraging. Fish, lobster and crab from the sea and clams, mussels, and oysters from the shore are all mighty fine and nutritious foods. Seaweed is also something that will prove very valuable although I personally need to learn much more about identifying and harvesting the best types.

Food drying, especially fruit, seaweed and fish is also an area that requires more of my attention. I look forward to increasing my knowledge and therefore my food independence as I research this. Thus far my web surfing has failed to locate a good, affordable solar food dryer. There are plenty of electric ones available, but since they must run for hours, they are a huge drain on the ship’s electrical supply. However, there are nice solar ovens and cookers already available and one of them is high on my wish list. Sun-baked bread is reportedly quite delicious.


In concluding this vital section, it should be emphasized that a well-provisioned sailboat can be an island of comfort and safety as the food procuring situation dangerously deteriorates for those stranded on the land during any severe catastrophe.

SHELTER A person in his or her sailboat is like a turtle in its shell – you bring your own house with you. This also allows you to bring along a nice supply of creature comforts as well. My library is a constant joy for me and positioned beside it is a nice selection of movies on DVD which I can watch on this very laptop. Plus I have plenty of music CDs onboard as well.

And for high-end boats with water-makers and propane water heaters there are hot showers even a thousand miles from land. And if there is no longer any propane, they can shower as I have contentedly done for years, by using a very low-priced but efficient solar shower.

Being able to move your comfortable shelter is probably its greatest feature. If I was in the U.S. and some sort of societal meltdown began, I could depart in a matter of hours. I keep my diesel fuel, water tanks, propane supply and food always topped off. I would bid farewell to my local friends, email my more distant ones, go buy fresh fruit and meats and veggies, check the weather forecast online and get underway.

I would then set a course for one of my favorite Third World countries – probably in Central America. There are well-considered reasons for this choice. Because their basic infrastructure is LESS reliable than ours, they have adjusted to disruptions and can handle them better. Because of previous problems with the transportation of food, they usually have a supply stock-piled, so they won’t become violently upset by the trucks not arriving. And they don’t have the “entitlement” issues of the citizens of the wealthier countries that make them so dependent on governmental assistance. Essentially, these folks have always demonstrated a better capacity to fend for themselves.

http://yachtpals.com/files/userimages/boats-guns.jpgPROTECTION In my Sea Gypsy Tribe essay I emphasized the tremendous danger that starving, heavily-armed MARAUDERS pose to land-based people. My belief is that the only real strategy for avoiding this life-threatening likelihood is to LEAVE. In my carefully considered opinion, staying onshore and attempting to win a seemingly endless series of firefights to protect one’s family and food is a fool’s mission.

But what about the hazards that might exist “out there?” Let’s begin by talking about piracy. Most of the attacks that draw a lot of media attention are directed towards large ships and not at small sailboats. When there are incidents involving cruisers, the word gets out so quickly through ham and single-sideband radio nets, that it is easy to avoid the problem areas. Essentially, there are only a few dangerous regions and since we know where they are, we don’t sail there. Would you vacation in Afghanistan?

Many, if not most, countries force you to surrender any guns that you have onboard when you clear in with Customs and Immigration. Failure to do so can result in fines, jail time and confiscation of your boat. But the likelihood of any sort of attack is greater when close to shore than it is in open waters. So, just when you might need your weapon, it is locked up in the Customs office. Some sailors deal with this dilemma by hiding things deep in the boat during the inspection process, and then moving them to a more readily accessible spot when the authorities leave.

There are legal forms of protection with less stopping power but still considerable impact. This would include flare guns, pepper spray, crossbows and spear guns. There are also adaptor kits available that allow a flare gun to fire a shotgun shell rather than a flare.

One of the hallmarks of my personal defense strategy is that I would NEVER use lethal force just to stop a thief. If someone is threatening me or a loved one with bodily injury, I would definitely respond appropriately, but I would not shoot my spear gun into the back of someone trying to steal my dinghy.

If I felt someone hop aboard my boat I would keep my hatches shut and blast them with my air horn from down below while switching my deck lights on and off. If that did not convince them to leave, I would proceed to more assertive tactics. One protective layer that I still need to investigate is a simple car alarm style horn that I could activate from down below if I sensed an intruder. The motion-activated ones are not ideal onboard because boats are often moving due to waves and wakes. But a manual one might be a very effective deterrent.

http://k0gkj.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/radio-on-board-varnish-003.jpgCOMMUNICATIONS Often when there is a severe natural disaster such as an earthquake, the normal communication systems are completely disabled. The same would be the case in a “grid-down” emergency. In such situations the first on the scene reports are usually transmitted via Ham radio operators. The reason for this is because there is no intermediary infrastructure involved. There are no cell phone towers or underground cables or bundles of fiber optic strands. As long as the receiving and transmitting radios are functioning, communication is possible. And since these radios can easily remain charged up using solar panels and wind generators, the ocean sailor has a far more reliable communication system than people back onshore. In a potential collapse situation this is not just comforting but potentially lifesaving.

CONCLUSION In my two Sea Gypsy Tribe essays, I have attempted to convince whoever is willing to listen, that brutally hard times might await humanity. And I have tried to persuade those open to my message, that the best way to survive such catastrophes is by escaping on a well-equipped ocean-ready sailboat. But besides just evading these disasters, the various sea gypsy tribes scattered upon the wide waters, can also help repopulate the planet. Hopefully as they do so, they can avoid the horrible mistakes that techno-industrial civilization made. My dream is that they will create a Humanity 3.0 that will bequeath us Mozart without the mushroom cloud.

The Sea Gypsy Tribe

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on July 6, 2013


Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

Note from RE:

With this  article, we welcome The Sea Gypsy Philosopher Ray Jason to the Pantheon of Cross Posting Bloggers on the Doomstead Diner. Ray is a live aboard Sailor, right now somewhere down in the Banana Latitudes probably howling at the wind and swimming Naked in some isolated cove somewhere.

I’ve written numerous essays on the Sailing culture of the Polynesians, and on many occassions inside the Diner we have discussed the Pros and Cons of the Sea Gypsy lifestyle as a means to make it through the Zero Point.  I have long hoped that someone pursuing this paradigm would join the Diner, and yesterday when Ray emailed me, it was a No-Brainer to add him to the Blogger Pantheon here on the Diner.

We look forward to hearing more from Ray here on the Diner, and discussing with him the various aspects of Sea Gypsy life.


A fine sunset is beginning to pastel the sky. I am seated on AVENTURA’S cabin top watching a great blue heron standing motionless in the twilight shadows, patiently awaiting its dinner. The melancholy is heavy on me tonight. These pristine, quiet, un-peopled places do that to me.

AVENTURA under wayMy sweet, strong sailboat and I have been together for over a quarter of a century. While aimlessly meandering amidst some fond memories of our decades together, I am suddenly jolted by an unpleasant realization. It is all so profoundly different now. When we first sailed together, she was just a sea-going magic carpet, transporting me to far-away lands, plush with exotic creatures and cultures. But now she has also become a survival pod, protecting me from the possibility of societal collapse.

Admittedly, when I first disconnected from life on the land, the world was already extremely dysfunctional. That was part of the enchantment of the sea gypsy life – that I could voluntarily exile myself from much of the violence, injustice, ugliness and shallowness of modern techno-industrial society.

But in only 25 years, global conditions have gone from deeply disturbing to cataclysmic. We certainly knew back then that our human activities were damaging Mother Earth, but we didn’t realize that our conduct could actually unravel the critical bio-geo-physical systems that sustain all life on our luxuriant, garden planet. Who would have believed that we could actually annihilate our support system?

I might not have believed it back then, but I certainly do now. That’s because sailing the wide waters imposes a heightened sense of reality on a person – far more so than shore-side life. Out on the vast ocean, where one has to fend for oneself without any nearby assistance, delusions can kill you. So, my many years at sea have trained me to see things as they are rather than as I wish them to be. And what this sea gypsy beholds just beyond the horizon is grave and frightening.

Fortunately, others far wiser than me also see the troubles ahead, and they are attempting to raise the alarm about the impending catastrophes. But tragically, they are almost completely ignored. This neglect is so significant that I have created a term to describe these well-intentioned messengers who carry such unwelcome news. I call them the Cassandra Choir, because they suffer the same ignoble fate that befell the mythological character Cassandra. She could accurately foretell the future and she used this gift to warn her people about the woes that awaited them. But they either ignored or scorned her.

The truth-tellers of our modern Cassandra Choir are relentlessly marginalized and ridiculed by what I call the TMA – The Malignant Authorities. These political, corporate, religious and media gatekeepers are so obscenely engorged with wealth and power under the existing system, that they will fight ruthlessly to defend the status quo. They desire a population of The Asleep. They fear a population of The Awake.

So they label those in the Choir “screwball doomers” and claim that the risks that they are exposing are greatly exaggerated. The TMA do their utmost to insure that the message of the Cassandra Choir is suppressed, because when looked at objectively, it is supremely convincing. (At the end of this essay I will provide a footnote listing many of these insightful and courageous thinkers. A few weeks spent reading them, will probably convince you that our current path will most likely lead to a devastating societal collapse.)




The phrase that I use to describe the possible catastrophes confronting us is the Big Bad “E”s, which stand for Energy, Economy and Ecology. One of these alone could destabilize the world so profoundly that the life that we currently take for granted would be shattered. But because they are so intertwined, an emergency in one will probably impact the others, thus compounding and accelerating the problem.

Let’s look at Energy first. Any clear thinker can discern that Petroleum has virtually enslaved us. Its black hand is smeared across every aspect of our daily routines. Without abundant, affordable liquid fuels the food trucks stop delivering to the grocery stores, the tractors aren’t plowing the fields, the airplanes don’t fly, and the container ships can’t transport low-priced consumer goods from East to West. And even more disastrously a large portion of the power grid goes down. Without electricity, the air conditioners don’t cool and all of the electronic gadgetry that mesmerizes the citizenry into a docile stupor suddenly disappears. The swiftness with which the fabric of civil society can be shredded will be astonishing.

As for Economics, because of the interconnected nature of our globalized world, a crisis in one area will impact billions on the other side of the planet. Should China decide to renounce the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency and install its own gold-backed yuan, this will have profound repercussions in every nation and in every market, whether it is stocks, bonds or commodities.

The Ecological future looks even more terrifying each passing month. Melting ice caps, further destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, bubbling tundra, and a relatively new environmental horror – climate change denial – add up to a grim path forward…and most likely downward.

These are just a few “scribbled on a napkin” examples of possible disasters headed our way that easily came to mind because of my years of researching the likelihood of Collapse. Anyone, who thoroughly investigates the existing data, is likely to reach a similar conclusion – that we are probably doomed. Almost the entire Cassandra Choir agrees in this regard. A huge die-off of billions of people and a reset to an almost unrecognizable, low-tech style of living seems to be the consensus.

And the most radical sector of the Choir is so pessimistic that they have coined the term NTHE, which stands for Near Term Human Extinction. They believe that Homo Sapiens will either go completely extinct or only a few pockets of a remnant population will survive. I ardently hope that this is not the case, and my research up to this point has not totally convinced me that this is the case. But there is a wise old sailors’ adage that goes like this: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst!”

It is in this profoundly empowering spirit that I have written the rest of this essay. Up to this point it has just been an introduction or a setting of the scene. The rest of this meditation is my core message and my heartfelt truth. I hope it proves to be a helpful addition to the growing conversation on how we can most wisely confront the agony that lies ahead.




Many members of the Cassandra Choir paint a sobering and convincing portrait of the horrors that are headed our way. The unsettling images in their books and blogs are so disturbing that they often feel obligated to conclude their message on a more cheerful and optimistic note. So they usually extol the value of “resilient communities” that can protect their members from the ravages that most people will experience.

I greatly admire the basic concepts behind this Transition Town – perma-culture – low-tech model. But sadly, I believe that this response to an imploding world is as doomed as the “stay in the city and see what happens” approach. The reason for my concern can be stated in one word – MARAUDERS! As a friend of mine tragically describes it, “The Amish are toast.” When people are cornered into choosing between starving and marauding, it is fairly easy to predict their decision. This is a recurring blind spot in the otherwise brilliant and well-grounded thinking of the Cassandra Choir. How can they not foresee that their vegetable gardens and root cellars and chicken coops will be stormed and ravaged by heavily-armed, hungry people?

But the solution that I am proposing to any worst-case Collapse scenario deals with the problem of marauders effortlessly – you simply sail away from the violence and mayhem that is overwhelming both the cities and the countryside. I call my alternative approach THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE.

Name any apocalyptic scenario, and I will argue that being at sea in a sailing vessel is the best way to deal with it. Pandemic? The contagion danger comes from large groups of humans jammed closely together. Grid Down? Sailboats are self-contained survival pods with wind and solar power systems, water-makers and long-distance radios. Thermo-nuclear? There is not a single ICBM on the planet aimed towards the middle of the ocean. And the fallout danger is more easily handled in a boat with ¾ of its surface area underwater. Famine? It is easy to have a year’s worth of provisions stashed onboard, and the sea provides, fish, shellfish and seaweed. Submerged Coastal Cities? Not an issue in a floating survival module.

But more than just being a survival concept, I also envision the Sea Gypsy Tribe as a “seeding” option. Here is my basic premise:

I believe that if there is a near extinction catastrophe, a Sea Gypsy Tribe has the best chance of both surviving and replenishing the human population in the wisest manner.

Those last four words are exceedingly important – “in the wisestmanner.” There is already a fairly large group of people who have been paying attention to the global unraveling, and who have responded by preparing for the worst. These folks are usually referred to as “preppers.” I applaud their foresight and dedication. But I have grave doubts about their ability to reboot the post-Collapse emergent world “in the wisest manner.”

That’s because most of the preppers are very religious and patriotic. And there is overwhelming evidence that more blood has been shed in human history in the name of god and country than for any other cause. And besides that, the hierarchal nature of religions and nations invariably attracts the most ambitious, ruthless sociopaths who ascend to the highest positions of power. They would soon be repeating the same mistakes that plague us today.




What I propose is a far bolder vision of a post-Collapse future. I call it Humanity 3.0. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors were Humanity 1.0 and our civilized forebears comprised Humanity 2.0. For about 2 million years the Paleolithic tribes lived peaceably with each other and in balance with Nature. They perceived the world as a web and themselves as but one strand amongst millions of others. They lived a life of harmony rather than hegemony.

But then about 10,000 years ago at the onset of what I term “conquest agriculture,” humanity drastically changed its philosophy. These Neolithic villagers started viewing all of Life as a pyramid with Homo Sapiens at the pinnacle. And they perceived this position as a justification for ruling over all of the other life forms on the planet. This marked the beginning of what we term Civilization. It also marked the arrival of States and Churches and Rulers and Priests. As this worldview expanded and accelerated, it has unleashed dire consequences for all life-forms. And now it even jeopardizes our future existence as a species. I discuss the disastrous, unintended consequences of Civilization in much greater detail in my essay entitled “The Vast Picture.” _________________

I believe that the Sea Gypsy Tribe can function like the monks of the Dark Ages who preserved the best of the Greek and Roman cultures, which then led to the Enlightenment and to the Renaissance. Our mission would be to conserve the best of Humanity 2.0, and also to sound the alarm about its worst elements. I have a catch-phrase to describe this – “Mozart without the mushroom cloud.”




AVENTURA at anchorPerhaps the best aspect of my Sea Gypsy Tribal concept is that it is achievable. It does not require a global paradigm shift. It just needs about 1,000 kindred spirits. I use that arbitrary number because many anthropologists believe that after the last great human extinction event, which was the Toba volcanic eruption approximately 17,000 years ago, there were only about 1,000 survivors, and yet they successfully managed to repopulate the planet.

Right now there are already tens of thousands of people scattered around our wet, lush planet living a full-time sailing life. The vast majority of them do not possess what I would consider essential Sea Gypsy Tribal values, but there is probably a tiny minority that is ripe and anxious for my message. We just need to find each other, discover our common philosophical beliefs and exchange contact info. Then, if things start deteriorating, the various seagoing tribes can come together in their particular neighborhood of Mother Ocean.

A simple means of identification is the Earth Flag. I have been flying mine for decades. It symbolizes my desire for a world without borders. Anyone displaying the Earth Flag is probably an excellent candidate for the Sea Gypsy Tribe.




So, what sort of paradigm shift in values would I wish to see in this new, water-borne community? I’ll gladly provide some examples, but I emphasize that I am vehemently against “imposing” a philosophy on anyone. My goal is to inspire. I believe in “suggestions” and I despise “commandments!” If I was a Sea Gypsy Tribal Elder here are some of the things that I would recommend to my clan. They could then choose whether or not to embrace them.

  • HUMANITY’S PLACE IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS. We have tried to elevate ourselves above the other creatures on our planet by claiming that we are human “beings.” But we are actually just human animals. We have further deceived ourselves, by claiming that the geometry of life is a pyramid, and we humans are at the apex. So this entitles us to dominate and control everything else – including the creatures, the land, the water and the air. We must return to the geometry that our Humanity 1.0 hunter/gatherer ancestors so clearly understood – that life is a web and damaging one strand damages the whole.
  • THE LIMITS OF GROWTH. Only a buffoon believes that there can be infinite growth, which requires infinite resource extraction, on a finite planet. But beyond the absurdity of the equation, there is also the atrocity of its perspective. The few dozen indigenous tribes still surviving on our blighted, techno-industrial planet view the rivers, forests and mountains as their living neighbors. They don’t see them as commodities – as hydro-electric power, as board feet or as open-pit mines. Gaia should be enjoyed, cherished and protected – not strip-mined!
  • A WORLD OF TOO MUCH TECHNOLOGY CANNOT BE REPAIRED WITH MORE TECHNOLOGY. The Luddites in England and the last Samurai in Japan were correct – the seductive benefits of techno-industrial Civilization would be short-lived. But the horrors that they spawned would be forever. The 443 nuclear reactors in the USA are a testament to this. It takes about 10 years to decommission each one. What will happen if the power grid goes down swiftly and all those cooling ponds dry up? We should abandon our addiction to “the latest gadget” and embrace low or appropriate technology. A basic, any-ocean sailboat is a great example of this. It is a bridge across to the Old Ways. Or as I like to say, “The path to the Future leads to the Past!”
  • IMMERSION IN NATURE IS A NECESSITY AND NOT A LUXURY. None of the 80-90 indigenous tribes still living in their native habitats, suffer from mental illness, or require psychiatrists or need psycho-tropic drugs. Our Paleolithic operating system is designed for living in “the Wild” and not in “human-built environments.” I get to spend long periods alone with the creatures of the sea and the sky. To me this is not a vacation, it is a vital psychic centering. We must come home to the wild.
  • HIERARCHAL SOCIETIES BECOME HORRIBLE SOCIETIES. Tribal societies are small bands where everyone knows each other and they work together for the good of the clan. There are no rulers and ruled, no rich and poor, no inequality between the sexes and no chiefs living in splendor, while the rest live in squalor. But hierarchal societies suffer from all of those injustices. And despite the false propaganda, those who rise to power in hierarchies are not usually the “best and the brightest.” Instead they are the most ambitious, ruthless and despicable, thus leading to “dominator” cultures that spew death and destruction across the planet. Hierarchies should be as unwelcome as the bubonic plague.
  • CAPITALISM MUST CAPSIZE. It should be obvious that any system that places profit ahead of both people and the planet will end up being a disaster for both. Any economic model that worships greed, cannot possibly serve the common interest or the greater good. The tribal model has provided fulfilling lives without jeopardizing the environment for 2 million years. Shouldn’t we dismantle the Capitalist system which only enriches a tiny elite, and in just a few centuries is destroying the ecosystem which we depend on for our very survival?
  • CHURCHES AND STATES MUST STAY BURIED IN THE ASHES. The most obscene atrocities in human history have usually been committed in the name of the love of god or the love of country. There is nothing wrong with striving for spiritual joy, but organized religions that demonize other groups and command their annihilation, should never re-emerge from the Collapse. As for States, humanity existed contentedly for 2 million years without them. And in only 10,000 years since their arrival, we have massacred hundreds of millions of people and now are on the verge of decimating our planetary support system. Churches and States should be buried for eternity in the world’s most polluted toxic waste sites.

If I was a Tribal Elder at a Council of Deciding, these are the far-reaching changes that I would recommend to my people. They may seem radical, but I perceive them as “radically sensible.” Also, it should be remembered, that these proposals are designed for a future scenario where there has been a cataclysmic societal collapse and the survivors are attempting to rebuild a civilization far more enlightened than our current version.




But let’s hope that we are never in that position. A huge majority of my personal friends regard my views on the possibility of impending collapse as semi-lunatic. They agree that the world is enormously screwed up, but they believe that humanity will continue to muddle along with things steadily deteriorating, and then some miracle will come along and save us. I would be delighted if they are right and I am wrong. But if they ARE correct, I still encourage people to consider adopting the Sea Gypsy Tribal Path as perhaps the healthiest way of living on a very diseased planet. These are some of its many rewards that I know so well from my decades of Sea Gypsy living:

  • You are a World Citizen and thus in no way supporting the imperialistic perversions of any government.
  • You live in the Yellow Light rather Than the Blue Light. Your illumination comes from Mother Sun and not from electronic addiction devices.
  • You can escape the steady defilement of daily life as world governments keep morphing into police-surveillance states.
  • You can reconnect with and embrace anew your wild, animal self.
  • You can live slowly and simply – immersed in Nature – and exiled from the meaningless frenzy of the so-called real world.
  • You can discover anew a sense of connectedness as you mesh with your new tribe of kindred spirits.




I hope that my words and my vision will inspire some of you out there to consider the Sea Gypsy Tribe as a viable alternative to a possible disastrous future. My desire with this article was to introduce an entirely new and potentially successful approach to worst case scenario survival strategy. But to state it more poetically, my heart of hearts hope is…that this little essay will launch a fleet of a Thousand Thoreaus.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: As promised here are some members of the Cassandra Choir. The topics that they emphasize in their thinking and writing include: Collapse, Peak Everything, Downside of Civilization, Economic Lunacy, Eco-Disaster and How the World Really Works. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but it will give anyone with a sincere interest in re-evaluating the Future, a lot of wise resource material.

Dmitry Orlov, James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg, Chellis Glendinning, Guy McPherson, Carolyn Baker, Derrick Jensen, Daniel Quinn, Morris Berman, John Zerzan, Jerry Mander, Jared Diamond, Howard Zinn, Albert Bates, Naomi Klein, Jan Lundberg, Paul Craig Roberts, Chris Hedges, Michael Ruppert, George Mobus, Dave Pollard, David Korten, Bill McKibben, William Catton, Thomas Berry, Tyler Durden, Matt Simmons, Stacy Herbert, Max Keiser, Gail Tverberg, Gerald Celente, Joseph Tainter, Ronald Wright, William Banzai and many more fine and courageous thinkers…




A House for the Future

Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall

Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on July 31, 2013

Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

It seems we’re all at it now. Those of us dot-connectors who are concerned enough about the future to take action and relocate are scurrying across the face of the planet looking for somewhere we consider the odds might stack up in our favour a bit better than where we were before. Over at Resource Insights, Kurt Kobb can be seen relocating across the vastness of America to a new home in Oregon, the Doomstead Diner’s RE went one step further and is now hiding out somewhere in Alaska and Ray Jason explains why he has taken to the high seas.

As for myself, I chose to take flight from the ostensible safe haven of Denmark and fling myself and my family to the furthest western reach of Britain – namely Penzance in Cornwall. I described my rationale behind the move here, and all I can say at present is that after four months here it feels like the right choice. I did, of course, buy a piece of woodland nearby, which is where I’m crafting my post-industrial career as a woodsman, with the first half acre of chestnut and oak to be coppiced this winter. At some point in the future, perhaps when planning regulations have drowned under their own weight, I’ll build a nice little hobbit hole there. It’ll be somewhere I can put me feet up and roast chestnuts as I eke out my non-retirement in as comfortable a manner as possible.

But that’s future talk. Right now it makes more sense to be within a town, close to the children’s school and also the shops. Which is why we’ve just completed the purchase of a house right in the centre of town.

Now, I would say that it’s been quite a long and fraught process getting hold of this particular house. Not only did I have to take a major loss on otherwise stranded assets from our life in Spain, but I also had to negotiate several fraught months of having that money within the UK’s increasingly fragile banking system, with a major risk of me being asked to bail out one of the TBTF banks with my savings. Nevertheless, the camel passed through the eye of the needle and I was able to spend pretty much every penny on a place that we can now call home and which we own 100% without even a penny of debt.

None of it would have been possible had my father not passed away last year, but I think he would approve of the fact that we have bought what he would term a ‘fixer upper’. That is, the house is solid and the fundamentals are all in a good state, even if it needs something of an overhaul in various areas which I will list below. I’m only setting this out so that others may also start to think about what is important in a house fit for the future, and it’s in no way an attempt to show off my abode as if I’m this week’s  Through the Keyhole mystery person.

It’s perfectly possible, if you have ownership of your own property, to live very simply and cheaply. These people here manage to do so – perhaps they are role models whom we should seek to emulate (as is Joan Pick). With that in mind my criteria for buying a house were relatively straightforward:

– It has to be built to last. Most houses built in Britain after the last world war were not built to last. The one we chose was put up at the end of the nineteenth century, is constructed from heavy granite, is standing on bedrock and shows no sign of it not being able to stand for another thousand years or so. The walls are thick and the foundations are solid.

– It had to be big enough to allow for different economic activities to be undertaken in it, but not so big that it would be unaffordable to heat or maintain. Ours has a basement which can be dug out some more and used as a workshop by my wife for her upholstery business, and  – joy of joys – an office space for me on the top floor. Furthermore, my assumption is that my kids will not be able to afford their own homes in the future, and that they’ll be hanging around in our house far longer than is currently considered normal. With four floors, there should be space for us all.

Under the house
My new office. That old writing desk was rescued from a skip by my father in the late 70s

– It had to be close to amenities so that we can walk everywhere. Our house is a two-minute walk from the shops in the centre of Penzance. The town has pretty much everything you might want, from food stores and cafes, to a hardware store and a library. The hospital is a ten minute walk, the kids’ school a five minute walk and the nearest pub is 98 seconds away (I timed it).

– It had to be easy to retrofit. One of the first things I will be doing is studying the central heating system and figuring out how I can get it running on wood fuel. I have two very heavy and antique wood-burning stoves from Scandinavia, which I salvaged, and which will be useful in our house as soon as I have disconnected the gas. At present all water heating is done by a dangerous-looking boiler in the basement which has a very large gas-guzzling pilot flame.

The boiler. To be replaced by a wood-burning stove with a water tank attached

I’ll be looking to get water heating panels on the roof as soon as I can, and probably solar PV ones as well. At present the government is offering ‘free’ solar panels, although there are plenty of strings attached. I don’t want to get into any debt, but nevertheless may take them up on this offer given that we have no more funds to finance things like that. The house is aligned north to south, meaning the morning sun heats up the back and the afternoon sun hits the front.

There is a carport at the back, big enough for two cars. My plan is to rip up a lot of the concrete and plant a small garden here. There’s also a tiny garden at the front, which will probably just remain ornamental, perhaps with these coffee bushes (the house next door has bananas – everything seems to grow here).

Some coffee bushes and olive seedlings I picked up
The carport – just the right size to make a small enclosed garden

There are, of course, a whole lot of other factors that I need to take into account – especially insulation. But it is a terraced house, meaning that heat is not lost on either side, and the huge thermal mass of the walls at the front and back should be handy for keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer.

– It had to be above sea level. At 40m, up a steep hill from the sea (which is about half a mile away) I’m not too worried about sea level rise and storm surges just yet.

– It had to be affordable. This is one reason to choose the far west of Cornwall. Although house prices are still inflated by the bubble, this is one of the more affordable areas of the UK. Our budget was £200,000, which is about £40,000 less than the average house price. This is still an outrageously high amount by historical standards, and I’m fully aware (and grateful) that by some good fortune we had the money for it.

This alcove should be good for stacking wood in

– It had to be located in a good economic community. Penzance is a smallish market town with excellent trade links. The nearby railway station offers services to London, and everywhere in between, which is why the town thrived in Victorian times as fresh fish and flowers were sent daily to the capital, and tourists flowed in the other direction. Penzance is also a port, and it is easy to get to nearby France and Ireland. The house we have bought was most likely built by a merchant from those times. Given that I presume we will be rewinding the clock and going back to an economic model that will look a lot more like Victorian England than the current fantasy-based economic model, this can only be a good thing.

As you can see from some of the pictures I have included, I have a wealth of junk that needs sorting through. My several years’ dumpster diving in Denmark mean I have a lot of nice old furniture, plus several thousand books and enough old but functional tools to set up a second hand hardware store. It will seem incredible in years to come that I was able to come by all of this stuff for nothing – or almost nothing. In total, I have five large trailer-loads full of ‘stuff’ – two of which are still in far-flung corners of Europe (another Spanish adventure awaits next month), which is the culmination of at least four lifetimes. And even then we are still lacking such basics as a sofa and mattresses – although I’m certain I can get hold of these from Freecycle in the coming weeks.

And below is the view from my new office window which looks out over Mount’s Bay to St Michael’s Mount. It beats sitting in the kitchen staring at a white wall, which I have been doing the past few years writing this blog, but it remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to stop looking at it and actually get some work done.

So that sums up our new abode. It’s been a long and winding journey to get here and it’s emptied the coffers but – as Dmitry Orlov notes – we’re going to lose our money anyway, it’s up to us to choose the manner in which we do so. And that’s just what I’ve done. I have no debt, no pension fund to look forward to, no stocks or shares, no precious metals hidden away and very little cash and no permanent job – but what I do have is a house that is suitable for living in and earning money from into the far future and that, in my opinion, represents a store of real wealth.

This Was The Week That Was in Doom August 5, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 5, 2013


Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.



 exposing a crime

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. Niemoller’s words, spoken at various times during the postwar era, and including various groups depending on the audience (Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, Trade Unionists, or Communists), served as an indictment of the cowardice of the leaders of German Protestant churches–their complicit silence throughout the Nazi era, turning a blind eye to the imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions.

It is irresistible to compare that era to this one as the spin-down becomes more pronounced, and the overreach more absurd. As in Germany in the 30s, the legal foundation for a more repressive order has already been laid here in the FSA, with laws and definitions sufficiently elastic as to enable any interpretation useful to TPTB. And now the meat is laid on the bone in the form of an unprecedented pursuit of whistleblowers, a panopticon of a surveillance state that ingests and stores every digital communication of every citizen, a hyper-militarized and nearly-out-of-control local constabulary, layers of federalized surveillance personnel, and one House of Congress as intent on wanton destruction and vandalism as the young serial-killers-to-be who, when I was a young boy, blew up a turtle with M80s, and equally possessed of empathy– sociopaths all.  And we watch in complicit silence.

“Complicit silence” is certainly a harbinger of these times, not only of churches, but of the other institutions of what used to be a social order. Media no longer informs, schools no longer teach, laws are written by scriveners employed by billionaires, to be duly passed by their craven hirelings in statehouses and Congress, industries control their own oversight, banks no longer lend money. When revealing the truth is a crime, we well and truly know we are governed by criminals. Voters are the only group in Washington without a lobbyist. And one might well quote Yeats, whose post World War I musings ring prophetic today:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

The Second Coming,” 1919


Manning convicted on only 19 charges

Apparently the only male member of the Manning family not currently quarterbacking an NFL franchise, Bradley Manning was acquited of the absurd and overreaching charge of “aiding the enemy,” but convicted on 19 other charges by a military judge this week. He is due to be sentenced this week. The Manning trial and the Snowden flap illustrate in full relief the depth of the Obama administration’s hot war against whistleblowers of all stripes.

It is breathtaking to consider the contrast between the rhetoric of the Obama administration today from what it was in the election in 2008, When BHO was promising “hope” and “change”.




Manning was acquitted on the worst of the charges, that of aiding the enemy. Had the judge found him guilty of that charge, he would’ve faced a life sentence in prison without any possibility for parole. Some say that civil libertarians fear that a conviction on that charge, not used since the Civil War, would have chilled would be government whistleblowers. One wonders if this climate for whistleblowers could possibly be any colder; the Obama administration has taken the worst excesses of hunting down whistleblowers and extended it to exotic new heights (see the post about Edward Snowden, below.) Esquire’s Charlie Pierce even took a few moments off of his vacation to opine thus:

The “aiding the enemy” charge was so preposterous on its face, and so evil in its intent, that it tended to obscure how contrary to acceptable American jurisprudence the entire situation — from his detention to his trial — regarding Bradley Manning was. But it was in that charge that this administration — this Democratic administration, headed by a former professor of constitutional law — demonstrated its willingness, if not its eagerness — to elevate information into a tin god to whom we are all suppliants, and against whom we have no civil rights worthy of the name. A conviction on this charge literally would have criminalized the dissemination of information, which is the central purpose of the First Amendment, as long as one of our many purported enemies had access to a computer, or a buck to pick up The New York Times at the newsstand in Abbottabad. It would have made free expression subject to the hypothetical future acts of international criminals and sociopaths. The prosecutors claimed that Manning should be punished because the people in the compound in which Osama bin Laden had been murdered had downloaded some of the information that Manning had released to WikiLeaks, as if that proved Manning’s desire to assist our “enemies,” and not the fact that the Internet is a marvelous environment for getting out the word. This is the logic of authoritarians. That it was pursued so vigorously by a putatively democratic state should terrify us all.

Indeed it should. One of the great services that both Manning and Snowden (not to mention Assange) have provided to American citizens still able to pay attention is that they have smoked out the slavering lackeys of the national security state.  After last week’s close vote in the House of Representatives affirming funding for the NSA spying programs, it is clear that the safety of the state is the state’s highest virtue, and that the truth does not even show up on the radar. This comes as no surprise to readers of this blog; yet all the snow people who, being decent people themselves and good neighbors, find it difficult to believe in the level of depravity exhibited by our so-called elected representatives and their appointees…

In a memo to the CIA workforce this week, Brennan says the “Honor the Oath,” campaign is intended to “reinforce our corporate culture of secrecy” through education and training. The Associated Press obtained the memo Wednesday, marked unclassified and for official use only.

Brennan writes that the campaign stems from a review of CIA security launched last summer by former director David Petraeus, following what Brennan calls “several high-profile anonymous leaks and publications by former senior officers.”

Some of us thought we could expect better from elected Democrats. Not so:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s response to the Snowden leaks on NSA mass surveillance illustrate the establishment’s response to the exposure of truths, especially when those truths involve the governments systematic targeting of innocent Americans in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. Feinstein asserted:

“I don’t look at this as being a whistleblower. I think it’s an act of treason,” the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told reporters.

The California lawmaker went on to say that Snowden had violated his oath to defend the Constitution.

“He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s treason.”

We have handed over the keys to our government and its policy making institutions to people who are eager for us to forget who we have been. Interesting that Feinstein should cite the violation of. It seems that if you take an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution, and the policies of your government run directly counter to that of, then whistleblowing is an act of heroism rather than treason.

Should you have any interest in understanding the specific ways in which Bradley Manning has changed the world and added to our knowledge, follow the link below. We will not belabor this further.

Top 10 Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World


Will Barry Get His Groove Back?


One sign that Obama is off balance is his unforced errors in dealing with Russia. The bizarre assumption from the get-go seemed to be that Putin would cooperate and hand over Edward Snowden once the Russian leader was prodded a bit.  That clearly didn’t happen, and now Snowdon has asylum inside of Russia. Given the status of US-Russian relations,  believing that Putin would hand this Snowden over was borderline delusional. Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism had a terrific, in depth article this week. A Must Read. Here’s a taste:

Thanks to Obama’s famed “no drama” coolness, it’s hard to detect when he’s breaking a sweat. But if you look at the substance of his actions, it’s clear the President is losing his famed poise, at least as far as Snowden and the surveillance state revelations are concerned. I’m not sure yet whether his missteps are simply the result of personal obsession, or whether Obama recognizes he’s slipping into lame duck status, and his frustration with his declining power is most evident where he is most stressed, which is on the NSA revelations front.

One sign that Obama is off balance is his unforced errors in dealing with Russia. . . As Michael Hirsh explained:

In the decade after the Soviet Union’s collapse in late 1991, the United States offered up a lot of poor economic advice — high-minded tinkering by the free-market consultants at the Harvard Institute for International Development, as well as the IMF…

That era of mistrust of America led directly to era of Putin. Since then, despite various attempts at what former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called a “reset” of relations, the U.S. has tended to encourage Russian suspicions by generally treating “Russia as heir to the USSR’s policies and objectives,” Leslie Gelb and Dimitri Simes write in a new article in The National Interest…. “This creates an impression that the West’s top priorities, long after the Cold War, include not merely containing Russia but also transforming it.”

Putin cleared his throat early on and reminded the US that Russia had no extradition treaty with the US and in general did not extradite people. Packing Snowden off because the US asked for him was not on the table. Putin took the position that the Snowden wasn’t worth exploiting for his annoyance value to the US: “It’s like shearing a piglet: a lot of squealing and little wool.”

The Yves Smith article is well worth your time.


The Death of Truth


The remarkable Chris Hedges, a national treasure, recently published an article in Truthdig that features an interview with Julian Assange  and which puts Assange, Manning, and wiki leaks in useful perspective.

U.S. government officials quoted in Australian diplomatic cables obtained by The Saturday Age described the campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks as “unprecedented both in its scale and nature.” The scope of the operation has also been gleaned from statements made during Manning’s pretrial hearing. The U.S. Department of Justice will apparently pay the contractor ManTech of Fairfax, Va., more than $2 million this year alone for a computer system that, from the tender, appears designed to handle the prosecution documents. The government line item refers only to “WikiLeaks Software and Hardware Maintenance.”

There are no divisions among government departments or the two major political parties over what should be Assange’s fate. “I think we should be clear here. WikiLeaks and people that disseminate information to people like this are criminals, first and foremost,” then-press secretary Robert Gibbs, speaking for the Obama administration, said during a 2010 press briefing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and then-Sen. Christopher S. Bond, a Republican, said in a joint letter to the U.S. attorney general calling for Assange’s prosecution: “If Mr. Assange and his possible accomplices cannot be charged under the Espionage Act (or any other applicable statute), please know that we stand ready and willing to support your efforts to ‘close those gaps’ in the law, as you also mentioned. …”

Republican Candice S. Miller, a U.S. representative from Michigan, said in the House: “It is time that the Obama administration treats WikiLeaks for what it is—a terrorist organization, whose continued operation threatens our security. Shut it down. Shut it down. It is time to shut down this terrorist, this terrorist Web site, WikiLeaks. Shut it down, Attorney General [Eric] Holder.”

It gets deeper, and more draconian:

The dragnet has swept up any person or organization that fits the profile of those with the technical skills and inclination to burrow into the archives of power and disseminate it to the public. It no longer matters if they have committed a crime. The group Anonymous, which has mounted cyberattacks on government agencies at the local and federal levels, saw Barrett Brown—a journalist associated with Anonymous and who specializes in military and intelligence contractors—arrested along with Jeremy Hammond, a political activist alleged to have provided WikiLeaks with 5.5 million emails between the security firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) and its clients. Brown and Hammond were apparently seized because of allegations made by an informant named Hector Xavier Monsegur—known as Sabu—who appears to have attempted to entrap WikiLeaks while under FBI supervision.

Hedges conducts an extneded interview with Julian Assange in an impassioned essay that travels (by way of Oscar Wilde and the Cadogan Hotel) to an impassioned conclusion:

The world has been turned upside down. The pestilence of corporate totalitarianism is spreading rapidly over the earth. The criminals have seized power. It is not, in the end, simply Assange or Manning they want. It is all who dare to defy the official narrative, to expose the big lie of the global corporate state. The persecution of Assange and Manning is the harbinger of what is to come, the rise of a bitter world where criminals in Brooks Brothers suits and gangsters in beribboned military uniforms—propped up by a vast internal and external security apparatus, a compliant press and a morally bankrupt political elite—monitor and crush those who dissent. Writers, artists, actors, journalists, scientists, intellectuals and workers will be forced to obey or thrown into bondage. I fear for Julian Assange. I fear for Bradley Manning. I fear for us all.

This space cannot do this marvelous article justice. Read it at Truthdig.


Earthquakes burp up methane bubbles

meanwhile, back here outside of the Ecuadorian Embassy, we still have to live on planet Earth, where conditions are going to get both hotter and meaner. Were already ticking away at carbon dioxide levels higher than we would have expected,  and as the earth gets warmer, the North Pole melts during a heat wave, the glaciers melt, methane bubbles up. As a greenhouse gas, methane makes carbon dioxide look like a piker.  Oh yeah, and then there are earthquakes:

The long-suspected link between earthquakes and underwater methane bursts has finally been confirmed, reports a study published on Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Though the temblor wasn’t caught in the act, the strong shaking left clues in methane-rich mud and sand offshore of Pakistan, where two of Earth’s tectonic plates collide at the Makran subduction zone. In 1945, a magnitude-8.1 earthquake struck along the subduction zone, killing at least 300 people and triggering a tsunami.

Recently, researchers studying methane seeps in the Arabian Sea discovered unexpectedly large quantities of methane gas and minerals such as barite and sulfate just below the seafloor surface, on a ridge near the Makran subduction zone. The minerals and gas accumulate at a certain rate, so the team could calculate when the methane indicators first appeared — between 1916 and 1962. Combined with other clues, such as seismic surveys of disturbed sediments, the scientists concluded that the 1945 earthquake released methane gas into the ocean.

“Three lines of evidence came together saying the earthquake triggered the amplification of the methane flux,” said David Fischer, lead study author and a geochemist at the MARUM Institute at the University of Bremen in Germany.


Fukushima radiation levels as high as 2011

  It goes from bad to worse at Fukushima. This week, water samples taken underground below the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contained levels of radiation comparable to those taken right after the catastrophe 1st occurred in 2011.

According to a Saturday statement by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the tested water contains 2.35 billion becquerels of cesium per liter, and the radioactive water is now seeping into the sea. The findings were also evident from samples taken within a 50-meter radius around the plant.

TEPCO’s specialists have hit a wall trying to solve the problem of the leaking groundwater, which has persisted since 2011. However, unlike then, they cannot tell what the source of the new-found radioactivity is. The current explanation is that the radioactive water that had been left in the underground trench some two years ago is now mixing with the groundwater, which is in turn contaminating the sea.

The current investigation started back in May, when specialists registered a 17-fold hike in radiation levels compared to December 2012. More tests immediately followed.

It seems apparent that TEPCO does not really know how to contain the damage at Fukushima. It is quite unclear whether anybody on planet Earth does. Meanwhile, here in the FSA, the nuclear industry has come a cropper. The government has done everything possible to encourage nuclear power through subsidy, reducing safety standards after Fukushima, obliging Japan to restart its nuclear program, participating in a cover up of the severity of the Fukushima accident, raising acceptable radiation limits, shuttering radiation measuring stations, and agreeing to purchase radioactive Japanese seafood for consumption in the domestic American market. Your tax dollars at work.


EPA Censored Key Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Study

 Perhaps you still retain some optimism. Perhaps you still believe in open change. Perhaps you think that in a Democratic administration, the co-optation of oversight agencies charged with protecting the commons, like the Environmental Protection Agency, would no longer be captive to special interests. That would mean you haven’t been paying attention to Obama’s appointees. But suffice it to say that the EPA brought the hammer down on its own study on hydraulic fracturing groundwater contamination in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Though EPA said Dimock’s water wasn’t contaminated by fracking in a 2012 election year desk statement, internal documents obtained by LA Times reporter Neela Banerjee show regional EPA staff members saying the exact opposite among friends.

“In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation…staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production,” writes Banerjee.

“The presentation, based on data collected over 4 1/2 years at 11 wells around Dimock, concluded that ‘methane and other gases released during drilling (including air from the drilling) apparently cause significant damage to the water quality.’ The presentation also concluded that ‘methane is at significantly higher concentrations in the aquifers after gas drilling and perhaps as a result of fracking [hydraulic fracturing] and other gas well work,” Banerjee further explained.

It’s essentially a repeat of Steve Lipsky’s water contamination by Range Resources in late-2010 in Weatherford, Texas. In that case, EPA conducted a taxpayer funded study, determined Range had contaminated his water, sued Range – and then proceeded to drop the suit and censor the study in March 2012.

Really, how transparent doesn’t have to be to see that the fix is in?

Tiny Plastic Beads Are Latest Pollution Threat To The Great Lakes

It appears that in our postindustrial age, we’re not capable of making anything at all that does not have lasting deleterious effects. As if racking did not cause enough problems with water, comes this notice this past week about the Great Lakes and tiny little plastic beads.

Tiny plastic beads from beauty products are showing up in North America’s Great Lakes, and an environmental group is calling upon companies to stop using the plastic particles.

Scientists have already found the particles, known as microplastic, floating in the oceans but recently reported the same contamination in the largest surface freshwater system on the Earth. The particles are often less than a millimeter (0.04 inch).

A team of researchers with 5 Gyres Institute, a non-profit California-based environmental activist group, collected samples from lakes Erie, Superior and Huron last summer and found large quantities of round, plastic pellets.

“They matched the same size, color, texture and shape of the microbeads found in popular consumer products,” said the group’s executive director, Marcus Eriksen. He said the group plans to publish the research in a peer-reviewed journal later this year.


 Dirty Hands: 77 ALEC Bills in 2013 Advance a Big Oil, Big Ag Agenda

While the House of Representatives votes for a 40th time to repeal Obama care, then dispatches itself on a 5 week paid vacation while the rest of the swelter in the hinterlands, we can comfort ourselves in knowing that ALEC never sleeps.


The American Legislative Exchange Council is busy writing legislation, which it then delivers to its hand-picked bill sponsors in nearly 30 states across the country. This off-the-shelf and ready to go legislation invariably serves corporate interests, is reliably anti-labor, and anti-environment. Not surprisingly, Alec’s tar sands and fracturing, and works diligently to make sure that those industries get the red carpet treatment for every time they show up at a statehouse.


At least 77 bills to oppose renewable energy standards, support fracking and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and otherwise undermine environmental laws were introduced in 34 states in 2013, according to a new analysis from the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org. In addition, nine states have been inspired by ALEC’s “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act” to crack down on videographers documenting abuses on factory farms. 

ALEC, Fueled by Fossil Fuel Industry, Pursues Retrograde Energy Agenda

For decades, ALEC has been a favored conduit for some of the worlds largest polluters, like Koch Industries, BP, Shell, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil, and for decades has promoted less environmental regulation and more drilling and fracking. 

ALEC bills in recent years have pulled states out of regional climate initiatives, opposed carbon dioxide emission standards, created hurdles for state agencies attempting to regulate pollution, and tried to stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation introduced in 2013 carries on this legacy. ALEC bills favor the fossil fuel barons and promote a retrograde energy agenda that pollutes our air and water and is slowly cooking the planet to what may soon be devastating temperatures.

“Disregarding science at every turn, ALEC is willing to simply serve as a front for the fossil fuel industry,” says Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “Given the stakes–the earth’s climate–that’s shabby and sad.”

Shabby and said. That’s ALEC  at work, every day. Rust never sleeps.


You’re Shitting Me, Right?

And we now come to that portion of the column in which the headlines beggar belief, let alone reason. In which we read the headline and say, this can’t be true. Were there must be a catch. Or I need new glasses…

Lifelong ‘frack gag’: Two Pennsylvania children banned from discussing fracking

The 7- and 10-year-old children of a Pennsylvania couple that reached a settlement following a lawsuit involving health issues brought on by fracking have been barred from discussing details of the case for the rest of their lives.

Though a gag order is not unusual in itself when large corporations reach a settlement with plaintiffs in court, the August 2011 case of a family that went to court with Range Resources Corporation, Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream, and Markwest Energy due to the environmental and health impact caused by gas fracking operations has raised eyebrows for its inclusion of the couple’s young children.

The Pennsylvania family reached a $750,000 settlement with the gas companies, and have used the award to relocate. In exchange, however, Chris and Stephanie Hallowich agreed that no member of their family could comment on the case “in any fashion whatsoever.”

Details of the case only emerged recently when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette managed to get court transcripts released. The paper’s reporters were originally barred from attending the settlement hearing, and had to wait until a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a lower court had erred in blocking the unsealing of the records.

Court records, which should have included details of the settlement but did not, paint a confusing picture for Chris and Stephanie Hallowich as they tackled the significance of their gag order.

“We know we’re signing for silence forever, but how is this taking away our children’s rights being minors?” Stephanie Hallowich asked the judge.

“I mean, my daughter is turning 7 today, my son is 10.”


Armed Agents Raid Shelter to Kill Baby Deer — Apex of American Insanity Reached


In a case that highlights absolutely everything wrong with this country,  Wisconsin state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) agents and sheriff’s deputies “armed to the teeth” raided a non-profit no kill shelter based on multiple anonymous tips of a deer on the premises. Aerial photos were taken, warrant issued, and the raid ensued by heavily armed agents. The staff was corralled, not permitted to make calls and a cellphone was confiscated to delete pictures of the raid. A baby deer (named Giggles by the staff) was indeed seized and stuffed into a body bag…and then promptly killed by the agents. The presiding warden compared it to a drug raid to justify the SWAT-like tactics.So a local family finds a fawn they believed abandoned by its mother, so they take it to the shelter. Some whacked if-you-see-it-say-it super citizen notified the authorities. Department of Natural Resources investigates covertly, including capturing aerial photos showing the deer. They get a warrant. Heavily armed agents raid the place, staffed by animal loving volunteers. They find the deer. They seize the deer. They kill the deer (according to subsequent inquiry into the fate of the deer). Wisconsin law does not permit possession of wild animals you see. So it requires a SWAT like raid. With guns. Lots of them.

Two weeks ago, Schulze was working in the barn at the Society of St. Francis on the Kenosha-Illinois border when a swarm of squad cars arrived and officers unloaded with a search warrant.“(There were) nine DNR agents and four deputy sheriffs, and they were all armed to the teeth,” Schulze said.

The focus of their search was a baby fawn brought there by an Illinois family worried she had been abandoned by her mother.

This is wrong on so many levels:

Are we over this police state shit yet? Does every damned thing require a SWAT like approach? It was a fucking baby deer! …at a shelter…staff mostly by kids.   And this took a raid? A warrant? Aerial shots? What, they send up a drone? Why not have a local DNR lady drive up in her state truck and walk through the fucking door like a sane human being? Where is the proportionality in our society?

Thus does our militarized police state justify the huge investment in military hardware. This is what happens when you give drones to Barney Fife.


Fox host: Feeding hungry seniors is ‘called buying votes’ –

Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Tuesday accused the AARP of signing hungry seniors up for food stamps as part of a “buy-the-vote campaign” to benefit President Barack Obama.

On Saturday, the Tribune-Democrat reported that the Pennsylvania chapter of the AARP launched an effort to sign more people up for food assistance after finding that “almost 350,000 seniors in Pennsylvania do not always have enough money to buy food.”

“It’s called buying votes,” Varney opined on Tuesday. “It’s happening in Pennsylvania, Georgia, a couple of other states.”

“What about pride?” Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade wondered. “What about pride in not getting food stamps because they don’t need them?”

“The AARP, huge supports of President Obama, politically and financially, big supporters of Obamacare,” Varney explained. “And now they’re out there signing people up for food stamps. This is part of the buy-the-vote campaign. They’re really shifting America, changing what America really is.”

“But if they’re hungry they should get it, and if they qualify,” co-host Steve Doocy noted.

“Yeah, should they?” Varney grimaced. “Should people be going out there, ‘Give it to me! Give it to me now!’ You want that? Is that America?”

“They are acting on behalf of the president and, I repeat, I think it’s buying votes with taxpayer money,” he insisted.

This page wishes Stuart Varney an edifying hunger that will restore his humanity and fellow-feeling for his neighbors, and the early opportunity to choose between food and medications by means of survival.




O’Reilly: Blacks need ‘peer pressure’ more than sex education and contraception

More from the source of most unintentonal humor, Faux Newschannel™.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly suggested on Friday that many of the problems in the African-American community could be solved by using peer pressure instead of sex education and contraception to prevent unmarried women from having children.

In response to protests over the George Zimmerman verdict, O’Reilly has spent recent days opiningon how to solve problems in the African-American community.

“The big one is the collapse of the family, traditional family in the African-American precincts,” he told Democratic strategist James Carville on Thursday. “I want a big, public campaign funded by the federal government to go in and tell the girls and the young ladies, ‘Don’t do this, this condemns you to poverty, it is destructive to your child, wait until you have a stable situation to become pregnant.’ Would you get behind that campaign?”

“I would get behind if it had comprehensive sex education and had easy access to contraception,” Carville replied.

“That’s all adjacent,” O’Reilly said.

“No, it’s not,” Carville insisted. “I think the idea that the federal government is going to tell a 17-year-old that you just wait and you don’t have sex, I don’t think that’s going to be effective.”

“It has nothing to do with sex, it has to do with getting pregnant,” the Fox News host quipped.

“Well, you know, one leads to the other,” Carville pointed out. “Let’s really fund Planned Parenthood.”

“So, you don’t want peer pressure brought, you want to fund, fund, fund!” O’Reilly exclaimed. “More money, more money.”


The “anti-God” party

You can’t be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time, Virginia’s GOP candidate for lieutenant governor says. More from the man whose political campaign is tantamount to being the “Political Columnists Full Relief Act of 2013.” After decades of sporting road signs that announced, “Virginia is For Lovers” at major roadways entering Virginia, the regime of major grifter Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound has replaced them with signs that announce, “Virginia: Open For Business.” E.W. Jackson is Ultrasound’s intellectual spawn, as he hopes to occupy the statehouse with Ken Cuccinelli, the gubernatorial candidate. More proof that nowadays, Virginia is for haters. Salon posted this:

In a local radio interview this morning, Virginia Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson said the Democratic Party is “anti-God” and that Christians should leave it.

Jackson has said in the past that he thinks believing in God and voting Democratic are fundamentally incompatible, so WLEE host Jack Gravely asked if he still believes it. Gravely explained that he’s a Christian and tends to vote Democratic, just like his parents and family. Jackson didn’t back down.

“You are saying for us, we’re all wrong, leave that party. And all I’m saying to you is, if you said it before, you still have to believe it, why did you say it?” Gravely asked. “Oh, oh, oh I do believe it,” Jackson responded.

He continued: “I said it because I believe that the Democrat Party has become an anti-God party, I think it’s an anti-life party, I think it’s an anti-family party. And these are all things I think Christians hold to very dearly.”

Listen to the interview here.

Jackson, a bishop and outspoken social conservative, has run intro trouble for his stridently anti-gay and antiquated social views in the past. Even his running mate, the state’s GOP gubernatorial nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, who is no San Francisco liberal himself, has distanced his campaign from Jackson’s.

While Republicans do tend to be slightly more religious than Democrats, 77 percent of Dems surveyed by Pew last year said they “never doubt the existence of God.” Sixty-two percent of Democrats also agreed that prayer is an important part of their daily life, and that “we will all be called before God at the Judgment Day to answer for our sins.”


We may well all be called to answer for our sins in the fullness of time. And at times like these, “complicit silence” may be the greatest sins. Having a ringside seat to these perfidies obliges us to act upon the knowledge that we possess, according to our own best lights. In days where truth has been sacrificed to expedience in the name of profit, knowing and spreading the truth becomes a moral–if dangerous– act.

Echoes of the Foxstead Future

Off the keyboard of Gypsy Mama

Published on The Butterchurn on July 11, 2013


Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

This post was written before Foxstead Chronicles #1.  I had it on hold to add photos.  A little out of order, but here’s a little blog about our visit with Roamer last Saturday.


Watching Roamer and LD through the window today, my hope for the actuality of the Foxstead/Sun Project grew. After a few beers at the thrift store patio table sitting in front of the Gypsy house, the two decided to co-dig a moat for drainage out of the dry pond bed LD dug months ago. We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain the past few days, so the soil was prime for diggin’.

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I watched from the kitchen window while rinsing out some breast pump appliances and freshly sanitized bottles. A few of the blankets that we use to child proof/protect our couch (we call them couch condoms) were hanging on the clothesline in the foreground, dancing in the perfect wind that had come after a few rainstorms.

The two were wielding their weapons of choice, digging effortlessly in the saturated soil.  “Groundbreaking”  I thought.  This is a moment I must photograph…after I finish this bowl of chili while the boys are sleeping.  As I stood in front of the window, shoveling the chili leftovers that LD had cooked for us at the beginning of the week, I saw him put his weapon into the sheath of the soon-to-be broken ground that laid ahead of the moat outlined by little orange flags on metal sticks (landscaping flags?).  He leaned over and extracted something from the ground and then darted off around the side of the Gypsy house.  I knew just where he was headed…he’d found a grub to feed to the chickens.  We call those big, fat, white grubs “Chicken treats.”  I’m not sure exactly what sort of insect those grubs would become if left to wiggle around beneath the soil, but I’m pretty certain that they would mature into the dreaded Japanese beetle.  A garden predator.  See?  Digging Earth is our preventative organic pesticide.


After awhile, LD came into the house to grab one of the glass gallon jugs of water that we keep rotated in the refrigerator.  He has a bit of an addiction to ICE, so as I type this, he is rumbling around in the kitchen.  I’m sure soon the freezer will open and the dollar store ice trays will crack.  Yep…there he goes ;)   I went into the kitchen to help him find the outdoor water glasses that I’d recently moved to the other side of the kitchen (just to fuck with him, he’d say.)  He was looking for a water container to share with Roamer.  Work must be getting heavy now! They’ve put down their beers and have began their water intake.  The yard doesn’t know what to expect now.

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Soon, the boys and I will be able to join them outside.  Zen is at the tail end of his nap that began 1 hour and 47 minutes ago.  I’m sure it won’t last too much longer.  Little Tribann, after gurgling down just over 5 oz. of freshly pumped breast milk, is chillin’ in his little baby rocker seat in front of me.  I’m using my big monkey toe to rock him.  This movement is replacing the foot shake that usually accompanies a good writing session.  He’s quite content…thinking about going back to sleep.  He occasionally curls his fists up under his chin to get comfy…a sure sign that he’s relaxed.

I told Tribann that we’d be going outside with Dad as soon as his big brother wakes up from his nap.  I think he’s excited.  This baby loves the outdoors just like his Mom, Dad and brother.  In fact, I think he gets a bit grumpy when he has not had enough Vitamin D.  We’ve concocted an outdoor set up for our little almost 7 week old (He’ll be 7 weeks old tomorrow).  He has his very own bug proof lounger to hang out in with us.  It is a hand me down from his big brother. A hand me down of a hand me down, actually. We were given the Jeep stroller years ago after we wrecked our original one in a walking trail accident.  Now there’s a memory I’d like to revisit for a good laugh.

The short version of the stroller Jeep accident goes like this:  LD and I decided to take baby Zen for a stroll on a newly developed walking trail a few years ago.  LD was always making fun of me for overloading the diaper bag…and therefore, the stroller, with baby gizmos and preventative what-if tools.  I am a master at packing EVERYTHING we MIGHT need.  In the middle of the three mile long trail, the rear axle on the stroller broke and was unrepairable.  We had to drag that beast all the way back to the beginning of the trail.  LD and I took turns carrying the bag(s) and Zen.  You should have seen the looks that folks who were also out for a walk gave us when it was MY turn to drag the stroller.  (I wanted to do it).  Great social project for sure. It was like there should have been a hidden camera nearby.

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When Zen wakes up and we venture outside today, Tribann will be all set up with padded mobile comfort and mesh bug protection. He is nice and acclimated to being outdoors already. He doesn’t whine for air conditioning. If there is no breeze, however, we do provide him with some pivoting floor fan luxuries.  He loves it out there.  One of the first times we took him for a stroll in the yard, he slept by the garden bed while Zen and I put transplants in the ground that LD had combed and thinned from the “Zen garden” bed’s mane.

Zen just woke up. He is a grumpy waker, that kid…just like his Mom was about 3 years ago.  (I’ve since adapted to not being able to sleep until noon if I wanted to).  He’s over there rubbing his face on the naked couch cushions. (See? Couch condoms.)  Once the face rubbin’ stops and Tribann is finished eating at Mom’s, we’ll be able to join the makings of the Foxstead dream out there digging trenches (LD would call them swales) in the yard.

Once outdoors, Zen took to the creek developing in the yard instantly.  He went into the Gypsy House, grabbed his metal shovel with a wooden post that he got for his birthday, and started scoopin’ dirt from the ditch to place it into the garden cart.  A little boys’ heaven.

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After about 10 minutes of diggin’ and scoopin’, Zen found an earthworm in the trench.  He picked it up and began his trek over to feed it to the chickens without direction.  Good stuff going on here. ;)   Good EGGS to be had here, too.  Whenever those chickens start eating bug matter, their eggs turn a golden, deep orange.  Our girls’ eggs are tastiest in the Summer.

Soon after the earthworm became a chicken treat, it started to rain again.  The hole diggin’ ceased and the roll up doors to the Gypsy house closed for a mini-storm to roll through…producing just enough water and wind to drive us into the GH for awhile.  Long enough for Zen to sneak a Grandma Cindy popsicle out of the freezer, long enough for both LD and Roamer to crack open a new beer and long enough for Mother Nature to provide a pond and trench demo.  An agreed upon concensus  was made for tonight’s meal of Bison and Steak to be Mexican themed.  Early discussions began about lucky numbers, following your own proverbial bliss or the “intuition of your bliss  — This will lead to more than what came before it” per Roamer’s definition.


“Teach Ayden how to harvest compost.  Hook something up to his tractor so he can haul it off”– Roamer has begun bonding with Zen.  During the rainstorm I caught him enjoying the childlike glee present in Zen…soaking up the happiness exuding from him as he tromped around in mud and dipped his head into rainwater collected in one of his yard toys…taking his magnifying glass on a bug hunt.

I joined in on Zen’s adventurous search of discovery.  We gathered cucumbers around the hugelbed as LD and Roamer discussed the future next to the moat.  Echoes of the future abound.


One day’s bounty.


The groundbreaking hole diggin’ team.


Diners unite.

The Foxstead Chronicles 1

Off the keyboard of Gypsy Mama

Published on The Butterchurn on July 8, 2013


Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

sun-whdThe SUN Project

Sustaining Universal Needs: Journal Entry 1

I’m going to have to throw this blog up there, without putting the time I need into it to make it marketable…but I have to say, quickly (I’m a tired Mommy who can’t stay up too much later)… that the Foxstead is HERE.  I’m not sure why I didn’t see it before, but here it is.

Tonight I stood in our yard, holding a sleeping Tribann.  I saw our property and the surrounding land around us in a new, moonlight, light.  Moonlight was not the only light out there tonight, however.  These strange power surges echoed across the sky tonight too…shedding lots of new light onto this subject:  “Where will the Foxstead become a reality?”

In my mind, tonight it did.  It is now a reality.

When we first moved here, LD posted this blog:  http://emtmusings.blogspot.com/2012/03/epiphany-now-photojournal-1.html 

He knew, long before me, that we were building a future here.  THIS IS THE FOXSTEAD.

I’ve also composed a quick, mental, unedited list as to where I see the future of the Foxstead emerging that I want to share.  A sort of timeline, really.  It may change…it is preliminary, it is a vision and I am excited…so I am typing frantically to try to get all of these ideas out there to share.  I know it will take some time for these ideas to emerge, and be visible to the members of the Diner so I will have to be patient.  Please be patient with me, as well, as I begin the journey into telling you why I feel the Foxstead has already been created, right before my eyes, in my own backyard.

Tonight, as I stood in our back yard holding Tribann, I saw beyond the confines of our property’s chain link fence in a new way.  It was as if someone smacked me across the face, using some power electric technology…offering my bliss back, tangibly.  I took the bait.

Strangely, all of this talk about “Seeing” things in a new way is ironic.  I have a pretty severe case of eczema going on right now on my right eye.  It is all swollen and itchy.  Pretty unbearable at times.  It makes my eye water constantly.  Zen asks me frequently if I am crying.  It’s pretty ugly.  I took a few pictures of myself holding Tribann tonight.  I’ll share them later so that you’ll be able to judge for yourself whether or not I have a magic gypsy eye.  I’m thinking I might.  It may just need to itch and weep for me to see things the way I should, sadly.  I’ll have to find a way to welcome it in without such a painful emergence next time around.  So…let it be said, MAGIC GYPSY EYE, you are WELCOME!!!!  You don’t need to break out with eczema anymore for me to be able to see the Future more clearly.

Anyhow….when Roamer visited this weekend, we discussed how the trailer park/RV park model was THE way to begin our model.  Then I realized that there is a trailer park next door to us…a bunch of tin cans and EMPTY ELECTRIC AND SEWER HOOKUPS!!!!! COME on DOWN, Diners!!!!!  Reanteben?  Monstaa and girlfriend?  Ships ahoy, mates!

Then, I connected that RE had allowed us to make this address, this location, the center of the SUN project, which is essentially the Foxstead’s gossamer veil for the public.

Then I realized that when Roamer was here, we had shared the dream of owning a large piece of property to create a Foxstead.  I was pushing wanting to own property with  a Farmhouse on it.  Tonight in the yard, I realized that there is a FUCKING FARM HOUSE just across the field from us.  The empty, more than likely for SALE field just sitting there, waiting to be purchased.

Now…purchasing the farm house is going to be far into the future…but so will purchasing the RESTAURANT across the street from the Farm house.  Anyone who pays any attention to LD and his posts knows that he loves hole diggin’ and cookin’ up concoctions.  Be it ferment, mexican themed wraps, pancakes or biscuits…the man is a CHEF.  Lucky me!  Lucky boys, too!  Aunt Bee will pretty much jump the baby gate for some of LD’s pancakes.  Ask JoeP about the fermented hot sauces.  Ask Roamer about LD’s mexican cookin’ and AM biscuits.  We shall hold onto the dream of owning that restaurant.

Then…I see an empty field (also probably purchasable…easily purchasable, in fact.  Perfect for cattle, sheep, goats and some permaculture production of nut trees and perennials using Mark Shepard’s methods as brought to “light” in my eyes via LD and Roamer.

Then, I envision a sort of English garden where sheep are the lawnmowers of our paths.  The paths that connect the garden beds to the flower beds to the gypsy house.

Then I envision living in the Gypsyhouse.  Then I see our current house as a converted apartment for Diners to come.  Then the top garage becomes an idea for conversion into two small rental properties to bring money in to fund the diner…to promote it, to make it profitable.

THEN, those trailers next door look even more appealing for the money making profitability of the future.  I think of how the owner of the trailer park is elderly.  He’s knockin’ on his 80′s at least.  His son is apparently planning on clearing out the trailer park to build apartments.  Could we buy the land from them before that happens?  DO we have enough funds to convince the elderly father and perhaps his son, to sell us the land that the trailer park sits on?  Do they have a good enough relationship as to where the Father won’t sell the land to us before his eventual death?  Will the son accept a decent amount of money for the land to be bought before his father’s death?  These questions rolled around in my head.

Soon, I saw that we owned the trailer park.  We owned the land, owned the plots, and were BRINGIN’ in the RENT from the current occupants.  We spoke to one of those occupants recently.  He owns his trailer, but pays $300 a month parking fees for his lot on the property, plus electric.  Say we buy the trailer park…the current residents sure would be happy with their new owners if we lowered their rent to $250/month for good measure.  We’d create great connections with them from the start.  They’d like us.  They’d be interested in what we were doing or they would move their tin can.  That’s cool.  More room for RE to pull in his RV!!!!!!

Anyhow…that is as far as I think I can go tonight.  The screen is getting blurry through my magic gypsy eye.  I need rest.  Tribann is in my lap snoring, so that doesn’t help me make the process of staying awake to get my message across any easier.

So…maybe I’ll continue what else is around these parts of the Foxstead to the potential soon-to-be residents in a following blog.  For now, just study the below photo that I drew out tonight with the Wacom tablet that my former rich photographer ass purchased to be super master photographer.  Funny how things connect full circle.  Zen.

The photo shows that across the street from our property.  The blue is water.  The orange is peaches, the red is danger, the green is forest, the yellow is fields (empty, and established with vegetables and edible growth), the black is road, the gray is gravel.  NOTE:  the land with the pond and the fields connecting to the peach fields and swamp is FOR SALE and I am in LOVE WITH IT!!!!!  I plan on speaking with LD’s Mom and Dad about a co-purchase of this land.

ImageNext image I’ll post will be of our current set up, and will show the proximity of the trailer park, farm house, LD’s restaurant and purchasable fields and restaurant.

THAT’S NOT ALL FOLKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Before I began this blog post, I began writing a little fictional tale of the future of this Foxstead.  I’ll leave you with what I wrote to lure you back in to the next blog:


This idea is going to have to be a blog, guys.  I’m not sure where my “traffic” is coming from these days, but I have a feeling that a decent number of diners might stop in every now and then.  The Gypsy house at the end of this hilly gravel road doesn’t see very much movement these days.  I’m unsure if anyone is out there, really.  Some of the more skillful minds who have survived the collapse we all knew was coming may know of some way to access the internet.  We wish you were all here.  Luckily, we have Haniel to take care of our server needs here at the Foxstead.  He’s saved our Server’s ass more than once from Big Brother and his burly siblings. RE still receives our messages and manages to get my newest messages posted at the Doomstead Diner.  He has managed to survive the great beyond so far, the old fart.

Here’s an update on what is going on at the FoxStead. The FoXStead newsletter: VoL 2: Article 3

Date: July 07, 2037

Authored by: GypsyMama and LD


Roamer is out roamin’ again. He’s put Zen and Tribann in charge of protecting his den. I hope those boys don’t burn it down. Some commune down in Arkansas hired Roamer to introduce another Earth Works Power Plant into their system. He’s still getting paid with room and board and a trade of supplies. The Oregon Trail 2037, some of us call it. I like to call it the Roamin’ Trail. He leaves here with a backpack, a cow and cart and comes back with vegetables we can’t grow in this soil, furs, little pre-petroleum perks like Twinkies and Whole Coffee beans. The Twinkies are zombie bait. They LOVE ‘EM! “Tie a Twinkie on a string and watch them swing” we like to say. The coffee beans are like pre-collapse gold to LD and I. We like to grind them in the mortor and pessel, heat up some rainwater over LD’s kitchen stove and indulge like it’s 2013. One of the last years before TSHTF (no longer only Diner code. That’s as standard as that age’s “LOL” now).

A new couple found their way here. By word of mouth, they say. We’re still a bit skeptical of them because we don’t know who sent them, but our base is so large now, it’s just hard to tell. Word of our Foxstead has apparently already spread to Colorado. That’s where they’re from, so they can’t be all bad.

We’ve set them up in one of the original trailers to the FoxStead. It’s the blue trailer behind our Gypsy House Hubb. Used to be Freddy’s Place. “Pesticide Freddy” the kids know him as. He was always spraying his roundup and seven dust on his collard greens back in the day…thought that was the only way to garden. He had no idea what us hippies were doing over here for so many years. He just figured we were young and unexperienced with gardening. He had never heard of permaculture and didn’t quite understand it when it was explained to him. He was a simple man. Poor Freddy. Those Aldi eggs sure weren’t worth the dollars they saved to try to keep that man healthy. He lost all he had to doctor bills and ended up getting kicked out of the trailer park before collapse hit because he couldn’t pay his rent. We hated to see him go. That trailer was one of the first plots we were able to buy. He was the first to leave the trailer park next to us. We took some of the Diner money and started renting out his lot and trailer each month. We began storing dry goods and lumber over there at first. A place to keep things dry, really. Then Roamer decided he was gonna take the leap, make the move, and begin working in Upstate SC. He scooped up one of the trailers for rent behind the Gypsy House. That was the beginning of our community.


I plan to write, possibly CO-WRITE with LD a work of Fiction, the dream of the future of the Foxstead as we envision it.  Hope you’ll join us for the ride.  The bliss has returned.

The Fox Den

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

Published on Epiphany Now on February 12, 2012

ninja fox

Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

It’s interesting to note that with the increasing bouts of synchronicity in my life, the amount of irony has increased as well. The starkest bit of irony would be that I have resigned from the Matrix while at the same time increased the amount of online computer time required of me. This doesn’t bother me much, and that is mainly because it’s winter, and what else am I going to do? Winter is definitely the time for reflection and personal psychological investigations. Winter also lends itself magnificently to the writer in us. One doesn’t have to look out from a window at a beautiful spring or summer day that is begging, indeed demanding, assistance from us in our many post petroleum endeavors. During the winter one looks outside and is thankful to be inside, where it is warm. Not only are we thankful, we are aware that this is the time for guilt free planning for the year ahead. Even the most adept muddler increases his success by thinking and planning about what changes he must make in reality to continue following his (or her) bliss (I see people use “her” in place of “his” often and I’m always struck by how it reads differently…I use the male version simply as a matter of habit…not out of a sense of chauvinism).
In the month that has past I have been busy paying attention to my changing life circumstances. The 15th is the day that our POD will be picked up, and it’s also the day that we will be leaving the house we have called home for the last five years. There has been a small amount of melancholy on my part in response to this move. Mostly I reside somewhere between equanimity and joy when I think about my life now, but there are times when sadness is not only desirable but healthy and needed. It seems, here again, that Winter lends itself to these emotional states of mind. “The Winter of Our Discontent” comes to mind here. John Steinbeck has long been my favorite American author, and I’ve read about 50% of the work he left behind. I always identified with him on a personal level. My favorite aspect of John Steinbeck are the true human idiosyncrasies that he had such a brilliant way of writing about. He was sort of like the arbiter of commentary on the condition of man in the 20th century. He wrote about everyman and his struggle. He wrote about me.
The Winter of our Discontent applies directly to my current Resignation from the Matrix. The protagonist, Ethan Allen Hawley, is every American following the dictates of the American Hologram in pursuit of the American Dream. He thinks he wants success, and in typical American fashion that means anything goes. Robbery, extortion, usury, bribe, black mail, and all other measures of moral turpitude are fair game where “success” in the American sense of the acquisitive life are concerned. The logical conclusion to a life spent absorbed in hucksterism is one of suicide and this is largely what The Winter of our Discontent is about. Ethan is saved by a talisman that his daughter sticks in his coat in place of the razor blades that were to assist him in the dispatch of his own failed huckster lifestyle. His own lack of a moral North (beyond the hologram that is) fructified into a son whom saw no dilemma in plagiarizing his way into society’s recognition. After getting an honest man deported, and taking advantage of a drunken friend to service his endless desire for more, what could he say to his son about a simple plagiarism? In perfect symbolism his son is given an accolade from society for his ethical nihilism.
Herein lies the difference between the life of following your bliss and the life of following the dictates of the Matrix. On the one hand you are true to yourself and therefore everyone else, and on the other you are the mythical embodiment of the trickster. One you can stand beside your soul and hold your head up amongst your own harshest critique, and the other you must hide and never reveal who you are lest somebody take advantage of you. One leads to happiness, joy, and equanimity, and the other leads to losing the will to live. It’s important to note that the acquisitive lifestyle will always end in misery, because in servicing all of the material acquired, your life force gets siphoned out from you by inanimate objects. This while those in your life vie for your attention and time. America has no soul because it has been transferred to all of the loot we busy ourselves with jacking from whomever isn’t strong enough to defend against our infectious wanting.
What is the “Matrix” exactly. I’ve had more time to think about this lately since I resigned from it. In many ways it’s the perfect metaphor from within the Myth of the Machine (MOTM). This myth is a dying myth. It was the myth that serviced the 20th century, and the one that Steinbeck busied himself with outlining through all manner of magnificent fiction (he contributed much more than that to the American psyche, but he was living in the apex of the MOTM thinking). The 21st century needs a new Steinbeck, and one that will busy himself with writing fiction at a time when all that is left is a dying myth. What is to replace the MOTM? It seems to me that scavenging will be the default winner. John Michael Greer calls the economy of the future the “scarcity economy.” By future one should understand that this is the very near future. For many Americans this has already become the way in which they live, and not by any voluntary means either. For those of us who see the future clearly, we are entering into the “scavenge economy,” as I like to call it, now. It is a largely untapped economy that is literally found at the ass hole end of the empire. The American Empire is a gluttonous and inefficient digester, and so it’s quite easy to find whole and undigested bits of wealth in said shit pile.
This is what it means to be a scavenger. It helps to look at the animal kingdom to glean some information about how to scavenge. Look at the Crow, the possum, or the perfect embodiment of the scavenger…the Raccoon. Raccoons are professional scavengers that grow fat amidst our gluttonous society. A raccoons life is a good life and they don’t want for anything. I’ve watched many a raccoon help themselves to the cat food that gets left over by my outdoor cats. Urban Raccoons are a fearless lot, and I have had them walk to within a foot of me to get the cat food only slowly scampering off if I make the wrong move. They move at night and they seem to me to be overly satisfied with their place in our shit pile. However this is not the animal that I want informing me. The animal that is coming into view for me as a mentor is the Fox. This is an animal steeped in mythic lore. Yet again, here is more of that irony I was speaking of in the beginning of this essay because the fox is the mythical trickster. However this is not the same trickster as the one that keeps us from enlightenment. The evil trickster is the one Steinbeck wrote about in The Winter of our Discontent. This is the animal trickster whom gets what he needs by taking it as if by magic. In fact, the fox is amongst the magical adept of the animal kingdom and this shows up in fox lore. I must be honest and admit that I know very little about fox lore, but I intend on educating myself on the matter and reporting about it here. For now, I can simply say that the fox has introduced himself to me by way of dream epiphany.
Michael Ruppert recently found himself being ruthlessly teased by Joe Rogan when he brought up “fox magic.” Indeed, fox magic is the magical path at who’s gate I am standing and about to enter in earnest on the 15th when my POD is picked up. I see myself as a trickster fox as viewed by the matrix. Rather than hustling within the Matrix, all while paying homage to the corporate Bankster masters, I’ll be hustling just out of reach of the Matrix. Don’t misunderstand me, cause like the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar, I’ll be stealthily dropping in on the Matrix when need be. I spoke of bending the rules in my resignation, and I have begun doing just that. Dumpster diving is a great place to start bending the rules. It’s probably not going to get you arrested around here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
The scavenge economy (black market) is booming right now. There is a lot of cash circulating in the black market because we can’t afford to waste our cash on the empire any longer. We can’t afford to pay ridiculous amounts of currency for things we can barter, thrift, or otherwise acquire for free. People, especially women, still have the want to shop for things. These things can be gotten for free and sold at a very fair price to gain the cash that one may find themselves in need of. All of this can be very easily done under the radar of the Matrix while also using the Matrix. This is what my wife and I are doing now. Last night, when the fox came to visit me, he gave me a nod as he scampered off back into invisibility. He imbued in me the source of his invisibility just as I presume he did with Mike Ruppert. It seems to me that the fox should be the animal mascot of our movement out of the Matrix. The fox is the perfect candidate to uncover the myth that we will write together. The myth that will service the 21st century Scavenge Economy of the Post Petroleum Human Nation. I can think of no better animal. As I’ve said I intend on writing more about the Fox and what kind of myth he may uncover for those like me (and likely you since you find yourself reading this). There is a business descending in my life, and it’s been dubbed “The Fox Den.” Good luck finding it…however if you are prepared it may find you.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues


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Quote from: knarf on Today at 03:11:09 PM   Zoom Details Who needs Light? This is how much this collapse everywhere has gotten me. What has changed over the past 15 years? Well, I was 52 back then, puttin in full gardens, managing 22 chickens, and American Guinea Hogs 2 ++++++( experiment - preservation ). They had oodles of oodalies ( baby pigs scurrying around when they Who needs Light?  Views: 1 Posted by knarf Today in Collapstead Intentional Commun This is how much this collapse everywhere has gotten me. What has changed over the past 15 years? Well, I was 52 back then, puttin in full gardens, managin...

Quote from: RE on Today at 12:33:27 PMThis is a BIG advantage of being a Renter.   My Hot Water (and heat) boiler gave up the ghost last winter.  The Management had to pay for a new one and the insta...

Quote from: Surly1 on Today at 12:04:35 PMQuote from: knarf on Today at 10:07:38 AM   Zoom Details Boil Water, we got a chore to do! About 6 months ago our water heater died and was leaking bad. I normally would have wrestled the thing into the basement and hooked a another one up, but this year I said no.  I would surely injure myself some how. My calf was bad then too. So we searched for a replacement one, and looked for an i Boil Water, we got a chore to  Views: 3 Posted by knarf Today in Collapstead Intentional Commun About 6 months ago our water heater died and was leaking bad. I normally would h...

  Zoom Details Who needs Light? This is how much this collapse everywhere has gotten me. What has changed over the past 15 years? Well, I was 52 back then, puttin in full gardens, managing 22 chickens, and American Guinea Hogs 2 ++++++( experiment - preservation ). They had oodles of oodalies ( baby pigs scurrying around when they Who needs Light?  Views: 1 Posted by knarf Today in Collapstead Intentional Commun This is how much this collapse everywhere has gotten me. What has changed over the past 15 years? Well, I was 52 back then, puttin in full gardens, managing 22 chickens, and American Guinea Hogs 2 ++++++( experiment - preservatio...

Quote from: Surly1 on Today at 01:50:34 PMQuote from: RE on Today at 01:32:53 PMQuote from: Surly1 on Today at 01:28:38 PM[quote author=monsta666 link=topic...

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Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

well then the first half of 2020 is in the books. it's still bAU, though I do see that the ocea [...]

In reply to Lastcall. "Distracted by the flu; who woulda thunk it be so easy to cause hysteria [...]

In reply to Lastcall. "who woulda thunk it be so easy to cause hysteria and deflect the sheople [...]

In reply to JesseJames. Yes..you just have to shake your head. [...]

In reply to Xabier. There is a reason that the Bible is so full of great and inspiring poetry - it i [...]

In reply to steve from virginia. This Brookings webinar goes over some of the ground discussed here [...]

In reply to Ken Barrows. Everything is bullish! [...]

Also, it's very possible we could send the virus packing if everybody would just wear a face-ma [...]

The crux of the problem is that what Chris Martenson has christened the "Honey Badger Virus [...]

In reply to Ken Barrows. And let's not forget also writing lousy political poetry! https://www. [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

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This study aims to provide improved knowledge and evidence on current (1986–2015) climate vari [...]

In many countries, urban heat island (UHI) effects come along with urbanization in metropolitan area [...]

The impact that climate change and urbanization are having on the thermal-energy balance of the buil [...]

Although there is a general consensus about the trends of current climate change, the North Atlantic [...]