Homeless

Tent Cities Mushroom

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Published on The Economic Collapse on September 11, 2016

Homeless

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Tent Cities Full Of Homeless People Are Booming In Cities All Over America As Poverty Spikes

Just like during the last economic crisis, homeless encampments are popping up all over the nation as poverty grows at a very alarming rate.  According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than half a million people are homeless in America right now, but that figure is increasing by the day.  And it isn’t just adults that we are talking about.  It has been reported that that the number of homeless children in this country has risen by 60 percent since the last recession, and Poverty USA says that a total of 1.6 million children slept either in a homeless shelter or in some other form of emergency housing at some point last year.  Yes, the stock market may have been experiencing a temporary boom for the last couple of years, but for those on the low end of the economic scale things have just continued to deteriorate.

Tonight, countless numbers of homeless people will try to make it through another chilly night in large tent cities that have been established in the heart of major cities such as Seattle, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis.  Homelessness has gotten so bad in California that the L.A. City Council has formally asked Governor Jerry Brown to officially declare a state of emergency.   And in Portland the city has extended their “homeless emergency” for yet another year, and city officials are really struggling with how to deal with the booming tent cities that have sprung up

There have always been homeless people in Portland, but last summer Michelle Cardinal noticed a change outside her office doors.

Almost overnight, it seemed, tents popped up in the park that runs like a green carpet past the offices of her national advertising business. She saw assaults, drug deals and prostitution. Every morning, she said, she cleaned human feces off the doorstep and picked up used needles.

“It started in June and by July it was full-blown. The park was mobbed,” she said. “We’ve got a problem here and the question is how we’re going to deal with it.”

But of course it isn’t just Portland that is experiencing this.  The following list of major tent cities that have become so well-known and established that they have been given names comes from Wikipedia

Most of the time, those that establish tent cities do not want to be discovered because local authorities have a nasty habit of shutting them down and forcing homeless people out of the area.  For example, check out what just happened in Elkhart, Indiana

A group of homeless people in Elkhart has been asked to leave the place they call home. For the last time, residents of ‘Tent City’ packed up camp.

City officials gave residents just over a month to vacate the wooded area; Wednesday being the last day to do so.

The property has been on Mayor Tim Neese’s radar since he took office in January, calling it both a safety and health hazard to its residents and nearby pedestrian traffic.

“This has been their home but you can’t live on public property,” said Mayor Tim Neese, Elkhart.

If they can’t live on “public property”, where are they supposed to go?

They certainly can’t live on somebody’s “private property”.

This is the problem – people don’t want to deal with the human feces, the needles, the crime and the other problems that homeless people often bring with them.  So the instinct is often to kick them out and send them away.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t fix the problem.  It just passes it on to someone else.

As this new economic downturn continues to accelerate, our homelessness boom is going to spiral out of control.  Pretty soon, there will be tent cities in virtually every community in America.

In fact, there are people that are living comfortable middle class lifestyles right at this moment that will end up in tents.  We saw this during the last economic crisis, and it will be even worse as this next one unfolds.

Just like last time around, the signs that the middle class is really struggling can be subtle at first, but when you learn to take note of them you will notice that they are all around you.  The following comes from an excellent article in the New York Post

Do you see grocery stores closing? Do you see other retailers, like clothing stores and department stores, going out of business?

Are there shuttered storefronts along your Main Street shopping district, where you bought a tool from the hardware store or dropped off your dry cleaning or bought fruits and vegetables?

Are you making as much money annually as you did 10 years ago?

Do you see homes in neighborhoods becoming run down as the residents either were foreclosed upon, or the owner lost his or her job so he or she can’t afford to cut the grass or paint the house?

Did that same house where the Joneses once lived now become a rental property, where new people come to live every few months?

Do you know one or two people who are looking for work? Maybe professionals, who you thought were safe in their jobs?

Don’t look down on those that are living in tents, because the truth is that many “middle class Americans” will ultimately end up joining them.

The correct response to those that are hurting is love and compassion.  We all need help at some point in our lives, and I know that I am certainly grateful to those that have given me a helping hand at various points along my journey.

Sadly, hearts are growing cold all over the nation, and the weather is only going to get colder over the months ahead.  Let us pray for health and safety for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that will be sleeping in tents and on the streets this winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portable Electric Cooking Preps

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 17, 2016

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When discussing emergency preparedness for cooking, often ignored by preppers are electric cooking devices.  Usually you will find discussion of either Propane or Kerosene fired cooking gear used for camping as the main emergency cooking prep.  The reason they tend to be ignored is that one of the main scenarios that preppers are concerned with is a "grid down" emergency, where electricity is unavailable everywhere in your neighborhood.  In that case, electric cooking gear is pretty much worthless, although if you have a generator or a large battery system and inverter you can still use them.  Still, in that situation it is a pretty inefficient means of using your fuel.  You're better off just to siphon some of the gas and use that for a cooking fuel directly.

However, there are many other types of situations to prep for where the electric cooking gear is actually superior to the propane and kerosene fired gear.  The main one is personal economic collapse, where you lose your job and your McHovel gets foreclosed on and you move into your van to do Stealth Van living.  You still need a source of electricity of course to be able to use the apparatus, and with a powerful enough inverter most any cooking apparatus can be run while your car engine is running.  Again though, this is a relatively inefficient use of fuel overall.

'What you need to do is find sources of electricity you can access while parked.  The easiest and legal methods are to park in a campsite that has electric outlets, or to stay in a motel for a night, where as part of your fee you get all the electricity you want.  If you have friends in the neighborhood you are Van Dwelling who will let you plug into a garage outlet while you visit with them, you can charge up your auxiliary battery system this way,  A couple of hours pulling down 20 Amps or so @ 120V (2400W) to charge your Deep Cycle batteries will cost less than a dollar on their monthly electric bill, typically a kilowatt/hour costs around 15¢.  So 2 hours plugged in here runs around 80¢ or so maybe.

https://www.polartrec.com/files/members/cheri-hamilton/images/img1881.jpgAnother method that is "quasi-legal" here in Alaska is to park in places that have external outlets for block heaters.  Block heaters keep your engine warm on the sub-zero days and make starting up the engine much easier.  On a diesel, you can't live without them in sub-zero temps.  Many restaurants have these external plugs by the parking spots, and many motels do also.  However, if you aren't actually patronizing the restaurant or staying in the motel, then it's not really legal to be plugging in to their juice.  Also, the juice may only be on during the winter, so it's not going to work during the rest of the year if the establishment shuts down the outlets.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/3/18/1395161639328/Power-cables-in-Rocinha-009.jpg?w=620&q=85&auto=format&sharp=10&s=5a4427ec6f69e3cb0a332c9e8fcf16d6The illegal method is to pirate electricity that runs to street lights in any community. In the 3rd World countries this is common in the slums. This is NOT RECOMMENDED!  Besides the legal problems you will run into if caught doing this, you better know your shit as far as wiring and splicing goes.  Quite EZ to electrocute yourself or start an electrical fire when you tap juice from a street light or straight off the electrical conduit serving a residential area.  DEFINITELY do not try to tap long range High Voltage lines!!!!!!!  Unless you are a fully licensed electrician with a ton of experience, you have a DEATH WISH if you fuck with long distance high voltage lines.

OK, with all that in mind, in ths article we're going to look at the FULLY LEGAL methods of Campsites with electric power and Motels.

First is the question of what apparatus you need/want?

The most basic and necessary is the single electric burner, featured at the top of the page here.  These burners come single or double, from around 750W draw to 1500W.  On just the single burner, you can heat your soups, steam your rice, stir fry your veggies in a Wok, fry bacon & eggs, etc.  In other words, there really is nothing else you absolutely NEED other than the single burner.  These burners are lightweight, small and CHEAP.  $15 will get you one at Walmart.

However, for more variety in cooking methods, there are some other portable electric cooking devices you might want to add to the prep arsenal, depending how much room in your Stealth Van you wish to allocate to this type of cooking apparatus.

http://www.homedepot.com/catalog/productImages/300/aa/aaf7adf0-e8f3-4a9f-baf2-fc1aae92b546_300.jpgThe first thing you probably want to go for is a double burner instead of a single burner.  This speeds up your cooking a lot and allows for more complex dishes to be prepared.  On one burner you can have your rice steaming, while on the other you are doing a stir-fry in your Wok for a Chinese-style dinner, or you can be heating some Oatmeal on one burner while your fry bacon & eggs on the other one for breakfast.  In both cases, you use up about 15 min worth of juice @ around 1000W, which doesn't draw down your batt set too much.

The next device you might want to add is an electric slow cooker.  These have the advantage of drawing very low power, a typical slow cooker draws about as much power as a 100W lightbulb on the low setting.  If you have some kind of Solar PV system, you may be able to run such a slow cooker when the sun is shining without drawing down your batt storage at all!  Of course, if you are in a motel room, no issues here at all, slow cook up your favorite stew or gumbo or chowder and then package in some tupperware and store in your cooler to eat during the week after short reheating over a kerosene stove or the like.  Or you can even eat it cold if you are a tough guy.  lol.

http://sites.ecovillage.org/sites/default/files/cooker.jpgOther possibilities for reheating while not connected to a power outlet include using a Solar Oven.  These can be constructed from a cardboard box, aluminum foil and saran wrap at the real basic level, but you'll do better with a more robust and well insulated arrangement.  If the sunlight is available on a given day for heating up your food, why use precious electricity stored in your Batt Set or propane or kerosene?  Use what is available for FREE first here, and conserve your other power/heat sources only for when the free sources are not available!  If you are traveling around in a Stealth Van in a neighborhood with a lot of trees, there' probably enough fallen deadwood around to cook or reheat over a wood fire.  Use that before you go to your stash of proane or kerosene.

http://www.gehousewares.com/products/169014%20rotisserie%20large_1098902701653.pngAfter the burners and the slow cooker, the next device you might want to add to your electric cooking emergency apparatus is a Toaster/Oven/Broiler.  these go from super basic to pretty complex, anywhere from $30 to $100 can be spent on one of these.  Some even have built in Rotisseries if you buy a chicken or leg of lamb, have access to juice and want to do your own Rotisserie instead of buy an already rotisseried chicken at the food superstore.  You'll save a bit of money this way as long as you're not paying for the cooking juice.  Generally speaking though, it's just easier to buy the chicken already rotisseried and not too much more expensive overall.  I find that generally 1 Rotisserie Chicken a week purchased at the food superstore provides all the animal protein I need in a week at a cost of around $6 pre-cooked on the hot rack.  I can buy a similar uncooked chicken for $4, but then I have to do the cooking, use the energy, do the cleanup etc.  Not much savings for the week to buy the raw chicken, not worth the trouble either in normal circumstances.  However, if you are getting your electricity as part of your motel bill and you have the time to do the rotisserie yourself, you'll save about $2/chicken you rotisserie this way.  You pay off the investment in the rotisserie oven after maybe 10 chickens the most.  So it's worth spending a little extra for this option.  How you use the chicken over the week is the key here in REAL SAVINGS, and I will be writing a new SNAP Card Gourmet article on the Incredible, Edible Chicken in the near future. 🙂

http://73j7e1utrow1c3hha1rfv18d.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/05/egg-sandwich_02_dougyoung-550x410.jpgBesides the chickens though, your Toaster/Oven/Broiler comes in handy for many other things, not the least of which is making Toast!  After a couple of days, whatever bread you are using is starting to go stale even if you keep it well wrapped up.  Toasting up the bread you use in your sandwiches makes them much more tasty!  You also can melt some cheese on the bread while toasting, great for making Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a Kaiser Roll breakfasts, and Cheeseburger Lunches & Dinners. You can Bake Lasagna in your toaster over too, so as long as you have enough juice to run it, you et a huge variety of possible foods to cook up you could not do with just the hot plates or slow cooker.

https://www.cuisinart.com/share/images/products/full/1291/ceg-980t.jpgThe final recommended device in the electric cooking arsenal is an Electric Grill.  I like my steaks, burgers etc cooked over an open heat source where the fat drips sown and then smokes up the meat some, giving it the classic BBQ flavor.  While ideally you want to do this over charcoal with perhaps some mesquite wood chips, in fact you can get most of the same flavor with a propane fired grill or an electric one.  Not the George Forman type of grill where the grill surface itself is heated, but one where the heating element is below the meat, heats up some glass rocks or a metal radiator and then the fat drips down onto that during the BBQing.  You don't want to use these things indoors though, since they produce too much SMOKE.  However, long as you have a source of electric power and can place the device outside, it's a great and EZ way to do a BBQ.

There are of course innumerable other specific devices such as electric steamers and electric skillets that are available, but the hot plate will do what they do as long as you have the right pots and pans.  For instance I have a Lodge Logic Cast Iron Skillet I can use over a campfire, but it will also drop right on top of either my 2 burner electric hotplate or my 2 burner propane stove.  Why do I need a separate electric skillet here?  I don't need a dedicated electric Wok or dedicated electric steamer either.  So the basic 4 devices are all you really need here, and total cost can be kept under $200 if you shop wisely for Low, Low Prices Every Day at Walmart.  LOL.

How do you use the Electric Cooking devices in the Campsite/Motel Van Dwelling Paradigm?

http://www.remodelingcalculator.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Foreclosure-pic.jpg

http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2009/03/29/1225697/711409-family.jpgNow that you have all your devices stashed in the Van ready for your Bugout when the Sheriff arrives to foreclose on your McMansion, how are you going to live and do your cooking, and how much is this going to cost you a month?  First off let's stipulate this is for the single person, or at most a couple.  If you have kids, the Van Dwelling paradigm becomes much less plausible, although to be sure there are plenty of examples of families living in their cars.

At the time you purchased the McMansion, you were a successful network engineer making $80K/year.  You had a $2000/mo mortgage, utility bills of $300/mo, insurance etc.  You were pretty good with your money, not buying a new car every year, and your 4 year old Mercedes is almost paid of.  You also have your prize Harley you rode on summer weekends, it's paid for.  Since you were also a Doomer prior to getting your pink slip, you ALSO have your Bugout Machine, a 10 year old Chevy passenger van and a 15' enclosed Utility trailer.

http://i0.wp.com/images.cheaprvliving.com/choice-me.jpg

You're hopeful for a couple of months, sending out the resumes and meeting your bills out of your savings, but they are depleting quickly with your high monthly bills.  At the end of the 2nd month you still can't find any job at close to your old salary, but you have landed a part time low wage job as an Asst. Manager at Safeway.  You make $12/hr to start and get 20 hours/week for a $200/week paycheck after taxes and SS are taken out.  At the end of month before you completely deplete your savings you implement your Emergency Plan.

http://www.all-secure-self-storage.com/theme/allsecure/img/galleries/100_1156.JPGYou sell your Mercedes and after paying off the remaining debt on the car loan actually come out $2000 ahead.  You get $3000 for your Harley, less than the $5000 you bought it for but it was purchased for cash.  You have a yard sale and get rid of what you can of your furniture and old clothes and other junk, and raise a few hundred ths way as well.  The few things you want to keep go in a Storage Unit you contract for $50/mo.  For an extra $30/mo, you can park your utility trailer on the storage unit property also.  This is your new "rent" bill of $80/mo.

On the 1st of the month, you send in the Jingle Mail.  Since you were a Doomer before buying the McMansion, you made sure to get a non-recourse mortgage so as soon as you send in the Keys and the Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, you are out from under all the debt there, even though the McMansion was underwater.  You also have eleiminated all your utility bills, home insurance etc.  You no longer have a car payment.

https://groceryoutlet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Mark-and-Stephanie-Stocking.jpg

"I'm just happy to have a job"

How do you now budget your $200/week, $800/mo income?  $20/week is already gone to your storage unit rental, and you have a $40/week SNAP Card Gourmet  food budget, still have $160/week left here.  You get a gym membership for $60/mo, $15/week to shower daily and stay in shape, now down to $145 left.  Your smart phone with internet costs you $80/mo, $20/wk, now down to $105 week. Your insurance on the van costs $40/mo, $10/wk, now down to $95.

You now develop a circuit of sleeping spots around town not too far from your job at Safeway, keeping your gas costs down quite low, you drive no more than about 10 miles a day at most, usually much less.  Gas costs you $1/day, $10/week with some bonus driving on weekends.  Now down to $85.

For the most part just this small amount of driving each day will keep your deep cycle marine battery pretty well topped off to do typical reheating type cooking.  You can bring your slow cooker into work with you and plug it in to have a nice hot stew ready by the time you finish your 4 hour shift.  You can quickly fry up some bacon and eggs for breakfast on your hot plate.  If not connected to external power you only use your hot plate for maybe 15 minutes a day off the deep cycle marine battery.

Once a week you get either Camping spot with electricity or a motel room $20 for the camping spot or $50 for the motel room (Tom Burdett will leave the Light on for you at Motel 6).  You check in at 4PM after work and check out is noon the following day,  During this 20 hours you do laundry, you shower, you plug in your deep cycle marine battery to top it off for the week and you cook up a big batch of chili in the slow cooker and bake a lasagna in your toaster oven.  After stuffing yourself with the freshly cooked food, you take the rest  (most of it) and package into individual servings which go into your cooler with ice you get from the motel ice machine.  If you're a regular at the motel they'l probably be OK with you stopping in during the week to refresh your ice, but even if not worse case scenario you buy block ice for $2 once a week.  Winter when it is below freezing you won't need to buy ice at all, just leave a bottle under the van to freeze up and put that in the cooler.

RE-EwzYou can of course scarf up additional electricity on visits with friends as mentioned earlier, and you can even develop a portable battset/charger arrangement to charge up in places like internet coffee shops and laundromats.  I have 3 10AH SLA batteries wired in series for 36V which run my Ewz scooter.  Together with the 36V 2A charger, they fit inside a Briefcase (a HEAVY briefcase though! lol).  From almost dead to full charge takes about 5 hours, but rarely do I discharge that far down.  If I ever really had a need for it, I could disconnect the batteries, connect up one of the 12V batts to a 500W Inverter and run a hot plate long enough to fry an egg or something short like that.  However, between your daily driving and your weekly motel visits for charging and full scale cooking, you're unlikely to need such a supplement.

Does this mean you need to go ALL electric with your daily cooking while van dwelling?  Of course not, in fact most of the time when not connected to an external power source you'll probably use your propane or kerosene fired stove instead, or if out in a park that allows BBQing or even provides outdoor BBQs, you will throw in some charcoal and grill an nice juicy rib-eye for dinner instead.  Besides that, your workplace or a convenience store probably has a microwave you can use as well, providing another way for you to get some hot food each day without using your own electricity or fuel.

http://cdn.tegna-tv.com/-mm-/bf36b4c6941ee8531d0aa6cc129086fad95ded7c/r=x404&c=534x401/http/www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/29d215570eaa3c21f8299595dadea3fd20738899/c=95-0-1527-1077/local/-/media/2014/12/11/KXTV/KXTV/635538576530020263-shelter-church.jpgThe advantages to having portable electric cooking apparatus are many though.  You can use them in places that otherwise might not permit you to use a propane or kerosene stove, a public Storm Shelter for instance.  If you have to leave your McMansion due to a flood and go seek shelter at the local HS gymnasium, you'll probably have access inside the gym to a power outlet to run your hot plate.  Having  hot cup of soup to eat while the hurrican blows through town can make all the difference between being glum and depressed or feeling safe and warm and relatively happy to be alive.

Eventually when the grid goes down for good, your protable electric cooking devices will be all but useless, unless you have access to a mega large Solar PV array, but that day is probably still quite a ways off for the FSoA.  Temporary power outages and brownouts become more likely as time goes by, but a complete & permanent electrical grid collapse is ultimately a Mad Max scenario in places currently wired up and dependent on this power.  As long as there is some BAU going on, there will be electricity to be had somewhere.  For this period, portable electric cooking apparatus is a must-have prep.

Of course, the scenario I painted above does presuppose the former Network Engineer is able to find at least a part time job at a low wage for some monthly income in order not to be draining savings.  However, even if not, it's going to make what savings he does have last a whole lot longer.  He also won't even appear homeless at all if he is careful.  He'll be clean and presentable every day at work with his daily workout and shower at the gym before going in to work.  He'll be readily accessible to receive job interview phone calls and emails.  He'll be eating well on a budget he can afford, without having to buy expensve restaurant meals.  With luck after a few months or even a year of living this way, he will finally get a full time job again in IT, although probably not at the old wage and be able to afford a regular apartment again, smaller than the old McMansion but bigger and a bit more comfortable than the time spent living in the Van.

Having such an "off the cliff" economic plan to tide you over an extended period of unemployment can be the difference between being able to climb back out of the chasm, or falling completely off and plunging to the valley below in the final crash of your life.  It doesn't take a lot of money to create such a plan, for a single adult.  A good used van can be had on Craig's list for $3000, a trailer for another $1500.  Another $2000 in equipment you otherwise don't already have probably will fit it out OK to begin with.  It's an Insurance Plan you dont want to be without, if you can afford to put it together.

Coming Soon on Diner You Tube: Van Dweller Part 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Spy Doom: Tea Light Slow Cooking and Heating

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 20, 2015

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Bed-Superstar
RE recuperates after the Neck Job

Over the last few months as I contemplated the possibility of my descent into Homelessness as a new CRIPPLE, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to negotiate life on a very limited budget with no fixed domicile to live in. 

Fortunately, this does not now seem so near on the horizon for me since my Bennies came through, but I know it is for others, so I want to share a few more strategies that I have come up with, beyond the SNAP Card Gourmet recipes for cheap eating without much in the way of a kitchen.  The recipes are tasty though regardless of your circumstances, so I recommend trying them out even if you are not on the cusp of Homelessness! 🙂

Insofar as Energy is concerned, beside the cooking you also have Heating requirements if you are in a cold climate (I live in Alaska), lighting and refrigeration.  These are the primary energy intensive needs you have to plan for once you fall off the economic cliff so far you cannot afford a fixed domicile anymore.  Hopefully, you still have at least a Stealth Van and a Storage Unit to live out of in this situation.  In this article, I am going to cover just the Cooking & Heating Energy needs, not lighting and refrigeration.  These will come in another article down the road a piece.

http://ll-us-i5.wal.co/dfw/dce07b8c-2726/k2-_02df1d66-387f-4f61-a787-6123d6292296.v1.jpg-88cf4f1e48f30aa6de47685475c31c5eb31b4386-optim-450x450.jpgNow, there are certainly many commercially available camping stoves and heaters on the market, the most popular these days being the ones run on propane cannisters which cost about $3 each.  You don't usually get much more than an hour or so of cooking time with them, and used for heating they also burn the the fuel quite rapidly.  It's convenient, but it's not very economical portable cooking and heating.  The stoves and heaters that use these cannisters also are fairly pricy, going anywhere from $30 to $200 or so depending how big you get with them.

Kerosene heaters and wick stoves are more economical than this, and besides that you can store a lot more fuel safely as kerosene than as propane.  A 5 gallon can of kerosene will last you probably 6 months just used for cooking, according to my podcast with Van Dweller,who relies mostly on kerosene.  So this is definitely superior to the propane systems, but it is still not as cheap as you can get if really in a pinch to provide some heat for yourself and ability to heat up some soup or cook some eggs to get some nice hot food into your stomach.  This isn't just important for the Homeless Person, even in your own McMansion if the heat goes out after an ice storm, how are you going to keep warm and do some cooking?

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Tuna-Soup Can Rocket Stove

At the left of the page here you see my design for a "rocket stove" made from a can of Bumblebee tuna and a can of Progresso Soup.  These cans were chosen because they have the same diameter and are designed to "nest", so the bottom of one fits neatly into the top of the other one.  The top can of Hunt's pasta sauce is what holds the soup or whatever I am slow-cooking in it.  Alternatively, you can drop a small fry pan on top for frying an egg, although the frying goes rather slow and it comes out more like a poached egg than a fried one.

As you can see, both cans on the bottom are perforated with holes, done with a hand drill.  You can punch holes too with an awl, but this tends to bend up the cans and they don't nest so well once bent. (click the pic to see more detail)

The tuna can on the bottom allows air to flow in from the bottom, and it also keeps the fire in the upper can off the surface you are using to cook or heat on.  Further holes are punched into the bottom of the soup can to let the air flow up through the fire in the can, and then further holes are punched into the side of the soup can to let the CO2 exit the can while cooking or heating.  You need to ventilate it or the fire will extinguish itself quite rapidly.

What do you use for fuel in your Tuna/Soup Can Stove/Heater?  Well, the absolute cheapest is twigs and small branches you collect up (FREE! 🙂 ), but this is rather smoky to use indoors, so if you are using this as fuel you need to do the cooking and heating outside before transfering it into your Tent or Stealth Van.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAlmost as cheap though and way more convenient and usable indoors is to use Tea Lights as your fuel source.  These come in packages of 100 for around $5, for 5¢ apiece.  They have exactly the correct diameter so that you can fit up to 3 in your Stove/Heater, though I find that 2 is enough for most purposes, and even one is usually enough.  You will notice in the pic at right that the currently burning tea lights are actually sitting on top of some old tea light shells.  Reason for this is to raise the heating element closer to what it is heating for less waste of heat.  You do need a couple of inches space at least though or it won't ventilate well.

For cooking, obviously your Tea Light stove will not heat up a can of soup as fast as a propane camping stove.  You can heat up a can of soup with that in 5-10 minutes.  Over a double tea light, the same can takes about 30-40 minutes to heat up to good eating temperature, depending on the ambient temperature.  Further insulating the soup can with a "sleeve" made from a space blanket will help conserve the heat while heating in very cold temperatures.  However, the temperature inside your Stealth Van or Tent should not be going below 10F or so no matter what.  Extended periods at such low temps no matter how good your clothing is an invitation to hypothermia and/or frostbite.  Every Alaskan Musher and Canadian Hoser knows this.  Even with really good cold weather gear it's just plain uncomfortable to have your living environment that cold, and I like it cold, I'm well aclimated to it.  32F is shirtsleeves weather to me. When the temps go down to 10F though, you just have to burn more tea lights or fire up your kerosene heater.

How long do the tea lights last?  Generally about 3 hours of continuous burn time.  You can use larger candles for longer burn times, but I just replace the tea lights when they burn out.  They tend to come in the cheapest, and 3 hours of burn time is plenty

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat covers the cooking side of things, how do you use them as Heaters?  For this, instead of a can of soup heating up, you put a Rock or Brick on top of the heater, and let the tea light heat that up.  After about 10 minutes, the rock is radiating heat at about 120F with one tea light under it.  It becomes a miniature Radiator.  In a small tent, just one of these will take the chill out of the air and raise the internal temp of the tent about 5-10F, depending on external temps, how windy it is and how many people/dogs are in the tent. If you have one person and 4 dogs in a 3 man tent, forget the tea lights, you're going to be sweating just from the body heat if you don't ventilate.   In a larger space such as a Van on a cold night you would use 4 heaters, one in each corner of the Van.  3 hours of steady heat while you are awake and keyboarding at the laptop costs you about 20¢.

Why do you need the Rock or Brick?  Won't the tea light by itself heat the air?

Well yes it will somewhat, but heat capacity of air is very low, and it circulates around inside the space and is quickly dissipated into the environment.  By heating the rock up, it concentrates the heat into this location, and it stores and radiates it more efficiently.  The rock will continue radiating heat for quite a while after the flame goes out also, and you can pull tricks like taking a medium warm rock and throwing it inside your sleeping bag to warm it up before going to sleep.  DON'T DO THIS WITH A REALLY HOT ROCK THOUGH! You'll melt the nylon of the bag or start a fire!  You should be able to pick up the rock with your hand with no glove on and it should be warm/sightly hot to the touch, maybe 120F or so max.  Then wrap it in a hand towel and stuff it into the bottom of the bag.  It will keep your feet warm for hours.

Do you need to run the tea light heaters all night?  Well, you can but it is not really necessary if you have a good sleeping bag for most temperatures you would normally deal with, say 0F-50F where you might fire up a tea light heater.  If you are subject to temps lower than this, then you are going to need more than tea lights!  You'll want a kerosene heater for this eventuality, but even in the part of Alaska I live in (the Mat-Su Valley) there aren't too many sub-zero F days in the winter anymore.  Maybe a couple of weeks worth the most.  You can conserve your kerosene for nights like this and not waste it on more average cold temps.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYou can further increase your heating efficiency by isolating the heat source to just where you are, and setting it up to mainly heat YOU, not the whole Tent or Stealth Van.  In this image, I have taken the Heater and placed it underneath my desk chair, which then also has a throw/blanket on it.  When I sit down on the chair, I take the blanket and throw it over my lap.  Now the heat being radiated by the rock is mostly trapped under the chair, and the Heater is right next to my feet, keeping them toasty warm.  Then the heat radiates upward to my butt, keeping my core body temperature up as well.  In a real pinch, this will keep you from freezing to death or losing your toes to frostbite.  If you have a bag of 100 tea lights in your SUV, a Tea Light Heater and a Space Blanket, you can set the heater down on the floorboard, sit in the passenger seat with the space blanket over you and keep warm while you wait for the Blizzard to die down without wasting gas running your engine.  If you use 10 tea lights/day, you have 10 days at least where you won't freeze to death stuck in a snow drift.  Start the car once a day for maybe 1/2 hour of run time to keep the battery charged without using up too much gas.  Cut that to every other day if you get below a quarter tank.  Have a supply of Oatmeal and Bear Creek Soups also in the SUV to heat up for food during this period.

Now, what about the situation where you can't GET tea lights?  The shelves at Walmart have been ransacked of them and your Dollars are worthless and won't buy any even if they were available.  Nobody who has Tea Lights in a cold climate will even trade them for GOLD!  What do you do then?

Answer: Make your own tea light!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn this example, I took one of my old used up tea light shells, filled with some vegetable oil and made a wick out of a scrap of a paper towel.  On another occassion I filled it with some leftover Bacon Fat and made a Wick out of some Jute Twine.  The amount of fat was about half the amount left over after frying just one strip of bacon for my morning SNAP Card Gourmet breakfast!  Bacon and cooking oil aren't the only things you can use here for this, even motor oil for your car will work.  Pine Tar will work too, and so will a stick of butter or margarine.  However, I think Tea Lights will be available for a while longer, and you certainly can stock them in your preps, they never go bad far as I can tell.  I have about 5 bags of them, around 500 in the preps.  Great Barter Item too.

Stay Warm, Stay Well Fed with Hot Food with your Tea Light Tuna/Soup Can Stove!

Gumbo Recipes: Uncle Ben Camps Out at Bear Creek

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 6, 2015

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Bear Creek Soups and Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice:  A Marriage made in Doomer Heaven

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I've put up a few Gumbo Recipes for the SNAP Card Gourmet series over the last couple of years, but since there are endless possibilities right now while the shelves are still chock full of food goodies at your local Food superstore, I thought this week I might clue the Cheap gourmets here on a new recipe I came up with this week.

To review the Rules here on SNAP Card Gourmet recipes, they have to come in at $5/day or under for enough calories for an individual to make it through the day without getting progressively skinnier, unless of course you were obese to begin with in which case you should only be spending $1/ day for vitamins and some roughage until you slim down.  LOL.

The other rules of SNAP card recipes is you have to be able to cook them up on simple cooking apparatus, as simple as a single burner propane or kerosene wick  or rocket stove if absolutely necessary.  Open campfires also can be used for SNAP card recipes, and Solar Ovens too.  The main thing for a SNAP card recipes is it is not dependent on all the conveniences you find in a typical McMansion Kitchen.  You can of course cook up these recipes in such a kitchen, you don't HAVE to be foreclosed on and Stealth Van living to enjoy these Epicurean Delights! 🙂

http://www.offroaders.com/reviewbox/data/90/Coleman-Fold-N-Go-2-Burner-Stove.jpgUsed for this recipe were my two usual cooking apparati, the Two Burner Folding propane stove and the portable grill.  In this case the grill was not used over the open flame, I dropped an Iron Skillet on top of it to sizzle some bacon.

The Base of this Gumbo is a package of Bear Creak Tortilla Soup, a dried soup mix in a vacuum sealed bag which will last until you personally go extinct if it is under 20 years or so before you normally would get your final Ticket to the Great Beyond.  Said soup comes in ON SALE here at 3 Bears Food Warehouse for $3.00/package, when it does I usually buy around 10 of different varieties.

http://barbecueorboogaloo.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Weber-1520-Propane-Gas-Go-Anywhere-Grill.jpgSecond major base of the soup is Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice, one of the first Seasoned Rice packages of which now there are a bazillion varieties, but this is one I made in my youth and remains a favorite.  I haven't made it in a few years though, and I never thought to include it in a Gumbo before.  As I was cruising 3 Bears I spied this also ON SALE for $1.50/box.

Now, this is really expensive for rice and you could do a similar Gumbo just using regular rice and it would only cost you maybe 25 cents.  However what you also get with the package is the flavorings and spices, and you would need several different bottles of spices to mimic that, which if you are homeless or Van Dwelling is generally not practical to do.  So you pay a premium for the rice for the package of spices, and as a bonus you get the Wild rice in there which has a nicer texture IMHO than regular white or brown rice.

Next ingredient is your can of beans for some good vegetable protein, in this case I used black eyed peas instead of my usual Black Beans or Red Kidney Beans.  Doesn't matter which one you choose though.  Can of beans costs around 80 cents.

For your Fresh Vegetable/Vitamins in this gumbo, I used two large Alaska Grown Carrots.  The whole bag costs $1, there are about 8 carrots in the bag so 2 carrot is about 25 cents.  Cheapest ingredient in the gumbo and probably the most nutritional value in vitamins.

Finally in this Gumbo the Anmal Protein & Fat choice was bacon, which doesn't come too cheap most of the time these days.  However, I didn't use that much, just 3 slices.  Call it $1 for the bacon.  So total cost for the Gumbo:

Bear Creek Tortilla Soup: $3

Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice: $1.50

Can of Beans: $.80

Carrots: $.25

Bacon: $1

Total Cost:: $6.55

Now you are going to say, "But RE, you exceeded your SNAP Card Budget of $5/Day!".  That would be true if you ate it all in one day, but you don't, it is 2 days worth of Lunch (cup) and Dinner (Bowl).  So actual Daily Cost is $3.25 roughly. This leaves over $1.75 for your Breakfast.  Total calorie count here per day for the Gumbo is around 1100 calories.  Add in my traditional Breakfast of Smoked Ham, an Egg and a Slice off the Sharp Cheddar Cheese block on a half a French Roll and you are now at 1500 calories, which is generally plenty for me.  What's the cost of that?

French Roll $.60 (Cut in half, $.30/day)

Egg: $.25

Cheese $.25

Smoked Ham Slice: $.50 (High Estimate)

Total: $1.30

So the total Daily cost for the 2 days eating this delicious Gumbo and staying well fed is $4.55.  The $.45 you saved on thhese two days of eating goes in your Monthly savings for a Premium Meal each month of your choice.  If you average saving $.50 each day for 20 days of the month, that is an extra $10 to spend with the normal $5, for a total of $15.  You can buy a nice thick and juicy Ribeye Steak to BBQ for that!  In fact, about half the time I actually only spend $3-4 just having my breakfast sandwich and some Ramen Noodles or a Baked Potato with some sour cream or something like that.  So in the monthly budget there is more like one Premium or Semi-Premium meal in there each week.  Semi-Premium substitutes something like a Hamburger with all the fixins on a Kaiser Roll for the Ribeye Steak.

OK, so what is the cooking proceedure for the Gumbo?

It depends if you are working with 3 burners as I was, or if you are doing it all on one Burner.  In the latter case you work sequentially, frying the bacon in the skillet first, simmering the rice until done 2nd, then simmering the Tortilla Soup and beans, and finally combining all the ingedients at the end.  Takes more time this way obviously, so I do it on 3 burners since I have 3 burners.  No difference in fuel usage either way.

Step 1: Fry Bacon in skillet until crisp, remove and plac on paper towel to cool.  Reserve the fat in the frying pan.

Step 2: Slice and Dice the Carrots into small chunks of about 1/4" in size.

Step 3: Add 2 cups of water to a small pot and the Uncle Ben's Rice and the diced Carrots.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer until the water is absorbed by the rice and the carrots are softened.  About 20 minutes.

Step 4: In a large pot, add the tortillam soup mix and 8 cups of water and simmer around 30 minutes on a low flame or in a Slow Cooker.  Add the beans and let simmer another 20 minutes, then add the rice.

Step 5: Crumble the bacon into the pot, then take the reserved Bacon Fat and pour that in the pot also.    This makes the gumbo much richer and calorie dense, and also more flavorful.  You can however instead make it a gumbo lite without adding the fat to it.  Save the bacon fat though if you don't use it in the Gumbo, it's great for frying your morning egg.

Step 6:  Let simmer another 15 minutes for the flavors to blend, then ladle into your Bowl and ENJOY!

Total cooking time with the 3 burner method is around 1.5 hours, add an extra hour or so if you do it all on one burner.

Eat Hearty and Eat CheapTM, the SNAP Card Gourmet Way!

 

 

SNAP Card Gourmet Gumbo

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 8, 2015

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What is a Gumbo?

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions.

That's the official definition anyhow.

To me though, a Gumbo is anything you throw in a pot to make a fully nutritious and filling meal.  It should have everything you need to eat for the day in one pot.  Animal Protein, Corbohydrates, Veggies etc.  It should also be spicy and flavorful.  You throw into your pot whatever is available.

Gumbo ingredients should also be CHEAP (relatively speaking of course these days).  So no expensive cuts of meat in there.  In fact, if you can get the meat for free by nailing a squirrel with your slingshot, even better!  Same with the veggies, if you can get them out of your own garden instead of buying the overpriced GMO versions in the food superstore, this also is better.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31vMUhKeJcL.jpgGenerally speaking though, the SNAP Card Gourmet Homeless Person or Road Warrior doesn't have these options most of the time.  For this week's edition of SCG, I made two Gumbos utilizing only my Homeless Cooking Apparatus, a portable propane grill and a 2 burner portable propane stove.  The key in both cases is you want to make maximum use of your propane once you start cooking.  When doing my SCG experiments, I try to get a full week out of 2 one liter size cannister of propane.  One cannister goes to run the grill, the other one to run the stove.  They run about $3 each right now here on the Last Great Frontier, and I have dozens of them in the Preps.  You can also refill them with adapters available in the camping department of your local Walmart.

It's cheaper still and more efficient to use a typical 5 gallon Propane tank that most home BBQs work on, but for the Homeless person unless well set up in a  semi-permanent Tent City, such a large cannister is tough to move around, although if you still have car and storage unit, this is the cheaper way to go than the individual cannisters.

The portable Grills and Stoves are also relatively inexpensive, anywhere from $30 to $60 usually.

http://www.smart-camping-guide.com/image-files/weber_portable_grill.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413Q10RYHHL.jpg

These are the models I use for SNAP Card Gourmet Cooking

You also want to keep yor cooking utensils to a minimum.  Even if you still have your car, too many pots, pans, knives etc clutters up your valuable private space. I keep my SNAP card utensils to 2 sizes of pots which nest, and 2 sizes of sautee pans that nest.  I also have a small electric slow cooker which is great to use if you have a source of electricity.  Also worthwhile to have is an electric single or double burner to use when electricity is available.  This can save you money on propane and has the bonus you can use them indoors just about anywhere, for instance in a cheap motel room once a week or bi weekly, where you additionally can shower and clean up, hopefully for a Job Interview the following day.  You also do laundry on these motel vacations.  So when you arrive at the job interview, you don't appear to be a smelly homeless person, but rather still a normal member of industrial society.  You will of course need to be able to scrape up the $40-50 necessary for a night in such a Bates Motel.  Motel mini-vacations from the Road Warrior lifestyle should be judiciously chosen when on a limited budget.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CjJqtzAZL._SY355_.jpg                                   http://ak1.ostkcdn.com/images/products/5238031/Brentwood-TS-372-Electric-Twin-Burner-P13061410.jpg

OK, now that you have all your SCG Cooking apparatus in place and ready, it's time to go SHOPPING! 🙂

http://static.caloriecount.about.com/images/medium/kroger-italian-sausage-hot-4086.jpgAs mentioned, you want to go with the cheapest cuts of meat available, which is usually chicken or pork.  Chicken is great for the chicken soups and chicken salads you can make, but pork in the form of sausage is better for the gumbos.  Some form of Beef is best for the stews, but beef usually comes in pricier than the chicken and sausage.

For the sausage, I usually get the generic house brand of sausage at the local Kroger, which comes in at around $1/lb less than the Johnsonville National sausage brand.  I like the Hot Italian sausage, but you can also get mild, or Bratwurst, all the same price around $3.75 for a 5-pack, $.75 per sausage around here.  One sausage is enough for your Animal Protein needs for the day, although I usually also have an Egg with a thin slice of breakfast meat and cheese on a roll as breakfast also on SCG experiment days.

The pack of sausages doesn't just go in the Gumbo, I like to have a Sausage, Pepper & Onion Hoagie/Sub/Hero also, a favorite of mine from street vendors  at the Festival of San Gennaro back in Little Italy in NY Shity in my youth.

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Fresh Green Peppers, Onions, Potatoes and Carrots are the best choices of veggies for the Road Warrior.  They require little to no refigeration and will stay good for a week at least.  You get some needed roughage and vitamins from them as well.  An EZ one pan morning meal is to chop up some peppers and onions, chop up a leftover potato from a slow cooker stew, then crack a couple of eggs over the whole mess and swish around untile the eggs congeal.  Slide that onto a plastic plate for eating, then just wipe down the pan and the plate with a paper towel!  Pretty EZ Cleanup!  A multi-vitamin with this breakfast is also recommended.

I'll also usually throw one in with some Spaghetti Sauce to have a Spaghetti Sausage Marinara meal, and sometimes use 1/4 of one for breakfast meat on the morning roll, although I like a thin slice of nice smoked ham instead, and I'm not really broke and homeless (yet!).  So you can get a nice variety of meals out of one package of sausages that will last you all week  easily.  Your biggest problem here if truly homeless is the refrigeration problem.  However, at least with the Gumbos and Spaghetti Sauce, the way around that is to Reheat the gumbo the next day to boiling temperature.  Any bacteria that might have got going overight gets killed off.  I have eaten both Gumbos and Sauces 3 days old without refrigeration simply by reheating them each day.  If you do still have a car or van and drive around regularly enough in it to keep the battery charged, you can use a thermoelectric cooler to keep your letovers good for a couple of days usually.

Better still than this method if truly homeless in a Tent City is to work together with other Homeless People.  5 people can be fed pretty well with 1 package of sausages and the rest of the ingredients in your Gumbo, so each Homeless person buys one set of ingredients a week which you all cook and eat together on the day the food is purchased, handed out at a food pantry or shoplifted perhaps.  lol.

OK!  So now it is time to GET COOKING on the porch and imagine my future life as a homeless cripple gourmet chef in a Tent City while Industrial Civilization progresses to Complete Collapse! 🙂

Step 1 is the meat preparation.  As mentioned in prior SCG recipe articles, I prefer my meat cooked over an Open Grill for the nice smoky flavor that it gives it, plus all those tasty carcinogens that get created over the flame.  lol.  I also want to maximize the use of my propane cannister, so I usually do not cook just one package of sausages, but rather fill up the grill space with other meat for other meals, which then gets stored in the refrigerator since I still have one of those and still can afford to pay my electric bill.  In this case, I filled up the rest of the grill with Beef Back Ribs, perhaps the cheapest beef cut you can buy that has some meat on it at around $2.79/lb up here these days.

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Right after the initial grilling, I'll eat the best parts of the ribs straight off the grill.  Then what is left on the bones goes in the Slow Cooker with some beef broth and simmers until the meat falls off the bone, and then I use that to make a Grilled Ribs Beef Stew, which I have gone over before in a prior SCG article.

http://www.progresso.com/~/media/images/heart%20healthy/southwest-style.ashxFor the Gumbo with the Sausage, I'm going to go with the single size batch I make, which only takes one or most 2 of these sausage links. You can easily upscale the recipe for a family or other Homeless Compadres.  For this, in good Homeless Person fashion, I use mostly canned goods off the shelf at Kroger.  My current favorite is a "Southwestern" style Gumbo that starts with a Base of a can of  Progresso Soutwestern Black Bean & Vegetable soup.  I usually can pick these up ON SALE for between $1.50-.1.75, current regular retail price is $2.15 up here though.

To me though, the soup by itself doesn't have enough Black Beans or Corn Kernels.  So I add to it a can of generic black beans and a can of generic sweet corn kernels.  $.80 each here for these cans, again ON SALE.

Then I take about 1/4 cup of rice and steam it, and add the steamed rice into the gumbo for the carb component.  No more than $.50 worth of rice here.  Then I dice up some fresh green peppers and onion, not too much maybe another $.50 worth, sautee until soft and carmelized, and dump that in the Southwest Gumbo.  Meat component is the Sausage, which after cooling from the grill I slice into thin disks that come in around 20 in number from a single sausage link.  Each disk fits nicely into one soup spoon dip into the Gumbo.  Finally I splash in some Habanero Pepper Hot Sauce which usually comes in around $3/bottle, but one bottle lasts months even unrefrigerated. $.10 for the seasoning here.

So total cost for this 1 person Gumbo is ~$5-6, and it usually lasts me 2-3 days.  So call it $2/day for this component of my daily sustenance.  The Egg/Cheese/Meat/Bread Breakfast comes in around $1.  Together, this is usually enough food for me in a day.  Days when I eat spaghetti, or leave out the fresh veggies I can get the feeding cost lower than that, and it's still pretty tasty eating.  If you can qualify for a SNAP Card, use Food Pantries and still have a place to do your cooking, at this point here in the FSoA you should not be going hungry yet, and neither should your kids if you have some.  Watch your food budget carefully, buy ON SALE foods of good general quality, balance your meals with protein, fat, carbs and roughage.  You should have enough left over at the end of the month to buy some Multi-Vitamins too, which should be added in because so many of the canned foods and even fresh GMO veggies are rather devoid of vitamins these days

Good eating, on the cheap, here on the SNAP Card Gourmet. 🙂

Homeless Internet Admin Electronic Preps

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on October 25, 2015

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LAST CHANCE HERE TO TAKE THE COLLAPSE PYSCHOLOGICAL PROFILE TEST BEFORE THE FIRST COUNT!

A couple of weeks ago I ran across a really fine article about how to negotiate and survive becoming Homeless, Homeless Survival : Practical Tips And Advice Derived From Personal Experience

In this article, the author details many good strategies for the Homeless person to continue onward looking like more or less a "normal" person who still has a home, although he didn't go over Homeless Cooking in the detail I have in some of my SNAP Card Gourmet articles.  He also covered maintaining Internet communications to an extent, using the Free Wi-Fi available in many places, but this was not detailed enough for me, because I am more of an Internet Junkie than most people.  So in this article I am going to detail all the hardware you need to not just get on the net, but to be able to Admin your websites, keep your hardware charged and operational, etc.

Internet-JunkieFirst thing for me is this is an ESSENTIAL, almost as important as my Food Preps!  I run or co-Admin about a dozen different Collapse Websites on the net now.  They are:

collapse.global Portal

Doomstead Diner Blog

Doomstead Diner Forum

Doomstead Diner Facebook

Doomstead Diner Twitter

Collapse Cafe You Tube

Collapse Cafe Soundcloud

Collapse Surveys

Doomstead Diner Legacy Blog

r/globalcollapse Reddit Sub

r/overshoot Reddit Sub

So I have a LOT of Internet responsibilities now to my fellow Kollapsniks TM!  It's obviously important to ME to run these sites (keeps me bizzy!), but it is important to the rest of the Diners too, and I don't want to let them down and not keep running these sites even if I become Homeless!  Which granted is not an immediate possibility since I still have money in the bank and the monetary system here in the FSoA is still working and there is a decent chance I will get my Bennies after becoming Disabled and a few Diners have offered me Shelter in the worst case scenario, but still I could become Homeless and without an official net connection and my own source of electric grid power for at least a period of time.  This could happen if for instance we had a major quake up here in the Mat Valley or if Mount Redoubt blows and drops a few inches of ashfall down which collapses the roof of my digs or there is a big wildfire in the neighborhood and I have to Bugout FAST!  Many Possbilities exist for my ability to Admin my websites to be compromised in some way!

Can I bring my Laptop and home electric security preps with me?  I have stuff like a generator, Deep Cycle Batteries, large solar panels, the WORKS here to survive a temporary loss of power in my location as long as the roof is still over my head and I can pay the rent.  However, either in a fast bugout situation or in the long term homeless situation, I can't be hauling these preps around with me all the time.  The Deep Cycle Lead-Acid Batteries are HEAVY!  The Yamaha Generator while probably the lightest and smallest in its class is ALSO pretty heavy.  So you can nix both of those for the Homeless person, although you probably could keep them in a Storage Unit.  No, what I need is a compact & lightweight kit for maintaining my websites in all but the most dire circumstances where the internet itself goes dark.  Then this whole bizness is OVAH and it is my time to Buy My Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.  When the Internet Goes Dark TM, so does RE.  No more Reason to Live.  LOL.

What my goal here in creating the Internet Admin Survival Package TM was  was to put together everything I need to maintain connection to the net and do my Admin tasks until the day arrives that the Internet Goes Dark TM.  Most of the items in my Kit I already had, but I just invested in another couple I deemed necessary to complete the kit this week.  I will detail what they are as I go through the kit items.

bugout-electronics

#1- Smart Phone/Tablet Computer

The CRITICAL item in your kit is your Smart Phone.  Your choice of phones is important here, and you also need BACKUP!  This was driven home to me during our Diner Convocation down in Texas in 2014.  On that occassion, I destroyed my original Galaxy Mega Smartphone by dropping it on the concrete parking lot of our Motel Hell estabishment in ButtFuck TX where we stayed for the course in building Monolithic Domes.  In order to resolve this unfortunate problem, I had to borrrow Eddie's Mercedes and drive to the nearest ATT Store (a couple of hours away) to purchase a NEW Galaxy Mega at the full price of around $650 at the time.  Upon returning home, I was able to get yet another one of these devices for $150 off the Insurance Plan for having your device lost, stolen or broken, and I also have an older Iphone 4 which still works in the kit as well.  So triple backup on this lynchpin item.  If one craps out, I simply shift the SIM card over to another one and it connects to my ATT account., back on the net to do my Admin tasks. 🙂

The main PROBLEM with smart phones is generally their SIZE, and the fact they do not sport a real Keyboard.  You need to be a real Thumb Jockey to be able to even write a Twitter message of 140 Characters, much less the 3000 word articles I usually will write (like this one!  lol.)  So your Smart Phone is no good for real Admin work without a KEYBOARD!  "Have Keyboard, Will Travel!" 🙂

#2- Keyboard & Mouse

Perhaps some people can get along without these devices, but for myself doing Admin tasks without them is ridiculously difficult.  Fortunately, Folding Bluetooth Keyboards and Bluetooth Mice are available for the Android OP system the Galaxy Mega runs on, and in fact they work with the Apple shit too, so in the worst case scenario BOTH of my Galaxy Megas crap out, I can still use my Folding Keyboard and Bluetooth Mouse with the old Iphone.  Still a ridiculously tiny screen to work on though, so I hope things don't get that bad.  lol.

#3 Electricity

None of the above preps work without some access to electricity to keep them all charged up and operating.  You probably do want your own means of keeping your Comunications Equipment charged up, so I did invest in a couple of new items this week for this purpose.  First was a Folding 6.5A 5V output solar PV Array I could fit in my Kit Sack.  Probably not too necessary in most circumstances on the Homeless paradigm, I'll probably be able to keep my devices charged by going to the Library, a Coffee Shop and so forth and plugging in to their Grid Power..  For this purpose I bought  20,000 Mah external Li-I Battery which I can use to recharge the cell phone and the various other devices in the kit.  In conjunction with the Solar PV panels, on a decently sunny day in about 4 hours I should be able to charge up this battery in about 4 hours, and that then will enable me to keep the Smart Phones and Cameras and Diode Lites all charged up.

#4 Lighting

Since the smart phones themselves are lit up, you don't absolutely need auxiliary lighting.  However, if you are in a Tent or some other temporary shelter and want to be able to see your keyboard, you are going to want some other lighting besides the Smartphone itself.  Besides that, the Diode Emergency Lighting often is set up so that not only can your Crank Charge the light itself, but you can ALSO use this to charge your Smart Phone! 🙂

I have 4 lights in the Emergency Kit bag.  2 are Crank Lights, and also can serve to charge up my Smart Phone.

Light 1-  A Crank Up emergency flashlight which also has AM/FM Radio and can charge my smart phone.

Light 2-  A Lantern style Crank Up to give me enough light to keyboard by and also charge the Smart Phone

Light 3- A POWERHOUSE 350 Lumen Flashlight which runs on 3 AAA Batteries, rechargeable or single use, whatever I can get hold of.  This little light by itself can light up your entire digs pointed at the ceiling.  350 Lumens is BRIGHT!  You do not need any more than this to light up a room anywhere.    Trust me on this and do not look directly into the light.  You will go BLIND in an instant.  LOL

Light 4- A 100 Lumen flashlight which stands on it's own tripod and can be used together with my Camera in low light conditions to do an Interview.  Also works on 3 AAA rechargeable or single use batteries.

Ancillary Items

I have a few items in the Kit not absolutely necessary for my Homeless Internet Admin work:

GPS Units:  Not necessary for most circumstances, but handy for Locating myself anywhere if I need help from another Diner.  I can issue out the Lat & Lon coordinates within 10 feet anywhere on earth for an emergency pickup point.                                 

A/C & D/C Transformers to Charge 5V USB Devices: Essential Items to keep your equipment charged up as long as there is some Grid Power available somewhere or soe car that still has juice in the battery.

Audio Headse/Mict and Speaker.  Not essential in most circumstances, but for myself doing a lot of Audio interviews and the fact I like to listen to old favorite music, its and addition I like having in the kit.

Camera & Table Top Tripod for doing Video and Pics:  I can record with my Smart Phones, but even the El Cheapo Digicam does a better job for this than the Smart Phones.  As a modern era Reporter, I need means to get good pics and video up on the net, and a smart phone just is not good enough for this task in general.  OK in a pinch, but you really want a decent camera available if possible.  I have still better cameras then the El Cheapo, but I need a whole other bag for them.

Cables:  You need to be able to hook everything up of course, so you will need some USB cables.  USB comes in a few sizes, so adapters for these sizes are handy to have as well.

Now, all of this stuff is extremely light and portable and fits in a Shoulder Bag or Backpack and it is sufficient to fulfill my Diner Admin responsibilities if I need to make a Fast Bugout.  However, is this all I have for the bugout situation?  Of  course not. 🙂

If I at least still have my SUV to bugout in and to live in as a Homeless Person I can carry with me a whole lot more than this.

The next level up of Electric Preps is contained in a brief case. It consists of:

#1- 5W 12V Solar Panel

This panel is different than the folding one which outputs at 5V for charging the portable devices, instead it outputs at 12V good for charging typical automotive batteries.  However, because it is so small and only outputs 5W, to charge up a full size auto battery would take several sunny days without draining the battery for the purpose of charging other devices.  of course, if you have money to buy gas and do some driving each day, you probably generate enough electricity this way even without the solar panels.  In most cases though it will keep the battery nicely topped of with juice if you are judicious about how much you drain your other devices.

#2 10 AH 12V Deep Cycle SLA Battery

This is one of the spare batteries I bought for my Ewz Electric Scooter. It runs on 3 of these wired in series for 36V, but you can split them up and just carry one for the typical 12V use.  It is relatively small compared to an automotive battery and designed for deep discharge/recharge cycles.  Automotive batteries are designed to give a lot of cranking amps all at once to turn over an engine, not to deep discharge regularly.  SLA stands for Sealed Lead Acid, so despite being fairly small and compact, these batteries weigh a fair amount.  I would rather have a 12V Li-I battery which are lighter and generally do more recharge cycles, but they aren't available up here at Batteries & Bulbs, and getting them shipped here is bear also, since they are considered a Hazmat for air shipping.  However, since I am not carrying around this briefcase all the time, the extra weight doesn't matter very much.  They are also about 5X the price and that is hard to justify.

#3 200 W Modified Sine Wave Inverter

Your inverter converts the 12V DC to 120V AC which powers most household appliances.  The 200 W Inverter won't run stuff like a Microwave, but it will run low power draw items like a lamp, a slow cooker and most importantly, a REAL laptop instead of the Smart Phone/Folding Keyboard/Bluetooth Mouse combination.  While that combo works pretty good, it's still not as good as a real laptop for writing and doing Admin tasks on the net.

Other 12V aficionados often warn me about the dangers of using modified sine wave inverters and recommend I spend the extra money for a true sine wave inverter.  Reasoning being that modified sine wave can damage some complex electronics that run on AC.  Thing is, I don't use an inverter for running any such equipment.  Lightbulbs and the slow cooker don't care what the sine wave configuration is, and the Laptop actually runs on DC, you have a transformer between the inverter and the laptop which converts the electricity back to DC at whatever voltage your laptop runs on, which is usually somewhere between 15V DC and 22V DC.  These transformers don't care what the sine wave looks like either.

In addition to the 200W Inverter, I have a tiny 75W cigarette lighter size inverter, a larger 500W unit you clip to the battery itself and a behemoth 1000W inverter capable of running a Microwave Oven if you have enough juice and big enough battery to drive it.  You want to use the smallest inverter which will drive whatever device you are running, since there is more power wasted the larger the inverter.  The big ones require a fan to run to keep cool, which wastes still more power and is something else that can break down.  The 75W unit is JUST enough to run a typical laptop computer and keep its own battery charged up.

In order to reduce power wastage still more, I recently bought a DC-DC Transformer which takes 12V DC and directly changes it to anywhere from 5V to 24V to run just about any laptop computer on the market.  It also comes with 12 different Plug Tips that will fit any laptop you happen to have on hand for your Admin work.  I'm not sure precisely how much waste you are saving here, but I estimate about 25% which is significant if you have low storage capacity for your juice and limited generating power.

#4 AC-DC 6V-12V Battery Charger

This device plugs into the wall and will charge up any 6V or 12V battery you can scavenge up, so as long as power periodically shows up in your wall outlet, you can keep your batteries charged this way and then have power available for the times the juice is NOT flowing from the local electric plant into your outlets.  In normal daily use, I keep it hooked to a large 12V Deep Cycle Marine Battery about 2X the size of a typical car battery.  This battery when topped off (as it always is) will run all my portable electronics for at least 2 weeks, probably a month.  If I run my laptop off of it, probably still get a week without any generation from the Solar Panels.  This battery is of course way too big and heavy to carry around or drop in a brief case, but in a bugout situation with the SUV easily fits in the storage area of the vehicle.

Finally, in addition to the stuff that fits in the brief case, I have a larger 120W Solar PV Panel which can strap on to the roof rack of the SUV.  This provides plenty of juice to run all the equipment as much as I normally do without significantly draining the battery storage each night when I run a couple of diode lights and the laptop too.  The overall key here is to be aware of how much power your equipment is drawing, and choose low power consumptive devices as much as you can.

As long as you are just talking communications equipment and lighting, you really do not need a whole heck of a lot of juice available.  It's only once you start to add in stuff like Refrigeration to your bugout package that you need significantly more generating power.  As long as you can still get gas for the vehicle though and can afford it, your car alternator will provide plenty of juice to keep all your portable electronic devices charged up even without the addition of Solar PV panels.

Now, in most cases for the near future, I expect Grid Power to remain available somewhere, even if I am Homeless and can't afford to pay my electric bill.  For instance, if I go to the local Internet Coffee Shop where I did many of my early Collapse Cafes, at every table along the wall there is an electric outlet where I would plug in my laptop so as not to be discharging the battery unnecessarily.  This conserves the battery lifetime for your laptop battery.  Don't run it off the battery unless you absolutely have to.  In normal use they will last about 2 years of discharge cycles, mine is 4 years old and still going strong, because I simply do not run the laptop off of it's battery.  It's plugged in just about all the time.

In a real Homeless or Bugout situation, I could do more than just keep the laptop charged up though.  I could for instance walk into the local laundromat with a bag of clothes for washing and the big ass deep cycle marine battery below it with the 12V DC charger on my folding luggage carrier with wheels, disguised in a bag.  I plug this into the wall while my laundry is in the washing machine and drier.  In a couple of hours, I have scarfed up enough free electricity (for me anyhow) to not only power my communications equipment, but in fact enough to run a 12V Heated Sleeping pad as well so that I can sleep in toasty warm comfort in my SUV even if the outside temperatures drop to 20 Below.  You combine such a heating pad with a good sleeping bag and have enough juice to run it, you won't freeze to death no matter how cold it gets.  I can also cook my food in the slow cooker and not have to burn propane cannisters.  I can of course go into numerous Convenience Stores and use their Microwave and electric power to heat up more of my food.  Hot food, a toasty place to sleep, the only other thing you really need is water, which you can collect in a bottle each day at the convenience store in the bathroom sink as well.

Back to the main issue of communications and Internet Admin responsibilities though, once Homeless or in a Bugout situation, obviously you have lost your own high speed, high bandwidth connection to the net over cable or DSL, whatever you have at home.  You certainly want to keep your own 4G connection to the net on your cell phone, but this is an additional expense of around $50-100/month, which you may not be able to afford over time once becoming Homeless.

If that is the case, you're going to mostly need to use the Free Wi-Fi available at many internet cafes, libraries and even Mickey Ds.  You won't have a 24/7 connection to the net this way, but you can still do most of your writing while offline, and then simply upload your stuff when you do drop into a location with free wi-fi.  You're also going to want your own Skype Number for possible jobs to call you where they can leave a message and you can then call them back and seem like a "normal" person, not a Homeless one.  You can buy enough minutes for a Skype Number for this purpose for around $10, which probably lasts you a year given you probably will not actually use it for talking too much.  Most talking with friends goes across Skype itself for free skype to skype account.  In addition, you can use Google Hangouts for conversation with friends rather than the skype phone line.  The only purpose for this phone number is to have a number to hand out to possible jobs or perhaps the occasional person you don't want to give your Skype ID to.

Not being connected 24/7 to Global Communications is not something most of us net junkies are used to anymore, but of course this was the norm before the Cell Phones became ubiquitous.  In da olden days once I left the McHovel with its land line telephone, I was disconnected and nobody could get in touch with me until I got back home and checked the "answering machine", the predecessor to Voice Mail and itself an invention which only came around maybe in my early teens or so.  Prior to that, if you weren't home when a call came in, you simply missed the call and no message about it.  The person trying to reach you just had to do it again at another time.

The Homeless situation without your own (fairly costly) regular cell phone number puts you back in that situation more or less, and to maintain the illusion that you are still a "normal" person and not a Homeless one, you want to maintain a cell phone number and account as long as you can.  Once you drop below the poverty line, many of the cell phone providers offer a "basic" service for around $10/month which will at least allow you to get phone calls 24/7 and will take voicemail.  You won't have an internet connection with that service, bit it is cheap and keeps a line open for you even if you can't scarf up some free Wi-Fi somewhere.  Advisable to keep such a connection as long as you can afford it.

Now, this may seem trivial and inconsequential to you if you are more worried about FEEDING yourself with veggies grown in your raised beds or hydroponics tank, but it's not for me.  Internet Communication is Priority #1 for me!  The only reason I eat anything to begin with is to have enough energy to keyboard out some more Doom Newz!  LOL.

Seriously though, I think most people, even Doomers don't like it much when there is a Power Outage for one reason or another and their cell phone and laptop run out of juice after a day or two.  There are safety issues involved here as well, in terms of calling for help if you are sick or your house is floating downstream in a flood.  So you want to keep these things running as long as you can, and the above are my best strategies for doing that at a semi-reasonable price.  You DO NOT need a $20,000 Off the Grid Solar PV setup for your Doomstead to do it.  It can mostly be done in 1 or 2 bags with the right selection of preps.

Chicken Soup

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 6, 2015

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Matzoh_Ball_Soup

 

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Also known as "Jewish Penicillin"

    If you were brought up by a Jewish mother, chances are you have been prescribed a hot bowl of chicken soup at a time you felt under the weather. Dr. Mom may have insisted it was a type of "Jewish penicillin," that it would lessen your sniffles and perk you right up. She was, in some regard, correct. In a 2000 study published in the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, researchers found that chicken soup could help reduce upper-respiratory inflammation, which leads to those annoying qualities of a cold, like a stuffy head and incessant sneezing. Many doctors believe that colds are caused by viral infections. The body responds to these infections by sending over white blood cells to take charge, though they are not really effective in killing the virus. Instead, they lead to those cold-like symptoms that make you feel crummy. Stephen Rennard, M.D, Larson Professor of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and one of the study's leaders, found that fewer white blood cells attempted to be heroes when the body had chicken soup in its system. The soup had some "very modest but clearly measurable" ability to promote an anti-inflammatory activity, he explained in a UNMC video about the research (watch here). Even more, fluids — not specific to soup alone — loosen congestion and support hydration.

Chicken Soup is actually ubiquitous through just about every culture that raises Chickens for food.  Besides the Matzoh Ball variety favored by Jewish Grandmothers, there are many others.

http://img1.cookinglight.timeinc.net/sites/default/files/styles/400xvariable/public/image/2012/01/1201p116-good-old-fashioned-chicken-soup-m.jpg?itok=bKzZLSpr http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/roasted-garlic-and-chicken-soup-updated.jpg http://www.dailyperricone.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/coconut-chicken-soup-660x430.jpg http://amysuestastybites.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/wonton-soup.jpg

   Chicken Noodle Soup    Clove Garlic & Chicken Soup        Thai Chicken Coconut Soup    Chinese Won Ton Soup

 

This of course doesn't even scratch the surface of all the types of Chicken Soups out there, many of which you wouldn't know from the name that use a Chicken Broth as a Base.  For instance, here's a recipe for Alaska Halibut Chowder:

Great Alaska Halibut Chowder

Great Alaska Halibut Chowder• Two pounds cubed halibut (approximately ½ inch by ½ inch cubes)

• 1 small can clams (reserve half of the juice)

• 1 cup diced celery

• 1 cup diced onion

• Vegetable oil

• 2 cups chicken stock

• 2 cups heavy cream

• 2 teaspoons dill

• 2 cups diced red potatoes

• Salt –to taste

• Pepper-to taste

• ¼ cup cook diced bacon (optional)

• 1 cup cooked, drained spinach (optional)

 

Sneaky using Chicken Broth instead of Fish Broth in this Chowder!  🙂  

Here's another one, Borscht:

Chicken Borscht Recipe2 pounds skinless chicken thighs

8 cups chicken stock

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes (not drained)

3 large beets, peeled and shredded

1 large carrot, grated

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bay leaf

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Now, why is Chicken Soup so popular with so many variations?  Partly because it is DELICIOUS of course, but much more historically because it makes the maximum out of the the nutritional value in your Dead Chicken.  Nothing goes to waste. Whether you Roast it, BBQ or Fry it, everybody knows that after you finish off eating the meaty parts of the chicken from its bones, there's always still a ton of good stuff left on them, not to mention inside them in the case of the leg bones and thigh bones (Crack them before simmering with a Hammer or Rock).

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpgThe best way to get all that good stuff off is to simmer the remaining leftover bones (and gizzards) slowly over a few hours and create your base Broth, which you then can use in all the Chicken Soup recipes you can find. As Diners who follow my SNAP Card Gourmet series know, I'm always looking for ways to EAT CHEAP but EAT WELL, and Chicken Soup is one of the best ways of doing that. So I decided this week to see just what I could get out of 1  4.5 lb Organic Chicken as my entire Animal protein consumption for the week.

I also added another limitation here, NO REFRIGERATOR.  I just used my Cooler with 2 bags of Ice for the whole week.  The concept here is that if I was living in the Bugout Machine and couldn't afford to keep the Fridge running, could I keep my food good a whole week for eating?  Or if I was living in a Tent in a Homeless Camp, etc.?  Of course, I'm not living that way yet, but it seems to be getting closer by the day.  Best to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best of course.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe experiment began with the Weekly Shopping Trip at 3 Bears.  The Organic Chicken which came in at exactly $6.66 On Sale  🙂 actually was purchased some time ago and has been in the Freezer, so I took that out to thaw.  I could have bought a new chicken just as easily though, even a precooked one hot off the Rotisserie.

In addition to the Chicken, I bought the usual Fresh Veggies you drop in Chicken Soup, Carrots and Celery.  Both keep quite well in a cool place for a week, in the case of carrots a good deal longer than that.  The carrots in particular are a good source of vitamins, so make your soup even healthier once brewed up.  I also bought Fresh Garlic, which not everybody who makes chicken soups likes in there, but I like it plus it also adds vitamins and wards off Vampires & Zombies too!

https://www.atncorp.com/night_vision_images/products/318/images/big/04.jpgJust about every form of Chicken Soup also has its Carb Content, whether that comes in the form of simple Potatoes, Noodles, Couscous or Rice or more creative ones like Matzoh Balls, Dumplings or Wontons.  In the case of Matzoh Balls, you get some additional Protein and Vitamins because you use Eggs with the Matsoh Meal; in the case of Wontons you get additional from leftover meat (sausage usually).  For my purposes this week, I did the KISS principle, utilizing Rice and Noodles (mini-shells I found ON SALE) and Rice I have many vacuum sealed bags of as the Carb Component of my Chicken Soup.  Both of these dried forms of Carb even without vacuum sealing last months without refrigeration, so they are ideal as long as you the Homeless Person has a safe place to store them.  For this, you should have a Storage Unit, which you can usually find for $30-50/mo for the size a single homeless person would need for safe storage of personal possessions.  I don't need one of those yet, I still have my cubbards and a lock on the door so my preps are *relatively* safe at the moment.  However, at this SAME moment My Future is So Bright I Have to Wear Night Vision Goggles TM. As I outlined in last week's Sunday Brunch article, it's really remarkable how fast you can fall off the economic cliff if you run into Medical Issues, even if you HAVE some savings.  I'm fortunate that I do, because if I did not, I would already be cooking my chicken soup behind my Bugout Machine in some Walmart parking lot.  Not there YET though, so I can still tell the tale here on the Diner! 🙂

OK, off the tangent of my personal trials & travails these days as I inch towards Homelessness, Quadraplegia and inevitable DEATH, and back to the topic of Chicken Soup and this week's Experiment!

After simmering the leftover chicken carcass overnight in the Slow Cooker, I strained off the bones and meat to have just broth, which I put in the Fridge to cool overnight.  Purpose of that is to skim off the FAT from the top which solidifies, to reserve for use later in making Matzoh Balls for another Chicken Soup down the line.  You can also just leave the fat in the soup, and have it that way though it makes the broth very rich.  Afterwards, I picked off the best remaining meat chunks and added them back into the soup.

http://stephanieodea.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/2-quart-slow-cooker.jpgNow, obviously I got two things here which the Homeless person probably does not have, a Slow Cooker and a Fridge, both running on electricity piped into the digs by the local electric Co-op.  The Homeless person might be able to pirate electricity from some source though, but probably needs to use his Cooler and Ice for that process.  For the Slow Cooking though, this can be done by heating up some rocks over a fire, digging a pit and dropping your crock pot in over the stones and covering the whole biz with dirt for overnight slow cooking.  Basically the same way you do a clambake.  Other alternative is just to keep the pot simmering over a low flame, but you have to maintain that low flame for many hours which is a pain in the ass.  With a group of Homeless people much more possible than for a solo, as you can rotate the job of maintaining the fire at the right level.  Burying the crock is more energy efficient too, if you are short on firewood.

Another possibility for the Homeless Person is a Solar Cooker, escpecially in the warmer and sunnier parts of the country.  You can put these things together with cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and saran wrap if necessary.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/6e/ab/37/6eab375eaf165f28f85eb900bfb9dddc.jpg

http://cdn.recipes100.com/v/5eba6fa84e9abcce8c84bd6efaac20f9.jpgIn terms of Total Nutrition, I got more meals and more than 1 person needs in a week of Animal Protein out of this chicken.  I consumed the nice Meaty Parts over 4 days, together with Rice & Beans or Baked Potato.  Some of the nicer leftover meat I made a Chicken Salad out of with some Mayo, tarragon, chopped onions and celery etc and dropped on nice fresh Kaiser Rolls.  The Soup itself by the time all was said and done adding the veggies and noodles and rice made 3 HUGE Bowls of very tasty Chicken Soup.  Utilizing a larger crock, adding a few more of the carbs and veggies to this equation, easily you can feed 2 people for the week this way, for a likely total cost of under $20, $10/person.

http://cdn.ebaumsworld.com/picture/gionet2454/fatty.jpgThe great problem here in the FSoA and in Industrial Culture as a whole though is that many if not most people never learn to Cook at all, and all the prepared foods have come so cheap for so long, you have an entire generation of people who know nothing more about how to prepare food other than Microwaving it or buying cooked up already at Mickey Ds.  Why are people starving on a SNAP card allotment of around $140/mo per person?  Because they buy bags of potato chips that run $5 a bag with the SNAP Card, that's why!  FAT and STARVING at the SAME time!

You might not be able to make it on the $2/day Egyptians and Indians and many others in the 3rd World have for their food budget here in the FSoA, but you DEFINITELY can make it on $5/day if you don't buy all the junk and stick to the basics.

Of course, the food DOES need to be available on the shelves at Safeway, and the Money or SNAP Card does need to work to buy it.  Still working as of today, so enjoy it while you can.

Eat Cheap, and Eat Well! TM

 

A Homeless Thanksgiving

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 27, 2014

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FoodDonationsFrom the title you might have suspected that I headed over to one of the “Thanksgiving Blessings” that several Churches and Senior Centers do around here, which actually we have been helping to supply from the Food Pantry I volunteer at.  We rounded up 100 cans of Cranberry Sauce for one of these Blessings.

Twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, these large scale “traditional meal” extravaganzas are held to make sure even homeless people can share in the great Food Bounty of Industrial Agriculture.  The rest of the year, as a Homeless person you are basically SOL, because there are like ZERO Soup Kitchens that operate year round.

http://photos.dailycamera.com/News/Annual-Thanksgiving-dinner-at/i-xksSZf7/0/M/1120DINNER5-M.jpgThe Thanksgiving Blessings around here also mostly don’t serve real Homeless People, as there are very few of them.  They mostly serve the population of Octogenarians and up who either did not have families of their own, or whose sons and daughters moved on elsewhere and don’t fly them in to wherever they now live for Turkey Day.  If they still can take care of themselves on their SS and Pensions, they live in usually dilapidated houses, and then eventually they end up in Nursing Homes of varying quality depending on what kind of monthly income they still have.  The population of elderly people with no children who care about them is quite large actually.

“86% of Americans aged 45 or older have had children, and nine in 10 of these say they would have children if they had to “do it over again.” Of the 14% of Americans aged 45 and older who do not have children, 50% say that if they had to do it over again, they would have at least one child.”

14% never had children at all, then of the ones that did, if they are in their 80s they may have actually outlived any children they did have.  With the Mobile culture we developed, families did not stay together in any event, and my best guess is for people 80 years and older now, at least 25% of them have nobody who even visits them in the Nursing Home, much less invites them for Thanksgiving Dinner.

I remember in this case my mom’s oldest sister, my Aunt Ruth.  She was 20 years older than my mom, one of those scenarios of the long fertility time from 15 to 50 for women which can have some pretty wide spreads in siblings.  When mom was in her 60s, Ruth was in her 80s and in a Nursing Home.  She went to visit with her maybe every other week or so.  Ruth did have children, and they actually lived in the same general neighborhood, but you know how BUSY everyone is of course.  Maybe she got a few visits a month.  You can see the reality of this simply by visiting a Nursing Home, which I do periodically but not this Thanksgiving.  Its very depressing overall to do this, and a good reason to hope you go out quick at some point rather than last a long time this way.

So, rather than attend one of these Dinners, with the Buffet Table of the usual Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Sweet Potatoes, I though I might examine today how a real Homeless person can feed himself or herself, both most of the year as well as on Thanksgiving.  Also, I am still going to do this on the SNAP Card Budget, and keep the Daily Expense down to $5/day.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-It0-vR16wYc/UXbNTU_aboI/AAAAAAAABx0/jsaO96_fbTQ/s1600/bag+lady.PNGThe completely destitute Street Person Bag Lady type of Homeless person who pushes all her meager belongings around in a Shopping Cart has VERY limited ability to either acquire food or cook it, I often wonder how these folks survive at all.  Mostly by dumpster Diving I suspect.  Leaving your cart of stuff to go into a Food Emporium to shop risks having it stolen, or more likely trashed.  So you would have to hide it somewhere.  Said Bag Lady also probably does not have a Camp Stove in her cart, so the only cooking means would be to drop in a Convenience store and use the Microwave, or make a Fire Hobo style, but finding fuel to burn and a place to do it in the city where you won’t be accosted by the police also very hard.

Besides this is the problem of Food Storage.  As a Homeless person of this type, you have no ability to buy in bulk and store food, and no refrigeration to store your Leftovers.  As mentioned in prior SNAP Card Gourmet episodes on this topic, for the single person both buying in bulk and eating leftovers are a big part of keeping your costs down.

So, in this thought experiment, my homeless person is not a completely destitute Street Person.  He used to work up here in Alaska on the Slope as an Ice Road Trucker, and for many years made a good living.  He used his savings to go into Real Estate development, and did even better for another decade.  However, he was levered up heavily before the crash in 2008, and after the Bankruptcy proceedings were all said and done, he lost all the properties he was planning to develop, plus his house which he had used as collateral for a really choice property on the Matanuska River he was going to build a Hunting & Rafting Resort on.

http://businessbewareshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/walmart.jpgAll he was left with in the end was a few hundred dollars in his checking account, his SUV and clothes and his camping gear.  He also has some Medical Problems, he is in his late fifties and not yet eligible for Medicare or Social Security but has Peripheral Artery Disease in his legs which makes walking difficult and a semi-paralyzed right arm.  He is too proud to go for SSDI, and doggedly looks for a job, finally landing a part time Minimum Wage position 20 hours a week as a Greeter at Walmart.  He does apply for SNAP card, and he goes to the Food Pantry he used to volunteer at once a month for a Food Box.

His total income not including the PFD he gets from Alaska Oil every year is around $600/mo gross, less after the taxes are taken out but we’ll call it $600 for simplicity purposes.  He looks around for a place to live, but they all cost more than he makes each month, or right at it, so he elects to live in his SUV, also getting a Storage Unit with 24/7 Access which costs him $80/mo.  He keeps his food, camping gear, clothes etc in the storage unit, and he sleeps in his SUV.  He buys a $50/mo membership at the Alaska Club, where he showers and cleans up every day so that he is presentable for his shift Greeting at Walmart.  He also keeps a Cell Phone with the minimum 1GB 4G Data Plan for $30/mo so he can still receive calls and pick up email on jobs he sends out Resumes for.  He uses Free Wifi most of the time from the Coffee Shop for doing serious Web Surfing, and to run the Free Blog he has on Blogspot and the Free Forum he has on Create-a-Forum along with his You Tube Channel and Soundcloud Channel where he has the Basic Free Accounts and does periodic Podcasts and Vidcasts to chronicle his life as a Homeless Person.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-CAg8G1mk3vY/UjKpFOnT4MI/AAAAAAAAALk/skIyIG5bMXU/s1600/IMG_0403.JPGIn his SUV he also has wired in a Deep Cycle Marine Battery which mostly charges off the car alternator, but he periodically tops off by charging it while doing Laundry at the Laundromat or while surfing the net at the Coffee shop.  He has a 500W Power Inverter for AC Current which allows him to keep all his Diode Lights and Cell Phone and Laptop charged up all the time.  He also can run his Slow Cooker and DC Cooking Oven off the battery to heat up food.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHis fixed monthly costs besides running the car are $140.  He spends all his time in the Mat Valley, with Daily Driving around no more than 10 miles/day, mostly less since he also has an Electric Scooter to make grocery trips and trips to the coffee shop on.  Average driving is 200 miles/mo, around 10 gallons @ 20 mpg @ the current price of $3.50/ Gallon for $35.  Insurance costs him another $50/mo, and Registration $10/mo.  Add this to the $140, total fixed costs now @ $235, still well under the $600 he earns at Walmart as a part-time Greeter.

To complete the Picture here before we move on to the COOKING, here is how yesterday went for this Hypothetical Homeless Person (HHP), as he told it to me:

“I woke up yesterday morning parked in an Apartment Complex  in Wasilla.  These are better than the commercial parking lots, the cops don’t cruise them so much.  It was around 25 F last night which is pretty toasty warm in winter here so I just needed my Sleeping Bag good to -30 and did not have to use my DC current blanket or foot warmers. When I woke up I drove over to the convenience store to hit the toilet and brush my teeth and Nuke Up a Breakfast Burrito.  Then I drove over to the Alaska Club and worked some leg therapy exercises for my legs, took a shower and changed clothes.  After that I drove over to the Coffee Shop and did some Web surfing, then over to Walmart for my Greeting shift.  I picked up a can of soup and a can of beans and a can of corn to make a Gumbo with.  I went over to the Storage Unit after my shift and heated up the soup and rice and had a nice dinner.  After that I drove over to the Laundromat and did some writing on the Laptop until just before they closed at 10PM.  I topped off the Big Battery while I was there, because it was supposed to drop down to 15 tonight and I like to run my Foot Warmers all night at 15.  I don’t have to add in the electric sleeping pad until it goes below Zero.   I did some more writing in the SUV before leaving, until about 11, then drove over to another apartment complex and sacked out. I use different parking lots all the time so I don’t get noticed by the residents of the complex.  I woke up this morning early around 6, so headed over to the Coffee Shop to do some web surfing, and found your Blog, the Doomstead Diner!  Maybe we can meet up since we both live around here!”

HHP is not a REAL PERSON of course, he is just a Thought Experiment of who I COULD BE if I fell off the economic cliff for one reason or another.  He is my friend, and he is with me all the time in my head.  There But for Fortune, go you or go I.

Now, obviously HHPs daily activities vary some from Day to Day, but overall it’s not THAT much different than the life I live right now.  Main difference is of course I have a Home and place to cook and store all my stuff, which makes everything WAY easier.  For the added Convenience and Comfort, it costs me around another $1000/mo, by the time you add up the Rent, the Heat & Electricity and the Broadband Internet.  The Psychological difference would be enormous though, having your own space to putter around in and just the overall level of COMFORT makes it much better.  Besides that though, none of the cooking aspects from here on in would be different, so let’s move on now to some daily meals & methods for HHP to eat, as well as his Thanksgiving Dinner, which he elects to do on his own rather than going to a Thanksgiving Blessing and getting depressed hanging with all the rest of the people who are off the cliff.

First we have to examine what Cooking Utensils and methods HHP actually has.

His personal Cooking Artillery consists of a Propane fired Portable Grill,  a Propane fired Camp Stove, a Solar Oven, 12V Oven and Immersion Heater and Electric Slow Cooker.  His Utensils are a couple of Pots, a couple of Pans a Dutch Oven or Roaster and his Hobo Knife set.  He also can access Microwave ovens in Convenience stores.  Everything we prepare will be possible with these tools for cooking.

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With your Storage Unit, you have a place to store bulk foods, but your Refrigeration capability is limited, although here in Alaska from about November through March it is cold enough all the time you can keep leftovers in a cooler without too much problem. The rest of the year you can buy Bagged Ice @ $2.50/Bag which probably is good for around 2 days most of the time.  However, I would mostly avoid trying to store foods that need to be kept cool.

The main Bulk Foods you keep in the Storage Unit is Rice, Pasta, Flour and Potatoes, aka CARBS.  You can add these to any Canned or microwave food to double or triple calorie content while keeping the cost down and leftovers to a minimum.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor the first meal, we will cover the Gumbo that HHP had yesterday. This actually IS a meal that a Bag Lady could do, long as she can get hold of the canned food without having her shopping cart trashed while she buys it anyhow.  Its pretty much all Canned Foods, although you definitely can expand on it easily with a little Rice and leftover meats if you have some. ,  You start with a Can of Progresso Soup, I like to use either the Minestrone or the Black Bean & Vegetable varieties for this, but you can drop in similar things with most of their soup varieties.  By themselves, they are a bit pricey and only come in around 300 calories or so, not enough to fill you up.  Around here most of the time, around $2/Can, but On Sale you find them often around $1.50.  In order to fill them out and make them “heartier” you add a can of beans and can of corn, around 75 cents each.  This adds another 300-400 Calories.  This is probably enough if you had a Breakfast Meal that came in at around 800 calories, but you can add to it by boiling up some Rice also and adding that in, or adding in a Potato you microwave at the convenience store when you drop in there.  Here’s the real complex cooking proceedure for your Canned Soup & Veggie Gumbo  which you basically just need a pot, a can opener and source of heat to cook up.  You could in fact eat it cold if necessary.  Meal Cost without Rice, $3, add 50 cents to double the calorie content with rice.  The Header Video covers this complex cooking technique.  LOL.

I mentioned having a good calorie filled Breakfast here, and one EZ way as mentioned is to just buy a Breakfast Burrito at the conveninece store for $2.50 or so.  Add a Microwave Potato, you are in good shape overall.  However, you can occassionallly do better than this if you got some time, making Steak & Eggs with sauteed peppers and onions, home friees or pancakes or toasting up some leftover bread and melting some cheese and garlic on it.  All this EZ to do with just a grill and Camp Stove.

Stews also very EZ with your Slow Cooker, which you can use together with your Solar Oven, bury with some Hot Rocks in a hole overnight, or just use stored Electric power in your Battery to cook for a few hours.  Combinations of stuff you can throw in the slow cooker are endless of course.

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I picked up this Organic Chicken ON SALE for the Bargain Price of $6.66. What Doomer could resist that BUY for Thanksgiving Dinner?

For Thanksgiving, I am doing a Miniature Version of the Turkey I used to cook when we did the big family Thanksgiving back in the Flushing McHovel, in this case using a smaller Roaster and an Organic Chicken in place of a Big Turkey.  Stuffing it full of Goodies, and filling up the rest of the space with carrots, potatoes, onions etc.  I’ll cook it in the Oven of course burning the NG that flows in here at a pretty cheap price these days, but I could cook it with the other methods if necessary.

However, since this is THANKSGIVING, and you are supposed to have more out on the Table than you could possible eat, I am NOT stopping at the Roast Chicken.  I also picked up a “Flamecraft Ham”, which is Fred Meyer’s ripoff of Honey Baked Hams.  “Possibly the BEST ham you will ever Eat” says the tag line, and they are quite tasty, as are the Honey Baked Hams themselves.  These come in a good deal cheaper though, and I bought a half ham size which will for a single guy besides adding more to eat on Thanksgiving be part of Breakfast for the next week at LEAST.

Besides just making the plate more full though with Goodies to Consume, there is Nostalgia behind my reasons for buying the Flame Craft Ham.  During my Trucking Years, my sister ran the annual Thanksgiving Food Fest, and since I was out in the Truck I couldn’t do too much in terms of cooking, but since I had copious MONEY at the time, I would buy a Honey Baked Ham to add in to our Turkey Day Food Celebrations.  As I recall, they usually cost me around $60 at the time, and there were always leftovers which I took back on the road in the truck to eat for the next week.

http://www.commonsensewithmoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Honey-Baked-Ham-Coupons.jpgThe BIG Problem of course with the Homeless Thanksgiving Dinner though is of course the storage of leftovers, since even a small chicken is more than I will eat at one sitting, especially with the potatoes and rest of the stuff for this meal.  Fortunately though, this time of year average temps are around 25, so I can just store the leftovers in a pot left in the cooler.  I can probably work through it all in 3-4 days, making a soup stock and chicken salad out of the leftovers.

Not stopping there either, I ALSO bought a huge thick and juicy Ribeye which I marinated for a few days in a super secret Marinade, which will cook on the Homeless Grill and then I will Thin Slice and serve with Sauteed Mushrooms on my Thanksgiving Platter.  It will probably take me all day to work my way through eating this plate, and OBVIOUSLY if I was really HOMELESS I would never do this.  Too many Leftovers to store up.  In fact any ONE of the meat dishes, the Chicken, the Ham and the Steak are good for at LEAST 4-5 days of Leftovers, so I will be eating this stuff well into December to consume it all.

As has been noted by Surly in some of the previous SNAP articles, this is strictly a First Worlder problem, even a relatively poor HHP First Worlder.  On a very limited budget by First World Standards, if I harbor my money carefully I can buy COPIOUS food to eat and rather than starvation the usual bigger problem these days is to limit yourself so you don’t get outrageously FAT.

For the real Kollapsniks here, you’ll find all sorts of reasons why this paradigm won’t work too well in the future. Most obvious one of course is the GAS needed to run your SUV.  However, when we have descended so far you cannot access any gas at say$5/gallon, the whole society would be in a world of shit, not just the HHP living in his SUV.  I don’t currently think we will get that low in the next 5 years, though I may be wrong on this estimate.

Also unclear how long Walmart would keep me on as a Greeter since their profits are going south or how long JP Morgan Chase will keep refilling SNAP Cards, so when these supports drop off the map the paradigm ends.  However, so ends at this time ALL semblance of middle class living too, even if you HAVE a domicile you are quite fucked here.  The ONLY difference here is having a domicile to live in, everything else the average Konsumer must have to move around the society.

As it appears at the moment, the meme is for ever increasing impoverishment, with the system still operational to some extent.  I’ll guesstimate that can last another 5-10 years, so for this period, this Homeless Person Paradigm might work.  It depends of course on having a functioning Automobile and available GAS to work.  When this type of Homeless Paradigm does NOT work, just about everyone in Middle Class Amerika is EQUALLY FUCKED.  HHP has reduced his expenses so much here he could probably stand a rise in the price of Gas to $10 or even $15/gallon and still maintain his SUV Sleeping Quarters.  Most remaining Middle Class Amerikans could not withstand such a price increase in gas.

When the Gas becomes either completely unavailable OR outrageously expensive, even people who still HAVE domiciles in suburbia will generally be forced to either abandon them or to live without heat, electricity etc.  The whole system just will not run if/when the prices run up that far, and at the moment it does not look like they will, but rather go in the opposite direction, while more unconventional oil fields are shut in, and more people drift off this economy one way or the other.

In the best case scenario, during this devolution off the Industrial system, localities will develop their own economic system.  Making the Changeover is the next great CHALLENGE we face, and to negotiate it successfully we must all work together in our local communities, right after we hang all the Banksters and Frackers who got us into this mess.  As one of my Tag Lines goes, “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth. Right AFTER the Meek get very, VERY Angry.”

To close this Thanksgiving Food Extravaganza, a few thoughts.

First, although I can do a Thought Experiment on how it might be for me if I were to fall off the cliff economically, there is no way to really know how it is until you are THERE.  I’m not REALLY Homeless, and I’m not REALLY limited to a SNAP Card Food Budget either.  I also have Savings that insulates me from DISASTER.  What happens in HHPs life if the tranny on his car gives out, and it costs $2000 to fix it?  Even if he HAS the $2K to fix it, he is without his sleeping quarters for a week or two while it is in the shop.  What does he do if that happens in Mid-Winter and it is 30 Below outside?

Second and even more affecting to me is that while I have this cornucopia of food to cook up on my porch and I can make an intellectual assesment of how it is possible to feed yourself on a limited budget, I know for a FACT that in reality there are many children out there going HUNGRY tonight, maybe not too many in the FoA, but globally in the millions easily.  There is no good reason for this right now, since at the moment there is plenty to feed even the 7B human Souls walking the Earth.  Right now, it is just a distribution and economic issue, not a supply issue.

It is also plain stupid that there are any Homeless People AT ALL in the FSoA, because there are simply TONS of foreclosed on and abandoned properties these folks could make into viable shelters, but the LAW prevents them from doing so.  Besides the empty McMansions, there is empty land everywhere people could set up Tents on, but if you do it the Gestapo comes and sweeps them away.  You MUST pay into the Rentier economy to have a place to live!

We have to let this stupid sort of Economy GO!  It’s not working now, and really it has NEVER worked, it impoverishes most people while making a few rich beyond measure.  It is WRONG.

I will leave you this Thanksgiving with a Hans Christian Andersen story, The Little Match Girl.  She is coming back here now, and only YOU can keep her Warm, if it is in your Heart to do so.

http://www.catherineshafer.com/images/martch_girl_1_.jpgMost terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening– the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.She crept along trembling with cold and hunger–a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck; but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year’s Eve; yes, of that she thought.

In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. “Rischt!” how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but–the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when–the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger, and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant’s house.

Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when–the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

“Someone is just dead!” said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

“Grandmother!” cried the little one. “Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!” And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety–they were with God.

But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall–frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. “She wanted to warm herself,” people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.

RE

The SNAP Card Gourmet 004 – Chicken SNAP Alaska RE

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 23, 2014

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Week 4, the BONUS Week in the SNAP Card Budget has finally ARRIVEDAT LAST I will be able to start varying my meals and doing some more creative cooking!

As opposed to my roughly $25 Budget in the first 3 Weeks of this Adventure, this week I have about $65 to spend on FOOD left on my SNAP Card!  I am feeling positively WEALTHY as I head over to the Food Emporiums with this hefty load of Digital FRNs still left on the Card!

I start by cruising for BARGAINS on items I could not afford earlier while I made sure I had enough calories and basics in the larder to make it through the first 3 weeks.  I am in better shape now with a decent amount of basics, plus leftovers from the first 3 weeks.  I’m not gonna go hungry here in the next 10 days no matter what I buy.  However, I am still not going to be stupid and buy super expensive meat cuts quite yet for full on gourmet.  I’m looking for bargain fixin’s to make quality meals with.

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Even though they are not Prime, these steaks are well marbled with FAT and will cook up well on the Grill.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn the Meat Dept, I find On Sale Organic Chicken Breasts, thin cut for $6.  That is a BUY!  Also an odd cut of beef ribs that sold at $2.50/lb, also a BUY for another Stew.  Finally in the Meat Dept, I found a Twin Pack of New York Strip Steaks for around $6, a little thinner than I usually like for BBQ, but with a high flame and quick cook, should be OK.  These steaks are small enough I will not have leftovers and they just are single meal jobs.  They will both be Grilled, because given the choice, I ALWAYS grill steaks rather than do pan or broiler cooking with them.  However, the rest of the prep will differ some so not exactly the same meal.  I am thinking I will have one or two Premium Steak & Eggs Breakfasts, and another Steak Dinner with Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes and Mushrooms.

Altogether here on the Meat End, I am around $15, now I need to fill out the meals here with the remaining $50.

I head first to the Fresh Veggies produce dept of the Food Emporium, as so far I have not had any fresh veggies in my meals and I MISS them.  Besides, they are healthy for you to eat.

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Some of this week’s Veggies! Note the colorful Organic Carrots! Mostly I Steam Veggies if they are not cooked in a stew. Zucchini I like sauteed in butter or bacon fat with some garlic.

I get a Crown of Broccoli for $3, 1 Pt Mushrooms for $2.50, 1/2 lb of Brussel Sprouts for a bit over $1, Spinach for $3, Zucchini $2 and an Avocado for $2.50.  I also still have carrots and onions and potatoes leftover from earlier purchases.  Total on the Fresh Veggies here, around $14.  So now up to $29 Spent, around $35 left.

Given the stuff I have just purchased, plus what is left from before, I now plan in my head my meals, and have to buy some premium stuff I do not have.

I need some spice, Tarragon for $3.  I need cooking sherry and marsala cooking wine, ON SALE for $4.59 each.  Two cans of Seasoned Black Beans, $2.  The Beans are to go with Rice in the larder as one of the Carb choices of the week besides the Spaghetti and the Potatoes. I have plenty of dried beans in my Preps, but canned beans are WAY easier to prepare and they aren’t very expensive. Unlike many other veggies also, canned beans don’t have much different texture than if you prepare them from dried beans.  I absolutely cannot stand anything like Canned Asparagus or Green Beans though.  Yuck Mush and tasteless, never buy them on ANY budget!. Total here another $15 or so, down to $20 left.

With the remaining, I buy some Staples, Sour Cream to go with my Baked Potatoes, $2.50, Hot Sauce $3 , 1 lb Ground Beef, $5, Spaghetti Sauce $3, Peanut Butter $2, Loaf Oatbread  ON SALE $3.

10 Day Plan as it evolves during the Shopping Expedition is this:

2 Nights Steak Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

3 Nights Chicken Dinners with Carb & Veggie Side Dishes

2 Nights Stew Dinners

1 Night Gourmet Hamburger Dinner

1 Night Leftover Chili Dinner

1 Night ALL LEFTOVERS Dinner.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor the Stew this week, besides the riblets, it gets potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, some onion soup mix for broth and a little BBQ sauce.  Main difference from normal stew is that prior to dropping the meat into the Slow Cooker, I seared it on the Grill, which adds some nice smokey flavor.  You could just eat these off the grill, but this meat is a little tough even though there is plenty of fat.  Added benefit of doing a quick grilling first is that you render off some of the copious fat in this cut, which would be way too much in your stew.  Even so, I will probably have to cool it and skim some fat off after the slow cook, although in a real starvation scenario you would never do this.  In terms of calories, the more fat the better in your meal.  You have to balance this against having so much fat in there you clog up your arteries and die from Cardiac Arrest instead of starvation.  Overall though, on a Paleo type diet you can leave most fat in as long as you don’t overdo total consumption.

For the Chicken Dishes, my plan was to make two from the package of thin sliced organic chicken breasts, my own recipe of Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, and a typical Chicken Marsala.  However, I ended up just making the one Chicken Alaska since I didn’t have time and just did all 4 Chicken Breasts the same way. The Preps are not too much different for Marsala, and mostly the cooking is the same although you do have to bake Chicken RE a little in the oven to melt the cheese, which you do not have to do for Chicken Marsala.  For Chicken Marsala, you can go to Emeril or the Food Network for a recipe and cooking method, I won’t do that one here.

Now, I have to make an admission here, the recipes I am including do NOT include some spices that I have in my Preps that I could add to flavor these meals up a bit more.  They are still pretty tasty without the additional spices, and equally nutritious either way.  If you have some available spices, don’t hesitate to add them to make the recipe even BETTER!    For the Chicken Alaska SNAP RE, I suggest Tarragon and Sage in the saute phase.  Tarragon is a real good spice to use with Chicken, and the Sage accentuates the aroma.

Chicken SNAP Alaska RE Recipe

Ingredients

1 lb thin sliced Chicken Breasts

2 Tomatoes

1 Avocado

Cheddar Cheese

6 cloves Garlic

1/4 cup Flour

Cooking Oil

Directions

Pound chicken breasts thin, flour both sides.  Add chopped garlic to hot cooking oil, sear the breasts 2-3 minutes each side, remove from flame.  Add Sliced Tomatoes to the Hot Oil/Garlic, fry each side about 1-2 minutes.  Lay Tomato slices over chicken on skillet or baking dish.  Lay cheese slices over chicken & tomatoes.  Bake in Oven @ 350 F for around 10 minutes until the cheese melts nicely.  Lay Avocado Slices over the cheese and Serve.  Serves 4 people, or four meals for one person.  Approximate cost: $3-4 per serving.

This brings us to another issue, Cooking after TSHTF, or Cooking from just what you can Grow or Raise on your Doomstead.

Tons of things you drop into a Recipe are only available while JIT Shipping is still up and running to some extent.   Who grows Peppercorns on their Doomstead?  Can you get Avocados?  Paprika?  Cooking Sherry?  Lemons?  Probably not on many things, so your meals will not have such flavorings in them, even if you have access to Fish, Chicken, Moose, Potatoes, Carrots etc.

http://gallagher-photo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Mongolia_Homeless_07.JPGYour actual ability to “cook” also gets limited down, while I can pound chicken breasts and flour them, you can’t do this if you are homeless, or at least it is real difficult.  Once you are homeless, your either boiling stuff or roasting it over a flame if you are working with anything fresh, but mostly you are not and just heating up canned food or microwaving in a convenience store. Homeless people do not have lots of cooking utensils, cast iron pans which are heavy to carry around etc.  Cooking with NO Utensils at all is just either open flame roasting or burying the food wrapped in leaves with hot rocks for a slow cook.

In fact “cooking” as we know it today really did not begin until Metallurgy was pretty well developed to make Pots, Pans, Griddles, Dutch Ovens etc.  Cookware in the old days was very valuable and handed down from generation to generation, along with things like Silverware and Fine China dishware.  With the Industrial Era though, mass produced cooking and eating utensils got very cheap and everyone takes these things for granted now.  Once out on the street though as a Homeless person, most of these things are baggage you just can’t carry around with you.  Most of what you eat off of and with is disposable paper and plasticware.  I have a couple of Stoneware sets, but I almost never use them.  Paper Plates!  Yes, I know it is wasteful.  However, I save on the energy used to wash the dishes!

http://bellpub.com/images/ugcoverphotos/UG_201107_CoverPhoto.jpgThis ends the first month, and what it does demonstrate is that you most certainly can survive on a SNAP card allotment, at least as long as you are not yet Homeless.  In fact you can do way better than I did this month by accessing Food Pantries if you qualify, and next month I will figure into the equation what is possible with food issued out to low income people and the elderly at a Food Pantry like the one I Volunteer at.  If you add in this stuff, at least twice a week you can eat premium foods if you watch the total budget and your consumption and food type distribution.

As long as both the SNAP Cards are issued out AND the Food Pantries continue to operate, any real “Food Riots” here in the FSoA such as you see already in MENA are unlikely.  If you are starving here in the FSoA right now, it’s either because you are already Homeless or do not have knowledge enough to be able to access the Food Assistance that is available in most neighborhoods, or you simply do not know how to Budget and spend your SNAP allotment on stupid things.  Like a Bag of Potato Chips that runs $4! Soda and high fructose corn syrup “Juices”!  Drink WATER from the Tap on a SNAP Budget!  For many people though, they simply don’t think about this and spend the whole $140 on junk which is gone in a week or two,  which is sad.

At the moment, the problem Economically for most of the population is not a Food Problem, there is plenty and it is getting distributed out for the most part, although you definitely have instances of people being poorly nourished due to their own ignorance and the poor choices in food available they make.  That food plenty will probably not last in perpetuity of course, but neither do I think it will drop off the map here in the FSoA that rapidly either.

Finally for today, in the next month I am not going to delineate the weekly purchases from here on in, but rather do an Estimated Cost Per Meal, since the accumulation of stuff over time means you do not always buy new stuff every month.  For instance, one quart of cooking oil lasts me at least 2 months.  Same with a pound of butter.  There are always leftovers to every meal, so you cannot make an absolute on exactly what you need to buy in any given month once you get going on this.

Generally speaking, most meals will come in between $2-$5.  Daily expenditures will mostly stay under $5, but after a few days of CHEAP EATING, a Gourmet Meal that might run $10 or even $20 might be cooked up here on the Diner Stove.  You cannot do many of those though and stay under a total monthly budget of $140.  However, I will do one SUPER PREMIUM meal each month and still stay under Budget.

Besides looking at what you get in a monthly box from the food pantry, I’ll also look more at how a Homeless person might use his SNAP Card and try to stay under budget with just Canned and Microwaveable foods in the next month.  Then we’ll examine the total economics of living on Poverty level income.

Until next week then, Eat Well and Stay Healthy!

RE

 

Homeless Children Population Explosion

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on Economic Collapse on December 9, 2013

Child-Crying-Photo-by-D-Sharon-Pruitt

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The Most Homeless Children In New York City Since The Great Depression

At a time when Wall Street is absolutely swimming in wealth, New York City is experiencing an epidemic of homelessness.  According to the New York Times, the last time there was this many homeless children in New York City was during the days of the Great Depression.  And the number of homeless children in the United States overall recently set a new all-time record.  As I mentioned yesterday, there are now 1.2 million public school kids in America that are homeless, and that number has gone up by about 72 percent since the start of the last recession.  As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as “the wealthiest nation on the planet”, and yet the number of young kids that don’t even have a roof over their heads at night just keeps skyrocketing.  There truly are “two Americas” today, and unfortunately most Americans that live in “good America” don’t seem to really care too much about the extreme suffering that is going on in “bad America”.  In the end, what kind of price will we all pay for neglecting the most vulnerable members of our society?

If you live in “good America”, I very much encourage you to read an excellent piece about homelessness in New York City that was just published in the New York Times.  What some young kids have to go through on a nightly basis should break all of our hearts…

She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.

Could you imagine having your own family live like that?  The name of the little girl in the story is Dasani, and every night her family sleeps in a city-run homeless shelter that sounds like it is straight out of a horror movie…

Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.

You can read the rest of that excellent article right here.  Sadly, there are countless other children just like Dasani that live like this day after day, month after month, year after year.

Shouldn’t we be able to do better than this as a society?  After all, the stock market has been hovering near record highs lately, and Wall Street is absolutely drenched with wealth for the moment.

With so much wealth floating around, why are New York City subways being “overrun with homeless” right now?

Something has gone horribly wrong.

I think that a recent editorial by David Simon, the creator of the Wire, summarized things pretty well.  We are not “one America” anymore, and most of the people that live in “good America” don’t really care much about those living in “bad America”…

America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It’s astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.

There’s no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be.

Once upon a time, things were different in America.  Nobody resented businessmen for building strong businesses and making lots of money.  And successful businessmen such as Henry Ford hired large numbers of American workers and paid them very well.  He felt that his workers should make enough money to buy the cars that they were building.  In those days, businessmen were loyal to their workers and workers were loyal to those that employed them.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone.  Today, in business schools all over America students are taught that the sole purpose of a corporation is to make as much money as possible for the stockholders.  Not that there is anything wrong with making money.  But at this point we have elevated greed above all other economic goals.  Taking care of one another isn’t even a consideration anymore.

In the old days, big businesses actually needed our labor.  But that is now no longer the case.  Today, corporations are shipping millions of our jobs overseas and they are replacing as many of us with technology as they possibly can.  The value of the labor of the working man is declining with each passing day.

As a result, the fortunes of big business and American workers are increasingly diverging.  For example, the disconnect between employment levels and stock prices has never been greater in this country.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.

And instead of fixing things, Barack Obama is negotiating a secret treaty which will result in millions more American jobs being shipped overseas.  The following is a brief excerpt about this secret treaty from an Australian news source

The government has refused the Senate access to the secret text of the trade deal it is negotiating in Singapore, saying it will only be made public after it has been signed.

As the final round of ministerial talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership resumed on Sunday, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote to each of the 12 participating nations warning that the deal and the secrecy surrounding it presented ”grave risks”.

So why aren’t we hearing much about this secret treaty from U.S. news sources?

If this is going to affect millions of American jobs, shouldn’t the mainstream media be making a big deal out of this?

And even if we weren’t losing millions of jobs to the other side of the planet, we would still be losing millions of jobs to advancements in technology.  In fact, a CNBC article that was posted earlier this week seems to look forward to the day when nobody will have to worry about the low pay that fast food workers get anymore because they will all be replaced by droids…

Maybe so, but as fast food workers protest low wages and the president of the United States equates hard work with the right to decent pay, the rise of technology once again proves to be no stunt, or laughing matter. McDonald’s, where food production is already about as mechanized as food science allows, stopped updating the famous number “served” figure at its restaurants back in 1994—just short of 100 billion—but how long will it be before trillions are served their burgers and fries by a drone, after being cooked by a droid? Those machines work for cheap, and the best thing is, they have no concept of hard work, or dignity, or the foresight to consider whether or not the “cool” things they can do ultimately contribute, or detract, from a strong, consumer-dependent economy.

So what is the solution to all of this?

Where will the millions of desperately needed jobs for “bad America” come from?

Well, it appears that good ideas are in short supply these days.  In fact, some of the ideas being promoted by our “leaders” are absolutely insane.  For example, one prominent entrepreneur recently suggested that the solution to our employment crisis is for Congress to pass an immigration bill which would bring in 30 million more low-skilled workers over the next ten years…

Middle class Americans face a tough future because robots and machinery are eliminating their jobs, according to Steve Case, an entrepreneur who earned roughly $1 billion by creating the first successful internet firm, America Online.

But Congress could help the situation by passing an immigration bill that would import some foreign entrepreneurs and almost 30 million low-skilled workers over the next decade, Case told an audience of D.C. lobbyists and lawyers gathered on Tuesday by the business-backed Bipartisan Policy Center.

Exactly how would this improve the employment situation in this country?

I still cannot figure that one out.

But there are people out there that actually believe this stuff.

Meanwhile, many parts of Europe are suffering through similar things.

The unemployment rate in the eurozone recently hit a new all-time high, and the number of people living in poverty in Europe just continues to grow

Over 124 million people in the European Union – or almost a quarter of its entire population – live under the threat of poverty or social exclusion, a report by EU’s statistical office has revealed.

Last year, 124.5 million people, or 24.8 percent of Europe’s population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 24.3 percent in 2011 and 23.7 percent in 2008, the Eurostat said in a document published earlier in the week.

So what is going to fix this?

Where are the good jobs for workers in North America and Europe going to come from in the years ahead?

If you have a potential solution, please feel free to share it below…

Sledgehammering the Homeless

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on Economic Collapse on November 20, 2013

http://www.thegreenhead.com/imgs/wilton-bash-unbreakable-sledgehammer-8.jpg

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One Lawmaker Is Literally Smashing The Belongings Of The Homeless With A Sledgehammer

There is a war on compassion in America today.  You are about to read about a Hawaii lawmaker that has used a sledgehammer to smash up at least 30 shopping carts that homeless people were using.  Yes, you read that correctly.  He is actually carrying a sledgehammer around so that he can destroy the belongings of homeless people.  He claims that it is his intention “to do something practical that will really clean up the streets”.  But as crazy as that sounds, the truth is that he is not alone.  As you will read about below, there are dozens of major cities all over the country where feeding the homeless has been banned.  In many of these instances, public officials are very open about the fact that the goal is to make their cities “cleaner” and “safer” places to live.  They simply do not want the homeless around.  In fact, there are some cities such as San Diego and San Francisco where social workers are actually giving homeless people one-way bus tickets out of town.  If you doubt this, just keep reading.  The United States is becoming a very cold, heartless place, and homeless people are increasingly being treated like human garbage in this country.  So how bad will the treatment of the homeless become when the economy gets really bad?

When I first heard about a state representative out in Hawaii that was using a sledgehammer to go after homeless people, I could hardly believe it.  But it is actually true.  The following is a short excerpt from an RT article that was published earlier this week…

In the past two weeks residents in Hawaii noticed what appeared to be a crazed individual carrying a sledgehammer through the streets of Honolulu, a state lawmaker looking to rid the city of homeless people by targeting their belongings.

State Representative Tom Brower (D) is currently dedicated to dealing out his own personal brand of “justice” by seeking out homeless people and destroying their possessions. Brower estimates that he has used the sledgehammer to smash at least 30 shopping carts, rendering them useless by bashing in the front wheels.

I got tired of telling people I’m trying to pass laws. I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,” he told Hawaii News Now. “I find abandoned junk, specifically shopping carts, and I remove them.”

How cold and heartless can one person possibly be?

The truth is that almost all of us are just a few bad breaks from being out on the street.

Hasn’t he ever needed a helping hand at some point in his life?

Unfortunately, government control freaks are cracking down on those that are trying to provide that “helping hand” all over the nation.  For example, one Christian ministry in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has recently been threatened with jail time for feeding the homeless…

Every week for more than five years, staff and volunteers associated with Isaiah 61 Ministries have provided meals, toiletries, clothing and other forms of assistance to the homeless men and women of Harrisburg, as well as to the poor and elderly. Because of the recent threats made by the Dauphin County commission, Isaiah 61 Ministries and several other ministries engaged in similar religious exercises throughout the rest of the week have been unable to serve those most in need of help at this time of year.

And in a previous article I wrote about an organization called Love Wins Ministries that made national headlines when police in Raleigh, North Carolina threatened to arrest them if they continued to distribute sausage biscuits and coffee to homeless people living in the heart of the city.  The following is from a first-hand account from someone who actually witnessed the police threats

On the morning of Saturday, August, 24, Love Wins showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years. We provide, without cost or obligation, hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to anyone who wants one. We keep this promise to our community in cooperation with five different, large suburban churches that help us with manpower and funding.

On that morning three officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.

Our partnering church brought 100 sausage biscuits and large amounts of coffee. We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.

Sadly, these are not isolated incidents.  This kind of thing is happening all over the nation.

In fact, according to USA Today more than 50 other cities have passed laws against feeding the homeless…

Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City and more than 50 other cities have previously adopted some kind of anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

And as I mentioned at the top of this article, some major cities are so disgusted by the homeless that they are actually giving them one-way bus tickets to other cities

When her Greyhound bus pulled into town 6 months ago, Maria Castillo got off with two bags and dream.

“Start over, start a new life,” said the 42-year-old.

Castillo had been homeless in San Diego when a social worker offered her a one-way bus ticket to Portland.

“They said come here because all the opportunities in Portland, Oregon,” she said.

But Castillo said life isn’t much better in her new town. She’s still homeless. A Unit 8 investigation found several cities from San Diego to San Francisco are providing one-way bus tickets to the homeless.

jobless_unemploymentWhen I saw that San Francisco was doing this, I just had to chuckle.  San Francisco holds itself out as a “progressive” city that is a “model” for the rest of the nation to follow, and yet they are so disgusted by homeless people that they are giving them one-way tickets up to Portland.

What in the world is happening to America?

And this crisis is only going to get even worse in the years ahead.  I write frequently about how the level of poverty in this country is growing very rapidly.  If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “29 Incredible Facts Which Prove That Poverty In America Is Absolutely Exploding“.

When people think of the homeless, they often think of drunk bums sleeping on benches in our public parks.  But the truth is that the ranks of the homeless include vast numbers of adults that would gladly work if they could, and the ranks of the homeless also include vast numbers of children.

Right now, there are 1.2 million public school students in America that are homeless.  That is a new all-time record, and that number has grown by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

There are so many people out there that are deeply hurting right now, but the control freaks that are running things don’t want us to help our neighbors.

The control freaks that are running things just want the homeless to go away so that their cities can be shiny and clean and pleasant for visitors that actually have money.

Well, I don’t care what those control freaks say.  If I see someone that needs food or water, I am going to help that person out no matter what the “regulations” say.

And all of the cities that are banning feeding the homeless are literally cursing themselves.  As a society, we will be judged on how we treat our most vulnerable members, and right now America is failing badly in this regard on a whole host of fronts.

The United States is steadily becoming a very cold-hearted place.  Do not let that happen to you personally.  Please remember to do what you can to love your less fortunate neighbors this winter.

Our society is literally starting to come apart at the seams right in front of our eyes.

In this kind of an environment, we are going to need a whole lot more love and compassion than we are seeing right now.

Tunnel People

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Published on Economic Collapse on April 9, 2013

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The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America

The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America - Photo by Claude Le BerreDid you know that there are thousands upon thousands of homeless people that are living underground beneath the streets of major U.S. cities?  It is happening in Las Vegas, it is happening in New York City and it is even happening in Kansas City.  As the economy crumbles, poverty in the United States is absolutely exploding and so is homelessness.  In addition to the thousands of “tunnel people” living under the streets of America, there are also thousands that are living in tent cities, there are tens of thousands that are living in their vehicles and there are more than a million public school children that do not have a home to go back to at night.  The federal government tells us that the recession “is over” and that “things are getting better”, and yet poverty and homelessness in this country continue to rise with no end in sight.  So what in the world are things going to look like when the next economic crisis hits?

When I heard that there were homeless people living in a network of underground tunnels beneath the streets of Kansas City, I was absolutely stunned.  I have relatives that live in that area.  I never thought of Kansas City as one of the more troubled cities in the United States.

But according to the Daily Mail, police recently discovered a network of tunnels under the city that people had been living in…

Below the streets of Kansas City, there are deep underground tunnels where a group of vagrant homeless people lived in camps.

These so-called homeless camps have now been uncovered by the Kansas City Police, who then evicted the residents because of the unsafe environment.

Authorities said these people were living in squalor, with piles of garbage and dirty diapers left around wooded areas.

The saddest part is the fact that authorities found dirty diapers in the areas near these tunnels.  That must mean that babies were being raised in that kind of an environment.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is happening all over the nation.  In recent years, the tunnel people of Las Vegas have received quite a bit of publicity all over the world.  It has been estimated that more than 1,000 people live in the massive network of flood tunnels under the city…

Deep beneath Vegas’s glittering lights lies a sinister labyrinth inhabited by poisonous spiders and a man nicknamed The Troll who wields an iron bar.

But astonishingly, the 200 miles of flood tunnels are also home to 1,000 people who eke out a living in the strip’s dark underbelly.

Some, like Steven and his girlfriend Kathryn, have furnished their home with considerable care – their 400sq ft ‘bungalow’ boasts a double bed, a wardrobe and even a bookshelf.

Could you imagine living like that?  Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans a “normal lifestyle” is no longer an option.  Either they have to go to the homeless shelters or they have to try to eke out an existence on their own any way that they can.

In New York City, authorities are constantly trying to root out the people that live in the tunnels under the city and yet they never seem to be able to find them all.  The following is from a New York Post article about the “Mole People” that live underneath New York City…

The homeless people who live down here are called Mole People. They do not, as many believe, exist in a separate, organized underground society. It’s more of a solitary existence and loose-knit community of secretive, hard-luck individuals.

The New York Post followed one homeless man known as “John Travolta” on a tour through the underground world.  What they discovered was a world that is very much different from what most New Yorkers experience…

In the tunnels, their world is one of malt liquor, tight spaces, schizophrenic neighbors, hunger and spells of heat and cold. Travolta and the others eat fairly well, living on a regimented schedule of restaurant leftovers, dumped each night at different times around the neighborhood above his foreboding home.

Even as the Dow hits record high after record high, poverty in New York City continues to rise at a very frightening pace.  Incredibly, the number of homeless people sleeping in the homeless shelters of New York City has increased by a whopping 19 percent over the past year.

In many of our major cities, the homeless shelters are already at maximum capacity and are absolutely packed night after night.  Large numbers of homeless people are often left to fend for themselves.

That is one reason why we have seen the rise of so many tent cities.

Yes, the tent cities are still there, they just aren’t getting as much attention these days because they do not fit in with the “economic recovery” narrative that the mainstream media is currently pushing.

In fact, many of the tent cities are larger than ever.  For example, you can check out a Reuters video about a growing tent city in New Jersey that was posted on YouTube at the end of March right here.  A lot of these tent cities have now become permanent fixtures, and unfortunately they will probably become much larger when the next major economic crisis strikes.

But perhaps the saddest part of all of this is the massive number of children that are suffering night after night.

For the first time ever, more than a million public school children in the United States are homeless.  That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.

So if things are really “getting better”, then why in the world do we have more than a million public school children without homes?

These days a lot of families that have lost their homes have ended up living in their vehicles.  The following is an excerpt from a 60 Minutes interview with one family that is living in their truck…

This is the home of the Metzger family. Arielle,15. Her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter. And, he’s been looking for work ever since Florida’s construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck on Craigslist with his last thousand dollars. Tom’s a little camera shy – thought we ought to talk to the kids – and it didn’t take long to see why.

Pelley: How long have you been living in this truck?

Arielle Metzger: About five months.

Pelley: What’s that like?

Arielle Metzger: It’s an adventure.

Austin Metzger: That’s how we see it.

Pelley: When kids at school ask you where you live, what do you tell ’em?

Austin Metzger: When they see the truck they ask me if I live in it, and when I hesitate they kinda realize. And they say they won’t tell anybody.

Arielle Metzger: Yeah it’s not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it’s only life. You do what you need to do, right?

But after watching a news report or reading something on the Internet about these people we rapidly forget about them because they are not a part of “our world”.

Another place where a lot of poor people end up is in prison.  In a previous article, I detailed how the prison population in the United States has been booming in recent years.  If you can believe it, the United States now has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has about 5 percent of the total global population.

And these days it is not just violent criminals that get thrown into prison.  If you lose your job and get behind on your bills, you could be thrown into prison as well.  The following is from a recent CBS News article

Roughly a third of U.S. states today jail people for not paying off their debts, from court-related fines and fees to credit card and car loans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Such practices contravene a 1983 United States Supreme Court ruling that they violate the Constitutions’s Equal Protection Clause.

Some states apply “poverty penalties,” such as late fees, payment plan fees and interest, when people are unable to pay all their debts at once. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender. In North Carolina, people are charged for using a public defender, so poor defendants who can’t afford such costs may be forced to forgo legal counsel.

The high rates of unemployment and government fiscal shortfalls that followed the housing crash have increased the use of debtors’ prisons, as states look for ways to replenish their coffers. Said Chettiar, “It’s like drawing blood from a stone. States are trying to increase their revenue on the backs of the poor.”

If you are poor, the United States can be an incredibly cold and cruel place.  Mercy and compassion are in very short supply.

The middle class continues to shrink and poverty continues to grow with each passing year.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is now living in poverty.  And if you throw in those that are considered to be “near poverty”, that number becomes much larger.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

For many more facts about the rapid increase of poverty in this country, please see my previous article entitled “21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know“.

But even as poverty grows, it seems like the hearts of those that still do have money are getting colder.  Just check out what happened recently at a grocery store that was in the process of closing down in Augusta, Georgia

Residents filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables. But a local church never came to pick up the food, as the storeowner prior to the eviction said they had arranged. By the time the people showed up for the food, what was left inside the premises—as with any eviction—came into the ownership of the property holder, SunTrust Bank.

The bank ordered the food to be loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill instead of distributed. The people that gathered had to be restrained by police as they saw perfectly good food destroyed. Local Sheriff Richard Roundtree told the news “a potential for a riot was extremely high.”

Can you imagine watching that happen?

But of course handouts and charity are only temporary solutions.  What the poor in this country really need are jobs, and unfortunately there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States since the recession ended.

In fact, the employment crisis looks like it is starting to take another turn for the worse.  The number of layoffs in the month of March was 30 percent higher than the same time a year ago.

Meanwhile, small businesses are indicating that hiring is about to slow down significantly.  According to a recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, small businesses in the United States are extremely pessimistic right now.  The following is what Goldman Sachs had to say about this survey…

Components of the survey were consistent with the decline in headline optimism, as the net percent of respondents planning to hire fell to 0% (from +4%), those expecting higher sales fell to -4% (from +1%), and those reporting that it is a good time to expand ticked down to +4% (from +5%). The net percent of respondents expecting the economy to improve was unchanged at -28%, a very depressed level. However, on the positive side, +25% of respondents plan increased capital spending [ZH: With Alcoa CapEx spending at a 2 year low]. Small business owners continue to place poor sales, taxes, and red tape at the top of their list of business problems, as they have for the past several years.

So why aren’t our politicians doing anything to fix this?

For example, why in the world don’t they stop millions of our jobs from being sent out of the country?

Well, the truth is that they don’t think we have a problem.  In fact, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently said that U.S. trade deficits “don’t matter”.

He apparently does not seem alarmed that more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities have been shut down in the United States since 2001.

And since the last election, the White House has seemed to have gone into permanent party mode.

On Tuesday, another extravagant party will be held at the White House.  It is being called “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul”, and it is going to include some of the biggest names in the music industry…

As the White House has previously announced, Justin Timberlake (who will be making his White House debut), Al Green, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples, and others will be performing at the exclusive event.

Living Underground - Photo by Patrick Cashin

And so who will be paying for all of this?

You and I will be.  Even as the Obamas cry about all of the other “spending cuts” that are happening, they continue to blow millions of taxpayer dollars on wildly extravagant parties and vacations.

Overall, U.S. taxpayers will spend well over a billion dollars on the Obamas this year.

I wonder what the tunnel people that live under the streets of America think about that.

 

Thanksgiving Memories

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published originally on the Doomstead Diner on November 22, 2012

Off the keyboard of RE

2014 Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

2013 Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

 2012 Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

Initially my Title for this article was “Thanksgiving Memories in the Age of Oil“, but I elected to simplifty it down to Thanksgiving Memories to make the Permalink more simple, and besides it is obvious my memories of the Thanksgiving Holiday are all Oil Age memories.

If you care to believe all the legends told about the FIRST Thanksgiving, obviously they don’t match up with the Food Fest of the ones engaged in during the Age of Oil.  A few Starving Folks in the Plymouth Colony get together with some Natives who actually HAVE some food, they eat a decent meal all are Thankful for as Winter sets in, but nevertheless as Winter Progresses there in Plymouth numerous people go to the Great Beyond due to Starvation issues.  Not as many as the first Winter, but quite a few, then refilled with more escaping Eurotrash the following spring. No record really of how many Natives also went to the Great Beyond, but we do know the Plymouth folks got absolutely devastated in Numbers until the colony finally got established some and built up to around 7000 or so over time.

Regardless of, or perhaps BECAUSE of the huge percentage Die Off of original colonists at Plymouth, “Thanksgiving” ended up being one of our BIG FSofA Holidays, matched in significance only by Christmas and perhaps the 4th of July Independence Day celebration.  In both the cases of Christmas and Thanksgiving, over the course of the Age of Oil, both have morphed into celebrations of Conspicuous Consumption on an Ungodly scale.  In the case of Christmas, all about gobs of TOYS for young’uns and adults alike, “will I get my I-phone or my Porche in the Driveway with a big Bow on it?”  Other Holidays like Halloween and Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day have also been heavily commercialized in the Age of Oil, but still the Majors of Thanksgiving and Christmas dominate here.

Thanksgiving in the Age of Oil isn’t about Presents of Toys like Christmas, it is about EATING a LOT of Food!  How much can you stuff yourself with as you go to 2 or 3 different Relatives houses to have  2PM Meal at  Aunt Sadie’s McMansion, a 4PM meal at Granma’s House and a 6PM meal at the Boss’ Mansion served up Buffett style?   It doesn’t end just Thursday Night either, somebody you couldn’t make it over to on Thursday holds a Friday banquet, you vomit it all up Saturday and Sunday Morning your Church puts out ANOTHER Buffet for you to stuff your face with!

The Homeless and Impoverished are not left hanging on Thanksgiving either..  Every Salvation Army Post serves up Turkey Slices and Canned Corn and Cranberry Sauce on Thanksgiving.  Plenty-o-food for EVERYBODY on Thanksgiving, FREE of Charge here in the Land of Good & Plenty!  If you just have a couple of friends still employed, they will Invite you over for Thanksgiving, even co-workers you barely know will invite you over to Consume Mass Quantities of Food with them!  In fact being a Hermit like myself who because of the work I do I know lots of people, I get dozens of people who feel sorry for the fact I don’t have family to Conspicuously Consume food with and who ALL invite me over! LOL.  Politlely declining these invitations first because a Turkey Microwaveable is about enough for me and second because hanging with a bunch of Family I don’t really know from Adam is not great fun is quite difficult to do. LOL.  I do usually get roped into at least two of these face-stuffing fests though with somebody.

The Mass Consumption of Food on Thanksgiving first hit me after we returned from Brazil in the late 60s, but didn’t REALLY hit home until my Mom got the HOUSE as part of the Divorce Settlement with Dad the Pigman.  MOST of my relatives at this time lived in Rented Apartments, rather small places that couldn’t accomodate the WHOLE family.  MY HOUSE had a big Living Room and Dining Room, and we came back from Brazil with some amazing Furniture, including a Hand Carved Jacaranda (Brazilian Hardwood) table that was 8′ long and 3′ wide.  You could lay out a pretty massive Buffett on this table.

Everybody brought over a Dish of some sort to contribute to the Buffet, each of which usually could serve about 8 peoople.  since they toted along some Kids and others who did not bring a dish, usually it ended up with about 4X as much as anybody could possibly eat, even the Biggest Pigs, and there were a few amazing ones in the Family. LOL.  So AFTER the Big Meal, the next big challenge was distributing out the Leftovers to everybody, and this in t he days before  you had GLAD Containers in every size range.  Mainly you wrapped up the stuff in Foil or Wax Paper, or loaded stuff onto the original Plate or Bowl the person brought with them to the Food Fest.

The Mass Consumers in my family did not just bring over Food of course, they brought over plenty-o-Wine,Beer and Hard Liquor also, and there were a good number of the folks who considered this a great opportunity to get totally shit-faced DRUNK.  Most famous among them was my Uncle Jessie, a WWII hero who pulled half a dozen men out of a burning Tank and had his hands burned up pretty bad and lived after that the rest of his life on Disability, Drinking and Gambling on Horses at the OTB Betting parlors in Brooklyn.  Fortunately Jessie was a pretty Jovial Drunk, and usually did not cause too much problems other than figuring out where to put him when he finally passed out.

As “Hosts” for the Thanksgiving Food Consumption Fest, our Contibution to the Buffet was the TURKEY!  So it was always a BIG ONE in those days, 20 pounders at least.  My Mom was a SPECTACULARLY bad cook, so after the first year when the Turkey was WAY over-done, I took over the Turkey cooking job, monitoring the oven and experimeting with different basting techniques to end up with a nice JUICY Turkey at the end of it.  I was about 11 or 12 I guess when I first took on this job, it was my first major Cooking Assignment.  The first year actually came out OK, a DEFINITE improvement over the DISASTER Turkey my mom cooked the year before, but it still took another couple of years to get this right.

The other BIG Part of the turkey Job was the CARVING, and this I took EXCEPTIONAL PRIDE in doing well.  Unlike the  dude in the above photo, No Electric Carving Knife at the time in the RE household, but we did have some pretty good steel Cutlery we came back from Brazil with.  Not sure if it was forged in Brasil,but it was some mighty good steel and lasted right up until Mom went to the Great Beyond .  I think my sister has the knives in her kitchen now.

The first year I wasn’t too good with the carving, but I practiced on Chickens during the following year and by the third year my Turkey Platters looked pretty much like the one at the left here.

The Huge Family Feasts with ALL the relatives (Mom’s side Only, not Dad the Pigman’s) lasted probably right though my marriage, after that one of mom’s sisters died, the other went into a Nursing Home and their kids stopped coming and started doing their own Thanksgivings.

I remember one of the Turkey Day dinners with the Ex very well, we lived up in Larchmont sharing a house with a couple of other 20-somethings, and hadda drive down the Bronx River Parkway to the Whitestone Bridge to get over to Queens.  Our car was a 1970s era Volkswagen Beetle, plenty-o-rust and a super stiff clutch.  There was a massive Traffic Jam on the highway, stop and go starting a good 5 miles away from the bridge.  My leg started cramping up so bad from clutching after an hour I hadda let the ex drive.

Once the big family Dinners died off and after my divorce was when I went out OTR as a long haul Trucker, and most Thanksgivings I was able to get off the road and hang with family, though I recall at least one I missed where I had T-G Dinner at a Truckstop.  I think it was the Flying J, which had the best Buffets , although Petro had some good ones also.

It was during that time Mom retired and joined my Sister out in Springfield, and for another decade or so my sister did the Big Dinner at her McMansion there, with assorted Friends & Misfits she gathered up over her years living there, along with my Nephew and later his wife and kids.

During this period, she was responsible for the Turkey Cooking, but any years I did make it back to Springfield I always still got the Carving Job.  Since I was no longer Cooking, I felt responsible for bringing SOME Mass Quantity Food to the Table as my contribution, so I started Reserving and buying the fabulously expensive (forHam) Honey Baked Hams from the HBH store.  You don’t even have to Carve these yourself, they have a machine that does a cool Spiral Cut around the Hambone.  I would always buy the BIGGEST one, cost like $60-70 I recall at the time.  No idea what they run now.

My Brother-in-Law the Tool & Die man always got a Turkey from the Job, that was the Big Benny of his Non-Union Job as Mr. Fixit of every Tool & Die Machine known to man and designer of innumerable Molds over the years.  He designed the original Pizza Hut pizza pans.  He is actually still employed in this Bizness, even though so much manufacturing has left the shores of the FSofA.  The company he works for now got the contract to make fittings for the building going up on the old WTC site,  so likely will stay in Biz until he retires.  No pension though, always a Non-Union job and I don’t think he ever started a 401K. So his Pension is Social Security, for as long as it lasts. My sister has been employed by the State of Missouri and has a State Pension due her along with SS, again for as long as that lasts.  Then they were the benficiaries of Inheritance also from my BIL’s side and my Mom, so overall as a family we have done a bit better than average and stayed above water here through the downspin so far.

Since moving to Alaska, I haven’t made it back for a Turkey Day to Springfield, most of my trips back there have been over the Christmas-New Years holiday, at least while Mom was still alive.  I won’t be making it back there this year though during Christmas.

So the last few years I have mostly been the Old Hermit who some family feels sorry for and invites over for Dinner.  Also have had to do work related Buffets, though not this year since I broke off with the fellow I originally came up here to work with and now am involved in another similar start-up.  Not nearly as developed though so we are not yet doing the big Biz  Buffet thing with the clientele.  I make small talk usually, though there are quite a few Doomers here now so in the last couple of years Doom is up for discussion.  The guy I am visiting with tomorrow is now CONVINCED Doom is Imminent because Obama-sama got re-elected. LOL.  He HATES Obama.

Anyhow, the various pictures I yanked up off Google here are very representative of almost all the T-G Gluttony Extravaganzas I have attended over the last half-century here in the Land of Good & Plenty.  Nobody I ever knew anywhere in the FSofA went Hungry on Thankgsgiving,  though I am sure in Appalachia and other enclaves of Poverty some likely did.  At the same time, all through those years, millions of people have gone Hungry in other places, while probably at least 25% if not more of the food consumed in these dinners ends up in the trash or in the compost pile for some gardener types who actually do their own composting.

My biggest pet peeve all through the years with the Waste was the Carcass after Carving, along with the bag of Giblets stuffed into the abdominal cavity of the nicely plucked and eviscerated Butterball Turkey.  Almost nobody uses this stuff here in the FSofA, it goes straight into the garbage once all the nice Meat is carved off the bones.  However, no matter HOW good a carving job you do, there is tons of good food left on the bones, and INSIDE the bones too.

When I was in Brazil, our Cook never threw out this stuff, she took all the bones and stuff left on our plates and threw it all in a Huge Pot which she simmerred for a few hours after we ate and made Soup to take home to her family in the Favelas.  My Grandma also who DID face Starvation during the Great Depression could never let Chicken Bones go to waste, she also made Chicken Soup out of leftover chicken bones and giblets.  I picked up this habit during my years Turkey cooking, and actually got to the point where I would ask friends and neighbors to save their Carcasses, which I would collect up on Friday and Boil and make several gallons of Turkey Broth to make Turkey soup with.  I would then strain the broth, put it into containers and freeze it, and each week make a new batch of Turkey Soup, with fresh Carrots and Celery, Basil, Parsley, Dill and Rosemary and then add sometimes Dumplings, sometimes Wanton and sometimes Matzoh Balls to finish out the soup.

It remains to be seen how long this Festival of Gluttony continues on here in the FSofA.  Back in 2008, I figured that one was the LAST one, but here we are in 2012 heading into another one tomorrow.  At this point, despite the Fiscal Cliff and the Eurotrash going down the toilet and the Drought which took down the Corn Harvest by some inexactly known amount, I suspect another Face Stuffing next year too.  I don’t know exactly when this will end, I only know it will end in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, those of us who go out tomorrow and munch down on plate fulls of Turkey, Honey Baked Ham, Prime Rib, Sweet Potatoes, Stuffing, Green Bean Casseroles, Cranberry Sauce, Bottles of CA Mondavi  Vineyards Wine, Bottles of Sam Adams Boston Lager and Bottles of 12 Year Old Single Malt Glenlivet Scotch Whisky can all say we are fellow Travellers on the Hypocrisy Tain with William Hunter Duncan.  Even the Impoverished here attending Salvation Army dinners ride that train with us, because what all of us are doing is consuming WAY more of the resources of the earth then we really need to, and way more than is our Fair Share also.  What goes into the trash tomorrow night probably could feed double to triple the population of the FSofA, near 1B people I am sure.  Thousands of children will die tomorrow of Manutrition, millions more will go Hungry tomorrow.  Not  because the Food is not available, it most surely is right now.  It occurs because the distribtuion system of the wealth of the world is so vastly skewed, and because taking back the control of this earth from those who sewed it up early is so hard to do.

All very hard to digest of course, but as you digest your Turkey Dinner tomorrow, remember it and live with it.    It is part of your Complicity, part of your Hypocrisy in living in the Land of Good & Plenty as a Beneficiary of the Age of Oil.

RE

 

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