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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 3 The Bugout Continues , by Christopher Young

This is Faith. Chris decided to let me write a chapter, so I'll see if I can do any good. I'm not much of a writer, so I'll do my best. Hope it's OK, for you. Anyhow, he left off where I was driving down the road. I was doing pretty good. I pulled into the small town, the first town on my trip from home to Gomer's place. He's a bit overboard with all this prep stuff, but he might be able to help us out for a day or two until the government gets things back under control. I want to get back to work, and the girls want to go to school.

We're doing real good. We're hauling down the road, and about to pull into Fenswick. I've been in Fenswick a million times, I drive through here on the way to work. They still have the town decorated very pretty with colorful flowers. I could see in the rear view miror, the girls were looking at the flowers, Bobbi really loves purple.

Two National Guard trucks were along side the road. One Guardsman motioned for me to stop. Hey, like, maybe they know where I can get some Pepsi? So, I slow down and rolled down the window. "Lady, you shouldn't be out at a time like this!". I told him I was only going a couple miles, and meeting my ex idiot who was ex military. Things would be OK. They just kinda rolled their eyes. I don't know how they can wear that ugly green all the time. The first convenience store looked closed. There were plywood boards over the windows, and no one was around.

I asked the Guardsman where I could buy some Pepsi, and charge some gasoline for the mini van. "Lady, there ain't no food nor gasoline any where to be had. What they had in the stores sold the first day, and the looters burned the rest. You sure you don't want to turn around and just go home?"

Well, maybe this town. But the next one will be better. I just hate it when people talk down to me like that. I may be in my twenties, but I've got a good head on my shoulders. I've managed to come through two marriages, and several unemployment, and I'm just fine. I even did some drugs when I was in school, and look at me now. Raising my two girls, and even got a couple boys to date. Why, one even took me to dinner and came home with me last week. I'm fine.

So, I told that stupid jerk that it would be OK. It was only a couple miles. What a stupid guardsman. Probably talking down to me because I'm a woman. I was just about to go off on that sexist pig, give him a piece of my mind. I was just about to crank off a caffeine withdrawal fueled tirade about sexist guardsmen, and how women could take care of themselves.

Bobbi whined from the back seat that she had to go potty. I gave her the look that could melt plastic. "Didn't I make you go potty before we left?" "Yes, Mommy, but I didn't have to go, then." Well, after all, I'm trying to get Bobbi out of Pull Ups. I used the last Pull Up a couple days ago, and didn't expect to ever need another one. Well, if there was ever a day to let the kids backslide a bit, today would have been the day. Maybe got enough money to buy some. I think I've still got a twenty. So, I tell her to hold it for a few more seconds, and that was the stupidest thing she had heard in her entire life, not going potty when Mommy said to.

Another plastic melting sneer for the Guardsman, who was rolling his eyes and doing a mini imitation of a stripper dance along side of the road. While the other Guardsmen laughed and hooted. The hell with those immature boys. I drove up to the side of the gas station. Figured the bathroom would be working. The womans room was locked. Just on a gut hunch, I tried the men's room. At least that one was open. The electric light didn't work, but there was some light coming in the window over the door. I took a big bunch of toilet paper, and scrubbed the seat before I  let Bobbi get any where near the toilet seat. Golly only knows what filth was there. Bobbi was jumping up and down, she had to pee so badly. Lucky, she managed to make it to the toilet. Savannah was following along, quietly. I didn't have to tell her to get up on the pot after Bobbi. 

With that out of the way, it took a couple minutes to get the girls strapped back into the car seats. Lucky me, the minivan has a big side door. The gas gauge was between 1/8 and E. Ah, well, that's enough. Been like that for weeks. Those stupid and childish Guardsmen are probably giving me the eye. I've got my best high heels, and those always make me a bit of a show off. I'm feeling a bit sensual, Damn, I can sure use a Pepsi. God, what I'd give for a good cup of coffee, now. I'd even gulp down a diet Pepsi, that's how rough I am.

The clock over the sink at Gomer's retreat read 12:17 PM. At the kitchen table, Shawn and Peter were wrestling in the living room, while Melissa and Zach were trying to watch a DVD. The scanner was on, on the shelf over the kitchen table. The police band was nearly silent. About freaking time. My idiot husband has that scanner on all day and all night. I can hardly sleep sometimes, it keeps talking all night.  Every 15 minutes, they would do an "All stations report" by the numbers. No license plate checks, and no calls for backup. Apparently, the police were doing quite literally nothing. The propane generator outside was purring, and the dish washer was running. Cleaning the dishes from lunch. Gomer checked the coffee pot, and the coffee was ready to drink. He can't cook coffee if his life depended on it. Makes it too strong. Like they do in the military, he keeps saying. Over and over he says that. Not much milk left, but plenty of creamer. And only 200 pounds of sugar in storage. Should last another week or two.

Melissa and Zach were one of very few children in the USA who were watching DVD at that time. The power was off, for over 95% of the USA. What televisions were running were mostly battery powered camping sets. And few of them had DVD players. However, theirs was powered from a bank of batteries, that were solar or generator charged. Melissa sat on the recliner chair next to Heather, her mother. Heather and Gomer had been married for two years. Yeah, she can have him. I'm done with that man. Time to get someone better. They will thank me, when I arrive. I've got the latest DVD from the record club. I filled out the post card in the magazine, and it's been really great. Only 39.95 per month, too. Really helps keep the kids occupied.

In Tennessee, another mother was also watching TV with her daughter.  Connie's two kids were watching Barney on DVD, at Bill's place. For whatever reason, the power was still on. Good, David thought. Keep the kids out of trouble. David was the kids step dad. Their bio dad had walked out of their life, years ago. Taking the oldest two kids with him.

David went back out to the guard post, and sat down in the comfortable chair he dragged up from the house. He was quickly asleep. Connie came out about an hour later. Woke him up, and offered him some of the lemon meringue pie that she had thawed out from the freezer. Good stuff, David thought. He ate about half the slice of pie, and faded back off to sleep.

At 12:17, Sam was drinking the last water from his canteen. Timed that one just about right, he thought. That was the moment he arrived at a small stream, on the western end of Pennsylvania, near the Ohio border. Sam climbed down the bank, and slipped the pack off his back. He opened the backpack, and got out the portable water filter. Started to pump water out of the river, through the filter and into his canteens.

Sam looked up and down the river, hoping to find a place to cross. Lucky, about two hundred yards south was a bridge. There was no traffic that he could see. Sam started to climb up the bank of the river to the woods trail. A rock gave way under his foot, and he scrambled to catch his balance again. Another rock slipped out, and he found himself tumbling down the bank. Finally came to rest at the bottom of the bank. His left leg hurt like he'd been in stop and go traffic for the last three days. Sam paused a moment, to look up at the sky and the trees. "This isn't quite what I'd planned" he thought to himself.  

Sam wasn't the only person experiencing changes in bug out schedule. I'm busy zooming down route 16, heading towards Gomer's. I am really starting to wonder if I'v got enough gas to make it there, and I want to get as far as possible in the minutes before the gas ran out. The road was fairly straight. I'm buzzing along between 50 and 55. After all, it was a 45 zone. Everything was good, except for the lack of Pepsi. Damn, that stupid store. The nerve of them to close. And it's not just the one. I've tried four mini marts, all of them closed. And two grocery stores, also both closed. What a stupid time for stores to be closed. Maybe there's a store open, closer to Gomer's. In the back, I can hear Savannah whimpering. She could tell how upset Mommy was, and it was affecting her. Well, it will only be a couple more minutes. She can tough it up.

About five miles out of town, I was hauling ass up a hill, and the van hesitated. I tromped the gas pedal down, hoping for a couple more miles of gas from the tank. The gas gage was below E, and the van slowed, slowed, and finally died.  I tried the starter. It spun, but the engine refused to catch. Well, isn't that just fucking dandy? That Godforsaken van, won't even get me down the road another mile or two. Sigh, looks like that jerk Gomer will have a good horse laugh when he hears. What a miserable jerk. No, I can't call and let him have a laugh at me. Oh, what to do. What to do. Ah, heck. We'll show him. I'll make it to the retreat even if we had to walk. None of this helpless woman routine today. I'll show him a thing or two. That Heather the survivalist. Thought she was tough. Well, Heather's got another thing coming to her. The clock on the dash of the mini van read 12:32 PM.

"OK, Kids! Grab your clothes, and get out. We're walking the rest of the way." Savannah complained that she was thirsty. Well, d'uh, she was always thirsty. Faith was going to remind her all that she'd drank that day. But, looking back, she remembered that Savannah hadn't had her usual glass of milk with breakfast. There wasn't any milk, nor orange juice. And Princess Savannah didn't want to drink just plain old water. Bobbi was fine, she'd been drinking out of her sippy cup all morning. Probably why she had the emergency potty stop. Faith was getting thirsty, also. Hadn't had a Pepsi in over two days, and the coffee ran out yesterday morning. And that plain old water tasted so miserable.

"There's a store just around the corner, we can buy a Pepsi there. I'll let you share it, too." Faith promised the girls. They perked up, Pepsi was a rare treat for them.

Soda pop of any kind was getting hard to find, in the USA. As with most of the civilized world, it was nearly impossible to transport anything. The delivery trucks were all out of fuel, and the stores were either closed or burned down. There were only a couple dozen places in the US where there was a good supply of Pepsi. One was the back of Chris's truck. Another was Gomer's cellar store room. And yet another was David's closet, in TN.

Sam was thinking about a lot of things, but soda pop was not on his mind at the moment. His injured leg, and his ability to walk was high on his mind. The trail to the top of the stream bank was only a couple feet, but with a bum leg, it looked a lot longer than when he was coming down. Sam opened  his pack, and took out his prescription pain pills. Now he's got a bad back, and a bad leg to go with it. Life sucks, then you die. Sam popped two pills into his mouth, and washed them down with filtered stream water. No sense getting the trots to go with it. Figured about twenty minutes, till the pills worked.

At the same moment, I was walking along the rural route, thinking about the  Aleve in my purse. My damn tooth ache was acting up again, and my  feetsies were pretty much killing me. Those high heels might be the rage at work, but they were hurting like hell after all this long walk. How long  have we been? Musta been a couple miles on  the open road. She had Bobbi's shoes strung over her shoulder, the laces tied together. Bobbi had  kicked off her shoes  right away, and was walking in her socks. She seldom wore her shoes in the  yard at home, and so this wasn't anything new. Savannah looked great in her pink Princess  costume, but it was getting clear that her balerina shoes weren't comfortable after the last mile  or two.

Finally, I did find that bottle of Aleve, and quickly popped three of them in my mouth. Wished for some Pepsi to wash them down. There was nothing in the van to drink, and they were probably two miles away from the van now. Hmm. I wonder if the pills were too strong for the girls? The girls sure were miserable and cranky. Well, one way to find out. So, I hand Bobbi an Aleve, and one to  Savannah. "Swallow this. Yeah, I know, they are Mommy's pills and you can't have them. But, this is an emergency." Savannah gulped the pill down. Bobbi couldn't swallow a pill without water. There was no water to be had. The sippy cup was empty. Finally Bobbi sucked on the pill for awhile. The sweet outer capsule was a lot like candy. When the outer capsule melted off, and she got into the medicine, Bobbi nearly vomited with the medicine taste. Bobbi spit out the pill, and lay down beside the road.

"Get up!" I told her. This is no time to be laying down. We've got a couple more miles to get to the retreat. I bent over, and took Bobbi by the hand, and started to pull her to her feet. She whined, and finally I figure out that she's all worn out. Savannah started to cry, but no tears came out. She sobbed, and whimpered. No tears. That's it, they are dehydrated. We learned about that in my parenting class. That boring class that social services made me take. Well, she's not going any where any time soon. Must be time to make a phone call. Got to call Gomer. Oh, heck. He's such a jerk, that Gomer. Wonder if I've got Chris's cell number? Maybe Chris can help out. I'll call him instead. 

How to Survive Total Economic Collapse

There is a continuing belief that the economy of the United States is under attack by the current administration and it's backers. I'll check my politics at the door for a moment and just deal with the steps you need to take to prepare for a collapse that is not necessarily nature driven.

As the U.S. dollar weakens and the price of goods such as oil, grain and gold rise, many fear for the economic stability of the country. So how does one survive total economic collapse? The U.S. dollar is weak and it may be too late to save the finances of this debt-driven economy. However, it's not too late to learn some basic survivalist skills. Following are some tips and resources. Here's how to survive a total economic collapse.

Original article: How to Survive Total Economic Collapse
By WriterGig, eHow Member

Educate yourself before hand if possible. Read everything you can on how to survive a total economic collapse. Start with "Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Century" and "Empire of Debt: The Rise of an Epic Financial Crisis", both by William Bonner, for a historical perspective and very well-written analysis of the current situation. Also read "The Great Bust Ahead: The Greatest Depression in American History" by Daniel A. Arnold. (See the Resources section, below.)

Make a plan for how to survive a total economic collapse. List your debts and assets. How quickly can you pay down your debt, while still purchasing necessary supplies? Your goals should include no debt and the procurement and storage of valuable assets. Your preparation timetable should be as short as possible.

Nix debt
Pay off debt and avoid new debt by paying with cash instead of credit. Concentrate on paying off high-interest debt, loans with adjustable rates and unsecured debts first. Sell expensive vehicles that have loans to pay off what you owe, and buy cheaper replacements using cash. In order to survive a total economic collapse, you need to have assets, not liabilities. (Note: storing food and resources are higher priority than paying down debt for families of modest means.

Buy Silver
Change liquid savings into silver and gold. If the dollar collapses, having precious metals will preserve your money and it can be used as currency or exchanged for a currency with value, such as Swiss francs. As the dollar continues to lose value, silver dollars preserve their value or go up in value, thus protecting your assets in the event of a economic recession, allowing you to financially survive a recession or depression.

Invest wisely
Re-evaluate your stocks and funds. In order to financially survive a total economic collapse, your investments must be secure. Consider putting some of your stocks into gold (GLD) or opening a precious metals IRA. Research stocks that will survive a total economic collapse through sites like Daily Reckoning Day.

Store grain
Purchase goods and valuables such as guns for hunting and personal protection, and basic food supplies such as whole grains and legumes, which are easy to store. Invest in water purification bottles and tablets, and keep some bottled water on hand to meet immediate needs in the event of a shortage. All of these will make it more possible to survive a total economic collapse.

First aid
Prepare a First Aid Kit, sewing kit and other practical necessities of daily life to aid in survival of a total economic collapse. These are good things to have on hand anyway, for regular daily life as well as unforeseen emergencies.

Build community
Get to know your neighbors and build a community wherever you are. In the event of total economic collapse, life will become very local and survival will depend on working together with others, beginning with families.

Grow food
Grow some of your own food and raise animals for meat. Chickens and rabbits are small and easy to tend. Chickens provide eggs as well as meat and are excellent sources of protein and fat, both critical for survival. In economic downturns such as a recession or depression, being able to produce food is a important skill to have.

Learn how to barter, and stock items to trade. Think about necessities (wool blankets, soap, boots, duct tape, ammunition) as well as luxuries (chocolate, tobacco, alcohol). Useful tools will be more valuable than money if there is a currency collapse. Useful barter items will be helpful to have on hand as you prepare to survive an economic collapse.

Top 10 Ways to Prepare For the Coming Economic Collapse

Could You Survive Total Economic Collapse?

How to Prepare for the Economic Collapse

Financial Survival - Controlling Your Spending

While by no means a financial guru, a significant part of my life was spent working in the financial services industry prior to entering the field of corrections. During this time, the most significant thing learned was that you can’t get out of debt until you learn to control your spending. It often doesn’t make a difference in how much money you make. An increase in income is usually accompanied by an increase in spending (the old “the more you make, the more it takes” syndrome). The real problem affecting most people is how much money they spend. You need look no further than the current economic state of our country to realize this fact. Uncontrolled spending will eventually lead to uncontrolled debt.

Now a certain amount of debt is sometimes necessary in order to achieve both short and long term goals in our lives. Debt in and of itself is not the real problem unless it is incurred without a realistic or actual need. This is where many people encounter a major problem. If you cannot distinguish between your needs and wants, your spending may wind up out of control. If you need transportation, will a used model fit your budget better than a new one or will fixing the old one be a cheaper option? Do you really need two vehicles or can one do the job? Can you afford to buy a new or different home or do you just need to refinance the debt? Or will renting be a better option for the short run? You need to ask yourself serious questions when it comes to controlling your spending.

People sometimes feel guilty when they have to spend money and their financial resources are limited. You should never have a guilty feeling about spending your money if its purpose is to cover basic needs. Food, clothing, transportation and shelter are all basic items that are required by everyone but it can become a problem if the amount of money you are spending goes too far beyond your basic needs. We all want bigger and better things in our life but in a realistic world with limited financial resources this isn’t always possible. This is where we all need to realize that it is actually easier to live within our means and avoid creating excessive debt.

If you are spending more than you earn, you are going to encounter problems. Putting things in a simpler context, it’s usually easier to spend less than it is to earn more. Don’t rely on a pay raise or a promotion that may not happen to cover excessive spending habits. Finding a better paying job than the one you currently have is an option but may not be possible. This is especially true in today’s economy of rising unemployment rates and increasing lay-offs and cutbacks in personnel.

One of the easiest ways to control your spending is to become a buyer instead of a shopper. Many retail outlets design ways to keep people in their stores longer because they know that many people have uncontrolled spending habits. They know that you will spend more money if they can keep you in their store for a longer period of time. They go out of their way to take advantage of this fact. It’s a known fact that the longer you are in a store the more money you will spend. They move merchandise around inside the store (they call it a “reset”) knowing it will take longer for you to find what you need in the hope that you will buy additional merchandise. They have multiple check-out counters but only one or two are open. They know people become frustrated from waiting in line and will often resume shopping (which makes them feel better and less frustrated) rather than wait in line at the check-out. You can avoid these situations by making a list of what you need and buying only those items you need. You will be pleasantly surprised just how much money you can save by doing this.

Sometimes the problem is our own actions. Many people are aware of the old saying “Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry!” and yet will do just that. The fact that you are actually hungry will often lead you to purchase items out of a response to your hunger than an actual need on your part for those additional items. If you get home from the grocery store and wind up asking yourself “Now why did I buy that?” you may have fallen into a spending trap of your own making.

No matter how much or how little you make, you'll never get ahead if you spend more than you earn. It's normally going to be a lot easier for you to spend less than it will be to earn more money. It usually won’t require making a big sacrifice on your part but it will require you to make wiser and more informed choices when spending your money. Don’t wait until you’re unemployed or suffer a lay-off and wind up forced into a situation where you have to make drastic cuts in your spending habits by necessity rather than by choice.

People are creatures of habit. Some of our habits are good and some are not so good. Getting in the habit of making wise choices in how much you spend and on what will take a lot of effort on your part to be successful.

Don’t make the mistake of falling into the spending trap. During tough economic times, your best defense for financial survival is learning to control your spending.

Staying above the water line!

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