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Monday, February 21, 2011

Packet Radio: App For The Apocalypse

In "Apps for the Appocalypse" (sic), Bre Pettis says this:

"Local wifi IRC: I want an app that creates a localized IRC channel that anyone within wifi range can join. The idea here is that wifi can't be jammed locally, so it would be nice to set up a localized network to chat with your neighbors without leaving the house. Bonus points if it can act as a node. This may already be possible, but it's definitely not easy. I'd like to just open my phone, turn on wifi, run the app and see IRC chat rooms within wifi range of my device. Bonus points for being able to make the nodes into a network. Extra bonus points for sending a message chained via wifi devices across a continent."

That sounds a lot like packet radio, to me. I'm not the only one who thinks so, either: in "Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down," Patrick Miller and David Daw have this to say:
"Given enough time and preparation, your ham radio networks could even be adapted into your own ad-hoc network using Packet Radio, a radio communications protocol that you can use to create simple long-distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. Packet Radio is rather slow and not particularly popular (don't try to stream any videos with this, now), but it's exactly the kind of networking device that would fly under the radar."

It actually takes very little time, and doesn't require any pre-existing networks. A packet modem connected via three wires to any radio transceiver instantly becomes a stand-alone BBS, and is capable of connecting with any other such BBS it hears on the frequency, thus becoming the start of a network. It's not limited to ham radio, either; any radio transceiver will work. Its use on CB and FRS is not currently legal in the US, but I have heard of people doing it regardless. In a societal breakdown, such statutes would be irrelevant anyway.

Back in the early to mid '90s, I progressed from dial-up BBSes to packet radio on the 2 Meter ham radio band. What drew me to packet radio was that it worked from anywhere and was completely libertarian in nature. That is, it didn't rely on any paid or public-served networks, such as the utility grid or telephone lines. I don't have anything against the telephone lines, but they can be cut and at any rate must be paid for. Besides, I have spent large portions of my life without access to a landline. Right now, for instance.

Packet radio doesn't even require a computer. A packet TNC (terminal node controller) is a smart modem, with a built-in processor, memory and firmware. All you need is a two-way audio and keyline connection to a radio; and a terminal of some sort when you wish to log on. That terminal can be any old computer or even a dumb terminal. I used dumb terminals that I got for free, and also TRS-80 aka Trash-80 Radio Shack computers that I also got for free. I picked up a half dozen of the latter from the side of the road where they were being thrown away. They had one major advantage over the terminals: they allowed me to store emails and text files after I downloaded and read them. I even had a portable packet system consisting of a TNC, 2 Meter HT (walkie-talkie) and an HP100LX (later upgraded to an HP200LX) palmtop computer. Because 2 Meter networks are accessible just about everywhere in North America (much more so than cellphone networks), I could log on and send and receive email even while backpacking.

So how does packet radio work, from a practical standpoint? Pretty much the same way a dial-up BBS works, except via the airwaves instead of phone lines. But there's more, too. Every TNC has the ability to digipeat, or act as an automated relay for any signal it hears. That is a function that the city dweller might not enable, because it would really offer no advantages in an area containing many stations; but those in outlying areas would enable, to act as a relay for a station that is out of range of the BBS. And because every TNC also has the inherent ability to function as a BBS, there doesn't even have to be a central BBS in a given area. Of course, in a highly populated area, at least one operator elects to set up a dedicated BBS; but in a sparsely populated area, each station can be a mini-BBS.
The linking technology goes beyond digipeating, too. Most TNCs have the built-in capacity to become a node (similar to the nodes found on Fidonet), thereby automatically making every station it hears part of a transparent, user-friendly network.

Packet is not a replacement for the modern Internet. The basic plug-and-play TNC that is suitable for use with a VHF FM transceiver operates at a transfer speed of 1200 baud. Higher speeds are possible, but are more technically involved and require more radio spectrum, which limits use to microwave frequencies. For that stuff you can still set up a network of wireless routers, but a wireless router will not cover a 3000 square mile area with a simple station. VHF packet will. At 1200 baud, it is pretty much text files only.
In fact, the average person already uses packet radio. It is called SMS. That's right; the text messaging system in your cellphone. The cellphone has a built-in TNC, and it stores messages for you to view later, if necessary. But it has three disadvantages: it relies on a commercial network that may be overloaded or shut down; it is a paid service; and there is no BBS. Packet radio uses exactly the same technology, but without a central network that all messages must be routed through, without the paid access, and with the addition of BBSes. In short, it gives you the technology of text messaging, email and an online bulletin board, but without the middleman.

Packet TNCs have another aspect too, for those who are concerned about an SHTF event: security. Think about SHTF fiction like "I Am Legend" or AMC's recent show "The Walking Dead". One thing the survivors did was to get on the radio on some kind of set schedule, and try to make contact with other survivors. This has a few problems. First, there is the problem of range. It is not like in "The Walking Dead" where somebody whispers into a walkie-talkie from wherever they happen to be, and at whatever time they feel like it, and someone out there will hear them. It just doesn't work that way. Those walkie-talkies work now only because there is a central repeater with a high tower, that hears the weak signal from the walkie-talkie and retransmits it. Without that repeater, the range of that police radio depicted in "The Walking Dead" wouldn't be much over a mile or two, unless you can get to the top of a ridge or tall building. And therein lies the second problem. If I were a bad guy trying to find the protagonist of such a story, I would look around for the best place to transmit from, then I would just hide and wait for the guy to return. That doesn't even require triangulation. A better option for the survivor would be to program a TNC to transmit a short beacon every hour, both as a packet text and a short Morse code message for those who may not be equipped with packet radio. Then connect the TNC to a radio, which can be a simple single-channel, crystal controlled radio. Place this, along with a battery pack, in an ammo can with an antenna mounted to it. Then place the ammo can atop a building, or in a tree on a hilltop. Maybe add a solar panel to keep it charged. Now all you have to do is log on remotely with a portable packet station. You could do this from 50 miles away, by pointing a directional antenna at the hill or building. The Morse code signal could direct listeners without packet capability to transmit from the vicinity of the digipeater at a certain time each day, and you could use the same directional antenna to listen for them.  

A complete packet networking station

Even if you are not a ham, if you include a CB, MURS, GMRS or even FRS radio transceiver in your preparations (and you should), you might want to consider adding a TNC and perhaps a book about packet networking. That way if the Internet gets shut off, tightly controlled, or fails due to power grid problems, you still have the ability to network via computer. Even if the power grid failed, a deep-cycle battery and a single solar panel would keep a system like this on the air indefinitely.
For more information, check out Kantronics. They made the TNC shown in the photo, and packet radio is their specialty.
If you want an even simpler setup, Alinco makes a radio with a built-in TNC.

Guest Post: Lenny Power Out , by Christopher Young

Electricity Pylon, crossing lines
Christopher Young

Lenny Power Out
March 2007

Sheeple. We all have a couple of them in our lives.
One family I know, just don't have the survival
mentality. They live on welfare, and the occasional
day of unreported labor. Their life revolves around
cable TV, internet, and who said what. If you want
to start a day long discussion, go in and mention
that you heard someone say something bad about some
one else. They will spend the rest of the day
arguing if someone said it, or not. Who really
cares? I don't give a hoot if someone is calling
me a "loser" or not. But it keeps these folks

OK, so it's the First of the Month. Please notice
that I Capitalized That. Why? Well, it's a twelve
times a year banner day for welfare people. That's
when the electronic benefits are depositied in the
fraud proof EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer)
account. Why is it fraud proof? Well, you need the
card to swipe through a machine, and a PIN (Personal
Identification Number) to do anything. So, what
do folks do when there is to much month and not
enough money? Well, the Pakistani guy down at the
corner store will be happy to advance you some
money. Just leave your card, and tell him your
PIN. And then you get your hundred bucks or so of
cash advance. Naturally, you realize that in a
couple days it will be the First of the Month
(capitalized, of course) and he will electronically
take two hundred dollars into his store account off
your card. But, it's worth it when you're dying for
smokes and some hot coffee. You know.

Well, now, everything is fine. The world is good
on the First day of the Month, when you have money
in your account. It's time to go pay the important
bills. The rent, the telephone, the cable TV and
internet. The house is warm, and it's time to go
buy groceries.  You  find a friend with a car, and
get a ride to the grocery store. Time to buy
cigarettes, coffee, and there may be some money
left over for food and dish soap, shampoo, light
bulbs, and so on. Get your shopping basket out of
the back yard, and walk the ten blocks or so to
the meat market, and buy meat to put in the freezer.

Only one thing that makes the day less than the
usual perfection. The electric company guy shows
up and black tags the meter. Shuts off the power.
Say, what? Several phone calls later, and we find
out that the welfare worker didn't fax over the
voucher to the power company. Two homes on the
street got cut off, the other one was the man and
woman (Sarah) living together with their one year
old daughter, and she's pregnant with #2. And now
it's getting annoying. Sarah also used the phone
a couple times, to try to get a hold of her case

Fun idea: Design a telephone, where the microphone
is active for about 60 seconds after you hang up.
Sarah is all manners and sweet on the telephone with
her case worker. But the instant the phone is on the
cradle, she's back to sounding like a drunken sailor
at a cathouse. A drunken sailor complaining about
his Captain.

The cable TV is off. The cordless phone doesn't
work. And the house is starting to get cold. The
microwave won't hum, the electric range won't cook
food. The living room is dark cause the lights are
out, and blankets are stapled over the windows that
leak cold air. And we can't get the welfare worker
on the phone. Cold people leaving voice mail, after
voice mail. There is no way to cook food. The coffee
in the Mr. Coffee is getting cold, and there is no
electric to make more coffee.

OK, folks, this is a red alert. Time to move into
action. It's an emergency. We've got to do something!

So, she catches a ride with a friend, and goes to
the welfare office, to talk to the welfare worker.
Meanwhile, he's on the corded phone, leaving multiple
messages for the welfare worker on his voice mail.
Got to get a hold of the welfare worker.

Finally. A sigh of relief. The welfare worker
returns the phone call. Here's the plan. Got to
get to the electric company and get them to print
out a "breakdown". And have it in my office first
thing tomorrow morning. Then the welfare worker
will have her sign some papers, and fax over a
voucher to the electric company, and they should
have the power turned back on in a day or two.

The house is dark. It's approaching sun down. The
radio says freezing rain turning to rain and snow.
The coffee is cold, and the cable TV is still off.

Lenny sent his wife and kids to other folks house
to stay. He is going to stay home alone, and guard
the house. There is light snow on the ground, and
there is a trace of snow in the air. I planned to
take Amy shopping for the First of the Month. They
called about 10:30 and told me the power was off.
I drove into the city just to see how they would
handle it. Sat with them for a while in the
dark living room. Finally I headed for home.

I returned that evening, after dinner. I brought
a two burner propane Coleman lamp, a camp stove,
and two one-pound bottles of propane. He gave me
some money, and sent me to the store to buy two
more propane bottles.

The house is rather cold. It's in the fifties, or
forties in there. And, it's seriously dark. I lit
up the propane lamp. The two mantle lamp lit up
the entire first floor, much easier than finding
my way around with a flash light or  head lamp.
It also put out heat. Lenny warmed his hands around
the lamp. The look on his face was great. Ahhh......
some warmth.

Dinner time came and went. Lenny offered me a can
of Aldis food, his wife bought it cause it was
cheap, but no one in the house likes Aldis food. I
don't mind, so I heated it in a frypan on the propane
stove, and ate.

I suggested to nail a blanket over the doorway from
the dining room to the rest of the house. Heat a
smaller area. Dining room and living room. Lenny says
he can't do that, the cats would pull the blanket
down. So, most of the heat goes into the rest of the
house, and up the stairs.

The two propane bottles  didn't last through the
night. The house got cold over night. Really cold.

Friday March 02, 2007
I brought several partial bottles of gas, total
about four bottles. Ran the lantern, the camp stove,
and a small infared heater I carry in the truck.
Lenny sent me to the store for six more propane
bottles. I bought those, and also brought a 14,000
BTU heater that fastens onto a 20 pound propane
bottle. And a part full propane jug.

A friend of mine had a part full propane jug. I got
her a gas grill for surprise present, I got a newer
one off Freecycle, and gave her the old one. Along
with the partial propane jug I got for free. She
said if they could use it and were cold, it was fine
to let them use it.

Wired the furnace on my generator, and ran the furnace
for two hours. Brought the house from 57 to 69F.

Lenny asked me to go get his wife and nephew, 4, back
from the sister's house. They talked to Lenny on the
phone, and then I went over and got them in my truck.
I told them I couldn't keep doing all this driving and
such at my own expense. They'd have to reimburse me
for the gasoline, fuel, propane, etc. They agreed.

Amy got into the house and remarked "this isn't bad".
The temperature was quite good, after running the
furnace. I showed him how to light the propane. Had
him light it and turn it off, twice, so he could have
the experience.

Saturday March 03, 2007.
They called about 10 this AM, and were cold. they
planned to send Amy to a motel, to stay warm. Lenny
says they have, as of that time, my big heater. Three
small bottles of propane.

   I decided to change gears today. After two days
of riding in with my white horse, I decided to wait
and see if they called.

   I called them about 8 PM, and she answered, so
I guess they decided against the motel. They sent
the kids out to friends houses. Using the propane
heater sparingly, "only turned it on a couple
minutes ago". She says they are doing fairly well.
I get a sense they are adapting to the colder
indoors, and making do with blankets and such. I
didn't get to talk to Lenny, he was out on the
porch. Smoking. So, I'm not sure how much propane
they have left. With the heater and the propane
lamp and so on, they are making do.

    The natural gas is on. He's got natural gas
water heater, and that's good. That means if it
gets too cold, they have hot showers and tub baths.
But the furnace needs electric for the gas valve,
and blower. They do have a gas pipe for the stove,
I saw it yesterday. But she's afraid of gas stoves,
so they won't be getting one. A gas stove could at
least heat the kitchen and that would help a lot.
I'd be thinking a non vented wall heater, about
$100 at Harbor Freight. Since it's rental, they
can't make major modifications to the building.
Being welfare people he's often said he wanted a
backup heater of some kind, but never actually
bought one.

   Since my church is 1-4 PM tomorrow, I'm going
there in the AM to drop off his Gameboy. His
battery was dead, and so I charged it at my place
for him.

Priorities. When the power went down, Lenny sent
his family to relatives to be warm. And he's there
to guard the house. I was thinking heat, and he was
trashing the house to look for a battery power TV.
And then go to the store to buy a lot of batteries
for the TV.

What concerns me is the power angle. I'm not talking
electric, I'm talking the ability to make people come,
go, sit stay, roll over, bring me a paper. Did I
sound like I was adressing a dog? I intended to.
Thursday Morning when the power went off, the case
worker told the wife to come here! Sit! And after a
while, she finds out that she needs to get a document
from the power company. Fetch! Bring me a paper! So,
she's at the power company at 8 AM, and they open at
9. She fetches the paper, and finds out the case
worker is not in till later, and then that he's
gone home for the weekend. Stay! Roll over! Speak!
Somehow, I find that rather undignified. I'm sure
she hasn't thought about it in those terms, and
I'm not gonna be the one to say so.

They got a ride to dinner and Walmart, and bought
a gas grill bottle for $15. Musta been the night
clueless clerk, as there is an exchange / deposit
involved. And, they neither exchanged nor

Sunday March 04, 2007

Lenny called Sunday Am. They decided to go to a
motel Sunday and over night. I decided to dash
over, and pick up my portable heater, as I don't
want it stolen out of the unoccupied house.

They will return Monday Am to wait for RG and E.
I'm figuring it to be serious cold in the house.
They do have six camp bottles of LP, and the gas
grill tank. But only a table top stove, and no
burner to use on the gas grill tank. I'll call
and see how they are doing.

Monday night near zero, and Tuesday in the teens,
if we're lucky. I'm guessing they will need some
kind of heat to keep the pipes from freezing and
bursting in the walls. The best heat is to use
my generator to run the furnace.

Mr. Heater 14,000 BTU unit wasn't quite enough to
heat their house.
Somehow doesn't surprise me. I havn't looked at
their furnace, but it's got to be at least 80,000
BTU. Probably 100,000. I'm imagining why 14,000
BTU doesn't keep the house warm.

I did get a King kooker several years before Y2K.
In case the world shut down. I brought it to a
church thing on new years day, Y2K, and didn't
use it. So, the only thing it's done was one test
when I got it, and otherwise it's not been used.
It's still new in the box, and got some clutter
piled on top of it. I wasn't sure if it was any
better or worse than a Mr. Heater. However, the
web site says it's 54,000 BTU. Which sure would
help heat the house. More than 14,000 for sure.

Anyhow, we will see. Tomorrow, if he calls and asks
for help.

March 05, Monday.
Got a call. It is bitter cold in the house. She
is shivering. When I got there, they had nailed
a blanket over a doorway. Sarah, the blonde hair
blue eyed seventeen year old across the street
(with a boyfriend and two kids) had suggested they
nail a blanket. When I sugges it "the cats will
pull it down". When she suggests it, it's the best
idea since sliced bread. The small camp stove was
doing a very respectable job of heating the two
rooms. It was maybe 65 degrees in there.

I had called a friend in the electric company. He
called collections department, and finds out that
there is some money owing. That wasn't too hard
to figure out. They are on the phone, going back
and forth from the electric to welfare. Trying to
find out why the voucher (that was supposed to
been faxxed over already) has not yet arrived.

Lenny takes totally no responsibilty for the
electric. Married, man of the house, but the bill
isn't in his name.   Amy says that she thought
the bill was being paid all along, by welfare.
I'd have to believe that the RGE was sending bills
to the house, but I can't prove that. Demanding
money for the copayment, or the balance due that
didn't get paid. I did get a blank look from her
when I told her that welfare was only paying a
basic ammount, and the copayment was due. She says
she thought welfare was paying it all. "We are
on voucher" whatever that means.

I'm remembering that a couple weeks ago, Lenny
tried to sell me his window AC. Cause he can't
afford it. Cause the welfare only pays so much,
electric, and they have to pay the rest, and he
can't afford to run the AC. This is the same guy
who when asked for things like a $3  copayment
for a tooth extraction tells them "I ain't got
it" but somehow manages to find enough for cigs,
coffee, cable TV. Video games, CD player and
disks, and headphones.

And the blame game goes. Whose fault? Might be
the case worker, might be the power company. Or,
who know, might be someone else.

So, my guy at RGE says that the credit department
might turn em back on if they can get some kind of
statement from welfare, and about $270 in cash
payment. Of course, after buying propane bottles,
motel room, and so on they are tapped out for the
month. They think they have convinced welfare to
fax over a voucher. I was allowed to see the report
welfare mailed. they got an advance on their welfare
monies, to send to RGE. And their beneifits will
be reduced until the advance is recovered.

While I was there, I did offer to run their furnace
on my generator, but they didn't seem interested.
They had put a blanket over the doorway, and were
doing OK with just table top grill. Of course, Amy
is cold regardless. I was fine, but she says she
lost a lot of heat after the girls were born.

A couple friends stopped by, and insisted (I
thought rather rudely) that Lenny and Amy go to
their place tonight. So, they are out of the
cold house tonight. And I took both my heaters
home. That means the house has no heat, near
zero temps, and no one there. Amy did accept my
suggestion, leave the hot dribbling, in the tub.
I woulda left it streaming, but not really running.
The upstairs was about 40F when I left. This by
my pocket IR thermometer.

Several things I learned. And to share with the
very fine folks reading this:

* When you can't heat the entire house, put a blanket
over the door, and retreat to one or two rooms. Much
easier to heat.

* Pan of water on the cook stove both puts out
humidity, and also gives water for hot beverages.

* With point source heaters, it's warmer near the
ceiling. Much more so. You also need some kind of
fan to even out the heat.

* Leave a hot water faucet dribbling, much less
likely to freeze pipes.

* I tried to describe "hot water bottle" over the
phone. But they didn't "get it". Finally, I went
to the kitchen and filled two soda pop bottles with
hot water, and handed to the Amy. Suggested she
tuck them into her coat. She did, and exclaimed
"Wow, that works! I would never have thought of

* The other thing I tried to describe. Fill every
bucket, bottle, can, sauce pan, etc. with the
hottest water from the tap. That will give out
heat, and help keep the house warm.

* City raised women might not know the following
terms: Salamander. Radiant kerosene heater. Kerosene
lamp. Railroad lantern. I tried my best to describe a
salamander, but was not able. I ended up drawing a
picture. Same wtih a kerosene lamp.

* I had my generator with me, and offered to run
their furnace for them. But they didn't seem much
interested,  so I didn't press. Nothing like a
furnace running to heat the house.

* A friend of the family stopped by, and offered
them a night at their place, at least till the
power comes back on. I took my heaters, didn't
want to leave them in an empty house. So, that
means it's going to be near zero tonight. With
wind chills of -20, and they have literally no
heat in the house. That's gonna be cold in the
house in the AM. And it's gonna be cold over night.

They had used up a gas grill bottle I'd left for
them. I was able to exchange it for a full one,
it was 16.99 plus tax at K-Mart. I'm realizing
how easy it is to use up a lot of propane, heating
a house. I have a couple bottles at home, but
they won't last very long. Might need more.

March 06, 1:05 PM. Tuesday.

Just got a call. The electric company did get the
voucher from Welfare, and sent someone over. Turn
the power back on. The furnace is pumping heat.
Now, back to some what normal. Try to get the
stress level down a bit.

From my middle class point of view, the lesson is
very, very obvious.

* Pay attention to mail you get. The invoices and
shut off notices suggest that you should pay your
co-payment for the electric bill.
* Keep in communication with the power company, and
keep the bill paid.
* Have backup heat source in the house. Backup heat
is very useful.

I'm going to chat with them, probably tomorrow. When
the house is warm, the coffee is on (even though I
don't drink coffee) and the stress level is down a
bit. I'm going to ask the two golden questions.

Q: What did you learn from this?
Q: Will you do anything different, in the future.

I do have some guesses what I will hear, but I won't
tell you till I actually hear what they say.

March 08, Thursday

Yesterday, went to go visit Lenny. He'd put the two
propane jugs in the cellar, along with the camp stove
I gave him, and the four propane bottles which were
remaining. Amy was busy playing on the computer, and
Tommy, 4, was all energy. Running this way and that,
and making a lot of noise. I got my propane jug back,
brought it home.

Some understanding comes, if slowly. I do believe
that one of the biggest harms that the welfare
system has done is to convince people that someone
else is responsible for you. In New Orleans, the
folks said "Why didn't the government come and
rescue us" and in Lenny's case, it's "why didn't
the government keep my electric on".

And you could see it in is response to the problem.
Call the case worker, and insist the power be turned
back on.

Someone I knew said "if you want to see what's
important to someone, watch where he spends his
money". In Lenny's case, someone else is
responsible for the rent, and power. Or so he
thinks. So, when money comes, he spends on his
personal priorities. Cigarettes, portable sound
such as Ipod, and tapes and DVD for the home. I
did a quick estimate, one time. He's proably got
300 movies, if you include DVD and VHS.

With the power cut, they spent a lot of money on
propane, motel room, and so on. I havn't seen them
buy food yet. They may have, but havn't said any
thing about that. So, I'm predicting they will be
out of food soon.

Amy showed me the paper she got in the mail.
Welfare did send more money to the power company,
but that's an advance. Which means their benefits
will be reduced for the next many months, till
the advance is recovered. It's going to be
interesting to see how they handle the reduced
welfare pay out. Also, the power company will
probably still want to be paid the money owed
from the last several years of not getting their

I do believe there are a wide range of people in
"the system". What's been going through my mind
the last few years. I wonder who is really the
cause? Is it the people who get the money that
is offered? The people who lie and cheat to get
more than they need, and refuse to work? Or is
it the people who write the laws, and set up the
programs that are so easily abused?

At the moment, I'm really thinking that the
legislators are most to blame. They have set up
a system which rewards illegal border crosses,
and unmarried women, by giving them generous money.

I doubt we'll have a return to sensible government
until a loud enough portion of the citizens demand it.

March 09

I'm middle class, born and raised. Lenny is welfare,
2nd genration. Watching his thought process, and
how he handled it. Really amzing, that he and I
handle things so differently.

Not only that I'm middle class, but I'm actively
involved in emergency preps. I do things like
staying involved and aware of the elctric bill,
which he does not. (After all, it's welfare's job
to pay the electric, right?). I plan for things
like power out, cause we have storms and power
out about once a year. He just calls his case
worker and expects it to be taken care.

He mentioned tonight as I was at his house. That
one of his friends was impressed with the heating
gadgets. I couldn't figure out why he didn't want
me running his furnace off my generator. The one
night I ran it about two hours, which warmed the
house from 57 to 69. I thought that was very
successful. He replied that they woke up cold.
And so they decided that wasn't working. They went
back to the propane gadgets, and shiverring.
Shivering full time, instead of of just in the
AM. D'uh.

And they did spend a  night in a motel, not sure
what that cost.

I really feel sorry for the kids. Tommy was frieking
out, yelling and screaming. They say he gets that
way every time that he visits h is bio mom. Sarah,
17, came over from across the street to visit.
Brought her one year old daughter Olivia. She's
got a boyfriend (not a husband) and a foul mouth
that would make a sailor blush. She's also pregnant
for the second time. I'm very sad for Olivia who
will grow up with a foul mouth teen mom, and
irresponsible stud balls for a dad. Olivia ought
to be in cereal commeercials. She's got blonde hair,
and round face, and bright blue eyes. Someone gave
her some chocolate, and she got it all over her
face. I was going to get my camera, I will for
sure next time.

Tommy, on the other hand, is a four year old mini
marine. Bio Mom is part American Indian, and she's
not sure who the sperm donor is. I suspect a black
man, but who can tell? Tommy has afro hair, and a
medium complexion. Inflated big lips, that say
"inflated to 35 PSI", just kidding. He runs around,
climbs on people, and screams to high heaven when
he doesn't get his way. Meal times are a fight, he
wants M and Ms, and they want him to eat crackers,
cheese, and meat. What's bad about crackers? I love
em. He was napping when I arrived. Woke up after a
couple horus, and ran around. Climbed on me, and
demanded Tic Tacs.

As usual, the kids get hurt.

Refrigerator report. They ahve about three mini
pizzas in the freezer, three trays of ice cubes.
I barely glanced into the fridge. They are trying
to arrange their ride to the meat market for
tomorrow. I have a nasty feeling they will be
out of food in a week or so. Tonight they had
french fries for dinner, shallow cooked in a fry
pan cause there wasn't enough oil for the electric
plug in cooker.

March 13

A friend of mine gave me two garbage bags of kids
clothes. Now that her grand kids are out of the
house.  I went to Lenny's to drop them off. Big
bag of clothes, probably 50 items or so.

I'd been out since morning, and was getting hungry.
He told me he couldn't feed me, cause money is
tight. They aren't sure the food will last to the
end of the month. Well, gee, that's short sighted.
I'm the guy who brings (past tense?) food and
stuff when he's short.

Amy sorted clothes, in the living room which had
cable TV, cable internet, 300 video tapes and DVD,
and Lenny went out to smoke a cigarette as he was
telling me that he couldn't afford to offer me
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Just Cache It!

Midnight Gardening…Making a deposit in the Earth Bank Land and Trust…Caching. A cache (pronounced “cash”) is basically a hiding place for valuables. To cache is the verb for hiding your stuff. You should become very familiar with the concept and techniques.

I have discovered a man, a Brother in Christ who “gets it”, and his YouTube post of yesterday “Banks Unannounced Warrantless Looting” got me to thinking about the subject of caches and caching.

Watch his video (watch lots of his videos – he teaches and preaches on a wide variety of things that readers of this blog will find interesting and useful) and think. I bet most of you realize that our dollar is, at any given time, just 72 hours away from being worthless. All it takes is the idea to catch in a few sheeple minds that these pieces of linen-paper are backed by nothing and the stampede will start.

I’d bet most of you also realize that the banks are not safe places to have things (whether they be dollars in an account or items in a “safety” deposit box”) when the balloon goes up.

When the emergency strikes – the banks will be closed and have contracted security with M4s, body armor, and Oakleys standing outside on the sidewalk – you are not getting in and you are not accessing your stuff that day.

The Patriot Act took your liberties – well, you gave them up, basically – and it can, and I submit, will, be used to take a lot more also. Snooping, expectation of privacy, collecting information on everyone, storing it, collating it, keeping it ready for The Day. If you think your stuff is safe in a bank – think again.

If you think your valuables (be that precious metals, cash, guns, jewels, food – whatever) are safe in your home or in your barn – think again. Common dangers like fire, or thieves, or floods are threats to your “stuff”. Let me tell you about another potential threat – your government gone crazy. It could happen. Oh yes, it could.

Our military and certain .gov organizations have gotten very, very good at searching houses, at searching villages, at looking for and discovering simple caches in obvious places. Those skill sets are not going away anytime soon.

You need to cache your valuables. Sooner rather than later. There are three main types of caches. Concealment caches are where you just hide stuff. I did it with wheat and you can read about it here. Another type is submerged – think a sealed PVC pipe anchored down with cinder bricks in a pond. The safest cache in my opinion is a buried cache.

I may do an article on the techniques of caching but you can find that information in a lot of places. The important thing for me to impart today, I think is for you to get over your FEAR of caching. Doing it correctly is not difficult and done correctly – your stuff will be very safe and secure. Consider some ideas I have used in the past:

House key
Everyone should know not to “hide” a key under the mat, above the door, under a flower pot or in the grill. But there may be a cause to hide a key. At one house we placed a key in two Ziplock sandwich bags and then “buried” it under about 3 inches of bark mulch that was around a tree in the backyard. It was easy to get to and secure enough.

We kept cash at one house in two Ziplock bags (a trend?), inside an old metal can tossed into the corner of a chicken coop. It wasn’t “hidden” and it looked like crap – guess why?

At another place, we kept a loaded handgun inside…yep – two Ziplock bags, inside an old wooden box in a carport. There was a lot of junk in that carport.

Those are fine cache locations for things you want quick access to and are only trying to hide from run of the mill thieves. If they KNOW you have stuff hidden – you must be smarter.

If you are trying to cache stuff from organizations with means…you need to think like they do. They think about what most people do. Most people are afraid to cache their stuff in places they cannot see so they cache very close to their house – like in the flower bed. Most people, despite their perfectly fine waterproofing efforts are worried their cache will leak, so they cache stuff inside sheds, barns, or under pieces of sheet metal or plastic laying out and looking “junky”. These are the FIRST places professionals search. However, unless you have given them a reason, pros are not going to search your place. Do your own risk assessment.

Do not worry about “ground penetrating radar” – no, they cannot determine from space that you have a cache in your back forty. And even if they could (work with me here) how could they differentiate between your hole and a badger hole and a coyote hole and a Model T wheel, and a tractor disc and a…. Yes, they can, if they want to, go over your back yard with a device but there are not too terribly many of these devices and they have to have a really good reason (like they suspect you of having bodies buried out there or you being the regional arms dealer or something) to bring all that gear to YOUR little slice of heaven. They can also dig up your entire yard if they want to. If you are worried about that – don’t cache on your own property.

Here is the bottom line: You should have stuff at home or fairly nearby – accessible. Do not trust banks or storage lockers or similar places that rely on others to secure you valuables. Take personal responsibility. Consider the threat when deciding where to cache your goodies – fire, crack heads or organized people – and cache accordingly.

Tell ya what – why don’t you put together a “fake cache” – you know newspaper in the place of FRNs, quarters in the place of gold coins, some old tools in the place of firearms and go do a test cache. PROVE to yourself that you can do this safely and securely. Then go cache those valuables you have laying about your house.

In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light. – Job 24:16


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Is it worth warning people?

This weekend I stopped over at a friends house and told them that from some financial analyst emails I had received, some stories in the news, and some items found on the internet, I told them that it looked like we could be in for a bad spring, and possibly lasting a while. I asked how they were doing on stocking up basic food items and such. Now I have been telling them for at least 2 years if not longer that they need to do some of this stuff, we do get hit with the occasional hurricane that can shut down everything you can get to for days. I was also going to help them get a garden started last year, they both have health issues and need to eat a lot better than they do (McDonalds, frozen french fries, frozen chicken strips and soda are their four basic food groups). I helped them pick out heirloom seeds online, told them to what they needed to deal with their health issues, or at least help with it, and how to order seeds or go pick them up locally. They never bought a single pack of seeds. So I was not too surprised when she said they had done nothing. :(

After going into more depth on the current state of affairs, I could see panic start to set in. I told them they needed to start now, today, not next month or next week but now if they wanted to be able to do any good. They've already missed the cheap food which could have let them buy more.

When I asked what they were going to do, she looked kind of deer in headlights, thought a bit, then said they would come to my house. The terrifying thing is she was serious :eek::eek: Her husband was kind of quick to say "I think you would be shot if you showed up and tried to take his food". This shocked her even more, especially when I confirmed this. I can't afford to stock for the neighborhood, and they have 6 people, 3 generations living in that house. I am stocked for the 4 of us, and would like to extend our supply to last longer than it does.

These are good friends, but I'm not starving with them if it came to that. Now I wonder if I should never have mentioned it over these years to them. I think they would be better off not knowing how close they are to disaster from any ripple in their life. If nothing happens they could continue being happily ignorant, if it does - well at least they were blissful up until whatever.

I checked on my parents and they are good to go, but still always adding.

I've also talked to my brothers and sisters, but for the most part they don't listen. I'm wondering how far I should go with trying to persuade them.
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Investing Requires Preparation, a Complete Financial Plan, and Effort

It is amazing how little training we receive during the educational phase of our lives regarding investing.  Everyone needs to understand this topic at some point or risk financial ruin or the possibility of a dismal retirement in their senior years.  If articles in the press are to be the report card, then the results are not good.  The average investor on the street is always deemed to be uninformed, late to react to present trends, and generally disenchanted with the art as evidenced by low confidence in the market or feelings that the entire operation is manipulated by the powers that be.

Investing, like any other performance-driven activity, requires skill and a competence level that can only come from time invested in preparation, education, and being guided by an expert that understands the craft.  Time and effort are the prerequisites, but each is in short supply these days.  The simple fact is that you have to make time to learn the art of investing.  Your future depends on it!

The process starts with your monthly financial plan.  You must set your spending priorities in such a way to allow for savings on a constant basis, month after month.  After accumulating an emergency fund of three to six months of income for things like medical bills, car repairs, or work interruptions, the next target is to pay down credit card debt.  One can rarely earn at the interest rates charged by banks on these accounts.  Pay them down.  Take advantage of 401K plans at work, too, or open an Individual Retirement Account to shelter earnings from taxes on your initial investments.

At this stage, read as much as you can on the subject, and then enroll in a structured class in your locale.  Familiarize yourself with the topic enough so that your class work will be easy to understand and assimilate.  Try to build a relationship with your instructor for future reference for those questions that will surely come up at a later date.  The only shortcut for experience is counseling from a professional.  If you do not feel capable of managing your own investments, then seek the support of a good investment adviser.  He will help you prepare a comprehensive financial plan for your future, the base foundation for any investment plan going forward, and assist you with managing your account, for a fee.  

Investing is all about managing risk for a potential reward at a later date.  There are a variety of investment vehicles available for use, but you must understand the risk profiles for each before giving any your consideration.  Investing is not about “trial and error”.  Real money is at stake.  Caution should trump greed every time.  Prepare, research, plan, and act are the words to remember.

You also need to determine what type of investment strategy suits your personality.  Do you prefer the long-term approach, or does a trader’s mentality appeal to your tastes?  In order to answer this question, many have been drawn to foreign exchange trading, a high-risk trading regimen that requires specialized training.  Most all forex brokers will provide a free demo forex account with a “virtual” cash deposit to test out your skills as a trader.  The intensity of the process will tell you a lot about your personal leanings.

At some point in our lives, better sooner than later, we must grapple with the task of investing.  Do not think for a moment that the art comes naturally.  Preparation, training, planning, and then action are all necessary, and are best when guided by a professional.