Friday, April 30, 2010

More on Levels

A little more detail to the level system I was talking about yesterday.
We can also organize these thoughts not just from the center of your home to your yard and region and beyond. But we must also go vertically. 
Layer 1 is Deep Underground where utilities and wells are and this can also include other underground mineral resources and tectonic plates.
Layer 2 is the Root Layer, we'd mostly be concerned about root and rhizomal crops but you can't forget about root systems in general.
Layer 3 is the Soil Surface, this would be ground cover and mulch layer. The first few inches of the surface. A lot of the action happens here, this is where all the plants get their water and their nutrients.
Layer 4 is the Low Shrub level where short shrubs and plants live, like strawberry plants. 
Layer 5 is the High Shrub level where the big shrubs and plants live, like blueberries.
Layer 6 is the Low Tree level where dwarf and other small sized trees live, like dwarf apple trees.
Layer 7 is the HIgh Tree or Canopy level, like oak trees.
Layer 8 is the Sky level where we watch the wind and rain.
Layer 9 is the Space level where we watch the Sun (light and heat) and Moon (tides).
I am not going to show layers from the core of the planet to the edge of the known universe. There are far more detail to many of these layers but these are the ones we can work with easily. And that is what matters. 

If you remember Level E your yard, that can be broken into zones to make things easier. Permaculture has a set of useful principles to organize your yard.
Zone 0 is the house, make it a good place to live.
Zone 1 is nearest the house and near the entrances, where you can plant things that you use often or need lots of attention. Often this is called the kitchen garden area.
Zone 2 is a little further out and is where you put the perennials plants that need some attention but less then the kitchen garden.
Zone 3 is for the main crops that only need attention once a week or so. 
Zone 4 is a semi-wild area. In a suburban area this would be a small corner that is left wild, in an rural area this would be a manage woodland area.
Zone 5 is an actual wild area. Humans don't do things there except the occasional mushroom hunt or something. This is natures classroom. That is where we can go to see how nature is doing things around us that we can adapt to our systems.


Made Baklava last night and it turned out pretty good.
We had a bunch of nuts left over from the holidays and I didn't want to waste them, so I made them into Baklava.

Baklava makes 28 pieces 
Phyllo Dough
1 package of Phyllo dough, set out to thaw, about 2 hours.

Filling: about 10 minutes not counting shelling the nuts
1 pound of mixed raw nuts, in this case walnuts, pecans, filberts (haselnuts), almonds, and Macadamias. Traditionally your used almonds, walnuts and pistachios, but I went with what we had.
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon or cassia, about 1 stick
2 teaspoons ground allspice, about 15 whole berries
2/3 cup sugar

Combine in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, 10-15 pulses. Don't over-process into a powder or paste.
Divide into three groups.

Clarified butter: about 20 minutes
3 sticks of butter
In a small pot melt the butter over medium low heat until it foams. Once it calms down turn up the heat and boil until it foams again and the milk solids brown, remove from heat and pour off the oil from the solids.

Syrup: about 20 minutes
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 2 x 1/2 inch piece of fresh orange peel, use a vegetable peeler

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, allow the syrup to boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick and orange peel.

Assemble the Baklava: about 10 minutes
Preheat oven to 350°F.
A 9x13 pan, pastry brush.
Cut phyllo dough to fit the 9x13 pan and divide into 4 groups. If it is a particularily dry day cover the phyllo with a damp towel.
Butter the pan and place one sheet of phyllo dough, brush with butter. Continue placing one sheet at a time with butter until the first set of dough is placed in the pan. If you place all the dough down at once and try drowning it in butter, it will fuse into one hard layer, not good eats.
Next spread 1/3 of the nut mixture onto the base layer of phyllo dough.
Then another sheet by sheet layer of phyllo dough.
The second third of the nut mixture.
Another sheet by sheet layer of phyllo dough.
The last third of the nut mixture.
And finally the last set of phyllo dough. Brush the top generously with butter.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 
Remove pan from the oven and cut into 28 pieces (4 pieces x 7 pieces).
Return pan to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven and let cool 2 hours, uncovered.
Recut the entire pan, following the line from earlier.
Reheat the syrup and pour the syrup evenly and slowly over the baklava letting it run over the cuts and edges of the pan. 
Allow the pan to cool completely again. Cover and store at room temperature for at least 8 hours but overnight is better. 
Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Dirt showers blamed on dust from Southwest windstorms - The Denver Post

Dirt showers blamed on dust from Southwest windstorms - The Denver Post: "Spring rains are typically refreshing, but Thursday morning's moisture was mixed with dirt, depositing a dustlike film is some areas."

An actual news report on that mud-rain we had yesterday.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Video- Unemployment rates by county

Watch the change from Jan 2007 until Jan 2010.


How does that make you feel?

Spring In Colorado

I just love Spring in Colorado, today we had a mudstorm.

It actually rained mud. It's that special.

A few years ago I was in a gravelstorm. Small gravel about 1-2mm in size were flying around and building up on the windshield. I was thinking that I didn't want to turn of the wipers so it wouldn't scratch the windshield.

Survival Thinking Breakthrough

Trying to think about all the things associated with getting prepared can be quite overwhelming. BUt I had a breakthrough this morning about how to put some bounds on the problem to make it more manageable.

It is a lot easy to think about it in terms of levels and layers. 

A level is a a circle of influence, it places a bounds on how far it needs to reach or how deep you need to think on it. And a layer is what needs and wants that level takes care of. At the very least a layer needs to provide or enhance food, water, shelter and medical supplies. 

Level A
At the center of your home you need a Saferoom. This is the place were your most essential survival gear is collected and stored. 
It doesn't have to be at the literal center of your home, just conceptually. In tornado country it should be downstairs, in flood regions upstairs. It doesn't need to be a steel-reinforced concrete but that would be nice if you lived in Tornado Alley without a basement.
It might be your master bedroom. Wherever it is it is the room you'll gather everyone to in times of emergency. It's where you'd gather if there was a blackout during a really bad thunderstorm at night.
This is the most basic and essential level. Hopefully you won't need this level very often, but if something does it should be able to get you through the vast majority of incidents. This is what you fall back to when the utilities that let level B work fail.

Level B
These is where most daily survival takes place. The kitchen, pantry, bathrooms, laundry room and bedrooms fall into this level. These cover your basic needs in everyday comfort. As long as normal support systems are in place you are fine. This is where you think about how the utility companies effect you. This is where you can clean and feed yourself and get some rest. If you work from home you would include your office/workshop in here since that is how you generate income.

Level C
These are all the other rooms of the house: the living room, dining room &etc. They are nice to have but not essential to your survival at any given time. 

Level D
This is the shell of your house. The roof, foundation, walls, windows and doors of your home. Think about the box and how it could be better at helping your family survive, it could be better insulation, pricker bushes under the windows, upgraded windows and so on.

Level E 
Your yard has all kinds of survival potential that needs to be explored unto itself. 
This is where your gardens go. You can put lots of levels and layers in here. That will have to come later.

Level F
Your property line and your neighbors. You probably get things from your neighbors that you never thought about. Runoff from their properties and shade from their trees, bushes and houses. How does that effect your property is what you need to think about.

Level G
Your neighborhood. What kind of people live around you? How easy is it to come and go? How many ways in and out are there? Where are the supermarkets, schools, hospitals, fire houses, ambulances and other essential services?

Level H
Your workplace. How far away is it? How would you get home during a disaster? Or just bad weather or an accident on the regular route?
And your children's school(s). What would happen if they evacuated the school?

Level I
Your city or county. They have a Department of Emergency Management with a plan for when disaster happen. What is it?

Level J
Your region or state. This is where you think about your out-of-state contact.

Level K
Your country. This is mostly political in nature.

Level L
Your continent. 

Level M
The planet.

and this can continue on into the solar system, galaxy and universe, but we don't really have to worry about those so much.

I'll go into the layers another time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gambling with Other People's Money | Mercatus

Gambling with Other People's Money
| Mercatus
: "In this paper, I argue that public-policy decisions have perverted the incentives that naturally create stability in financial markets and the market for housing. Over the last three decades, government policy has coddled creditors, reducing the risk they face from financing bad investments. Not surprisingly, this encouraged risky investments financed by borrowed money. The increasing use of debt mixed with housing policy, monetary policy, and tax policy crippled the housing market and the financial sector. Wall Street is not blameless in this debacle. It lobbied for the policy decisions that created the mess."

Some extra points to go with the Debt paper from earlier today.

Debt: The first five thousand years - The Long Now Blog

Debt: The first five thousand years - The Long Now Blog: "“Societies” are really states, the logic of states is that of conquest, the logic of conquest is ultimately identical to that of slavery. True, in the hands of state apologists, this becomes transformed into a notion of a more benevolent “social debt”. Here there is a little story told, a kind of myth. We are all born with an infinite debt to the society that raised, nurtured, fed and clothed us, to those long dead who invented our language and traditions, to all those who made it possible for us to exist. In ancient times we thought we owed this to the gods (it was repaid in sacrifice, or, sacrifice was really just the payment of interest – ultimately, it was repaid by death). Later the debt was adopted by the state, itself a divine institution, with taxes substituted for sacrifice, and military service for one’s debt of life. Money is simply the concrete form of this social debt, the way that it is managed. Keynesians like this sort of logic. So do various strains of socialist, social democrats, even crypto-fascists like Auguste Comte (the first, as far as I am aware, to actually coin the phrase “social debt”)."

This is an impressive piece. Heavy but interesting.

Peak Everything? - Reason Magazine

Peak Everything? - Reason Magazine: "The debate over peak oil is heavily politicized, so let's set it aside and test the idea of imminent resource peaks and their consequences for economic growth on three other non-renewable resources: lithium, neodymium, and phosphorus."

Oh bother. This is getting nuts. It just seems like more and more it isn't about doing good for the environment and more about controlling our choices.

Look at phosphorus, we can get plenty from our own urine. Why do we need special toilets? It all runs to water treatment plants anyway so why not separate it out there?

All it really takes is energy. Oh, yeah. We can't make much more energy because of cap and trade and Jimmy Carter's ban on reprocessing nuclear fuel.

Silly me, I thought this was about helping the little guy. I didn't realize that the "little guy" was a smelt.

Afghanistan PowerPoint slide: Generals left baffled by PowerPoint slide | Mail Online

Afghanistan PowerPoint slide: Generals left baffled by PowerPoint slide
| Mail Online
: "'When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war,' General Stanley McChrystal, the US and NATO force commander, remarked wryly when confronted by the sprawling spaghetti diagram in a briefing."

It looks like there is a Gordian knot that needs a sword through it.

Spain downgraded, Europe debt crisis widens - Yahoo! Finance

Spain downgraded, Europe debt crisis widens - Yahoo! Finance: "Europe's debt crisis spread its contagion to another country Wednesday when a major credit agency downgraded Spain's credit rating, even as Germany grudgingly moved closer to bailing out Greece from imminent collapse."

Well, that was fast, but not exactly surprising.

How's your financial house doing?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Greece Cut to Junk at S&P as Contagion Spreads (Update2) -

Greece Cut to Junk at S&P as Contagion Spreads (Update2) - "Greece’s credit rating was cut three steps to junk by Standard and Poor’s, the first time a euro member has lost its investment grade since the currency’s 1999 debut. The euro weakened and stock markets throughout the region plunged."

This is troublesome.

European airspace timelapse, before and after the volcano

European airspace timelapse, before and after the volcano

This combined with the reports of what the people were doing really showcase the power of normalcy bias.

The most interesting thing to see was that Spain and Italy seemed to remain open. The lesson learned here is to figure out what is happening and do the obvious but not normal thing.

It might take a day or so to travel by car or better yet train to Rome but from there you could fly. It may even have been easier to travel the long way round to get home.

That happened to us once, we got stuck in Hong Kong and an Air Traffic controller strike or something in Japan make it impossible to fly back to San Francisco, so we went West instead and stopped to see the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Gisa. It was fun and we still got back home faster then waiting to go the "regular" way.

If a fire broke out in a supermarket, I'm 96+% of people would try to exit through the fronts doors. There might even be people trampled. But going through one of the well-marked emergency exit doors, you'd be alone.

Don't Forget the Nails and Other Little Things

A lot of kits and advice talk about the big flashy important things: guns and food. But often neglect the little things.

A good tool kit will need things like hammers and screwdrivers but do you have nails and screws? If you have a saw do you have a file and stone to keep it sharp and some oil to keep it from rusting.

Have you taken the time to think though all the maintenance requirements your main supplies need?

How many cartoons are there that have a character stuck on a deserted island with lots of canned food but no can opener? The old saying of 2 is 1 and 1 is none is something to remember. Do you have at least two can openers? You could cut the can open with a Ginzu but that has its own hazards.

Like a taking care of a good pair of leather shoes, you need the right things to take care of them; like leather cleaner, shoe polish, rags and brushes. Guns need cleaning rods, patches, and lubricants.

Your car has things that need replacing from time to time; belts, hoses, and filters. You might want to try doing it at least once so you know how to do it. Keep the old ones in the trunk as spares with the tools needed to do the job. Just in case you have to do it on the side of the road.

How about at home? Do you have the stuff and knowledge needed to fix, for example, a broken pipe, like a pipe cutter, small length of pipe, connectors and soldering supplies?

What else do you think you would need on hand?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Home Rainwater Management

Have you ever noticed that some areas of your lawn are greener and grow faster then others? Aren't they often near the downspouts of your gutters or your neighbor's gutters.

One of the most interesting parts of permaculture is how they manage rainwater compared to the typical house.

Typically, and especially around Denver, your yard is shaped and landscaped to get rainwater that is coming off of the roof away from the house and off the property as fast as possible.

That makes a certain amount of sense. The builder really does not want water getting into the basement or hanging around the foundation too long because that can cause damage he would get sued for. Colorado has expansive soil with lots of clay that tends to expand if there is water around to hang on to.

And until recently there were laws in place that restricted rainwater harvesting, i.e. no rainbarrels. So the water could go to the Colorado River and on to California.

But there wasn't anything that required the rain to run off, it could mosey if you did it right. One of the big concepts of permaculture is to slow the rainwater runoff down and let it sink into the ground where the plants can get to it over time. This way you make the land itself drought resistant.

Next time it rains go outside and really look at where the runoff goes. Especially from your gutters and hardscapes like the sidewalk and driveway. If you really want to go nuts you can make a topographic map of your yard.

Where does it go to the street or neighbors yards?
Is there room at the bottoms of the downspouts for a raingarden to absorb some of that water that is not too close to the house?
Where could you put a set of small swales to make the water zigzag across your property to slow it down before it leaves your property?

Friday, April 23, 2010

What are the effects of a blackout on your home?

What are the effects of a blackout on your home? After a few hours or a few days?

The first thing is that without heat or air conditioning your home will match the outside ambient temperature within a few hours, depending on your homes insulation. Since blackouts tend to happen on the hottest and coldest days of the year, this can be a problem. 

If it happens on the hottest day of the year you need to worry about cooling, mainly the food in your refrigerator, and anybody who might have troubles in the heat like the very young or old, or the disabled. Having a small window air conditioner run by a generator that you can put in the coolest room, usually the one in the northeast corner, of your house could be a life saver. If you have a basement that will stay near 55°F because of all the earth around it.

After a few hours the food in your frig will warm up to the Danger Zone (40°F-140°F) where bacteria will start growing at an exponential rate. The food in the freezer will take about a day or so to thaw, depending on how good the insulation in your freezer is and what the ambient temperature is. 
Keep the refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. If you have a probe thermometer you can keep an eye on the temperature from the outside.
If you can get ice you can keep your food out of the Danger Zone a lot longer. A few partially filled bottles of water in the freezer would help. If the blackout is local to just your neighborhood or town you might be able to drive to a store that still has ice. Get block ice if you can it melts slower. Putting the ice in a tub or bowl that can hold the melt water will keep your kitchen from getting all wet. Putting it on the top shelf is best as cold air is heavier then warm air.
The reason that many refrigerators still have the freezer on top is because of the old ice boxes from the late 19th and early 20th Century put the ice on top to cool the whole box. 
If you have some ice, some coolers and a basement you can keep food out of the Danger Zone a lot longer because the room temperature is a lot cooler in the basement and will melt the ice more slowly.

On the coldest day keeping your food cold is not a problem, a few bowls of snow in the frig will do fine or just bury it in snow on the north side of your house. If you're worried about something getting to your food, you can put it in a cooler on the north side of your house, you don't want the sun to shine on it or the cooler will get too warm inside. 

The real problem is keeping yourself and your family warm. 

Most furnaces need electricity for the blower and control circuitry. A generator or other alternative energy source will work for that. A generator needs to go outside with the exhaust pointed away from the house, the garage doesn't count, even with the door open, there are too many coroners reports on that mistake. If you are worried about people stealing it chain it to your car on the drivers side blocking the door so you won't forget about it when you need to go somewhere.

Cooking can be done on a backyard propane grill, again that has to stay outside, the garage still doesn't count as outside, even with the door open. You can also put some bricks on the grill to heat up while your at it, you can then wrap them in towels and use them as bedwarmers. 

If you don't have a generator or runout of fuel you can bring everyone into one room and keep the door closed to heat the room with body heat and a few candles or oil lamps, make sure they are placed so they can tip over safely.
You can setup a tent in the living room or basement that everyone can pile in. A tent will concentrate body heat, and with a blanket over the top will insulate pretty well. That is similar to what the Victorians did, the classic four-poster bed has heavy bedcurtains and a top making a nice tent that you heated with your own body heat. 

Our electrical system, among others, is getting very fragile because of consumer pressure to cut costs. 

It is possible for a single wire brushing against an overgrown tree to knock out power to 50 million people. That is what happen in 2003 in the Northeast. A similar thing happened in the West in the late 1990s. So it does happen here. For a few years they'll be diligent to keep the trees trimmed but eventually some bean-counter will say, "We haven't have a black out in ages, we can make more profit if we cut back on tree trimming expenses." And a couple of years will pass, because it takes a while for trees to grow. Then massive blackouts occur costing huge amounts in overtime because they stopped trimming the trees. 

It doesn't matter why, but we are without power and that is a problem. Powering your whole home on your own is pretty expensive, but do you have to power everything all at once? Not really, you never actually have everything on all at once anyway, but there are some things that are more important then others.

So what are the most important things that you need to power in your home? Refrigerator, furnace, a few lights, maybe a computer. How about medical equipment?

So what are the alternatives? A generator is nice, it is small and portable and will run for a long time on a tank of gas. The problem is that it takes a steady supply of fuel. You'll be using fuel wether you are using electricity or not. A refrigerator only runs for 10 or so minutes per hour, a furnace might run for 2o minutes or so. 

You can get around this a bit by instead of powering everything directly, you charge up a bank of batteries and then use the batteries to power your house on the intermittent basis your home actually uses.

Once you have a battery bank you can easily add other alternative energy forms like solar, wind or micro-hydro. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Instapundit Blog Archive VOLCANO ASH CLOUD SETS OFF GLOBAL DOMINO EFFECT: While the volcanic ash cloud covering parts of E…


While the volcanic ash cloud covering parts of E…
: "UPDATE: Reader Stephen Skaggs writes: “This shows not only tightly-coupled the global economy has become, but illustrates the impossibilities of centrally planned economies.” Well, yes, we’re back to the old Knowledge Problem again . . . ."

His post links to several articles well worth reading. The modern world seems to have been incentivized to be fragile; that is a bad thing. Was it on purpose? I don't know, and neither does it matter, we need to make ourselves less fragile.

The important thing to do is to build in resilience to our systems.
Unfortunately, I don't see government stepping up to the plate, and frankly we don't need them to.

We need to build resilience into our own lives. Food, Water, and Energy are the big ones in this case.

A few weeks of food and water will help you survive most natural disasters, and few months supplies will help you survive a temporary job loss.

Some flashlights and a UPS will help you get through a typical blackout which lasts only a few hours. A small solar electric installation will do for longer blackouts, it doesn't have to power everything all at once, but if it can run the frig in the summer or the furnace in the winter and occasionally the dishwasher or clothes washer one-at-a-time, it would be enough.

Seth's Blog: Sad Tim

Seth's Blog: Sad Tim

This happens a lot. You're smarter then that.

Disaster Survivors: Don’t Be Victimized By Fraud

Disaster Survivors: Don’t Be Victimized By Fraud: "West Virginians affected by the March storms and flooding�are urged to be alert for and report potential fraud during recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Those who suspect anyone – contractor, inspector, disaster survivor or someone posing as any of these – of committing fraudulent activities should call the Disaster Fraud Hotline toll-free at 800-323-8603.

Complaints may also be made to local law enforcement agencies and through the West Virginia State Attorney General’s Office Consumer Hotline at 800-368-8808 or online at"

Whenever there is a disaster the creeps seems to come out of the woodwork. All kinds of fraudulent "charities" but also fake contractors and the like.

The best thing to do is to find a trustworthy contractor before something happens and keep his number in your info kit.

How do you find a contractor? Talk to your friends and neighbors, coworkers, church members and club members. Community is your friend here.

Also try out your contractor on a small job to see if you like his work and the way he works.

Put him on your Christmas card list and otherwise stay in contact from time to time to build a relationship.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Setting Up an External Boot Drive for a Mac

Usually I keep a bootable CD for my computers, to help out when there is a problem. Sometimes there is a glitch and just booting from a clean system will let you do some simple repairs. For something more useful you can head over to LiveCD which have disk images you can create boot CDs from with all kinds of utilities.

I have a small external hard drive that wasn't been used for anything so I decided to make it a bootable disk that I can play with.

The first step is to have a OS install disk and a external hard drive.
Plug in the external drive and copy off anything you still want and reformat it to clean it off. You can do that with Disk Utility, click on the drive, go to the partition tab and make sure that under the Options... button it is set to GUID so it can boot an Intel Mac. Give it a good name,  then hit Apply.

Once that is done restart while holding down the C key to boot from the Install disk. Make sure to select the external disk and start the install. Eventually it will finish and boot into the external drive. Make sure to run Software Update and get all the updates.

You'll then have a nice, clean fast system. The nice thing is that on an external disk I can add whatever application I need without compromising main real machine.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to Stay Alive in a Hospital

First off, I have never met a nurse that wasn't dedicated to the work of helping people heal. That said, governmental bureaucratic paperwork creates so much busywork that it limits the time that nurses have to care for patients.
And it is only going to get worse.

So like any other situation check the basics: food, water and shelter. I was in a hospital so all those things were available but once I was off the IV feeding and watering myself was a challenge, mainly because I had a broken leg and two broken arms.

I could not move or take care of myself for even the most basic things. Our parents would come as often as they could, we even had sisters from church come by and feed me. This is why building community before a disaster is important.

I was running into trouble a glass or two of water at meal times was just not enough. Another problem was that I was taking very strong pain killers and so I couldn't think straight. I knew there was a solution but it took a long time to work it out. I could remember that there was a product out there that was a water carrying backpack that had a hose you could drink from, but I couldn't remember the name or anything else.

Fortunately, Dad went to a sporting goods store and found a smart guy who could figure out what I was talking about: a Camelbak hydration system. He tied it to the side of the bed and would refill it whenever they stopped by. I credit Camelbak in saving my life, it allowed me to drink more and create some personal independence. It made healing go faster.

You also have to be aware of what is happening to your own body and not be afraid to bring it up. One of my wounds was healing much more slowly then others, I brought that up to the floor doctor, who brought in a wound care specialist and it was determined that the healing had stopped and so they did something to restart the healing process.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcanos, Solar Minimum and Agriculture

Any volcano spewing lots ash into the atmosphere is going to cool the earth slightly. That is just the way it happens the ash is reflecting more sunlight back into space. The Icelandic volcano comes at a time that may make its effects more intense. It is probably not enough to cause a Year Without a Summer.

The sun is showing a minimum of sunspots and it has been for longer then expected. So we are not getting quick as much warmth from the sun as we had been a few years ago, which was also in effect during Year Without a Summer.

El Nino is changing more rapidly then expected as well. This is an unknown from 1816, but it doesn't matter so much.

The thing is, is that it won't be a huge deal this year outside of Europe. Europe will have some problems this year. Crop yields will be down.

But next year (2011) may be more interesting, by then the ash cloud will have been distributed across the global atmosphere and so we'll be cooler then normal. 

If you are looking at gardening it might be a good idea to look into some extra cool weather plants for next year and storing up some extra staples.  Frost may come a little later in the Spring and come a little earlier in the Fall, but it shouldn't be anything we can't handle with a little preparation.

Scenario: Interstate Drunk Driver

You are driving along the Interstate on your way to work in the morning and a drink driver loses control of his car and jumps the median into your lane.
What do you do?

This actually happened to my family, 10 years ago. My pregnant wife and I were going to do some church volunteer work on a Saturday morning when a drunk driver lost control of his car and crossed the median.

Something they don't tell you in Driver's Ed is that at 70 mph slamming on the brakes and turning the wheel does nothing for a long time, except for making lots of noise as you go skidding down the street. Sure they may tell you to have an escape route planned, like going into the ditch on one side or the other, that seems to assume they are coming straight toward you and not crosswise like he did.

The State Patrol was actually surprised that I got on the brakes at all because usually in these kinds of crashes it happens too quickly for people to react. It was estimated that it was about 0.8 seconds from the time the drunk driver crossed the median to the time of impact.

Which is interesting, human reaction time is about 0.25 seconds. That should give you time to make about 3 decisions. The real problem is that it take a typical car about 8 seconds to come to a stop from 65 mph. Physics, what are you going to do?

The thing that really saved us were our seatbelts, our old car did not have airbags, and our heavy winter coats. The coats did so much to cushion us that we did not sustain significant internal injuries so much so that the trauma team treating me scanned me three different ways and got extra more experienced doctors to look to make sure they weren't missing something.

Unfortunately, our unborn daughter suffered injuries due to the impact and died after 9 days.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Al Dente: Climbing the Walls: Mario Batali's Edible Vertical Garden

Al Dente: Climbing the Walls: Mario Batali's Edible Vertical Garden: "A few years ago the urban garden moved from the ground floor to the rooftop, and now it's climbing the walls. Just a few days ago Mario Batali unveiled the edible, vertical garden he commissioned for his Los Angeles restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza."

This is a good step for the urban scene. I would love to do something like that but the apartment agreement doesn't allow that. So we do containers as best we can.

Volcanic ash from Iceland closes British airports - Telegraph

Volcanic ash from Iceland closes British airports - Telegraph: "Hundreds of flights have already been cancelled, and airports in Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland shut down, with the ash cloud forecast to spread southward towards London, causing more disruption."

It should make some nice sunsets for the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nuclear blast victims would have to wait -

Nuclear blast victims would have to wait - "The White House has warned state and local governments not to expect a 'significant federal response' at the scene of a terrorist nuclear attack for 24 to 72 hours after the blast, according to a planning guide."

So what? This is supposed to be new or something? That's what they've been saying for decades and not just for nukes. It always takes them at least 72 hours before they get on site. It usually takes about 2 weeks before things return to nominal.
This is just another reminder to have a 72 hour evacuation kit and a 2+ week supply at home.

I scanned through the planning guide and it seems to have some really good information. Nothing really new except that the assumption is a single ground level 10kt nuke rather then multiple 1Mt bombs. Which makes sense. If you haven't read anything on this before it is a fine place to start.

Terrorists have certain target limitations, the target has to be known to most people in the world to have any effect. Sure blowing up Greeley, CO would be pretty easy, no one outside of Colorado knows anything about it. They have to go for big name cities: DC, NY, and the like. Sure there was a terror plot for Denver so even a minor city like that is a target. They also want to target something iconic like City Hall or some other famous building in your city or just the biggest or highest concentration of buildings to maximize the effect.

That was the gripping hand, now what about the other hand? If Chicago style politics is good enough for the Tea Party (if they hit us, we hit back twice as hard, if they bring a knife, we bring a gun)
Why is it not good enough for the people actually trying to kill us? If they hit us we slap them on the wrist, if they bring a gun we bring a butter knife.

I can't pretend to know what the President is thinking or in what ways he might be limited. However, it seems to becoming more apparent that staying away from big cities is getting to be a better idea and also getting to know the wind patterns.

We get wind from two major directions here: the NW and the SE quadrants. The only major city within 50 miles of us in either of those directions is Denver, and a lot would depend on the exact wind direction.
A ground burst has minimal EMP effect and we have some terrain between us and downtown Denver that should shield us. Since it takes about an hour before the fallout starts to come down, I'd bias toward evacuation. We could be on the road in just a few minutes, though I'd still avoid the Interstate at first.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Freedom In the Cloud

Freedom In the Cloud: "My students, and I suspect many of the students of teachers in this room too, show constantly in our dialog the difficulty. They still think of privacy as “the one secret I don’t want revealed” and that’s not the problem. Their problem is all the stuff that’s the cruft, the data dandruff of life, that they don’t think of as secret in any way but which aggregates to stuff that they don’t want anybody to know. Which aggregates, in fact, not just to stuff they don’t want people to know but to predictive models about them that they would be very creeped out could exist at all. The simplicity with which you can de-anonymize theoretically anonymized data, the ease with which, for multiple sources available to you through third and fourth party transactions, information you can assemble, data maps of people’s lives. The ease with which you begin constraining, with the few things you know about people, the data available to you, you can quickly infer immense amounts more."

Computer privacy is a tough problem, the freedom box is certainly interesting.

Apple’s iPad Brings Easy Reading to the Blind �'s Booked

Apple’s iPad Brings Easy Reading to the Blind �'s Booked: "In stark contrast, all iPads have a standard application called VoiceOver, which allows for audible control of every single menu, even those included in third party applications. NFB has commended Apple for producing a device that is usable right out of the box for both seeing and the visually impaired alike. The NFB statement even mentions that the touch-screen “need not be a barrier” to the blind."

I remember at one job helping setup a computer for a visually impaired user. In WinXP it wasn't too tough: Make all the fonts as big as possible, drop the resolution on the monitor to make them even bigger. The big problem was the applications, basically running a browser back to a database but you'd end up with 2 sets of 3 nearly identical windows that easily got confused if you couldn't easily see the title. She left after a couple of weeks but I wrote down the instructions for changing the computers and gave them to all the line supervisors so they could do it and undo it later.

I've done others and what you do depends on what problems they have. I like using some of the accessibility features on my Mac just because they are handy.

So what does this have to do with your readiness plan?

You are going to suffer some kind of injury at some point, and everyone gets old. If you plan depends on you being on peak physical condition at all times, you need to rethink that.

There is a reason a first aid kit is such a big deal in emergency planning, people get hurt. You need medical supplies to mitigate those injuries as best you can. There will be time needed to heal.

Sometimes those injuries are permanent. My family was in a car crash and we have permanent injuries because of it. That has made some adjustment to our plans. We ended up living in my parents living room for several months as we recovered.

How well would your home support you if you lost function in one or both legs? I once read of a man who spent $30,000 remodeling his home so he could continue living in it after ending up in a wheelchair after an accident.
Several families I know are having to move their parents out of the home they have lived in for 30+ years because the home can't support the infirmities of age. They also can't move in with their kids because the kids' home has the same problems, the most common is the doors are too small for a walker and moving the walls is too expensive or just plain impossible.

So the choice ends up being put Grandma in a nursing home or sell both homes and built a new home that everyone can live in, because there aren't very many homes like that on the market.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Homes are Complex systems

Too often we are too focused on just a single part of the whole picture. While reading "The Age of the Unthinkable" I am seeing that westerners tend to think linearly and one thing at a time. But we often get bored before we finish it all the way through. 
A home is a complex system, there are several interlocking and interdependent systems working together but they are never designed that way. Usually a house is designed by a builder for ease of construction and lowest cost of construction. 

For example in permaculture  the zones are all outside the home are 1-5 in the permaculture way from 1-workaday kitchen garden to 5-wildland + Stacking – Plants incorporated into a permaculture landscape are “stacked” both in space and in time. Plants will be chosen to occupy the following 7 layers; below ground (i.e root crops), ground cover, herbaceous plants, shrubs, small trees, tall trees, and vines. Similarly, thought should be given into the long term development of the landscape over time, ensuring that the system will be thriving many years from now. There also needs to be a zone 0 that is deep underground where the well is
Should also include firescaping.
Level 0 is deep ground where water and oil wells go and other mineral sources.

What about zones inside the home which can include:
A: safe room (can double duty as  a bathroom or pantry)
B: bedrooms, kitchen, pantry, laundry and bathroom aka essential services
C: living room, dining room, library, workshop, &etc. aka useful services
D: attic, garage &etc. aka the shell of the building: foundation, outer walls, outer doors, windows and roof
E: would be outbuildings like a shed, barn or springhouse.
Also need to include utilities and HVAC and sensors in this somewhere.
This is a long way from a complete idea but it needs to start somewhere.

Friday, April 9, 2010

U-Haul tracking data suggests more families migrating to Kentucky, Vermont than other states — Autoblog

U-Haul tracking data suggests more families migrating to Kentucky, Vermont than other states — Autoblog: "According to U-Haul, the state with at least 20,000 families moving that saw the most growth was, somewhat surprisingly, Kentucky. The Blue Grass State managed to bring in 5.76 percent more families than it lost in 2009. Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and Illinois round out the top five."

I'm not surprised, I used to drive empty rentals from different states to California. I guess I am not surprised that Illinois and DC are increasing, with the government growing so much. But most of the rest are generally good and quiet.

Storing Different Kinds of Salt

Salt is a vital nutrient. What do you think an electrolyte drink is made of? 
Your tongue dedicates a quarter of it's tasting capability to detecting salt. It is the only mineral we can eat directly. Salt is very important to have in our stores. 

We often have to much in our food but that is processed foods. Normally you only need to store about 5 pounds of food per person per year but that is not including what you need to process your own food like salt curing meats.

Salt is very simple to store, actually. It must be kept dry if you want it easy to use. Getting 3 pound boxes from the warehouse club is fine, just pop them in a sealable plastic bag before putting away. The very best thing is as long as it is dry it stays good as long as the container does.
Salt dissolves in water, but you can evaporate the water back out but that is a lot of energy and work.

There are many different kinds of salt, we have 6 different kinds of salt in our kitchen and there are plenty more out there, but we'll talk about only a few:
Table Salt
Kosher Salt
Pickling Salt
Rock Salt or Ice Cream Salt

Table Salt is iodized. The iodine is included to prevent goiter. It is certainly something to have in your stores for that reason. The only downside is it also tastes a little metallic, so you may not want to use it for preserving food.

Kosher salt is just pure salt in bigger crystals, it doesn't have iodine added so if you store this make sure to plant iodine rich foods in your garden or some table salt.
It isn't called Kosher because the salt is Kosher but because it is used in the koshering process. The large crystals are very good at drawing the liquids from meats by just rubbing them on the outside. This also makes it really good for dry curing meats, like country hams.

Different brands have different sizes of crystals that makes thing interesting. I got this conversion table from Cook's Illustrated:
1/4 Cup table salt = 1/2 Cup Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt = 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Morton Kosher Salt.

Pickling Salt is a very finely ground pure salt. It is specifically made to dissolve easily in cool water. This makes it great for making pickles and brines in general. If you like to cook pork or chicken or turkey this is great to have handy. It also makes good topping for popcorn.
The great thing is if you have Kosher salt you can make your own pickling salt by whirling it up in a food processor or blender. You're just making a finer grind on the salt.

Ice Cream Salt or Rock Salt is also found often in grocery stores. This is not an edible salt, it tends to have high concentrations of minerals making it taste bad and is usually mined. It is used for reducing the freezing temperature of water so you can make ice cream or de-ice your driveway. This is also used for water softeners.
The reason the Fahrenheit scale 0° is where it is, is because that is the coldest you can get with a 1 part salt and 3 part ice mixture.

The psychology of power: Absolutely | The Economist

The psychology of power: Absolutely | The Economist: "Anecdote is not science, though. And, more subtly, even if anecdote is correct, it does not answer the question of whether power tends to corrupt, as Lord Acton’s dictum has it, or whether it merely attracts the corruptible. To investigate this question Joris Lammers at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands, and Adam Galinsky at Northwestern University, in Illinois, have conducted a series of experiments which attempted to elicit states of powerfulness and powerlessness in the minds of volunteers. Having done so, as they report in Psychological Science, they tested those volunteers’ moral pliability. Lord Acton, they found, was right."

This is very interesting. The article goes into more detail but people in power don't think the rules apply to them but they apply double to those not in power.

It explains so much.

The question they didn't answer is what about those people who don't deserve power but feel that they do.

ht InsideWork

Doing What Comes Naturally - Walter Russell Mead's Blog - The American Interest

Doing What Comes Naturally - Walter Russell Mead's Blog - The American Interest: "My guess is that Malthusian panics are part of humanity’s coping mechanism. The problems to which Malthusians point are almost always real problems, but the solutions they advocate are usually not the way out. Malthusians classically go for big interventionist fixes, when humanity’s most efficient method of solving problems is to nibble them to death rather than swallow them whole. Billions of people change their behavior; innovators perceive the economic rewards of addressing a growing problem and little by little, bite by bite, we nibble the problem down to size."

Bigger government has never solved anything and has usually made it worse. Look at Easter Island, some people want to know what the man who cut down the last tree was thinking. I would like to know what policy was in place that made doing that the logical thing to do even when common sense was screaming to not do that.

Bureaucracy does not encourage flexible thinking, they must follow established procedures. That the procedures don't work is not their problem, They just need more money and power to do the same thing bigger and more aggressively. Which still doesn't work.

What can we do? We need to clean our own houses, make sure we are making sensible decisions without the tax burdens/advantages and other market distortions that the government causes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Emergency Survival Stories – How to Handle an Avalanche, Highway Disaster -

Emergency Survival Stories – How to Handle an Avalanche, Highway Disaster - "It was New Year’s Day, 2005. Sam Kavanagh, Matt Schuyler, Blake Morstad, Jason Thompson and Chris Maki had snowmobiled 20 miles, then climbed an additional 5 miles with gear to skithe remote slopes of Montana’s 9334-foot Mount Nemesis. The group had skied the same route the previous day, and spent the night in a remote, backcountry yurt. Equipped with shovels and locator beacons, Kavanagh and his friends were experienced backcountry skiers—in fact, two were certified EMTs. They knew to ski within the trees and to avoid steep slopes."

Here are four scenarios to think about. And I agree that big trashbags are very useful and a few should be part of your kit.

Obama is keeping a campaign promise

It looks like Obama is keeping one of his campaign promises.

ht TheHud

The Bright Side of Hyperinflation by Tom Franklin

The Bright Side of Hyperinflation by Tom Franklin: "According to John Williams at, in an article titled Hyperinflation Special Report, hyperinflation is not only possible, but inevitable due to the overspending of the federal government, and the printing press of the Federal Reserve, which as Congressman Ron Paul continuously reminds us, prints money out of thin air. Williams’ report is a truly terrifying read that insists that the coming hyperinflation could get so bad that we will have to resort to the barter system as the dollar will become nothing more than very rough toilet paper. He cautions that electronic banking will cease to work and for a time no one will have any money at all, not even inflated currency. You can certainly imagine the type of Hell on earth this will create for the American people."

The best way to counter this would be to own your home outright, to grow your own food and have a source of water and energy.

When Soda Was a Nickel and Social Security Wasn’t Much More by Vedran Vuk

When Soda Was a Nickel and Social Security Wasn’t Much More by Vedran Vuk: "To find the dividing line between net gainers and losers, we created a projection assuming an individual with a salary equaling the top taxable Social Security limit for 45 years (to get an idea of this amount, consider the limit was $3,000 dollars in 1940 and $106,800 in 2010 – both nice salaries). Our test dummy paid the maximum Social Security taxes every year."

No wonder our national finances are so screwed up.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Never Miss a Beat | Early To Rise

Never Miss a Beat | Early To Rise: "“We have a fire!“

Slowly waking from my Nyquil induced sleep, I struggled to understand what my wife was saying. “We’ve got what?”

“We have a fire!” she said again, bringing me fully awake.

I stumbled out of the bedroom and toward some unusual noises in the garage. When I opened the door, the heat hit me in the face. Smoke filled the garage with a malefic, orange pulse.

Slamming the door, I ran back toward the bedroom. “Grab the kids!“"

So, what would you do.

Ham Radio Growing In The Age Of Twitter : NPR

Ham Radio Growing In The Age Of Twitter : NPR: "At a ham radio convention near St. Louis, the crowd swapping antenna parts and other equipment is mostly male, and over 50. But 15-year-old Jonathan Dunn is attending along with his father. He says Facebook and texting are fun, but making friends using a $200 radio that doesn't come with monthly fees is more rewarding."

In our area we've had nearly 100 new Ham get their cards in the last 3 years and we're still growing.

The Power of Permaculture

I learned about permaculture a couple of months ago, but this video is amazing.

Not bad, but how does it hold up, what kind of work does this system need. I've done Square Foot Gardening and while it is very productive it is a lot of work.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rio's worst rains in history kill at least 95 - Yahoo! News

Rio's worst rains in history kill at least 95 - Yahoo! News: "The heaviest rains in Rio de Janeiro's history triggered landslides Tuesday that killed at least 95 people as rising water turned roads into rivers and paralyzed Brazil's second-largest city."

Extreme rain.

Magnitude 7.8 quake shakes Indonesia's Sumatra | Reuters

Magnitude 7.8 quake shakes Indonesia's Sumatra
| Reuters
: "A major earthquake of 7.8 magnitude struck off the coast of Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of a tsunami or casualties."

Is it me or are their a lot more big earthquakes lately?

Earth Disasters

Some disasters come from the earth and its movement.
Avalanche, Volcano and Earthquake are the big ones.

An avalanche can be make up of rocks, mud and/or snow but all can be quite deadly.
You'll be driving through the mountains and see signs to beware of falling rocks, some falling rocks closed I-70 near Vail because boulders the size of school buses smashed through the pavement.

Rock avalanches often happen in the Spring and Fall when the temperature swings below freezing at night and above during the day. Water from rain or snow runoff has gotten between the rocks and when it freezes forces the rocks apart.

Mudslides often occur in the rainy season after a wildfire. The ground becomes soft from the rain but all the vegetation was burnt off in the fire. There is nothing to hold it all together.

Snow is more complex it depends on how the types of previous snows and how they have layered up. If you are caught in one you might die of asphyxiation.

They can also be caused by earthquake. There is more then enough force in an avalanche to destroy cars and buildings and kill people. Most people are smart enough not to live at the bottom of a cliff or build on top of one that can give way.

Earthquakes are top of mind right now after the ones in Haiti and Chile. They tend to cause earth movements which can cut utilities and damage transportation infrastructure making getting food and supplies harder. Obviously it will also damage and destroy buildings.

Other effects include avalanche, soil liquefaction (the ground acts like water and buildings sink), sinkholes, and if underwater, tsunamis (which cause flooding).

Finally, volcanoes or an exploding mountain.
Volcanoes tend to cause one or more of the following: Pyroclastic flows (fast moving clouds of gas and ash that fry everything in their path), Lava (molten rock) flows, Lahar (mudflow), Ashfall, and Ejecta (flying rocks, boulders and debris). Some volcanoes like the ones in Hawaii are quite calm just producing lots of lava. Others like Mount St. Helens explode with the force of multiple nuclear weapons.

Volcanos have destroyed plenty of cities throughout history and even brought down civilizations. A super-volcano may have even caused a mass extinction event millions of years ago. If a foot of snow is hard to get around in what is a foot of ash going to do, ash doesn't melt.

DPS orders gardeners to undergo criminal background checks - The Denver Post

DPS orders gardeners to undergo criminal background checks - The Denver Post: "Community gardeners who pay a small fee to grow veggies and flowers in fenced-in plots on the grounds of public schools are being told to submit to criminal background checks or grow elsewhere."

Oh, for goodness, sakes this is getting ridiculous.

Classical Values :: Submission to authoritarianism is freedom!

Classical Values :: Submission to authoritarianism is freedom!: "What never ceases to fascinate me is the sheer gall of liberals in attributing 'authoritarianism' to conservatives and libertarians while pretending that liberals are the authoritarian antithesis. It is one of liberalism's biggest lies. Like so many of the people who drive around with bumperstickers that say 'QUESTION AUTHORITY' -- while they really mean to say 'QUESTION AUTHORITY SELECTIVELY.'"

Too true.

Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality | Politics and Law - CNET News

Court: FCC has no power to regulate Net neutrality | Politics and Law - CNET News: "The Federal Communications Commission does not have the legal authority to slap Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
A three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. unanimously tossed out the FCC's August 2008 cease and desist order against Comcast, which had taken measures to slow BitTorrent transfers and had voluntarily ended them earlier that year.
Because the FCC 'has failed to tie its assertion' of regulatory authority to any actual law enacted by Congress, the agency does not have the authority to regulate an Internet provider's network management practices, wrote Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit."

This is good. A win for freedom.

Sadly, I am also sure that Obama will have Congress pass a law or sign an executive order or something to be able to do it later.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms -

Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms - "It eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the Cold War. For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons, or launched a crippling cyberattack."

This is of concern.
We need to vote them out.

Seth's Blog: Accepting limits

Seth's Blog: Accepting limits: "And isn't it even worse to write off a person or an organization merely because of what they are instead of what they might become?"

It is easy to criticize and place limits on other, it take bravery at leap over those.

Baja Earthquake

Looks like another earthquake, this time in Mexico just south of the border.

Lots of breaking news, and even video from California. The effect on the pool was very interesting.

And it looks like only 2 deaths so far.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Collapse of Complex Business Models � Clay Shirky

The Collapse of Complex Business Models Clay Shirky: "Tainter’s thesis is that when society’s elite members add one layer of bureaucracy or demand one tribute too many, they end up extracting all the value from their environment it is possible to extract and then some."

This is a very good post about something completely different but is very, very important to us right now.

All you have to do is replace business with government.

Government is getting bigger and bigger and demanding more and more money to fulfill bigger and bigger entitlements. This never ends well.

Not to say they won't milk it. The big push for Cap-and -Trade which would create a new global currency (carbon credits) out of nothing that gets you nothing is going to be their next big trick. That will create a new derivates market, which will inflate in a bubble as everyone tries to make their money back from the losses from the real estate crash.

And because it too is a bubble and not even backed by anything real like real estate, there will be a "need" to create a North American Union like the EU, and probably others around the world like an Asian Union, and when that blows up they'll call for a global union, which they've already started laying the groundwork for.

And when that bubble pops, where can they go? They can't push it up another level, unless space aliens comes and they buy into the Ponzi scheme, too.

This scenario would take maybe 20-30 years to play out, maybe less but not less then 10 years. That is plenty of time to build a nice little self-sustaining homestead, teaching our children and building community.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Meet the kitchenistas — New Yorkers who store their clothes in ovens and fridges -

Meet the kitchenistas — New Yorkers who store their clothes in ovens and fridges - "“It was between food and my clothing, and clothing won,” Blay says. She says she has “an active dating life — so you know, there’s a dinner every night.”"

Well, I always wondered about those people, you know, the ones desperately grabbing everything in sight at the supermarket when there is a huge storm forecast, and they tell the reporter that they have nothing in the kitchen.

They really mean it.

They have a 0 meal reserve.

In other words they have 0 meals before doing whatever someone who promises them a meal to do.

They have 0 meals before they panic, panicked people become desperate.

Britain's MI5 has a maxim "society is four meals away from anarchy." Most governments and organizations recommend to have 3 days of food on hand. On the other hand other groups recommend 3 months to 1 year.

Most organizations estimate that the average family has food on hand for 3 days, though if you go to the median (ignore the extremes like the ones with no food and the ones with a year's supply) I would guess you could get a week out if what is in the cupboards.

How many meals do you have in reserve?

Heavy snow cuts off 20,000 homes in Northern Ireland | UK news | The Guardian

Heavy snow cuts off 20,000 homes in Northern Ireland |
UK news |
The Guardian
: "Sinead Ferris of NIE said: 'The types of damage we are seeing are principally in the overhead line network – we have got electricity poles down and the weight of ice on the conductors has brought conductors down as well. With the extent of the faults, we are anticipating restoration of electricity could take a number of days.'"

Major winter storms can do that. Can you survive at home for a number of days without power?