Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Friday, April 29, 2011

What Not to Buy If You Ever Get Rich

 A mansion und a yacht! Not!
I think I'll start a series about "getting rich".  Just for a change of pace.

I've been poking around the John T. Reed website.  He is a real estate investor with about 30 reasonably priced books for sale, mostly on real estate, some on coaching sports, and one on "Succeeding".  He also rates other real estate gurus, some of which is funny to read (although unfortunately his review of my favorite guru is cursory and dismissive).  I find his articles down to earth and sensible. 

Anyway, somewhere in there he has this article on things you should and shouldn't spend your money on if you ever become rich.  I thought it was just some sensible advice on how not to overspend on stupid stuff, whether you're rich or poor.  Because practically nobody considers themselves rich, I'd say this advice would really be for everyone, just in case you are rich but think you're poor; or in case you come by some money, so you don't waste it.

One of the things he points out that you should only ever buy as big of a house as you need.  Once you have the right size house, if you want to spend more money on housing, spend it on getting into a better neighborhood. He doesn't go into why, but I say, aside from the obvious reasons of getting away from crime or getting into a better school district, if you live in a richer neighborhood, then you will be surrounded by more successful people who will become your neighbors and acquaintances.  This may give you opportunities, both social and career.  (More about that later, that particular subject deserves its own post).

Mostly what he says is, when you finally get some money to work with, quit shopping and instead use it to reduce risk to yourself and your family from things like: fire, flood, earthquake, depressions, big lawsuits, that kind of thing.  But he also has this big chart of do's and dont's as to how to go about getting certain things you might enjoy so that you save money getting them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Food Fight! The Baguettes of War

People in the Middle East demonstrations have been wearing armor made from kitchen implements and also (symbolically) from bread.  This site has a slideshow of pictures of various people in the Middle East protests brandishing or wearing loaves of bread.  In fact the current issue of Foreign Policy is about food.  Although most of their essays seem to sum up with some kind of Malthusian warning about overpopulation.

Never mind that stupid laws make it harder for the small guy to grow food.  Strangely, the FAO (the UN's agricultural regulator) recognizes that many people around the world eat insects as food.  It would be interesting to see if the Codex Alimentarius has rules about insects as food, then.

Probably most of these people are hungry as well as fed up.  The commodity price of grains, beans etc. has doubled in a year.  There is nothing like hunger to incite riots.  There have been deadly riots about the price of food in Mozambique and other places in the last year.

Today on NPR I heard how a lot of the grain people eat in the Middle East actually is imported from here in the US.  Especially in Yemen and Egypt.  Maybe 80% of the grain grown in the Pacific Northwest is exported to the Middle East.  Egypt subsidizes bread, which is baked in government bakeries and people can buy for about 1 cent for a piece of pita bread.  (A lot of the Egyptian economy is government-run, i.e. a lot of the jobs are government jobs and they subsidize a lot of stuff. Rather top-heavy system.)

A lot of the pictures in that slide show of demonstrators brandishing bread were from Yemen.  The protesters were displaying pita breads with the Arabic word for "Leave" baked into them. (they want their leader to leave).  Lends a whole new twist to "Leave-ning".  I guess also that once the protest is over, you can eat your words. (or destroy the evidence and have lunch at the same time)

There is nothing funny about hunger, but perhaps this guy could teach them some baguette nunchuck moves: (just needed some comic relief after worrying about the world)

Have you got food stores?  In order to cushion yourself against an uncertain future, just buy a little extra groceries every time. (canned goods, dried beans and rice, flour, powdered milk, sugar, shelf-stable stuff).  If you get a good deal on produce that is beginning to turn, you can always dehydrate, jam, or pickle it.  It's good to have a couple extra months worth of food around.  I recently did a post on how I got a year worth of food together for pretty cheap.

Water is even more important than food.  Save 2-liter soda bottles and keep water in them, you'll need 1 or 2 such bottles per person per day, and save at least a week worth of water, or maybe a couple weeks.  Soda bottles are better than gallon plastic milk jugs, they take a lot more abuse and they are easier for a kid to carry.  Put in one drop of bleach per cup of water. Keep it in a dark place to discourage algae. Do rotate your water every few months to keep it from going stale.  In case you end up with an ongoing water problem, where tap water's not drinkable, you can also get a gravity water filter.  The cheapest one I found is a kit made by Just Water that you supply 2 5-gallon buckets for, and then you attach their hardware to them. It can do 15 gallons a day, but you can also get an air pump that forces the water through faster.  With shipping, the basic kit with a spigot was $35 or so.  That beats getting a Big Berkey for upwards of $200.  I just ordered one so when it comes I'll let you know how it works.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Gas and Food Prices Combined May Cause Recession

According to this article, every time energy costs get over 6% of people's budget there is a recession. We are now at that tipping point.  Combine that with the way food has gone up and it could get ugly.

WTF? I thought we were already in a recession. Or was that just the taster?

If the SHTF, here's how it could happen.  (see below link). This guy lived through it happening in Argentina.  Life went on, but things were never the same.  First the banks stole people's money via various tricks (hey!), then hyperinflation hit.  Nobody had enough money to buy enough food anymore.  Once people got hungry there was a month long super crime wave with riots and everything.  There were rolling blackouts.  A black market sprang up. Then it settled down to chronic crime, with lots of people going hungry, even though Argentina was formerly a bread basket, mostly because multinationals bought all the arable land and it wasn't available for Argentinians to grow food for Argentina anymore. 

Incidentally, according to, multinational corps. are buying up farm land in Paraguay now, because it's cheap; also there's a huge aquifer and some oil there. Hmm.

Any farmers who might read this blog, please weigh in and let me know if you see big agra buying up a lot of land fast in the US.  That is something we should watch out for, because it would be bad news for the little guy.

So here's the link:
This article has a lot of good advice (read all 4 parts) especially about defending your home and your person if there is a crime wave.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Codex Alimentarius again

I've been Snopes'd by my own mother!  (Hi Mom!)

In the previous post I said that if we adopted Codex Alimentarius guidelines it would make garlic and peppermint illegal. I also said that Codex was founded by a former Nazi.  Mom thought I'd been hoaxed.  So I decided to dig a little deeper. I can tell you it's almost as bad.  Not quite, but almost. this site claims to sort out fact vs fiction on Codex Alimentarius. Particularly it mentions the video I'd posted a link to previously.

According to it, apparently Codex Alimentarius's guidelines don't prohibit culinary herbs for flavor (emphasis mine), and they don't have anything to say about medicinal herbs, since those are considered drugs not food.

“Codex last considered the issue of medicinal herbs in 1996, when the meeting of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) that took place in Bonn, Germany, in October 1996 considered a new proposal by the Codex Coordinating Committee for North America and the South West Pacific to establish lists of ‘Potentially Harmful Herbs and Botanical Preparations sold as Foods’.
Subsequent to the 1996 CCNFSDU meeting the Codex Alimentarius Commission met in Geneva in June 1997, and agreed that no further action was needed concerning herbs and botanicals, on the grounds that this was a matter for national authorities to address. The matter was therefore deleted from the Commission's Work Programme.
As such, it can be seen that Codex does not restrict or eliminate most medicinal herbs, and nor does it limit the conditions which can be treated using medicinal herbs to a small number of trivial ones.”

Re. adoption of Codex as American law:
This is from
“In 1995, the FDA issued a policy statement saying that international standards such as Codex would supersede U.S. laws governing all food. Under the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which is illegal under current U.S. law, but is legal under international law, the U.S. is required to conform to Codex as it stands on December 31, 2009. “
I checked Wikipedia about CAFTA and it's still not part of US law yet. says about Codex:
“Vitamins and minerals are not under the gun. Dietary supplements are.”
It provided this link to a 2005 document of Codex giving standards for vitamins and minerals. This is about dosage, but not limiting dosages to ridiculously small, only that the dose should be at least 15% of the RDA and at most whatever 100% minus what the person taking it normally eats in vitamins from food. But that's the dose of one pill, and of course you can always take more pills if you want to super-dose on vitamins for some reason, although they don't want to allow packaging that encourages you do that:

Re. Nazi war criminal(s) starting Codex Alimentarius, according to apparently there is no concrete proof of this online (like scans of source documents); however Codex's website isn't exactly all that forthcoming about their own origins either. Here's what the author of the Infowars article had to say:

“Although created under the auspices of the FAO and the WHO, there is some controversy regarding individuals who may or may not have participated in the establishment of Codex. Many anti-Codex organizations have asserted that Nazi war criminals, Fritz Ter Meer[6] and Hermann Schmitz[7] in particular, were principal architects of the organization. Because many of these claims are made with only indirect evidence, or no evidence at all, one might be tempted to disregard them at first glance. However, as the allegations gain more and more adherents, Codex has attempted to refute them. In its Frequently Asked Questions section, Codex answers the question, “Is it true that Codex was created by a former war criminal to control the world food supply?”[8]  It then goes on to answer the charges by stating:
No. It is a false claim. You just need to type the words “Codex Alimentarius” in any search engine and you will find lots of these rumors about Codex. Usually the people spreading them will give no proof but will ask you to send donations or to sign petitions against Codex. 
Truthful information about Codex is found on the Internet - there is nothing to hide from our side – we are a public institution working in public for the public – we are happy if people want to know more about our work and ask questions. There is an official Codex Contact Point in each member country who will be pleased to answer your questions on Codex.[9]
But, as one can see from the statement above, Codex’s response does very little to answer this question beyond simply disagreeing with it. While it is true that many individuals who make this claim provide little evidence for it, the presentation of the information does not necessarily negate its truthfulness. In fact, Codex offers its own website as a source for accurate information about the organization; yet, beyond the FAQ section, there is nothing to be found that is relevant to the “war criminal” allegations. Furthermore, the website is virtually indecipherable, almost to the point of being completely useless. In the end, this response raises more questions than it answers. This is because Codex, if it wanted, could put these rumors to rest by simply posting a list of the individuals and organizations that funded or played an integral role in its creation. However, it does nothing of the sort. Beyond mentioning the FAO and the WHO, we are completely unaware of who or how many other individuals and organizations participated in the creation of Codex Alimentarius.

The “war criminal” claims center around the chemical conglomerate known as I.G. Farben. I.G. Farben was made up of several German chemical firms including, BASF, Bayer, Hoechst and AGFA,[10] that merged together. It was essentially the manufacturing wing of the Third Reich and was the engine behind the Nazi war machine. The company provided the vast majority of explosives and synthetic gasoline used for the military conquest and murder of millions. It also manufactured the now infamous Zyklon-B gas used in the gas chambers.  Not only that, but it was influential in the conducting of experiments on concentration camp victims. Indeed, camp victims were often purchased outright at the behest of the company for the express purposes of testing by several different branches of the company, particularly Bayer and Hoechst.

Without I.G. Farben, the German wars simply could not have been sustained. During the Nuremberg war trials, the tribunal convicted 24 board members and executives of the company and dissolved it into several different daughter companies. Namely, BASF, Hoechst (later to be known as Aventis), and Bayer. By 1951, virtually all 24 of these executives were released, including Fritz Ter Meer and Hermann Schmitz. Ter Meer had been a member of the I.G. Farben executive committee from 1926-1945 and also a member of the working committee and the technical committee as well as a director of the infamous Section II. He was also the ambassador to Italy given full power by the Reich Minister for armaments and war production and was the industrialist most responsible for Auschwitz. Schmitz was also a member of the I.G. Farben executive committee from 1926-1935, and was chairman of the board and “head of finances” from 1935-1945. He was also head of military economics and a member of the Nazi party. Both men were found guilty by the Nuremberg war tribunal in 1948, yet Schmitz was released in 1950 and Ter Meer in 1952.[11]
After all this, Schmitz was appointed board member of the German bank of Berlin West in 1952 and in 1956, the honorary chairman of the board of Rheinish steel plants. Ter Meer, however, was even more successful. Upon his release, he was appointed board member of Bayer in 1955 and, in 1956 was appointed chairman. In the years following, he would take on many additional roles such as chairman of the board of Theodore Goldschmidt AG, deputy chairman of the board of Commerzbank and Bank-Association AG, as well as a board member of the Waggonfabrik Uerdingen, Duesseldorger (sic) Waggonfabrik AG, the bank association of West Germany, and United Industrial Enterprises AG.[12] These are documented connections for both of these men. Indeed, Ter Meer’s’ connections to the pharmaceutical firm Bayer earned him a foundation named in his honor, the Fritz Ter-Meer Foundation.[13] Through all of this however, this writer could not confirm that either Ter Meer or Schmitz had direct connections to the creation of Codex Alimentarius.

However, Codex does nothing to dispel the allegations besides simply disagreeing with them and the connections are not at all implausible. Codex is very secretive about its beginnings, as evidenced on its website where it only states that it was created at the behest of the FAO and the WHO. It is highly unlikely that such an organization would be created without the assistance, input, and even funding of privately owned international corporations. Thanks to both the anti-Codex community and Codex Alimentarius itself, there is no evidence (again at least to this author) that documents which individuals or corporations were involved in its establishment. However, there are other ties that lend more credence to the belief that war criminals played a role in the creation of Codex."
Below that there was a list of links, but none of them seemed to list the “other ties”, they more seemed like a list of sources for the rest of the article.

So here are my retractions/corrections after reading a lot of stuff:
  • Codex may have been started by a former Nazi, there are a lot of people asserting this, but I have no proof (i.e. source documents). They could make a list of the individuals who got them started but they don't, only saying they were formed by the FAO and the WHO.
  • Codex recommendations are not law in the US, but it has informed food laws everywhere since the 1960's. The more global we become the more we'll have to worry about it, and we don't seem to be becoming any less global anytime soon.  Plus there's that thing about not prevailing in trade disputes unless you conform to Codex's code.  Perhaps only our status as a trade giant makes us able to resist.
  • Codex doesn't have recommendations about medicinal herbs. They are outside its purview. It said that individual countries should take care of that.  However, perhaps its recommendations regarding food are a bit too big-agra and big-pharma slanted, i.e. allowing the use of bovine growth hormone, fluoridation of water, antibiotics in food animals, etc.
  • If an herb is used for flavor in food, Codex makes recommendations regarding its purity as a crop . i.e. no foreign objects, no mold, etc.  I didn't see any caps of amount of the herbs when used as flavoring.
  • There was a law passed in 1994 in the US called DSHEA that deregulates supplements. It has come under attack from time to time.Our laws re. supplements are a lot more liberal than the EU's.  As long as DSHEA stays in place we won't have to worry about some global regulations, but like any law it could come under attack again.
  • We have much more to fear from S.510, the stupid so called food safety law. Under this law, it would not be inconceivable for Homeland Security to go around busting organic farmers at their farmers market stands for lacking the "necessary" paperwork. Yes, the enforcement of this law is partly under Homeland Security. It also authorizes the FDA to create offices in foreign countries and try to alter those countries' food laws to match ours. So we are spending tax dollars trying to run other countries' food affairs for them.  Essentially this is almost like setting up our own version of Codex.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Codex Alimentarius - Will Garlic Become Illegal Under These Vampires?

NOTICE: Please read the subsequent post.  I did a bit more homework. It's not a full retraction, more of a refinement.  I'm not going to take down this post, but I no longer think garlic is in danger.

Recently I posted about Kentucky setting up a regulatory body and licensing for dealing in ginseng.  I wasn't aware that this herb was probably overharvested, and perhaps they are trying to protect it...


There is also the CODEX ALIMENTARIUS.  This group was founded by the guy who sold the Nazis the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign that they put over the gate to Auschwitz.  After he got out of jail for being a war criminal he founded this group to try and take over food, worldwide.  It has become a giant monster of a bureaucracy, with rules upon rules regarding food.  It does NOT have your best interests in mind.  For example, under it all animals raised for food must be treated with growth hormones and antibiotics.  All food must be irradiated.  And it's under the Napoleonic idea "anything not specifically permitted is forbidden". What it doesn't regulate is pharmaceuticals. Hmm.

This group along with big pharma has managed to successfully lobby the UN, the FAO and the WHO (World Health Organization) and subvert what was supposed to be a discussion to make standards of nutrition more uniform across the world, and because of this, various beneficial herbs, EVEN FOOD HERBS, which I thought they wouldn't be able to touch, are becoming illegal around the world, or are only to be sold in dosages that are ineffective.  In order to get vitamins that actually work, either you just flat won't be able to because it'll be as illegal as heroin, or you'll have to get a prescription and pay through the nose, and you'll have to buy from big pharma.  

Watch in the future as they make it illegal to sell any herb with any kind of medicinal quality as food.  In other words, you may not even be able to get garlic or peppermint.  Watch as they restrict information about vitamins, and water down the maximum legal dose of your favorite vitamins or supplements to the point where they're not worth taking.  Foods and herbs that we have taken for granted our whole lives will suddenly become as illegal as heroin.

Don't think that these globalist vampires can get their teeth into your food, vitamin and herb supply?  Think again. The Uruguay Round of GATT, which the US signed, requires us to change our Federal laws regarding food to conform to the Codex Alimentarius' guidelines.  Germany and Norway have already conformed their laws to this new code.  In order to stay in the WTO, we have to adopt their rules.  However, it's possible we could get out of the WTO.

More links:

Video of a lecture about it, rather long but it sure spells it out.

More than ever, we need guerilla gardens, and we need to resist this BS en masse. Just plant herbs everywhere you think they may grow unmolested.  Save seeds while you are still free to do so.  Save and copy any books you have on nutrition and herbal medicine. Everybody needs to eat, and everybody needs to know about taking care of their own bodies.  Passive resistance, like Ghandi.  They can't bust a billion people with peppermint.

Also, write to all your politicians, and tell them you object to the Codex Alimentarius.  Use email, because they just decontaminate regular letters and the actual politicians never see them.
Here's a handy form to do it with:

Monday, April 18, 2011

How really to save energy (Not with CFL bulbs!)

In a previous post I had a link to Paul Wheaton's article on the evils of CFL bulbs.
Here it is again.

The best part of his article is actually below the part about CFL bulbs, where he describes how he saved a lot of electricity while house sitting. Some of what he does might be just too radical for me, though. I probably can't keep my house heat at 50 all the time and just sit on a warming pad - I've got a roommate who I might freeze out.  I did put it down to 50 at night for part of this winter, and that worked out. 8 hours a day at 50 was at least something.

Here's more of what I do:

Keep my computer and peripherals off unless I am using them.  When I started doing this I saw a $25/month drop in my electric bill.

Dry my clothes by hanging them up, rather than using the dryer.  Dryers also wear out clothes faster, so hanging them makes them last longer.

I wash most of my laundry in a 5-gallon bucket. It saves on electricity, gas, water and soap. For example, I use about 1/8 of a cup of powdered detergent per week. I might go through one box of detergent per year.

This is not as burdensome as it sounds. I have this scouring pad on a stick type contraption, and I use that as an agitator.  I soak the laundry for a few hours, then I agitate it for a couple minutes, then I rinse it. The worst part of it is wringing things out, that's a little tedious. But I think the labor is worth it for the energy savings.

If I ever have to wash something big like a blanket or a whole bunch of towels, I head for the laundromat or a friend's house, but really that doesn't come up very often.

I don't bother with dishwashers. I don't like them. I once had an apartment with one and I ignored it.

One way to save on electricity painlessly is to unplug any electric devices that you're not currently using.  Some appliances and electronics draw power even when they're off.  You can also use a surge protector.  They're a good idea anyway, because if lightening hits, your electronics will have something between them and the wall outlet, but of course if they're unplugged anyway, then it doesn't matter.

You can cook with a crock pot or the microwave.  Doing this uses less energy than using the stove.  Crock pots are the bomb!  You put the food in, go to work (or sleep), come back, dinner's ready.  The only work involved is rinsing and cutting things, and you can even use a bigger crock pot to do dishes in so you don't use a whole sink full of water.  How often do you get a time saver that is also a money saver?

If you don't keep a lot of food in your fridge, get some bottles of water and put them in it.  This reduces the amount of air the fridge has to cool, and your fridge will work more efficiently.  While you're at it, make sure the coil on the back of the fridge is free from dust.  Water is a good store of heat (or coolth) so if your power goes out and there was a lot of water in the fridge, it'll stay cool longer.

Incidentally, the coil on the back of a fridge, being warm, is also a favorite hiding place of roaches; if you get them you might discover it before you might have otherwise by looking back there from time to time.

Of course, you can also try going at least partly off the grid.  For example, build yourself a rocket stove, or there are also solar yard light hacks you can do to get electricity.  I saw one where they took 4 of them apart to make a USB charger, like for your phone or Ipod  (video), and I guess one could just make it larger to power more things like 12-volt appliances designed for RV's.  Or you can just use the lights themselves.  I have some solar yard lights around the house that I use for night lights.  Portable solar panels can be found for between $250 and $300 online.  They wouldn't power a whole house with all the appliances running at once, but you could get lights and a laptop out of it.

You can also use your garden to save energy.  Every year my gardening-nut friend plants corn right next to the sunny side of her house.  By late summer when it's really hot out, the corn shades that side of the house.  One year her corn grew taller than the soffits on the house.  It was 10 or 12 feet tall.  She needed a ladder to harvest it.  In the winter, when she wants sun on her house, the corn is already out of there.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

FBI Raids Chuck-E-Cheese for Undermining US Currency (parody)

Emperor Chuck
LOL!  But actually, hmm. They had me going for a minute, I'm surprised this didn't come from the Onion.

And here's another infamous (but beloved) "currency underminer":
Emperor Norton!
Emperor Norton of San Francisco!

And this guy over here could be called the worst underminer of all.
Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve.  Responsible for "Quantitative Easing", he has electronically created dollars out of thin air at an alarming rate of speed.  Quantitative Easing is essentially inflation on purpose.  It is resorted to when they want to stimulate the economy and can't lower the interest rate any more.  Of course the danger of using QE is that if they do it too much, it would create hyperinflation. Hmm. 

BTW, that guy with the homemade silver coins that the Fed busted, his "undermining" is NOTHING compared to Mr. Bernanke.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crackdowns on Alternative Medicine

ginseng - hillbilly gold
Seems there have been a lot of bills introduced in state legislature all over the place lately (almost all by Republicans) either to regulate or criminalize alternative medicine, herbal medicine, etc.  For example the state of Kentucky just signed HB 362 into law.  This is the "Ginseng bill".  It requires licensing for dealers of ginseng.  If you buy ginseng in Kentucky after June 8, 2011, and they can show you knowingly bought it from someone who does not possess a state-issued ginseng dealer's license, then you as the buyer face fines up to $1,000.00.

WTF?  How is ginseng so dangerous or worthy of such scrutiny? 

Here is an article about the simultaneous crackdown:

So, whether or not we eventually do get this Obamacare that we're paying for now, we soon won't have any alternatives to turn to other than the official state sanctioned big-pharma allopathy, unless we travel out of the country for medical tourism.

what a beautiful jasmine...
This is why I like herbal medicines that are really common and double as food or garden flowers.  They're probably not going to criminalize lavender, roses, ginger, fenugreek, fennel, juniper berries, evening primroses, jasmine etc.  If they start criminalizing that sort of thing, expect another sort of Jasmine Revolution here in my front yard, or in a guerilla garden near you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mad Cow Disease - Is it on your menu?

moo moo moo I'm a werecow...
I wrote the below article and was ready to release it, but then today I found this, so "THIS JUST IN":
New live test for Mad Cow disease. They are testing the test on people who definitely won't have it (from parts of the world unaffected) so as to make sure it won't give false positives.

OK, so now for the article I was gonna publish. Here it is:

This seems to be old news but I recently learned that deer in as many as 14 states have mad cow disease. The deer are probably mostly getting it by eating grass that infected deer have pooped on.  But how did they get it originally? Hmm... Could it be from... MAD COWS?  How can there be "no mad cows" in the US and then there mysteriously be mad deer?

Colorado had been struggling with it since the 1970's.  Then it turned up in Wisconsin. The state of Wisconsin had apparently at first been reluctant to do very much about it, but then in 2002 they tried to kill all the deer.  But they ran out of pet cemeteries to incinerate them in, so they tried to dump the  bodies in landfills, but landfills were turning them away.  Something about possible water table contamination.  Mad cow/deer disease lives on for centuries in soil and can only be destroyed by high temperature burning, i.e. over 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

A little more about mad cow:
This fascinating disease is caused not by bacteria or viruses, but by prions, which are self-replicating proteins.  It has jumped over the years from cannibals in Papua, New Guinea (who used to eat their dead relatives' brains at the funeral) somehow to sheep (scrapie, called so because the infected sheep scrape themselves against things) to cows (mad cow) and now also to goats, mink, cats, deer, moose and elk (where it's called chronic wasting disease).  If you eat meat that is infected with mad cow, YOU get it. Then it's called Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease.  There is no test in a live creature to tell if they have it: it doesn't make you make antibodies, and the only way they can tell now is to do a necropsy on the victim's brain.  If someone gets CJD, they act like they have Alzheimer's and then they die.  Just like with CJD, Alzheimer's can only be confirmed after death, so there's no way to weed it out by testing for Alzheimers.  And the disease can sit there for 10 to 50 years in a human before they get symptoms.

Your house cat might even have it.  If you feed your cat cat food made with lamb or beef, there is a chance your cat could have mad cow (or cat) disease. I don't think they're too picky about not putting "downer" cattle into pet food. 

Here is a WHO article about the "variant CJD", which is the kind people get from eating infected meat:

So what do you do with a mad cow or deer?  Can you cook the hell out of it?  NO.  You can't cook it out.  You can't even burn it out, except in a furnace or incinerator.  (And watch out for the smoke!).  And if a deer with Mad Deer disease dies out in the wild and rots, the soil under the carcass will be infected for centuries, waiting like in a bad zombie movie to infect something else.  And once you have it, it is passed genetically, so every generation of your descendants will have it.

If someone you know dies of mysterious Alzheimer-like symptoms, don't even try to find out if it was CJD: If you try to have someone autopsied for CJD, there is no lab that will allow their body into their facility, because you can't destroy prions, except at 800 degrees Fahrenheit.  Basically they'd have to knock the place down and burn the rubble in a furnace after doing the autopsy.  So if someone dies of Alzheimer's-like symptoms in the US, the official diagnosis stays Alzheimer's and they WON'T EVEN LOOK to see if it was CJD.

The number of Alzheimer's cases has tripled... Hmm....  For a disease that is supposedly hereditary that's a lot of increase compared to the population... And the brains of Alzheimer's patients also turn up with some of the same plaques as CJD, so there's a theory that Alzheimer's might also be caused by prions.

So I'd say Bambi is off the menu, for now, and beef, lamb, and even all meat and dairy and eggs, if you want to be careful.

Oh, and you're not safe with fish and chicken either.  Farm raised fish and chickens are sometimes fed with meal "enriched" with dead cows and sheep, and don't live long enough to get sponge brains so they might have it and there's be NO way to tell, even if you looked at their brains.  And since once an animal has it it passes it down to its children, you could get a baby animal, and raise it completely organically, or even in a bubble, and it could still have mad cow disease. 

And if you think you're safe by becoming a vegan, let's just hope that the crop land your food is grown on didn't have manure from infected animals put on it.

I'd hate to survive the EOTWAWKI and then find a few years down the line that I was going to die gaga anyway.  (But hey, it might be too late...)

I got a lot of this originally from Anita Sands:
Thanks Anita! Her article (written I think in 2001 according to other sites that link to it) is cheeky and very informative.  She's a really good writer.  Check out her websites, they're practically endless, and her style is entertaining. (just go that that link and then start clicking around)

Monday, April 11, 2011

How to Make Money With No Job

Go to Bluntcard, they're funny
Here are 12 ideas for ways to go out and make money if you don't have a job. (I couldn't stop at 10)
Essentially they are self-employment, but easy to get into, and many of them are cash businesses.

1.  Boosting stuff on Ebay, Craigs List, and other online stores:

"A family member is out of work with no unemployment and makes his living by going to estate sales and selling what he buys on ebay" (I stole this quote off of The Simple Dollar).  Unless you have a truck, just get the small stuff.  It would also help if you had boxes in your car to put the stuff into when you buy it.  You also need a digital camera, to take pictures of your stuff.

You can also sell used books on or or ebay or any of those.  I have done that, but the market for used books has fallen off some with the recession.  I like because you don't pay if your books don't sell.

2. Mowing lawns:

You need a lawn mower (duh). You can often buy them used if you know a local lawn mower repairman. Simply make up a flyer and start going door to door in a nice neighborhood in March or April.  Dress nice when you go with your flyers, like in Chinos and an alligator shirt.  Tell people you mow lawns, what your rate is, and ask them for their business.

You can also do this for leaf raking or snow removal.  And if there is a list of landlords anywhere, or a real estate investor's group like REIA, you might be able to market to a lot of people at once who have multiple lawns to mow and who might prefer to let someone else do it.

In addition, or instead, if you know how to repair and maintain lawn mowers, you can go door to door in March with flyers offering lawn mower tuneups.

If you have a truck and some land to put leaves on, you can take the leaves and clippings and compost them along with free manure from a horse farm, and then sell the compost the next year as a soil amendment along with your services. 

3.  Growing seedlings:

You can grow baby tomato (or other) plants.  There is a story about an heirloom tomato called "Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter" where this guy named Radiator Charlie paid off his mortgage by selling tomato seedlings that he had bred of a new variety of tomato.  It's possible you could do this on a small scale and still be under the radar. I have grown mortgage lifters, they are kind of a beefsteak type tomato.  Personally I prefer Black Krim tomatoes, but that's me.  Sometimes people raise special gourmet salad plants and sell them to restaurants.

4.  Cooking dinner:

I knew a young lady who cooked a bunch of meals for someone else about once a week in her own kitchen and delivered them.  The person hiring her didn't have the time to cook, but didn't want to eat takeout all the time. She was able to beat the price of takeout and still make enough money to make it worth it to her.  A small private arrangement to cook for 4 or 5 families would probably be doable, and you wouldn't have to advertise much.  That would be a good way to sell your homegrown produce: cook it into dinners.

5.  Cleaning houses:

You can do this with a minimum of equipment.  You can even add perceived value (and save money!) by using all natural cleaners (i.e. baking soda, vinegar, Borax, etc.).  People who get a good clientele going can make good money at this.  You can also wash windows in retail districts.  Although there are ad-hoc window washers who just go around asking for immediate work, you can upgrade yourself slightly by giving out business cards and wearing something that looks like a work uniform.

6.  Babysitting:

If you have a big enough house, you can take in kids for day care.  Unless you want to go in for a business license, bonding, etc. you should stick to dealing only with people you know well.

7.  Scrapping:

If you have a pickup truck you can go around on trash night and pick up anything metal from people's trash and then sell it to scrapyards.  Copper and brass sell for the most, aluminum is also high, and iron and steel don't bring much, unless it's stainless steel, but if it's restaurant equipment you might make more money selling the object as what it is instead of for scrap.  You can also collect cans, but I suspect you wouldn't make much just doing that.  If the cans present themselves in the trash you are looking in already, though, go for it.  However, a lawyer in Boston that I worked for had a client who made a living collecting cans.  She was also very physically fit from all the walking she did on her rounds!  Some kinds of copper wire, you can use to make jewelry, if you're so inclined.  Copper bracelets are perennial favorites.

8.  Bird Dogging/Flipping Houses:

Get to know some real estate investors. (best way is to attend some REIA meetings - or whatever real estate investor's club you have locally.  Or just call some "I Buy Houses" signs).  There are two ways you can go about this.  The first is just to find addresses and phone numbers of owners that might be distressed, look up whatever you can find quickly from the public record (i.e. the property tax rolls) and sell the information to the real estate investors. Expect to get $5 to $10 per lead, and I think the difference would be over the phone number. The second way is to get more involved:  Learn how to make offers on houses, what the investors are looking for, and get a good buyer-slanted purchase contract.  Then call those leads yourself, or leave flyers saying "I buy houses" with your own contact info on them, meet with the seller, look at the house, and make offers.  When you get a deal, offer it to your real estate buyers.   You don't have to be a realtor because you will be a principal in the deal.  You assign your interest in the purchase contract in exchange for some money at the closing.  Expect to make between $2,000 and $5,000 per deal on these, depending on how much fat you can skim from the deal and still give the investor a good discount.

9.  Handyman Service:

If you are good with small residential repairs, plumbing and wiring, painting, drywall, tile, etc., you can work for local landlords doing tenant turnover repairs.  A bonus of this line of work is sometimes tenants leave behind good stuff when they move out.  I've gotten some good stuff from turnovers: nice furniture, broken gold jewelry that had gotten tossed in a corner, new soap still in the wrapper, a silver tea set with a lot of the silver rubbed off (sold it on ebay), canned goods, Legos, dominos, about 8 pairs of shoes, a vintage dress, ammo, a crock pot, and a complete set of electrician's textbooks.  The downside if you do the cleaning, is that cleaning for apartment turnovers can be really gross.  One time I moved a stove and found a mountain of ferret poop with lollipops in it! 

10.  Sewing, Fashion, Costumes:

You can alter or repair clothes, or make clothes from patterns for other people.  The best way to get into this is to sell clothes you made yourself - just make some interesting clothes/costumes and wear them someplace where people like costumes - Renaissance fairs, psychic fairs, Dead shows (or the equivalent? Phish shows?), re-enactment events.  If someone compliments you, give them a business card, or arrange to put on a trunk show.  If you get into it, you can also do upholstery, curtains, etc., but that can take more heavy-duty equipment.  Equivalent things you could do would be costume jewelry, hair ornaments, etc.

I couple times I made (or found in thrift stores) club clothes and sold them on Ebay. Club clothes are sexy clothes like a stripper would wear.  They sell pretty well.  "Normal" clothes don't sell very well, unless they are designer, so go for the club crowd.

You can also make and sell club clothes to strippers in strip bars, with prior permission of the management.  You might need to be a woman (or hire a woman) to go there and sell them.  What the clothes would look like sort of depends on the bar's rules, the municipal laws, and what the girls like to wear.  Some places, all they wear is bikinis.  Sewing Spandex is a whole other skill than sewing woven fabric, and Spandex, especially neon Spandex, is somewhat expensive by the yard.  The good part, though, is you don't need much fabric per costume!  Also the girls pay in cash.

11.  Sign Ninja: 

You can be a sign placer for realtors or real estate investors.  Some municipalities go around removing signs during the week, but they will leave them alone when the city offices are closed on the weekends.  So realtors will put out signs on Friday and take them down on Sunday.  You can be the guy who does this for them so they can stay inside where it's warm and dry.  You need a mallet, some work gloves, and a car with a back to it, like a station wagon or pickup truck. Probably a truck would be best, but maybe not absolutely necessary.  The guy with the signs who I met one rainy night at a gas station had a 2-county range and called himself the Sign Ninja.

12.  Psychic, Tarot, etc.:

Sometimes new age shops or goth clubs will have times when psychic readers can sit and give readings.  If there are no places like that, you can still advertise your services for parties.  If you have friends who also enjoy that sort of thing, you can start a psychic reader agency and send other people to parties when you can't go, for a cut.  You could make it even more fun by dressing up like gypsies, for an extra touch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Year Worth of Food on a Budget

Preparedness on a Budget – 1 Year of Food
You can amass a year worth of food for under $1,000 even in this economic climate.  But hurry before the price of food goes up because the dollar is tanking.

  1. Assume the shelf life of most canned and dried food is about 2 years. It might be longer, especially if you vacuum pack things and add oxygen absorbers, but I'm trying to be simple to start with. So basically you are going to get a year's pantry food, which you would actually eat over the course of two years while adding fresh foods for the other half of your calories.  And then you replace the pantry food as you go, rotating your stock.
  2. The pantry part of your diet will not have much meat in it the way I designed this food budget. You could have more meat from the “fresh” part of your diet. I did buy some tuna and canned chicken, and some beef jerky ends, but if you are a real carnivore there are some things you can do yourself to preserve meat so you don't have to pay for the canned kind, which is expensive.
  3. You are not going to have much dairy in this diet. The exception is powdered milk, which mostly you are going to cook with occasionally. You won't need much though.You can get calcium from spinach, celery seeds, etc.  You don't need milk.  Actually milk isn't that great of a source of calcium compared to dark leafy greens.

Getting started:

I highly recommend you get yourself a crock pot. Any thrift store that has small used kitchen appliances will probably have a crock pot or two. The Salvation Army in my town had maybe about 6 of them, but many of those were on the small side. I prefer a 2-gallon crock pot so I can make a week's worth of soup at one time. The reason for a crock pot is twofold: economy and convenience. A crock pot doesn't use a lot of energy. Also, you can cook food while you are sleeping or at work – you don't need to mind a boiling pot. This is priceless.

If you don't have any, go out and get some cheap tupperware. Or you can save containers from when you buy cottage cheese or yogurt. The tupperware tends to have lids that stay put better but either will do.

You will also probably want a metal trash can with a lid, or a 55 gallon metal drum with a lid.  I would try Craig's List for the latter.  This is to store your beans and rice.  (You will keep them in their plastic bags because galvanized metal has zinc in it which you should not allow to touch food). You could use a plastic trash can too, but metal keeps out rodents better and the lid fits tighter on a metal can so it will keep bugs out better too.

I also recommend you start a small arts/crafts business (Not a corporation or LLC - just a sole proprietorship “d.b.a.” will do). The reason for the small business is you can get a sales tax number from your state, which will allow you to buy food wholesale. You can also use your small business to make some of your life tax deductible. (which is another subject completely so I will not address it here). 

The only downside to the tax number is that you will have to fill out a sales tax form once a month and the federal Schedule C at the end of the year, and at first that can be a little confusing, but it's really not that bad. Also, you will want that business to be related to some kind of fine arts. The reason for this is that the rules for artists were modified a few years ago so that you don't have to show a profit 3 out of 5 consecutive years like before. If you make some sales, so much the better, it's extra income.

The food:

First you have to figure out how many calories you need to eat in the course of one year. There are online calorie calculators. You fill in your weight and the level of activity you do and it will tell you how many calories you need to consume per day to maintain your weight.

Now what you do is go to an online calorie counter that lists different foods and figure out how many calories are in various kinds of food. I have noticed that canned vegetables average around 300 to 350 calories per can.  Don't spend a ton of time here, but just figure out how much of your various staples you will need for a year.

I consume around 1700 calories a day when maintaining my weight. So I need 620,500 calories per year to stay alive. Your mileage may vary.

Figure about half to 2/3 of your calories are going to come from beans and rice, or oatmeal, or whole wheat flour. The rest of the calories are going to be meat and vegetables, nuts, and oils, a little bit of dairy, and if you like to drink, maybe some home brew. I chose brown rice and whole wheat flour because the white kind of both is just empty calories without a lot of vitamins. Also it's important to get enough fiber in your diet.  However, the white kind keeps longer.  If you keep brown rice sitting more than a year or two, it starts to go rancid and might give you indigestion a little.

Find the nearest restaurant supply wholesale place, and use your tax number (if you need to) in order to be able to shop there. Generally, food is not taxed, but some of these places won't sell to you unless you are a business with a tax number.

Buy about 80 pounds (total) of different kinds of dried beans, lentils and peas and like 40 or 50 pounds of brown rice. While you are there, also pick up a gallon can of olive oil for cooking. The cheapest kind is called “Pomace”. This is basically the second squeezing of the olives and is a little bit heavier and earthier than the good stuff, but it will work for what you want it to do (use for the frying pan). I have only ever seen pomace for sale from restaurant suppliers, never from the supermarket.  Canola oil is cheaper, but I've heard bad things about it health wise.  You should also get a 50 pound bag of whole wheat flour. See what sizes they have for powdered milk. You won't need much – maybe a couple pounds of that.  It depends on how much you like to put milk in your recipes.  Get 50 pounds of sugar.  You won't need that much unless you home brew, but it's around 50 cents a pound that way. (this week)

If you don't have a restaurant supply warehouse store near you, you could ask the nearest restaurant or even the local elementary school where they get their food from.  Perhaps the supplier can deliver to you.  Failing that, try Sam's Club.

Then go to Aldi (if you have one) which is a cheap supermarket that carries various off brands, and buy a whole mess of canned vegetables. Maybe 160 cans, which would cost about $100 I think (at least this week). You can also get canned chicken and tuna pretty cheap at Aldi. This is a situation where what brand name it is doesn't matter. If you didn't find a small size of powdered milk at the restaurant store, Aldi will have it. Get also some raisins and peanuts.  If you don't have an Aldi just go to any supermarket, but you will probably pay less if you can find an Aldi.  I saw something recently about albacore tuna having more mercury in it than light tuna, so get the light tuna.

The trick to this is, you can buy the canned food gradually. Just add like 15 cans per month to what you already buy.  By buying the beans and rice in 20 or 25 pound bags, you are going to save a buttload of money.

One thing I do is to buy one thing in bulk every so often when it goes on sale.  It's like regular grocery shopping, except you buy a lot of TP at once, then the next week you buy a lot of flour at once, and so forth.  You can also use extreme couponing, especially for toiletries.  Things tend to go on sale about every 3 months, and you can combine that with coupons to get stuff really cheap.

The diet:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins. You can add yogurt from the fresh half of your diet. It is easy to make yogurt with a crock pot. Tea, if you must have caffeine. I really like jasmine tea from the Asian supermarket. It's basically green tea with jasmine in it. Green tea is good for you, it's an antioxidant and it also raises your metabolism by 4% or so, so you'll have a better time staying warm. Also a can of jasmine tea is pretty cheap, and the loose equivalent of 2 bags will make a whole pot of tea.  You can grow your own jasmine, too.

Alternate breakfast: Pancakes. You don't need eggs.  I've made pancakes with nothing more than flour and water and they turn out OK.  But it's better if you have eggs and powdered milk.

You can make your own syrup if you don't want to buy it at the store.  I made a cardamom syrup that's really yummy.  Just boil some sugar water and then add spices.  Fenugreek will make it taste like maple - that's what they make fake maple syrup out of anyway.

Lunch: Soup, made in the crock pot each weekend with beans and vegetables. Could add a little meat if you wanted.  Maybe some bread, but beans and vegetables have carbs too so you really don't need bread.

Dinner: Like lunch, only maybe make something slightly different so it's not soup.  Perhaps a sandwich or make a spinach puff or something like that, or stirfry with rice.  Sometimes I only eat a snack for dinner, but that's more of a weight-loss tactic.

A note about spices:  If you have an Asian, Middle Eastern, or Indian grocery, you can pick up some spices in bulk waaaaaay cheaper than at the supermarket.  If you get whole cardamom for example, you will save a whole ton of money compared to the pre-ground kind.  Then just grind it yourself in a coffee or pepper grinder.

I do plant a garden.  Up till this year I was focusing mostly on herbs, tomatoes, peppers and basil, last year I also grew beets and sweet potatoes; this year I am going to have lots of greens, cilantro, onions and taters, sweet potatoes, radishes, and peas in addition to the usual.  I am going to try to plant so many tomatoes this year that I don't have to buy tomato anything all next year.

For hooch, make home brew.  Instead of paying ridiculous prices or settling for cheap crappy beer, you can have fun experimenting for the cost of sugar, fruit juice, flavor extracts, and flowers that you pick yourself in the wild.  Brewing can become an expensive hobby, but it doesn't need to be.  Here is a post on hobo wine.

You can also make your own soda using home brew techniques.  The main difference is the amount of time in primary fermentation is a lot lower, and you bottle it while it's still bubbling.

Here is a link to Hillbilly Housewife's similar food budget and menu.  She assumes you aren't using a tax number to get bulk food, but just going to the supermarket.  What I don't like about her menu is it calls for white flour and white potatoes, and that's something I am trying to cut out/down on for dietary purposes.  But it is true, white flour is cheaper than whole wheat, and white rice is a little cheaper than brown.  Otherwise, I like the way she breaks it down into a varied menu.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Extreme Couponing

I keep bumping into articles about people who use coupons to get stuff for practically free.  There was one on MSN the other day.  Apparently there is a new reality TV show about it.

Here is a really good description of exactly how to go about extreme couponing:

In a nutshell, you collect both store coupons and manufacturers coupons.  Then you combine both of these on the same item when the store is having a sale, and the triple whammy saves you big bucks.  You can also use those coupons some stores give you when you check out for a discount off of your next purchase.  Just go right back into the store and shop some more.

Now, I don't really use coupons much.  Mostly for cat food.  This is because I buy mostly staple foods (i.e. dried beans, whole wheat flour in bulk, milk powder, rice, plain raw vegetables, store brand canned vegetables, meat if it's on a deep sale) and there is very seldom a coupon for these things.  Even toiletries: I make soap to sell and I use my trimmings and mistakes (it sudses up fine, just looks like little scraps) and I use cheapo shampoo which is so cheap to begin with that I never see coupons for it anyway.

However, if you like "name brand" processed food or lots of toiletries, then coupon cutting may be a sport for you.  If nothing else you can barter the stuff or give it away.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fukushima and Nuclear Preparedness on the Cheap

This guy Charlie Martin posted an analysis of how much the radiation from the Fukushima disaster is affecting people, also the fallout that drifts over here.
He says that basically over here, there's really not much to worry about.  Over in Japan, they've got much more to worry about from the physical effects of the earthquake and tsunami - all those dead, all that destruction, all those homeless - than from the radiation/fallout.

I hope he's right.  But, I was worried, and my roommate offered to sell me his Geiger counter cheap but then he dropped and broke it so he gave it to me free.  So I've been looking for schematics and manuals and parts to get it fixed, and I found all kinds of sites about nuclear preparedness. Mostly the old FEMA Civil Defense stuff, because this particular Geiger counter is an antique from that era and since it's supposed to be more sensitive than some other Geiger counters it's really more suited to testing rocks than for a disaster.  But Fun! Fun with Rocks! Yay!

This one site seems very good.  They have been selling nuke preparedness stuff for years.  They too say the fallout here will be so minor as to be negligible.  Now, when someone who SELLS preparedness stuff tells you not to worry, basically to their own detriment (except that instead of making an unnecessary sale they are gaining street cred), you probably don't have to worry here in the USA about fallout from Japan.

HOWEVER.  Here's what you can do for if there's ever a next time.  You can make your own makeshift fallout shelter very easily with stuff you already have at home.  All you need is to put some thick stuff between you and the outside of your house.  If you're not in ground zero, and you survive the blast, it's the fallout that can get you, but since fallout has a pretty short half-life, you'll only need to hole up for maybe 3-4 days.  Fallout is basically radioactive dust.  When it's fresh, being near it can be dangerous even if it doesn't get on you. like if you're just on the other side of an exterior wall from it.  So if you have a basement, you're protected by many feet of dirt on 5 sides of you.  (unless it's a walk-out).  You can protect the top side by pushing some stuff over where you will be in the basement, on the floor above.  Furniture, boxes of junk, whatever.  If you don't have a basement then you can pile stuff on and around the kitchen table or if there's no table then take an interior door off its hinges and make a table and then pile stuff around and on it to make a little fort.  Just don't make it too heavy so it collapses on you!

All you will need for your instant homemade fallout shelter is a whole lot of water (at least a gallon a day per person you to drink), 3 or 4 days worth of food (canned is probably ok, no need to get fancy  but don't forget the can opener), and a 5-gallon bucket, TP and a lot of trash bags (maybe some kitty litter too) for going to the bathroom.  Wet wipes would be good, too.  Just stay in the homemade shelter for about 3 or 4 days and at that point you can probably start coming out for short periods of time and doing little chores, until things get back to normal.

To protect your emergency electronics (like that Geiger counter or a radio) from electromagnetic pulses, simply put them in a metal container, or wrap them in tin foil.  And unplug what appliances you can't wrap. (this is assuming you have time while you're also piling boxes up and filling containers with water).

People might laugh at the stop drop and cover stuff, but it actually does increase your chance of survival.  And see, you don't need to put a lead lined addition on your house!  How cheap is that? Priceless!