Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why 'Under the Coffee Table'? What's up with that?

My oldest daughter doesn't like stress much, and as a little girl she would hide under the coffee table and suck her thumb when things weren't going too well. Sometimes I think we all feel a little like hiding under a table when things get a little rough. I am of the opinion that our lives are going to change wildly in the next few years, and it all might start sooner then we think. Yes, I think the sky is falling, but that isn't what this blog is going to be about. That is the foregone conclusion.

I don't plan on discussing at length any of the myriad of complications that can fall into our lives. I will leave it to you, Gentle Reader, to study the economy and the energy situation and come to your own conclusions. For the record I believe that the financial situation in the world is grim, and whether or not we experience an inflation of epic proportions or a deflation of similar magnitude, that the earth is shifting beneath our feet. At the very least, in the near term, expect to see sharply higher prices for everything that we import. The dollar is falling like a rock, and that means everything that we import take more dollars to buy. Look for things in Walmart and Target to cost more. Look for higher energy costs (oil already above $83 per bbl and climbing), and sharply higher food prices. Not long ago a bushel of wheat in Australia sold for $9 per bushel. The more ethanol that is produced, the higher grain prices will go, and the higher meat and dairy cost will go. If prices follow the costs, at least the supply will remain plentiful. If production costs continue to rise and our meat and dairy prices do not then look for availability to decrease.

Furthermore, I have little trust in the official estimates of our own government agencies, the estimates of the oil companies, and the estimates of the countries that have large reserves principally because it is in the best interests of all the financial powers of the world to keep consumption at a high rate. So, in conjunction with financial catastrophe, I don't think that we will have cheap and easy energy to rebuild our infrastructure. Hence the conclusion that within a few months or years, that life as we know it (cheap available energy, cheap and available money, high levels of consumption) will be gone. So, yes I believe the sky is falling, but I don't know where and when it will land.

Whether you are of the same mind, or believe that I suffer paranoid delusions, and that Dick Cheney was right when he said that our way of life is non-negotiable doesn't really matter. I propose to talk about things that we can do, changes that we can make in the way we live now that will make life a little better, and will increase our safety and security a little bit.

So, lets put theory aside for a while. We went to Boulder for Christmas in 2005, and experienced an amazing snowstorm. When we pulled in at Grandma's house the snow was up the front bumper of the truck and we had to push our way to the driveway, leaving a wake like an ocean liner. We made it fine, but found that we had to do some shopping for the dinner we were to attend. We also found that at the store that milk and eggs and some produce had been cleaned out as the snow had kept the trucks from making their deliveries. I got the last dozen eggs that from a rack that probably would hold 1000 dozen eggs. Last one. Annie got the last of the whipping cream that was in the dairy case at the store that she was in. Last one. This was not the kind of shopping that we were and are used to. But it can happen, and it is likely that it will for what ever reason.

For your own safety and security, for Heavens sake please take the time and invest some money and buy some food to keep on your shelves and under your bed. Keep some water too. What should you store? How much should you store? I have no idea what you like or how much money that you have to put into this enterprise so I can't really say. I would think you would at the very LEAST want enough food to last from paycheck to paycheck. Basic foods cost less than kits, and are more variable and adaptable. But then you might not know how to cook, or how to cook with basics. Store what you eat and eat what you store.

If you have some food storage, or think you cupboards are big enough but you don't know how well you would do if you didn't go to the store, then I DARE you to experiment. DOUBLE DOG DARE in fact. Eat nothing that doesn't come from your storage, or go one more step and don't eat anything that you cook in your kitchen using your normal cooking equipment, including your stove. Try it for a day, or a weekend. Better yet, for a week. But try it.

When Annie and I were younger and our kids were babies we lived on a farm and did just this kind of experiment. Inflation was zooming along at about 15% per year and things were kind of scary economically. We lived on our food storage for about a week, and decided that we HATED TVP (textured vegetable protein), and that we didn't have a good cooking setup, and nothing for baking. So try it. If you don't know how to cook outdoors, or at all, I will be posting on different recipes and cooking techniques. If you don't want to wait for me, I am sure that Google will have the answers.

I don't cook with anything but staples, so you are stuck with the basics. Here is my list of basics: flour (white and wheat), oil, butter, sugar, honey, salt, dried milk, beans, dried onions, bottled peaches, tomatoes, plums, apricots, pears, and peppers. Actually I really like meat, but and we have some home bottled chicken, but that is for another day.

I don't know what part of the sky will hit you. You might get sick, you might lose your job either to downsizing or what ever. Maybe the financial markets will smooth out, and the super oil fields in the middle east will magically refill themselves with oil and gas produced abiotically. Maybe. At the end of the day most of us get hit with at least one chuck of sky. Here are a few topics that I plan to cover to help be ready when and if the ice falls off the airliner:

Cooking, or 'No, I really like chewing wheat like a cow'

Cooking, or 'I'll just put it in the microwave'

Water, or 'I'll just get a case of bottled water at the store'

First Aid, or 'I'll just take you to the emergency room'

Family, or 'Whew, I don't have to see these people until next Christmas'

Money, or 'I'll just go down to the ATM and get some more'

Money, or 'Gold, silver or chocolate?'

Sadly, I am afraid I have a lot of opinions............


AnnieOfBlueGables said...

Well Sweet Friend,
I have lived with you almost 34 years and have known you for 36. I realized long ago that you are a very smart person, and I have come to trust what you foresee. I have also learned what is best for you and me in the way of being prepared.
But I too am one of the people under the coffee table with D1, with my hands over my ears and saying "la,la,la,la" because I don't want to hear that the sky is falling. I want things to go perfectly. But I also am glad you want to be prepared, because I will benefit from this as well.
Glad to go through life with you, sweet Friend

Andrew said...

We've lived off our food storage for 2 months last year, and again "for fun" for a week this year.

I'm happy to say we're somewhat prepared.

Something to cook on/with should be our next buy.

Also, get your Ham radio license. In the event of a catastrophe it's a very handy thing to have.

Sailor said...

Good for you!! And I think I will take that challenge. Where do I sign up for the license?

Jenny said...

Mike keeps hinting that we ought to do the food storage challenge but I keep putting it off. We have at least 6 months of food storage, but I'm intimidated by the dry beans. What besides chili can you make with them? Today, I'm attempting to rehydrate some red beans to try it out. Anyway, I'm excited to hear your preparation ideas. We need them!

Mike said...

Good thoughts Sailor! Looking forward to more topics. I have some questions on water storage, and cooking creatively with those beans...I am with Jenny, what can you do besides Chili?

Kay Dennison said...

What interesting ideas you have, Sailor! Sadly, I've lived on almost nothing and I'm pretty good at survival.

As to your opinions, my dear departed daddy the Sailor always told me opinions are like belly buttons -- everyone has one and everyone is entitled to one! Me? I have dozens of 'em, too. lol