Friday, April 23, 2010

I've been a light weight on the action figure front lately...what with trying to create power, grow food...blah-blah-blah. I've made up for my lack with the order of STARVIN' MARVIN from South Park.

Starvin' Marvin is one of my all time favorite characters on the show. The little Ethiopian who steals a spaceship--fights Sally Struthers--and travels a lot. Marvin comes complete with a suitcase and well..... a chicken.
I try to pickup South Park figures when I can find them for a reasonable price. TIMMY in his wheelchair is one that I am always looking for....but when you can find Starvin' Marvin for $11.00 you gotta go for it. Marvin's on his way and will soon be displayed in the nerd cave.

Some plants are in others are in the process of going into the ground. There is already such a difference in the yard and in my spirit. What a difference having the auto-watering system in place. Our town is planning on increasing the water rate fee's by approximately 40%....I've got to insure that our rain barrel recovery system is workable now and tied into the gardens. I always felt that shortages of water, power, food etc were not the only problem that was possible to face---that simple price increases could easily place what is now considered everyday items completely out of reach.
Due to our climate-----watering is a must no matter the price from the faucet. My hope is to use our recovered water as much as possible once the rates increase. Unfortunately the rate increase, of course, coincides with our dry season.

Close, not yet, but close......what an up and down again process with the new power system. Not because the system will not work---but rather that I am having to train the people installing the system. I had never planned on having to insure that electricians knew what to do------
---The last thing to accomplish is the connection of the grid tie inverter to the house electrical system. I watch my wind generator turning without least my panels are charging the house batteries so when everything is finally installed and running I can immediately use the produced power without having to wait for the batteries to charge up. Of course the electric company now wants additional paperwork!!! Foolish me to think that after having filled out several sets of paperwork there would not be more.....I keep focused on the fact that it will all be worthwhile at the end.

Multiple sites on the Internet have been covering the story of the latest Russian billionaire's private super ship...the 394' long "A".

Although decorated internally in the standard Russian Rich guy no-taste whorehouse style...the exterior of the ship, the mechanical,computer systems and electrical are as well designed and competent as any of the Navies of the world's new stealth frigates. In fact the design mimics the international naval frigate ship of the future down to and including anti-ship missile defense systems.

This new ship the "A" is the latest in a private owner ship size and competency race amongst the world's wealthiest individuals with additional super ships still to come---- each out sizing and designing the other. I believe there is more to this trend than simply an ugly, overbearing display of Russian wealth and power. I believe these ships are arks for the individual rich. What better place to be protected from and to ride out the upcoming unpleasantness than on your own super-ship.
Unapproachable, stocked with supplies, capable of reaching any safe destination, probably secretly armed to the teeth, handled by a crew that is more than glad to be safely offshore and away from worldly problems these yachts(?) are the perfect bug out location for any end of the world scenario and there are quite a few of them being built?

If we could just find out who's in charge, we could kill him.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nothing hugely significant this week at the homestead---still working on projects that will hopefully pay off in a few weeks...but nothing accomplished right now. We are planting, organizing the garden. I just finished reading "The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi---a excellent novel on the powerless weird future we face. Working is working with no help in sight. The weather tho here has been excellent. I can't wait for the full flowering of the garden and sitting in the backyard smoking, thinking and watching it grow.

We remain in the installation phase of our hybrid home power system.......Our solar panels are up and hooked to the new larger battery system. We installed a separate one panel system to provide light/power to the kitchen independent of everything else. Our wind generator still has not been installed, nor has the gird tie converter been hooked up. These are the two major lingering elements that I cannot seem to push our installer to do.....I will try to be zen like about this delay shit but honestly it is very hard....
We completed our application with our electric provider, Xcel power, to be a "small" electric producer for the grid...communications with them is on and off again however so I do not actually know if it was received by them.

We are working the gardens...I think this may be a good year for the barter system. The lady who cuts my hair offered to trade haircuts for vegetables! She just up and offered knowing I garden....I immediately agreed since bartering to me is the ultimate commercial system between individuals. In my area of New Mexico green peppers in the supermarket are $4.00 each and tomato plants (at the supermarket) are selling for $15.00 each-- Bartering services for vegetables to her is a win-win situation.
Once we have something to barter with later in the summer I may begin asking people if they are willing to barter vegetables for other services?

The Military recently released an internal strategic study on oil supply which agrees with the commonly held peak oil projection theories pinpointing the year 2015 for trouble. Shortages, interruptions in supply, agribusiness disruptions, skyrocketing prices etc. It is amazing to me how the general public manages to be supremely unimpressed with any warnings or dangerous confirmations on the peak oil scenario. I supposed that for the unprepared there actually is little that truly can be done at this point. Facing peak oil requires a long term thinking and organization capability that few people are able to produce. I'm so glad that by the peak oil projection date we will have completed all requirements for independent homestead living and I will be retired--capable of working/maintaining full time at the homestead.

Occasionally I am lucky to have a project that covers both my survival side and my OCD Geek side within the same concept...An item I just ordered pleases the many, many sides of my rather strange personality. I just ordered a Rovio mobile web cam.
Security provided by Geeks---

The Rovio is a mobile, auto-rechargeable, video camera, microphone-speaker platform that can be remote operated via wireless systems from anywhere in the world. In other words if you have wireless at your home (as I do) you can sit in a coffee shop offering free wireless, 38 miles away (as I plan to do) and real-time drive Rovio around your house/property to check security.
Rovio comes with an interface computer program (that I am planning on loading into my daily carry Samsung netbook) that allows you to real time drive Rovio around your property, view and hear,what is happening in real time on your netbook interface.

Rovio has a three wheel, powered, steerable drive system, that is capable of transversing my entire city lot property. I would imagine that rougher, country type terrain might be a problem but actual performance varies with these remote controlled vehicles. Some excellent---some are very poor and one only knows how they will work when faced with your particular property problems. For example---Our Roomba Dirt Dog works perfectly in our house--all hardwood floors, no rugs it sweeps like a devil and works amazingly well. Others purchasers have had considerable problems with this robotic sweeper due to their personal environment. Based on the performance of our Romba, I expect no interior movement difficulties with the Rovio.
One Interesting circumstance I may need to considered once I have taken the Rovio from the theory stage to the operational stage is the outside, backyard deployment for video security.
We have two Boston Terriers who have a small doggie door in the rear Kitchen entrance. With the correct adaptation of a small ramp I may be able to operate the Rovio both inside the house and outside on the property without difficulty.....this option awaits the practical application and testing phase however.

I am so pumped about this new security addition to the homestead----it's Geek value is incredibly high along with a tremendous security value.......If i am sitting in the coffee shop and turn Rovio on to see the below picture on my netbook screen of my neighborhood----I will consider myself a genius.

The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.
Robert Frost

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Long term unemployed and standard youth unemployment are two terms which are now coming into play in our literature and economic evaluations. Europe has ha this situation for quite some time. France for example has a long term youth unemployment factor of 27% and long term basically means there will be no jobs for that percentage of young people--no matter what.
Long term unemployment for adults is a kindly method of advising that these individuals job type---will not be coming back at all. That these unemployed individuals due to occupation or location will remain unemployed no matter how hard they work at attempting to reenter the work force. There are estimates that range up to 22% for this category of unemployed.
The United States has always viewed unemployment as either a temporary situation or a lifestyle choice by the lazy and inept. This cultural belief will have to change due to this depression and it's long term results. Let us say that in the United States when all is said and done, we wind up with a total, unmoving, long term unemployment rate of 22% both adult and youth. Our society as a whole will have to develop or allow to develop some type of a black market, underground economy involving this almost 1/3 of our population, simply to survive. I visualize this as the Bridge society in William Gibson's novels.

It may be that this underground economy becomes the real economy as government services collapse...taxes become irrelevant....and government enforcement of rules and ethics become a bribe circumstance at our personal levels rather than on major political levels as it is now. The major problem will be the fall of industrial food production. This is not a fantasy---industrial food production collapsed in the Soviet Union and in Cuba when their economies failed. The result was dependence on intensive small plot gardening. The underground economy will without will begin with locally produced food products offered for sale...soon followed by any and everything to be traded, bartered or sold outright. But FOOD will be the most important. Look around your neighborhood and think how few gardeners there are, how little most of them produce and then understand how expensive a potato will become.

There has been a small amount of progress this week, thank God. Any progress makes me feel better mentally----Our 9 solar panels are now mounted on the residence roof, wiring run to the basement..but that's the weeks worth of labor by the installer. It's better than what was going on--which was nothing. I got our trauma kits rigged, we are planting in the garden, the automatic irrigation system is in place, and i filed the appropriate paperwork with the electric utility to register as a small unit electric producer! I am still somewhat in the betwixt and between time---I do not feel organized or accomplished yet for the upcoming summer.
Against the constant media and political spin of "the economy's getting better!" I am positive in my belief that the down spiral continues. Which increases my mental demands for homestead organization and completion. I do believe that JoJo and I can survive with what we will have accomplished by the time we are completed....but the march to completion is frustrating me. I do not feel time pressured because what we will have done will be what we have to live is just frustrating to work within the confines of the limited time i have available.
I reworked my vehicle hike out pack this weekend...I've started calling it my Eli pack? I received my on sale mummy bag this week and stored it in my pack. My on sale hiking boots also came in and are now in the vehicle with the pack. I have one or two items left on my list for inclusion in the pack out to home system but all in all i am happy with the results. So far.

In the preparation for entering the retirement zone JoJo and I have been back and forthing over what type of vehicle to buy before I pull the pin at work. This has been going on for some time now and I felt we would never actually agree on the retirement vehicle until I brought up the Honda Element and making ours into a type of camping van as a modern version of the old VW Bus. This wound up being something we both could get involved with and accept. Pictured below is pretty much our exact plan--roof top tent and tail gate extension tent.

We've decided to buy a full time 4 wheel drive Element--and use it as the retirement travel/camping vehicle and for our full time only motor transport in geezer world. We will trade or sell our Prius and Matrix and rely on the recumbent bike and the Segway for non gasoline transport in town. I am also considering the purchase of a small covered utility trailer to tow behind us and carry our junk for camping, very small and very utility.
It's nice to have a plan --- purchase will probably be in 2011 pre-retirement to insure pay off by geezer world time. The camping element will also serve as an excellent Bug out Vehicle if necessary.

Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one.
E. B. White