Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What to Do While the Collapse Comes


Back in the early 70’s, when our generation felt like we were on the cusp of a wonderful transition and our parents felt like The End Was Near, a great little book was printed entitled, “What to Do Until the Messiah Comes.” It was all about massage. Touching, actually. It extolled the virtues and benefits of touching each other. If we look at primates and other animals, they do it all the time. Preening, and cleaning, and cuddling together when it gets cold or scary. That’s what we do to comfort and to nurture and take care of each other. Back in “the day” friends used to smoke a bowl, listen to tunes, dance, and give each other back rubs all the time. It was free and it felt really good.

Since then, our culture has turned to more materialistic and expensive pursuits that require great investments in gas guzzling toys and gear and such, all of which are put on credit cards to enrich the rich. But, I have a feeling that, with any luck, we are going to be returning to those things that we can do for little or no money, and that feel better anyway. To that end, I would advise to put some attention into your sense of touch. Notice if your awareness extends through your fingertips. Don’t be one of those people whose touch seems to suck the energy out of you, rather than enhance it. Touching should not be a mechanical exercise of just moving muscles around. It is best when you have a sense that energy is flowing from you and through you, and the point of contact is where the energies meld together and healing and affection are transferred. In these anxious times, this is a good thing to do. It’s always been a good thing to do, and the practice is fun.

We can look to traditional cultures for things that help to sustain us that don’t rely on money. Music. A good music collection is nice. But, what if the electricity goes out? Are you going to sit there in silence in the dark? No good. Acoustic and percussion instruments, like drums, guitars, tambourines, pianos, violins, and such are wonderful ways to entertain each other and bond with others. Or, just plain singing in a choir together. Or making your own didgeridoo, and playing it for a group (THAT takes some practice because you have to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth at the same time to keep a sustained tone going.) Anyway, the point is that in addition to stocking up on rice and beans and batteries, cook stoves, bottled water, etc. etc. some effort should be made to prepare for alternative things to do that don’t require electricity or money, and also enhance friendships and cultivate community. Doing this around a campfire or in front of a fireplace or wood stove is very pleasurable.

Skills that are going to be needed to get back to localized production of food and goods are going to have to be geared up in a hurry. UPS just delivered a nifty solar re-chargeable lantern to beat back the dark, so I can read at night during electrical outages. We should be stocking up on “how to” books on everything from animal husbandry to vegetable storing and water treatment and all points in between. No one person can do it all. But, we can organize groups for teach-ins of different subjects and then form collectives to get things done. Some can organize a bakery, some make cheese, some re-load ammo, do metal work, carpentry, ceramics, sew clothing or make shoes. If or when the dollar dies, we can use those things that we produce to barter and trade with each other. We can look back to the pre-industrial skills that kept a small town going for a start. When the school buses don’t have the gas to transport hundreds of children over great areas, neighborhood schools are going to have to be developed. Stand-in grandmas and grandpas will be needed to take care of young ones whose biological grandparents are far away. Trading posts and farmer’s markets will need to be organized, along with firewood collection centers, and community tool banks, greenhouses and gardens.

Then, we can look towards those more modern innovations that hopefully, will make things easier - like windmills, futuristic water wheels, and all sorts of creative energy-generating innovations. Most of these things, when done on a grand or massive scale, will not be sustainable. They will be a huge waste of resources and provide very little benefit because they’ll use up so much oil and other components to build and maintain and infrastructure for them. But, smaller, less expensive units for individual households or clusters of neighborhoods will probably be able to be built that could provide very efficient and sustainable energy-generating alternatives, depending on the resources in their area.

All this is going to take co-operation. To survive you need food and water. But, to live and be safe, you need community. Those social exercises of touch, dance, music, and group activities are just as or maybe even more crucial to your well-being than a cache of food or guns and ammo.

The time to get going on all this is, of course, yesterday. The Time Monks, cliff and igor, from Half-past Human (quoted extensively on George Ure’s Urban Survival) are reporting that the linguistics on the internet project a large collapse event next week – October 7, to be exact. They say that this may be our last “normal” week. There are dire predictions from all corners for the rest of this year through all of next year – and unto 2012. Whether we are looking at extinction or transformation, whatever it is, it’s not going to be dull. From eathquakes and a massive tsunami in the Pacific Northwest, to winds and flooding, a bitterly cold winter, a failure of the electrical grid, gas shortages, bee colony collapse, you name it, we gotta whole lotta shakin’ going on. And, that doesn’t touch the elections, financial collapse, martial law, and whatever else TPTB have in mind. If we focus exclusively on the information on the lamestream media as well as the internet this week and for the foreseeable future, it’s likely to give us an unstoppable nose-bleed. So, I thought it might be in order to keep at least one of our eyes on what we want to create, not just what we are going to lose.

All of this makes a massage sound even better right now, doesn’t it? Or, baking a nice pie, singing a song, knitting a pair of slippers, quilting a baby blanket.… the point is, I guess, that we need to unhook from the television zombie matrix and get real and get going. Roll it around in your mind for awhile. Figure out what feels best to you, then do it. One step at a time. But, at least it will be your step, not a step that someone else dictated or frightened you into.


As always, this post is just to get the conversation going. We need to hear your ideas on what to do while the collapse comes…and whatever else you've got on your mind.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


from Murph

Ok, I’ve just got to talk about what I am reading concerning the economy. My disclaimer is that I am not an expert in economics, and have only been indulging in it for the last 8 years or so, with the emphasis in the last 4 years.

About 8 years ago, I bought a course in investing in the stock market that depended on what is called technical trading. It was a reasonably expensive course at the time. I carefully went through the course, put up a $1000 dollars which was all I was willing to try with unless I made money from it, figuring I could recoup at least 50% of it if it didn’t work. I opened an online brokerage account and went about the rather lengthy and time consuming analysis of what to buy according to the stock charts. I bought a small amount of shares in 5 different companies, including one penny stock. Within 30 days, two of them had dropped below the purchase price, way below. I had literally lost $400 of the original $1000. I held onto those 5 stocks for 3 years, watching them steadily erode to the $500 level I had set for myself. In the third year, two of the stocks had come back up somewhat, interestingly; one of them was gold mining operation. I quickly dumped them all for a return of $600 or so minus the brokerage fees. So I ended up over three years losing $400+ of the original $1000. At the same time I gambled the $1000, I was employed with a company that had a 401K plan. I dutifully got into that game and started to track the choices I had with the funds for where to put my meager amount of money. There were about a dozen different funds to choose from. I studied the charts, and tracked the changes, read analyses of the funds and moved money around accordingly, sometimes once a week. We had some guy come to the company and talk about how to invest in the mutual funds offered by the 401K. As usual, he maintained that you must be in for the long haul and not switch funds around, that you would lose money that way. Well, at the end of 4 years of that, I was the only one in the shop that had a modest increase in my 401K funds, the rest of the shop was losing money hand over fist. They all asked me how I did it and I told them that I was constantly moving funds around into different areas according to the returns data I was getting. They asked for examples and I told them exactly what I was doing. Only one guy tried my ideas on it and he saved himself over $3000 loss in one weekend. But, I had such a small amount of money in the fund my returns were also small, but they were positive.

I started, at that time, reading more about how the markets worked and very quickly figured out that the markets are heavily manipulated and the small investor is very lucky to make anything from an independent investment. So, in 2002 I liquidated every one of my paper investments. Made some on the 401K, lost some on stock market. Plus, it took me a year to recover the money taken out by the 401K that was put into federal taxes that I had fully refunded minus the bookkeepers filing fee. I figure I broke even, not counting inflation.

Which brings us to the last couple of years, and particularly the present. I can’t describe the disappointment I hear from people in our area that I have talked to that had depended on 401K’s and IRA’s and stock investments for their retirement. Some of them are looking for work now, any work, to save their house that they bought on mortgage to retire in. They are truly expressing to me the desperation they are feeling since all their income sources are just flat out drying up. For multiple reasons, their really beautiful $300,000 or more place can’t be sold at all, and its evaluation keeps eroding. To top it off, they live way outside the area where they can buy food and supplies and most of them have these gas hog big pickups and SUV’s. The poker table they sat at has not treated them well in the long run. For a number of years, they felt they were winning at the table and felt wealthy. Oh, and by the way, most of them are/were Republican supporters.

Got to say that I am very thankful for the decisions Freeacre and I have made around this issue. We are driving old vehicles, our property is owned free and clear except for taxes and the only debt we have between us is my school loans and there is no way I can make payments on that. We think we have put ourselves in the best position we could with the meager resources we had available for when the shit storm hits.

The point of all this digression is that for years now, trying to get money with paper assets has made a few people actually quite wealthy and a whole bunch that felt wealthy. It appears to me that it was a crap shoot from the very beginning and the players have now been thinned considerably. It was a national casino with the odds stacked against you from the beginning. It has been the largest transfer of wealth to the upper 10% of the population in the recorded history of mankind.

And now, with all that wealth disappearing except for about 5% of the population, the citizens are being asked to pay for the loses for the bad decisions of those that wanted money for doing nothing productive, that is, investing in paper. Unless of course, you want to place paper shuffling in the category of productive output. The really sick part is they are getting it, every damned bit of what they want and the rest of us are stuck with the bill, about 40 trillion dollars worth from the latest estimates I have read on the top end. The lowest estimate I have seen is a total of 5 trillion dollars. A very few of the congress critters we can support. Watch these two videos, excellent.


I am sure that the readers of this blog are reading about the deal with Paulson becoming financial dictator of the U.S. and all it implies. This all by itself is a reinforcement of a doom and gloom attitude. Notice the tactics he used, scaring the hell out of congress critters that haven’t the sense to quite dumping money down a rat hole. The whole lot of them need to leave the poker table and let some competent gamblers in. The very people that have created this financial Armageddon, now want to control the whole shebang. I do wonder if this will bring on the revolt and a revolution. Of course that would also bring on martial law.

Now the discussion revolves around where this money is going to come from. The government is broke, deep in debt and the tax base is eroding because people aren’t working, and if they are, at lower levels of pay. Bush has largely excluded the taxes from the top income people with the expectation that the worn out trickle down economy actually works. The interest on the national debt is greater than the amount of tax dollars coming in. So, to keep things rolling, the government is borrowing from foreign investors at the rate of 2 billion dollars PER DAY.

Currently, the stock market is going down, precious metals are going up, the dollar is sinking and oil is increasing in price. I expect to see fluctuations in this, but maybe not. And, all of this is going on with the infusion of money to prop everything up by rolling out the printing presses, which will ultimately devalue the dollar even further. Our owners are bending us over while they present royal flushes. .

So where is the money going to come from? It’s called a printing press. So, to pay for all these bailouts, they print money and sell government securities to the overseas investors. Have you heard that they also want to bail out foreign banks that have interests in this country? Talk is circulating about what to do about this situation. More

government oversight and regulation is being bandied about. Cripes, it was the government and the Federal Reserve that caused this mess, can they really cure it without a complete restructuring of the complete financial system? Oh hell yes, let’s just socialize everyone and everything that is in trouble. The big boys just love it when they get the profits when times are good and socialize the losses when times are not so good. Notice how far (to what is called the left) the republicans have moved? We have become an actual economically socialized state, which we have been supposedly fighting against for the last 100 years. Why should we become socialistic? Looks to me that the lack of cheap energy has spurred it on, plus the absolute corruption and greed that permeates our whole society and government. And how did these suckers get into power? We gave it to them every election cycle since before the civil war. We encouraged the great poker game in the economic realm of society. Now the losses are piling up and the game is going to have to fold and the winners get to walk away scott free. Talk about social Darwinism! And by the way, take a look at this information:

http://www.oftwominds.com/blog.html concerning this deal with Paulson.

Am I angry about all of this? Hell yes! Problem is, that means I have to carry around anger about myself too since I participated and voted, and I would also have to be angry at another 300 million or so other people also for doing the same. Appears to me that is not a very productive position to maintain. So what I have left is to admit my stupidity and lack of information and get ready for the consequences of this shit storm. Sure hope you all are doing the same. Aho.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Circling the Porcelain Bowl


As thousands of support staff at financial institutions do the “plant walk” out the door - their desk plants, personal photos, and granola bars loaded into cardboard boxes; their bosses, the Big Boyz, just got over like the Fat Rats they are. “Move over, Jackson, “ they’ll say to their buddies in the Business Class airline section. “I want to get a look at the skyline of Abu Dubai.” Their briefcases bursting with cash, the bloated beneficiaries of the most recent governmental largess, are swilling Champaign and heading to financial paradises. Rewarded, as it were, for their final urber-swindle that removed the last assets of the former middle class and their children for the foreseeable future, these pirates are retiring to their off shore condos with their hundreds of millions of dollars in “bonuses.”It could also be considered “loot.”

We’ve been robbed.

But, then, what else is new? They’ve been milking us like a vast herd of dairy cattle for years as productive jobs were outsourced and we were directed to the Debt table. Take a look now at the tent cities springing up all over the country. It looks like a feed lot, doesn’t it?

Really, Google “tent cities” and take a look at the displaced people living on the outskirts of towns after they have lost their homes and moved to places where they could find no work, like Reno or Fresno. These people are not given a “golden parachute.” They have been given an anchor and tossed overboard.

Gee, what happened to all that harkening back to their working class roots that we heard about non-stop during the conventions? Wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that we were told how in touch the democrats and even the republicans are with their history of the noble working class and how they constitute the backbone of all that is good and productive in our society? Did they convene a special session of the congress to get the homeless out of the rain? Uh, no….

Has anyone suggested that now that they own millions of homes from the Fanny and Freddie take-over, they could arrange to house the homeless and hire them to look after the properties? Maybe make a “rent to own” deal? Uh, no…

No, instead we are taking out a half a trillion dollar loan that is impossible to re-pay and putting up real estate and infra-structure as collateral to Saudi Arabian sheiks and Chinese moguls. And, no doubt, the financiers just made a commission on this final transaction as well. BRILLIANT!

The consequences of a well-deserved financial collapse of the Blue Chip corporations are too hideous to contemplate - the privileged would have to live maybe close to something like we do. The bailout saves them from having to be productive. It saves them from having to act like a responsible human being or to suffer any consequences for their crimes against their country.

What would it look like if the bovine civilian herd awakened from their television, media, and pharmaceutically induced stupors and started to express their dissatisfaction with the financiers and the investment class?

A vote of “no confidence” to our elected representatives who have relentlessly driven us to the economic slaughterhouse would be in order, for openers. A “Vote for No Incumbents” drive, for instance. Memo to our Senators and Congressmen :” YOU eat those toxic derivatives – don’t jam them down MY throat!!”. I’ve already written to my elected brain trust. I hope you have as well.

Humm….. random acts of rebellion and resistance to tyranny and debt servitude to our owners and financial barons would be emotionally satisfying if nothing else.

Of course, to speculate on anything more tangible than toilet papering the front lawn of your local banker or stockbrokerage firm as a way to express dissatisfaction is probably grounds for rendition to Gitmo… so I will refrain from exercising my former right to free speech.

Anyway, it is shaping up as though the predictions of tension building, financial collapse, and rebellion are all manifesting more or less on schedule. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned to see if the dollar tanks after the election, or even if there will actually be an election. Perhaps it will all be swept away in the wake of some disastrous event that obscures the looting going on by turning our attention to something worse. There seems to be no moral depth to which these miscreants won’t sink.

My advise to getting through these difficult days is to strike a balance between looking outward at these disturbing events, and looking within and closer by where we can manifest our own peaceful place. Pet your dog. Make some pie. Let’s assume that we all chose this time to be born because we knew it was going to be so amazing. And, it is!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


The Fall


Usually this is my favorite time of year. The gardening is coming to a close. We lost many pole beans, green peppers, and the summer squash to an unexpected frost one August night, despite our efforts. But, we still managed to blanch and freeze quite a lot of vegetables. We have bags and bags of frozen chard, snow peas, kale, carrots, beets, and green beans. Pretty soon, we’ll purchase big winter squashes from the Farmer’s Market. We’ll steam them, mash them up, and freeze those, too. It should last us most of the winter.

Another good thing, I think, is that I was able to write a series of columns about gardening in central Oregon that I augmented with pictures in our local newspaper. I am hoping that these stories about local food production as a hedge against inflation will raise the consciousness of the locals to begin to localize food production. The local garden society made a visit, and they were able to get a look at the garden and the “anarchist” free range chickens as well. I hope it will have a ripple effect. I don’t expect that many of them will be spray painting “Hen Power,” “Expect Resistance,” and “Screw Monsanto,” on the walls of their chicken coops (like we have), however…

But change in food production can come none too soon. The hurricanes and inflation of food prices, together with shortages of gasoline sure to be coming will put a bite on most of us this fall and winter. We can pretty much count on that.

Who knows what else will be coming. Potentially, we are looking at global meltdown of the economy, possible wars escalating in Pakistan, Iran, Georgia, or God knows what. From the fringes, we are warned of possible space-time distortions, alien spaceship manifestations, plagues, “secrets revealed” regarding the military and/or black ops programs, corruption, and on and on.

Then, there is this season’s gruesome election. It is getting so grotesque that I can barely focus on it without feeling sick. The whole process seems more and more about as enjoyable as a series of chemotherapy treatments. By the time I get to fill out my ballot, I will probably be bald.

By Thanksgiving, I guess we will be lucky if we can just be grateful that the lights are still on and we still have the internet and each other.

Everybody now says that they want “change.” But, very little real change is being offered. We are beginning to see many different alternative ways to keep our cars on the road. But the cars would still be on the road. People are clamoring to close the borders. But, I don’t see anyone mobilizing brigades of people to take their place in the fields or the landscape business, meat-packing plants, or housekeeping departments and whatnot. Neither candidate is suggesting that we stop depending on the sales of military weaponry and credit card debt to prop up our economy. No one talks about closing some of the 170 or so military bases that we man all over the world. We might pull back from Iraq, only to move the troops into Afghanistan.

I don’t hear much of an outcry against the brutal police state that is taking over in our country. The only person that incarcerated more prisoners than us was Stalin. The right to redress grievances and the right to peacefully assemble in order to protest against tyranny is what this country was founded upon. And yet, objections to the war and the government policies that harm the citizenry are met with paramilitary force and accusations of terrorism. Our right to privacy is compromised every day by new and better tactics of electronic surveillance and invasive marketing and tracking techniques. Unlawful searches, tasering, and police brutality of every sort are authorized and subsidized by “Homeland Security.”

Unspeakable atrocities are being committed by hideous new weapons that can melt a whole bus loaded with people and shrink their bodies down to the size of a large roast. Pain rays that burn you from the inside out, others that put incapacitating thoughts and fears into your brain with no defense possible… all this to control a civilian population that isn’t even armed with one helicopter? And, do you hear any debate about the ethics of any of this or its effects on our soldiers, or the blow-back we can expect from the world? No, just an “unexplainable” rise in suicides and PTS disorder among our troops.

To counter this waking nightmare I try to think that the Universe actually does know what it is doing. The Fall leads to Winter, and the Winter leads to Spring. Eventually, we will plant new seeds and harvest another crop.

The Murph and I are in the process of watching a series on John Adams that we rented which portrays the thoughts and the people and the forces that led to the American Revolution. Those sure were simpler times. But one thing remains the same: freedom is still a concept that people will fight and die for. And, hope seems to be as natural as sunshine or rain.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hard Work, Sacrifice, Fear & Loathing at the Conventions


It’s the middle of the night. I should be asleep. But I woke up from a dream in which I think I was Sarah Palin, both of my girls had gotten pregnant on purpose to express their disdain for me, and we were all being pursued by reporters or bad guys or something. Aaargh. I must be going crazy.

So, this is what our political process has come to. The End Game. Americans driven mad by the matrix of corporate media, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Evangelists, the Liberals, the Conservatives, the Right to Lifers, the Women’s Libbers, the Rednecks, the Elites, the Evil, the Spiritual, the Rich and the Poor, the Veterans, the Hyphenated-Americans, all living simultaneously on the same continent, but in their own very disconnected little worlds.

I watched last week as the Dems cranked out every progressive story and slogan on how they were all working class heroes who had pulled themselves up from their bootstraps and risen to the top by a Love of Country and our Fellow Man. Dusting off the nearly forgotten unions, their love of liberty, respect for hard work, sympathy for the old, the sick, the poor, and, above all, the single moms and dads, we are just overcome by how virtuous they all are. What vision, what grace, what a way to run a railroad! And, after years of abuse by the Bush administration, they are going to unite us all and build a better world, that really goes after the real terrorists, not the fake ones - the ones in Afghanistan and Georgia, not the ones in Iraq. This time we can float off to war with grace and intelligence and diversity and bring all our fractured, but loving families with us.

Well, it was inspiring. Seventy or eighty thousand people cheering Obama in Mile High Stadium, having flashbacks on the Rev. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech - what could possibly top that? Stick a fork in the Republicans – they are DONE!!

Then, McBush bumbles along and picks Sarah Palin as his running mate. Forget all that brother and sisterhood bullshit. Now we got some serious gossip and scandal to get the juices flowing in the Born Agains and the Giuliani 911 fear-mongering swine. Sweet Jesus, what a match! Now they got something they can FORGIVE and UNDERSTAND. They don’t need no stinking science books to tell them troubling crap. Hell no! They are just as working class as the Dems, and they are white! White people serving their God and their Government, looking all squeaky clean and ready to rise to the top like the cream of the crop that they know that they all are. Now they can point and laugh at those pointy-headed (or nappy-headed) Dems who think about shit like climate change and want to negotiate with the Evil Ones Who Hate US for our Freedoms. It’s all about “sacrifice” and “service” and “family” and “feistiness.” Quote Palin, “…what should be do, read them their rights? – Hahahahaha!”

Funny, isn’t it? During the conventions, suddenly there is a viable working class from which everybody has risen. Up till now, I thought it was all about Yuppies and the Financial Investment Class. ..Wall Street, Central Banks, Halliburton, Blackwater, Pharmaceutical Companies, Sovereign Funds, Skull and Bones, Microsoft, General Motors, McDonald-Douglas, IBM, Dow Chemical, Livermore Labs, the Ponds Institute. Hummm… Where’d they all go? Tune in after the election – they’ll be back.

Oh, and the news gatekeepers are a world unto their own. They chose what to focus on and how to interpret it. They keep it all manageable for us, so we don’t have to correlate or compare or analyze anything for ourselves. It all fits so neatly into Prime Time and has brought in SO MUCH advertising revenue. It’s a true WIN-WIN. They are presenting the essence of change without having to actually change anything. BRILLIANT!

Meanwhile, fifteen thousand people gathering in Minneapolis/St. Paul for a counter convention calling for a revolution that would end imperialism, stop the war, do away with the Federal Reserve, the “War on Drugs,” bring our troops home, and revive Civil Liberties, but the media didn’t cover it. Wrong story line. That would be a REAL change. Forget it. Little Old Code Pink ladies were slammed to the ground by storm troopers. Reporters were hand-cuffed, maced, and jailed. At least I think they were. I can’t be sure because it wasn’t reported on the “news,” so it doesn’t count.

Tomorrow McNutcase will accept the nomination of the recently invigorated Republican Party, Carl Rove will be celebrating some sick ritual one can only guess at, and the real dog-fight will begin. The sun is coming up… even under the rosy hue, things are not looking good.