Archive for August, 2011

Update on Irene Pt1

At this time in New Kent Virginia we are beginning to experience heavy rains (it has been raining all morning) but the wind is REALLY starting to pick up. We have lost our satellite tv signal just a few moments ago (rain drown out) and the dogs are not liking this…the trees are really starting to bend in the wind now (which is NOT a fun thing to watch). Keep in mind that I live out in the ‘woods’ and many of the trees are over 50 foot tall and many of them are the nasty pines that have already been damaged from ice and previous storms, I pray that any trees that go down go down away from my structures…

On another note: we do still have power..yeah! so far so good, bathtubs and wash machine are filled with water as I am positive we will eventually loose power as the worst of the storm is supposed to come through between 2pm and 10pm. A tornado warning was issued south/east of us earlier so I am sure that something wicked this way will come to us eventually too…

Last night I filled up zip lock baggies with water and put into the freezer as suggested by a guy on the Weather Channel…as soon as we loose power I am pulling out lunch meat and such to put into a cooler (as you can’t run the generator while its raining) and then will pull the frozen zip lock baggies out and put into the frig to keep things cold until tomorrow morning…its supposed to be beautiful out tomorrow 🙂

I learned something last night…my master bath tub doesn’t have a drain stopper…panic time, but I remembered picking up various drain stoppers when I first moved into my home for a utility sink…bingo…bath tub drain issue resolved…lesson learned here…sometimes the devil is in the details and having ‘extra’ ‘just in case’ things around the house might mean a difference down the road.

My 4 month old PitBull doesn’t like to go out to use the potty in the rain…extra paper towels and spray cleaner and air freshner is at the ready. While I am certain she could not eat for a day and survive, she still needs water. I am trying to get her to go out but so far no luck, she is verys stubborn and almost 45 pounds and hard to move when she doesn’t want to be moved…sigh…the things we learn as we go along I suppose…

I will be back as things permit…I have at the ready a laptop with broadband access and an tablet but those will only work as long as the cell phone towers stay up…

For those of you in Irene’s path this weekend…get prepared and stay safe while she passes!





Before Irene Musings

Well, it surely looks as though I am going find out just really prepared I am for SHFT. With Hurricane Irene less than 12hrs (at the time I write) from impacting my neck of the woods in Virginia (New Kent) I am just about done doing all that I can do besides playing the waiting game. Food, check. Water, check. Everything put away or tied down, check. Cars gassed, check. Fuel for the generator, check. Things for the kids to do (besides get on my nerve), check. Ebay mail all done and sent out, check. Emergency contacts set up with the family, check. Batteries, check. Dogs bathed, check (there is NO WAY I am going to sit locked up in house with the winds howling and rain pouring down with 3 stinky Pit Bulls, sorry). My pop up green house is packed with flying projectiles such as plant pots, chairs, garbage cans and the like. I tied it down even though it is securely staked and then found out I can zip up the darn door to it…oh well, nothing to do about that now. Personal protection is out and unlocked. Hmm, seems the only thing left to do at this time is get ice (I am trying to hold off until the last minute on that) and the gutters cleaned out. We are ‘ready’ (I think and am crossing my fingers!)

There are mandatory evacuations in place where floods happened when Isabel came through and I am seeing ‘strangers’ at the gas station and grocery store. Yesterday while at McDonald’s I saw a LOT of cars that had tags from New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts and some very unhappy looking people in those cars…I cannot imagine being forced to leave my vacation down in NagsHead only to travel home just in time to deal with the SAME stinking hurricane as soon as we got home…ugly…Yesterday while at the grocery store one last time to pick up some bananas and other odds and ends that I didn’t get at the beginning of the week (I have been working on this SHTF situation since I caught wind of it Monday…lesson to learn…trust your instincts!) I saw a woman with twins, about 8 months old and a 2 year old in tow…she told me her husband was out of town on business (first time all year) and of course it had to be the ONE weekend with a hurricane coming…it seemed to me she was trying hard to hold it together and stay focused.  The water was all but gone as yesterday morning at the grocery stores in my town and the day after the earthquake saw the water disappear from the ‘local’ Walmart’s. I am so grateful for my prepping lifestyle today…I won’t be out there with the horde’s who are just now waking up to reality…I have heard a lot of denial going on around my town and minimizing, this worries me. At the local gas station, the guy who owned it said he had just gotten gas in that day and it was already half-gone, ice was being delivered this morning as per the usual. Batteries are but gone around town too and I noticed aLOTof generators sitting in the back of pick-up trucks this morning when I went out. Traffic on the highway is heavy going towardsRichmond, but it seem down in the Hampton Roads Area it is snarled badly with people trying to get out at the last minute. That area is supposed to experience the full thrust of Irene, with the eye most likely passing over Norfolk…I pray they get out of harms way before it begins to rain, that area of Virginia floods like no one’s bees wax even on a good day.

My other half lost the keys to my truck yesterday…ran around like an idiot looking for them. Thank goodness I have two sets to everything otherwise I would have been SOL trying to finish up prepping yesterday. I did find the set he lost though, somehow they wound up in the freezer of the refrigerator..(don’t ask, I have no clue) I have learned that he not going to be of much help in this, he gets too wound up really, but he is good for the heavy duty lifting J I need to remember to get my hands on a prescription of some sort for him to take the edge off, or figure out some herbs or something…I am not looking forward to being locked in the house with him all wound up during the height of the storm…sigh…

We are starting to see the hurricane bands pass over now, though if I didn’t know it was a hurricane I wouldn’t think anything special was going on, just cloudy and extremely hot and humid out. The humming birds are still out and about, I suppose they are going to stay and sit it out, though I don’t see nor hear other types of birds…but the insects…woah! They are out in force, the bees are going nuts at the hummingbird feeders…I will be taking those down at the last minute tonight, and, call me silly, I did make up a gallon of sugar water for them for after the storm (yeah, I know, silly).

Oh and last night we had a storm pass through (like we needed that rain) and right before that blew through we had another aftershock from the earthquake on Monday….they say things happen in 3’s and I really don’t want to know what the ‘3rd’ is going to be at this point. As an odd thought…I having been working outside the past couple of days and haven’t seen tick one…wonder what is up with that, but the flies and mosquitoes are crazy.

I am sorry if I seem to be rambling…these are just snaps of what is going on in my neck of the woods and running through my head as I get ready for Hurricane Irene. I am trying to look at this as a dry run of ‘what may come’ as I know that things will get back to ‘normal’ sooner rather than later after Irene passes…I guess I will find out where I am good, where I need improvement and what I forgot…in otherwords my strengths and weaknesses in my preparedness plans…not to mention find out how those in my home deal with long term stress and fear. But I believe I am ready and good to go…I just hate the waiting and watching.

FYI just in case you are in the dark I reprinting a list of what you should have in your own home ‘just in case’. Of course this is just a basic list, and you should add or subtract depending upon your own personal situation.

I would like to add this note: their time frame is woefully inadequate…but a good place to start…personally I am more comfortable with a month’s supply ‘just in case’..when Isabel ripped throughVirginiaback in 2003 there were some place where they were without power for weeks…and many couldn’t even get out for a few days.

Be safe people…be safe…

Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days

Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel
— paper plates / plastic utensils

Blankets / Pillows, etc.

Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes

First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs

Special Items – for babies and the elderly

Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes

Flashlight / Batteries

Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio

Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set

Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods


Toys, Books and Games

Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.

Tools – keep a set with you during the storm

Vehicle fuel tanks filled

Pet care items
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
— muzzle and leash

SHTF- My Money

Been away (again) for a while, just absolutely unable to attend to this blog due to personal issues that created a really nice perfect storm in my own life, in other words the crap hit and came at me from so many directions…sigh….from kids to family to money to work to my health…it is all settling down for the most part now and my head doesn’t need to be where my hands are so much today so I thought I would start sharing…which, by the way is something that all of need to do to help each other through storms, through sharing our own experiences we can learn from and help each other…

First and foremost, and probably the biggest lesson…don’t ever put all your eggs in one basket and don’t believe for one minute that you are ‘safe’ and can just go around without a worry because ‘they are taking care of it’. As I learned the HARD WAY, nothing is sacred, nothing is safe (no matter they tell you!) and when it comes right down to it, protecting yourself against financial calamity is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY up to and including being paranoid about things. I will be honest, I was a slackered when it came to finances. I became comfort, and got busy doing other, ‘more important’ things. I let my vigilance drop (first mistake). I trusted the system to work (second mistake)…ha! I know better now…

 I work for myself, have several streams of income, but over the past few months as things got really busy for me I didn’t pay too much attention to my paypal account that I use on a regular basis. In short, I got hacked…someone stole my debit card number and well, let’s just say that I LEARNED the hard way.

Financial institutions are on top of things (for the most part, after all, they HATE loosing money worse than we do) and honestly, very quick to notice unusual activity and then call you. They block activity that they feel is not in line with your typical usage (which can absolutely irritating when it is you). HOWEVER, as I discovered, the financial thieves of today are getting ahead of the curve…Paypal denied a transaction, cancelled my card and somehow the thieves were still able to force a payment through (I will not bother describing the financial hell that ensued but suffice to say, I spent days closing things down and having to redo a lot of things to fix the problem).

Now, I had become comfortable and trusting and ignored my first impulse when I first became aware of the situation which was to close everything down and start all over to protect myself…but I didn’t listen to myself and well, SHTF happened and here I sit, 2 weeks out still unraveling the mess.

As a note, and something else I became aware of during this time, thieves are actually able to steal your debt card numbers right from your wallet! Yep, that is right people, there is technology out there that allows them to read your card without having to have the card in hand. After talking to friends of mine this has happened to at least 3 people I know in the past 6 months. Mental note to self (and you too) get a metal wallet to carry your cards in if you have to take them with you…this is the only way to stop the scanning and stealing of your number.

LESSON LEARNED: Pay attention to your gut! If your first impulse is to do something then do it. I saw something that seemed a little off a few days before these jerks got into full swing, but I didn’t think much about it. I ignored that ‘little voice’ because I was busy and hurting physically and just didn’t want to deal with another hassle that evening (I should listen to myself more often!)… I learned that I need to stop accumulating large amounts of money in just one place (such as my paypal account). Typically I don’t do this but I became lax (actually comfortable and very busy)…you cannot let your guard down, especially as things become progressively worse economically. In fact, as suggested by many, keeping cash on hand is wise in the event you have thieves steal your financial information. I tell you, going one week without $$ was hell and they didn’t even get all my money…I just couldn’t get to it myself!

 And what does this have to do with SHTF? Truly and honestly, for a time money/cash will still be the way we do business. But if banks close down (and don’t for a minute believe that to stop panic they wouldn’t close their doors!) or the Feds decide to kill the internet (which btw is how most financial transactions occur) then you are SOL. If you watch the news, pay attention and get ‘a feeling’, don’t hesitate to yank your money out or leave just enough to cover the automatic drafts that occur and pull the rest. You can always put it back in.

Also of note, as things get worse financially (and it will, you can count on that) you may find it harder to find a working ATM or that safety using one is getting harder. Figure out where the out-of-the-way ones are and use those. Safety first!

Also, keep records and copies of EVERYTHING having to do with your financial information in a secure location (or even better, 2 or 3 places, just in case!) This means, bank statements, pictures of debit cards, credit cards, blank checks, etc. You may have to ‘prove’ one day what was where and when.

 I would also like to bring to your attention the possibility that 401k’s and IRA’s may become nationalized to prop up the stock market. (This up and down is not over and the trend that I am seeing is just down). IF you can find a way to make your savings accounts ‘untouchable’…tangibles, private banking accounts, etc. Now this may seem a little paranoid (and maybe I am) but with QE3 getting ready to roll out (inflation/deflation) the downgrade in the US credit rating, the volatility of the market and little return percentage wise on most 401ks and IRA’s (they are all tied into the stock market) and the biggest buyers right now being the very people who issue the stocks…well, a little paranoia might be wise. I am not saying to run right out like a chicken little right this moment…just BE AWARE and ready to move if you have to. I don’t wish the end of the world as we know it, but I want to survive as I am sure you do too and making changes or just even having a plan could be the key to this survival.

Things are changing, including the availability of funds, fees, length of time it takes to get things done when it comes to money, etc. I have to wait a MONTH before I will receive another paypal debit card (excuse me?) and 3 weeks for a new bank debit card and checks… I had to wait until every transaction went through before I could even begin the process of filing for fraud protection and even after THAT I had to WAIT before I received my money back even though it was obvious it was fraud. You may find yourself in a position where time is of the essence so that you can survive a SHTF scenario…even a hurricane can create financial hell…so be on top of things please! Don’t wait, don’t not listen to your gut instinct…and ignore the party ‘feel good line’ (if you are being handed that then you really KNOW something really isn’t right).

 These are times when we have to pay attention and be ready to act on gut instinct to protect ourselves, not only physically but financially too. THEY ARE OUT THERE (and by ‘they’ I mean those who absolutely could care less about YOU and your well-being) just waiting for the right moment to strike and steal from you what you have worked hard for in order to take care of themselves or their own interests. Am I paranoid? Nope, not one bit, but I am just very aware now of the possibilities.

Rarely do we think about banks, accounts and such, we depend upon their security to protect us, but as I learned, even the best security can be circumvented, even their best efforts to protect you can fail. And trust me when I tell you, their interests come before YOURS. They really don’t care about you, that is a veneer that is fading fast as things all over the world turn upside down.  The big boys will protect themselves first and you are on the bottom of the food chain when it comes to money.

Protect yourself please, get a plan, make changes now, because this happened to me so quickly and escalated beyond my span of control so quickly that I sit here blogging still without much access to my money (which is driving me bats). Better to loose a little than a lot…better to have to get a money order and mail a payment than have to try and explain to those you owe money to what happened (they don’t care and trust me when I tell you that your mortgage company really doesn’t care what happened, evidence those poor people down in Joplin, MO whose homes were destroyed and still had to pay the mortgage on time). Better to be offensive than have to react. Be PREPARED!