Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What Would YOU do if Disaster Hits?

I have never been a "doomsayer". I pride myself in having the most positive outlook on life. But I am also very well educated, and I have always had an uncanny knack of being able to extrapolate current events to "see" what the likely result will be.

And what I see unnerves me.

I do not expect anyone to go against their beliefs just to follow my lead, but I strongly suspect that those who do take heed will be damned glad they did. And everyone else may very well suffer terribly.

Here is what I see coming - and why - as well as what steps I am taking to cover my ass-ets:

I can almost guarantee that within the next 5-7 years the entire population of this planet will suffer some sort of large-scale "disaster". Perhaps not an extinction event like that which got rid of the dinosaurs, but some world-wide suffering will occur. I make this claim based partly in these facts:

1) Two major, huge religions are beginning to clash. When people go to war with religious fervor, the result is always catastrophic. Whereas one group has already declared their intent, I see no way to avert this unless some other disaster strikes first. We can only hope...

2) There is the (slight) chance that "global warming" really will cause serious world-wide repercussions

3) Oil is selling at $100 per barrel. Oil supplies are also nearing exhaustion. Imagine the "Mad Max" world when oil supplies get so low that we cannot heat our homes, drive our vehicles, get products made or delivered to stores, and cannot even light our homes.

4) If any of the above should occur, (or any other great disaster) first there will be world-wide recession, followed by depression, followed by panic, street warfare, looting, international wars, famine and disease.

Of course, there are those who look through rose-colored glasses and believe that, no matter what happens, we will somehow be "rescued" by new advances, technology or ???? Maybe. But I strongly doubt that we could act quickly enough to avert the inevitable.

So, while I sincerely hope I am wrong, I believe it would only be prudent to prepare for the worst while I hope for the best. In that way, it would be hard for me to lose, either way.
I am taking (and in some cases I already have taken) the following steps:

A) I can afford to refinance my home, even if things stay "swell". If the proverbial crap hits the proverbial fan, my home will have no monetary value to speak of, anyway. So, I refinance to pull out equity and use the proceeds for viable preparations, as follows:

B) Purchase and store a three year supply of MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) for each member of my immediate family, to be doled out sparingly if needed. If there is an oil shortage, a food shortage is a certainty. If serious climate change occurs, a food shortage is assured. In fact, if any disaster hits on a global scale, there will be a shortage of food. No guesswork here.

C) Set aside a fair supply of ordinary medical supplies. If I were on life-sustaining medicine, I would try to keep a rotating 6 month supply on hand.

D) A generator, to generate electricity for at least a few days in the event of a loss of power. The generator could then be used to pump water from our well, to store ( I keep clean milk jugs stored in the basement, just in case). Without electricity, you cannot pump water from a well. The generator could also produce power to complete other necessary tasks before suffering total loss of power (like making a pot of coffee :o).

E) Extra blankets/sleeping bags, sweaters. Heat may be a problem in the event any catastrophy hits. A few winters ago, an ice storm knocked out power throughout our community for 11 days in the midst of winter. No power means no heat for most folks around here. Electricity is needed to run a furnace, heater, or even a pellet stove. Only those with woodstoves (or generators, with a supply of gas) had heat.

F) I have a woodstove and chimney sitting in a crate in my shed. If I need it, I can set it up in a couple of hours. I also have a buck saw, and log splitting tools. But I ain't bustin' my back unless I have to, so for now it stays in the shed.

G) Guns, ammo, fishing gear etc. Just in case I must supplement the MRE's to make them last longer - or in the event I am forced to defend what I have against those who did not prepare. Desperate people whose families are dying will stop at nothing to save their loved ones.

H) "Heirloom" seed. Seed sold in stores are hybrids. If you try using the seed from the plant that is grown from hybrid seed, that seed will not produce anything edible. If you want to be able to grow new crops each year from seed produced the previous year, you must start with heirloom seeds. I purchase mine online. Each year I grow just enough crop to harvest seed for the next year (many seeds do not store well). Each year I replenish my seeds. Then, if I need to, I can grow a huge garden.

OK, so I have made reasonable preparations. And here is the beauty of it all:
If the crap hits the fan, I am at least somewhat prepared to survive. And if only a small disaster hits (like that ice storm), my family can sit back, relax, and be comfortable. And if nothing at all happens, I can give away all the MRE's to the needy, just before they expire (10 years) and write it off on my taxes. Meanwhile, the interest on the refi is tax deductible, I have a generator for whenever the power goes out, but best of all - I don't have to worry so much about disasters. I sleep better, knowing I am protecting my family.

But one thing is absolutely, positively certain - eventually, disaster WILL come. It always has, throughout history. It will continue to do so.

1/3 of the population of Europe died in the "Black Plague" in the middle ages. More than 6 million people died from the Spanish Flu in 1917-1918. Millions suffered in the "Dust Bowl" and depression of the '30's.

Disasters are a necessary part of life. And each of us has a choice - prepare, or don't.

The only question is EXACTLY what will trigger the disaster, and WHEN will it occur. My guess is the trigger will be oil and war, combined, which will trigger disease and famine. And my guess is this will occur within 5-7 years.

Now, if I am right, I win. And if I am wrong, I win. What about you?

Monday, November 12, 2007

When to Invest (or Not) In Stocks

There are a lot of aspects to investing that are simply unpredictable. But there is one, little-known statistic that can indicate if it is or is not a good time to invest in the stock market.

Over the last 130 years of the stock market, one thing has remained constant: if the rate of inflation is between 1-3%, the stock market generally returns about 13% per year. In years where inflation rises above 3%, the market usually returns an average of under 3%.

So, keep an eye on the job Bernanke (the Federal Reserve) does. If he continues to keep inflation in check, it's a good time to pump the market. But watch closely - it can change quickly.

Quitting Smoking - Help From the Internet

Lord knows it's hard to quit any habit, but smoking has got to be among the most difficult. And while there are any number of helpful things you can do - the patch, hypnosis, medication etc., it often is not quite enough.

And the Web comes to the rescue. Quitters can now get help in kicking the habit, 24/7 on the Internet. You can find expert advice from the chat community at, which includes a directory of local support programs and other tools, and a free, step-by-step quitting program at

Hey, whatever helps ya quit!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Living With COPD

One of the most devastating, incurable diseases known to Man, COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is one of the leading causes of death in America today. Those of us who suffer from it are constantly looking for ways to cope, and live longer - preferably with quality of life.

There are drugs that can temporarily help you breathe, but their effects are temporary, and the side effects can be serious. But if we cannot count on the drug companies, where can we turn?

We can turn to nature and common sense. Sure, I realize that some of you will reject "natural" methodology, but I can tell you from personal experience that it helps, better than anything else out there.

As most people who have COPD know, once diagnosed with mild emphysema, for example, doctors tend to give us less than 15 years, even in the best of conditions (non-smoker etc.). Well, I was diagnosed with emphysema and chronic bronchitis 12 years ago, and I continued smoking 2 packs a day for the next 7 years. I should be as dead as dead gets! But I am far from it.

I can still do physical work, and work out on my Bowflex and other gym equipment daily. I can walk, run and have all the sex my spouse will permit :o) Although I do get winded easily, it is no more so than 12 years ago. And I do not need to walk around while hooked to an oxygen tank!

What is the secret?

All I can tell you is what I personally do, and why I believe it is responsible for my "longevity". So, here goes.

1) I eat a well-rounded diet, not high in carbohydrates. Plenty of protein. I eat normal amounts of red meat, but I insist that all my foods - meat included - is all natural. No hormones, antibiotics or preservatives (other than raw salt). Since Man has canine teeth, that is enough scientific evidence for me to realize we are supposed to eat some meat.

2) My diet is 7/15/28. That's 7 grams of healthy, natural fats (like real butter, cold-pressed olive oil etc.) to every 15 grams of protein, for every 28 grams of carbohydrates. I do NOT eat three big meals a day. Instead, I eat 6 small, BALANCED meals a day. (I make a meal, divide it by two, eat one and save the rest for a snack between). The body can only use just so much fuel at a time. What it cannot use right away will either be put on the waist and hips, or expelled. Also, three big meals, followed by a few hours of fasting in between will only cause your blood sugar to "roller coaster", which can contribute to type 2 diabetes.

3) I take probiotics daily. The American lifestyle and environment reduces the amount of good bacteria that our bodies require in order to protect us. And the prolific use of antibiotics - both as medicine, and that which is fed to food animals - totally eliminate the good flora necessary for health. A good probiotic helps keep our system running smoothly. As a side note, since I began taking probiotic supplements daily, the acid reflux I have had almost constantly for nearly two years simply vanished. I cannot say probiotics "fixed" the reflux problem, but it is gone.

4) I work out, but not "hard". I simply "tone up" with mild exercising twice each day, for at least 30 minutes each set. One set is in my gym. The other set consists of walking for half an hour - not slowly, but at a fairly brisk pace. I prefer walking outside, but in bad weather I use the elliptical machine in my gym.

5) By the way - I did quit smoking, 5 years, 2 months and 13 days ago. Been trying for many years, unsuccessfully. Tried the patches, gum, hypnosis - you name it. Nothing worked. Then one night as I was falling asleep, I prayed for help. The next morning I had no desire for a cigarette, and have not had a single craving ever since. Honest to God, pardon the pun. I'm not saying that my "prayer was answered". I'm only saying I have not smoked anything since.

6) This is, I think, the "crowning touch" of my self-imposed therapy. It's called EWOT, which stands for Exercise With Oxygen Therapy. No, I do not need an oxy tank stuck to my face. But I did considerable research that led me to this. First, I will explain the "what", and then go on to the "why".

I purchased a small, refurbished oxygen generated off the Internet (about $400-$600). Hospitals use them. They are reasonably portable, weighing only a few pounds. When I exercise - MILDLY - I hook the oxy generator to an oxy tube, and place the tube in my nostrils, just like in the hospital. Then I do mild exercise (on the elliptical walker) for 15 minutes while on oxygen. That's all there is to it.

Here is the "why". Science tells us that our atmosphere has nearly 50% less oxygen in it as it did 100 years ago. And 100 years ago, the atmosphere was "naturally perfect" for sustaining human life. Now that there is so much less oxygen in the air we breathe, you might have noticed a dramatic upsurge in people with asthma and COPD. It has more than quintupled since the 1950's.

In short, NO ONE is getting enough oxygen. Not you. Not your kids. No one. And the body requires a certain amount of oxygen in the blood in order to keep us healthy.

For ordinarily "healthy" folks, using EWOT for 15 minutes once per month can make a dramatic difference in overall health - and even mood. But for someone with COPD, it is more useful to use EWOT 1-3 times per week.

When oxygen is introduced without mild exercise, it simply goes into the lungs, and into the blood, gets used quickly, then is gone. But when you introduce mild exercise for 15 minutes while on oxygen, the oxygen gets "pushed" out of the blood and into the cells, themselves. This reduces the creation of lactate (which "tires" muscles), and, since cancer cells cannot live in an oxygen-rich environment, it could conceivably aid in fighting or preventing cancer, although that has not been established.

But most important, EWOT infuses oxygen into the cells of the lungs, which may make them stronger. Again, the jury is still out, but I can state unequivically that EWOT has made a big, positive difference in my life. If nothing else, the reduction of lactate while exercising means I can exercise longer - and that is a good thing!

So, folks - take it for what it's worth to you. But I figure I have at least another 15 years left (I'm 60 now). And that is more than a 45-year smoker has any right to expect, especially when you realize I have already had emphysema for over 12 years!