Sunday, May 24, 2020

Digital Life or Digital Nightmare?

Most people know they are being tracked in a multitude of ways every day and I guess, like the frog in the boiling pot of water, the tracking systems have been developed so incrementally that most people don't even think twice about how much everything they do can be reviewed, analyzed, and even reached out and "grabbed" at the whim of the powers that be.  Here are some things to consider:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

50+ Items That Sold Out During the Pandemic

There may or may not be a second wave of the pandemic in the fall.  If you are wondering what to stockpile (stock up on slowly, not hoard all at once), here is a list of items that sold out at various times during the current pandemic...

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Paper towels
  3. Kleenex
  4. Face masks
  5. Hand sanitizer
  6. Medical gloves
  7. Lysol/Lysol wipes
  8. Baby wipes
  9. Wet Wipes/Handi Wipes
  10. Commercial sanitizers
  11. Laundry detergent
  12. Bleach/ammonia/cleaning products
  13. Rubbing alcohol/alcohol wipes
  14. Vitamins (particularly C and D)
  15. Rice
  16. Flour
  17. Canned beans
  18. Canned soup
  19. Dried beans
  20. Spam/canned meats
  21. Peanut butter
  22. Chicken/beef stock
  23. Baking soda/baking powder
  24. Pasta
  25. Tylenol/Aspirin
  26. Thera Flu/Nyquil
  27. Thermometers
  28. Yeast
  29. Bicycles
  30. Sewing machines
  31. Cloth/sewing supplies (elastic, needles, etc)
  32. Hair trimmers
  33. Hair dye (briefly)
  34. Cheaper end laptops and tablets
  35. Freezers
  36. Webcams/microphones/web conferencing equipment
  37. Jigsaw puzzles/games
  38. Bottled water
  39. Water filters/Brita
  40. Bidets
  41. Meat (later in the pandemic when meat factory workers became ill)
  42. Video game systems (Switch, PS4)
  43. Medications (like when hydrochloroquine was touted as a wonder drug and people scrambled to buy it)
  44. Eggs (occasional shortages)
  45. Fresh produce (occasional shortages)
  46. Food products from Asia (these were hit or miss with noodles being sold out, coconut products occasionally unavailable, etc)
  47. Freeze dried food (Mountain House had to temporarily shut down to catch up with demand)
  48. Arts and craft supplies
  49. Bandannas
  50. Lounge wear
I'll add more items here as they become an issue...
  • Canning jars and supplies

Monday, May 18, 2020

100 Self-Sufficiency Skills

You probably have plenty of time these days to learn more ways to be self reliant, not to mention the impetus to do so in light of our current pandemic situation.  Here are some skills to learn:
  1. Cooking
  2. Baking 
  3. How to make bread starting only with wheat berries (this includes making your own yeast)
  4. Food preservation (canning, drying, pickling, smoking, etc)
  5. How to make your own power (simple solar set ups are a good start)
  6. Sewing and mending
  7. Shooting and firearm skills
  8. Basic plumbing skills
  9. Basic carpentry skills
  10. Basic electrician skills
  11. Basic home maintenance and appliance repair
  12. Orienteering and land navigation skills
  13. Gardening/composting/seed saving
  14. Home healthcare skills
  15. First aid/CPR/AED use/advanced first aid
  16. How to ride and maintain a bicycle
  17. How to walk long distances
  18. Self care (hair cutting, manicure, foot care, skin care, etc)
  19. Foraging
  20. Water sourcing and purifying
  21. Stealth travel skills
  22. Outdoor survival skills (camping, backpacking, overland travel, etc)
  23. Hunting
  24. Fishing
  25. Animal husbandry
  26. Butchering/tanning
  27. Bartering
  28. How to live without electricity
  29. Alternate communication skills (ie: HAM radio)
  30. Wine making/beer making
  31. Growing and using edible and medicinal herbs
  32. Soap making
  33. Washing and drying clothes by hand
  34. Cheese making
  35. Beekeeping
  36. Candle making
  37. How to make furniture
  38. How to stockpile, rotate, and use food stores
  39. Personal self defense skills (Krav Maga, karate, etc)
  40. Home safety and security
  41. Developing multiple income sources
  42. How to live within your means
  43. Vehicle maintenance skills
  44. Weaving/knitting/crocheting
  45. Blacksmithing/knife making/welding
  46. Masonry
  47. Archery
  48. Waste management (human waste, garbage)
  49. Skills you usually pay others for (yard work, pest control, pool maintenance, etc)
  50. Fire making (how to make a fire, find wood, use it for heating and cooking, etc)
  51. Shelter making (how to build a variety of temporary and permanent shelters)
  52. Childcare and child development
  53. Homeschooling skills
  54. Computer set up and maintenance/how to fix computer problems
  55. Internet access and safety skills/basic coding and programming/using tech effectively
  56. How to do daily tasks online (paying bills, banking, work and meetings, school, etc)
  57. How to entertain yourself and the family without electricity or outside resources
  58. How to play games (card games, chess, etc)
  59. Leadership skills/teamworking skills
  60. Minimalism/simple living skills
  61. Logistics and acquisitions (multiple ways to acquire the things you need)
  62. How to drive various vehicles (motorcycle, car, truck, heavy equipment, etc)
  63. Boating skills (kayak, canoe, power boat, etc)/water navigation
  64. How to swim
  65. How to predict the weather
  66. How to stay warm in cold climates and cool in hot climates (without electricity)
  67. Artistic skills (drawing, painting, etc)
  68. Musical skills (how to play an instrument)
  69. How to speak a foreign language (most common ones in your area)
  70. Health improvement skills (exercise, nutrition)
  71. Specialized skills (rock climbing, mountain climbing, how to fly a plane, scuba diving, etc)
  72. Wilderness search and rescue skills/urban search and rescue skills
  73. Life guarding skills/water rescue
  74. Homestead management (garden rotation, woodlot maintenance, record keeping)
  75. How to scavenge/dumpster diving
  76. Budgeting/money management skills
  77. How to clean (general house cleaning, cleaning up after a disaster, etc)
  78. How to grow, harvest, and mill your own grain
  79. How to cook over a fire/on a wood stove/in a Dutch oven
  80. Tool maintenance (sharpen a knife, replace handles, tune up lawn mower, etc)
  81. How to grow food year round (green house, cold frame, etc)
  82. Escape and evasion skills
  83. How to prepare for natural disasters common to your area (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc)
  84. Urban survival skills (blending in, escaping crowds, etc)
  85. Basic science knowledge (biology, chemistry, physics, etc)
  86. Lock picking skills
  87. How to use power tools (chainsaw, drill, grinder, circular saw, etc)
  88. Personal skills (critical thinking, planning, situational awareness, thinking outside the box, problem solving, etc)
  89. How to gather evaluate, and act on information from a variety of sources
  90. How to survive/travel in extreme conditions (desert, snow, jungle, etc)
  91. Mental resiliency skills (anxiety control, confidence, attention control, attitude, etc)
  92. How to bug in/bug out depending on the situation
  93. How to develop resources to help in a disaster (financial resources, physical resources, people resources, etc)
  94. How to access public resources if needed (food bank, public transit, disaster shelters, etc)
  95. How to dig a well/how to dig a latrine
  96. How to make your favorite restaurant food (copy cat recipes are all over the internet for this)
  97. How to spend quiet time alone
  98. "Zero waste" skills
  99. How to make everything in your refrigerator from scratch (ketchup, mayo, yogurt, butter, salad dressings, etc).
  100. How to make/"MacGyver" anything you need (make a ladder, make rope, 3D print parts, etc).

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic So Far (1-10)

In no particular order...
  1. Plan on your fellow citizens to behave erratically and unreasonably, whether they are fleeing the city to save themselves from the virus (and possibly infecting others in their new locale), using the DIY method to ensure their neighbors are quarantining at home, or  fighting over restrictions set by various retail establishments (to the extent of "killing the messenger", metaphorically speaking).
  2. Expect your fellow citizens to be utterly unprepared for a disaster of this (or any) magnitude.  They may have no money, no food, no shelter, and no assistance from the government.  Needless to say, such an environment creates a lot of desperate people.  Being financially, physically, and materially prepared for a disaster should be your top concern.
  3. Always, always prepare before a disaster hits.  There should never be a reason you have to wait in a long line for toilet paper, fooda gun, or anything else for that matter (mark my word, there will be people who live in hurricane-prone areas who will be lined up to buy plywood hours before a hurricane is set to hit this season...it happens EVERY year).  Buying an extra $10 worth of food and supplies to stockpile each week will put you far ahead of the average, unprepared person.
  4. Prepare for the unexpected.  Obviously this is easier said than done.  Even I wasn't prepared for at-home "corona haircuts" (although a beard and mustache trimmer will substitute for an actual hair trimmer in a pinch and do a reasonably good job...).  Ditto gathering the tech you need like webcams and microphones and lighting systems for work/school video conferencing, finding sewing supplies to make masks, etc.  Consider what supplies and skills you would need to become 100% self-sufficient and work towards that end.
  5. Expect every system you have ever relied on to go to shit.  Every system we rely on on a regular basis is just robust enough to cover "normal".  The minute things become abnormal, systems can fail.  This can be as simple as relying on Amazon's two-day delivery or having Door Dash bring you your regular dinner (both of these systems were very over taxed as the pandemic ramped up) to being able to pivot if your local stores are out of flour/rice/toilet paper/etc (while people were fighting over rice in the early days of the pandemic, there was still plenty of flour on the shelves, when the flour was gone, there were still plenty of lentils and corn meal).  Don't even get me started on people prioritizing toilet paper over food...panicking people make poor decisions.
  6. Be able to entertain yourself.  In our "always on" world, especially if you live in a city, entertainment options abound.  Most people were not prepared to entertain themselves all day, every day for weeks on end.  The internet helps, of course, but boredom is real for many people.  If you are old enough, you will remember that pre-internet, it was possible to entertain yourself all day without outside resources.  And if you are even older, you will remember activities that people and families did when they didn't even have a TV to help keep them entertained.
  7. Cut way (way!) back on media and social media.  The vast majority of pandemic-related information shared via these channels is utterly wrong.  Even top scientists have provided incorrect, or poorly explained, information that left the public more confused than they were before.  There are enough resources online to correct or clarify information (from trusted sources!) that you hear or read about.  tldr; don't believe everything you hear or read, do your own research.
  8. Be prepared to help others during a disaster.  Although we were materially and financially prepared to help others if needed, we weren't thinking about helping people emotionally during the pandemic.  As it stands, we check in with a half dozen friends and relatives each day who are elderly and staying at home by themselves for weeks on end which is both lonely and isolating for them.  So we call, text, Zoom, or FaceTime just to brighten their day.  A couple of relatives had financial emergencies which we were willing and able to help out with, and a few times we have provided meals to people to help them out.
  9. Use common sense.  I talked about panic buying toilet paper earlier.  If people think about it and use a bit of common sense, they would realize there are many ways to wipe your ass without toilet paper (something 70% of the world does on a daily basis).  The same with wearing masks.  I have yet to see people wearing masks in public in a way that will really prevent them from catching the virus.  Not that they shouldn't wear masks which are marginally effective at stopping droplet spread, but staying a distance from people, not touching their face, and sanitizing their hands will be more effective than wearing a mask any day.
  10. Be flexible.  When things are changing on a daily basis, being able to "go with the flow" instead of stressing over everything, is much better for your health and sanity.  If you run out of rice, make bread.  If you have an online meeting that conflicts with your kid's online school, the meeting might have to take precedence.  If everyone is in a funk because of the lockdown, camp out overnight in the back yard.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime event which can either break people down or expand their sense of adventure.  I would choose adventure.

Friday, May 15, 2020

A Bit of Housekeeping

While I work out some webhosting issues, you will find the entire CNI site here on this blog.  The links to the left will take you to the 2020 Daily Insight links as well as to the CNI Links list which made up the front page of the CNI website.

Monday, April 27, 2020

5 Other Things to Prep For

With all of the talk about pandemic this and pandemic that, people may have forgotten that there are several disasters on the horizon that people should also prepare for as soon as possible including...

  1. Spring storms.  While I am basking in near 100 degree temps in the desert southwest, my daughter called today from Maine and said "It's snowing!"  Needless to say--for those who live in Maine at least--spring storms, even this late in the year, can still bring snow and winter temps so always being prepared for this possibility is a good idea, especially if you live in northern climes.
  2. It's still tornado season in a large swath of the country.  Again, if you live in tornado alley, being prepared for this eventuality is a given but tornadoes have been known to hit in other unexpected areas so everyone should have basic tornado preps on hand.
  3. Hurricane season "officially" starts on June 1st but hurricanes have also been know to hit before this date so everyone on the Atlantic coast as well as the Gulf coast should be prepared for a hurricane season which could be 'one of the busiest in years'.  
  4. Another natural disaster to prepare for is the increasing risk of extreme wildfire season which begins earlier in the year and lasts longer than in previous decades.  Again, if you live in an area prone to wildfires, you know to prepare early for this but no matter where you live, being proactive to keep fires--wildfires or a neighboring home on fire--from encroaching on your property is a good idea as well as having an evacuation plan for a worst case scenario.
  5. And back to the pandemic...no one knows for sure, but there is a distinct possibility that even if we can quell the coronavirus soon, there could be a resurgence of the virus in the fall.  Prepare accordingly.