Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Welcome to the Machine

It starts out small, a little relinquishing of responsibility here, the easy way out there and soon the machine begins to grow.  It takes on a life of its own, feeding on the selfish nature of humans.  Every time we give up our responsibilities for the sake of an easier, more convenient life, we feed the Machine that threatens to engulf our life, our liberty and our pursuit of happiness.

I recently came across an article about a mother fighting for the right not to have her child immunized.  She happens to live in a state that requires immunizations for entrance into school.  The girl suffered significant ill effects from her first round of immunization and her mother is more than a little reluctant to subject her to further immunizations.  However, because state laws requires immunization before entrance to school is allowed, this mother's child has been denied access to a state education.

Although some may find this outrageous, I see this as a logical outcome of relinquished responsibility.  Any time we give our authority to others we also give up our right to choose. The mother in the article gave the authority to educate her daughter to the state, and in doing so she gave up her right to choose what she thought was best.  She presented her child to the Machine and the Machine chose.

And as we feed the Machine, it will continue to grow and consume.  When we rely on the State to provide our health care, the State will, in turn, tell us what we can and can't do.  The State will tell us what we can eat.  The State will tell us what tests we are allowed and what treatments we are eligible for.  They will tell us when we are too old to receive health care and when we are too disabled to bother with.  And we will have no choice, because we sold our souls to the Machine.  When we rely on the Machine to pay our way, we give the Machine the right to choose for us.

It has already begun.  When we began third-party pay through insurance companies, we lost our right to choose our treatments.  Our insurance company must be notified of any procedure and decide whether to allow it or not.  They choose what doctors are available to treat us and how long we are allowed to stay in the hospital.  And all because we relinquished our responsibility to pay for our own health care.

I can hear it already.  "We pay taxes so that our children can be educated!" and "I PAY for insurance - what are you talking about third-party pay!"  But the reality is we have given our responsibility to another.  Paying taxes to the Machine does not imply being an active member of your child's education.  You are paying someone else to educate your progeny.  And the system you have chosen to educate your child has absolutely no accountability to you.  They choose the curriculum.  They choose the teachers.  They choose to introduce your child to "alternative" lifestyles. And they choose whether you child must be immunized or not.

The more we relinquish our responsibilities to the State the more we feed the Machine.  And the more we feed the Machine the more it will require to maintain itself.  The only way to disable the Machine is not to feed it.  In order not to feed it, we have to not expect anything from it.  We have to rely on ourselves, our families and our churches.  People still have souls, the Machine does not.

Call me an idealist, but the truth of the matter is that I still believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And I believe that comes from inside of us. Through faith in God.  Through hope and hard work.  My life, my liberty and my happiness does not come from the Machine.

Unless we change our direction, we will all be saying Welcome to the Machine.

"Welcome my son, welcome to the machine"
Pink Floyd

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tea with our girl

Maid Elizabeth - Dad and I had our tea and thought of you.  Love you.  Mom

The extra teacup was set for you

Flypaper for Freaks

Yes, it actually says
"Jesus is my Homeboy"

Maid Elizabeth used to work at our local grocery store as a cashier.  She got up every morning, braided or put up her hair, washed her face, took her vitamins and had a cup of tea.  She carefully selected her clothes so that she always looked tidy and pleasant.  She made sure she brushed her teeth and rubbed lovely smelling lotion into her hands.  She took care of her appearance.  Although not showy, she always looked nice, well rested and happy.

One day, after a particularly trying day on the job she came home, plopped in a chair and said "Mom, I am flypaper for freaks!"  "What on earth are you talking about?" I said, somewhat amused by her assessment.  "All of the freaks go through my line", she said.  "If they smell bad, are drunk, are obviously high or any combination of those things - if they are Gothic, tattooed or pierced, they wait to go through my line.  The other checkers could be doing nothing at all, and they will wait anyway - just to go through my line!  What is wrong with me!?!"  I looked at my sweet girl for a moment and then it struck me - they went through her line because she offered them something that they didn't have.  She offered them hope.  She was different.  By being set apart, she drew people in.

It is an interesting study in Christianity to see our churches in action.  The more worldly the world becomes, the more worldly the church becomes.  The Church has become a product of the world instead of the world being transformed by the Church.  Rather than following the biblical mandate of fathers and mothers teaching their children and ministering to their families, the church now encourages families to be separated by Sunday School, Children's Church and Youth Group.  No longer are Christians "in the world but not of the world", they are "relevant" by becoming active participants in the culture of the world.  We now have "Christian" youth covered in tattoos, pierced in every conceivable location and wearing clothing that leaves nothing to the imagination.  And then we wonder why we are losing the battle for the lost souls in our neighborhoods, our counties and our nation.  What are we offering those lost souls?  We are offering them nothing.  Nothing but what the world has already offered them. We are letting them die in their sin because we are too weak to be set apart.  We want so badly to be relevant that we are impotent.

The truth of the matter is that you wouldn't seek mechanical advice from a mechanic whose yard is littered with dead cars.  You wouldn't ask an overweight friend how to be victorious in weight loss.  You wouldn't ask the parents of a juvenile delinquent how to raise your children to be honorable, productive members of society.  And you wouldn't ask the "christian" sitting next to you, with all of the "markers" of a lost world, the way to eternal life.

I know that you can't judge a book by the cover, however, the cover is what really draws us in.  When we litter our bodies with anti-social messages, how can we expect people to just ignore that and get to know our "inner-self"?  We can't.  When people are hurting and lost, they look for a ray of hope. They look for something different than what they already have.  It used to be that they would look to Christians, because Christians had something to offer.  Now, in our quest to be relevant and accepted, we have lost our light.  No longer can people see our Christianity because we have covered it in the cloak of the world.

God called for us to a peculiar people, set apart.  Peculiar has nothing to do with looking like the world.  Peculiar means just what it implies.  Peculiar.  Different.  Not normal.  Set apart.  Godly.  Being peculiar doesn't push people away, it draws them in a way that nothing else can.  Being peculiar means that you will become flypaper for freaks.

Maid Elizabeth, armed with a new understanding of her role, embraced her freaks.  Every day, she would show the love of Jesus to a hurting people.  She would carefully dress and prepare to be peculiar.  She would be ready with an answer when people would ask if she was Amish or something.  She would grin and say, "Yes, I am" when people would refer to her as "church girl".  She would look each person in they eye, smile at them and tell them to have a wonderful day.  She is now a very sought after personage to all of the local drunks.  They light up when they see her!  They consider her theirs and brag about her to anyone who will listen.  And guess what?  Right before she left for her trip to the Philippines, one of her "special people" took her aside and said "You're never going to believe this, but I am going to church for the first time in 24 years!"

People sought Maid Elizabeth out because she was different.  As Christians we really do need to be Flypaper for Freaks!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Eagle has landed

Maid Elizabeth has safely traveled to the Philippines and will spend the next three months catching babies.  It took two full days to traverse the globe, with stops in Seattle, LA, Korea and Manila, but everything went smoothly and she is now sleeping contentedly in Davao City.

She is planning on regularly updating her blog, Scarlet Thread Midwifery, with a lot of pictures and stories of her adventures.  While known as Maid Elizabeth here, she calls herself Joan of Arc on her own blog (I don't even want to discuss the implications of that!).

Thank you to everyone who has helped Maid Elizabeth with this mission trip, whether it was with financial support, prayers or encouragement.  I am truly grateful.

Although I already miss her more than words can say, I am so excited to see how God uses her among the people of the Philippines and how He draws her closer to Himself.

Vaya con Dios

Friday, May 20, 2011

Patient Zero

Up-armoured Zombie Proof vehicle (the
one in front) to take us to the
refugee camp

I've got it!  After reading the CDC's Zombie Apocalypse article, I was troubled by a number of things, but my biggest cause for concern was the CDC's repeated instructions to report to a refugee center were they could properly take care of us until help arrived.  Then then it struck me - Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan must be patient zero in the impending zombie plague!  His article is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to provide a zombie smorgasbord for his other zombie comrades.  While encouraging the masses to turn to the refugee centers for help, Ali Khan, is in fact herding unsuspecting "normals" into holding pens for his flesh-eating counterparts!  I told you I'd figured it out!

Being the rebels that we are, we happen to be canning chicken instead of plotting a map to the nearest fenced-in refugee camp.  Our radical idea is to weather whatever storms may come our way, whether they be zombies or not, right here in our own little humble shouse.  When Miss Calamity asked why we were canning more chicken this is what I told her....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse

So, it's not just we survival freaks that are talking zombies now, it's the CDC.  Yes, you read that right.  The CDC just put out an article dealing with an impending Zombie Apocalypse and how to prepare for flesh-eating undead.  If you want to further your preparations for a zombie attack, you can read the article here.

I have come to the conclusion that the zombies we face may very well not be of the flesh-eating undead variety, but instead may be of the governmental undead variety.  They are a little harder to spot, but the undead is the undead.  The Zombie Apocalypse cometh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Us against them

It is so easy to blame all of our societal ills on our duly elected leaders.  Us against them.  "They" just keep spending money.  "They" raise the debt ceiling.  "They" protect the banking industries and mortgage companies. "They" are evil.  We are merely innocent pawns in their multi-billion (or is that trillion?) dollar chess game.

Not so fast.  The reality of life is "the squeaky wheel gets the grease".  The more we yell about how tough life is, the more they throw money at us.  The more money they throw at us, the more we yell.  And on it goes.  We are so concerned about getting what we want for ourselves that we have  forgotten that you don't get something for nothing.  There is a price to be paid for everything, whether it is a "free" lunch for our children at school or a low interest rate on a mortgage we can't really afford.  We scream for the government to supply us with a paycheck when we are unemployed because it's not our fault we can't find a job.  We scream for the government to "help" us with our grocery's because times are tough and we can't provide for ourselves.  We scream for the state to pay for our hospital stays because medical costs are too much for an individual or family to bear.  We want subsidized housing, agriculture and education.  We want the state to pay for schools, special needs programs and youth sporting events.  We expect special services provided by the state when we have children with hearing problems, chronic medical issues and mental health concerns.  And then we wonder why our country is going broke.

Ultimately, all change begins with us.  We can keep voting one person after another out of office, but not a thing will change.  Nothing will change until we quit putting our hand out.  Nothing will change until we take responsibility for our own lives and our own choices.  Nothing will change until we choose to care for our own children, our own parents and our own selves.  Until we are ready to do the hard things, we are willingly putting ourselves at the mercy of a corrupt government.  Until we are willing to pay for our own hospital bills, our own mortgages, our own children's lunches and our own children's hearing aides, we are responsible for destroying our own country.  We are responsible, not "them".

We will live.  We will live without a constant influx of other people's money.  It will hurt.  It will reduce our standard of living.  But so what?!  It is during times of famine and times of want that truly great people are molded.  It is during adversity that character is built.  Be that person.  Choose to be a standard.  Choose to take responsibility, regardless of what Fred, down the road is doing.  It starts with one person, with one family, with one neighborhood.  It starts with you saying "no".  No to a free lunch.  No to welfare.  No to medicaid.  No to a corrupt government.  Say "no" to a handout and "yes" to true freedom. It isn't really us against them.  It is us against us.

Prepared Family Photo Shoot

I am sorry for the silence of the last week!  I have been so busy finishing the last minute details on The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases that I lost track of time.  I had no idea it would be so much work!  I picked up the manuscript from our contributing doctor over the weekend and then spent the next two days adding his comments and corrections.  He was thrilled with the project and I was thrilled that he was willing to check the text for accuracy - first do no harm!

Doc mentioned that Smallpox is no longer even studied in medical school!  He actually treated a case in the 1960's in Algeria.  There is nothing like first hand experience.  He also related stories from his time spent in Norway during the Chernobyl crises.  He ate Reindeer stew made by a local culinary school that turned out to be radioactive - and lived to tell the tale!

Sir Knight, Maid Elizabeth and Miss Calamity staged a photo shoot upstairs for the cover photo of the book.  The picture is wonderful, however the cover isn't exactly what I was looking for.  Oh, well.  I'm more interested in getting this book into the hands of the people on the front lines than I am about it meeting my artistic criteria.

I should have copies of the book listed on Paratus Familia in a couple of weeks.  I can't tell you how excited I am!  It is really something to see a project from inception to completion.

Anyway, here are some pictures of us getting ready....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TEOTWAWKI and the great population explosion

One of the oft overlooked aspects of a post-TEOTWAWKI world is the reality of a rapid population increase.  Like it or not, massive societal upheaval is usually the precursor to a baby boom.  The baby boom following World War II was fairly innocuous due to readily available medical care - a post grid-down baby boom would be another story altogether.

In days gone by, the general population was fairly familiar with at least the basics of labor and birth.  Being heavily agrarian, people regularly attended animal births and due to the lack of medical facilities, human birth was handled by midwives in homes.  Although the circumstances were less than ideal, there was a competence level among the populace that is absent in our modern age.

Today, pregnancy is carefully avoided, until just the "right" moment.  Birth control pills, shots or even abortion are readily available.  Condoms and spermicides are everyday contraceptions.  When a woman does become pregnant, her care is meticulously managed by health care professionals to ensure a healthy mother and a healthy baby.  We have become insulated from the realities of unmanaged pregnancy, birth and labor.  We are unprepared for the intricacies of labor, delivery and post-natal care in a grid-down, non-sterile world.

As families dedicated to preparedness we can't ignore the very real dangers posed to mothers and infants through lack of knowledge and the basic equipment to deal with birth and subsequent postpartum care.  Information and medical necessities are readily available now.  We have to take advantage of this time and prepare for the inevitable.  Although you may not see the need to prepare for yourself, I will guarantee that at some point you will be blessed with the honor of ushering in a new life.  Being prepared could be the difference between a day of rejoicing and a day of mourning.

Survival, in its simplest form, is often a matter of information.  Reference materials can be worth their weight in gold.  The premier survival manual for labor, delivery and postpartum care, in my opinion, is A Book for Midwives, by Susan Klein, Suellen Miller and Fiona Thomson.  It is written for lay people, with tons of illustrations (you don't want young children thumbing through this book!) and very specific and detailed information.  It not only covers pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum care, it also goes into great detail on a host of women's issues.  The medical information, while directed toward pregnancy and birth, is useful in any medical emergency.  Learning to suture is as valuable when performing minor surgery as it is when caring for a peritoneal tear.  Autoclaving is an important skill whether you are preparing instruments to remove a bullet or cut an umbilical cord.  The medical information presented in this book make it an invaluable resource.

You can begin preparing for the TEOTWAWKI inspired population explosion now by putting together basic necessities for labor and delivery.

Basic Birth Kit

  • Cord clamps or sterile shoe laces
  • Iodine or herbal umbilical cord care (for umbilical cord stump)
  • Washable Chucks (incontinence pads)
  • Blankets and hats for baby
  • Hot water bottle (for warming baby)
  • Surgical gloves (in your size) 
  • Bulb syringe (for clearing baby's nose and mouth)
  • Thermometer
  • Cinnamon Tincture (for helping mom stop bleeding)
  • Hot water (for cleaning up mom and baby - and everything else)
  • Postpartum menstrual pads (preferably washable)
  • Cloth diapers
Many other things could be added, and of course, you will want to have more than just enough for one delivery.  

As with all things preparedness, forewarned is forearmed. As we prepare for societal upheaval, we also must prepare to welcome the next generation of warriors.  If we want to thrive in a grid-down future, we have to prepare for TEOTWAWKI and the great population explosion. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Equipment Review - Bravo Headset

***** Bravo Headset (Don't Buy - Don't even borrow!)
***** MilSim Products (Best Buy - Customer Service)

In our quest to achieve TEOTWAWKI short range communications, we have tried a number of headsets that plug into our MURS radios.  Sir Knight does not like the bluetooth-like headsets that plug into your ear and have a flimsy boom mike. They are uncomfortable and generally of poor quality with tiny wires and substandard push to talk (PTT) buttons.  In reality, Sir Knight wanted a single over-the-ear headset with a large boom mike.  After a lot of research, he found MilSim Products and the Bravo headset.  The Bravo headset is a less expensive replica of the headsets the Marines are currently using for personal communication.

Sir Knight ordered a Bravo Headset from MilSim Products and was immediately impressed with their quick ship time and timely communication.  The headset is exactly what we were looking for.  It was comfortable, serviceable, the elastic could be cut of and replaced when it became worn and the speaker had excellent sound quality.  The boom mike also superior, providing sound quality equal to that of speaking directly into the radio.  It could be worn under a cover (hat) or a helmet with comfort and was extremely easy to use.

Outside of speaker and boom mike
Inside of same
Of course, Sir Knight immediately put the headset into use as our motto is "use it, use it, use it".  The Product Durability Test Panel (our children) used the headset a number of times to determine its quality and durability.  The headset failed within two hours.  The push to talk button failed and the radio would not transmit. At the point where the headset plugs into the PTT button the connections are faulty.  Flexing the plug and pushing the PTT button allows the radio to transmit momentarily.  It was obviously a problem in the PTT button assembly.

When we contacted customer service at MilSim Products, they shipped out another PTT button without question.  The second button failed in less than an hour.  After another email to MilSim Products they sent out a different style PTT button.  This button was dead in the bag in which it arrived.  By flexing the wires near the PTT button, you could get intermittent transmission from the radio.  It was obviously a broken wire in the harness where it goes into the button.

Defective PTT button assembly
Headset plugged into radio
(we provided the camo sweatband)
Sir Knight really WANTED to like the Bravo headset.  It was exactly what he was looking for to compliment our radios.  It just didn't work.  He is left with no option but to seek an alternative to the Bravo headset. At this point, he has found nothing comparable, but he will continue the search.  Short range communications are vital in a grid down situation and having equipment that will perform correctly is essential.

The Bravo headset is a "Do not buy - Do not even borrow".  However, MilSim Products is an exceptional company.  Their customer service is superior and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.

The Bravo Headset receives a no star rating.  MilSim Products receives a five star rating.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our life in pictures

Boots after a days work
Master Calvin helping in the kitchen
Cheese and Quackers
Princess Dragon Snack helping with spring work
Master Calvin with "Quackers"
Princess Dragon Snack helping make
pork chops on the wood cookstove
In the schoolroom
Wishful thinkin'
Miss Calamity sporting the mask she
and Maid Elizabeth made for the
renaissance faire
Cheese and  Quackers take to swimming
like a duck to water!
Hand Grenade and Farmer Boy enjoying
a little friendly competition - man
versus machine!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Product Review - Powdered Scrambled Eggs (Stored Foods French Toast)

After trying Augason Farms powdered scrambled eggs we determined that we needed to come up with some recipes in which the scrambled eggs were not the star of the show.  A number of folks mentioned that they used the powdered scrambled eggs to coat bread for French toast and a reader "Nikki" wrote in wanting a review of the scrambled egg powder being used with French toast.

This morning, with French bread freshly baked, we decided to give the powdered scrambled egg another try.  Not to put to fine a point on it, but, it was tremendous!  We sliced the French bead fairly thinly, coated it in the scrambled eggs and cooked slices up on the griddle.  Not only were they fabulous, we really couldn't taste any difference between the powdered eggs and fresh eggs.

Mixing up the egg powder
French bread, thinly sliced
Soaking the bread in the egg mixture
On the griddle
Whole wheat bread coated in the powdered scrambled egg mixture and cooked up would be a perfect, nutritious, post-TEOTWAWKI breakfast.  Not only would it provided you with tons of fiber and protein, it would be a little taste of home.

Our family wholeheartedly, unabashedly recommends the powdered scrambled eggs for use in French toast.  A definite 5 star meal.

Mock Filet Mignon

This is one of our all-time favorite recipes.  You can practically hear your arteries hardening while you eat it, but it is worth every bite!

Mock Filet Mignon
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 cups cooked rice (we use leftovers)
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

In a large bowl, combine beef, rice, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder; mix well.  Shape into six (we often make 8 smaller patties) patties.  Wrap a strip of bacon around each patty; fasten with a toothpick.  Place in an ungreased shallow baking dish.  Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.

Generally, we have baked potatoes and green beans with our Mock Filet Mignon.  It is a wonderful meat and potatoes, stick to your ribs kind of meal!

Mixing the meat, rice and spices
Made into patties
I always put bacon on top, too!
Securing the bacon with a toothpick
Umm good!!!
Dinner is served

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cattle Panel Landscaping

My husband thinks we are rednecks.  I have no idea what he is talking about!  A couple of summers ago, Sir Knight built beautiful raised planters in front of my sun room.  I decided that I wanted to plant vegetables in the beds, so, in order to support the climbing bean plants, Sir Knight installed cattle panel supports.  It was a stroke of genius!  Not only did the panels look quite nice they provided perfect support as the bean plants grew and climbed, and in turn, the beans blessed us with wonderful, filtered shade in our sun room.

Last summer, in my intense desire to move, I neglected any gardening or beautifying pursuits.  My garden beds sat empty, my flower beds, tangled and overgrown.  In my mind, we had moved already, even though our physical bodies were here.  This spring, although it feels like I am admitting defeat, I am planning new garden beds, sprucing up the flower garden and preparing the chicken coop for a new flock of hens.  As I keep telling my children, we must live where we are, not where we want to be.

After visiting my friend, Lady Day, I was inspired by her lovely gardens and flowers - her manicured lawns and carefully tended shrubs.  I came home with a renewed desire to make the best out of "Little Shouse on the Prairie".  One of the features I have always admired in a home is a lovely little arbor outside the front door, covered in tangled vines.  Once, I made a twig arbor (with the help of Master Hand Grenade), only to have it disintegrate after about three years.  Not wanting to repeat my first experiment, I searched my brain for another alternative.  My visit to Lady Day's, provided the inspiration!  Lady Day's husband built a rose arbor for her out of metal fence posts and a cattle panel.  It is impervious to the weather and provides a perfect platform for Lady Day's climbing roses.  Painted white, it is quite lovely, with a very homespun quality.

Cattle Panel just put in place
Papering the "Shouse" so the paint
doesn't get on the metal
Maid Elizabeth, doing her mother's dirty work
Borrowing Lady Day's ingenuity, Master Hand Grenade, Maid Elizabeth, Miss Calamity and I set about building an arbor of our own.  Master Hand Grenade pounded the fence posts into place, Maid Elizabeth and I held the cattle panel in place as Miss Calamity secured it with industrial tie wraps.  After the arbor was up, Maid Elizabeth taped newspaper to the shouse and began the tedious task of painting a 7 foot tall cattle panel arbor.  It is beautiful!

Cattle panels and planter boxes outside
the sun room
Miss Calamity and I wound an LED light string through the panel (it will be beautiful on long summer nights) and Master Hand Grenade has begun building planting boxes for the base of the arbor.  Rather than roses, I think I will plant Virginia Creeper.  It is less showy than roses, but is not as likely to attract quite so many yellow jackets in the late summer.

As much as I would love to be moved and settled, I will continue to do my best to live where I am, not where I want to be.