Archive for the ‘Scenarios’Category

Living From the Pantry, Take 3

I saw this post referenced at The Simple Dollar and it brought back fond memories.  The first time our wife and I went without grocery shopping last year, we went a little over 7 weeks without buying anything.  At that time, we were actually using powdered milk for drinking, so didn’t even need anything as far as perishables were concerned.  We did it again late last year and lasted about a month, though there was a little more cheating involved as my wife was diagnosed with a gluten allergy and requires more fresh foods.

Due to some upcoming concerns about our budget, we have decided to give it another shot.  Our pantry is packed full, we have a freezer that has a hundred pounds of meat and chicken in it, and a cooler stocked with water and Gatorade.  The only thing I usually find myself wanting and running out of is chocolate.  However, I think the wife has some cake mix and I stashed a box of Chips Deluxe last week after a buy-one-get-one event at Publix, so I hope I’ll be ok for sweets.  I mentioned that we had so much, we could probably go more than a month, but she’s drawing the line right now, so we’ll see!

For a more thorough example of one families adventure in non-shopping, see this series of posts!  Wish us luck!


02 2011

The Road to Appalachia, Part 1

I have had a blast starting up Advice and Beans, sourcing products, blogging, marketing, shipping thousands of packages and working 80 or 90 hours a week.  I love finally doing something for myself, and I love that I can help so many others at the same time.  However, some days the noise becomes nearly overwhelming.

To help clear my head, check off a box on the bucket list, and to get to know this great country just a touch better, this fall I am going to spend a week or a little more on the Appalachian Trail.  My plan is to hike 70-90 miles.

While some may not call it preparedness per se, I predict the lessons and learning from accomplishing such a task, will provide value to to those following my progress here as well as in my own life.

I’ll admit planning is not my strongest trait, so I will make a series of posts about my progress on various tasks necessary to accomplish the goal; writing about it holds me accountable and provides a venue for others to provide suggestions and insight, and reminds me of things yet to do.

Initially, my focus will be on 5 sub-goals.

1)  Fitness

2)  Gear

3)  Planning

4)  Logistics

5)  Sustenance

Fitness covers my physical ability to accomplish the task.  Today I am quite a bit overweight and I haven’t hiked in almost a year; my blood pressure is running a little high.  I need to address each of those in the next 6 months.

Gear is what I will take with me.  I estimate I have half or more of the gear I will need.  I have a great pack, an excellent sleeping bag, a Jetboil stove, a Katadyn water filter and some other items.  I have 2 pairs of good boots.  For anything else, I will need to make well-researched choices about what other items will need to be on the trial with me.

Planning will cover a couple of topics.  First, what will my route be on the trail?  How far should I get each day?  What are the normal weather conditions for where I will be, and what are the worst case scenarios?  Who do I need to inform, whether forest services or other law enforcement, of my trail route and expedition times?

At the same time, i will need to plan for what happens when I’m gone.  Who will run the business, ship packages, manage inventory and pay bills?  What will they do if they run into a situation out of the ordinary?  How will they handle customer service issues?

Logistics is just another word for more detailed planning.  Who will take me to my start point?  How will my vehicle make it to my end point?  What day will I leave?  What day should I reach my destination?

Finally, sustenance is the food and water I will need to make the trip.  Can I carry that much with my gear?  Should I set up a drop cache along the way?  Will I boil, use a filter, or use another method to purify drinking water?  This one will be particularly tricky, as I know on a hard hike before I’ve used my entire 5-liter allotment that I generally carry (3 liters in a bladder and 2 more in Nalgene’s) in less than 1 day.

There is also a matter of communication, and this might be a combination of gear and planning.  I’ll take my GPS, but what about a satellite phone or emergency beacon?  I don’t know yet, and so I will have at least one post on just communications and emergencies.

While that is a lot to accomplish, I also have a number of resources.  I have a good friend who is an Eagle Scout who has hiked the Appalachian before, as well as a number of multi-day hikes at state and national parks.  I have trained for a half-marathon, and I might look over my notes and training schedule as a guide to how I might plan for a week-long trip.  There are innumerable blogs, magazines and websites devoted to hiking and camping, and we have an REI store nearby that holds regular monthly meetings on various topics.  On several occasions I’ve seen them cover overnight hiking.

Next post on the subject I will cover preliminary planning.  What dates will I go, at least which state I will hike in, and what the expected conditions on the ground should be at that time.  I am greatly looking forward to sharing my journey.


02 2011

The Most Isolated Man in the World

While I know some survivalists might envy this man his solitude, it’s still unimaginable.  Some days I feel the world creeping in and believe I wish it would all go away, when in truth I know that unlike this tribesman, there are even odds I’d be dead within months.


09 2010

Chilean Mine Disaster

The ongoing Chilean Mine Disaster presents us with a first-hand look at some ways to stay sane and functional during an almost impossible circumstance.  First, work at keeping your spirits up.  2nd, keep focused and develop a plan.  And finally, develop a schedule that presents a sense of normalcy.


08 2010

Prepping as Insurance

While most of my family and friends are supportive of my preparedness lifestyle (and all the supplies and mindset that goes with it), I still get some quizzical looks now and again, and I fairly often hear the question, ‘why are you doing this again’?

My new standard answer is that being prepared is simply another form of insurance. It is insurance that protects my family and I from crises ranging from losing our jobs to a massive interruption of the electrical grid to many emergencies in between.

If you live in the mid-south, you know what it is like when the forecast calls for as little as a half-inch of snow (or in the north-east when a hurricane is approaching). Every store is emptied of milk and bread in a 50-mile radius. Having sufficient supplies on hand at all times means never being that person who has to rush anywhere because we’ve taken care of our needs long before the snowstorm or other weather event was even on the horizon. This allows us to actually plan what we would do if there really is a problem, instead of following the herd to the local Kroger.

For example, we make plans for what will happen if we can’t get to our place of work, such as having the phone numbers of our supervisors readily available. We know what we will do if our sidewalks become icy, or if the power goes out due to ice on the lines. We make sure we have sufficient food and water if we’re stranded, even for a length period of time, and the ability to cook with it.

Yes, all this really is important.

Put another way, I buy car insurance to protect my vehicle, home insurance to protect my house, and health insurance to protect myself. But even in those cases, insurance is like the police…they show up after the problem has already occurred. I want the skills and supplies to actually help me in my times of need until I actually get to the point I can call Farm Bureau or Geico to come cut me a check.

I call this ’emergency insurance’, and I assign resources to it (time and cash), just like I do for any of my other insurances. Take car insurance; I pay about $500, or 5% of the value of my vehicle annually in comprehensive insurance. That indicates that the insurance company thinks I have less than a 5% chance of being in an accident or filing a claim, which seems about right.

My homeowner’s policy costs me .2% of my home value annually (coincidentally, that also comes to $500 a year). The insurance company must think that I have less than a 1 in 500 chance of having my house burn down. Again, that’s probably right.

Somewhere between those two numbers I estimate is the chance to have a major emergency; perhaps 1-3% per year. Of course, there are lots of ‘minor’ emergencies that being prepared for assists in as well, such as the broken tooth that happened yesterday, car breakdowns, job losses or downgrades, electrical outages and the like.

Looking at it like insurance, spending between $500-$1000 a year on preparedness doesn’t seem so out of line, does it?  And the difference between ’emergency insurance’ and regular insurance is that even if nothing happens, I still have something to show for it.  I’ll likely have my emergency radio for 10 years (and I actually use that in my home business area to listen to music; it sounds good enough for me!) and our food storage we actually eat out of, so I more consider that ‘pre-buying’ food as opposed to a preparedness cost.  My water storage containers are solidly built and will likely provide the same usefulness 20 years from now.

If you’re still on the fence about this stuff, being prepared isn’t different than any of the other multitude of ways we provde for our families.


05 2010