This summer’s likely to be a repeat of 2020

Last week I was visiting my youngest grandchild, who is a year and half old… and my daughter and son-in-law too, of course. I didn’t pay much attention to the news or the political drama on social media and that was a good change. Yesterday I spent some time online reading news, checked out Twitter crazyland, and got caught up on YouTube.

While food shortages, economic crises, and the Biden border chaos still tend to dominate right-wing media, heading into the full-swing 2022 election season, the liberal, “mainstream” media keep trying to fixate on right-wing extremism, “ultra-MAGA” and white nationalism.

The current baby formula shortage looks like another total failure of the Biden administration. They failed to anticipate and then deal with the growing shortage problem caused by the FDA citing problems and then Abbott shutting down a major plant that produces baby formula. While various right-wing oxygen was given to stirring up a conspiracy theory linking the baby formula stockpiled for the border crisis as the Biden administration trying to starve American babies and send the formula for illegal immigrants, the reality is the Biden administration failure dealing with a major baby formula plant closing was most likely not connected with the acquisition of baby formula to send to the border. Here’s another fact, people on the right won’t like – regardless how disastrous Biden’s border policies are (and yes, they’re a national security and humanitarian nightmare), when US officials take people into custody, they have to provide shelter, food and medical care. So, if our border control officials are dealing with masses of illegal immigrants, many of them infants – they have to feed them.

The Biden administration has been slow to respond to the humanitarian crisis at the border too, so no one should be surprised at their failures with responding to the domestic FDA action that led to the current baby formula shortage. This administration spends more time trying to figure out how to spin problems and blame someone else than they do trying to solve problems. It’s always someone else’s fault according to the Biden administration.

Due to how politically damaging this baby formula shortage situation is to Dems heading into an important election in November, it will likely be resolved quickly- with some combination of reopening the closed plant and allowing the import of some foreign baby formula. It’s not likely to last for months and months and the liberal media will work hard to move past this story, that focuses on another Biden administration failure. Democrats have every incentive to get this baby formula shortage resolved quickly, so it won’t be hanging over their party during the campaign season.

I suspect the liberal media and Democrats are going to run on and hype- stirring up racial animus and a repeat of the Summer of 2020, not economic problems. There will likely be constant damage control efforts to downplay economic bad news and shortage problems. This baby formula shortage problem will likely disappear from liberal media news as quickly as the Afghanistan withdrawal debacle did.

The economic chaos seems likely to escalate, but the activist-wing of the Democratic Party will likely deploy in full-force to create a Summer of Rage, hitting the streets over abortion, racial issues, and most of all pointing fingers at dangerous right-wing extremists everywhere – again.

After Dems unsuccessful effort at trying to energize the American people about January 6th, the problem is more and more people on the right have become reactionary, leap to believe every conspiracy theory floated blaming evil Dems, Biden or some globalist cabal of elites for nefarious doings, and are sick to death of far-left politics being crammed down their throats. I don’t believe it’s a problem of “ultra-MAGA” so much as it is a whole lot of people on the right don’t trust anything the liberal media reports, jump into believing everything floated on right-wing media, even though the right-wing media is as unreliable as liberal media. This sets the stage for too many people on the right reacting just like the people on the left, who rushed into believing every bit of dirt reported by liberal media about Trump and their embrace of a fraud like Michael Avenatti.

Too many Americans on the right are becoming more and more inclined to buy into a whole lot of paranoid conspiracy theories and rush down one bizarro rabbit hole after another. The willingness to assume the worst about every situation and instantly blame the “other side” isn’t a good state of mind, but it seems a lot of people on the right operate from that mind-set now (the American left has been in that same “vast, right wing conspiracy” mind-set for over 20 years now – and look where they’re at).

Both sides in America appear to be more polarized now than in 2020 and that’s bad for America and the center seems much smaller these days.

The inflation situation is projected to worsen, as are shortage situations, for everything from parts to food supply. My prediction is Americans will remain divided and be living in two distinct information bubbles, with the small segment of Americans in the political center shaking their heads wondering how so much of America, both left and right, skid off the rails into constant partisan-fueled paranoia, distrust and rage.

Keeping Americans enraged at the “other side” works spectacularly well, in a country where our politics is now part of churning culture war that lives mostly on social media, not in the real world. Millions of American also prefer to “react” on social media without doing any research or considering differing viewpoints or even reading beyond the incendiary headlines most of the time, it seems. The people who designed social media encouraging people to react constantly were onto a powerful tool at controlling people, that’s for sure.

It’s a safe bet America will experience civil unrest like in 2020 (or worse) and this could make the economic chaos worse, in addition to the domestic political situation. I’m not just pulling this prediction out of thin air. Here’s a Reuters report from 4 days ago:

More fun times ahead. On the bright side, I’m glad I’ve been seriously stocking up extra food and supplies since the spring of 2020, when the Covid craziness started. And I’m glad I started growing some vegetables and herbs this spring, That feels like a tiny bit of insurance in these uncertain times.

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Living in the world we’re in

In yesterday’s blog post I rambled my way through a bunch of topics, so I’m going to try to zero in on why I disagree with so much of the “stock-up until you drop” emergency preparedness advice. It’s not that I believe stocking up is a bad idea or that the economic situation isn’t serious or that major economic crises aren’t heading our way. My problem is that America consumerism culture permeates everything we do and running around buying everything you can to stockpile food is not a plan to be prepared for emergencies – stocking up is part of a plan, and yes, a very important part, but to develop a preparedness mind-set and lifestyle takes a lot more than shopping and buying as much as you can.

Millions of Americans aren’t prepared for even a smaller personal emergency, like their car breaks down, let alone dealing with a serious economic crisis. Here’s a CNBC report:

“For 2021, 25% of survey respondents indicate having no emergency savings at all, up from 21% who said they didn’t have any in 2020. Another 26% say they have some emergency savings, but not enough to cover expenses for three months.”

It’s true that having even $500 can turn a lot of life’s little emergencies into just inconveniences and the more you have in savings, the larger your buffer zone. If you have enough money in savings to cover three months or six months worth of your living expenses, you could weather something serious like a job loss a lot easier than if you didn’t have any savings. Now, if you couple that savings with a well-thought out, stocked up pantry and emergency water supply, your level of preparedness grows by leaps and bounds.

I’ve heard some prepper people online talk about getting your finances in order, but it seems kind of crazy to me that facing massive inflation and growing shortages, so much of the advice only focuses on the stocking up part.

The hard truth is there’s no way to avoid all of the pain of soaring inflation and shortages and that’s why I believe assessing your personal financial situation is the most important first step.

A lot of people are struggling right now to make ends meet and most people will have to make some lifestyle changes to cope with rising costs, especially with discretionary spending choices. Paying off debt frees up your money and gives you more flexibility and living below your means can create a bit of a buffer zone,

While planning for worst case scenarios isn’t a bad thing, if you’re not prepared for even the more common and likely emergencies, chances are you won’t cope with the worst case ones very well either.

Trying to get your finances under control is important anytime, but it’s crucial heading into a serious economic downturn. Unfortunately, so much of the prepper advice I see online is hysterical, worst-case scenario advice – preparing for a total collapse of the financial system. Frankly, if you have the funds to invest in precious metals, that’s great, but if you don’t have emergency savings to pay to have your AC fixed in mid-July in the South, life can become very awful, very quickly.

This goes for buying barter items too. I suspect a lot of people listening to prepper advice online have more invested in barter items, precious metals and other doomsday type supplies than they do in being prepared for the ordinary emergencies that you can definitely count on happening.

You need to be able to prepare for and cope with everyday emergencies, because if you’re totally unprepared for everyday emergencies, you’ve missed the first turn onto the road to emergency preparedness.

I believe it’s more sensible to build up some savings for everyday emergencies and work on getting your personal finances in order, before running around worked up by every bit of news and online rumor mill about “our food supply is under attack” or the next looming shortage item. However, due to the shortage situation likely getting worse, like I said in my last post, I think it makes sense not to stick to the Dave Ramsey, living on rice and beans, bare bones approach to the letter. Right now, I think it’s more sensible to assess your budget and take any extra money, after paying bills and split it between building up emergency savings and stocking up your pantry. This is strictly my opinion.

I said this in my last post and I believe it’s true, we have to live in the world we’re in everyday. Being prepared for dire events isn’t a bad thing, but if you only focus on the most extreme events, spending money on all sorts of supplies to prepare for those, while not even being prepared for the everyday type emergencies, I think your personal preparedness plan has some serious gaps in it. I read comments online a lot and I’ve read quite a few comments that made me think a lot of people get caught up in the prepper lingo – like “buying barter items” and invest more time thinking about the worst case scenarios than they do about the here and now and being prepared for more likely emergencies.

Afterthought, as usual: No matter where you’re at on your emergency preparedness journey, it’s a good idea to step back and see if you have the basics in place to handle the more common emergencies and build up some emergency savings. A lot of experts recommend having enough to cover three months of your living expenses.

Heading into serious inflation – I think it makes more sense to eliminate as much personal debt as you can, as quickly as you can and don’t accumulate more debt. Definitely, don’t charge up “prepper” supplies, because personal debt can bury you anytime, but especially with inflation soaring.

I think it’s sensible to plan out basics to stock up for your food pantry and emergency water, then build your way outward on supplies. Truth time here – I stock up a lot of food ordinarily and wish I had taken the time to plan better.

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Skip the cookie-cutters, if life gets hectic

Cookie-cutter solutions don’t resolve complex problems. That’s the theme of this blog post. And yes, it’s going to be about emergency preparedness. Many people, myself included, like simple steps to follow to accomplish tasks. In fact, I like most things in my life, from religious teachings to instructions on filing my income taxes, boiled down to simple rules to follow.

Unfortunately, life is complicated and some things like the federal tax code remain beyond my level of patience or understanding.

If you download the Internal Revenue Code from the United States Code, also known as Title 26 in the document, the file is 6.550 pages if you download it and print it out, according to one site, but other sites state a few thousand less pages to tens of thousands more pages. You get the drift, it’s not simple rules.

I think most people like certainty and predictability in our lives and that’s why most people have a daily routine, make schedules and prefer plans to provide a sense of security and some guardrails to their lives.

From the browsing magazine days to the internet age, headlines with “5 Easy Steps To…” or “10 Ways to Transform…” appeal to many people. Heck, I’m one of those people and if a headline promises 12 quick tips and offers 13, as a bonus, I read or listen to the end.

Here’s the thing about simple steps to change ingrained behaviors – they don’t work for most people, because we are creatures of habit and it’s hard to break habits, especially bad ones. It’s even harder to break ingrained beliefs and break emotional responses. You’ve got to change your heart to make real changes in your life. You’ve got to commit to change your behavior.

Most of our problems are caused by our emotional reactions, not by a lack of information, because frankly most people know they’re screwing up when they spend more than they make or have totally screwed up priorities, like putting entertainment and fancy toys ahead of paying their bills or buying groceries. I’ve listened to loads of people over the years, family, friends, co-workers, doing volunteer work and heck, I’ve looked in the mirror and faced myself doing some of these same things – making excuses for bad behaviors and bad choices.

The first real step to take with emergency preparedness isn’t to just rush out and start buying food or supplies, it’s to take a little time to think about your family’s finances and then do an inventory of your pantry and other supplies.

It’s really risky to assume everything’s going to collapse, spend every last cent you have to try to stock up on everything, or even worse run up credit cards to stock up and then everything doesn’t collapse. You will have put you and your family in worse peril in an economic crisis. You won’t have the means to buy supplies, pay your bills, or deal with some unforeseen crisis. The chances are all that rushing around stocking up won’t cover all the things you will need. Having an emergency savings account as a first step is what Dave Ramsey advises and I believe that is the best first line of defense to cover as many bases as possible.

The second part of cookie-cutter solutions is complex global systems have so many moving parts that even the smartest geopolitical and economic experts can’t analyze and diagnose all the moving parts and determine what’s all broken, let alone how to fix them.

Here’s where many people leap into conspiracy theory territory, trying to blame some nefarious “they” as being behind all the catastrophes on the horizon. It’s easier to blame some “they,” as in “they are trying to destroy our food supply,” but when you look for details on who are the “they” and actual evidence, well, most people who buy into this aren’t able to give specifics. They’ll likely point to some person online, who did a video about it and they believe that person. That other person also usually presents a lot of drivel and convoluted assertions. There’s so much of this across the American political spectrum and especially on social media. If people get angry or hostile when someone disagrees with them or questions them, buyer beware. I’ve bought into stories online that turn out not to be true and we should all be open to having our ideas, advice and assertions questioned, without getting defensive or hostile.

I do believe it’s prudent to stock up your pantry as much as you can, especially right now and store water and basic supplies, but don’t let panic take hold in your life. Panic and fear lead to people becoming emotional train wrecks, especially in serious crises. We’re at the beginning of some potentially very serious economic crises, along with some geopolitical and domestic political turmoil too. Getting upset and angry daily or reacting to too much social media and news media drama can seriously impact your mental health. In the worst crises, most people still try to preserve as much of their daily lives as possible. Even refugees try to set up some sort of shelter, cook meals, wash their clothes, care for their families. It’s important not to let your life be taken over with social media drama or news/political drama.

I have been guilty of impulse buying so many times after watching videos – from needlework videos to prepper videos and I’ve got plenty of items I doubt I’ll ever use. With my crafting and sewing projects for years my husband and kids would cringe when I showed them some project where I used some long-ago item from among my mountains of supplies and went into one of my “happy hoarding” stories about how great it was that I kept all this stuff, because look how perfect this item turned out to be for this project. That’s all well and good, but what I didn’t happily tell them were the many times I went to the store and purchased sewing and craft items that I knew I had… somewhere in my multitude of containers and totes of supplies, but I couldn’t locate them.

Impulsively, grabbing cans of this and that isn’t really a good way to prepare your pantry, although working at stocking up by buying 5 extra cans each time you buy groceries can be a good way to start building up your pantry without breaking the bank. Seriously begin to inventory what you’ve got. Organize it. Look at what you and your family eat. Stock up on items that are part of your family’s diet and once you have an adequate supply of those items, expand outward, if you want to move toward longer term food storage items.

Whatever you do, try to stick within your means and your budget and keep some emergency savings. If you don’t have any money for emergency savings, that should be a priority too. I think Chris at City Prepping offers practical steps in a very clear emergency preparedness plan. He avoids the fearmongering and alarmism, while explaining the serious crises that are brewing. I also find The Provident Prepper a very good source and I have their handbook, which is packed with useful emergency preparedness information.

Just like with my craft and sewing stuff, lack of organization leads to a lot of waste in my pantry too. Having some idea how much you actually use of various items, in a week, a month or a year can help you figure out how much is an adequate amount to stock up on. Thinking about how much you can properly store and how much you have space to store is important too. I struggle with organization, because I acquire too much stuff and then cling to it a long, long time (speaking decades here). My youngest daughter recently sent me information on McCormick spices in metal cans and told me they stopped putting their spices in metal cans in 1985, except for black pepper and they acquired Old Bay seasoning in 1990. She told me I should get rid of the metal cans. I told her I had done that (only a few years ago, truthfully). That’s how I am about clinging to stuff.

I see so much information on emergency preparedness that focuses on buying barter items and all sorts of things that pertain to if there’s a total economic collapse, but the reality is if there’s not a total collapse, your local garage probably isn’t going to take barter items for a new tire and you won’t be able to barter with the AC repairman or plumber, if your AC dies or you have a water leak that requires a professional. We have to live every day in the world we’re in, not in some future doomsday scenario.

No one knows for sure how bad things will get with the economy or exactly how it will play out. Just a few days ago, there was a domestic political event, the leaking of a Supreme Court draft letter on Roe v. Wade, that could lead to the Summer of 2022 turning into a lot like the Summer of 2020, with those “mostly peaceful protests.” Here in the US we might have more civil unrest and it’s a major election year, with control of the US Congress in the balance.

Trying to get your personal finances in as good of order as you can and stocking up are important parts to being prepared, so is staying calm and keeping your home life as normal as possible. And here’s some cookie baking advice, if things get too hectic or you’re in a hurry, skip looking for the cookie-cutters and go for a simple drop cookie recipe, that just requires you to plop spoonfuls of cookie dough on the cookie sheet.

Simplify your life wherever you can, especially your finances. Stocking up on basics is very important. Having emergency savings is very important too and it covers a whole lot of the unforeseen crises in life.

I always think of more to add after I make a blog post. If someone asked my advice on which to do first – the emergency savings or stock up to build an emergency food supply, at this point in time with the food shortage problems, here’s what I would advise – do both. I’d suggest making cuts wherever you can in your budget – and then decide on how much of that extra bit, even if it’s only $20 you want to put in emergency savings and how much toward the emergency food supply. If you use credit cards, avoid racking up more credit card debt,

My local Walmart still has 15 oz. cans of Great Value brand vegetables for 54 cents and frozen bags of vegetables for $1. Meat, of course, is ridiculously expensive, but an 80 oz. bag of white rice at my Walmart is $2.48 and there are several types of dried beans under $2 a bag, so there are still some basics you can stock up on. A 5 lb. bag of Great Value brand all-purpose flour is $1.78. Focus on what you can manage, and don’t worry about what all you can’t afford or what other people with spectacularly stocked, Pinterest-worthy pantries have.

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Slow down, are you on the way to a fire?

Today I saw a tweet about another food facility fire, at a Perdue Farms facility in VA: Chesapeake Fire responds to industrial fire at Perdue Farms facility. The last line in this report is important, but it’s doubtful that part will play any part in how this story feeds alarm among the people invested in the belief there’s some grand conspiracy behind these fires. Here’s the last line in that news report:

“According to a plant manager, the damage from the fire will have minimum impact on their operations.”

This post is going to elaborate on something I wrote in a blog post last week and it’s about latching onto conclusions about events that fit what we already believe, without any real facts to support the conclusions. Here’s what I wrote:

“With all the economic bad news and worries, a lot of people rush into believing any conspiracy theory that gets passed around online, with no real evidence that events are even connected. For instance, last week the headquarters of Azure Standard, a popular distributor of organic and health food, used and promoted by many YouTube homesteading and prepper channels, burned down. Within hours there were people on YouTube and other social media running wild with a conspiracy theory linking the Azure Standard fire to other food company fires. It was all innuendo about “a lot of fires with food places happening” and rumors run amok.

It seems there are lots of people who want to buy into grand conspiracy theories without any evidence or waiting for an investigation.”

Yes, it’s possible that Azure Standard fire was connected to other fires at food supply facilities and yes it could be part of some nefarious effort to harm the American food supply, but there are some things it’s worth considering before leaping to those two conclusions and in the second case assigning blame to either hostile foreign actors or domestic entities you distrust.

First, it’s worth waiting to allow some time for an investigation into the cause of the fire and then determine whether it was an accidental cause, a result of some mechanical problem, a human error mistake that created the conditions for the fire or a criminal act. And if it was a criminal act, well, then that requires more investigation.

Just a news report of a fire does not give anyone enough information to determine the cause and it’s certainly not enough information to state it’s part of a larger conspiracy.

I refer to this way of leaping to conclusions as the Glenn Beck circles of conspiracy theory-building. I was fascinated by Beck’s FOX show chalkboard diagrams, adding more and more pieces to an ever growing conspiracy theory that was built on making specious and often absurd connections between his “pieces” on his conspiracy puzzle. In the center of most Beck conspiracy theories was Barack Obama, who was the face of American subversion to many on the American right for 8 years.

Before continuing, I absolutely disapproved of most Obama policies and I do believe many of the people, including Obama hold views and support policies that are antithetical to American constitutional principles and disastrous for American personal liberty and prosperity. I also believe plenty of people in the Obama circle do embrace a far-left ideology that pushed using crisis (real or manufactured crises) to propel their policies forward. However, the Beck diagrams drew endless tenuous connections between people and events that were often absurd and ridiculous, while pushing a conclusion that none of these connections actually supported or proved.

A whole lot of people on the right bought into the Beck chalkboard antics and here’s the thing, some of Beck’s conclusions fit my political views and beliefs, so I didn’t say, “Whoa, that’s stupid or that doesn’t make any sense,” until long after Beck left Fox and started his online show, which I subscribed to for a while. It took until 2013, when Beck had a total con artist, with a criminal record for fraud, on his show, selling setting up a community of like-minded people in Idaho called The Citadel, that did not even exist yet – the con artist was recruiting people via a Skype interview process, where prospective residents were interviewed to see if they were a good fit and then these people would be required to start sending monthly payments to raise money to purchase the land for this oasis of “freedom.” That Beck gave this con artist a platform on his show and legitimacy was the end of my Beck subscription or listening to anything Beck says.

With the Azure Standard fire and other recent food production-related fires, I’ve seen a US map presented by some people online, with locations of recent fires of food facilities dotted out and their conclusion is a mass conspiracy attacking our food supply. The problem with a map like this is I don’t know how many fires at food facilities usually happen in that timeframe. I don’t know what the fire investigation reports of each of those fires concludes. I don’t know if there’s any evidence of connections between the fires, let alone blaming some bad group – hostile foreign entities or domestic entities.

I saw this report on the Azure Standard fire this morning:

“The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal has determined the cause of the Azure Standard headquarters building fire to be an accident, rather than an act of arson. According to a press release from Azure Standard, the fire was related to a tote of rolled corn being temporarily stored in a cooler due to oversupply at the company’s warehouse.

According to the fire marshal, the fire could’ve started one of two ways: The corn could’ve started smoldering on its own due to moisture content, causing it to combust, or the tote or dust from the corn could’ve come into contact with an electrical outlet, causing it to short and igniting the corn.”

I seriously doubt many of the people online selling the “lots of fires” conspiracy theory have done some searching into the aftermath of investigations into the causes of these fires, because they’re already sure it’s a big conspiracy attacking our food supply. I just prefer to gather more information, before deciding, because that’s my contrarian nature. I’m like this about a lot things, especially when “experts” conclude things, I tend to go digging around and reading reports and stuff, to see if the evidence really backs their certainties. And yes, the possibility of a big conspiracy to attack our food supply is possible, especially in light of the economic warfare playing out around the world. The massive sanctions against Russia by the West and Russian and China stockpiling grain and trying to wage economic war against the West could lead to attacks on our food supply, but I still prefer evidence that’s behind this spate of food facility fires

Conspiracy theories flourish with people believing in some omnipotent evil powers that be. And sure, there are plenty of powerful people and groups, who do things or promote things or push public policy that I think are bad, but that doesn’t automatically make a case that these fires are the work of any of these people or groups.

If you leap to sweeping conclusions devoid of any real evidence or even much in the way of specific information and then run around in fear and panic, even making rash personal decisions based on these conclusions, you lose your most precious freedom too. You’ve allowed fear to rob you of control over your mind.

It’s easy to get swept up in emotion with so many serious political and economic problems swirling about. It’s hard to calmly sift through the information overload and constant chorus of people shouting, “Fire!” in an already overcrowded theater filled with flame-throwing partisans on social media and on the news. I’m still working on not overreacting to the constant inferno of bad news, innuendo or buying into conspiratorial-thinking scorching the media landscape daily (phew, a flaming pile of bad puns in this paragraph, sorry, I got carried away).

Asking more questions helps me sort things out. I also stopped relying on “so and so” said to sway me, because “so and so” lives in the same information wasteland I do and I know I’ve bought into news stories that turned out to be bs and it can happen to anyone.

After the 4 years of non-stop media hysteria about President Trump/Russia Collusion insanity and the almost daily breaking news that turned out to be false stories by the mainstream media, I try now to wait at least 24 hours to see what other information shakes out. It wasn’t only Trump news though. ABC ran a video of a firing range in KY with a story they were reporting on about fighting in Syria. How that mistake happened, they never said. The most upsetting false reporting to me was Dem and liberal media hacks on Twitter blaming the US military for Iran shooting down a civilian Ukrainian airliner in January of 2020. I was on Twitter that night and wrote a blog post about what happened. Iran had lobbed missiles into Iraq that night, targeting US soldiers and then Dem mouthpieces started blaming the US military (and Trump) for creating a “fog of war” and some were tweeting about the “crossfire” caused the Iranians to mistakenly target that civilian airliner. The thing was US soldiers were attacked in Iraq and the US fired no missile at Iran that night, ZERO. There was no “crossfire” or “fog of war.” Those Dem spin hacks chose to spread spin blaming the US and making excuses for Iran – that disturbs me to this day.

The deterioration of our news reliability and the constant deluge of online information can distort reality more than clarify anything. I’ve found taking some screen breaks helps. It’s hard to break free of that, especially with so many serious events unfolding around the world right now, but it’s worth the effort to keep working to free our minds of the daily information overload.

My parents used to admonish me for rushing around in the house, “Slow down, are you on the way to a fire?” They were right about slowing down. With the always online world we live in, it’s our minds that do all that racing around now, not our legs. I had a bad habit of trying to rush up and down the stairs and tripping myself up. I either banged my shins rushing up or tripped and fell down some steps. I never gained a single thing for all that rushing.

Slow down a bit.

Note: Had some glitches using the editing program, so I’ve been making changes, sorry about that.

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Gardening with disabilities

Back in March, The Provident Prepper YouTube channel began a WWIII Victory Garden Challenge, encouraging everyone to grow a garden. I had decided to try growing a few vegetables, but then as I got busy with starting seeds and then trying some grow bags, things kind of blossomed into a lot more grow bags and containers. I might set up raised beds to use later, but I’m just happy with getting started with gardening again.

I had meant to share this inspiring video by The Provident Prepper, of an elderly couple not letting the man’s physical disabilities stop them from gardening. Some of their solutions to create a garden that’s manageable should inspire everyone to get busy and grow some food:

If their gardening solutions aren’t inspiring enough, this elderly man carves helping hands out of wood too.

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Making Homemade Yogurt Starter

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Quick tip egg substitution

I’m going to start jotting down information and helpful tips I come across and put them under a heading, Prepper Tips.

This week, I came across this egg substitution of using the liquid from cooked garbanzo beans as an egg substitution in baking:

“If you’ve ever opened a can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans, you’ve already encountered aquafaba–you just didn’t know it! Aquafaba is the slightly vicous liquid found in canned garbanzo beans and it’s a magical ingredient that can be used as a vegan egg replacer in baking. “Aqua” and “faba” literally translate to “water” and “bean” and the term “aquafaba” was coined by Goose Wohlt back in 2015.

The cooking liquid is full of starch from the canned chickpeas and therefore makes it a great binder in baked goods. You can also whip it up into a foam (similar to egg whites) to give baked goods great lift and a fluffy texture.”,Goose%20Wohlt%20back%20in%202015.

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Look to the sky

“When a man ain’t got no ideas of his own, he’d ought to be kind of o’ careful who he borrows ’em from.” – Owen Wister (The Virginian)

So, this is going to be another long political blog post, but I want to be clear that although I’m pretty conservative and mostly supported Republicans, at this point, I believe neither party really serves the American people. There’s too much big money in our politics, too much political theater (spin info war) and let’s be honest, both parties have spent America into a destabilizing pit of debt. I’ve gone on and on about how getting out of debt and building up some savings are important for personal emergency preparedness, well that holds true for our government too. So, straight up, if I criticize Democrats, that doesn’t mean I think Republicans are better and vice versa. Both major parties have spent us into this precarious situation. Neither party holds any sort of moral high ground with combating the vast public corruption in our politics. Both parties are committed to engaging in this destructive spin information war played out in the news media and on social media 24/7.

Media – whether it’s the news organizations, Hollywood, or social media platforms – aren’t out to find the truth; they’re about making money. Our elected officials are about money too and power… and control.

Yesterday, along with the Twitter/Elon Musk media drama, another story emerged of the Biden administration setting up a “Disinformation Governance Board” within the Department of Homeland Security. Nina Jankowicz apparently will head this board. Naturally, right-wing folks on Twitter began tweeting out all sorts of social media comments and videos of Janckowicz, including this:

And here’s a tweet of Jankowicz singing about disinformation (I watched about 15 seconds and that’s all I could take):

“Disinformation” was a term used frequently during the Cold War to explain the Soviet Union’s efforts to spread communism world-wide and undermine western democracy. Now, Democrats are so desperate to control the media environment (especially social media) that the Biden administration established a sort of Ministry of Truth within the Department of Homeland Security. Last year I reread George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and wrote a blog post about it: Don’t Join The Crazy and well, that goes double now… Just this silly woman singing about disinformation was enough for me to discount her as person who should be heading up any federal government board.

I love doing counted cross-stitch;-)

The last thing Americans need or should tolerate is a “Disinformation Governance Board” run by the Department of Homeland Security. Free speech is vital to maintaining our personal liberty and protecting our individual rights.

Since 2016, suddenly “Russian disinformation” became a Democrat spin talking point, with efforts to paint Trump as a Russian asset, agent or some variation of “working with Russia,” and the Clinton campaign manufactured the bogus Steele dossier and peddled it to the FBI, into our intelligence agencies and to the US State Department, all to try to destroy Trump’s presidential campaign.

I constantly say timelines matter and they do. It’s easy to forget which order events happened and when they happened, so I keep looking back and thinking through timelines and the sequence of events.

There’s always been a huge question mark in my mind about why Trump entered the 2016 race and who he was working with in the beginning. Trump received millions of dollars worth of free liberal media to disrupt and wreak havoc in the 2016 GOP primary. He was still good friends with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who allowed Trump to phone in for interviews, which other GOP candidates weren’t allowed to do. All across liberal media, they were selling Trump in the beginning – all to create chaos in the 2016 GOP primary. And Trump was still hanging out with friends like Howard Stern at Mar-a-Lago, in 2015, when he entered the race. Trump had also been good friends with the Clintons and Bill Clinton’s golfing buddy. Trump-supporters chose to forget all that history. Trump was useful to the Democrat spin war effort in the spring of 2015, with turning the GOP primary into a freak show.

Trump became a problem for Democrats by late 2015, because Hillary was a terrible campaigner, the email scandal, which broke in early 2015, was also dragging down her campaign. Trump had gained a following and hobbled together some campaign themes that were resonating, plus his rally, large crowd rabble-rousing had created almost a cult following, in addition to creating energy and momentum to his campaign. By late 2015, Democrats, the liberal media and the Clinton campaign unleashed one of the most aggressive smear campaigns in American politics, largely propelled via their spin war. That effort continues to this day and in 2016 “Russian disinformation” became a central theme of many of those smear attacks.

Yes, of course the Russians engage in information warfare operations against the US, but in the past few years the American spin information war has veered so far off the rails, that some Democrat political operatives worked with Silicon Valley execs. to field fake Russian bots in the 2017 Alabama Senate race. We’ve had Democrats & liberal blue checkmark Twitter (especially the journalist class) fighting to get Trump and other right-wing people banned from social media. We’ve had years now of spun up hysteria about “dangerous” Russian disinformation on social media and a whole lot of government/media brainstorms floated on ways to combat this purported “threat.”

I grew up during the Cold War and became fascinated by it, along with falling in love with early American history. I have a high school education, went to college one year, then joined the Army. I am a total dunce at science and math, didn’t think I was smart enough for college and never returned. I like to read a lot about things that catch my interest. I am not an expert on anything, so I try to provide a lot of links in my posts, to indicate where I found information or read something or saw something online.

The Russian disinformation story began long before the Cold War (1947-1991). In 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Czarist government and seized power in Russia. Lenin wasn’t satisfied with the Russian revolution and wanted a global communist revolution, so in 1919 Lenin formed the Comintern:

Lenin and his associates viewed Russia as no more than a springboard from which to launch a global civil war. They feared that if the revolution remained confined to backward, agrarian Russia it would perish under the combined onslaught of the foreign “bourgeoisie” and the domestic peasantry. In their view it was essential to carry the revolution abroad to the industrial countries of the West, whose workers, they believed, were anxious to stop fighting one another and topple their exploiters. To organize and finance this effort, they formed in March 1919 the Third International, or “Comintern.” This organization was a branch of the Russian Communist Party and operated under the aegis of that party’s Central Committee. By virtue of rules laid down in 1920 at the Comintern’s Second Congress, Communist parties abroad were to be created either afresh or else by splitting Social Democratic parties; in either case, they were to be accountable to Moscow and not to their domestic constituencies.

Hoping to exploit the political and economic turmoil afflicting central Europe after the Allied victory, Moscow sent agents with ample supplies of money to stir up unrest. In Germany three revolutionary efforts undertaken with the help of local communists and sympathizers—in early 1919, in 1921, and again in 1923—failed, partly from the passivity of the workers, partly from effective countermeasures of the Weimar government. In Hungary a Bolshevik government under Béla Kun came to power in March 1919, but it lasted only four months before being overthrown. Efforts to incite social unrest elsewhere had no success either and eventually were given up in favour of infiltrating existing institutions by both legal and clandestine communist organizations.”

Thus began the modern era of Russian disinformation. Russian police state behaviors didn’t begin in the Soviet era, but permeate through Czarist Russian history. There’s a Russian cultural acceptance of harsh government controls, unlike our American traditions of personal liberty and individual rights. Piles and piles of books have been written about the Soviet efforts to undermine the West and Russian disinformation/misinformation, along with mountains of great spy/international thriller novels. I loved many books on the Soviet efforts and the Cold War spy novels.

I don’t think America has a “disinformation” problem so much as it has a media culture problem and also a broader culture problem in how Americans react to and interact via social media. Too many people react instantly to social media drama, think shallowly about information they see or hear, if at all, and rush to become part of the latest media-driven “national conversation” or weigh in on the big news drama of the day. Few people take the time to research information or wait before leaping into the online social media hot take public square. It’s about as easy to rush to judgment and spread information without checking it out as it is to click and buy stuff online. Taking a deep breath and taking some time to think about purchases or buying into media hysteria would serve each of us better.

The quote at the beginning is one of my favorite quotes. It’s from The Virginian, a 1902 novel considered to be the first true American fictional Western and it’s one of my favorite American novels. As America expanded westward, American culture developed and spread, but often Americans in settled parts loved to hear frontier stories of drama, hardship and heroism sold in American print, from newspapers to American dime store novels (1860-1915), which were peddled largely to the uneducated class. It’s fine to be entertained by cheap fictional drivel, but to run a country via a 24/7 political soap opera/spin information war, replete with constant smear campaigns, fabricated “news” and pundit-generated hysteria as the constant chorus, is no way for our republic to prosper. We’ve moved from dime store novels, which ran a 100 pages to 280 character tweets and many Twitter peeps were complaining that 280 character tweets were too long to read… go figure.

Trying to encourage people to slow down and think about things, read more, consider differing viewpoints and work to stop reacting instantly, like puppets on a string, can help each of us regain control over the information overload, shield ourselves from the media-driven drama and regain more control over our minds rather than running around reacting 24/7.

The last thing America needs is a Ministry of Truth run by a bizarro Mary Poppins of Disinformation. Seriously, this woman is ridiculous.

The truth has a way of breaking through even the darkest clouds of lies (or the most ridiculous spin war garbage.) Sometimes even one ray of truth poking through can light our path forward, I believe. The thing is we’ve got to start breaking away from our screens more to even see the clouds in the sky or catch that ray of truth.

Look to the sky… not at the screen.

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Filed under General Interest, Information War, Politics

Twitter doesn’t matter at all

The news media, pundit class and assorted social media influencers are going on and on… and on about Elon Musk buying Twitter, which is the main battlefield of the spin information war. Most of America isn’t on Twitter and certainly doesn’t follow politics Twitter, but Twitter is where the spin battles are fought out between the blue-checkmark politics elites – the journalists, politicians and influencers, who Twitter decided were blue checkmark-worthy.

Elon Musk is an eccentric billionaire and that right-wing Americans are looking to another rich guy, who isn’t even a conservative or Republican, in any sense of the word, as their savior, speaks volumes about how this spin war has fried brain cells. That so many powerful, left-wing Twitter elites are having meltdowns over Twitter no longer being under control of liberals, likewise, speaks volumes of how important the corrupt spin war is to them. They’re upset they are losing control of the main spin battlefield in America.

I don’t care about Elon Musk or Twitter. I care about America – both our republic and the millions of wonderful American people. A lot of prominent right-wing folks are running around thanking Elon Musk for “saving free speech,” while a lot of left-wing folks are hysterically portending the “end of our democracy.” Some liberals are talking about leaving Twitter and some are even going the Hollywood routine of dramatically announcing they’re leaving America… again.

Our country is facing massive challenges right now – especially economic ones, a total lack of leadership in Washington, Russia and China waging aggressive information and economic war against the West and the war in Ukraine. And this domestic spin war greases the skids for political corruption and it still fuels divides in our country every day. Hence, with the Twitter political crowd, one side grasps at Elon Musk as the savior of free speech in America and the other side is hyperventilating he’s the devil sent to destroy our democracy. That’s the level of stupid in our country.

Here goes with my broken record about the American spin information war… again, sorry, but it’s important. The American spin info war way of politics started with the Clinton crowd, then over the years spread to the entire Democratic Party and liberal activists. Trump borrowed the Dem spin war tactics in 2016 and beat the Dems and liberal media at their own corrupt spin war antics.

Back in the 90s, once the internet came along and forums like Excite became popular, the emerging Clinton spin war moved online. The objective of the Dem spin information war was, and still remains, to control public opinion via control of political news messaging in America.

Those Dem spin word games, from the very beginning, were repetitive messaging campaigns orchestrated by Dem operatives, who coordinated with liberal news media. The most important thing about this spin information war, is it’s just the visible part of a very ruthless, coordinated, win-by-any-means-necessary way of politics, where wholesale public corruption runs rampant.

Bill Clinton survived impeachment and Excite went away:

“The original Excite company was founded in 1994 and went public two years later. Excite was once a popular site on the Internet during the 1990s, with the main portal site being the sixth most visited website in 1997. The company merged with broadband provider @Home Network but together went bankrupt in 2001. Excite’s portal and services were acquired by iWon and then by Ask Jeeves, but the website went into a steep decline in popularity afterwards.”

The spin info war crowd (journalists, political pundits, pols) eventually moved on to Twitter. This crowd might likely move somewhere else at some point, but the vast corruption in our political parties assures this spin information war way of trying to control the news media and public opinion won’t go away easily or quickly.

When Twitter started being mentioned constantly, for a long time I had no interest in using Twitter (and still don’t really), but I became curious why TV cable news kept mentioning tweets so much (this was pre-Trump). By 2016, Twitter was where the political class and journalists hung out online and it was where the daily spin battles played out. Trump understood that and he had a gift for disrupting and hijacking Dem spin attacks, often with a single, poorly worded tweet. That’s why Dems and liberals wanted him silenced too. If you get in the way of the Dem and liberal media spin war, every effort will be made to silence you (see the attacks on Ron DeSantis).

I went on Twitter at first to try to figure out why Twitter mattered so much in politics. So, I followed hundreds of journalists, pundits and politicians, trying to understand what was going on. I quickly began to understand that Twitter was the main spin war battlefield now and that spin cycles emanated to other news media formats from Twitter via amplification with rapid retweeting (trending stories,) especially by journalists and liberal media pundits on Twitter. Instead of any real investigation, it’s more common for some explosive breaking news or new spin angle to be floated and tweeted by one journalist or news source and other journalists and news organizations instantly begin retweeting the hot take news.

Twitter retweets and that rapid amplification process manufacture the American news spin cycles.

Vast public corruption ripples underneath this spin info war. There’s widespread abuse of power, using government assets for partisan political purposes, weaponizing the FBI for partisan political purposes, and weaponizing intelligence assets for partisan political purposes that now go into this spin war way of politics in America.

John Durham still plods on with investigating the 2016 Clinton campaign corruption (largely centered on the bogus Steele dossier being packaged and sold, not just in the media, but to the FBI and intel agencies and through the US State Department too.

Long ago I lost faith any of the powerful elites live under the same rules the rest of us do. Anyone thinking Republicans will save us, well Republican politicians in Washington aren’t trying to end the corrupt spin information war, they’re trying to get better at it. Of course, back to the truth about binary choices – the lesser of two evils is always still evil.

With multiple serious crises on the horizon, what matters most now is trying to encourage as many Americans as possible to get busy stocking up on basics, learning more skills, learning to plant some food, and most of all start talking to other like-minded people and work on building some community.

Here’s an important truth: one person, not a political figure, an eccentric billionaire, media person, influencer or obscure blogger can save our democracy or protect free speech in America.

Twitter doesn’t matter at all

Only “we the people” can save our country. That means as many Americans as possible need to start putting in their oars and rowing as hard as they can to pull our country away from the dangerous falls we’re drifting towards.

We certainly don’t need a bunch of yahoos blustering about civil war or civil divorce.

We all should be trying to encourage like-minded fellow citizens and trying to find ways to share ideas and work together in our communities to help each other weather these serious economic crises already on the horizon.

We need as many helping hands across America as possible. And that sure is a tall order.


PS: I’ve followed the spin information war so closely, because it affected me personally in 1998, when I ventured onto the Excite message boards and began posting political comments there during the Clinton impeachment scandal.

If you get in the way of the Dem spin info war, every corrupt means possible will be used to intimidate and silence you. Trump survived 4 years of being under assault, 24/7, by Dems and liberal media, determined to destroy his presidency and force him into submission. Trump fought back, embracing the same corrupt spin war tactics as Dems and then went too far with his “Stop the Steal” effort. The Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol finally gave Democrats and liberal media cover to ban Trump from Twitter and social media. Elon Musk buying Twitter puts that huge spin win of silencing Trump at risk.

I’m not Trump, only a nobody homemaker, but I was attacked in 1998 and don’t have any way to prove it happened. I’m now a nobody blogger, whose blog barely gets any views and on Twitter, I tweet when I feel it’s important to fight to disrupt corrupt spin attacks. I currently have 55 Twitter followers, but attracting followers isn’t necessary to disrupt spin attacks, I found. It’s making the right connections in choosing who to quote tweet with retweeting and where to post comments. Unlike Trump, I don’t want to ever be center stage. I want the vast, wholesale public corruption, that this spin information war propels, to be exposed. I wrote about what happened to me in Messages of Mhere on my home page. I used pseudonyms, but every person mentioned is real, including me. Ironically, my kids told me it wasn’t safe to use my real name on the internet and explained user-names to me. My user-name on the Excite message boards was mhere, a play on the Russian word for “peace.” A user-name doesn’t protect you from corrupt, powerful people, I learned. I wrote that story in 2013 and it’s my best recollection of the events that happened to me during the Clinton impeachment. I can’t prove any of it.

I don’t have any power or know any powerful people, but I still believe no one should be above the law in America.


It’s 4:57 pm EST, 4/28/2022 – Thought I want to add, for the record, my real name is Susan Holly Heward.

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Filed under General Interest, Information War

Another Amish blog post

Here’s an interesting Darkhorse podcast video raising questions about our government’s effort to fight COVID. I had posted the link to the news story mentioned in this Darkhorse Podcast video back in October 2021:

Considering the many unforeseen consequences of our Covid mitigation efforts, like dire economic problems, massive social upheaval, huge spike in suicides and drug overdoses, it’s worth asking if the Amish approach of dealing with Covid racing through their community worked better. It’s important to note that many people, some with science and medical bona fides too, predicted many of these dire consequences, but were loudly rebuked. Some even faced efforts to silence them in the public square of social media.

The Amish continued working, kept their families and communities together, while caring for the sick, like they had always done. They attended church services and continued their lives as normally as possible. Our liberal media went all in on selling the “trust the science” spin effort being pushed by the liberal elite crowd in Washington and liberal bastions of academia.

The Amish didn’t deny Covid existed, they just chose to work together as a community, like they always do, rather than try extreme social mitigation efforts our national health experts sold, because China was doing lockdowns and mass masking. There were even Democrats in early March 2020, who were embracing Iran releasing prisoners due to Covid spreading through some overcrowded prisons and they could no longer maintain those prisons.

Democrats crammed that prisoner release approach into the CARES Act, which was passed on March 27, 2020 and are still pushing that these prisoners, released due an emergency situation, be allowed to serve their sentences at home. The speed with which our ‘health experts” and some elected officials embraced Covid mitigation efforts being tried in other countries, especially despotic regimes, still boggles my mind.

What was “scientific” about rushing to embrace China’s or Iran’s mitigation policies? These Covid policies infringed on civil liberties, destroyed many Americans ability to earn a living, restricted families from being by the side of dying loved ones in hospitals, forced schools to close, prohibited church services in places of worship, and even interfered with funeral services across the country?

None of these mitigation efforts worked to “slow the spread” or “stop the spread.” In fact, even the vaccines haven’t slowed or stopped the spread – that’s the truth. So, the selling pitch shifted to the vaccines lower your chances of getting seriously ill, if you contract Covid. There has sure been a lot of Covid policy goalpost moving.

Are we just supposed to forget all of this happened and move on? Or are we still allowed to ask questions and expect a bit of accountability of our elected officials and government health officials?

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Filed under COVID-19, General Interest