Category Archives: General Interest

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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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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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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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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How not to grow microgreens

I like learning how to do new things. I wanted to add a bit more to my last post about gardening. With seeds, I looked for bush-type varieties. The patio tomatoes are Burpee Veranda Red Hybrid, which only need 1 sq. foot of space. Of course, later I did plant these Abe Lincoln tomato seeds, which will need to be staked, caged or on a trellis. There are also bush variety beans, squash, and cucumber seeds available.

Here’s the Burpee seed pack on top of the lid of a cute cardboard box I found at Dollar General to keep my seeds in.

I bought some seeds online, but I also bought some seeds at Dollar Tree and Walmart. When I went looking for seed potatoes, there were none left at Lowes and Walmart, where I live. In fact, seeds sold out very fast at my Walmart this year. We have a Tractor Supply nearby and I found seed potatoes there. They had a ton of seeds left and discounted, so I stocked up on both vegetable and flower seeds.

I see so many things online that fuel my crafting, sewing, decorating, cooking and yes, gardening dreams, but long before the internet I did the same thing getting inspiration from magazines, books and TV. One thing I tried in recent months, with no success, is growing microgreens.

The first attempt I put the seeds on potting soil. After a day in a dark location, some of the seeds sprouted, but a white mold had grown faster than the microgreens and formed an eerie-looking web over the seeds and potting soil.

For the second attempt I ordered some natural fiber growing mats online and used Chinese takeout containers I kept (I repurpose a lot of food containers for various things). I tried radish, broccoli and beet seeds. The microgreen seed instructions recommended soaking the beet seeds overnight, as did the growing mat instructions, so I soaked the beet seeds and mats. I did not get great results:

The tray on the right were the beet seeds, which were a total failure. I have two cats now (stray kittens that showed up last fall). They had to examine the microgreens and ate most of them… So much for my microgreen experiment. I’ll try growing them again – later.

I bought a pack of catnip seed and a pack of some kind of grass seed for cats.

That’s how new projects go for me. Some turn out fantastic, but many are failures the first time. Very few look as great as the pictures and videos that inspired me. I learn as I fail my way toward success. The failures are part of the process with learning how to do new things.

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My container gardening effort

I’ve written a lot about urging people to calm down, but I don’t want anyone thinking I am not encouraging people to stock up however they can – from the store, growing your own food and using and preserving food as much as you possibly can. Eliminating waste wherever you can will stretch your food. Cutting down on waste is something I keep working on, because I realized years ago that I waste a lot of food.

Alarming economic and shortage news will continue, like this one: “Traders were caught by surprise by Jokowi’s announcement that Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, was halting exports of the edible oil to ensure domestic food product availability.” Just saw that this evening.

I’ve worked on container gardening this spring. I started seeds with that winter sowing method, but it was really pointless, since I live in zone 8b. However, in the gallon jug I had 5 cabbage plants started. I planted them in Dollar Tree shopping bags (purchased when it was still a dollar) rather than toss them. So far they’re doing fine in these bags:

I put cardboard down and bags of wood mulch to spread out my containers, because my patio was getting too crowded with containers and I’m still working on that. I ran out of cardboard and have used weed-block fabric too. I used grow bags I ordered from amazon, various cheap plastic containers and things like these Dollar Tree bags. The most expensive part of this has been buying potting soil.

I apologize for my terrible photography, but here are some pictures of my container garden effort:

I did stupid stuff like I planted the entire pack of patio tomato seeds and pepper seeds, expecting about half to germinate and then when almost every seed sprouted, well, I didn’t thin them out. Now I have a lot, probably too many, patio tomato plants and peppers. I also gave away several patio tomato plants and peppers. Along my fence in cheap 10 gallon totes I’ve got seed potatoes planted, pots of hot peppers and grow bags of zucchinis. I have three blueberry bushes I planted in pots along the fence.

I probably only need one zucchini, but I planted 4 grow bags:

I’ve got grow bags of green beans, cucumbers, okra, yellow squash, scalloped edge pattypan squash, kale, cantaloupe, radishes are going to seed, lettuce, green onions, herbs and flowers too. Oh, and I decided I wanted to try some larger tomatoes, so I planted some Abe Lincoln tomato seeds late (photo below) and transplanted them into grow bags today:

I have herbs and some flowers started in square food containers from Dollar Tree:

The grow bags drain through the fabric, but I poked holes in all the plastic containers and bags from Dollar Tree. Drainage holes are vital.

What I don’t have, yet, are any raised beds, so I just moved ahead with the containers for right now. I planted everything from seed, except I bought the blueberry bushes, obviously and I bought seed potatoes and onion sets. I also have a rosemary plant I bought at Walmart. For potting up seedlings, I put holes in red Solo cups and I washed all of them, so I can use them again. I intend to reuse all these grow bags and cheap Dollar Tree containers. My backyard stays very muddy and kind of swampy after it rains, so I am hoping this wood mulch helps keep things manageable. I heard some gardener guy talking about wood mulch attracts slugs and snails, so I’ll watch and see.

I also started pressure canning chicken and ground beef, even though it’s just me. I already had quite a bit of canned chicken from the store and I have a lot of frozen chicken, but I decided to start pressure canning some too. I pressure canned 16 pints of chicken breasts cut into pieces this past weekend and I also pressure canned 8 pints of ground beef. I’m brand new to pressure canning, but there are loads of excellent how-to videos online and I bought a Ball canning book and the USDA food preservation guide. I followed the steps and didn’t have any problems with this.

I remember helping my mother and great-grandmother can vegetables and pickles as a kid, but that was just doing what they told me to do. On my own, I was a tad wary, but took it step-by-step. I’m 61 and if I can learn how to do this, anyone can.

Any ways people can stock up on food and basics are a good thing. It’s actually been fun working on this container gardening project and learning to pressure can meat. Just try to do a little bit each day and you’ll be surprised how quickly you make progress.

Decided to add that I purchased a pressure canner a few years ago, while my husband was still alive, but with the caregiver demands, I never got started. Now seems like a good time to learn. I’m sure I’ll make some blunders with home canning, but pressure canning chicken and ground beef was much easier than I expected.

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We have the power to control fear

Many people understandably express concern about the worsening economic situation and wonder how bad things will get. I don’t have a crystal ball to consult, but all the economic indicators are trending poorly. The economic situation isn’t really what this blog post is going to be about. I recently started giving people a head’s up what my blog posts are going to be about in the beginning, so they can easily decide to skip reading further or venture on. So, this blog post is going to be about buying into rumors and bad news that fits your personal views on politics, world events, the worsening economic situation. Yes, this is another warning about information and news sources.

Almost daily now there’s more bad news on the economic front, from projected wheat shortages, rice shortages, drought in the US Mid-West, more shipping problems, war and the list goes on and on. We could have hyperinflation and major economic collapses, but let’s look at some Great Depression facts.

Most of us have heard stories of hardship and struggle from old people who grew up during the Great Depression (1929-1933). Loads of novels and movies have been set during that time period too. However, some interesting facts about The Great Depression get lost, because it’s easier to focus on people going hungry, soup kitchens, bared down recipes to struggle by on, and widespread unemployment – all things that happened.

Unemployment in the US rose to 25% during the Great Depression. The US is below 4% unemployment presently, but inflation is rising rapidly.

What’s interesting is that despite the economic crisis, plenty of very successful businesses, like Publix Super Markets and Pendleton Grain Growers started during the Great Depression. The same thing will likely happen during our current economic woes, even if it gets much worse.

With the fertilizer situation, this year many farmers might not plant as much, but I’d expect a big opportunity for organic and plain old manure-based fertilizers to develop quickly. Big agri-business might not adapt rapidly, but plenty of smaller farmers, might see opportunity in this situation. Along with all the hardships and bad things, this current economic crisis will also fuel some new, successful businesses, new opportunities and a lot of innovation as Americans figure out ways to survive and thrive, because that’s what Americans do.

We are still a country with plenty of people who seek opportunity. Millions of people from other countries still flock to America for that very reason. America remains a country with vast material resources. Beyond that, we still remain a country of incalculable human resources and potential. No matter what bad things happen, I believe it’s important to keep this in mind.

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, five days ago, 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.

That happens a lot online.

If you’re watching a video or TV personality or reading information and it gets you feeling panic or alarm, chances are it’s deliberate, politically-motivated agitation propaganda or clickbait to get people watching or reading or someone reacting out of fear. I’ve read Gavin DeBecker’s, book The Gift of Fear, like millions of other people, and fear or gut instincts can be important to listen to, but when you’re making long-term plans, I still believe it’s wiser to calmly make big spending decisions, plan a budget, and make important financial decisions. In economic crises, being on as stable of personal financial ground as possible improves your chances of faring better than being in a lot of debt and having no money saved.

Along with slowing down on reacting to news, it’s important to slow down about jumping to conclusions about things we see around us too. Ask questions and take your time before getting worked up or rushing to assume the worst.

Ask five eyewitnesses to an event what happened and it’s likely you’ll get five different versions of events. That’s why I’m actively putting the brakes on reacting to alarming news, because many people keep assuming the worst possible economic calamities will befall us. I also am trying not to buy into the “OMG” type social media reactions, where people rush to talk about this “crisis” or that “crisis,” or as in the case of the Azure Standard fire, connect other fires within the food chain as part of some grand conspiracy without a shred of evidence to connect these events or even time for investigators to determine the cause of the Azure Standard fire.

Under-consumption was a problem in the Great Depression, because people couldn’t afford to buy things. Under-consumption also led to massive job losses, as businesses folded.

Mass panic led to bank runs, which forced bank to liquidate loans, which in turn led to bank failures. About 9,000 banks failed between 1930 to 1933.

Mass panic exacerbates and even creates many of the dire events that happen in crises. And mass panic is fueled by rumors, media hysteria and people buying into reacting out of fear. That’s why I keep mentioning it’s important to be calm and try to think through situations, rather than get on a soapbox every day with “the sky is falling” opining.

I don’t have a plan for all the worst-case what-ifs in my life, let alone worrying about what everyone else is going to do, but I do know that getting worked up has never helped anyone make sound decisions, become better prepared, or handle any crisis better. I’ve dealt with lots of crises in my life, just like most people. I’ve had two types of cancer and am thankful to be alive. During that journey, I determined not to let fear control my life. Since then, I look at each day as a bonus and try to be grateful for every moment I am alive. Each crisis you weather makes you a little bit stronger to weather the next one.

You don’t need to solve all the problems of a crisis before the crisis impacts, just try to position yourself to be a little bit better prepared and able to manage than the day before. Set some goals and then each day tackle a little bit more.

Of course, the worst case might happen. People who run around in a panic will probably fare worse in every situation and that goes for developing sound situational awareness, making good decisions, and reacting in ways that will help them or their loved ones survive, especially in the worst case.

Keeping a positive attitude and trying to quell anxiety and fear are as important preparedness skills to work on as stockpiling food, I think. During the pandemic, I saw a lot of Covid hysterics, who inflicted a lot of unnecessary fear and anxiety on their kids and I see signs of that happening with some people concerned about the economic crises unfolding now. There is no need to fill your kids with anxiety and worries every day about shortages. Sure, just like with Covid, it was important to talk to kids about what was happening, but there was no need to allow Covid to consume their daily lives, which many people did.

Interestingly, at the link I mentioned of successful businesses started during the Great Depression, at the beginning of this post, Yellow Book USA, was on that list and introduced yellow pages to help customers compare prices. People had to think about purchases and often had to wait to pull together enough money for basic purchases and compare prices.

My late mother was a child during the Great Depression. She said they didn’t wear shoes in the summertime and got new shoes when school started in the fall. She also said she worked picking potatoes and other vegetables for some nearby farm and handed her pay to her parents, who pooled all the family’s resources including money she, her sister and brothers earned, to buy necessities. She said they had to work as a family to get by.

Mass panic is very contagious and it likely spreads faster than Covid, but luckily we all have the ability to prevent it from taking hold in our lives. I’d hate to see a whole other segment of society go off the deep-end about economic crises, like the segment that went bonkers with fear about Covid.

We have the power to control fear.


Filed under Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

Take some time to enjoy the sunshine

Here’s the first YouTube video that caught my attention today:

Prepper Potpourri offers an important reminder that we live in an aggressive media influencer environment, especially online. Everyone online is influenced by what things pop up on their screens when we click on sites, from the content, to the order of the results in a search engine, to the ubiquitous ads that litter our screens. On TV, the commercial breaks were more obvious, but product placement in movies and in TV shows became a merchandising battlefield. This transcends to sports too, where athletes don certain brands, and ads surround everything from race tracks to ice-skating rinks.

The debate over algorithms has taken on partisan political overtones in recent years. Beyond the marketing aspect, we are all influenced by what we see and hear, but it’s very easy to seek out and gravitate to consuming information that feeds our own beliefs, opinions, concerns and yes, even fears. A lot of people want their fears validated and will seek out ways to prove their fears are reasonable and rational. Funny thing though, if you wander down more and more fearmongering/alarmist information rabbit holes, you could end up living in Alice in Wonderland.. or worse.

With the “shapeshifters” online, well, I have to work constantly to rein in my online shopping impulses, especially since I became more concerned about shortages. I also have to guard against getting alarmed, with so much content geared toward inciting anger and fear. There are endless videos and comments warning about shortages and people offering advice on what to buy and where to buy things, trying to stock up before the mass panic-buying starts. Here’s the thing, I think there are plenty of preppers, who live in panic-buying mode every day and at the first rumor of an item becoming in short-supply, they’re racing to beat the crowd. I’ve been thinking about this shopping behavior for myself, because I can’t possibly make prudent spending decisions, if I react every day to new warnings about items (and lists) of shortages, then rush out to buy those items. Sure, stocking up on those items isn’t a bad thing, but my budget doesn’t allow for me to shop like that. And I don’t want to live like that.

I am trying to cut back on my screen time and enjoy the sunshine and real life, away from the TMI online culture and algorithms.

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