NM Urban Homesteader

The latest posts from NM Urban Homesteader

Well folks I have my new site up and running for the most part; granted the Hoo, Haa, Haa section is still a work in progress, but all the other stuff, including downloads is up and running.

The first post on this new site is
What is a Bug-Out Vehicle & How do I Select One? so check it out for some good information on what to look for to meet your needs.


A 50 something, no longer so urban or in NM, prepping homesteader

I share Preparedness, Homesteading, Self-reliance knowledge & doc's at: http://FormerlyNMUrbanHomesteader.weebly.com

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: October 14, 2013, 9:05 pm

Well I am getting settled in my new state and so far I’m loving it!  I should have done this years ago; don’t know what I was thinking by waiting so long.

Had a scare last week when it rained and rained – I was watching the stream by the house and it kept rising and rising.  I was really concerned until someone pointed to this spot where previous high water was recorded and this time around wasn’t anywhere near that. 

Yet this got me to thinking about flash floods.  So you can expect an article about that in the near future.

Living rural means that stores close up shop by 11PM (MacDonald’s)and most close at 8PM around here.  I no longer have all these various specialty shops and rely heavily on Tractor Supply and Agway.  There is a Wal-Mart and KMart and even a small JCPenny store front in the area, however any other chain stores are about an hour and more out. 

Recycling is mandatory and although I do have weekly trash pick-up at this place it is only for garbage, garbage.  All paper, plastic, metal and glass must be recycled and that means making a trip to one of the recycling centers.  No “Use and Toss” mentality here that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, the site I used to post my documents for download on decided that I had questionable content and removed my account.  (This means all the download links here @ my NMUrbanHomesteader site are invalid.)  

After much searching around I found a new site and am building my new blog and library there.  This is all still “under construction” however keep an eye out for it.  The site is called

"(formerly NM Urban) Homesteader" @ http://FormerlyNMUrbanHomesteader.weebly.com

The new site has a page for the “Blog”, “Events of Interest”, “Check these Sites Out!” and “Downloads”. 

My first official post at this new site will be about “Selecting a Bug Out Vehicle”.

Until then Keep On Preppin ;-}


A 50 something, no longer so urban or in NM, prepping homesteader
Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: August 14, 2013, 12:17 pm
Well the movers were 2 days late.  Ok actually one day late then took 1 ½ days to pack and load, even though I had packed almost 200 boxes myself.  The move was good overall as only one item was damaged.

The drive from NM to Maine took 4 days and 3 nights.  The hotels along the way were good and the one in PA was so pet oriented that they had an outdoor area for dogs and treats, as well as a fenced outdoor area for cats.

We were stopped twice by state troopers in TX and IL.  Both apparently were ‘profiling’ based on a van with AZ plates, dark tinted windows and a big dog.   We would get out, sit in their car so their sniffer dog could get a good whiff, be told to slow down or not follow so close and then we were on our way again.  I must say that in both cases we were treated professionally and with respect and for that I am grateful.

We only had one truly bad experience during the drive and that was because when calling ahead for a hotel we got Travelocityinstead.  They never identified themselves (not once in 4 phone calls), outright refused to let us speak to a supervisor or manager (even their web site doesn’t have a complaint form, email or USPS address, yet alone a phone number for customer service outside of booking a place or trip).  I strongly recommend never ever using Travelocity!!!!

My daughter’s house is nestled into some woods on the side of a narrow road with a wide stream (which would be considered a big river back in NM) that runs along one side.  It is a rather strange stream as there are dams both up and down stream from house location and depending on which dam is releasing water the stream runs each way. 

My dog Max has seen ‘flying fish’, raccoon, possum, groundhog, fox and we have smelled skunk (thankfully Max hasn’t come face to face with one - yet).  There are tons of birds; yellow finch, sparrow, cardinal, robin, crow, osprey, hawk or falcon (couldn’t tell which) and golden eagle, to name a few.  I’ve also seen dear, raccoon and fisher (a type of weasel) tracks along the stream.

There are tons of wildflowers and I have to keep a constant eye out for poison ivy, oak and sumac which are abundant around here.

Since my in-law suite is not complete just yet I have gotten a room, close to my daughter’s for 4-6 weeks, out at an old farm that is owned by a person that rescues horses.  My dog now has several playmates to romp around with. 

The weather is pleasant; not too hot or cold (yet).  Although it does rain almost every night and the humidity is way up there compared to NM. 

Even though I didn’t want to live east of the Mississippi again, this is very rural, small town, mountain Maine and is surprisingly sparse with people that are good old fashioned down to earth, American, God fearing farmers.  Very few, if any, freeloaders, moochers or people controlled by any of the political parties.  These people employ American citizens before employing non-American residents.  In fact there are very few if any non-American residents here (maybe because this state does not pay out any service monies to non-Americans). These are real independent thinkers and doers – early to bed and early to rise, living off the land, American citizens.  A truly refreshing and blessed place to live for a spell!

Cell reception is sporadic at best and doesn’t really work in either house (probably due to the metal roofs), so it’s really kinda strange to walk outside, step away from the house and have the cell phone suddenly receive several text messages and ‘missed’ calls.

To those of you that regularly read my blog, I will be set up soon so I can get back to it (even though I am no longer urban or in NM).   My first article will be on Choosing a Bug-out Vehicle To Meet Your Specific Needs.

Also note that for some reason, scribd.com decided that I was an ‘inappropriate’ author and deleted my directory.  I am in the process of finding another web publishing site and will update the links to documents on my blog once I have accomplished that.

Keep in touch, take care and may the Creator bless you and yours always ;-}


Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: July 30, 2013, 3:46 pm
Those of you who have followed me these past years know I have been wanting to move rural for quite some time now.  

Well ...

I have sold my house and am moving to a rural area in a new state.   Since I am on a timeline to vacate etc, my postings will be few and far between until I get settled.

Keep an eye out here for the saga of a country girl gone metropolitan, to country again ...

Until then –

Prep On ;-}

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: May 18, 2013, 5:42 pm

If a crisis hits your home, neighborhood, town, state or region it pays to be able to locate and shut off your utilities before they can compound the problem.

Knowing where your utility mains are and how to operate them is key to household safety and can significantly decrease property damage during and after an emergency. 

Make sure every member of your household is familiar with the location of your main water, electric and gas switches and valves and knows how to operate them.

If the crisis is slow moving, where you have some time to prepare, like a hurricane – shut off your utilities BEFORE the crisis hits.  This greatly reduces the chances of additional sparks, floods, gas leaks and the like and keeps you much safer in your home during the crisis to boot.

Most municipal utility shut-offs require some kind of tool.  Each utility has its own versions of the various meters and such to shut off any gas, electric, water, propane and sewer intakes to your home.  So be sure to contact your local utilities and or propane, well and septic system vendors for specific information on your systems.  Also, be sure to measure exactly what size each of these wrenches or tools need to be, as different municipalities utilize different sized valves, switches and such.  You want a tool that fits perfectly, so it works perfectl!.

Everyday tools can work, but the going is tough and slow.  So if you have the required tools in your household emergency kit, this will save you time, energy and frustration, if not money and peace of mind too. 

Read on for guidelines on turning off your Electric Service, Water Service, Well Water, Natural Gas, Propane, Oil Furnace and Plugging your Sewer to avoid backflow  @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/142005848/Utility-Shut-Off-Safety-in-an-Emergency


Keep On Preppin'


Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: May 17, 2013, 5:25 am
I'm not so good at putting things into the written word, and this final part to building a Needs Based Preparedness Plan is more along the lines of 'gotta see it', so bear with me and follow the link at the end of this post to 'see' all the examples that give you an idea of what I am trying to explain ;-}

Organizing a plan is probably the toughest part in making any plan and a preparedness plan is no exception.  Over the years, the following strategy has proven instrumental in accomplishing this.  It is basically a ‘grouping’ of the ‘needs’ that are then put into an outline format.

Outline format allowed changes to my plan as I moved into or out of various areas that were prone to specific types of crises – without having to re-write the entire plan!  All I had to do was cross the Roman numeral out and then move that page to the end of the plan when I moved out of an area; or write a replacement Roman numeral for any new crisis when I moved into a specific area.  It sure does beat re-writing the entire plan ;-}

First and foremost we have to remember that a preparedness plan is NOT a set of how-to instructions on utilizing your goods or supplies.  Rather, this is the basic methods, processes and procedures associated to each need (goods, knowledge, skills) on your Per Crisis Needs Lists.

Let’s take Food Storage as an example:

Your preparedness plan will deal with the projected timeframe you want the food storage items to sustain you.  It will NOT however be your detailed inventory of how much food you have in storage at any given time or even exactly where it is stored.  Nor will the plan contain any recipes or medicinal uses.  Any detail or physical inventory on the quantity of each food item in storage, etc., will be in your Important Documents book under ‘Food Storage’.

So if your ultimate goal is a year’s supply of food and water, but you only have 6 months right now, your preparedness plan will read something like this:

Food Storage
  • Quantity: 6 mths, goal 1 year; budget is on track with our goal
  • Location(s):  primary retreat and several caches; goal secondary retreat

Note: If you have some ‘goods’ that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt, you won’t be able to utilize without a set of step-by-step instructions, then highlight these and be sure to create a ‘How To’ or ‘Instructions’ section in your Important Documentation book and put the instructions for these items there.

Most of the ‘needs’ on your Per Crisis Needs Lists can likely be grouped into one of the following group types.  So review your Per Crisis Needs lists with these potential groupings in mind.  

Keep a scratch pad with several columns on it and just make quick notes as you notice the various groupings of ‘needs’.

When you finalize these groupings, try to give each Roman numeral its own physical page when you type it up.  This will allow changes without having to re-write the entire plan.  Once this is completed print it off and put in your Important Documentation book – hard copy is for the truly prepared.  Make  changes as needed to your hardcopy to keep it up to date.

These ‘groupings’ are what I call ‘organizational indicators’ for your preparedness plan outline.

I.    The simplest ‘grouping’ concerns those needs that fall into the ‘goals and objectives’ realm.  Think along the lines of what you have yet to acquire, the quantity you wish to obtain or a retreat location goal or the example above on food storage and the like.

II.    Repeat ‘needs’ tend to be the more critical stuff and that alone forms one type of ‘grouping’ of needs.  For instance most of the following will usually fall into your repeated needs ‘grouping’:

  • Budget
  • Equipment
  • Supplies
  • Storage Areas
  • Practice Drills
  • Mobility
  • Physical Necessity to life:  breathable air, nutrition, water and shelter from the elements (clothing, shelter, heating, cooling)
  • Psychological Necessity to life:  spiritual and mental wellness, entertainment to eliminate boredom
  • DSS:  Defense, Safety and Security
  • Communications:  contacts, call tree, listening network, alternative powered radio, alternative 2-way communications
  • Medical, Dental, First Aid
  • Sanitation and waste
  • Alternative energy for heating, cooling, cooking and the like
  • Maintenance needs of all of the supplies:  usage and rotation of items based on use and shelf life.

III.    Another ‘grouping’ usually shows up with long duration crises:

  • Education
  • Physical Fitness and exercise
  • Renewable food, gardening, seed saving, canning, dehydrating, Hunting, fishing, trapping, snaring and or food animals like fish, goats, chickens, etc.
  • Replenishable water

IV.    What methodologies, processes and procedures are utilized for the consumable and reusable ‘goods’ is another ‘grouping’; like food or sanitation and waste.

When looking at food we have some process and procedures as well as methods and tools or equipment associated to it:

  • Storing – containers, a safe location with the proper food storage environment
  • Preserving  - each food preservation method requires a ‘device’ or two to perform.  Think canning, dehydrating, smoking, curing and the like
  • Cooking  - pots, pans, utensils and a cooking heat source
  • Replenishing  - methods of procuring more food. Like gardening, hunting, fishing, trapping, snares, butchering, etc.
  • Eating – bowls, plates and utensils

Sanitation & Waste is another of this type of grouping:

  • Personal Hygiene – body, teeth, hair
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning of the various food cooking, eating, preserving and storage containers and utensils
  • Human waste disposal
  • Grey water re-use and disposal
  • Compost
  • Trash/garbage disposal

V.    Another type of ‘grouping’ appears when items repeat for a couple of specific crises on your list and are direct reflections or symptoms of the consequences of these particular crises.  For example let’s say you have 4 crises on your list along the lines of:

  • An ice storm takes out electricity, county wide for 5-7 days
  • A CME takes out electricity for several months or more, multi-nationally, and fries all digital devices
  • A hurricane takes out electricity, regionally for several weeks
  • An EMP takes out electricity, regionally to nationally for several months or more and fries all digital devices

All 4 of these crises involve loss of electricity and all that electricity provides, for more than an hour or two.

The ice storm gives one a chance to have a generator for 3 or more days, depending on how much fuel fire codes in your area will allow you to store.  After that you need something for cooking and heating.  A renewable energy source like solar, wind and hydro, complete with energy storage (battery bank, inverter, etc) would provide electrical energy for the long haul.

For the two electromagnetic crises, things are for a much longer time period.

Some of your items, like inverters and radios will need additional protection – a Farady Cage and you will also need to plan for replacement parts to some devices that are critical. Then there is the radiation and radioactive fallout hazard to consider too.

A CME does have some radioactive aspects, however geological evidence shows that most of the deadly radiation is diverted by the earth’s atmosphere and magnetic fields.

An EMP incident will present a much greater radiation aspect as it is detonated in the upper atmosphere.  In this case the radiation will be greatest near the detonation area, however windblown microscopic radioactive fallout can affect a much larger area for a longer timeframe.

For a ground detonated nuclear device, the range of the effects of the EMP portion of the blast will be reduced.  However the radioactive fallout from a ground detonated nuclear bomb will generate much more particulate debris (fallout) that ‘rains’ down for quite a while, over a very large area (even global).  It can take months for all of this debris to completely exit our atmosphere and we won’t always be able to see it.

This means that in the case of an EMP or ground nuclear detonation event you are not only dealing with no electricity for an extended period and the Farady Cage for electronic devices; you will also need radiation protection.

Note:  A CME or Coronal Mass Ejection is much stronger than a solar flare or storm.  A solar flare does have some electromagnetic elements; however it is mostly in the light spectrum range and not the super charged electro/ferromagnetic range of a CME.  Also, not all CME’s are associated with solar flares or sun spots or vice versa.  (See CME? EMP? Farady Cage? – Oh My! @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/123512814/CME-EMP-Farady-Cage-%E2%80%93Oh-My-Ver-2-includes-Electromagnetic-Spectrum-Frequency-Radiation-Charts for more detail)

VI.    The last type of ‘grouping’ concerns the non-repeated or singular needs.  The placement of these ‘needs’ is based on the priority of the crisis itself in your Moderated Crisis List.

For instance say you live in an area that is just above sea level and usually very dry, yet on your Crisis List you have ‘Global Warming’ Flooding.  One singular need that may appear in this case is some kind of boat or raft or moving to higher ground.

Any of these bullet points could be their own Roman numeral in the preparedness outline, yet don’t have to be.  These groupings are merely to give you an idea of where to place these items in the overall plan.

Once you have notes on what kind of groupings your needs fall into, review them and decide which way you want to organize these in your outline formatted preparedness plan.

Some individuals will find a particular grouping method works best for them, while others may like utilizing more than one grouping method for their plan.  This is where the plan becomes even more customized for you and your household’s needs.

(There is an example of the Doe Family Preparedness Plan at the link on the end of this article.)

This plan should be stored in the beginning of your Important Documentation Book.


  • Prioritized Crisis Lists: Possibility (emotional), Probability (science & education odds), Moderated (balance of human gut instinct and irrational fears against science and educations truths and fallacies).
  • Per Crisis Needs (goods, knowledge, skills) Lists, Prioritized; along with a list of what we have yet to acquire.
  • Mobility Issues: getting home to shelter in place and evacuation/bug-out (Who, What, When, Where schedule & map, alternate retreats, routes and secret communication/rest stops)
  • Organizational Indicators to a Needs Based, Outline Formatted Preparedness Plan
  • The finalized plan in outline format

All of these steps have been geared to grab those variables within our realm of control, to balance emotions and logic and raise our survivability quotient.

These steps do take effort, time and some soul searching and none of this is easy in today’s world. Yet if we really want to be prepared, if we really want to do more than just survive, we will do this and reap the rewards.

If you feel you do not have enough time or money, really stop and think for a minute.  I hate to tell you this, but you are most likely wrong about that!

Don’t believe me? 
Well I was a single parent with two toddlers, two dogs and a non-child support paying ex; I worked two jobs, stayed off welfare and only took WIC assistance for the first year; I grew most of our veggies and melons; baked bread (cause it was cheaper than purchasing) and sent my kids to school with bag lunches.   In order to keep a roof over our heads, cloths on our backs, the utilities on and nutritional food to eat I had to make the best use of my time and money.  I can’t say it was easy; however it is indeed quite possible.

If you ‘don’t have enough time’ consider this:  Everyone has 24 hours in a day, no exceptions.  The average person gets about 8 hours of sleep, so that leaves 16 hours.  Then this person works for a living so take out 10 hours to allow for commuting and lunch, that leaves 6 hours.  Now let’s apply those 10 hour work days to the weekend to account for all those household chores and such.  This means that the average person has 6 hours every day to devote to other things.  So if preparedness takes only 1 of those hours every other day, you can be prepared in a year!  (And ya gotta admit that 20 hours a week for household chores and tasks is a bit on the generous side, which should balance out if the workweek day are a little longer than 10 hours for work.  For people who do not work, I don't know what to say except that you must not be utilizing your time wisely or you don't really want to be prepared.)

If you ‘don’t have enough money’ try this little experiment:  As a family put a jar or can in the kitchen and then for the next two weeks every time any one of you gets ready to pull out the wallet to pay to do something or purchase something ask yourselves “Will I die in the next month if I don’t get or do this right now, this instant?”.  If the answer is NO, then every other time, don’t do it or buy it and when you get home put the monies in that jar.  At the end of the two weeks count the money in the jar.  I’m willing to bet there will be more money than $30.00.  Here are your preparedness monies!

Above all, remember that a Preparedness Plan cannot be wrong unless you do something nucking futs like build a house on the San Andres fault and do nothing more for earthquakes than match building codes - OR - You chose not to obtain or learn something that could prevent your family from suffering more trials and tribulations (or worse), when you could have; and when a crisis hits you then become a danger to yourself and everyone around you.

In my mind preparedness, beyond first aid kits and insurance policies, means that you care, so it is a way of 'taking care' of your loved ones and who doesn’t want to do that!?!

For additional examples of the various groupings, the Doe Family Needs Based Preparedness Plan and additional information see: Building A Needs Based Preparedness Plan – Putting it All Together @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/136067627/Building-A-Needs-Based-Preparedness-Plan-%E2%80%93-Putting-it-All-Together

Good Luck & Be Prepared, Not Scared


Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: April 15, 2013, 8:39 pm
Well now, we have created our Crisis Lists (possibility, probability, moderated), we have defined what goods, knowledge and skills we need to survive these crises for their potential scope of involvement and duration, plus what needs we already possess and have yet to acquire; and we have planned for the worst case scenario, utilizing our Who, What, When and Where Schedule and Map. 

What else can there be before we actually draw up our plan?  To be honest, two more biggies in terms of potential ‘dings’ to our survivability quotient and a few, shall we say, housekeeping issues. Both of these fall under what I call the ‘sad and bad’ ‘don’t want to think about it’ category.

To avoid some of our nasty human characteristics – like hating to think about anything bad or sad.  Remember that it is far easier to think and plan about this ‘sad and bad stuff’ when we are NOT under the duress of actually being in that situation, than it is to attempt to do so in the middle of a crisis. So here we go …

Mortality:  We humans just hate discussing death, yet this too is best done without the burden of the actual crisis. 

Most of us have wills of some kind, this is good and a copy should be in your Important Documentation Book.  However, our world now and our SHTF world could be two very different things.  You may wish to have a ‘SHTF Will’ that covers what to do when funeral homes and the like are not available, or if say, the disposition of your remains are taken out of your survivors hands. 
When your household knows how you want things done in the case of a SHTF death, there will be no guilt or remorse because they could not fulfill your physical body disposition last request. 

The next biggie is the dreaded Evacuation or Bug-Out scenario.   Many of us feel we would rather die than consider that we may have to vacate our homes.   However, reality is that there are some things that could cause us to do so in order to stay alive.  As mentioned before a house fire is the most common that we will likely face.

Before we can discuss the possible evacuation from our homes we need to understand some fairly standard authorative/governmental actions that occur when evacuation notices are issued or when a large crisis hits that requires authorative/governmental post crisis action.
It takes a lot of money, effort, organization, equipment, supplies, human-power and time to issue and implement an evacuation – no matter if it is large or small.  So issuing one is almost always done at the last possible moment!

This means that once the notice is issued you will NOT have the time to decide and pack what to take with you, yet alone to decide where to evacuate to.  Nope, you have to be ready to go within minutes of the notice being issued.
Most countries have two (2) types of Evacuation Notices:

  • Mandatory, which does NOT mean the authorities will drag you out of your home kicking and screaming.
  • Suggested, which is used when the scope of involvement has a few too many variables.  (Remember New Orleans and Katrina)

In the United States, where our states still have some independence and sovereignty, you may have only one type of notice or several additional types of evacuation notices. 
For instance in New Mexico they do not have a mandatory notice, only suggested evacuation notices.  Also in the US there is this thing called the ‘No Notice Evacuation Notice’ that can be issued by any department of transportation entity, at any time and does not require door-to-door notification.  This is generally issued in the case of say, a toxic spill or gas explosion and the like.
Then there are the usual ‘After Crisis Protocols’ which all the public safety, fire, search and rescue entities use to leverage their minimum equipment, human-power, time and finances to help the most people.  It goes something like this:

  • The area that received NO Evacuation Notice will be addressed first.  This is where the greatest number of people are likely to be trapped and or in need.
  • The area that received a Suggested Notice will be addressed second, as this is the next largest number of people trapped and or in need are likely to be.
  • The area that received a Mandatory Notice will be addressed last.  Historical crises have shown this area to have no more than 7% of people who are likely to be trapped or in need.

That takes care of the authorities, what about other things that might cause us to vacate our homes or render them un-safe to stay in?  Well I feel we are all smart enough to think these up ourselves, so I won’t list them.  Just know they are out there and ‘Murphy’ is just waiting to throw one our way.
No matter what, we need to identify what to look for in determining if we should vacate our home, be it a potential ordered evacuation or just a judgment call our part.  Discussing this NOW, without the stress of an actual crisis, is not only much less stressful, we also have more time to think about it than if we attempt this during the crisis.

Bottom Line: If we do not discuss and plan for this, it can lead us and or our loved ones into a deadly situation.
There are 3 key questions to ask yourself on this subject:

  • Will staying change anything when it comes to ‘saving’ my home?

  • If I stay behind and keep my family with me, can they handle what I can handle?

  • If I stay behind and send my family on, can we all handle the possibility that we may never see each other again?
Note:  There is a great podcast on this subject that discusses in detail the 12 questions that are pivotal to making a bug-out or evacuation decision @  Bug In or Bug Out - 12 Questions to Ask - Episode-289 found at: http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/bug-in-or-bug-out-12-questions-to-ask
We also need to hone our Situational Awareness by keeping an eye out for some ‘signs’ that ‘indicate’ that others feel evacuation is eminent or the authorities  are contemplating issuing an evacuation notice.
The more ‘signs’ we can quickly identify, the faster we can pack and go, and decide which secondary retreat will be best.  A side benefit to this is that you and your household will have a very good chance of beating the rush to get out of Dodge!

  • Stay aware. Keep your eyes and ears open and be alert to what is going on around you.  Take advantage of every possible type of news communication in your area:  Newspapers, TV, Radio, HAM, CB, Scanners, internet, weather alerts and the like.  The more sources of information, the faster you will be able to determine if you can stay put or must bug-out.
  • A rush or long lines at banks, gas stations, grocery, home improvement, sporting, camping or gun stores and the like
  • An increase in police, fire, rescue and military personnel or vehicles
  • An increase in barrel, barricades and their trucks
  • Ambulances and medical personnel are flocking to the hospitals
  • Long term care facilities appear to be removing residents
  • Nearby airports or military bases appear to be ‘on alert’ and or are calling in personnel.
  • Civilian air travel may be halted or flights canceled.
  • Public transportation may be halted, delayed or unusually crammed.
  • A sudden shift of who and what is out and about in your area.  Are the streets suddenly empty or crammed?  What kinds of people are out and about, doing what?  What kind of vehicles?
  • There is more traffic leaving your area than approaching 

All these signs tend to appear before any evacuation notice is ever issued or the potential is reported on the local news.
Remember that the needs and agendas of authorities and governments are different than that of its citizens.  They are not being cruel or mean, it is just the way things are, especially when contemplating something as complex as an evacuation.
All of this is your choice, your responsibility and yours alone! The stakes to this bet are the lives of you and yours.

  • We have identified and prioritized what crises we are concerned about, both consciously and unconsciously.
  • We have identified and prioritized what goods, knowledge and skills we need to survive the crises on our list.
  • We have identified and created our Who, What, When and Where schedule and map with its alternate routes and retreats.
  • We have addressed the two types of mobility issues and what we plan to do about them.
  • We have used methods to grab control of the few variables to our survivability quotient to reduce (or eliminate) the trials and tribulations of surviving the crises on our list.

Some things I have not mentioned or discussed are your budget and Important Documentation Book.  Although these things are very important, they do not affect the needs based plan per se. We’ll cover these later.

Next time we will go over how to take all this data collection and formulate a plan that is good, cheap, flexible, viable and based on the process and procedures behind all our goods, knowledge and skills or needs, required to survive any crisis on we are concerned about.


"Be Prepared - Not Scared"

To download this information see:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/134500818/Building-a-Needs-Based-Preparedness-Plan-%E2%80%93-The-Final-Data-Collection
Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: April 7, 2013, 3:55 pm

Okie-Dokie  We have identified what crises we are concerned about, both consciously and unconsciously.  We have also created a prioritized list of goods, knowledge and skills needed to survive those crises and what needs we have yet to acquire.  Yet we still aren’t quite ready to hash out a plan. Yeppers, we still need to address some other potential ‘dings’ to our survivability quotient.

One of the ‘dings’ I see most often is mobility.  People have it in their head that they are going to shelter in place and so they don’t need any go-bags, e-kits, caches, or planned alternate routes and the like.  They couldn’t be more wrong if they tried.  The reason this mindset is wrong should stick out like a sore thumb – big time!

Don’t believe me?  Just take stroll down memory lane and past history.  How many personal and large crises, emergencies and disasters have occurred when one was ready for it?  How many of these past crises, other than say hurricanes, did we know was coming on such’n’such a date at blah-blah time?  Not many and most certainly less than half.

Yes siree, most of the time a crisis will hit unexpectedly while we are out and about, doing the things we do as we live our lives.  If sheltering is needed to survive this crisis, we need to get home to do that, and that my friends - requires mobility.

This is the first post-crisis place that puts humans in danger.  The unprepared will stand around waiting for someone to come along and help them or waste precious time trying to figure out how to get home.  Some of the unprepared may also be uninformed and pick a spur of the moment alternate route that leads them into even greater dangers.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to the actions of the unprepared.

Depending on what crises are on your list, your vehicles and usual routes could be available, and most people will think along those lines.  Yet several of those pesky human characteristics holds us back from actually thinking and planning about what to do in case our usual modes of transportation and routes are not available immediately following the crisis.

The next reality check is that as individuals and civilian groups (even groups up to say 10,000 people) we lack the benefits of a large infrastructure entity that would lend itself to a viable back-up plan to this mobility issue. 

We lack the monies, the human-power and the supplies, as well as everything else that goes with those much needed things.  Then add in that any crisis that can take out transportation vehicles is likely to take out electrical items too.  

On top of that, in most metropolitan areas (urban and suburban); when the electrical grid fails, the devices that keep the pressure up in water and gas lines fail too, not to mention gas pumps, ATM's and communication towers.  Most of these areas do not have back-up generators and if they do, they will run out of fuel in 3 days or less, most in less than 24 hours.

This means our preparedness plan should be based on the worst possible scenario for getting to our home and or retreat so we can shelter in place.  To do this our plan needs to assume that our usual modes of transportation are unavailable and our usual routes of travel are unavailable - we are on foot, with what we have with us when the crisis hits.   If our plan is geared to the worst case scenario here, our backup plans are no brainers.

Think about it.  If your vehicle is working, but your usual route is unavailable, no problem your plan has been based on backup routes.  If transportation is not available, but your usual route is, no problem, your plan has been based on no transportation.  You don’t even have to think about what to do because your plan was based on the worst case scenario to begin with – ie: the backup plan is a given as it is closer to the every day, non-crisis  scenario we live in.

Bottom line:  Mobility WILL be an issue, even if it is just to get home to shelter in place.  Failure to plan for this MAY cause injury or death.

I call this step to collecting the information needed to formulate a viable plan the Mobility Exercise

In my book this is the hardest part of the information gathering requirements to any good preparedness plan.  Yet once done it has one of the greatest impacts to boosting our survivability quotient.

This mobility exercise will require a few tools:

  • A map of your town and surrounding area
  • Acetate/plastic sheets (like the ones used on those old overhead projectors)
  • Grease pencils or dry erase markers (enough colors for each member of your household)
  • Paper clips

Make a schedule or list of everything each member of your household usually does.  Like school, work, sports, shopping, entertainment, doctor’s appointments and the like.  This is your Who, What, When, Where Schedule.  Don’t worry if you don’t always know the exact particulars to each aspect. 

See the example of the Doe family schedule, which consists of two adults, two children and a german shepherd dog @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/133240676/Building-a-Needs-Based-Preparedness-Plan-%E2%80%93-Mobility-Issues

As you can see coming up with the ‘schedule’ is going to take a bit of thought.  For some things you may not know exactly where you will be or when and with whom.  At least list the usual ‘haunts’ or ‘hang-outs’ and which members of your household this applies to on this schedule.

Tip:  It is a good idea to collect addresses and phone numbers to these various activity locations and keep this list in the ‘Communication’ section of your Important Documentation Book.

The next thing to do is to put a big ‘X’ where your home is. 
Most of us plan to shelter in place and the best place is our own homes.  After all that is where all of our stuff is right?!

Then mark all these activity locations on our map, using a different color marker and or different symbol for each household member.  Now take a good long look at this map.

Consider how long it will take you to walk from any of these locations to your home?  What is the overall environment (weather, road blocks, etc) likely to be immediately following the crisis?

Next review your Moderated Crisis List.  Are there any crises that may render your house off limits?  Just so you know there is at least one that will – FIRE and depending on what is on your list, there may be other crises that will do this too.

This means we need to consider, at minimum, one other secondary retreat.   Again, depending on what crises are on your list, and if you lean towards the preparedness rule of redundancy, you may need to select more than one secondary retreat.  Just make sure this secondary retreat is outside the scope of involvement of any crisis on your list and is not a public shelter or evac center.

These ‘retreats’ don’t have to a cabin in the woods, an RV that runs on bio-diesel or the like.  Consider family and friends, even if they themselves are not Preppers.   

For example, let’s say that your home has a chance of being flooded by a nearby stream.  You can ask a non-Prepper friend or relative if your family can go to them for at least the first 2 weeks after the flood hits and if you can store some stuff in their garage or attic for your family to use.  Then if some other larger scope of involvement, longer duration crisis hits, they won’t care if you are there, especially if your family arrives prepared.  Fact is they will most likely be grateful and latch onto you because you appear to know what you are doing.

If this other friend or relative is a Prepper, well asking is a breeze.  Just say ‘can you be our secondary retreat and may we store some stuff here; in exchange we’ll do the same for you’.

The other thing to consider when looking at your map is if you think you can walk it, on foot, with no help, from any of the activity locations to your home in 3 days or less, even if you have a minor injury.   If you do not think you can do that, then consider if you have any friends , relatives or ‘safe’ spot between the activity location and your home that you can use as a temporary ‘safe house’ or rest stop.

Mark these secondary retreats, safe houses and rest stops on your map.  Use a symbol or color that tells you what they are (rest stop, secondary retreat 1, secondary retreat 2 and so on).
Up to now was probably rather difficult, however the most trying part is next.  It’s time to paperclip those acetate/plastic sheets over your map. 

Pick at least 2 alternate routes from each activity location, to each possible retreat.  This may sound easy to some, yet we must remember we are doing ‘worst case scenario’ here– we are on foot with only what we had with us when the crisis hit and the usual does not apply.

While you are selecting these alternate routes, consider the terrain, each household members physical capabilities and what is along these routes.  After all in a worst case scenario mode, we may not be able to use the actual road or sidewalk itself.  Are there any places along the way that will be ‘safe’ (protection from the elements or people) to stop and rest, and leave a secret signal for another household member?  (Now you know why I said to use the acetate/plastic sheets so you can erase and try again.)

Once you have finalized these alternate routes, mark them on the actual map and then replace the acetate/plastic sheets for the next step.

This step tends to cause people to roll their eyes, throw their hands up in the air and yell ‘I quit’!  Just hear me out before you do that.  

We now need to pick at least 2 locations along these alternate and primary routes that can be used as rest and/or secret communication stops. 

Keep in mind protection from the elements and or people, and what is along the route that one can carve or scratch a symbol on.  Like say a park bench, tree trunk, rock, outdoor newspaper/vending machine, underpass, wall and the like. 

Also keep in mind that you may have routes that cross each other, merge or come within a block or two of each other, even if they are from different activity locations going to different retreats. 

This allows you to utilize one secret communication/rest stop that serves more than one route.
See, you can stop rolling your eyes now ;-}

If you haven’t already done so, select a symbol for each household member.  Keep it simple so that it is easy to freehand or scratch onto something. 
Tip:  Many people then use lines under the symbol to signify to which alternate retreat they are heading towards; one line for secondary retreat 1, two lines for secondary retreat 2 and so forth. You house or primary retreat will have no lines.
These symbols can be anything from hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades or trail signs, to ones of your own invention. They only need to be simple to draw, carve or scratch onto some surface.

If you have young children, infants, toddlers or a family member with some kind of mobility disability or health condition consider this:

These individuals usually do not travel anywhere without someone else who has no mobility disability or is old enough to grasp what is being discussed in our preparedness plan.
When it comes time to do a practice drill (there should be at least one a year), make it easy on yourself by borrowing or renting a bicycle, wheelchair or motor scooter chair.  This way you are not risking anyone’s health or taxing their patience.  It has been found that just being familiar with the route will reduce the stress from any crisis by half, no matter the age of the individual.  Increase familiarity and reduce stress and you increase one’s survivability quotient 10 fold.

Most children will not be frightened by this kind of activity.  In fact studies have shown that they tend to be more secure and will often want to help in any way they can.

Keeping all household members in the loop and having them participate, even the very young, shows they are being ‘taken care of’ and protected against all kinds of known’s and unknowns.

Ok, I have stressed several times that our worst case scenario is on foot with what we have with us at the time the crisis struck and without the usual routes or modes of transportation.  So to increase our survivability quotient it pays to have a few things with us that we otherwise would not carry.  This is where go-bags come into play.
Grab-bags, go-bags, e-kits, 72 hour bags and bug-out bags come in all sizes and shapes, have all kinds of catchy names, and range from 3-10 day survivability.  For this discussion I am going to center on the 3-day or 72 hour bag, as I am assuming that most people will only need this emergency bag to get them safely from where ever they are when the crisis hits to home and can usually do that, on foot, in 3-days or less. 
No matter what, these bags primary purpose is to provide the basics to life (human or pet) for, in this case, 72 hours or 3 days.  The basics in the first 72 hours after a crisis hits are:

•    Air
•    Food (nutrition)
•    Water (container & purification tools)
•    Protection from the elements (space blanket, fire, heat, cooling)
•    First Aid/Medication
•    DSS (Defense, Safety, Security)

Go-bags should be as light as possible.  I believe the average fit person can easily carry up to one third of their body weight.  However, I do know that as we age, we usually can carry less and less.  When in my prime I could carry a 60-75 lb bag, today I can’t top 30 lbs. and do best around 20 lbs.

This means anything we put in the bag should be small, compact, light-weight and as multi-functional as possible.  For example the basics are:

  • Some clear plastic, a space blanket and a few lawn & leaf bags can give you a poncho, water distillation and keep you warm or cool. Get a better quality space blanket to have more functionality as well as multiple use.
  • Food bars, Coast Guard certified, are smaller and lighter than MRE’s, freeze dried or dehydrated meals in a packet and produce less trash to deal with.  Remember this is only for 72 hours and not the long haul.
  • A water bottle.  I recommend the lightweight stainless steel kind, wrapped in a bandana or tape (to reduce the noise factor) over pre-bottled water as they are more multi-functional and can take more of a beating.
  • At least two types of water purification.  Like a small and light backpackers filter straw and tablets.  Or you can carry some charcoal in a zip lock bag and use it with a bandana to strain or filter water.
  • A Swiss Army knife or Leatherman type tool and one fixed blade knife.
  • A combat saw (the small wire type not the chain saw type)
  • Small first aid kit and some super glue (super glue can be used in place of stitches for many wounds). Gauze, antibiotic ointment and medical tape work better than band-aids.  An elastic bandage and pain reliever, fever reducer, plus some multi vitamins.
  • Signal mirror
  • Whistle
  • Compass
  • Water/wind proof matches, lighter, magnifying glass, steel wool, 9 volt battery and maybe some ‘instant’ or ‘backpackers’ tinder.
  • Fishing line, sinker and hooks.
  • Duct tape
  • About 25-50 feet of light weight rope like parachute cord.
  • Extra zip loc bags, about 3 feet of heavy duty aluminum foil and plastic wrap
  • Flashlight, water proof, with extra batteries and a glow stick or two.
  • 2 pairs heavy duty wool socks.  These can be used as gloves, hot pads as well as just plain old socks.
  • About $10-$20 dollars worth of quarters
  • Can of bear spray (great non-lethal self-defense weapon, stronger and cheaper than pepper spray)
  • Something spiritual for peace and motivation
  • Depending on your list you may want some kind of breathing apparatus (respirator, gas mask, etc) or decontamination suit

A pet will need food and water too. 

  • If this is a dog or cat; be aware that they will need more water if you use dry pet food over moist.
  • Some moist pet food is now sold in Mylar plastic pouches, which although expensive, is great for pet go-bag use.
  • Go to the pet or sporting goods store where they sell the fabric/Mylar roll up bowls for pets and keep this in the pet’s go-bag.
  • If the dog is large enough you can get a dog backpack so the dog can carry its own go-bag.
  • For smaller pets you may need a crate and a folding, lightweight luggage dolly with bungie cord

Remember this bag is only to get you from where ever you are when the crisis hits to home in about 3 days or less.  It is not intended to allow you to live off of indefinitely.

There are three types of these 72 hour go-bags:

•    Individual – One for each family member and or pet that is included in your plan.  This is where you can personalize it so if a family member has say asthma, you can include an extra RX and inhaler.
•    Vehicle – One for each vehicle. This should account for the maximum number of people and pets that can be in the vehicle at any given time.  Here you can use the chain saw type Combat hand saw. This is not the vehicle’s emergency kit with fix-a-flat and universal fan belt.
•    Household – Realistically this is more of a duffle bag than a go-bag as it should account for the average number of people and pets that can be in your house at any given time and may need to vacate the house quickly.  Here you can use the chain saw type Combat hand saw. This bag should also include your Emergency Documentation Book.

Remember the Doe family?  They have an aunt and uncle with their dog that visits once a year and the two children each have a friend that stays over once a month.  This means that their household go-bag will be for 4 adults, 4 teenagers and 2 dogs. We can’t account for everyone that might be at our house when a crisis hits, but we sure can account for the most likely number of people that could be in our house.

Get in the habit of always having a go-bag with you. 

•    If you are a business person there are high end briefcase/laptop case type backpacks that have plenty of room for your go-bag essentials too. 
•    Ladies, those extra large, over the shoulder satchel style purses are still the rage.  Just put a couple of purse organizer pouches in it – one for your purse stuff and one for your go-bag stuff. 
•    Diaper bags now come in backpack format and have plenty of room for the additional go-bag stuff. 
•    Younger children can use kiddie suitcases or backpacks (some of these backpacks come with wheels and handles too)
•    There is a high end backpack that in the day was called a Kangaroo Pack.  It actually consisted of three different packs.  A small one that can be removed and worn around the waist, a medium sized one that could be removed and used like a day pack and a larger one,  that the other two attached to, which was more like your standard backpack and could be used by itself or with the others attached. In the 70’s this cost about $80 and was more than worth the price.
•    There are backpacks for medium to large dogs, so the animal can carry its own go-bag.
•    For smaller pets, a crate stored with a small backpack of pet goodies and a lightweight, portable, folding luggage dolly.  Store the pets go-bag and the luggage dolly with the crate.

Avoid book bags and fashion backpacks as they are often made of inferior materials and will fall apart under stressful use very quickly.

There are some very small, super minimal ‘survival’ kits that can fit in a purse or a glove box.  Some homemade ones fit in Altoid tins.  Basically, there really is absolutely no reason not to have something with you at all times.

Note: For more detailed information on these various go-bags the following two documents go together.  One explains the differences (What is the Difference Between All the E-Kits and Bags and What Do I Need?  http://www.scribd.com/doc/50951224/What-is-the-Difference-Between-All-the-E-Kits-Bags-and-What-Do-I-Need) and the other is a spreadsheet comparing the various go-bag, camping and backpacking checklists (Preparedness Bags Checklist Compare http://www.scribd.com/doc/41973071/Preparedness-Bags-Checklist-Compare).  
A quick word about Water 
Water is essential to human life.  We cannot live long without it. 

1 Gallon of Water =  a little over 8 pounds

Now think about this: The average water needs for humans is about 1 gallon per day and one gallon weighs about 8 pounds.  When it comes to mobility, most of us humans cannot carry three days worth of water with us all time, as that is about 3 gallons and 24 pounds of water per person!

Water Needs

  • General Rule with hygiene:  MINIMUM is 1 Gallon per person per day
  • Human General Average:  MINIMUM of 2 liters or 8 cups per day to maintain efficiency;  In general one quart of water is needed daily for every 50 pounds of body weight; Children require about 4-6 cups of fluid per day on average.

Factors that Determine the Water Needs for adults, children and pets:

  • Age  
  • Weight - The heavier a human or pet is, usually means they need more water to sustain themselves.
  • Activity - The less active one is; the less water they can get away with.
  • Health  - A female that is pregnant or nursing needs more water than one that is not.
  • Dry pet food will require more water for the pet than wet pet food.

Water in and of itself never really goes bad.  It can get polluted, poisoned and dirty, Yes - go bad, No.

Tip: If you are storing water in large containers it can develop a ‘stale’ or ‘stagnant’ taste.  This is easily fixed by putting the water in some kind of clear container and placing it in the sun for a few hours.
Then there was this law that was passed back in the 90’s and went into effect in the early 2000’s that requires all plastic containers, holding liquid for human consumption and of 2 liters or less, to be made with the new bio-degradable plastic.

BYU did a study on this new plastic when used for pre-bottled water.  What they discovered is:

  • In about 1 to 1 ½ years the plastic degraded enough to taint the taste of the water.  Not poison it, just taint the flavor, and that one could not ‘refresh’ the taste out by any means. 
  • After 2-3 years the bottles degraded enough that over 50% of them were leaking. 

Kinda explains those expiration dates on the pre-bottled water doesn’t it?
This bio-degradable plastic is also much weaker than re-usable plastic containers.  It splits, cracks and punctures easily.  Yes, re-usable plastic water bottles are stronger than the bio-degradable pre-filled ones are, but these too can handle less heat or cold and become brittle and break quicker than metal.

It is for these reasons that I recommend the stainless steel water bottles over pre-bottled or reusable plastic bottles, especially for any long term storage of water in say, a rarely used go-bag.

Let’s face it – if we want to accomplish anything worthwhile, we can’t pay someone else to do it for us; we can’t just buy it - we need to DO IT ourselves

Next time we will discuss the last piece of information collection needed to form our Needs Based Preparedness Plan.  Can you guess what it is?


Read on for detailed examples @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/133240676/Building-a-Needs-Based-Preparedness-Plan-%E2%80%93-Mobility-Issues

“A prudent man foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” - Proverbs 22:3

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: March 31, 2013, 4:24 pm

“Determination and perseverance move the world; thinking that others will do it for you is a sure way to fail.”
Marva Collins
(1936-present American Educator)

Why do preparedness plans fail?

Good question with multiple answers.  The biggest traps are:

  • Sticking ones head in the ground (a lack of reality/too much faith in other entities)
  • Lack of commitment (anything worthwhile in life takes time, effort, energy and money)
  • Trying to have your SHTF life be exactly like your ‘now’ life
  • Forgetting to take care of your body first (air, water, food, protection from the elements (shelter & clothing, heating/cooling) and maybe RX’s if you have an illness you will die from without the meds) Remember if the body is dead or dying we can’t take care of our spiritual or mental needs, yet alone our defense, safety and security needs, so take care of the physical needs first.
  • Thinking one can go it alone or that nothing bad will happen at all
  • Over estimating what one can do or live without, while underestimating what one can’t do or live without
  • Confusing Needs vs wants, desires (and conveniences)
  • Trying to help everyone and everything
  • Avoiding the ‘bad’ and ‘sad’ or depressing stuff
  • Attempting to purchase preparedness (stockpiling, techno gadgets, etc)
  • Thinking a household or small group can plan and respond just like large infrastructure entities
  • Having a plan that is ‘best case scenario’ based rather than ‘worst case scenario’ based (leads to inadequate and sometimes deadly backup plans)
  • Putting too much weight on science and education and not enough on human 6th senses, intuition and irrational fears (or vice versa)
  • The plan is crisis (disaster/hazard/emergency) oriented rather than needs based

Last month we discussed what the odds of various things occurring are and how to define and how to prioritize the crises you are concerned about – without falling into any of the above traps. (http://nmurbanhomesteader.blogspot.com/2013/02/what-are-odds.html)  This time around we will discuss what we need in order to survive the various crises on our list and how to prioritize these needs.

This is really kinda simple – list what you feel you will need to survive the crises on your Moderated Crisis List, for their projected scope of involvement and duration. 

What are Needs?

That’s all the goods (consumables & reusable’s), all the knowledge (intellectual know-how) and all the skills (physical application of knowledge in utilizing the goods) you feel you will need for each of the crises on your list.  It doesn’t make any difference if you already posses this need or not, or if this need is even obtainable or not – list it

This is a Per Crisis Needs List; 1 needs list for each crisis on your Moderated Crisis Priority List.

Don’t forget things like:

As you are creating these lists you will see that quite a few ‘needs’ repeat themselves. 

When this happens:  Flag them and keep a count of how many times it repeats by placing ‘tic’ marks next to it on the Per Crisis Needs list that item is first listed on.

Once you are done, clean the lists up a bit.

  • Place the ‘needs’ that repeat themselves first, in the order of the number of times they repeat.
  • Prioritize any singular listed ‘needs’ and list them after the repeats.  (Be sure the repeats are flagged and counted on each successive per crisis needs list).

At this point you may wish to have one master Needs List rather than the Per Crisis Needs Lists.  No problem …

  • Start with your # 1 priority Per Crisis Needs List, through to the last priority Per Criss Needs List and record all the repeats, ranked by the number of times they repeat.
  • Go back to your # 1 priority Per Crisis Needs List and list the singular needs, on to # 2 and so forth.

You now have a master Needs List that is prioritized.


Once this is done go back and highlight any ‘needs’ you already possess.

Use a different color highlighter for items that need to be used and replaced due to their shelf lives (even if you already have the quantity that you desire), like food, medications, oils, fuel, etc.  

Note:  Where food and medications are concerned, shelf life means the time frame before the item loses its nutritional value or potentancy. (See Shelf Life Information on Lots of Things (Must download in excel format to see all tabs) http://www.scribd.com/doc/42690147/Shelf-Life-Information-on-Lots-of-Things)

Then on another sheet of paper list all the ‘needs’ you don’t have yet.  Again start with the # 1 Priority Needs List, working to the lowest priority needs list.

This is your Acquire List that you will use to budget time and monies for.

Remember that all these ‘needs’ have a process and procedure behind them, even if it is just a word or two.

At this point we should have the following:

  • Prioritized Crisis Possibility List (feelings, gut instincts & irrational fears)
  • Prioritized Crisis Probability List (what science and education say the odds are & any occurrences to date)
  • Prioritized Moderated Crisis List (balance of the above)
  • Prioritized Per Crisis Needs List (and an optional Master Crisis Needs List)
  • Prioritized Needs to Acquire List (all the goods, knowledge and skills you are lacking or need to replace)

As a side note:

For those of you who may have a family member that just doesn’t see the ‘why for all’ in preparedness, ask them to zero in on the 4 types crises that most of us are likely to see:  Fire, Crime, Illness/Injury, Personal finance.  Above all, keep them involved, even if you have to play the ‘if you love me, you’ll do this’ card.

“Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.”
Albert Einstein

For the person in your household that may have what the rest of you consider a rather ‘wacked out’ crisis they want on the list.  Go ahead and address it.  It is here with the Per Crisis Needs Lists that everyone will see that most of the needs (if not all) to this crisis matches the needs to the other more ‘reasonable’ crises.

“Every step we take towards making the State the caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our master.”"
Dwight D. Eisenhower

All of these tasks to formulating a crisis based preparedness plan are geared to avoid those pesky human characteristics that usually trip us up. 

For Example: for some bizarre reason we humans will remember things better if we physically write with a pen or pencil rather than type or dictate them. Just as we remember more if we actually do something while being instructed rather than reading or watching it being done. Taking advantage of this is to use plain old paper and pencil to form your lists.  For the ‘clean up’ to these lists you can then use modern technology like a computer. 

Whatever your preparedness plan, the final should be in writing or hardcopy - even if you think the government is going to go ‘Hitler’ on you.  Keep this hardcopy in your Important Documentation Book. 

Your hardcopy plan does NOT have to be detailed on your supplies.  For instance for Firearms, list what purpose you want those firearms to do:  hunting, defense, barter and trade.  You are not being detailed in what kinds of animals you plan to hunt for food, so no data mining ‘alarms’ will go off on any particular caliber and or model.

Case in Point:  Most of the terrorists (domestic and foreign) have been caught because of some kind of electronic communications and or talking about details in public.  Warrants were then issued to search homes and businesses.  The hardcopy did not get these people in trouble, their techno communications and mouths did!

That completes the first big hurdle to creating a Needs Based Preparedness Plan vs a crisis based preparedness plan and avoiding most of those human characteristics traps.

Next time we will address the dreaded Mobility Issues ;-}


(For visual examples of what is explained in this post see http://www.scribd.com/doc/132546291/What%E2%80%99s-A-Needs-Based-Plan)

Side Bar:

Data Mining and surveillance is a common occurrence throughout most of the world and the US is no exception. 

To name a few of the things our government, et al does to ‘keep us safe’ and ‘give us better products’:

  • FBI Fusion Centers have computer programs that eavesdrop on all unencrypted phone and digital communications, from actual audio conversations to comments on blog posts and what internet sites we visit or receive email from , not to mention our own emails.
  • We have our pictures taken constantly when we enter stores and purchase goods
  • We are seen in stills or motion video at public transportation centers and stops
  • Our spending habits are tracked via our debit and credit cards, our checks and ‘rewards’ cards
  • All cell phones since 2002 can be tracked via GPS unless the battery is removed, even ‘burn phones’ can be tracked if on for more than 2 minutes at a time.
  • Major roadways and toll booths are videoed constantly
  • Many cell phone and digital cameras ‘hide’ GPS coordinates in pictures so if you post them on the web anyone can get the GPS coordinates, not to mention an unscrupulous digital photo/video developer
  • Prescriptions are tracked
  • If we get any government assistance from anywhere including Social Security and disability checks, to our private retirement checks, are tracked
  • Vehicle (land, air or sea) are tracked via their VIN or Call/Registration numbers and when we purchase or get them serviced or file a flight plan
  • Since 1986 all public schools track students via their Social Security numbers
  • US drone usage that is supposed to track poachers and illegal border crossings are also videoing US citizens
  • State and Federal Income Tax returns are tracked
  • Since shortly after 9/11 all USPS mail has been x-rayed and radiated and any ‘suspicious’ letter/package is noted in a database
  • Vaccinations given at any age are tracked
  • US Passports and passport cards are tracked, along with all border crossings
  • Club Memberships and Magazine Subscriptions are tracked
  • Cable and Satellite TV viewing usage is tracked

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: March 27, 2013, 12:57 am
We are bombarded daily with all kinds of possible crisis’s, emergencies, disasters and hazards.  Yet what do the ‘experts’ of science and education say the odds of these things are?

First we have to remember that science and education have been wrong.  The world is not flat, the Earth is not the center of the universe, blood transfusing is better than bloodletting and ‘100 year floods’ have occurred 2 or more times in a 20 year time frame.  

We humans can’t solely rely on our gut instincts and sixth senses either.  Our guts can be wrong and we tend to have irrational fears that taint our ‘accuracy’ or perception of the odds.

Not to mention that our very humanness means we cannot just ignore one over the other, even if our rational mind or science indicates we should.  Whenever we do, we usually end up drastically lowering our survivability quotient.

Now add that we humans hate thinking about anything remotely sad or bad.  We will subconsciously avoid talking, thinking or researching these ‘sad’ and ‘bad’ subjects and as a result these are the things we usually get blindsided by.

The most common of these ‘don’t want to think about it’ (or ‘that can’t happen’) crisis are:
  • Some kind of FIRE:  We hate thinking that we may have a house fire or a fire at work or school or while at the theater.  Yet historical fire events show and the ‘experts’ state, that the odds of us being affected by or experiencing a fire of some kind is greater than any of the larger catastrophic type crises we hear and worry about, and even some of the natural type crises too.
  • Some kind of CRIME:  This can take the form of a carjacking, home invasion while you are home or not home, a robbery while at the grocery store, a mugging, identify theft and so forth.  Crime is on the rise around the world and the U.S. is no exception.
  • Some kind of severe ILLNESS or INJURY to you or a loved one:  This can be anything from falling off your front porch and breaking a leg, a heart attack, auto accident or some other illness or injury.
  • Some kind of PERSONAL FINANCIAL crisis:  This can be from a poor investment, losing a law suit or getting laid off and the like.

Lastly, add in that we can’t rule out plain old Luck either!

This means that logically we need to balance these factors against one another and come up with ‘odds’ that ‘best match’ for our mental quirks, beliefs and understanding.

How?  Well, there is a simple three step process to do this.  I call it the Possibility, Probability and Moderated Crisis lists.

First list all the crises that you are concerned about.  Don’t think about this; just list them as they come to mind.  Usually the order in which you list these potential crises is what priority you are placing them at - It is the subconscious priority list of what you are concerned about.  This is your Possibility Priority List.  Be sure to address those 4 “can’t think about it” type crises, even if they are listed last as an afterthought.

Next do some research on what the ‘experts’ say the odds of these things occurring are and what any historical events of this kind have taken place to date.  Doing this puts your concerns into perspective and is your Probability Priority List.  These are the exact same crises as your Possibility List, only prioritized based on the ‘experts’ and their odds.

This will also entail doing a home hazard hunt and a review (or discussion with your physician) of your general health habits and condition. Going to the FBI Uniform Crime Report and checking on the crimes in your area (how often and what kind of crime), as well as checking with your local, county or state fire department for information on the kinds of fires they respond to and their frequency.

The tables discussed latter in this article, will assist you in this research.

The third step is to moderate these two lists into a priority list that you can live with, consciously and subconsciously, or what I call the Moderated Priority List.

There is only one rule to this moderation.  Say a crisis is # 2 on your Possibility list and # 7 on your Probability list.  This means you must list it somewhere between # 3 and # 6 on your Moderated List.  Conversely, if something is # 7 on your Possibility List and # 2 on your Probability List, you must list it somewhere between # 3 and # 6 on your Moderated List.

Above all, keep all of this in perspective.  The truth is that 99.99% of the disasters we are likely to encounter will NOT involve a widespread, government/world altering event or mega disaster.  Instead they will take the form of lost jobs, accidents, medical issues, fire, crime, etc., followed by the usual severe weather and natural planetary issues; for example:  flooding, earthquakes, land/mud slides, meteorite and the like.

Perception and Reality are more often than not, 2 different animals!

Fact is that every place has its dangers; we just have to assess them. And it’s probably reasonable to assume that no matter where we live to 75+ years of age, we’ll probably see at least one local event like an earthquake, hurricane, or flooding and many people will see several. Not to mention that most of us will experience some kind of medical issue or ‘accident’ type injury.  Think about this - the United States has some of the fewest massive crises type events, with some of the lowest injury and mortality counts than most other countries.  In fact most ‘tier 1’ or ‘western’ cultures experience fewer massive crises than those countries that are not ‘tier 1’.

There have been many ‘Preparedness’ and ‘Risk Factor’ surveys and reports over the decades; some rather scientific (and quantifiable) and some not so much, that quantify the above statement.  The results of some of the more recent surveys can be found @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/126965157/What-Are-the-Odds

Situational Awareness is the # 1 asset in a crisis in any situation; it is one of the greatest variables to our survivability quotient that is within our realm of control.  One cannot just learn it, one must DO IT to be good at it!

To help you keep your Situational Awareness high, here are some links to assist you with staying aware of what is happening around you.  The more aware you are the less risk to you.

There are 3 'Odds" tables in the document What Are the Odds? @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/126965157/What-Are-the-Odds that contain the odds of occurrence (that I could find) that resulted in injury and or death; from alien invasion to various work & play incidents like dying from a drinking straw (perspective, remember perspective)

One table is in % per average Lifetime (75 years) or Century.  The other is the “1 in” odds per average Lifetime (75 years) or Century.  Both of these tables are sorted by the most likely to occur to the least likely to occur.

The third table is general information on the occurrences to date, of most of these various events.

Fourth, for all of us ‘visual’ type people is a bunch of charts or graphics arranged kinda by date, on all kinds of things from risks, crime rates and trust, to cost of various past events, taxes, mortality causes and general economy; what state gets the most government funds, Federal Court districts, as well as time zones and the like.

Fifth, are descriptions and links to 4 terrific sites that will keep you informed on all kinds of ‘threats’ from natural to man made causes.  These sites provide up the hour, real time data.

At the end of all of this is a table with links to all kinds of related information; including an Excel Workbook that has state by state rankings (2010) on the various characteristics Preppers look for (just in case you are looking to move or purchase a retreat).

I know all these tables makes for a rather long document.  Yet, I have never known research to be quick or easy.  I’m helping you out here by sharing the results of all of my research to date.  So no matter how boring you find this, please remember that this is to assist you with the research part of your Possibility, Probability and Moderated Crisis Lists.  These tables will also be beneficial in putting all kinds of ‘concerns’ into perspective.

I hope this helps and Good Luck  ;-}


Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: February 26, 2013, 6:39 pm
“Both the oligarch and Tyrant mistrust the people,
and therefore deprive them of arms.”

U.S. Constitution – Bill of Rights

In the beginning there was the ‘shot heard round the world’ on April 19, 1775 at a bridge between Lexington and Concord where the British were out to confiscate colonial citizens of their firearms.  Our country was founded on the principle that each and every one of us have 'inalienable rights' given to us by God the Creator and they cannot be taken away from us by ANY human-made government. 

All of our founding documents have one common theme:  The freedom of choice within the constraints of the 10 Commandments.   Because of this I will defend any US citizen's right to NOT own a firearm, as strongly as I will defend any US citizen's right TO own a firearm.  I will defend this inalienable right of personal choice with my last breath.

There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with slight capitalization and punctuation differences, found in the official documents surrounding the adoption of the Bill of Rights.  One version was passed by the Congress, while another is found in the copies distributed to the States and then ratified by them.

2nd Amendment - Right To Bear Arms as ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights, approved by the House and Senate, was prepared by scribe William Lambert and resides in the National Archives.  The Second Amendment is the only amendment to the Constitution which states a purpose.

“If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of a constitutional privilege.”
Arkansas Supreme Court, 1878

The following is from http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Article_II,_New_Mexico_Constitution

New Mexico Constitution - Article II, Section 6

Right To Bear Arms

(Article II of the New Mexico Constitution is entitled Bill of Rights and consists of 24 sections.)

Section 6

“No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.”

(As amended November 2, 1971 and November 2, 1986.)

"Gun control? It's the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I'm a bad guy, I'm always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You pull the trigger with a lock on, and I'll pull the trigger. We'll see who wins."
Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, Mafia assassin,
Vanity Fair interview, September, 1999, p. 165

There are currently 6 bills before the NM State Legislature – 3 of which demand the attention of anyone who is a holder of the Constitution of the United States and New Mexico.

HB 77 FIREARMS TRANSFER ACT  Sponsor: Miguel P. Garcia
(background checks required for all private sales, including gun shows)
Passed House – Current Location:  Senate Public Affairs Committee   

(just as it sounds, preserve & protect the 2nd Amendment as written)
Current Location:  House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee (tabled?

(just as it sounds, max mag size 10 rounds)
Current Location:  House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee  

 These next three seem to be just for 'special' folks to protect themselves ;-{

Current Location:  House Judiciary Committee   

Current Location:  House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee   

Current Location:  Senate Education Committee  

“A system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie.”
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Contact the Governor and your legislators today !

Contact the Governor   http://www.governor.state.nm.us/Contact_the_Governor.aspx
Find Your Legislator http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/leg.aspx?T=S
Find Your District  http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/districts.aspx

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.”
Adolf Hitler

New Mexico State Legislature Committees involved with these bills

Tuesdays & Thursdays - 1:30 p.m. - Room 315
Representative,    Eliseo Lee Alcon     Chair
Representative,    Patricia Roybal Caballero Vice Chair
Representative,    Thomas A. Anderson Member
Representative,    Gail Chasey     Member
Representative,    Jason C. Harper Member

Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays - 1:30 p.m. - Room 309
Representative,    Gail Chasey     Chair
Representative,    Georgene Louis     Vice Chair
Representative,    Eliseo Lee Alcon Member
Representative,    Cathrynn N. Brown Member
Representative,    Zachary J. Cook Member
Representative,    Brian F. Egolf, Jr. Member
Representative,    Kelly K. Fajardo Member
Representative,    Miguel P. Garcia Member
Representative,    Nate Gentry Member
Representative,    Emily Kane Member
Representative,    Antonio "Moe" Maestas Member
Representative,    Terry H. McMillan Member
Representative,    Paul A. Pacheco Member
Representative,    William "Bill" R. Rehm     Member
Representative,    Patricia Roybal Caballero Member
Representative,    Mimi Stewart Member

Tuesday, Thursday & Friday - 2:30 p.m. (Room 321)
Senator, Gerald Ortiz y Pino Chair
Senator, Bill B. O'Neill Vice Chair
Senator, Jacob R. Candelaria Member
Senator, Ron Griggs Member
Senator, Daniel A. Ivey-Soto Member
Senator, Timothy M. Keller Member
Senator, Gay G. Kernan     Member
Senator, Craig W. Brandt Ranking Member

Monday, Wednesday & Friday - 8:00 a.m. (Room 311)
Senator, John M. Sapien Chair
Senator, William P. Soules Vice Chair
Senator, Craig W. Brandt Member
Senator, Lee S. Cotter     Member
Senator, Bill B. O'Neill Member
Senator, Michael Padilla Member
Senator, John Pinto Member
Senator, Pat Woods Member
Senator, Gay G. Kernan Ranking Member

“The measures adopted to restore public order are: First of all, the elimination of the so-called subversive elements .... They were elements of disorder and subversion. On the morrow of each conflict I gave the categorical order to confiscate the largest possible number of weapons of every sort and kind. This confiscation, which continues with the utmost energy, has given satisfactory results.”
Benito Mussolini

THANK YOU New Mexico Gun Owners Association ;-}

“Germans who wish to use firearms should join the S.S. or the S.A.. ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the state.”
Heinrich Himmler

New Mexico Gun Owners Association is a no compromise gun rights lobbying and activist group. They primarily work on gun rights issues in New Mexico, and will be providing a way for New Mexicans to be more proactive in defending their Constitutional rights.
Their Mission:  To protect Constitutional Rights of New Mexicans to keep and bear arms as written in Article 2 Sec 6 of the New Mexico Constitution.

“All political power comes from the barrel of a gun.
The communist party must command all the guns, that way,
no guns can ever be used to command the party.”
Mao Tse Tung

"If we could save just one life ..."

Well my firearm has saved 3 lives, dosn't this count? Two men broke into our home and I locked myself with my then two toddlers in the master bedroom bath with the phone (this was before cell phones).  These criminals broke two steel doors and two solid wood doors in order to enter our bathroom.  All the time I was on the phone with 911.  Because I owned a firearm, knew how to use and did not hesitate to use it, my children and I are alive today! Just as an FYI, it took the police 9 1/2 minutes to arrive from the time I called 911 - which they did a full 2 minutes AFTER I was forced to discharge my firearm!

Now they’re tryin’ to take my guns away
And that would be just fine
If you take ‘em away from the criminals first
I’d gladly give you mine
Charlie Daniels Band, A Few More Rednecks

"We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it."  
Benjamin Franklin

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: February 25, 2013, 10:26 pm
Holy cow! What does all this mean?

Well let’s start with some explanations and definitions …

Solar Flares, Storms and CME or Coronal Mass Ejection:  

A solar flare isn't just an explosion of hot gases. It pushes out waves of light all across the spectrum. That includes light we can't see -- including radiation in the form of X-rays and gamma rays. These rays can be dangerous to humans. Fortunately, the Earth's atmosphere absorbs most of these high-energy rays.

That's not to say everyone is in the clear after a solar flare. Humans in space or at high altitudes -- on board an airplane, for example -- could risk exposure to intense radiation. Short-term damage could include skin irritation. Long-term consequences might include an increased risk of developing skin cancer. But it's likely that any affected human would eventually recover from the exposure.

Electronics are also vulnerable to these rays. If high-energy rays were to hit a satellite, they could strip electrons from the metal components, ionizing them. As electrons break free, they could short out the electronics within a satellite. They could also create a magnetic field that would damage the satellite's systems. Some satellites have shielding to protect them from these rays, but many are still vulnerable.

Because our atmosphere absorbs most of these dangerous rays, terrestrial systems are fairly safe from solar flares. But another solar event called a coronal mass ejection (CME) can cause serious problems for electrical systems here on Earth.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields rising above the solar corona or being released into space.

During a CME, the fluctuations of the sun's magnetic fields cause a large portion of the surface of the sun to expand rapidly, ejecting billions of tons of particles out into space. Sometimes CMEs accompany solar flares -- but not all solar flares produce CMEs and not all CMEs accompany solar flares.

Unlike a solar flare, a CME doesn't produce intense light. But it does produce a magnetic shockwave that extends billions of miles out into space. IF Earth is in the path of that shockwave, our planet's magnetic field WILL react to the event.

While a solar flare alone might not be enough to cause problems on Earth's surface, a powerful CME is another story. In fact, massive CMEs have affected the Earth in the past. But we weren't as advanced in electronics and electricity, nor did we depend upon them as heavily the last time a CME really smacked us around.  The magnetic forces of a powerful CME would induce electricity in any large conductor and or conductive material. That includes power transformers and the power grid itself.

That's not the end of the bad news. The power grid in North America operates at near capacity. It wouldn't be able to handle the increased electrical load from a solar super storm. Power lines could sag and even snap as a result, especially in the older components of the grid. Massive power outages could affect much of the continent. The magnetic fluctuations would interfere with radio signals and communication and satellite systems would collapse as well.

It could take weeks or months to repair the damage. During that time, people would have no way to find out what was going on. Emergency services would face serious challenges. While the magnetic fields would probably not short out individual electronics devices like cell phones or computers as severally, communications systems could fail regionally. In other words, some small devices may still work but would lack the services they require to be useful.

It's possible that a CME could even affect your computer and cause glitches or short out circuits. In most cases, a simple reboot would solve the problem. But with the loss of the power grid, you'd be limited by your battery's charge. Once that ran out, you'd be stuck.

Even in these worst-case scenarios, the super storms don't wipe out ALL electrical systems across the planet. Some regions would remain relatively unaffected. It would require a solar event of the 1859 Carrington type or greater magnitude, to wipe out the electrical systems across the entire planet. But even a modest CME could demonstrate how vulnerable we are to the sun's magnetic temper tantrums.

ElectroMagnetic Pulse or EMP:  

This is humankind’s way to mimic nature or a CME and of course it is considered a weapon of mass destruction or WMD.  An electromagnetic pulse (commonly abbreviated EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic radiation. The abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation usually results from certain types of high-energy explosions, especially a nuclear explosion, or from a suddenly fluctuating magnetic field.

The resulting rapidly changing electric fields and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges.

In military terminology, a nuclear warhead detonated hundreds of kilometers above the Earth's surface is known as a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) device.

Effects of a HEMP device depend on a very large number of factors, including the altitude of the detonation, energy yield, gamma ray output, interactions with the Earth's magnetic field, and electromagnetic shielding of targets.

It is possible that either a CME or an EMP can strike and play havoc with our ‘Techno Bubble’, this society that we have built around electricity and all of its various digital components.  IF one of these events should happen:

  • ALL non-protected electronics will be affected by an EMP or Carrington sized CME.  It doesn’t make any difference whether or not your electronics are plugged in, how long of an antenna you’ve got on something, what voltage it is, or whether or not they operate with batteries.
  • Batteries will be affected, usually in the form of “shorting”, even in the package on the store shelf.
  • Electronic phone systems will also be damaged - landline, cell, cordless or satellite
  • Surge protectors are useless in the event of an EMP or Carrington CME type exposure.
  • Computers anywhere, including motherboards in a warehouse or the little chip in your vehicle will be damaged.
  • Anything that conducts electricity will, even if it is just a nail.
  • Gamma radiation is common and expected with these events and we humans don’t deal with it well.
  • Electrical shorts are known to cause fires, with no phone service, these fires can become major firestorms – urban, suburban or rural. 
 Thankfully a CME of the magnitude of the Carrington Event in 1859 (aimed at the Earth) only happens about once every 500 years, according to historical records in glacial ice cores.   

Not so thankfully, we humans are very unpredictable.  All it takes to trigger an EMP attack is for one wacko, one unbalanced or arrogant government, to get a hold of the technology and have the stupidity to actually send and detonate one of these things somewhere.  

The “experts” say the chance of an electromagnetic event (human or natural) is slim.  Yet governments, utilities and IT technology corporations, as well as, industry heavily laced with technology to produce their product or service, seem to believe the chance of such an event is high enough to create and implement ‘protection’  tools and protocols for at least parts of our ‘techno bubble’.  If these entities haven’t actually implemented these tools yet, they are least in the project planning phase.

The Worlds Electric Grid Reality Check

Don’t get fooled by all the political mumbo-jumbo on how a ‘Smart Grid’ will ‘protect’ against an EMP or CME or ‘fix’ any existing grid problems. 

  • Remember the Electric Grid is basically a string of physical hardware components; like transmission lines, poles, transformers, conductors and the like.  
  • A ‘smart grid’ is merely a specialized computer program that can process and react faster than us humans; however it CANNOT fix or prevent any physical hardware problem.
  • A CME (Carrington sized+) or EMP will cause such a surge in electromagnetic and ferromagnetic energy on the Earth that it creates a ‘short’ in the grid, enough to fry transformers, etc., and the grid will go down from hardware failure.  

What protection is there?  A Faraday (Farady) Cage or Electromagnetic Shield

In 1836, English scientist Michael Faraday conducted an experiment on electrostatic charges that resulted in the creation of the container that bears his name. He was not the first to experiment with this concept; his work was based on research performed by Benjamin Franklin nearly one hundred years earlier, in 1755.

A Faraday cage is an enclosure made of conductive material that blocks both static and non-static electrical fields and is grounded. The first such ‘cage’ was made of a fine ferromagnetic metal mesh or screen.  When constructed properly, this can protect devices from a weapons EMP strike, a solar CME event, or a lightning strike.  The key here is enclosure, meaning all 6 sides of the ‘box’ or ‘cage’.


The top 6 conductive materials (stick to the cheap ones) are:  copper, aluminum, iron, steel, brass or bronze.

Aluminum can work, however, remember that just as aluminum wire generated house fires when overloaded, so to can any Faraday Cage made of aluminum.

Some Key Points:

  • Just because your car has rubber tires, it will NOT be impervious to the effects of an EMP of CME.  A car is NOT a Faraday cage sufficient to withstand an EMP incident. It has some similar components, yes.  Most cars made today consist of fiberglass and disjointed parts, not a continuous metal material.  In addition to that, they are on tires.  Tires on a car do NOT serve as grounding.   IF you had an old fashioned car that was made of metal, that had its tires removed, that was also attached to an Iron or copper pole and that was ALSO on dirt—not  gravel—then  yes, you may have a car that doubles as a Faraday cage.
  • Rubber containers are insufficient protection against an EMP or CME.
  • Faraday cages DO need to be grounded.  If it’s NOT grounded, then the Faraday cage merely becomes a reflector or an amplifier.
  • Faraday cages do NOT have to be solid, but they do have to be constructed continuously without gaps between the protective material.  Thus the name “cage” instead of the oft misused term—“box.”  In fact, many of them that you can build yourself or will see on the internet will resemble a bird cage or a very finely meshed chicken coop wire.
  • Contrary to what you may see on the internet, a sheet of foil on a box will not protect you.  It’s not thick enough to withstand the pulse. However, you CAN protect your foil insulated items if they are buried a couple of feet underground in every direction (up, down and sideways).
  • Unless the material is also ferromagnetic, that magnetic fields are NOT blocked.  Low-frequency radio waves are primarily magnetic waves (although with an electric field component), and may penetrate a Faraday cage because the varying magnetic field induces an electric field on the other side. Ferromagnetic materials are those substances, which when placed in magnetic field are strongly magnetized the direction of the magnetizing field.e.g.: - Nickel, Iron, cobalt, rare earth metals.
  • The cages must be grounded, continuously connecting, and the openings of them cannot be too large. Chicken coop wire would work, but only if you double or even triple layered it as the opening are too large. For a reference of opening size, look at the front of your microwave door.  It’s a small mesh.  Just a like a snake can slither its way through the right sized hole, so can an electronic wave.  

A Faraday cage is NOT fool proof.  The higher the frequency of the magnetic pulse, the faster and stronger it is. This is what causes the burn out.  

What should you store in your Faraday cage? 

Anything that you don’t want to live without post-EMP and anything that you can charge in an alternate manner is a good candidate for residence within the container.

Why protect items that must be plugged in if the entire electrical grid is down?

  • If the grid does come back up at some point, a person with devices that have been protected will be in the vast minority of people to possess a working unit. If the device has been unprotected, even with the return of electrical power at the flick of a switch, the item cannot be repaired and used in the future.
  • If you have planned other sources of power (such as solar or wind power) then the items that you have protected can be used with those power sources. If this is the case, also be certain to protect the proper inverters or solar chargers to be used with the stored devices.
  • If you have a ton of digital How-to documents that you didn’t get a chance to hardcopy, then even though the internet is down you and still access and read those documents.
  • If you have children that may seem lost without a TV or video game and you have alternative energy generation items that were protected along with the playing device, you can give ‘entertainment’ treats with your still working devices.

Note: Faraday Shield or Cage protection is NOT protection from the possible radiation (gamma rays) from CME’s or EMP’s; rather this protection is from the electromagnetic effects of these things on our technology.  Hence, you will still need some kind of radiation protection for you and yours.

Basically a Faraday Shield can be any conductive metal ‘container’ that has 360 coverage or encompasses all 6 sides of the enclosure, is substantial enough to take the projected electromagnetic energy and is large enough to hold your insulated electronic device in it.

Important Things to remember besides having a conductive metal container:
  • It is vital that none of your electronics directly contact the metal of the container. Insulate items by lining the container in a non-conductive material, like cardboard, foam, Styrofoam or wrapped in several layers of newspaper. You can also make cardboard sleeves for your devices.
  • Technically any make-shift or purchased Faraday cages should be grounded in order to disperse the energy.  The easiest way to do this is to have a wire lead from the metal skin of the ‘cage’ to the ground (good ol dirt) or the wire can go from the metal skin of the cage to a conductive metal pole that is stuck in the ground (like the old fashioned lightening rods).

So how does one go about making one of these ‘shields’?  

An easy way to make a Faraday cage would be to acquire some 2 x 4 brass mesh sheets (Mythbusters did this on the Discovery Channel).  Make a box frame with the 2 x 4′s and staple the brass mesh to the outside. Create a securely attached/connected access entry within the frame. Solder a ground wire to one of the corners and ground the cage.  Scrap metal and mesh wires can easily be obtained in junk yards, on E-bay, the clay modeling section of a craft store, or at your local hardware or  “farm and feed” store.  

The important aspect of this to remember though is that mesh or sheet metal only shields magnetic fields if the frequency is up in the RF range. To properly stop the wave, you need some iron, steel, or some slabs of thick copper.  Most electronics are useful in the VHF/UHF/SHF range today and will need more substantial protection.


You can make your “cage” as small or as large as you’d like.  It wouldn’t be out of the question to continuously line a basement storage room or hole in the ground with copper mesh wire and a grounding rod.

Bottom line, with an appropriately constructed Faraday cage, you can likely protect that which is inside it from the electromagnetic attack of an EMP or CME incident, thus preserving the function of all that is contained therein (provided you have an alternate power source).   

What are the odds of an Electromagnetic Event?

For a solar flare, storm or CME – it is not a question of IF; it’s a question of WHEN.  At least the massive events of this kind (that can cause us problems), with the Earth in their cross-hairs, only occur about every 500 years.


For the human-created EMP type event, well as I have said – we humans are way too unpredictable.  The ‘experts’ (mental, social, political, economic) on this type of thing seem to be torn 50-50 that it is WHEN and not IF – so your guess is as good as mine or theirs.


Let’s face it folks we haven’t had a Carrington sized CME event or an EMP attack since our world has become electronic (Thank you Lord!).  No one really knows what will happen if one of these electromagnetic events should hit.  Most of the information being related is based on educated guesses, that are themselves based on small scale experiments or ‘logical’ assumptions of the issues endured from past similar events (at least where CME’s are concerned)Yet isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

Read on for additional information on:  Past solar events, Everyday uses of the Farady Shield principle, Everyday household items that can be used as a shield, How make a Faraday Cage and more ... (includes Electromagnetic Spectrum Frequency & Radiation Charts) @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/123512814/CME-EMP-Farady-Cage-%E2%80%93Oh-My-Ver-2-includes-Electromagnetic-Spectrum-Frequency-Radiation-Charts

Be Prepared - Not Scared ;-}


If you would like some technical info on EMP's see:Boeing’s new missile takes down electronics without touching them 10/26/2012 http://www.nationalterroralert.com/2012/10/26/boeings-new-missile-takes-down-electronics-without-touching-them/ & http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/futureoftech/boeings-new-missile-takes-down-electronics-without-touching-them-1C6663618
CHAMP - lights out 10/22/2012 http://www.boeing.com/Features/2012/10/bds_champ_10_22_12.html
Lights out, Boeing creates the first working EMP bomb Dec 4 2012 http://www.nationalterroralert.com/2012/12/04/lights-out-boeing-creates-the-first-working-emp-bomb/ & http://vr-zone.com/articles/lights-out-boeing-creates-the-first-working-emp-bomb/18163.html with a Video @ http://youtu.be/yMOZvEnbPSU
Another video recently declassified by Boeing @ http://video.boeing.com/services/player/bcpid1173939806001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAukPAlqE~,oAVq1qtdRjwBrIkHYj2MSytJiEK9s5fy&bctid=1913200772001
Boeing Non-kinetic Missile Records 1st Operational Test Flight Oct. 22, 2012  http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=2454 and http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=13&item=2093
Boeing CHAMP Missile Completes 1st Flight Test Sept. 22, 2011 http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=1933
Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: February 1, 2013, 5:21 pm
All four of these sites update regularly and are a great way to keep on top of all kinds of Man-made and Natural Crises. From severe weather, earthquakes, plane crashes, terrorism, Amber Alerts, hazard spills, oak blight, space weather to zombie attacks.  Some even have cell phone, email or text messaging to alert you as well.

Threat Matrix (global) Open Source Intelligence Dashboard Control / Fast Jump Menu Maps (http://www.globalincidentmap.com/threatmatrix.php) - Maps, Graphs, Charts, Predictions, Lists of Recent Incidents, and other items are all updated automatically as new data is added to their databases from which it draws.

Nature's Fury (http://naturesfury.net/) - Real Time Activity/Alerts for Preparedness and research.

Earth Observatory NASA (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/) - For Risks on: Aerosol Optical Depth; Chlorophyll; Cloud Fraction; Land Surface Temperature; Net Radiation; Sea Surface Temperature; Snow Cover; Total Rainfall; Vegetation, etc.

The Disaster Center (http://www.disastercenter.com/) -  Follow for links to:  NOAA -- Warnings - Advisories; Current Warning; NWS Active/Special Warnings; Surface Analysis Loop; Graphical Forecasts; National Forecast; National Radar; National Satellite; Satellite Environment Plot; Real Time Water Data; NWS Offices and Centers.

For more detailed and specific information see U.S. Hazard - Risk Map Links  (updated August 2011) @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/62202540/US-Hazard-Risk-Map-Links-August-2011

“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: January 28, 2013, 10:03 pm

Well we have covered the major games played, the Regulation Roulette and food safety, so now is the time to see just what we can do to fight these games and save our minds and monies in the process ....

Find out your supermarkets Policies

Here are some key points to ask your grocery’s manager:

•    Price Accuracy Policies: Many retailers have these, including supermarkets.  If any item scans at the wrong price you could get the item for free. If you notice this tell the cashier or go to customer service. There are limitations though as to the price of the item. See the store for details.

•    Date or ‘Fresh’ Policies:  If you find an item that is out of date, you bring this item to the service desk with an identical, in date item and they will give you the in date (and sometimes the out of date) item for free! It helps them to keep the inventory moving and you get free groceries.

•    Return Policies:   As we have discussed earlier, on returned items many stores will let cashiers decide if the ‘feel test’ is valid and allow produce, refrigerated and or frozen items to put back on shelf and anything not passing the test will be marked as ‘damaged’ an put on a sale rack.  Find out your supermarkets policy to avoid any possible defrosted or over warmed product.

•    Delivery Dates:  Just as most restaurants receive shipments of fish or meat on certain days of the week, the same applies to your supermarket.  Ask the store manager when produce, meat, seafood and dairy products are usually received.   These receiving dates are usually 3-4 days apart and not on the weekends. 

•    Shoplifting:  Due to the high rate of shoplifting many stores will ‘lock up’ items like; baby formula, cough and cold medications, smoking-cessation products, cigarettes, razor blades, alcohol and batteries, etc.  It never hurts to ask the store manager what they do to prevent shoplifting.  Shoplifting costs consumers in the U.S. millions of dollars each year.  When shoplifting is high in an area the individual product price is higher to compensate for the loss to the store.

Note:  Many shoplifters have been heard to say “the store can afford to lose a little money” or some such thing.  The truth is that about the only entity in our food supply chain that can “afford to lose a little money” is the manufacturer and very few manufacturers (if any) will swallow it – the common practice is to pass the loss along to us consumers.

•    Rain Check policy:  Ask your store manager if rain checks are offered when the store is out of a sale product that they advertised.  In some cases you may end up with a ‘fresher’ item at the sale price.

•    Stores have different Coupon Policies: Ask your store manager about their coupon policies. Some will double or triple coupons, some don’t. Some limit the number of “like coupons,” some don’t.  Some will even limit the number of coupons per transaction. Certain stores will accept competitor’s coupons (this big in the past but is not so common now). It doesn’t hurt to ask. Find out your local store’s coupon policy before shopping with coupons.

•    Store Rebates:  Many stores now offer one-step rebates, where all of your “store coupons” and “rebates” are tracked through the loyalty or reward card and a single check is issued back to you as a rebate. You can apply coupons to the items as you purchase them, essentially “stacking” the deals. Don’t be deceived, though. The rebate check is wonderful, but only if you have already purchased the item at a lower price. If it’s not at a discount before the rebate and coupon, it might not be a “real deal”.

Couponing – Scam or Savings?

Answer:  It Depends 

Did you know?  The first one cent–off coupon was issued in 1895 by C.W. Post to promote his new cereal. According to Susan Samtur, author of Supershop Like the Coupon Queen, "a coupon is still one of the single best ways to get people to buy a product. Even if you forget to bring it to the store, clipping the coupon jogs your memory and you'll likely buy the product anyway."  

Coupons can be manufacturer or brand specific, they can be just for a particular supermarket chain or even a specific store only.  Some coupons are only valid on certain days of the week or time of day. Other coupons may have a quantity or an overall receipt dollars spent amount that needs to be purchased before the coupon can be applied.  On top of this most coupons are for overly-processed foods that few households actually need.  Above all, coupons are generally nothing but a marketing ploy.

Brand Manufacturer Coupons:  First off remember that the product itself is more expensive to begin with (remember the Brand Tax).  Next add in that the manufacturer will need to cover their cost of issuing the coupon, which means that the coupon cost has already been factored into the price of the product that is charged to the supermarket.  Which in turn means: Even if we don’t use a coupon for this item, we are still paying for the coupon cost. 

In order to actually save money on manufacturer brand coupons you will most likely have to ‘double up’ the coupon with some other sale being offered on the product or stacking the coupon with another coupon.  Some stores allow this, some do not.  Or if the store offers “double” or even “triple” coupon values, then you can indeed save some bucks.

Basically saving money with manufacturer brand coupons is, in most cases an illusion, a waste of time, a waste of energy and more often than not, a waste of your health.

Yet, not to totally smash the idea of using coupons, there are still times you can receive products absolutely free or for half price since the manufacturer is hoping to get you to try their product and come back for more.

Store Coupons are usually a better value and yet we still have to be sure that the product is not close to its expiration date. We also have to be sure the coupon price is indeed a bargain.  Read the fine print to be sure you don’t have to purchase a certain quantity or spend a certain dollar amount in order for the coupon to apply.

Some stores will allow you to ‘stack’ their store coupons (Target, Rite-Aide, etc.) with your manufacturer coupons for even greater savings! These store coupons can come from email, snail mail, store ads, flyers and the stores’ monthly magazines, etc. Store coupons, in general, should be viewed as a simple “sale price”, where the store coupon limits the number that can be purchased at that price. Here the coupons are generated to benefit the store and in this case, the store coupon benefits them by enforcing the limit on the number you can purchase at the price.

The key to successful couponing is the ability for you to plan ahead.  If you are currently living on a set household budget, then you already know how to plan ahead.  Avoid coupon impulse purchases at all costs; this will only set you back financially.  Know exactly what your needs are, and stick to those needs.  Most importantly, when you hand over your coupons over to the cashier; pay close attention that all your coupons were scanned in accurately.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but computers make mistakes too.

Where to find coupons

  • Newspapers- the Smart Source and Valassis coupon inserts appear on a near-weekly basis. The Procter and Gamble insert appears at the start of each month
  • Magazines- women's publications such as Woman's Day, Red Book, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping frequently carry manufacturer coupons
  • In store- look for coupons on store shelves, on products and on the back of your receipts. Also look for coupons to print out at the register
  • Online- look to free grocery coupon sites for loads of printable coupons.  Not all stores take them; but if yours does, you’re in luck
  • Junk mail- high-value manufacturer coupons have started to appear in junk mailers, so be sure to look before you toss
  • Direct from the manufacturer- check manufacturer websites for printable coupons or contact companies (by mail, e-mail or phone) to request coupons
  • Store mailings- get a frequent shopper card for the grocery stores that you shop and you may be rewarded with special coupon mailings
  • On products- look in and on the packaging of the products that you buy for special loyalty coupons.  When on the outside of the package, these can be redeemed immediately.

According to the experts, to save the most money couponing you will need to:

  • Compare your coupons to the grocery store saving circular. 
  • Use your coupons for items that are on sale only
  • Use a coupon for an item you need to purchase or were planning on purchasing.  Essentially people waste money on buying a product just because they have a coupon.  If you weren’t planning on buying that jumbo sized package of cookies, why even spend any money on it? Just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you have to use it.
  • Now, you have matched your coupons to the items on sale, to save time just clip out the coupons you need for the shopping trip you are planning.  Save the rest of the coupon clipping for later, and find an empty binder or even a large plastic bag to store the unclipped coupons. 
  • When you write out your shopping list make notations as a reminder that you have a coupon for the product.  This visual reminder will help to avoid those pesky little situations where you forget to give a cashier one of your coupons.

While you might be able to save a few dollars clipping coupons for brand-name goods, you’ll rarely if ever find coupons for anything without a barcode, like fresh produce. The only produce coupons I have ever personally seen were store coupons and I could tell that the fruit or veggie the coupon was for had not been selling too well. 

For many people, clipping coupons is more of a hassle and can prompt unnecessary purchases, than it is an actual money saver. For others, like ‘Extreme Couponers’, it is a big money saver.  It all depends on the individual and situation. 

Here are some tips from the Pros on saving money at the supermarket:

Fact:  Beating these games and saving money will take time and effort.  No superficial action will succeed.  You have to really want it. 

Determine your households eating habits.  It just takes a little effort over a 2 week period of keeping track of what you and your family eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Once this is done you have a basic list of what you will be purchasing on a regular basis.

Find out what you are actually spending on food. Save your grocery receipts for at least a month; subtract non-grocery items from the total receipt and then add all the totals.  Keep it simple and use a clasp envelope to store your receipts and then review them about every 3-5 months to see if your eating habits have changed any or if your household has certain splurges here and there.  This should be your starting point for your household food budget and will allow you to see if one supermarket consistently has lower prices than another chain.  Many of us shop at more than one chain store and this is a good way to sort through all the marketing and advertising hype.  

Make a master grocery list from your reviewed receipts.  Use this to make your ‘normal’ shopping lists.  Having a pre-planned shopping list and sticking to it is one of the biggest savings you can make because it is the prime tool in reducing impulse buying.

For the non-grocery items on your supermarket receipts try a department or specialty store for those items and compare the prices.  Most likely they will be cheaper than at the supermarket.

What Stores Are In Your Area?  Make a list of all the grocery stores in your area. Think outside the box of your usual shopping. Think about specialty stores.  Even if a store seems too expensive, too big, or not as convenient, you just might be surprised. Once you learn more about the stores policies, and a few tips for maximizing your savings, you may find those “over priced” stores offer the best deals in town! You can learn more about each stores policies and special savings at their individual websites.

Think outside the box: Often ‘specialty stores’ have their food for less than supermarkets, as they are not promoting or compensating for multiple product venues and manufacturing brands.  Always keep an eye on the use by  and sell by dates.

  • See if you have any ‘day old’ bakery stores in your area. Bread, bagels, English muffins and rolls are often much cheaper.  
  • Many local dairies have an outlet store with all kinds of dairy products at a reduced price.  From milk and cream to ice cream and yogurt.
  • Does your area have a butcher shop or seafood store?  It may actually be a bargain. 
  • A local deli may have better pricing than the supermarket and without all the chemicals and processing. 
  • Don’t forget the dollar stores; while many dollar stores do not carry a wide variety of foods, there are a number of items with some great savings to be found.   Think paper goods, spices, cleaning products, cereals and the like.  However, there are many items at dollar stores that are more expensive by unit price (due to smaller package weight or volume) than a regular grocery store, so shop wisely.
  • Any ‘pick your own’ local farms in your area?  These are great cost saving places and you know you are only getting what is in season and local.  Be sure to ask the farmer what his growing habits are if you are trying to remove nasty chemicals, etc from your produce.  These are also great places for children to get an idea on just what steps go into the food found in our grocery stores; at least the picking and washing parts anyway.
  • For your fresh fruit and vegetables utilize your local farmers markets and then compare the prices.  Produce is generally cheaper at farmers markets and you have the added benefits of less food miles (for you greenies), which translates to less time and manipulation or handling of your produce aka fresher food.  Farmers Markets also allow most of the profit to stay local rather than going to a series of corporations. 

Know your stores policies on returns, rebates, coupons, shipping and receiving or special promotions and ‘reward’ cards to combine with low prices and rain checks.

Do The Stores Offer Reward (Loyalty or Club) Cards? Most stores offer a savings, loyalty, or club card. These membership cards are generally required to receive the sale or advertised prices. Sign up for every one that is offered. In addition to the sales prices, the electronic tracking often leads to additional check-out coupons, promotional coupons, store specific coupons, and even coupons and special offers delivered to your mailbox. There are frequently special offers and incentives to increase your purchases, such as the free turkey with $50 purchases, or a special 10% off coupon once you have spent a certain amount.  If your supermarkets offer actual savings for using their ‘reward card’ and you don’t mind some corporate database tracking your buying habits, then go for it. 

What Are The Coupon Policies For Each Store? Not all stores are created equally when it comes to coupons. Some stores that you thought won’t accept manufacturer coupons actually will.

  • Dollar General and BJ’s Warehouse do accept coupons, and have current promotions to increase your savings when you shop there with coupons.
  • Costco does not accept manufacturer’s coupons, but publishes their own coupon booklet each month for extra savings in their warehouses.
  • Major pharmacy chains, such as Rite-Aid and CVS, not only accept coupons, but offer manufacturers coupon in their stores. Some stores offer to match the value of the coupon (doubling), or better!. Check locally to see what is available at your specific stores.
  • Many offer electronic manufacturer rebates, which can be combined with additional mail-in rebates to increase your savings.
  • Many stores allow “stacking”, offering a store-specific coupon which can be combined with a manufacturer coupon for additional savings.

Even within the same chain, each store generally sets its own rules, so take the time to ask at the customer service desk for more information on common grocery store coupon policies.

Does The Store Put Out A Weekly Ad? Not every store puts out a weekly, or monthly, advertisement. And not every item listed on a sales flier is a sale. “Featured item” does not mean sale. Informing you of the price an item is selling for does not mean it’s been discounted. Be skeptical and know your prices.

This is one area the Internet ads and websites can help. Internet ads generally allow you to click on items from the online “circular”, and the details of the offer are displayed. Frequently the savings or actual discount from the “regular price” is also shown (i.e. “2/$5” in the circular may not mean much, but “members save $1 on one” allows you to evaluate your potential savings). Again, refer to your stores websites for more information on their sales.

Do They Offer Rain Checks?  A rain check is a store voucher to receive the sale price on out of stock items at a future date. They are provided at the customer service desk, but only if you request it. Rain checks typically do not expire until one year after the issue date.

Rain checks are the trump card for great savings. The logic is simple. Prices may go up, coupons and rebates may become available, and the rain check provides you your own private super sale.

If your store is out of stock on a great sale item, take the time to get a rain check. Even if they are only out of one flavor, if it’s a great sale, get a rain check.

If your usual supermarkets offer any kind of discount for bringing your own bags, do it!  This saves you money immediately at the check out and indirectly in community waste management taxes.

Once you know the games and rules at your local stores, you are ready to get into the game.

Compare & Know the Prices:  Knowing what the average price is for at least  your usual food items is a big plus for saving bucks.  This will help beat a handful of the ‘Supermarket Games’. 

Tip:  Keep a small spiral notebook with you and when you see a product write down where and what price, sale or no sale item.  When you shop take this little notebook with you.  You will have a quick, easy and fast look-up to see if it is a bargain or not.

For fresh fruit and vegetables, find out what in season and when, in your area for items you usually consume.  Then make a new habit of only purchasing these as ‘fresh’ produce when they are in season.  For the rest of the year switch to canned, frozen or even dehydrated.  If you eat salads all year round, you will not be able to utilize this method for your salad ingredients.

Avoid non-grocery items at the supermarket.  Look to the stores that specialize in the non-grocery item you need - A home improvement store for batteries and drain cleaner, a pharmacy for first aid and over the counter medications or a department store (Walmart, Target, KMart, etc) for personal care products and a news stand or bookstore for magazines and books (newspapers generally are the same price no matter where they are sold).  Pet needs are usually cheaper at the department or pet stores.

Note: There seems to be a competition between supermarkets and department stores where laundry and dish soaps are concerned, so compare prices then shop at the cheapest store for that item. 

Determine where you may be able to change brands, supermarkets or your eating habits by examining those shopping receipts you saved. 

Next time you are at the store, try the store and or generic brand for a common item.  Just one package, this is a test here and not a change yet.  If the item is just as good as the name brand, make a note to switch to this the next time you shop for it.  Remember that many store brands are packaged by the brand name manufacturer and are of the same quality and ingredients.

However, you really have to know when it’s worth choosing generic over name brand. Some products from the generic lines go head to head with name brands in terms of quality, while other products are sub par at best. If you buy poor quality products, you may end up tossing them out and wasting the money altogether. Here’s a rundown of what to buy, and what to avoid, when it comes to generic brand products:

What to Buy from Generic Brands:

  • Food Staples. Your basics like flour, sugar, cooking oil, and butter will always taste, and work, the same regardless of what the label says.
  • Canned Produce. Any basic canned fruit or vegetable will taste the same in a generic brand can. However, you may want to stick to the name brands when buying the fancy mixed fruit cocktails – the generic brands never give you enough cherries.
  • Frozen Produce. Name brand frozen produce typically costs twice as much as the generic version, and the store brand often gives you more per bag.

What to Buy from Name Brands:

  • Meat. I’ll skip my slimy chicken story and just tell you this: If you’re a stickler for the quality of your meat, you won’t be happy with the generic brand. This goes for everything from t-bone steaks to frozen chicken strips.
  • Paper Products. Generic brand paper towels and toilet paper do not hold up as well as the name brands. You end up using twice as much for the same effect, which does not save you any money in the long run.

Planning Ahead:  Take time prior to shopping to prepare for your trip – your time invested will really pay off! Planning meals for your family a week or so in advance has shown success in creating a good shopping list that is easy to stick to.  It also helps us save time because we know what we are going to cook on that particular day and for dieters, this is big help in avoiding impulse eating.  In fact planning ahead was listed by the experts as the single most important way to save money.  A grocery list can keep you focused and cut down on impulse buying. Plan your meals based on what is on sale or what you have in stock and watch your savings soar! 

Limit your food shopping trips.  By pre-planning our meals and grocery trips we have less exposure to ‘supermarket games’ and the less exposure we have, the less we spend.  Try to limit grocery shopping to every two weeks or so. 

Tip:  Around any major holiday plan your meals and make your shopping lists for the month prior to and including the holiday.  Immediately take this list and hit all your stores (grocery, department, home improvement, etc) to stock up on as much as possible to hold you through the holiday.   Let’s face it; we are already fighting the ‘game’ all the rest of the time and ALL retailers up the ante for major holidays!  So the fewer trips to any store, the less chance we’ll have to spend and spend unnecessarily

Shop Alone or No?  For some people if they shop alone they are better able to stick to their list, for others the shopping companion is the one who helps them stick to their list. Which is best for you?

If you have young children try to schedule your shopping without them.  If they are old enough to understand the concept of budgeting, bring them along to show them how this works in day to day life.

Plan your trips and take your shopping list to warehouse or club stores.  It is way too easy to go crazy here and blow your budget (and maybe your waistline) to smithereens.  Although generally speaking these stores can have great deals, we still need to be careful with canned goods, refrigerated/frozen goods and ‘fresh’ produce.  These stores also tend to be bulk sales, so check the use by and expiration dates and be sure you can utilize the item before it expires or goes bad.

Form a neighborhood shopping club.  Then once a month as a club, plan a day and route of going to supermarkets, warehouse stores and farmers markets for your items.  The membership of this club is a good place to share bulk purchases.  Have a designated driver or two and take a cooler with you.  Then enjoy good company and good food price savings.

Nip 4 big psychological supermarket ploys by:  Eating before you shop so you are not hungry and can more easily stick to your list.  Take a sweater or jacket with you, even in the summer as the colder you feel the more hungry you get and the more you are likely to purchase.  Look high and low and avoid the eye level items, usually the most expensive products are at eye level.  Stick to the perimeter of the store, that’s where most of the everyday good, healthy items are.

If at all possible scan you grocery store flyers before you shop.  If you are couponing, this is a must.  As previously stated we usually have several grocery store chains that we frequent most.  By scanning the flyers in advance we can be sure we are going to the one that will offer us the most savings.

Shop when it is less crowded.  When the store is ‘slow’ we can get in and out more quickly and stick to our list more easily.  Remember the longer we are in the store, the more we tend to spend and don’t forget that the check-out area is a ‘supermarket game’ all by itself and accounts for almost 1/4 to 1/3 of all impulse purchases. The slowest times are generally mid week, early in the morning (around 10am) and late in the evening.  Additionally, ask your grocery’s deli and bakery if they discount meat and bread on a certain day of the week.

Pay with cash as often as possible to help you stick to your list and your budget.  Credit cards are usually the number one cause of impulse buying and cost us mucho bucks almost every time.  In fact many research studies have identified that using cash rather than a credit card prevents you from buying things you don’t really need and helps us with being aware of the prices on what we do purchase.

Keep some extra cash set aside for unexpected meat and seafood sales.  This way when the sale occurs you can purchase extra of this, re-package it at home in single meal size packaging and put in the freezer.  You can even marinate it and spice it up a bit before freezing.  Note: If you vacuum seal the meat and seafood it will take longer to succumb to freezer burn.

Prepper Tip:  Have some of your preparedness food budget cash available when you do your regular grocery shopping.  This way if you are say purchasing a jar of peanut butter, you can get two instead of one - One for your everyday supplies and one for food storage.  This is also a great way to take advantage of unexpected sales on items you need in your food stores.

In many cases, bulk purchases have a lower per unit price.  To avoid the ‘mass expiration’ before use issue, find friends, neighbors and family you can split bulk purchases with.  This way you can purchase in bulk several times over a longer timeframe and not have all the items of the purchase expire at the same time.

For long shelf life items like unground grains, rice and salt; purchase in bulk.  When you get home break down the bulk purchase into specific serving sizes.  For instance for unground grain I divide up the 5 gallon bucket into 10-12 cup packages.  Each package is usually enough grain to produce enough flour for 2 one pound loafs of bread.  For rice, 12 cups per package as this gives me 6 servings per package.  I also recommend vacuum sealing these smaller packages, then putting them back in the bucket for storage.

Note:  Flour, any kind has a very short shelf life, usually 2 years and that is if it is vacuum sealed and frozen.  Whole Wheat flour has a year max.  Yet the unground grain has a 30+ year shelf life.

2 Food Storage Calculators (Must download in excel format to see all tabs) @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/42687042/2-Food-Storage-Calculators   

Food Storage Mistakes – Yikes! @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/50950637/Food-Storage-Mistakes-%E2%80%93-Yikes

Stock pile:  When items you regularly buy go on sale that you can utilize before they expire, stock up. Don't think of that sale as a one-time opportunity to get your favorite food for less.

Important Note:  Shelf life does not mean until the food tastes bad or is contaminated, it means until the food looses all nutritional value.  ‘Old food’ can look and taste great and offer no nutritional value, you can literally starve your body to death while still eating.

Shelf Life Information on Lots of Things (Must download in excel format to see all tabs) @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/42690147/Shelf-Life-Information-on-Lots-of-Things

Ignore all sale signs and the like and look at the unit price or price per ounce of the item.  In essence, be sure it really is a deal before you buy.  Even if it is a 10 for $10 actual deal, if your family doesn’t utilize that product enough to go through 10 of them before expiration, only purchase your usual quantity.  In most cases the price of the individual item will reap the same savings a purchasing 10 of them.  You can find this out when you check with your store manager for the store’s consumer policies.

Make It Yourself and purchase single ingredients as often as possible, rather than pre-prepared.  Save those veggie trays, fried chicken, ‘just add meat’ frozen packages and the like for special occasions and not your everyday food shopping.  It is ok to keep a few long shelf life ‘instant’ meals handy for days that you don’t feel too well or are just stress out from a day out of H E double hockey sticks.  These meals should never, ever be anywhere near half or more of your food budget.

Prepper Tip: For Preppers purchase ingredients, not ‘meals in a packet’ as often as possible.  Also, purchase these ingredients in multiple food preservation methods (dehydrated, freeze dried, canned, frozen, etc.).  Remember just as each food item has its own shelf life, each food preservation method does too.  Also many times, ‘doubling up’ on food storage container types and preservation methods will double the standard shelf life.  Like say vacuum seal home dehydrated items, then place in a reusable freezer container and stick in the freezer.  Dehydration has its own shelf life, vacuum sealing its own and freezing will halt that ‘clock’ until the vacuum package is thawed.

Look High and Low:  Grocery stores use many marketing tactics to coerce consumers into selecting the most expensive items. For example, stores often stock the most expensive items and brands at eye level, and place the cheaper items and brands on the higher and lower shelves. As you are going through the store, remember to check all the shelves for potential savings.

Avoid impulse buying.  Just because it looks cool, smells great or is ‘on sale’ doesn’t mean you have to buy it.  Stick to your list and you will not only stick to your budget, you can save yourself from a potential unhealthy ‘snack’ too!

Read the labels, even on fresh produce.  The items that are produced closest to your supermarket are generally going to be the cheapest and not imported.  Keep in mind that some labeling terms are not regulated in the U.S. like fresh, natural and local.  On the ingredient list the items are generally listed in order of the ratio the product contains, with the highest ingredient content listed first.  There is an old saying about ingredients; ‘If you can’t pronounce it, it isn’t good for you.’  This is very true in most cases.
At the check-out always watch the scanner and do an eye-ball verification of your receipt.  Cashiers are human and can make mistakes and technology is only as good as the information it is fed and the human doing it, so some sale items may scan and ring up at the normal price.  It pays to take the flyer to the store with you for these ‘computer’ errors.

Limit purchases of fresh produce to in season items, when they are the cheapest and at their peak nutritionally.

Shopping for Fresh & Seasonal Foods @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/55585307/Shopping-for-Fresh-Seasonal-Foods   

U.S. Fruit & Vegetable In Season & Harvest Dates State by State (must download in Excel format to view all tabs) @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/55585033/U-S-Fruit-Vegetable-in-Season-Harvest-Dates-State-by-State

Purchase fresh produce and meats from locally grown farms and ranches.  The smaller the distance from farm/ranch to point-of-sale the less the item has been exposed to

contaminates, less fuel costs have been added and the less inspections are needed to insure safety – all of which reduce the cost of the item.

Above all keep track of government bills and regulations regarding our food.  Let your congressmen know you want choices and not dictates, that you don’t want any portion of our food supply controlled by any corporation and that you want the freedom of choice on who our food is grown, cultivated, harvested, prepared and distributed to us.

For more detailed Tips & Tricks see http://www.scribd.com/doc/122465113/The-Great-American-Supermarket-Games-Who-Wins-Who-Loses

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: January 27, 2013, 8:16 pm

Ok we have covered the ‘games’ and ‘regulation roulette’; What is our strategy for general safety in these supermarkets?  Well ...

General Supermarket Food Safety

Just as in a restaurant, grocery store food safety starts with the managers and employees. But your own observations can help you decide if you should be shopping there. Groceries, markets, supermarkets and the like, enable us to make choices. In a restaurant, we rarely get to say, “I want THAT steak”, or see the product in uncooked form before it is placed in front of us. But in the grocery, we can pick and choose, at least up to a point.

How do you know which grocery stores are the safest? It depends on a number of factors, including your area, the competition, the staffing and the store itself. Most big chain stores are fairly safe, because safety issues will put their name on the line. Yet, this doesn’t stop them from selling chemical laden produce or GMO products, however, when it comes to the ‘common sense’ safety factors it generally does.  Just remember that these stores can be staffed by people who let safety slip. An individually owned, local store might have impeccable standards, since it is a personal business; on the other hand, it may have little money to deal with broken coolers and other safety problems. In the grocery business, the profit on every dollar in sales amounts to only pennies. It’s a tough business for anyone to be in.

While grocery stores vary in size and style – from the corner market to the convenience store to the super-mega-mart to the specialty shop – they all have risks that we should look out for.  Consider the following:

Are the cold foods less than cold, or the hot foods less than hot? Germs like to grow at certain temperatures. But, generally speaking, germ growth is halted or reduced when temperatures are below 40˚F (4.5˚C) or above 135˚F (60˚C). If the food that should be cold (meat, chicken, fish, etc.) is not really cold, and/or if the refrigerator they’re in feels warm to the touch, you might want to be worried. Check what the thermometer in the case says. Most retail coolers are set at the proper temperature, but the cooler may have broken. Whenever you notice this, you’ll want to let the management know (it might have happened recently and they may not be aware). Unhappily, you will have to wonder how long the food has been sitting at a wrong temperature; it might be long enough for germs to have gained a foothold and created a problem for anyone who wants to eat it. (Be aware that some food items are packaged or designed to be able to sit at different temperatures.) Likewise, food that is warm or lukewarm when it should be hot has been sitting and cooling… how long? You don’t know. You might not want to take a chance.

The 'Cold Line' or 'load limit' of open air refrigerated/freezer cases.  In the dairy and egg section this is typically called the 'cold line'.  This is a colored line painted on by manufacturers. If you see eggs stacked above this line, know that these eggs can sweat, igniting possible bacterial growth and milk or cheese may get a shade too warm and spoil quicker. In the freezer section anything stacked above this colored line is suspect as it could thaw, refreeze, thaw, refreeze and that is a big bacterial no-no.

Do you see a mouse, rat or roach running across the aisle? No, the mice are not valued customers; they’re looking for free meals under racks, under counters, in back storage rooms, or anywhere else. While they search, they spread the germs they carry to everything they touch, eat, or go to the bathroom on (remember, they have no bladder control!). Most of the time such uninvited patrons prefer to search at night when no one is around (they are probably very scared of you); their being seen in the daytime may be an indication that there are many of them. If you see one of these critters “shopping” with you, you know that the location has not taken pest control seriously and that there are problems! If you have no choice but to shop at that store, check each each of your food items very carefully for any kind of damage – any tears, chewed appearance, or blemishes. Do not buy anything the least bit damaged.

Are parts of the store dirty? Being human we all have ‘off days’ however if you see a trend after several trips where the store just looks dirty or disorganized – shop someplace else.  If you feel up to it, tell the manager what you see and why you are going elsewhere.

Health inspectors routinely visit supermarkets to look out for the red flags that may signal unsafe conditions for your food. But you can do a little snooping yourself. Flies in the produce or meat departments could be depositing bacteria on raw food. Sticky goo on bottled or canned goods could mean a contaminated package leaked onto other packages. Roaches scurrying across the floor could also be harboring dozens of different diseases. And of course, check the shelves and products for dirt and grime—cans that are covered in dust may be an indication that they've sat around past their shelf life. 

If the service areas or public restrooms look pretty bad, the areas where employees handle your food may look the same. On the other hand, don’t confuse customer-created trash with dirty locations. Customers always create trash (especially during rush periods) and it does get cleaned up. However, if you observe built-up debris or dirt on shelves, in coolers, or in other areas, keep your eyes open for problems – including the pests that the debris attracts.

Canned food in the discounted product area – the cans with the dents and missing labels. Some local health departments do not allow these to be sold. If it is allowed in your area, you need to know that you are shopping at your own risk. The dents are a sign that the can was mishandled. The can’s lining (which you can’t see) might be damaged. A damaged lining can cause the food to go bad or develop germs. It can also be a sign of a VERY serious bacteria called botulism. Botulism bacteria create a deadly toxin (poison) in the food. So while the discount might be appealing, it isn’t the best idea to purchase any damaged cans.

As far as a missing label is concerned, it comes down to how adventurous you are. You’ll be buying something at a huge discount, but you won’t know what it is, when or where it came from, or how long it sat on the shelf. While canning is a perfectly good way to preserve food for a long time, it won’t stay good forever, and you don’t know the expiration date. Without the label, you’re playing Russian Roulette with your food.

In the Produce Section:  Many markets and grocery stores have produce departments. This is where you can pick up vegetables, fruits, and fresh juices. Many of them also offer pre-made salads for a quick, healthy lunch or dinner. Produce departments come in all sizes, and the range of products differs.

  • Most produce items are offered to the customers as “raw” products. This means that you should take them home and immediately wash them before cooking them BEFORE you eat them! The strawberries, the lettuces, anything unpackaged should be cleaned before you do anything else with it. Popping a grape into your mouth as you pass the section might be safe, but not smart. Think how many people may have already touched that grape with their dirty hands.
  • Speaking of touching things, include floors. If you see a piece of produce hit the floor and then see a customer put it back, it’s not a red flag. But it’s something to notice. Although many consumers don’t realize it, most grocery stores have a policy that anything un-packaged that touches the floor must be thrown away. That doesn’t help the store – it definitely hurts profits – but overall it is wise. Often, a customer may pick up a peach or a carrot off the floor and put it back where it belongs, thinking it’s the right thing to do. You don’t need to be stressed out about it, but you might want to point it out to an employee.

Do the prepared salads, sprouts, or the cut melons feel warm (or at least not cold) Prepared salads often contain proteins like chicken, ham or cooked eggs. Cut melon pieces can grow bacteria (usually E-coli or Salmonella) if the melons haven’t been washed properly before cutting. Both of these items should be kept at 41 ˚ F (5 ˚ C) or lower; if they aren’t, germs may be going crazy. It might not be happening in every instance – but you can’t tell just by looking. If the products have been warm for a while (and how long HAVE they been warm?), they could send you to the emergency room.

Do you see any rotting or molding fruits, vegetables, or lettuces? Just don’t buy them! The same freshness that is the hallmark of the produce section is also its bane. Produce just doesn’t stay fresh long – most items are good for only 3 or 4 days from the time they’re set out for customers. Leave the bad ones out of your cart. You might want to point them out to the produce employees, just to be nice.

The produce department is one of the simpler ones in the store! Just look for freshness and be sure to clean/prepare those fruits and veggies before you eat them.

Meat Department: As you know, most supermarkets and grocery stores have meat departments, where you can pick up packaged or 'freshly' (we already covered the Freezing Switch) cut steaks, chicken, chops, and other meats to take home to cook on your grill, your stove top, or your oven. In many cases, a meat-cutting employee can help you find the best cuts of meat for the price you want to pay.

The area where meat cutters cut and wrap the steaks and meats is usually a refrigerated prep room. Talk about a “cool” job! This enables the meat to stay at the proper temperatures (and avoid growing any germs) while they work.

You may have noticed that meat cutters look messy!  Don’t worry about it. Their aprons or coats often pick up blood as they are cutting up the beef. However, if you see a employee with a dry, crusty coat (in other words, it looks as if it has been worn for a few days straight) you have reason to be concerned.

Does the meat look spoiled?  You do have to remember here that red meat is NOT naturally bright red. Don’t buy any meat that looks the least bit “funny” to you!  Old meat looks grey, green, or brown, depending on the cut. Don’t just go by the “use-by” date; spoiled meat could be “in date.” The discoloration is the clue. Even if the price is very good, don’t mess with it! If you’re uncertain, do this: ask for a second opinion on the piece or package of meat from the meat department employee or the grocery store manager, and watch the reaction. Unhappily, if you have any doubt that they are telling you the truth, you’d better not shop there.

Does the package in the cooler feel warm (or at least not cool)? When you’re shopping for meat, you get to touch the packaging. You should expect all meat coolers to hold products at 41 ˚ F (5 ˚ C) or lower. While you don’t have to carry a thermometer around, it’s something you can check yourself. If you reach into a cooler and the product doesn’t feel cold to the touch, touch the package below it or beside it – even if that isn’t a product you intend to buy. Sometimes the heat from lights can make the top package feel just a little warm. But if all the products feel warmer than they should, you might want to ask questions. If no one is around to ask, go get some other items on your grocery list, come back to the meat department, and check again. If you still think that the cooler is not cold enough, it’s best not to buy. Your final test would be to check the thermometer – usually located around the back or top of the cooler – and see what it says.

Does a meat department employee help you without washing hands first?  What’s the difference?  It depends on what the person is doing for you. If you notice that an employee is cutting meat, and that person comes up to help you without washing his or her hands, AND he or she touches the meat you want to buy, your food is receiving blood, juices and possibly germs. If the food handler is touching something raw that you’re going to cook; if he or she is touching something ready to eat (already cooked and not going to be cooked again, such as cooked crab or shrimp). If the employee puts on gloves, at least that a small barrier, but there’s still a lot of risk involved; ask questions and make your best judgment. (Always feel free to ask questions! Good employees and managers like questions.)

The Store Deli: The Deli is one of the highest risks for problems in a grocery store when it comes to food safety. As you undoubtedly know, many groceries have deli (delicatessen) counters. There you find the higher-quality meats, cheeses, salads, side items, and specialty products. Sometimes you’ll also find hot food (like chicken or meatloaf) that is easy to take home to supper or to take out to the picnic. Often the deli employees will fresh-slice cheeses and meats for you at your request.

Oddly enough, the biggest risk with deli food is that it is considered ready-to-eat (ready to put in your mouth without any extra preparation or steps)!  In other words, you’re not planning to cook or wash it again; it goes basically straight into your mouth. Cooking a steak or washing your lettuce is a step that helps your food to be safer. However, when it’s going to go straight into your mouth, there might be a higher safety risk.

So here are a few suggestions about your deli purchases:
  • When you shop, make sure that you select your hot items last, especially if you’re driving a long distance to get home. Even having those hot items in your grocery cart with other foods (especially cold food) will drop the temperature of the hot items and raise the temps of the cold ones.
  • Don’t allow the hot foods to sit out at room temperature for very long. Letting them sit on the picnic or pot luck table for a few hours might be convenient, but it could also allow the food to grow dangerous germs that could put you at risk. To find out more about food safety at picnics.

Do you see employees handling food with bare hands? If I handle your food with my bare hands, that food (which is going straight into your mouth) also carries anything that was on my hands – including whatever I touched before I handled your food. Most deli departments require their employees to wear disposable gloves to avoid accidentally transferring anything (other food items, germs, or chemicals) to your food. Never forget those cooties!

Do you see food handlers not washing their hands? Depending whether they are wearing gloves, not washing is not so bad. No glove and not washing and I would go somewhere else. If you notice any employees walking into the deli and beginning to work without washing hands, this warns you that hand washing is not a focus in this department. The problem? You don’t know what the person was doing a few minutes before! Maybe he or she was handling trash, going to the restroom (and washing or not washing hands after wards), or out on break. The fact that you don’t know is enough for you to think twice about buying food here.

Are the hot foods hot? Not really?  The risk is even higher with deli items than in the general store area, especially if you are dealing with hot items ready to go. See if the packaging states how long ago the hot foods were put in the self-service case. Anything that has sat longer than three to four hours may have cooled down to below 135 °F (60 °C). That makes it risky to eat. In addition, chicken that sits out for a long time becomes dried out and tough. Ask the deli employees if they have anything fresher coming out; if they don’t, it might be smarter to purchase a cold chicken or meat dish and reheat it yourself.

Next time, last but not least - some tips on Saving Monies at the supermarket ;-}

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: January 11, 2013, 5:41 pm
We all remember the November 2012 failure of California’s Prop 37 and we all know it was because of the millions of dollars of anti-Prop 37 campaigning by the big Biotech firms.  Well now it seems that New Mexico is going to be the next battle ground on GMO labeling.

Have you noticed the recent commercials by “Family Farmers”?  They are not only sponsored by Monsanto, they are the same commercials that ran in California last year!  Yes, sirree – the battle has begun …

On December 17, 2012 New Mexico Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) introduced and prefilled SB 18, which is an amendment to sections of existing NM commerce laws on Food and Commercial Feed.  This will be taken up by the legislature when the regular session begins on January 15, 2013. 

Basically this amendment will require GMO ingredient labeling on food, raw or processed and livestock feed.

Food & Water Watch, which worked with Senator Wirth on the wording, issued a press release on December 20, 2012 about this new battle and it can be view at http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/pressreleases/amendment-to-label-ge-food-pre-filed-for-new-mexico-senates-consideration/
SB 18 can be viewed at: http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/_session.aspx?chamber=S&legtype=B&legno=%20%2018&year=13
You can download the amendment @ http://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/13%20Regular/bills/senate/SB0018.pdf

The two key contacts to this New Mexico battle are:

Eleanor Bravo, Food & Water Watch, 505-730-8474
NM Senator Wirth, 505-988-1668 ext. 104

OK New Mexicans, it is time to go to the Round House; time to write, email and call your state senators and spread the word! 

I for one am 100% behind this amendment as I have a ton of food allergies and some of them are an allergic reaction to chemically bleached grains and RoundUp, along with RoundUp resistant food products.  I have been living with these allergies for several decades and am a bit tired of having to get sick in order to find out if the product I am eating contain these allergens – and that is on top of then having to throw it out!

For some rather scary information on what is done to our “unlabeled” food see The 6 Creepiest Lies the Food Industry is Feeding You at http://www.cracked.com/article_19896_the-6-creepiest-lies-food-industry-feeding-you.html

Folks, this is on top of the fact that the FDA recently approved GM salmon, so now that salmon  you eat may not only be dyed, it will most likely be GM too.

So New Mexico the ball is in our court.  Let’s show the rest of the U.S. that when it comes to important issues we are concerned with the bottom line and not politics.

Read for more information on New Mexico's and U.S.A.'s continued battle for Truth In Labeling @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/119111273/People-VS-Biotech-GMO-Labeling-Battleground-New-Mexico-2013

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: January 5, 2013, 10:20 pm

Ok we have covered the more common ‘games’ that supermarkets play so now it is time to check on government and industry safety standards.

The Bureaucratic Maze Game

Food safety and quality in the United States is governed by no less than 30 federal laws and regulations administered by 15 federal agencies and additional state and local agencies. 

Numerous federal, state and local agencies share responsibilities for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply. Federal responsibility for food safety rests primarily with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

FDA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for ensuring the safety of all domestic and imported food products (except for most meats and poultry). FDA also has oversight of all seafood, fish, and shellfish products.  In many cases, the food safety functions of the FDA and USDA overlap; particularly inspection/enforcement, training, research, and rulemaking, for both domestic and imported food. Both USDA and FDA currently conduct similar inspections at some 1,500 dual jurisdiction establishments (facilities that produce foods regulated by both agencies).

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates most meat and poultry and some egg products.

State and local food safety authorities collaborate with federal agencies for inspection and other food safety functions, and they regulate retail food establishments.  Restaurants and other retail food establishments (like supermarkets) fall under state law and are regulated by state or local health departments. Typically these regulations require official inspections of specific design features, best food-handling practices and certification of food handlers.

Role of the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control leads federal efforts to gather data on foodborne illnesses, investigate foodborne illnesses and outbreaks and monitor the effectiveness of prevention and control efforts in reducing foodborne illnesses. CDC also plays a key role in building state and local health department epidemiology, laboratory, and environmental health capacity to support foodborne disease surveillance and outbreak response.

Role NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services External Web Site Policy, is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems. NIH leadership plays an active role in shaping the agency's research planning, activities, and outlook. More than 80% of the NIH's budget goes to more than 300,000 research personnel at over 2,500 universities and research institutions. In addition, about 6,000 scientists work in NIH’s own Intramural Research laboratories, most of which are on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The main campus is also home to the NIH Clinical Center, the largest hospital in the world totally dedicated to clinical research.  When it comes to our food safety NIH gets involved, along with the CDC, when an outbreak occurs.

Differing Authorities

All of the federal laws on food safety empower the USDA and FDA with different regulatory and enforcement authorities which come into play at every point in our food supply line, are misleading and somewhat sporatic.

For example, food products under FDA's jurisdiction may be sold to the public without the agency's prior approval. On the other hand, food products under USDA's jurisdiction must generally be inspected and approved as meeting federal standards before being marketed.

Under current law, UDSA ‘continuously’ (right) inspects slaughter facilities and examines each slaughtered meat and poultry carcass. They also visit each processing facility at least once during each operating day. For foods under FDA's jurisdiction, however, federal law does not mandate the frequency of these inspections.

Add the Bioterrorism Political Scare Tactic

We know that not only is ‘mental instability’ on the rise, but that it is most frequently used by the ‘fanatics’ of this world that can’t get attention or power any other way.  So in typical human fashion, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our government had the federal food safety agencies began taking on the added responsibility of addressing the potential for deliberate contamination of agriculture and food products, AKA bioterrorism. 

An executive order issued by President George W. Bush in 2001 added the food industry to the list of ‘critical sectors’ that need protection from possible terrorist attack. As a result of this order, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security, which now provides overall ‘coordination’ for ‘protecting’ the U.S. food supply from deliberate contamination, as well as all other U.S. infrastructures. 

Nothing really wrong with this until you realize that the Patriot Act allows DHS, under a declaration of National Emergency, to by-pass the three branches of our government and act independently of our government to ‘protect’ the United States.

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 granted the FDA additional food safety enforcement authorities similar to those of the USDA.

Recently, in the United States, a process called Country of Origin Labeling (or COOL) was required by the USDA. This can let you, the consumer, know more about where your produce is coming from and is utilized by DHS to track possible bioterrorism to our imported food supplies.

 Inefficiency Issues

Couple this with the corporatization of all levels of the food industry and trends in U.S. food markets (for example, increasing imports as a share of U.S. food consumptions and increasing consumption of fresh, often unprocessed, foods) results in most of these regulations being placed either on the farmer/rancher or the point of sale.  The problem here is that the last 20 years of outbreaks of food-borne illness in the U.S. have occurred primarily in between these two points or from imports alone.

Next remember that the more layers to any organizational structure, the more expenses and the slower the response.  So the more all these federal, state, local and industry regulations are imposed, the more expensive the end product becomes.  Plus we all know that too many cooks can spoil the soup – so with each bureaucratic layer and contention, more and more ‘bad’ food is making it into our daily food supply.  And that is without corruption and graft thrown into the mix!

Food Safety Costs

What this all means is that all this regulation and labeling costs us money, many times twice or more over.  How so?  

Every time our food, in any format, is touched or handled there are already regulations that must be met, reported and or inspected to quantify that these regulations have been met.  Each and every time this done, there is an expense and that expense is passed on to the consumer at point-of-sale.  Example:

  • The farm/ranch has to meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity, if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • If the item is imported it has to meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity, if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • Any transportation of any food item in any form must meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • Any processing of any food item in any form must meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with. 
  • Anything done to or around these food items that has not already been identified above, must meet and report on certain regulations to some government entity if not more than one, to quantify these regulations are being complied with.  This means that all these ‘dangerous’ chemical and pharmaceutical usages are being tracked by other regulations outside the food industry.

Labeling regulations currently include, and is not limited to:  Organic, nutrition information, ingredient information and country of origin information. 

Now say we want ‘honest labeling’ on any human GMO product and/or  ingredient, or a list of the herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, gases and like used, to be labeled – this will incur regulation quantification monies to prove complicity.

Although I have been unable to find any actual cost analysis of labeling and regulation expenses, we can use some deductive, logical reasoning to guesstimate the cost:

  • The cost of actually putting this information on the label or packaging itself is miniscule at best, as proven by the number of times producers and suppliers currently change the labeling and packaging without a change in price of the product.
  • Many of the corporations that are complaining about and fighting any type of new ‘truth in labeling’ regulation on the basis of cost, are in my book, bogus at best and outright lies at worst.  How?  Think about this:
Most of these chemicals, pharmaceuticals, gases and copyrighted products are already being tracked by not just the corporation producing them, but by all entities that utilize them, since these items are considered either dangerous in some way (and already regulated, inspected or tracked for some kind of safety or national security reason) or because the corporation owning the copyright wants to be sure they can press charges against any violators of said copyright.

This means that if these additional labeling regulations were applied, the cost increase would be minimal; because the government can already utilize the information needed to quantify complaisance from its other government entities and/or the corporate entities themselves, since they are already tracking and recording this information.

Bottom line:  The overall cost increase of food items due to a ‘truth in labeling’ regulation would be minimal and the greatest increase would be due to bureaucratic inefficiency.
Keep in mind that these combined efforts of the food industry and government regulatory agencies are some of the reasons the U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world.  However, this situation of organizational complexity, comprised of shared government responsibilities; added to laws that can allow a government entity to by-pass the rest of government, creates not only budget and control battles between the various agencies; it lends itself to the ultimate corruption of said government, straight into the arms of tyranny.  And this is on top of our federal governments overall mentality to “control the people”.

Where our choice in food products is stifled is with the lack of ‘truth in labeling’ in the U.S..  There are NO labeling requirements to know if food was: grown with fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides; if it has been pre-gassed or frozen; or if it is human-genetically modified in any way.  Without ‘truth in labeling’ we don’t even know if the item is waxed or sprayed, if it has been pre-frozen or had hormones, antibiotics, saline solution or food dye added to meats and seafood, etc.  It is in this area that the U.S. governance is lacking, our health is at risk and our inalienable right of CHOICE is shackled.

Next posting will be on some General Grocery Store Safety and Cost Saving Tips.

See ya next year ;-}

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: December 30, 2012, 11:49 pm

"Flies create garbage the same as guns create crime"

To control crime via the method of depriving the tools of crime, we better start banning from civilian use not only firearms but: vehicles, bats, golf clubs, fireplace pokers, crowbars, 2 X 4's, bricks, hammers, mallets, screwdrivers and other tools, eating utensils, toothbrushes, pipes, anything glass, knick knacks, statues, bird baths, knitting/crochet needles and any other strikable or stabable object - to name just a few ...

The truth is that NO law, act, bill, declaration, directive, executive order or treaty has EVER PREVENTED a crime.  We will NEVER EVER be able to keep the tools of a criminals trade away from them by outlawing them. Remember Prohibition, it didn't work to reduce drunkenness or crime; in fact it increased it.

It is the sicko and criminal that commits crime, not the tool of the person committing the crime.  If we want to reduce crime; we must reduce the sickos and criminals; to do that we need to identify them and put them where they cannot be a threat to the rest of us law abiding and Creator loving people.

Our country was founded on the principle that each and every one of us have 'inalienable rights' given to us by God the Creator and they cannot be taken away from us by ANY human-made government. 

All of our founding documents have one common theme: 
The freedom of choice within the constraints of the 10 Commandments.   Because of this I will defend any US citizen's right to NOT own a firearm, as strongly as I will defend any US citizen's right TO own a firearm.  I will defend this inalienable right of personal choice with my last breath.

Since 2009 (according to the FBI crime stats, CDC, WHO & Census stats) each year suicide now 'kills' more US citizens than vehicle accidents. Homicides (including ones WITHOUT firearms) are NOT even in the top 10 causes of mortality of US citizens.

So yes, let us remember those taken from us by sickos and criminals and start attacking the root cause - the sickos and criminals!

PS - Since 1974 I have been a non-designated voter.  I will NOT support the Democrats or Republicans with monies or my vote.  They are flip sides of the same coin and have hijacked our representative government, debased the dollar, increased debt and inflation and pass laws for a federal dictatorship!  My tax dollars should go to NO political party!!!  Belonging and supporting a political party is a CHOICE and should not be dictated!

"Today is the Tomorrow that we worried about Yesterday"

"Politicians and diapers must be changed often and for the same reason"  Mark Twain

e have given you a Republic, if you can keep it."  Benjamin Franklin
Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: December 26, 2012, 6:58 pm
Sorry to be ‘tardy’ on getting this next installment of the Supermarket Games to you.  I have no excuses, except that I was human and let time get away from me.  So here goes it ...

The Dates Game

Another area with little to no regulation, yet alone standardization are the ‘Use by’ and ‘Sell By’ dates.  Except for baby formula and food, product expiration dates are not required by Federal regulations (some states, however, have their own rules requiring product dating).  What is even more shocking is that according to Dr. Oz, “many foods come with a use-by date established by the manufacturer, which cannot be changed.  However you may also notice a use-by date added on by the retailer on foods that they process and package.” And guess what? Retailers are allowed to change that date as many times as they’d like until the product sells!

  • The “Best if Used By” date is more of a suggestion than a safety issue—the food will taste best if eaten by the date on the label, but won’t necessarily be unsafe if eaten after that.
  • The “Sell-By” date generally means that that is how long the store should display it.

If all of this sounds fishy, keep in mind that the food industry is designed to move massive amounts of food in order to make a profit, so retailers will continue selling their products until they look green and moldy. In many cases, the only way to tell whether a use-by date was placed by the manufacturer or the supermarket itself is to ask your grocer. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but your health is worth it.

Smells, Sights and Cooties – oh my!

Another interesting tidbit is that there are no restrictions on who can fumble through all the products and produce on the shelves. So not only are you taking home produce that’s been handled by other customers, it was put out there by store employees, the person who unpacked the box and in some cases even the person who picked it. There’s no telling who has touched the produce or where their hands have been. So, if you need a snack and opt for something quick out of the produce department, be certain you wash it thoroughly—even if it’s organic.  Remember that these ‘cootie’ conditions apply to the shopping carts as well as all the other products in jars, jugs, cans and other transferable surfaces. 

According to studies done by Gerba and his colleagues at University of Arizona, shopping carts had more bacteria than other surfaces they tested—even more than escalators, public phones and public bathrooms. "These bacteria may be coming from raw foods or from children who sit in the carts," says Chuck Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at University of Arizona. "Just think about the fact that a few minutes ago, some kid's bottom was where you are now putting your broccoli." To avoid picking up nasty bacteria, Gerba recommends using sanitizing wipes to clean off cart handles and seats, and to wash your hands after you finish shopping. 

Kinda explains those ‘wet wipes’ you see scattered throughout the store doesn’t it!

The Non-grocery Product Game
Non-grocery convenience items such as medicine, motor oil, office supplies and light bulbs are often over priced compared to other department stores (like Walmart, Kmat or Target).  We pay for not having to go to another store while we ‘run in for some milk’.

Many supermarkets now have ATM Machines and most supermarkets also let you pay for your order using ATM cards. What a lot of people still do not know is that instead of paying the fee for withdrawing money from your bank account using the ATM you can simply purchase something from the store, use your debit card to purchase it and ask for additional cash back.

Ok we have covered the more common ‘games’ that supermarkets play so now it is time to check on government and industry safety standards; the next installment will be on the Bureaucratic Maze Game.

Until then think about this time of year ... we have made it past the Mayan Calendar and the Winter Soltice and are on the downhill slide into spring and re-birth, as well as a spiritual time of year too.  December is filled with celebrations around the world.  Like:

Hanukkah, which is the Hebrew word for dedication, honors the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrians in 165 BC. After their victory, the Maccabees, sons of the family that led the revolt, entered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the service of their God. When the Maccabees entered the temple, they found only enough lamp oil to last one night, but the oil somehow managed to burn for the whole eight days it took to go in search for more oil. Therefore, Hanukkah is observed over eight days.

I already mentioned the Winter solstice. It's the shortest day of the year, because of the earth's tilt. The winter solstice is the solstice that occurs in winter. It is the time at which the Sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon.  In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year. In the Southern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on June 20 to 21 each year.

Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. No one knows the exact date of Christ's birth but in the 4th Century, Pope Julius I chose December 25th as the day of celebration. It's a holiday that's celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In recent times, Christmas has become a holiday that is largely commercial, with everyone eagerly anticipating the arrival of St. Nick, but for Christians around the world, Christmas is a special and holy time to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ.

The first Boxing Day is believed to have started in the Middle Ages. This is just a guess because the exact date isn't known. How Boxing Day started is a question as well. Some say it started with the giving of Christmas boxes, while others think it was named after the tradition of opening charity boxes placed in churches during the Christmas season. Either way, it's now known as one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Kwanzaa; Although some people believe this holiday is a substitute for Christmas, it is not a religious holiday. It is celebrated every year on December 26th. Kwanzaa, which means "first fruit of the harvest" in Swahili, is a time to focus on the traditional African values of family. It is based upon the celebration of seven principles or beliefs called the Nguzo Saba and was created by Ron Karenga in 1966 to celebrate African-American heritage.

And of course New Year's. The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23rd, although they had no written calendar. It wasn't until 153 BC that the Roman senate declared January 1st to be the beginning of the new year.

Whatever your spiritual or festive inclination, do take the time to value all that we do have, thank your Higher Power and get ready for spring with a smile on your face.

May the Creator bless you and yours always ;-}


Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: December 24, 2012, 5:37 pm

The Lighting Game

Just as our favorite Hollywood star looks better under certain lights, so does our food! Supermarkets actually spotlight foods with different lights to make them seem more appealing, using red lights near the meat section and green lights in the produce section. In most states this practice is a violation of the food code, but it’s difficult to enforce because the health inspector must prove it was done intentionally. If you notice any of these lights in your grocery store, beware!  Inspect your produce and meat under a white light before buying to ensure you’re getting the freshest, healthiest selections possible.

Next time you’re strolling the aisles, pay attention to the sensory sensations your supermarket uses to seduce you: The smell of brewing coffee and donuts, colored lighting around meats and or produce, the colorful signage around the DVDs near the checkout – even the music is designed to make you reach for your wallet. During quiet business hours, supermarkets play slower music, hoping it will cause you to linger and buy more.  On average, these supermarket tricks alone can cause you to spend $50 more per trip. Be sure to walk in with a list – and stick to it!

Yep the layout of the store and the placement of the products results in mega bucks for the corporation’s (not the farmer or rancher of the base ingredients).  How so?  Well take 10 million shoppers a day tacking on an extra $10.00 to their final purchase, which has an end result of a billion dollar a day industry!  Truth is that research indicates that on average we spend an extra $50 per supermarket trip when all these tactics are applied.

The Life Style Game

Taking advantage of our ‘busy lives’ we see produce items that are already cut up and neatly arranged in a disposable serving tray or ready for cooking or salads.  At the meat counter, chicken breasts and beef are cut into chunks and marinated—ready for immediate grilling. There's no denying that these pre-cut foods can make life incredibly easy. And nutritionists agree that if they get people to eat more healthfully, there's nothing wrong with them. But realize that you're also paying a tremendous premium—sometimes up to twice as much as uncut versions of the same food—just so you don't have to bother picking up a knife.
That prepared food you buy from the deli comes off the shelves of the store and many aren’t picking the freshest options. Instead, they’ll choose the foods that are closest to their expiration date, saving themselves money. A better bet: cooking and making it for yourself.

The ‘butcher counter’ could be cheaper! Common meat items like store brand bacon are usually cheaper at the ‘butcher’ counter than prepackaged in the ‘on display’ refrigerated meat area and it’s the same meat. 

The Freezing Switch-a-roo
Did you know that what you think is fresh could be months old?  That’s right, after being kept in a freezer at a distribution center for months to prevent aging, breads are finally thawed to put on display. This is known as “parbaking”.  Similarly, meat and seafood is frozen before reaching the supermarket, but then thawed to look fresh in the market’s freezer or meat/seafood department. The problem here is that this opens a wider door for bacterial exposure and growth. Think twice before stocking up on meat, only to freeze it and be sure to use that bread quickly.

A lot of returns and other items accumulate throughout the store in a given day. The cashiers usually are the ones to put these away when there is down-time. With perishables most clerks would just do the "feel test" if it feels cold then they put it back on the shelf, if it feels warm they will mark it damaged and will not put it back.  What this means is that you could be purchasing perishables that have been defrosted.  The best hint I can tell you is look at the package for signs of possible defrost.

Pricing Games

Supermarkets want you to think that they have across-the-board low prices, which is often not true.  Many stores use a mix of highly advertised items sold at cost, then some at 5% above cost and others at 10%, 15% and 20%.  By keeping it confusing, stores can create the illusion that everything is at a rock bottom price.

Another trick supermarkets play on us is the sale tags. For example when you don't know the general price on an item and then you see it with a sale tag you automatically think you are getting a deal and probably buy it when it is actually the same price. They do this with the name brand products that sit right beside the generic.  So let’s say you buy a single unit of yogurt for .45 cents, then you see a more popular name brand on sale for .10 cents off the regular price which costs .55 cents, so you grab a couple of those thinking you have just scored a deal, though you haven't, the store just got the same amount of money out of you and that's the bottom line.  It’s not what you buy, rather it is how much you spend.

Next take a look at the 2 for 1 concept, etc.  You see an item, whether it be for daily use or a specialty buy and the store has a sale tag stating 10 units for 4 dollars.  This subliminally suggests to us, the consumer, not only to buy this great deal but to buy a quantity of it when you normally buy a couple at a time.   Now take a closer look and remember the yogurt comparison.  The generic brand is on sale at 10 for 4 dollars, while the popular brand offers 10 units at 6 dollars.  So being the smart consumer, you grab 10 of the generic,  only you had budgeted for just the two you normally buy.  So when you planned on spending less than a dollar for some yogurt you ended up spending three times as much.  How much was the unit on sale for again?  If you had stuck to your regular needs of only two you would have saved .10 cents versus spending 4 dollars.

Who can resist an offer like "buy five, get one free," “10 for $10” or "three for $1"?  Apparently, very few of us can.  "Any time you see numbers in a sign, you're likely to buy at least 30 percent more than you may have purchased otherwise. So if you go looking for soup and the sign says 'limit 12 per person,' chances are you’ll purchase several more cans than you intended to buy".  And of course, if you buy more than you need, it's not necessarily a bargain.  Or worse yet, it could lead to over-indulging. "Mindless shopping leads to mindless eating," says Wansink. "Once the stuff is in the house, you'll eat it whether you really want it or not."

Next time you see a sign promoting a “Manger’s Special” it might be helpful to instead imagine it reading, “This food is old and we need to get rid of it.” These lower prices come from the fact that the products on sale have been on the shelf for quite some time. Generally these items should be avoided.  At the very least you need to "look" for the expiration dates on sale items, especially when they are marked down 70% or more and use the product in the next day or two.

The oldest of the pricing games is the use of 9.  Just take a look at all the $.29, 1.89 etc pricing.  Legally the seller of this item can say the product is ‘under 2 dollars’ or ‘for less than 30 cents’.

 The Rewards Card - Is it really? What a lot of people do not know is that when you have a ‘rewards card’ for a store that this card is being used to track your buying habits.  Every time your card is swiped the supermarket keeps a record of what you bought.  They use this information for market research.  If you are interested in more on this topic you can find it at: http://www.nocards.org/ .  Now this can be good and bad.  On the good side the store can keep stocked with items they see you purchase regularly.  On the bad side, they now have an ‘in’ to your personal eating habits.

Thankfully most stores that use the ‘rewards card’ do actually offer savings, not much, but in this economy every penny counts.

Remember I said that ‘fresh’ has no legal definition in the U.S.?  Good now think about this - Deliveries to supermarkets don’t typically happen on weekends.  Wednesday is usually the day to shop for the freshest food.

According to Progressive Grocer, only 11% of shoppers go to the store on Wednesdays and only 4% of customers shop after 9 p.m. Why does this matter? This means that stuff purchased on Mondays is likely several days old. Wednesday is generally when supermarket shelves are stocked with fresh products and that means we should avoid shopping on Mondays.

Next time I'll cover the Dates Game, Smells, Sights and Cooties and the Non-grocery Product Game

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: December 4, 2012, 9:42 pm

 I just had to squeeze this in before I continue with the Great American Supermarket Games ;-}

Well folks despite all the Mayan Calendar and political mumbo-jumbo, we have made it to the string of holidays that signal years end and winter.

We should all have our fall and winter prepping completed and if you have been frugal and a planner, your holiday gifts are completed and you can avoid the shysterism of Black Friday and holiday shopping.  That’s right anyone who keeps track of prices will realize that starting around September the prices on most goods have gone up.  This is a pricing strategy of merchandisers so that when they put on holiday ‘sales’, they get the same price as always – i.e. the stuff really isn’t on sale at all.  The big shysters of the group will actually make a higher profit per item!  Don’t know about you, but to me this appears to be worse than ever this year with commercials and advertisements on “Black Friday sales”. 

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill

Put all that crap aside and let’s remember the true meaning of this holiday season.  From the fall festivals, hectic harvesting and stocking of foods for the winter months, Halloween; to Thanksgiving and the battle of the colonists that settled our country and how they got along with the peoples that already lived here at the time; then all the various spiritual holidays and their corresponding time of prayer and thanks concerning the miracles of each faith; the Winter Solstice and on to New Year’s with the reminder that we are now on the downhill side heading towards spring and re-birth. 

The thing is gift giving is a year round endeavor, what with birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, promotions and the like.  When it comes to our Prepper oriented friends we may feel in a bit of a quandary about what to get and still save money for ourselves.  So here are some ideas to get you started. (Yes, some of these are from last year.)

Read on for all kinds of inexpensive and still worthy gifts for him, her, children, family, friends and Preppers and many that are easy to make yourself too ;-} @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/114509362/Everyday-Holiday-Gift-Ideas-for-Family-Friends-and-Preppers


“It isn't the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.”
Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

PS - In the next day or two I'll continue with the Supermarket Games ...
Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: November 26, 2012, 9:11 pm

The Store Design and Layout Game
There's nothing haphazard about the layout of your grocery store or where various food items are placed within the store.  It starts with the placement of the entry, which has a significant effect on how people shop and how much we spend. 

  • Right-hand side entries favor counter-clockwise movement through the shop, while left-hand side entries favor clockwise patterns.
  • Counter-clockwise shoppers spend, on average, $2 more per trip, than do clockwise shoppers.
  • People use the perimeter as a home base, so key items are placed on the perimeter of the supermarket.
  • Shorter trips tend to stick predominantly to the perimeter.
  • Familiar brands are placed at the end of aisles to serve as a psychological ‘welcome mat’ to those aisles, which results in increased traffic.
  • Products at the center of the aisle will receive less “face time
  • On an average shopping trip we cover about 25% of the supermarket.

People who use the fresh food (e.g., meat, fruit and vegetables) areas tend to spend more, so supermarkets place the produce area at the beginning (or the end) of the supermarket experience.  They also make the produce area a relaxed, inviting, and fresh/clean environment to create a sense of trust and emotional involvement in the shopping experience. 

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t weave up and down aisles. Research of movement patterns using GPS trackers attached to carts show that people tend to travel in select aisles and rarely in a systematic up and down pattern.

Even long shopping trips are punctuated by short excursions into and out of the aisle, rather than traversing the entire length of the aisle.  What this means is that key products (the ones with the greatest profit margins, or those that have paid a premium), will be placed at the ends of aisles in endcap displays.

Supermarkets are designed to make you walk out with way more items in your shopping bags than you intended.   They do this by being designed to slow us down as much as possible.  According to research every extra minute we spend lingering will cost us $1.70.  The more time a supermarket gets us to spend in the store, the more money we will likely spend.  This is why milk is put way at the back.  A store is often designed so that you cannot even follow a straight path to the back but must move around the produce, the fresh baked bread and the large displays in the middle of the aisles.

Sure, some of the layout is practical (like refrigerated cases along the periphery or meat cases in the back by the store's loading dock), but some is carefully calculated to ‘help’ us part with more money.  Walk in the front doors and chances are you're faced immediately with hard-to-resist items (not on your list) like fresh-cut flowers or just-baked loaves of bread.  Just try walking past them en route to a carton of milk without tossing something extra into your cart.

Think it's a coincidence that you almost always have to walk through the produce department when you enter the supermarket?  The produce is the second most profitable section.  While it occupies a little over 10% of the supermarket, it brings in close to 20% of the store's profits.

  • People also tend to use the perimeter of the shop as the main thoroughfare, rather than heading down aisles.
  • Supermarkets don’t block your way, but they do “push” the products that you may be interested in, into your path.
  • Many items are opportunistic purchases, or impulse, however, they tend to, again, be in the main pathways around the supermarket – although there are some caveats to this, particularly in relation to the placement of staples such as milk and bread.

Arrangement of the Products on the shelves is designed to have us explore and buy …

Some products are categorized and shelved according to their value to the shop.  Leading brands and more recently store-labels, are put in high traffic locations and are given priority for secondary placement.  Niche categories are placed in visible, but low traffic areas – because the target market is willing to hunt for them.

The Keep Us Guessing Strategy

Many supermarkets make it a habit to re-arrange the store layout every once in awhile just to get us to ‘explore’ all the aisles to find what we are looking for and hopefully do a little impulse buying in the process.

The Leveraging of Human Characteristics Mole

Products at eye level sells! Companies pay big bucks to place their products at adult eye level for adult sales or children's eye level for children's sales.  Stocking fees or "slotting allowances" are often paid to place products at eye level.  Brand-name products and high profit products are often sold this way.  Food companies pay for product placement and we pay the mark-up to the companies every time we purchase their item. The little-known companies and local food producers are often on the very top shelf or way down at floor level because they can’t afford to be right in the middle, where companies pay a stiff price to be closer to your eyes and hands.

Forget Peer Pressure try The Pressure of Children Gambit

Kid-friendly food is purposely placed within their reach.  Anyone who shops with a child (or several) in tow has to keep an eye out for products the kids grab and toss into the cart. "I always tell parents never to bring a kid to a store," says Nestle. "The packages with the cartoons on them are often placed on low shelves where even toddlers can reach for them." A trip down the cereal aisle will confirm this. "Sugary cereals are at kid's eye level, while the healthier, all-bran options are usually on the highest shelves," says Tara Gidus, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. It's the same situation at the cash register, where candy and gum are strategically placed to encourage impulse buys by adults and kids can easily grab low-lying products.

End-of-aisle Display Obstacle

These are there to distract you.  Supermarkets strategically place non-sale items along with the big sale items at the end aisle displays. They hope we will buy the item thinking it’s on sale. "Food companies pay the stores to place their products where they can be seen most easily—such as in a display at the end of an aisle," says Nestle. That prime real estate is likely to hold high-profit items or grouped items (such as marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers for s'mores) designed to inspire impulse buys. And although sometimes those aisle-ends are used to promote sale items, mostly they are used to have us think the item is on sale and buy it. "People are 30 percent more likely to buy items on the end of the aisle versus in the middle of the aisle—often because we think what's at the end is a better deal," says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating (Bantam, 2007).

The Impulse Buying Attack 

Not surprisingly, grocery store ‘eye candy’ (which sometimes is actual candy), you know those foods with enticing come-ons and delectable photos on the packaging that aren't on your shopping list—are prominently placed to encourage you to reach for them. 
When you are bored and standing in line at the check-out counter, you may find yourself reaching for a magazine, a pack of batteries, duct tape, or chewing gum. It turns out that this section of the store sells roughly 3x as much merchandise per square foot as the rest of the store (Food Marketing Institute, Washington DC). Often these are high profit items. Batteries, for example, usually sell for less at discount department stores.

The next post will be on the Lighting Game, the Life Style Game, the Freezing Switch-a-roo and Pricing Games ;-}

“Every step we take towards making the State the caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our master.” 
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: November 17, 2012, 11:18 pm

Yes this morning at 2AM Daylight Savings Time (DST) we switched to Standard Time (ST) and turned our clocks back 1 hour.

Time is basically calculated based on Earth’s rotation, which determines the length of an Earth Day.  The rotation of our planet is variable.

Because of the variable rotation time of the planet and all that ‘orb’ science, the earth is divided into various time zones.

There are all kinds of ‘time’ or systems of time and our methods of keeping time have changed over the centuries. 

Systems of Time

•    Atomic Time , with the unit of duration the Systeme International (SI) second defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of cesium 133. TAI is the International Atomic Time scale, a statistical timescale based on a large number of atomic clocks.
•    Universal Time (UT) is counted from 0 hours at midnight, with unit of duration the mean solar day, defined to be as uniform as possible despite variations in the rotation of the Earth.
o    UT0 is the rotational time of a particular place of observation. It is observed as the diurnal motion of stars or extraterrestrial radio sources.
o    UT1 is computed by correcting UT0 for the effect of polar motion on the longitude of the observing site. It varies from uniformity because of the irregularities in the Earth's rotation.
•    Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) differs from TAI by an integral number of seconds. UTC is kept within 0.9 seconds of UT1 by the introduction of one-second steps to UTC, the "leap second." To date these steps have always been positive.
•    Dynamical Time replaced ephemeris time as the independent argument in dynamical theories and ephemerides. Its unit of duration is based on the orbital motions of the Earth, Moon, and planets.
o    Terrestrial Time (TT), (or Terrestrial Dynamical Time, TDT), with unit of duration 86400 SI seconds on the geoid, is the independent argument of apparent geocentric ephemerides. TDT = TAI + 32.184 seconds.
o    Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB), is the independent argument of ephemerides and dynamical theories that are referred to the solar system barycenter. TDB varies from TT only by periodic variations.
•    Geocentric Coordinate Time (TCG) is a coordinate time having its spatial origin at the center of mass of the Earth. TCG differs from TT as: TCG - TT = Lg x (JD -2443144.5) x 86400 seconds, with Lg = 6.969291e-10.
•    Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB) is a coordinate time having its spatial origin at the solar system barycenter. TCB differs from TDB in rate. The two are related by: TCB - TDB = iLb x (JD -2443144.5) x 86400 seconds, with Lb = 1.550505e-08.
•    Sidereal Time, with unit of duration the period of the Earth's rotation with respect to a point nearly fixed with respect to the stars, is the hour angle of the vernal equinox.
Delta T is the difference between Earth rotational time (UT1) and dynamical time (TDT). Predicted values of UT1 - UTC are provided by the Earth Orientation Department. An example showing the variation of the length of the day to late 2008 is shown below. Units are milliseconds.

When told the reason for Daylight Saving time the old Indian said,
"Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket
and have a longer blanket."
Author Unknown

For more information on how we came to today’s system of time see Fall Back – Spring Forward @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/71738932/Fall-Back-Spring-Forward

For making the most of your time see Time – Tracking It & Making It at http://www.scribd.com/doc/62443848/Time-%E2%80%93-Tracking-It-Making-It

Winter is just around the corner so be sure to hit those Fall & Winter To Do’s.  For more information see Fall To Do’s - Preparing for Winter @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/65838445/Fall-to-Do-s-Preparing-Winter and Winter Preparedness & To Do’s @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/70394185/Winter-Preparedness-To-Do-s


Keep On Preppin'
Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: November 4, 2012, 4:58 pm

The Misleading Labeling Game

Just remember that here in the U.S. “natural” and “fresh” have NO legal definitions.  However, “fresh” is generally considered any item under 5 weeks from harvest to point of sale.  The term “local” has a federal meaning of up to 400 miles from point of harvest, however most local farmers consider 20-50 miles as truly local.

Also keep in mind that the use of various chemicals, gases and GMO’s are NOT required to be listed on the label.  This means we can inadvertently be eating chemicals that we don’t wish to consume.  In some cases, like with fresh produce, all we have to do is wash the chemical off the item before we eat it.  In too many other cases the chemical(s) have been absorbed by the produce, dairy or meat item and cannot be washed off.

Good source of” may mean “bad for you”: You’ll see the claim “good source of” on cereals, crackers, and Pop-Tarts. The thing is, rarely are these vitamins worth the calories they’re embedded in. They’re usually just run-of-the-mill vitamins that processors are required to add to enriched flour—vitamins that can actually wash off your cereal the minute you add milk to it!

Lightly sweetened” could mean “sugar overload”:  This is another term that’s completely unregulated, so processors use it however they please. In Smart Start, that means 14 grams of sugar per cup. That’s more than Fruit Loops.

“Natural” doesn’t mean squat:  Outside of meat and seafood, the word “Natural” when applied to foods is completely unregulated and has no legal definition. So when you see 7Up Natural, a loaf of “natural” bread, or a product that claims to be “made with natural sugar,” that doesn’t really mean anything.

Reduced fat” may make you fat:  Sometimes, the full fat version of a product is more nutritious. Cookies and crackers often claim to contain “a third less fat than the original.” But that fat hasn’t just vanished—it’s been replaced by extra doses of sugar, starch, and sodium. They might have dropped the fat from 4 to 3 grams, but they’re hitting you with 2 grams extra sugar and 300 mg extra sodium.

“Zero grams of trans fat” may include trans fat:  Some products carry the “Zero grams of trans fat” claim when they do, in fact, contain trans fats. The FDA allows this claim as long as the food contains less than half a gram per serving. But serving size is whatever the food marketer wants it to be. So if the processor claims that, say, a serving is one cookie, you could easily get 3 full grams of trans fats by eating 6 “no trans fat” cookies. If you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on the ingredient statement, rest assured that it contains trans fat.

Don’t be ’100 %’ misled:  Drinks may be labeled ‘100% pure juice’, but that doesn't mean they're made exclusively with the advertised juice.  Take Tropicana Pure 100% Juice Pomegranate Blueberry, for example. Pomegranate and blueberry get top billing here, even though the ingredient list reveals that pear, apple and grape juices are among the first four ingredients. These juices are used because they're cheap to produce and they're very sweet—which means you're likely to come back for more.

The Dissonance Mind Game

In-store food marketing can and does influence our food-purchasing behaviors.  Let’s face it; most of our supermarket buying is habitual.  We don’t tend to put a lot of cognitive effort into the purchase of most of our brands.  We mostly choose from the same brands week after week.  So to convert us (or get us to change brands), supermarkets like to create dissonance in our mind. They do this by using ‘cues’ such as specials, price changes and the use of color.  Red, for example, is the most noticeable color in the spectrum, yellow and gold have been shown to bring on salivation and hunger (perhaps because of its links to the color of fried food), while blue is said to promote trust.

Think that cold supermarkets are just a fluke?  Think again!  When the temperature is just a shade above making the average human shiver with cold chills or get goose bumps – we humans get hungrier and when we are hungrier we buy more.  If we are hungry when we go shopping – we buy more!

Next time the Store Design and Layout Game

To all those on the East Coast - Hang in there, my church group collected and sent a number of items your way.  If your preps were up to date you are doing OK, otherwise my prayers go out to you ;-}


Keep On Preppin'
Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: November 3, 2012, 7:54 pm

The Packaging Game

The packaging has a purpose that isn’t all bad.  Many preserve and protect the product, allowing us to make use of things that were produced far away or a while ago.  In this way they assure that an item arrives unspoiled and ‘help’ those of us who use the item to feel good about it.  The downside is that packaging is potently expressive, which ultimately costs us even more monies.

For manufacturers, packaging is the crucial final payoff to a marketing campaign.  How so?  Well it is not uncommon for us to have been ‘prepared’ for shopping and purchasing this product by lush, colorful print advertisements, 30-second television mini-dramas, radio jingles and coupon promotions.  Yet it is the package that makes the ‘final sales pitch’, seals the commitment and gets itself placed in our shopping cart.  Advertising therefore leads us into temptation and in many cases this temptation and its influence to us, is what makes the product possible.

Package colors, materials and other design elements are very deliberate. Much like advertising, packaging appeals to our emotions and directs our attention to specific product features, like health claims or a free toy, while distracting attention from other details, like small serving sizes or questionable ingredients.

But the package is also useful to us, in that it is a tool we can use for simplifying and speeding our decisions on what we buy (IF we read the package and not just look at the picture).  Packaging promises and usually delivers, in a predictable way.  With proper Nutritional Labeling they can give us the vital information we need to purchase nourishing and healthy food items or avoid ingredients that we object or are allergic to.

The Shrinking Package Game
Package downsizing is another marketing ‘game’ to get more money for less product.  Just about every manufacturer today utilizes this particular strategy.
No we do not need glasses, this is really happening!

Ever hear about the “brand tax”? 

This is an ‘unofficial’ sudo-tax based on when a company develops a product that becomes very well-known and very popular, that product's brand becomes a highly valuable commodity.  This causes an increase in price due to the popularity of the band and is known as the ‘brand tax’.

Companies often spend thousands and thousands of dollars on developing brand recognition, investing in symbols, slogans, catchy jingles and high-impact advertising campaigns that will stick in a consumer's mind. Over time, the product becomes more and more familiar to consumers and studies have shown that people are often more comfortable buying products that are familiar to them rather than unfamiliar alternatives – no matter that the price is higher. 

Of course, companies cannot justify a brand tax if their products aren't high-quality. Once this quality and popularity is established the unofficial market price or "brand tax" is added to the wholesale cost.

Many store brands are made by the same companies who sell much more expensive brand-name products. Most supermarkets do not have their own manufacturing plants as it is cheaper for them just to have their products packaged by established manufacturers.

Some budget-conscious consumers buy lower-priced generic products whenever possible, as a matter of principle. Other consumers compare prices and only buy generics sometimes.

Some generic products are nearly identical to their brand-name equivalents. Other generics are even manufactured in the same factories or processing plants as the better-known brands. In other cases however, the difference in quality is considerable.

In the long run, brand popularity depends not only on how effectively a product is marketed, but on quality and consistency as well.

Each consumer has his or her own unique tastes and preferences, and each consumer has his or her own budget to consider when shopping. Accordingly, despite all the advertising in the world, only you can decide whether or not you should pay a higher price for a brand-name product.

 The trick here is to always calculate the unit price or price per ounce and never trust the package size.
The next post will be on the Misleading Labeling Game and the Dissonance Mind Game

Until then Be Prepared - Not Scared ;-}


Author: TNTCrazyLady
Posted: October 27, 2012, 7:36 pm

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