y older sister took great pleasure in telling a younger-me the dark history behind the nursery rhyme, “Ring-around-the-Rosies.” She told me that the cheerful tune was written about the Black Death: the “pocket full of posies,” refers to small bouquets of sweet-smelling herbs the healthy would carry close to their noses in order to protect themselves from foul-smelling and “contaminated” air; the “falling down” represents death, as is parodied by the accompanying action; and the “ashes” sung about are ashes of that sort.
Needless to say, this isn’t a pleasant backstory (nor an accurate one). In high school, however, I witnessed something which made it incredibly believable. During a school camping trip, at the height of the Ebola crisis, I watched a group of grade-schoolers play a game of their own development: Ebola-tag. Much like a version of tag (given many different names, though I called it ‘blob-tag’), any tagged child would “catch Ebola” and also be “it,” linking arms with their infector.
The children playing didn’t see anything wrong with their game. The parents watching didn’t stop them. At a time when every news agency was sharing the most recent and concerning statistic, it was a small relief to see Ebola momentarily sanitized by children’s laughter.
As the current Covid-19 pandemic became such, I wondered if my youngest brother would be playing similar games, even as I prepared to return from college. He’s empathetic and sweet—but also 10. When I got back, he wasn’t conforming to the pattern; and so, I forgot my curiosity.
That curiosity was soon unexpectedly satisfied, however: I learned that a friend’s siblings had begun playing their own coronavirus tag! The game revolved around the etymology of the virus, which was named for its spiky, crown-like protein protuberances, and their version of tag was one in which the person who was “it” wore a crown, which they would pass off to those they tagged.
Nor is this phenomenon, which I will simply term the “Ring-around-the-Rosies Phenomenon,” unique to children. Adults are engaging in it too, albeit not necessarily in games or play-acting. Perhaps you’ve heard the viral remix of Cardi B’s coronavirus rant. Or heard one of the specially compiled quarantine playlists. And it would take a Herculean effort to avoid the countless pandemic memes and jokes adults and young adults are making en masse.
Playful responses to this sort of tragedy, aren’t new—there were jokes even in 1918 about the Spanish Flu. This sort of black humor isn’t unhealthy. Many Americans are panicking about the pandemic (as evidenced by empty toilet paper shelves across the nation) and many, also, are ignoring it. The cultural saturation furthered by playful coronavirus references threatens the security of deniers, but may also comfort panickers…
Terence Sweeney at Plough writes a bit about spirituality during this pandemic in Uncanny Homes
Last Monday, I watched the crossing guard at the intersection of 47th and Springfield. As with every school day, she stood by the crosswalk ready to keep children safe from speeding cars. There she was with her bright vest, whistle, and stop sign. And there were no children. No one to guard as she kept her lonely vigil. Later in the day, a bus normally filled with employees of the University of Pennsylvania went by that same intersection. The bus was empty, transporting workers who had not left their homes. The bustling bars and cafes on Baltimore Avenue are shuttered just when they should be putting out their sidewalk seating. Rush hour now consists of empty trolley cars; I find myself missing the angry honking of Philadelphians. My parish, St. Francis de Sales, is empty. On Sunday the twenty-five-person choir is at home, the French organ is silent, the ushers have no one to usher, and the pews are bereft. On the sidewalks, people warily pass each other; friends greet each other from a six-foot distance with an awkward wave. And we are all haunted by the knowledge that in hospitals and homes, people are suffering and dying.
Living during a pestilence is living through the experience of the uncanny. The word for uncanny in German is unheimlichkeit. It means not-being-at-home. It doesn’t refer to the experience of being away from home, though. What makes this emotion so disorienting, though, is that one feels not-at-home precisely when one is at home. The ordinary is still there but is just a little off. One feels alienated by the regular. Watching a crossing guard with no one to guard is an experience of the uncanny, of suddenly being estranged by the place that used to make you familiar.
The uncanniness creeps into your house. My home feels less homey; it is the same place but somehow not. In the daytime, it has become an office building: a program coordinator plans programs that won’t happen, an attorney meets with clients on a screen, a housing advocate campaigns for access to homes he cannot visit. I remain at my desk writing or, more often, failing to write. Later I teach a class via video; an experience of an ersatz version of education and connection. My building is an office space, my apartment a classroom. I am homebound in two senses: bound to my home but also not at home and so constantly homeward bound. We are stuck in houses feeling not-at-home.
Perhaps in this Lent – which not only features no alleluias but also no Stations of the Cross at my parish – will be a lesson in being not-at-home. This beautiful world is our pilgrimage because we live here as homo viator, man on the way. We don’t neglect the world; rather, we are to tend to it as our shared path. In the wilderness, people speak of being “keepers of the trail.” We tend to the trail not because it is our home but because we all travel that path. This is wisdom for our whole life. We need to tend to our paths through this world. As Walker Percy puts it, our vocation is to hand each other along.
Perhaps the coronavirus is a reminder that we are on our way together, that undergoing the uncanny speaks to a truth about our life. We are both at home in this world and not at home. Augustine preached often about being on pilgrimage. In a homily for Easter, he told his congregants that when we sing our alleluias here, we sing as wayfarers while our brothers and sisters in heaven sing as those at home. “God praised there; and God praised here. Here by the anxious, there by the carefree . . . here on the way, there at home.” During this Lent and Easter, our sense of not-being-at-home will deepen. It will deepen precisely because we are affixed to our houses that have become our offices. What we are learning is that we must keep traveling in this life to our true home. The psalmist proclaims: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” It is his house that is our true home.
Watching the YouTube clips of Italians singing out of their windows, I think again of Augustine, who tells us to sing “in the way wayfarers are in the habit of singing, sing but keep walking.” Hard labor is lightened by singing, even if that hard labor is being under lockdown. For Augustine, we sing for our true home when we “progress in goodness, in the right faith, in good habits.” We sing when we travel down this weary way towards goodness and when we help each along this way.
We may be trapped in our homes this Lent and Easter and beyond – during this beautiful and haunting springtide. We have to live through the uncanniness of this season of pestilence. We sing despite this anxious feeling of not being at home, because for now our home is the road, until someday our home will be in God’s home. Our task is to keep on the path and to help others on the path. Our task during the uncanny is to sing and to keep walking homeward.
Author of The Long Emergency and many other books dealing with energy and financial predicaments of our society James Howard Kunstler gives a few thoughts on the direction of the economy in Forced Liquidation.
Historians of the future, pan-roasting fresh-caught June bugs over their campfires, may wonder when, exactly, was the moment when the financial world broke with reality. Was it when Nixon slammed the “gold window” shut? When “maestro” Alan Greenspan first bamboozled a Senate finance committee? When Pets.com face-planted 268 days after its IPO? When Ben Bernanke declared the housing bubble “contained?”
If our reality is a world of human activity, then finance is now completely divorced from it for the obvious reason that, for now, there is no human activity. Everyone, except the doctors and nurses, and some government officials, is locked down. So, the only other thing actually still out there spinning its wheels is finance and, to those of us watching from solitary confinement, it is looking more and more like an IMAX-scale hallucination with Dolby sound.
How many mortals can even pretend to understand the transactions now taking place among treasury and banking officials? On their own terms – TALFs, Special Purpose Vehicles, Commercial Paper Funding Facilities, Repo Rescue Operations, “Helicopter Money” – stand as increasingly empty jargon phrases that signify increasingly futile efforts to paper over the essence of the situation: the world is bankrupt. It’s that simple.
The world is locked down and in hock up to its eyeballs. It faces what the bankers euphemistically call, ahem, a “work-out,” which is to say, a restructuring. The folks in charge are resisting that work-out with all their might, because it will change many of the conditions of everyday life (especially theirs), but it is coming anyway. When debt can’t be paid back, money vanishes. Money isn’t capital, but it represents capital when it is functioning. When it isn’t functioning, it stops being money. Now the whole world realizes that the debt can’t be paid back, will never be paid back… and that’s the jig that’s up.
The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet is the black hole in the financial universe where money goes to die. Money is rushing in there at a fantastic rate these days, and the Fed is trying to spew out new money at an equal rate to replace it – raising the question: is it even money anymore, or just a figment in the larger hallucination? Kind of seems that way, a little bit. They brought out their biggest money-launching bazookas only a few days ago, and it may only be few days more before that gigantic salvo proves inadequate. What then?
Perhaps the key is how long the ordinary folk agree to their orderly confinement, even in the face of the corona virus. That moment may be a bit further out, with the melodrama mounting especially in New York City right now, numbers of sick people going all hockey-stick, and frightful scenes in the hospitals. But then, whether it’s a week from now, or Easter Sunday, or sometime after that, what will the ordinary folk do when they decide en masse to de-confine and come roaring out in the streets?
I must imagine that one vignette will feature a mob of inflamed formerly middle-class Long Islanders swarming into the Hamptons with blood in their eyes for the hedge funders cringing in their majestic show-places, who will discover with maximum chagrin that privet hedge is no hedge at all against the wrath of the plebes. There has never been a bigger swindle in history than the aggregate shenanigans on Wall Street lo these years of the new millennium, and we all know it, even if it’s hard to explain just how they did it. The money boyz should be taking a haircut-and-a-half now instead of wailing for bail-outs, but such is the perversity of human greed that they made one last desperate attempt to nail down their fortunes when everybody else was losing…everything.
You understand that banking and finance was headed firmly south long before corona virus stole onto the scene. The tremors started back in September with the Fed jamming untold trillions into the black hole that had opened in overnight lending between banks. That was an infection, too, and boy did it spread — as fast as corona virus! This is indeed a most unfortunate convergence of events, but it should tell you that the banking and finance system, and the global economic arrangements that evolved with it, had already passed their event horizon. History had punched our ticket and was embarking us on a journey whether we were ready or not.
Is it a comfort to know that Joe Biden waits patiently on the sidelines to wave his aviator glasses and make everything normal again? I didn’t think so. Mr. Trump, for all the awe of his office, is not much better positioned to turn about the ship we’re now sailing on. Rough seas ahead, in uncharted waters, as we seek landfall in the next new world.
The Alton’s at Doom and Bloom Medical has up an article discussing the infectiousness of Covid-19, and they also announce that their new book Alton’s Pandemic Preparedness Guide: Emerging and Current Viral Threats is now on sale.
If you’ve paid any attention to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 or watched movies like Contagion, , you’ve heard the term “R-nought”.
The R-nought (or reproduction number) is the 100-year-old brainchild of a public health expert in demographics named Alfred Lotka. A disease’s R-Nought, he said, is the number of cases that will occur in a population if an infected person is placed in the middle of it. Not just any population, however; one that hasn’t been exposed to the infection in the past.
In the 1950s, epidemiologist George MacDonald used it to describe the contagious potential of malaria. He suggested that, if the R-nought is less than 1, the infectious person will transmit to fewer than one other person and an outbreak will eventually peter out. On the other hand, if the R-Nought is greater than 1, the disease will spread. Seasonal flu carries an R-Nought of 1.28, while the current COVID-19 is probably closer to 3.
Probably? Certainly, the R-Nought represents important data regarding an infectious disease. Why, then, probably? Because different sources may report different R-Noughts for the same disease based on a number of factors. It’s not just the nature of the virus itself.
Estimation of the R-nought primarily relates to 3 parameters:
how long a person is contagious
the likelihood that contact with a susceptible person will end in transmission of the disease
the frequency of contact between the infected individual and the susceptible population.
Let’s take them one-by-one. The first is how long a person is contagious. Certainly, you want to quarantine someone during their infectious period, but, with COVID-19, that period is not known for certain.
For SARS, it was about 14 days, so that’s what they’re using for the related SARS-COV2 (the name for the virus that causes COVID-19). There are outliers, however, that range from 20-37 days. With a range that wide, how do they figure out when you’re no longer contagious?
If COVID-19 testing is available, they have determined three criteria for considering release from isolation:
• You no longer have a fever without using fever-reducing drugs.
• Symptoms like cough or shortness of breath have improved significantly.
• you have received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.
• You have had no fever for at least 72 hours without using fever-reducing drugs.
• Symptoms like cough or shortness of breath have improved significantly.
• At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared (I was surprised at that last one; perhaps 14 days is more prudent).
Aside: Recovering COVID-19 patients might be surprised when they feel better but are told that the X-ray still shows signs of pneumonia. This is because the x-ray appearance of pneumonia commonly seems to lag behind the patient’s clinical appearance.
The second parameter is how likely is it that contact with a susceptible person ends up in infection. That depends partially on the characteristics of the virus itself, but It might also depend on a person’s age, general health, lifestyle, or even bad habits.
Older folks may get it as often as younger folks, but seem to do worse across the board. In one study, if you were in your twenties and got COVID-19, your chances of dying was 0.2 percent. If you were in your eighties, it was closer to 22 percent.
What about bad habits? Consider smoking: Most COVID-19 victims are men. in China, 50% of men smoke there as opposed to about 5% of women. Therefore, you can probably conclude that women have healthier lungs, on average, than men.
Cultural differences might also play a role. In Iran and certain other countries, most men work or spend a good amount of time outside. From this, we can infer that they might be exposed more often than women, who probably spend more time at home.
The third parameter is the frequency of contact between the infected individual and the susceptible population. For example, there are people that are known as “super spreaders”. A super-spreader is an individual who is more likely, for one reason or another, to infect others. 20% of infected individuals are responsible for 80% of transmissions to others.
Although South Korea is held out as a model of success in the containment of COVID-19, that wasn’t always the case. In mid-February, confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection suddenly jumped in that country. The Korean CDC attributed the increase in cases to “Patient 31“, who had participated in a mass religious gathering in the city of Daegu.
In New York, a lawyer contracted the illness and then spread it to at least twenty other individuals in his community in New Rochelle. In the early going, he was thought to account at one point or another for more than half of coronavirus cases in the state
Super-spreaders aren’t confined to viral disease, 100 years ago, a woman named Mary Mallon worked as a cook in New York. She was an asymptomatic carrier of the bacteria Salmonella Typhi, and passed that disease to more than 50 other people, giving her the nickname “Typhoid Mary“.
Terminating Typhoid Mary’s employment and quarantining super-spreaders and their contacts helps, but only if it’s done rapidly. In South Korea, it can be said to be successful. In New York, well, not so much.
There’s more to R-noughts than those 3 parameters, like testing issues, the availability of personal protection equipment to a community, and much more. It’s interesting to think about what the R-Nought of the 1918 Spanish Flu would have been if it occurred today with commercial air travel so common.
More updates on issues relating to the pandemic in the near future.
A few people I know have not been able to find yeast in the store recently. There is no knead to despair if you want to bake bread, but have no yeast. There are other options. Here is Ashley Adamant of Practical Self Reliance, writing Potato Yeast Starter for Baking Bread
No yeast at home? Try culturing your own wild yeast on potatoes! All you need is one medium-sized potato, a bit of water and smidge of patience.
Believe it or not, commercial yeast has only been available in well-stocked grocery stores for the past 100 years or so. Leavened bread, however, has been baked for millennia.
It’s convenient to be sure, but yeast packets are not the only way to leaven bread.
In times past, bakers cultured their own wild yeast for raising bread. Sourdough is one version, and it’s a community of yeast and lactic acid bacteria (like in yogurt) that give the bread a characteristic sour taste.
But what if you don’t like sourdough (or don’t have the patience to maintain one)?
There are literally dozens of ways to culture a wild yeast starter, using everything from raisins to beer to wild apples.
This simple method cultures wild yeast on boiled potatoes and was originally used by vodka distillers making high-quality potato vodka. The idea is to just culture yeast, without encouraging the lactic acid bacteria that are part of sourdough.
DIY Potato Yeast Starter for Bread
Potatoes are high in starch, which is ideal for culturing yeast. They also contain plenty of micro-nutrients, making them a better yeast starter than sugar alone.
There are a number of different potato yeast starter recipes circulating on the internet at the moment, ever since yeast disappeared from store shelves this spring.
Guess what…they all work.
Some add sugar, others add a bit of flour and some are just a mashed potato and the starchy water used to boil it.
Mash it all together, and then leave it open on the counter for 2-3 days. Yeast floating by in the air will settle on your starchy yeast trap, and quickly go to work reproducing.
The simplest method, and the one originally used for vodka production, was just a single potato.
Peel the potato and place it in a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, and then simmer for 35-45 minutes, until the potato is completely soft. Test it with a fork to ensure that it’s cooked and soft all the way to the center.
Pour the cooking water into a container, and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, thoroughly mash the potato.
Place the mashed potato into a one-quart mason jar, and then pour the starchy potato cooking water in to fill the jar. If you’re a bit short on cooking water, just add clean, chlorine-free drinking water.
Set the jar on the counter (open or covered with a towel), and wait.
In about 24 – 36 hours, you should see the first tiny bubble on the surface. (Look closely at the potato layer below, and you’ll see tiny bubbles forming there too.)
Cap up the jar, give it a vigorous shake to distribute the yeast and then open it up and leave the jar on the counter again.
In another 24 to 36 hours the jar should really be bubbling. At this point, you can bake your first loaf of bread…
Kara Stiff at The Organic Prepper is a homeschooling parent and shares her thoughts with those who are attempting to home school their public school children during the Covid-19 pandemic – A Homeschooling Guide for Public Schoolers
My heart goes out to all the parents who were never planning to home school, but nevertheless find themselves teaching their children at home today. I chose this beautiful, crazy life, and I completely understand why some people wouldn’t choose it. But here we are. We have to do what we have to do. You don’t want them to fall behind. You don’t want to lose your mind.
Believe it or not, it’s a golden opportunity.
Caveat: these are only my personal thoughts. I’m not a professional educator, just a parent successfully homeschooling.
This advice is only for people whose greatest hurdle right now is remaining sane with the little ones. This is a high bar to clear, to be sure, but some people are facing the little people plus big financial problems, they’re sick or working through mental health issues, or they’re managing other emergencies. In those cases, if you’re keeping everyone more or less fed and warm then you’re succeeding, and you don’t need me to tell you to forget the rest for as long as necessary.
For everyone else, I do have a little advice. I’m sure you’re getting support from your school district, which is excellent. Worrying about what to teach is often a new homeschooler’s first and biggest concern. But deciding what to teach is actually the easy part, and now it’s mom, dad, uncle or grandma doing the really hard part: actually sitting with the kid, helping/making him or her do the work.
First, I think you can safely let go of the worry that you may not be a good enough teacher because you’re a terrible speller, or you think you’re bad at math. It’s good to know these things about yourself so they can be addressed, but the truth is that how great you personally are at division isn’t necessarily a predictor of success. Neither is how well you explain things, or even how well you demonstrate looking things up, although that is a priceless skill to impart to inquiring minds. To my mind, the most important skill for successful homeschooling is:
Controlling your own frustration
We adults are fantastically knowledgeable and amazingly skilled. No, really, we are! So we forget how hard it is to do seemingly simple things for the first time. I remember sitting in my college biochemistry class, listening to the professor say:
“Come on you guys, this is easy!”
Folks, I’m here to tell you that biochemistry isn’t easy for most people who are new to it, especially people who just drug themselves out of bed five minutes ago, possibly with a touch of a hangover. And reading isn’t easy for a five-year-old, and multiplication isn’t easy for an eight-year-old.
The parent has to slow down, go through it again, redirect the child’s attention for the hundredth time and explain the material in a different way, preferably without pulling out their own hair. You can develop these skills. Even if you’re new to it, and you don’t find it easy.
When it just isn’t working, the parent has to know when to shift gears and let it rest. Preserving your relationship with the child is always very important, but it’s doubly so when you’re home with them all day every day.
I think I can safely say that all homeschool parents want to scream sometimes. Many of us have threatened to send our kids to public school at one point or another (or maybe once a week). It doesn’t make you a bad parent or even a bad teacher, it just makes you human. In the last week, I have seen a bunch of public school parents join my online homeschool groups, and the outpouring of sympathy, support and good ideas from homeschool parents makes me tear up. We’re here for you. Get in touch.
Run your day in a way that works for YOU
Just because they’re usually in school for six or eight hours a day doesn’t mean you have to school them for six or eight hours a day. That schedule is a crowd control measure instituted for the good of society, not for the good of children.
My children are homeschooled primarily because I think a kid should spend a lot of time outside moving around, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do that and public school. My own public school experience was pretty different from the norm today, with much less homework and much more self-direction, but still, I feel that I didn’t get enough practice directing my own attention. Research backs me up on this: kids who get many hours of freedom develop excellent executive function, which not only makes them a valuable employee but also helps them run their own life someday.
At my house, we do about an hour of formal school work per day, six or seven days a week. The rest of the time the kids help me with gardening and animal care, climb trees and play in the creek, draw and write and read things on their own or together, and make stuff out of Legos. They have an hour of screen time each afternoon just so they will sit down and be quiet, usually a documentary. David Attenborough is definitely this house’s biggest celebrity. We’re also accustomed to spending several days of the week with other homeschool families, although obviously that is curtailed now due to social distancing.
Learning doesn’t stop when we leave the table, because kids are unstoppable learning machines when they’re not too tired or stressed out. I’m always available to answer questions and help look stuff up, and the questions are pretty frequent. An adult reads to them (or they read to us) books of their choosing at bedtime, and sometimes just after dinner, too. It’s also a pretty common occurrence in my house for a child to see an adult reading a novel, a piece of nonfiction, or The Economist, and request to have it read aloud to them, which we do. They also sometimes watch me balance the household budget.
The schedule that works best for your family might look very different from ours, and that is good. Children are people. People have very different needs, and one of the charms of schooling at home is that you can arrange things in a pretty good compromise to meet everyone’s needs. An hour or two of focused one-on-two attention per day is plenty of time for my four- and seven-year-olds to get well ahead of grade level on reading, writing, and math…(continues)
As the COVID-19 Coronavirus sweeps the globe, different people are reacting in different ways.
For most, fear is a part of that reaction. That’s normal, as we all tend to be afraid of the unknown and there’s still a lot of unknown about this virus. But the truly scary part isn’t the fear that people are having; it’s the fear that governments are having.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t envy the problems that the president and state governors are facing right now. They are in a no-win situation, where they are having to make decisions based on limited information, with the foreknowledge that there is no right answer. No matter what they decide, there will be others, sitting on the sidelines, telling them how wrong they are.
As it stands right now, if the president or some governor calls for a full quarantine, they will be blasted for overreacting and destroying the economy. If they don’t call for that, they will be blasted for not taking the situation seriously and every death will be laid at their doorstep. Both of these reactions are already happening, it just depends on who is doing the complaining about what the government is doing, and that doesn’t necessarily follow party lines.
Is Quarantine Coming?
The entire state of California, 40 million people, is now under quarantine. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo is directing non-essential businesses to keep their workers at home. Even in Texas, which has relatively few cases, the governor is calling for voluntary self-isolation for the next two weeks.
Is this an overreaction? Or is it necessary to prevent a massive number of people from dying?
To answer that question, we need to understand why the government is calling for people to self-quarantine, specifically why they’re calling for a 14-day self-quarantine.
There’s no way that a 14-day quarantine is going to put a total stop to the disease. First of all, there are a significant number of cases on record, where the incubation period was longer than 14 days. Secondly, even if all incubation periods fell within the 14-day window, people are still contagious while their bodies are battling the disease. If they are treated at home, there’s still a chance of them infecting their families.
So what’s the 14-day voluntary quarantine about then?
Just like social distancing, the 14-day voluntary self-isolation is about slowing the spread of the disease, rather than stopping it. It is being instituted now, to ensure that everyone who comes down with a serious case of the disease will have a hospital bed to rest in and a respirator to help them breathe. It’s to ensure that our medical community is able to give people the treatment they need, in order to give them the greatest chances of defeating the virus and surviving.
I recently saw some rather interesting computer models, which showed how a viral disease of this type propagates through a population. In a “normal” situation, where there are no safeguards in place, the number of cases of the disease rises rapidly, outpacing the medical community’s ability to deal with it. A full quarantine of those who are infected is hard to institute because you will always have some people who are going to be “leakers” slipping through and spreading the disease. The most effective thing to do is to isolate as many people as possible, reducing the number of people who are moving around and spreading the disease throughout the population.
This is what the government is trying to do. By asking people to shelter in their homes, they are hoping to drastically reduce the number of people who are out and about, with the potential of spreading the disease. We are not being told that we can’t leave our homes at all, but rather being asked to avoid leaving them as much as possible. At the same time, places where people congregate, where one contagious person could easily infect many other people, are being closed for two weeks, with the same goal of slowing the spread of the disease.
I remember reading a few years back about how school desks have more germs on them than the average toilet seat. My reaction at that time was to write a satire about it. But if you think about it, our schools are a breeding ground for disease. They are filled with children, most of whom are not all that concerned about personal hygiene and who all come into close contact with each other. Typically, if one child gets sick, you can count on the whole class catching it within a week or two.
So, what will this quarantine do for us?
Basically, it does two things. The first is that it shows the spread of the disease, spreading it out over a longer period of time. This will level out the workload for our medical professionals so that they can give each patient the treatment that they need…(continues)
Heads up! Forward Observer is holding a free Aea Study walhtrough presentation, Thursday, March 26th, 2020 at 5:00pm Pacific time.
Hey Gang – THIS THURSDAY, I’ll be doing a free Area Study training session. I’ll livestream it and provide some time for Q&A.
It’s free and open to anyone who wants to get started with their Area Study, or who needs some guidance or motivation to finish one.
WHO: Samuel Culper WHAT: SHTF Intelligence – Area Study Walkthrough WHEN: Thurs, 26 March @ 7pm Central WHERE: I’m still looking at platforms, but I’ll be sending out the invite-only link to everyone who registers here: https://SHTFintel.com
Yes, this session will be recorded. If you’re already a student/member, I’ll be adding it to your Forward Observer member area on Friday.
If not you’re not a Forward Observer member, you can still catch the livestream for free. You can attend this event for free. This won’t be a sales presentation. I’ll be going over real instruction and insight.
Christian Prepper Gal has an article up on using the current pandemic to evaluate for preparedness – This is a test. This is only a test. Or is it?We don’t know if this event will last two weeks (seems unlikely to be that short), two months (maybe?), or two years (the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 actually surged on and off for about two years). It’s quite possible that we’re living a piece of history that could be remembered for decades or even hundreds of years. For your own benefit, keep a journal of what is happening to you, how you have prepared, what shortcomings you experienced, what you need to improve, and so forth, so that you can go back in less hectic times and make improvements to your life and readiness.
With all that is going on in the world right now, I can’t help but wonder if this is just a test. A test to allow us to see if we really are ready/prepared for what’s yet to come? You know, kind of like a wake up call? Telling us we only thought we were ready.
I’m really hoping that’s all it is! Why? Because I have already learned so much from it. And, by that I mean how much I am NOT ready and prepared! I mean, don’t get me wrong…I am prepared for a short term emergency/SHTF. And by short term I mean a few months. But, anything beyond that? Well, it would be a struggle to survive.
Funny thing is that I thought that was why I was at the homestead…so I could be prepared for a long term SHTF situation. But, I don’t know God’s reasoning behind things. I can only trust Him that there is something more that I need to learn before being put in that position full time. And, I need to be open to Him showing me what that something is. I do know that I learned a lot about prepping/surviving while living on the homestead and some of those things can be implimented in my preps here in the city.
Okay, so I guess looking back on the homestead experiences, combined with this current pandemic (COVID-19), I am seeing where I need to concentrate on improving my preps. So, for me, it’s a combination of both. A test and a wake up call. However, I do believe that most of us who consider ourselves preppers have been able to see areas that need to be improved upon before we are ready for “the big one”. Or is this “the big one”? Personally, I don’t think it is. Although, if those people who are resistant don’t start realizing that this is a serious matter and keep themselves at home as much as possible, it could turn into a long term SHTF.
I do remember many of us last year (2019) feeling like there was an urgency to step up our prepping. Do you remember? I was strongly prompted and urged to do so. Actually, I’m thinking it may have been right around this time of the year. Anyway, I also told my daughter that something was going to happen in 2020. I didn’t know if it would be as a result of the presidential election or something different. But, I did know that we needed to put a rush on our prepping and learning survival skills. It wasn’t fear motivating and moving me. It was God prompting me. Just like this feeling that we really need to get completely serious about prepping for something bigger than this current pandemic. For something that may last longer than a couple of months.
Geesh! It is so easy for me to get off track here! Okay, back to the subject at hand. Is this a test? Or a wake up call? Or both? Now that I’m thinking about it more, it could be both. A test for us to see the holes in our prepping, and a wake up call for us to continue to work on our preps and push to be ready for “the big one” (as in the big SHTF).
This definitely is a SHTF situation that we are living in right now. But, I don’t think it’s the end game just yet. I could be wrong, I’m no expert, so please don’t hold me to it. It’s just a gut feeling that I have. The feeling that something so much worse than what we are experiencing right now is in the works. It may even be the current pandemic continuing to such a place. I don’t know. But what I do know is that I need to be more vigilant and push forward with much more force my prepping/survival endeavors. Once I can. For now, I can remain vigilant and make plans for what I need to do when we get back to a point where I can purchase more food products.
When I really take a look at where I’ve come (with prepping) over the past couple of years I am amazed at the progress I’ve made. And yet, with this pandemic it has also caused me to see all the areas in which I need to improve. And believe me, there are a lot of holes that need to be filled in. I don’t know about you, but it’s not just the food storage that I need to improve upon. It’s also expanding my medical supplies to include a trauma kit and other emergency supplies; which I had started working on just before I moved to my son’s homestead. I need to work on learning more bushcraft/survival skills and practicing the skills I have already learned. There are many areas in my prepping that I need to expound upon and improve. I will not procrastinate. I will not put it off until everything is “back to normal”. I will continue to move forward. There are so many things I can be doing to improve my knowledge and skills while we are all basically self-isolating ourselves.
Here’s some of what I have learned from the Coronovirus (COVID-19) Pandemic of 2020:
That I do not have enough toilet paper stocked. We probably have enough for a couple of months, but who knows how long this lack of availability will last?
That I do not have enough disinfectant wipes, lysol, or bleach stored. Again, I have some, but not nearly enough if this goes long term.
That people are going to hate you for having been prepared with food and necessities. People were actually complaining that there were some who were prepared and didn’t have to go to the stores for food and necesseties. Not even realizing that some people being prepared left more on the shelves for them!
That it truly is important to keep your mouth shut about being a prepper to everyone except those you are willing to feed and care for in a SHTF scenario. This is because of how people reacted to preppers at the beginning of this pandemic (see No. 3). I can just imagine what would happen if it came to the point of food not being available at all.
Those are only a few of the things I have learned from this pandemic. There are some more things I will be sharing with you in upcoming articles and videos.
So, if you are like me in that your eyes have been opened and you have seen areas that you need to expound upon or improve upon in order to be truly ready for “the big one” SHTF, then I pray that you will heed the warnings and regroup, re-evaluate, or whatever it is that you need to do in order to begin to move forward and accomplish those improvements. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We can’t see into the future (well, most of us can’t). But, we can put our trust and faith in our Heavenly Father and heed His warnings and follow His leading.
Remember we prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Until next time…happy prepping, and God bless!
Hosea 4:6, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (KJV)
So many of our lives have been turned upside down. Whether you are now homeschooling your kids – since many schools have been closed. Are you eating at home on a regular basis now when normally you would have gone out to eat one or two times during the week? Are you used to precooked or prepackaged meals? Each of these things can be so hard to navigate in their own, so what is one thing that we can do to make one of these things easier? Make a Menu!
So it’s hard to think about what to feed families during a crisis. And even for those of us who have a food storage menu set up, some of those meals might not sound appetizing at the moment. How do you go about making up a menu for while you’re in quarantine?
Principles for Making a Quarantine Menu
1) Start with what you already have
Are you like me? Do you buy food for a specific meal and at least once a week you don’t eat it? More than that, oftentimes, you don’t reschedule those meals for the next week? Yeah, me too! So when looking through my freezer, I found a lot of food that is easily incorporated into this week’s menu.
I have a fairly deep pantry that I’ve been developing over the course of several years. I built it using a food storage menu. When I started making this week’s menu though, I didn’t major on my food storage menu. I started with what I already have in my freezer.
If you feed your kids normal foods, this will actually help them emotionally deal with this situation. The greater a level of “normal” you can give to your children, the better off they will be during this crisis.
Don’t think that introducing crazy, strange foods at a time like this will do anything good for their (or your) digestive system. Don’t think that your kids will all of a sudden eat canned asparagus if you never fed it to them before. The same goes for
(3) If you’re struggling, make a schedule.
I’m not talking about a menu. I’m talking about a dinner schedule from which to make your menu. A schedule might look like this.
Monday – Mexican Dish
Tuesday – Italian meal
Wednesday – Oriental Dish
Thursday – American/Casserole
Friday – Soup
Saturday – Pizza (either frozen or homemade)
Sunday – Left Overs
OR maybe you’re “schedule” will look like this
Monday – Beef
Tuesday – Chicken
Wednesday – Pork
Thursday – Vegetarian
Friday – Beef
Saturday – Chicken
Sunday – Pork
Then when you go to make a menu, you don’t have to stress too much because the hardest part is already set up for you!
My breakfast and lunch meals are almost always identical from week to week. This is how our breakfasts and lunches go in general. I plan on keeping it the same as MUCH as possible even in quarantine. I do know how to make bread, bagels, granola, biscuits, pizza, and cinnamon rolls, so I can keep that up even if I have to make it from scratch.
And if you can make bread, you can make cinnamon rolls,pizza crust, and bagels. Making noodles is actually really easy too. These things are just time-consuming, but when you’re forced to be at home, it’s a great way to spend your time.
Making homemade granola is even easier to make, and then you have several days worth of breakfasts ready at once. One batch of our granola lasts us 2 weeks eating it twice each week.
My Menu for Quarantine Week 1
So here is an actual picture of my menu for this next week. It goes on my fridge today and will stay up. One of the reasons why I post it is so that I don’t get “What’s for breakfast, Mom?” ALL-THE-STINKING-TIME! I have one child who will finish dinner and go, “Hey, Mom! What’s for breakfast?”
The second reason that I post a menu is that my oldest daughter is responsible for breakfast every day. My middle daughter is responsible for lunches every day, and I’m responsible for dinner every day. This way, they don’t have to ask me what they should be making. They know because it’s listed.
So here’s my menu. Some of this will be from scratch. This week, I’ll make the cinnamon rolls from scratch, but we still have “canned” biscuits” to make things easier on my daughter. We still also have frozen pizzas, so we’ll do those instead of making those from scratch. In future weeks, these will eventually be made from scratch.
Food Storage Recipe – Homemade Granola
We double this recipe and it makes at least 4 breakfasts for a family of 7.
6 C Oats
1 C Nuts (we prefer pecans)
1 C Chocolate Chips
1 C Coconut (can be omitted)
1/2 C Cocoa powder
1 C Coconut oil
1 C Honey
1 T Vanilla
Grease a 9×13 two-inch deep casserole dish. Mix the oats, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, and cocoa powder together. In a saucepan melt the coconut oil and honey together. Once they are melted together, remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour the mixture over the oat mixture in the 9×13 dish, and stir thoroughly. Bake for 1 hour at 250.
How are you setting up your menu for this time during quarantine? Do you feel like you’ve got a good handle on it? If you’re doing well, do you have any tips and tricks to share with the rest of our readers? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below in the comments section so that we can all be better prepared.
Together lets Love, Learn, Practice, and Overcome!
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There’s a buzz about radio, and it’s not on the radio.
The amateur radio social media pages and web forums are suddenly buzzing with activity. Mostly it’s from people who are not hams but want to become one. This anecdotal evidence is supported by a notable increase in web traffic to offgridham.com in the last three weeks or so. The search terms suggest that most of these visitors are directly looking for information about off grid communications. Surprise! That’s what we do here, exclusively. So if you’re interested in off grid amateur radio you’ve landed on the best web page on this or any globe. covid-19
Saying the quiet part out loud. covid-19
Public domain image.
Let’s not be coy. This interest in off grid amateur radio is being driven by the Covid-19 virus calamity consuming the world. While most people are not outright giving it as a reason why they are interested in off grid radio, they are dropping enough hints that it isn’t hard to figure it out. c
The funny thing is, the corona virus is not a calamity in the traditional sense. The grid is still solid. The electricity is on, the plumbing works, and the internet is up. The roads are free for travel and the stores are (mostly) open and (somewhat) well stocked. No one is being burned or flooded out of their homes. Society is still functioning, albeit with a six foot space cushion between every living human. covid-19covid-19
So why do so many people suddenly want to jump into radio? There’s not too many ways it can aid in Covid-19 response efforts, so it’s not about “emergency communications”. Or is it? I think the real motive is not about a disease. Rather, the disease is giving a lot of people a reality check about being prepared. Maybe they’re thinking about what might happen if all the people who make the grid work suddenly fall sick themselves. Maybe they’re thinking ahead to what else can happen where amateur radio really will be a valuable resource.
I’m just speculating and have no firm proof of any of this, but it’s hard not to see an association between current events and the sharp upturn of interest in amateur radio.
If you weren’t prepared before Covid-19 upended the world, you’re not going to make up for it now. I have some shocking news for all the hoarders filling their basements with toilet paper: You’e panicking and reacting, not preparing. The truly prepared already had a stock of toilet paper before Covid-19 came to town. The good news is that it’s not too late to prepare for the next calamity…and you know there will be another one, someday, somewhere.
Passing a simple test and buying a $35.00 handheld radio off Amazon to stash in a cabinet “just in case” is not going to make you prepared either. Amateur radio has a low barrier to entry but the learning curve is fairly steep once you’re in the door. If you do make the step into ham radio, it’s going to require some effort and practice. It’s not a “set it and forget it” avocation, at least not if you want to be any good at it. Many if not most of the people who become amateurs solely for emergency preparedness purposes will not touch a radio until an emergency actually happens. Then, and only then, will they realize that being prepared is not about collecting stuff.
Skills vs. stuff. Covid-19
Theres is good news: Learning about ham radio is fun. Amateur radio is after all a hobby that just happens to have a practical secondary application as an emergency communications service. You’ll be a better person and be better prepared if you don’t let the latter overshadow the former. Being prepared is about having skills and having a plan. Regular readers of this website know I beat the hell out of the importance of having a plan. They also know the operator with a lot of skill but very little equipment is better off than a wannabe with a roomful of the latest & best gear. Making the most of what you have and using skills as a force multiplier is the heart & soul of what Off Grid Ham is all about.
If you recently found this website as a curious outsider, welcome. I hope you’ll stick around for the long haul and enrich yourself with amateur radio. If you’re a long time amateur or a regular reader, I hope you’ll refer newcomers to offgridham.com and help them find a reason to take amateur radio seriously.
We are in the midst of a disaster. It’s too late to plan for what’s already happened. If you weren’t prepared, learn from experience. The next disaster is 100% going to happen so ready yourself now. Only a fool waits for the the house to start burning before they go shopping for a fire extinguisher. I believe the strength and spirit of America will pull us through but hope has never solved any problem. As a famous radio host once quipped, hope is just disappointment delayed. Start learning skills and come up with a plan right now.
Julian, OH8STN, has a new video out about ham radio emergency communications for Groups.
Hello Operators. Todays topic emergency communications, ham radio is a little different than normally seen on the channel. Today we are discussing ham radio emergency communications for groups and small communities while bugging in shtf. The bugging in shtf part, is the self quarantine many of us are experiencing around the world the past few weeks. it’s obvious too many of us now bugging in is very different from the bugging out we may have expected and prepared for. Because of this, groups and communities wishing to learn ham radio emergency group communications, may be interested to learn this approach, and these emergency communications tools.
Health care providers are in critical need of supplies as COVID-19 continues to hit Washington. Critical health supplies are in demand for Trios, Lourdes, Kadlec and Prosser Memorial. The Tri-Cities Business and Visitor Center is volunteering to be a central donation point to drop off supplies. Jim Hall, a representative of area health organizations, explains what type of items are needed.
“Hand sanitizer, wipes, PPE equipment, gowns and more, the more we can accumulate the better position we are going to be,” explained Hall. According to Hall, the Tri-Cities community is stepping up.
“I know all of the medical providers in the area have really been swamped with inquiries from the public on how they can help,” said Hall. You can help by donating or help by practicing good hand washing and social distancing.
Health officials say we will get through this together. “I know nurses and doctors and health care providers are working around the clock to take care of our entire community,” said Hall.
Hank “Tippy” Johnson [D-GA, sadly], noted loon and midget/giant cage match fan, has filed HR 5717 the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020 in the US House. It has everything a violence-enabling victim disarmament advocate could possibly want: national gun owner licensing, an “assault weapon” ban, a suppressor ban, ex parte “red flag” confiscations, and more.
But the kicker is this section on owner licensing.
“(a) In general.—Except otherwise provided in this section, it shall be unlawful for any individual who is not licensed under this section to knowingly purchase, acquire, or possess a firearm or ammunition.
“(b) Eligibility.—An individual shall be eligible to receive a license under this section if the individual—
“(1) has attained 21 years of age; and
“(2) has completed training in firearms safety, including—
“(A) a written test, to demonstrate knowledge of applicable firearms laws;
“(B) hands-on testing, including firing testing, to demonstrate safe use of a firearm;
To possess a firearm, you must be licensed. To become licensed, you must first possess a firearm, at least for “hands-on testing” and “firing testing.” But “testing” is not one of the exceptions “otherwise provided.”
Current gun owners would be allowed to keep their existing firearm unlicensed. But no one who is not currently (as of when the Attorney General begins issuing “Federal firearm owner’s licenses”) in possession of a firearm could get a license and lawfully possess a firearm ever again.
And there you have it…lawful civilian gun culture eradicated in a single generation.
One might dismiss this as a simple error by a man with some obvious mental issues, but he didn’t draft this on his own. And these impossible-to-comply-with provisions are becoming standard practice in gun people control bills.
Cassie Johnston at Wholefully has put together a guide on emergency gardening for those who are thinking that maybe this pandemic won’t just be over in two weeks or feels like maybe the grocery stores won’t be as full as you’d like any time soon – How to Build a Cheap and Easy Emergency Vegetable Garden
I once heard that when an emergency happens, it’s not what you have that’s most important, it’s what you know. I’m not sure I really grasped how true that was until we landed ourselves in a global crisis.
While some people have gotten comfort from stockpiling toilet paper, throughout this, I’ve found great comfort in my gardening, preserving, herbalism, and general homesteading knowledge. Even the most robust stockpile runs out, but my ability to grow my own food and medicine never will.
Over the years, we’ve done a good amount of high-quality gardening content here on Wholefully—but that was more from a hobbyist perspective. This article is different, because the times right now are different. This article is designed to teach even the newest of gardening newbies how to plant an emergency vegetable garden (AKA: a survival garden) in even the smallest of spots. Below you’ll find the quick and dirty basics for getting a garden set up on the cheap, what plants I would put in my survival garden, and how to maximize space for food production.
A word of warning: this isn’t going to be an Instagram-worthy #plantlady garden. This also isn’t going to feed your entire family or give you the prettiest heirloom tomatoes. But what an emergency vegetable garden can do is give you some supplementation to a diet heavy on pantry staples, plus give you a much-needed physical and mental outlet for anxiety. It also helps you reclaim just a little bit of control in this uncontrollable situation, and that’s a win.
Where do I even start with gardening?
We’re going to just cover the extreme basics of gardening here to get you started with an emergency vegetable garden, but we highly recommend consuming more gardening information to maximize your growing potential. Here are some resources:
If you have some sort of outdoor space that is exposed to the sun for at least 4-6 hours per day, you can grow your own food.
If you have a balcony available: Collect as many large containers as you can find. These don’t have to be traditional pots—whiskey barrels, five gallon buckets, and even small trash cans work. Just make sure you poke or drill holes in the bottom of repurposed containers for drainage. If you are buying new, I really like the fabric smart pots that are out now. They are affordable, easy to grow in, and you can get them in a variety of sizes. Also, don’t forget that you can grow in hanging baskets!
If you have a small amount of greenspace available: A single 8’x4′ raised bed or even a square 4’x4′ bed can produce an absolute TON of food. If you have a patio or a small yard, a raised bed is the way to go. These are the plans we used for our lifetime raised beds, but they are pricey to build and probably not the right option if you are building a survival garden. If you want to do it affordably and quickly, I highly recommend using half cinder blocks to form the outside of your bed. Half cinder blocks (AKA: 4″ cinder blocks) run around $1.50 each, and you can build a very sturdy 8’x4′ bed with them for less than $30. It takes less than 20 minutes to form the bed, and you can also grow herbs and flowers in the holes of the cinder block—utilize every space you have! We used this method in our apartment garden in the city (off the side of our patio), and it worked well for us for years.
Of course, you can also repurpose other materials if you have them available. Bricks, wood, and tires can all be used to create garden beds. Anything that can hold soil in will do the trick—again, it might not be Instagram worthy, but it’ll grow.
How do I prep the site before I put the beds down?
First, you’ll need to remove any sod (grass) that’s below where your raised bed will be. If you have time on your side, you can use a tarp or black plastic and stake it down at the bed site—leave it for a few weeks to cook in the hot sun, and the grass will die. Time not on your side? Use a spade or shovel to cut out the sod. Then place the bed right on top. The more you kill the grass underneath, the less you’ll have to worry about weeds poking through your garden.
If you’d like, you can also put landscape fabric down to protect from more weeds popping up, although that’s definitely not a necessity…