Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Building or Selecting Your Rural Escape Location

This is a primitive cabin kitchen in a cabin that was reasonably priced.

    A number of people within the United States who are based in cities or suburbs fear either a terrorist attack, an economic collapse or some event which triggers civil unrest.   In addition, in the past few years many of them have not seen good returns from retirement accounts.  For this reason, a market for rural retreats was born.   Some families seek only a weekend home where they could escape their normal home for a relatively short period of time, and others seek a larger and more permanent home base where they can keep dogs, livestock, and can potentially grow some food.   Some references refer to such a home as a "bug out location".   I am less fond of this term and I don't use it generally, because it implies that a run to your rural retreat is reactionary and would occur in an emergency. If during an emergency, you must evacuate, then such a move needs to be deliberate and well considered, not thoughtlessly reactionary.  I contend that if your present neighborhood is unsafe now, that during a weather emergency, a terrorist attack, that you might not be able to evacuate and get to your secondary home.  Therefore I encourage many families if they feel unsafe in their present surroundings, to relocate as a short term goal.    Of course there are a few families who can afford to maintain homes in two places, but then both would need to be supplied for disasters.
               Of course, the title to this post could easily be the title to an entire book, and so I must seriously scale down what I might say in an entire book.  Instead, I will list the essentials to selecting a location for a retreat, a rural retreat, or a ready-made home you plan to use as such.

There are lots of hidden cabins across the United States. Some of them may be accessed only by walking.

              Water Availability

  Anywhere you purchase as an emergency location or as a permanent home needs to have unbridled and easy access to water.  You can only farm and you can only raise animals as the amount of water you have permits.   First assess the availability of water.  Can you install a deep well ?  Is there a well ?   Can water be collected from your roof ?  Is water collection legal where you are ?   Must you pump water in an emergency with electricity, or can you install the Simple Pump or another variety which allows you to pump well water without electricity ?

      Location, Location, Location

     If you plan to leave your primary home to reach your emergency base, is its location accessible for you ?
A ten acre ranch in Utah may not be quite so smart of you live and work in New York City.  Decide now whether you can relocate to a rural area and actually work from there, or whether you must keep a base in the city, and have a rural place within a couple of hours by car.

  Getting There

         How would you, your family and your pets get to your "Emergency Location" or "Beta-site" ?   Do you have a car, a truck or a sport utility vehicle that could be quickly packed and could allow you to arrive at your secondary site ?    Chances are, a bus won't get you to the kind of rural place you are going to need in emergencies.

There are some expensive cabins and getaways out there too.  You might want to buy a shell and then work on it to personalize it yourself.


           Remember that your "Beta Site" should have someone local in the rural place in which it's located, watching it for you.  You may not be there much, and it should be watched for storm damage, theft, and even for squatters.  You should pay them a small amount to do this, because then you are most likely to have their cooperation and allegiance.
          Consider a place that is not easily seen by those traveling through.   Take a lesson from nature and think about the rabbit hole.   Try to find a place which is not easily found or easily seen, without very specific directions.
         I think it's generally best to select a place without a shared driveway.  This saves difficulties down the road.

 Ask these questions:

1.  If this is a structure, was it built for year round living or will it need to have modifications to be used in Winter if necessary
2. Is it zoned for year round living, animals, off grid living, or anything else you have your heart set on doing ?
3. How much land does it have and is there a survey ?  A survey can be incredibly important.  On one property I bought I learned that I had two more wells than I knew I had, when I paid for a survey from a licensed surveyor.  Sometimes this is important information, especially if you are raising animals.
4. What are the annual property taxes at this location ?   It would be terrible to find an inexpensive cabin and then have trouble getting out there because you needed a second job in order to pay the property taxes on it.  Remember that property taxes can vary significantly jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  Find this out before you buy.
5. What is prohibited by ordinance at your Beta-site ?    Can you hunt there ?  Can you keep chickens ?  How many dogs can live there ?    Can you collect rainwater, or is that illegal ? (It is in Colorado)  If you need to add a third or fourth bedroom, is this municipality going to let you ?  On the East Coast this can be a very large problem.
6.  What is the size and status of your septic tank ?    Is that why your retreat only has 2 bedrooms ?
 One septic tank can be quite different from another.  I once bought a retreat which turned out to have a metal trash can filled with newspapers (and old condoms) in lieu of a real septic tank.   It cost a lot to install a new septic system.

           If your home in the city were destroyed while you and your family were safely at your secondary site, could you live there indefinitely ?     You need to buy somewhere safe, but it needs to be liveable.

         Lastly,  what are the hazards inherent to the area of your proposed Beta-site ?    Is there a uranium mine down the street ?       Does it overlook Love Canal ?     Is it located on top of a mammoth fault ?
Is it new because a hurricane destroyed the last structure last year and the owner was forced to rebuild by the homeowners insurance company before selling it ?   Be a little bit wary and do your homework.

            Consider building your own retreat, but remember that many times, the best buys are on pre-existing structures.  It is also my opinion that your Beta-Site should be in the country in which you normally reside.  Borders close down in emergencies faster than you can say, "jackrabbit".     

           Don't forget that if the area in which you buy a retreat which has soil and a water table which permit this, a basement is a very very good idea.  This can be helpful in tornadoes, for storage or sometimes to provide a place where extra bedrooms could be finished in future.  This is something you must consider when selecting your area for retreat.  Some places for example, parts of Florida and parts of Texas have soil issues and such a high water table that a basement is not possible, or it is not possible to finish one for living space.

This is a basement that was finished as an office.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Allergic to Cottonseed Oil

              It occurred to me after I wrote this, on my blog which discusses loss and grief, that a post which discusses cottonseed allergy could be beneficial here as well.

             This is that post:

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Second Interview With John Wesley Smith: On August 1, 2013

                   My second interview with John Wesley Smith on Destiny Survival will air on

                                                                 August 1, 2013.

***    This link will continue to access the archive of this episode, even after the program airs.

                  We talked for an hour about a number of issues I touch upon in the Rational Preparedness book, including dental emergencies,  the planning of evacuation of animals from rural homes and farmsteads, and we touched upon living through emergencies and grief.   I talked about the mindset necessary to survive the loss of a family member and still function well enough to safe your remaining family members and yourself.  This is important because during real emergencies, there may not be time to grieve at that moment.
                  My friend Jim Cobb, the author of Preppers Home Defense has said that he has enjoyed being interviewed by John Wesley Smith, and that he is one of the best.  I certainly second that. John has a calm and relaxed style, yet he remembers what you say, and listens well enough to ask really good questions.


             This page of John Wesley Smith's blog discusses this visit:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

An Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in the U.S.

Courtesy of the CDC in Atlanta, the life cycle of Cyclospora

 This week a parasite which causes acute gastroenteritis caused an outbreak which has impacted fifteen states.  This is an unusual infection and is caused by a single celled coccidian parasite.  (Cryptosporidium is a different type of coccidian organism)  In the last twelve years there have only been twelve reported cases and last week just one Texas County reported twenty.  Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Connecticut have been hit hard.
                   Cyclosporiasis can cause nausea, vomiting, a particularly watery diarrhea, fatigue, fever, excessive gas, weight loss, and cramping,  all within two to ten days of having ingested the offending organism. Some people have muscle aches also. A very few are ill enough to develop cholecystitis, or a siginificant inflammation of the gallbladder secondary to this disease.  A physician can take a sample and test for this microorganism. Ideally, when looking for this organism, several stool samples should be obtained on three different days in order to catch the oocysts.   The organism can be treated with certain antibiotics. Sulfasoxazole/Trimethoprim is most frequently ordered, which is sold as Bactrim or Septra, but other antibiotics can sometimes be used for those who are allergic to sulfa drugs. When I was in Russia, I carried Bactrim in case I developed a coccidial infection, as does occasionally happen there, but I was fine.    Failure to treat this outbreak correctly can result in diarrhea which  can continue for months.  The young, the old, and those with other medical issues, can become dehydrated and require hospitalization.  A number of people during the recent outbreak have required hospitalization. No one, as yet, has died from it. No exact source for this particular outbreak has been detected, although in outbreaks in the 1990s, foreign raspberries were the culprit.
                  Human beings become infected by eating cyclospora oocysts.  These could easily be found on any fruit, berries, produce, or contaminated water.  This infection is more common in tropical nations than it is in the United States.  All of this is making me regret the few delicious huge raspberries I ate on the way home from grocery shopping, without washing them last week.
                 Of course, washing our hands before eating and after using the bathroom can help in preventing transmission of this illness.  Washing our fruits and vegetables before eating is also a wise strategy for prevention.
               Neither iodine or chlorine can kill cyclospora oocysts in water and so contaminated water can indeed be a source of this illness.
                 If you or your family develop this illness, please see your physician for early treatment.

Authoritative information on Cyclospora and the illness Cyclosporiasis:

Although rehydration will not cure cyclospora, it is an essential strategy in it's treatment.  This is a prior post on rehydration solutions, some of which can be made at home:

The safest treatment course includes seeing your physician and taking an antibiotic (and likely probiotics as well)

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Nation Corrupt and Past Its Best Days

Should we be flying our flags upside down, as a sign of severe national distress ?  Our Constitution is under attack. Our nation is under attack.

  Tonight, the US House of Representatives narrowly defeated a Bill which would have defunded the National Security Agency's  Program which collects and stores ALL phone calls and e-mails which involve anyone who is in the United States.  Yes, Germany,  Britain, Iceland and New Zealand. If you are talking to us, your personal phone call and e-mail data is being "captured" for the next rogue administration also.

        There comes a time when you have to ask, what are you defending ?   Is it worth defending a nation where our Constitution is treated as if its a Kindergarten Report Card, an archive, or an historical document ?    What are you protecting if we are no longer the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave ? "

These are the representatives who voted to defund this particular little project of the NSA
These are our friends.  

AYES 205 —

Bishop (UT)
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Broun (GA)
Carson (IN)
Davis, Danny
Davis, Rodney
Duncan (SC)
Duncan (TN)
Graves (GA)
Green, Gene
Griffin (AR)
Griffith (VA)
Hastings (FL)
Huizenga (MI)
Johnson (OH)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Maloney, Carolyn
McMorris Rodgers
Miller, Gary
Miller, George
Pastor (AZ)
Pingree (ME)
Poe (TX)
Price (GA)
Rice (SC)
Roe (TN)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Scott (VA)
Smith (MO)
Smith (NJ)
Swalwell (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Thompson (PA)
Weber (TX)
Wilson (SC)
Young (AK)

— NOES 217 —

These are the representatives who think it's okay to spy on all of America using our hard earned  money.

Barrow (GA)
Bera (CA)
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Brady (TX)
Brooks (AL)
Brooks (IN)
Brown (FL)
Brownley (CA)
Castor (FL)
Castro (TX)
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Davis (CA)
Frankel (FL)
Franks (AZ)
Gingrey (GA)
Graves (MO)
Green, Al
Hastings (WA)
Heck (NV)
Heck (WA)
Jackson Lee
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.
Johnson, Sam
Kelly (IL)
Kelly (PA)
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Larsen (WA)
Maloney, Sean
McCarthy (CA)
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Murphy (FL)
Murphy (PA)
Peters (CA)
Peters (MI)
Price (NC)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rogers (MI)
Ryan (OH)
Ryan (WI)
Scott, Austin
Scott, David
Sewell (AL)
Smith (NE)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Thompson (CA)
Van Hollen
Wasserman Schultz
Webster (FL)
Wilson (FL)
Young (FL)
Young (IN)


Herrera Beutler
McCarthy (NY)
Negrete McLeod

   This voting information has been provided by the Blaze.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My First Interview on Destiny Survival

        I had promised to let you know when the radio program segment I taped with John Wesley Smith hit the air, and then, I promptly forgot.

        I have just taped a second interview with John, but this is the first one, taped in May and which aired for the first time on May 30, 2013.

Rational Preparedness Author, Jane-Alexandra Krehbiel, interviewed by John Wesley Smith on Destiny Survival.



John talks about this visit on his blog.  The page is here:




Catching Up on My Reading

To actually look inside, go to:  Look inside here

   Not that Paladin Press needs recommendations of any of their books from me, but yesterday I had a chance to do some reading.   Early yesterday morning, the oral surgeon took the top back molar from my maxillary sinus, and sent me home to recover with Percocet.  I really needed the Percocet, but it struck me as unsafe to take it and then be less than alert with the four horses I need to care for in the extreme heat.  I took a little bit of ibuprofen and decided to catch up on some reading.
           One of the books I read yesterday was E.J. Bohan's Barbed Wire, Barricades and Bunkers: The Free Citizen's Guide to Fortifying the Home Retreat.    On our own farm we have controlled access by installing gates, placing hidden camera monitoring equipment, and planting additional blackberry bushes in natural regions in which trespassers might inadvertently cross to our property..  We do have a section of deep woods which has some barbed wire which predates our ownership here.  It never ceases to amaze me at how the deer so gracefully jump over the barbed wire, and what a pain in the neck it is to human beings who might wish to traverse it.    However, this book would have been an excellent guide to planning access control on any rural property, farm and even some suburban homes.  Bohan discusses at length, the use of barbed wire and  barbed wire fencing alternatives.  He moves on to the uses of bollards.  That tall round post painted yellow between the parking lot and the store is one type of bollard.  He also explains gabions which are another type of access control barrier.   He then includes a chapter on revetments, which are protective walls. There is a lengthy chapter on bunkers. This is very valuable because it discusses the differing types of bunkers for lots of different purposes including as storm shelters. I think my favorite was the concrete pillbox bunker.   This book is an excellent resource for anyone remotely interested in such subjects. Seeing drawings and directions for what is possible in terms of access control and protection of a property you own is exceedingly helpful in that you are less likely to overspend and make costly mistakes, especially on a subject in which not a great deal is authoritatively written.

           This book was published on the first day of this year, and is therefore up-to date.

         E.J. Bohan is also the author of another book entitled, Living on the Edge: A Family's Journey to Self Sufficiency.

          You can buy this book by going to Barbed Wire, Barricades and Bunker's at Amazon

It has been voted as "One of the best books of the year thus far" by Amazon.  The author is a musician, an animal lover and says he is often shamed into helping his wife on their orchard and rural property.  He has been a frequent article contributor to Backwoods Home Magazine.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Did Someone Murder Michael Hastings, and if so, Why ?

Michael Hastings

   Michael Hastings is an American editor to Rolling Stone magazine, an author and a legitimate journalist who normally resides in New York City. He won a Polk Award and many others for his investigative journalism. The last communication he had with friends and co-workers was that he was dropping off the radar and working on "a really big story".   He told friends that "The Obama administration had declared war on the press."    Hastings, who is alleged to "drive like a grandmother, " died suddenly on June 18, 2013 after his car is said to have gone 80 mph and hit a tree in Los Angeles.  A number of blogs, newspapers and magazines are asking if Hastings could have been murdered, and why and by whom.  Some of them are quick to name the US government.   People who were at the site of the crash wondered if it was possible to electronically take over the functions of a car.
                There are also some unusual things about the circumstances of his death.  His body was cremated despite the fact that his family wanted it returned without being cremated.  The local government says that he was badly charred, and yet eyewitnesses say this is not true.
              “I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story,”written by Mr. Hastings, was published in 2008. “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan” published last year, and “Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama’s Final Campaign,” published in January.  Mr. Hastings has a history of having written the present administration in what they would likely consider, a less than positive light.
             Michael Hastings is survived by Besides his wife,Elise Jordan.  Mr. Hastings is also survived by his parents, Brent and Molly Hastings; two brothers, Jeff and Jon; and his grandmother, Ruth Mahon.

             Hastings was only 33.   Online condolences can be sent to: #sthash.qjzRhsp8.dpuf #sthash.qjzRhsp8.dpuf #sthash.qjzRhsp8.dpuf


While they are still up, these are some of the accounts of this story:

     What did Michael Hastings know, that we do not ?

What is a Surgical Extraction and Why Do We Need to Know About It ?

A panoramic x-ray. These use much less radiation than many forms of x-ray.  Many dentists believe these should be done every three years.  They cost, depending upon where you are in the nation, about $105.00  US

     Most of the time when human beings require tooth extractions, they can be done by a conventional dentist, and the process is fairly easy for them. The crown of the tooth (the portion which is visible in the mouth) can be grasped with an instrument and removed easily with a twisting action. Most extractions resolve and heal fairly quickly thereafter.   As we grow and age, even if we have taken very good care of our teeth, the chances increase that we will need some extractions from time to time.  There are a number of reasons that a conventional extraction as I described above would not be possible. The extraction of wisdom teeth which have no erupted above the gums are an example of surgical extractions.
                       Some ethnic groups, particularly American Indians may have teeth where the crown is obvious in the mouth but the roots of the teeth themselves might be much much longer than the tooth  I have tooth roots, for example which are four to five times the length of my teeth which are seen below the gums.  This can be a good thing, and a bad one.  Long tooth roots can mean that a significant amount of decay in a tooth can exist before the patient experiences pain there.  It can also mean that teeth with such root length may not be able to be extracted conventionally because the root extends to, or into the sinuses in the patient's face, or down into the region in which there are nerves in the patient's jaw.  Long roots such as these, certain types of broken teeth and some other special circumstances would therefore necessitate a surgical extraction of a tooth.    Sometimes the roots are so damaged, they cannot be removed conventionally without being broken.   A surgical extraction of a tooth can involve the cutting of the gum, the drilling of a tooth into halves or thirds, or the removal of some bone to permit access.  The patient can be pleasantly and easily sedated and unaware but cooperative. The patient can be simply well numbed, or the patient can be more deeply sedated.   Often surgical extractions, particularly complex ones, are done by oral surgeons, and not  always general dentists. (Prosthodontists and maxillofacial surgeons also do surgical extractions.) Some families also simply have "roots that just don't quit".
                     In the past when such surgical extractions took place,  they were sutured closed.  Nowadays, there is the tendency to leave many areas open following such surgeries, to allow healing through second intention, from the bottom up.  This also allows drainage from the wound itself or from the sinus which was impacted by the procedure itself.  Sometimes patients are given special directions and a special syringe to accommodate extraction region hygiene post-operatively.

This is a panoramic x-ray which is most frequently done before wisdom tooth extraction, tooth extraction and certainly before surgical extraction of a single tooth due to decay or breakage.
                  Of course, it's a little daunting to be told that you have a hole where your molar used to be which leads all the way to an open maxillary sinus and that it "will fill in by itself if you keep in clean".  However, this is most often truly the case.
                  Tomorrow morning I will have my third surgical extraction of a very long rooted molar which enters my sinuses.  Fortunately, my wisdom teeth were gone in my teens. Unfortunately, this is not covered under health insurance, even though a broken molar predisposes to a potential abscess, sepsis and an infection in the lining of the heart.   Wish me luck !

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trouble is Heading Down the Pike

This is the title picture to , a great site to visit.

    The only reason that most Americans aren't screaming and wailing about the coming troubles to the United States, is that the public educational system is so abyssmally poor that most people can't look at the very clear signs we have, and extrapolate from those to a comparison with Argentina or with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.   Normalcy bias is also hard at work in that most people think that because they have no conscious recollection of very bad times that such difficulties simply can never come to the United States.  They are quite wrong.

                  At present, the United States has a governmental debt of 17 trillion dollars.  Paying the interest on such loans is difficult, and paying the principle down could prove impossible, especially in an economy which continues to be weak.  This is another issue.   US media continues to propagandize things political.  We are being told that the economy is improving, yet banks still have tons of repossessed homes in their portfolios which they are holding until "things go up" and they lose less money when the houses are sold. Ben Bernanke has said that he plans to stop quantitative easing and to raise interest rates.  Raising interest rates will kill any kind of housing market activity which might have been murmuring.

                  A complete overnight financial collapse has not happened yet, but lots of indications are that it is happening in a painful and slow manner.   We have 350,000 US children in US foster care, many of whom will enter their teens without being adopted.  They will enter lives without families and will parent without the proper tools to do so, probably inflating this figure.   We have more than a million children who are homeless in the US.  In fact, this is such an issue that many schools have specialized programs designed for the homeless student.    Of families who are working, more than 30% are considered governmentally to be among the "working poor".   In 2000, there were 17 million families receiving food stamps in the US.  Now, figures indicate that FORTY-SEVEN MILLION US families receive food stamps.   There are even more families who are eligible, who have chosen not to collect.   The median income of families in the US has fallen four years in a row.   Lastly, we are losing manufacturing jobs in droves, and the IT jobs we have are being farmed out to Canada and India.   Gasoline costs have tripled since Mr. Obama took office, beef costs have doubled where I am, and water bills have tripled.   My homeowner's insurance has risen 40% in three years, and I have never claimed on it in the last 25 years of owning homes.

                 The country is in trouble.  Jobs were lost, jobs were given away, education was diluted, and new businesses did not spring up to employ people who lost their jobs.   The present regime's agenda is to place the state in charge of everyone, and so it has little incentive to improve the situation in which we find ourselves.   Wealthy Americans are leaving the US in droves.  The rest of us have no option other than to try to work with the eroding systems which are already in place here in the US.

               Outrage over a self defense trial in Florida is a distraction.  Outrage concerning Muslim terrorists for Chechnya who bombed the Boston Marathon is misplaced.   Please wake up and understand that the country has been given away, and your rights with it, out from under your feet.   

A prior post of mine on a similar subject:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Opportunities in Silver


  Silver was about thirty dollars an ounce in the past year or so and I remember taking sterling silver items which were in plain view of anyone visiting here, and putting them in clear bags to protect them, and putting them away.   For reasons most likely related to the false manipulation of money markets, silver is presently just under twenty dollars per troy ounce.  (Precious metals are not measured using the avoir dupois ounce, but using a troy ounce which allows you about 10% more than the kind you and I are used to buying raisins and nuts in, if you are American.) 
                   At $20.00 a troy ounce, silver is actually selling for less than it costs per ounce for the mines to locate it, mine it, process it, and place it into an ingot or coin to be sold, so right now, if you can find it for sale, it would be a good idea to get some.  I do not mean to imply that you should use a portion of your rent money, or your food money, but I do mean that if you have some money spare, that buying some now would be wise. Remember that the old adage is to buy low and to sell high.
                    Make sure that you are buying actual silver, and not silver clad commemoratives, if you wish to make full investment value of the pieces.  Silver clad are dipped in silver, but are not silver all the way through.

This is a nice little stack shown at approximately actual size. These are American coins.

                   Gold is also a wonderful collectible but many of us raising families cannot hope to put away gold at more than $1200. US per troy ounce.     Silver has actually outperformed gold in the past few years for a very important reason.  Silver is used industrially for many things.  When gold is used, it can be salvaged from computers and electronics, but when silver is used in an industrial process, it is destroyed.  Therefore the finite supply of silver on this planet is slowly decreasing. Therefore, there are few investments as certain as silver should be in the future.
                    I have other reasons though that I buy silver. A number of years ago as a homeschooling mother, I found it difficult to bring history alive for all of my students. I found that by giving gifts of silver coins on birthdays and at Christmas that commemorate certain events that our children began to remember and relate a bit better to history.  I also brought economics to life for them.  Now that they own some silver, kept in a safe for practice, they not only know the history of their silver pieces, but they always know what the spot price of silver is, and when it goes up and goes down.  Now, they notice all the prices of precious metals as they fluctuate. Giving even inexpensive silver coins to the right child or to teens can help them to "have skin in the game" and begin to extend what they know about economics and history across the board.
                  Your best bet in regularly acquiring new and attractive silver coins for gifts is to make the acquaintance of your local coin dealer or numismatist.   When silver is running $20.00 a troy ounce, he will likely sell some silver rounds for $22.00 or $23.00 an ounce.  When they go to thirty, or someday to $60.00 that will be a tidy profit. Other coins of similar silver weight may cost much more because there may be additional numismatic value to certain coinage.  I tend not to be acquiring for numismatic value, but for silver value and I tend to buy things that will spur a discussion and learning for my kids, even now.

Of course, other nations mint new silver coins also. These can be good collectibles also, and can spur your child's interest in another nation.

This is a modern Mexican silver Libertad shown larger than actual size. The picture does not show how lovely the artistry is on this coin, and it's one of my favorites. These are actually sold in a variety of sizes and they have one that is five troy ounces like this.

This is a US Morgan Dollar from 1884. It is worth much more than the value of the silver. Some of these are worth hundreds of dollars now.

These are one troy ounce ingots each.  Remember that ingots come in all different sizes. These are in an acid free protective casing.

Ingots come in a wide variety of types, sizes and designs.  This is quite a collection !  Unfortunately, not my own !

                  A silver ingot is a lump of weighed silver in a particular shape that is not a coin. Reputable companies make ingots of differing sizes and then stamp the troy ounce weight of the item on the outside. These can make handsome gifts also.
                    Lately, some private mints have been selling fractional silver, which is coinage made as half a troy ounce, a quarter troy ounce, or even a tenth of a troy ounce.  This will allow everyone to get in the game.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rethinking the Continuous Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors



     A very large number of adult Americans take a class of drug known as a proton pump inhibitor.  A proton pump inhibitor, which I will henceforth call a PPI .  A PPI is a group of drugs which, with continued use effectively reduce a patient's stomach acid. (They do so by  binding with the enzyme H+, K(+)-ATPase, hydrogen/potassium adenosine triphosphatase, which is sometimes referred to as the proton pump.) The enzyme causes the parietal cells of the stomach to produce acid which is normally a positive situation in order to digest food.   There are a number of bonafide disorders in which this class of drugs is immeasurably beneficial.  Barrett's esophagus, peptic ulcer disease treatment,  Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome are a few.  What used to be called an hiatal hernia or a sliding hiatal hernia also benefits from PPIs.    Infection with Helicobacter pylori, which is the causative organism to ulcers is generally treated with triple therapy, of which a PPI is an integral part.   It can also be used in babies, children and teens, on occasion.  It can be helpful in management of some of the symptoms of cystic fibrosis. It is also extremely beneficial in veterinary uses, for alpacas, horses, and other animals who may develop life threatening ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding as a result of an injury or illness in another area.
                  However, in the US, an awful lot of people are on this drug because they are obese, and because obesity, particularly around one's middle increases pressure against the esophagus and makes sensations of severe heartburn much worse.   Packages of these drugs are designed to be administered for fourteen days, however a huge number of patients take these continuously for years.
              I noticed several years ago that every patient I have who takes PPIs continuously also has extremely low magnesium levels.  This is an issue because low magnesium is often a factor in heart rhythm disturbances, like atrial fibrillation.  Yet an awful lot of physicians were completely unaware of the link between PPIs and low magnesium or hypomagnesemia.
              The drugs which fall into the PPI class are listed here, first by its American trade name, and then in parentheses, by its generic name, because we have a number of readers worldwide.   The five drugs classed as PPIs are Prevacid (lansoprazole),   Prilosec (Omeprazole), Nexium (Esomeprazole), Protonix (Pantoprazole), and Aciphex (Rabeprazole)   In the United States, many of these are available OTC or over-the-counter.

The recommended doses of these drugs are:

  • Esomeprazole: 20 to 40 mg once a day.
  • Lansoprazole: 15 to 30 mg once a day.
  • Omeprazole: 20 to 40 mg once a day.
  • Pantoprazole: 40 mg once or twice a day.
  • Rabeprazole: 20 mg once a day. In hypersecretory conditions, doses as high as 60 mg twice daily have been reported.
The doses will vary depending upon the use.

         This week several periodicals reported results from a study of PPIs in mouse and animal tissues.  It was found that PPIs increase a chemical messenger called ADMA (asymmetric dimethylarginine)   Higher ADMA levels can cause construction of blood vessels and may result in less blood being made available to the heart muscle.  This study did not indicate that PPIs decrease perfusion to the kidneys.   In addition, a Canadian study from 2011 suggested that PPIs may increase the incidence of heart disease the population who is taking them.

         What is the take away message here ?    First, if you are taking these drugs for Barrett's Esophagus or for a reason which was prescribed by your physician then don't stop taking it.  To do so could cause acid to backwash from your stomach to your esophagus, and over years could cause esophageal cancer.  Some people take PPIs to avoid inhaling  acid stomach contents while sleeping.  These people should continue to take these drugs as physician ordered.

Zantac is available OTC in the US and is also known as Ranitidine.

Cimetidine is Tagamet

         However, if you are a person taking this drug and you it allows you to eat extra fats and spicy foods and weigh more than you should, then you may wish to consider a temporary trial of a drug called Tagamet (Cimetidine) or Zantac (Ranitidine.)     If either of these drugs effectively manages your heartburn then this particular population of patients should probably switch from PPIs until more studies have been completed.
        Certainly, your choice of antacid and heartburn treatment and the DOSE of any treatment you use would be a really good discussion to have with your doctor.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The End of an Era: Homeschooling

Homeschoolers are often quite creative with regard to storing everything they use.

   When we moved to Virginia, we selected a particular rural and suburban county which was known for its great schools.  We selected Virginia because it not only has some excellent universities, but unlike many states, it can accommodate almost every major a child could ever want, including veterinary medicine which was not offered in the state in which I grew up.   At the time we had only two children and the two of them rode the bus to the pretty new school several miles away.  At first things seemed to go well, but very quickly we began to see that educating our children wasn't really their priority.  One week, I couldn't get my kids to drink water with their dinner.  They were upset that we were "wasting water".  I got to see how pervasive and effective this attempt at programming really was.  The kids demanded I turned off the water and stopped wasting it.  It took me a couple of hours that night to explain that we never waste water but that we use it to drink and wash.  I did make the concession of brushing teeth with just a dixie cup full of water.   I expected my kids to do well in school. They knew their alphabets, colors, and could read in a rudimentary way when I sent them off, however they both found school stressful and kindergarten.   One day as my daughter did some simple math, she was frustrated because she couldn't remember where the dots went in the number four.  Huh ?  Well apparently, she was taught that each number has dots embedded in it, for example three has one at the left end of each end.  These "dots" were slowing her down because she already knew what the numbers represented.
                As time went on, we became concerned about more things.  A school nurse was shared between the Health Department and five other schools so our school never saw her.  This meant that no one could give a dose of amoxicillin when we needed one, so I had to come to school to do it.  It also meant that no one could use the epi-pen I sent to school for each of my beesting allergic children.   I did an inservice on this for teachers but it made no difference.  "I would be afraid I would do the wrong thing, and you would sue me" was the response.  I told them, "You should worry more that you didn't take a simple action that could have saved a child's life".   One day, I arrived to find the sophisticated fire alarm in the entryway to the school in alarm, and I told the office.  "Oh, that's just a malfunction" I was told.  "Really ? Where is the smoke coming from ?" I asked.  Their mechanical room was on fire.   Lastly, one day I arrived to find that due to a water main break that all the kids were told they could not use the toilet, for FOUR HOURS.   I went home and got pine sol which I placed in each classroom toilet, and told the kids to use the toilet and close the lid until they were sent home.  The school had no emergency plans and worse yet, no ability to make sensible adjustments in emergencies.  Worse than that, neither of my kids read as well as I did at that age.

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is that it can be a customized education.  If a great deal of time must be spent on math, this can be done. If your child gets the material in four days, you can move on without beating the material to death.


   My husband and I decided that I would take one year off from my job and homeschool them for that one full year addressing specific issues of reading and of simple math.  Our feeling was that once the basics were in place that it didn't matter where you went to school. So in 1989, we began homeschooling amongst a barrage of "You will never be able to do what we do here", from the school and county administrators themselves. We are professional educators !     Homeschooling was not difficult.  We purchased a particular curriculum in those early days called A Beka      Our children enjoyed it, and worked industriously first on the math, then the language arts, and then science, history, art and music.  When we went out they brought their books in little backpacks and would work in them "like big kids" while we waited in the pediatrician's office, or when we got new tires.   The year passed quickly and they enjoyed what they were doing.   My husband and I missed my salary, but I drove less, and  spent less money while staying home teaching the kids.  Our state requires an annual exam of each homeschooling student, and when our children took the exam, they tested five years ahead of expected grade level, after only one year of homeschooling with A Beka books.    I was ready to go back to my job, but the county superintendent's office thought that they likely could not provide stimulating opportunities for "such bright children".   They offered to provide art supplies and books they were given to review as a supplement to our activities.  They also encouraged us to do academics less and enroll the kids in more activities. They told us of a couple of homeschooling groups which got together weekly for socialization and activities.   So, we continued.   I worked part time doing two twelve hour shifts as a critical care nurse every other weekend, and a 3-11 shift or two on the week that I was not going to be working over the weekend.   Somehow we adjusted.
              The years which followed brought us two more children, both sons, and they joined our homeschool from babyhood on.   I don't remember ever having taught the two youngest ones to read.  By about three and a half, they both did.  Also, in the early nineties the computer came into our home along with the internet.   This was helpful to us for research, for seeking curricular supplements, and it allowed us to use what at the time was innovative software such as "Mathblasters".    Our children could do simple math very quickly within the context of a game.
               As the kids grew we eventually made the switch to another curriculum we felt was stronger on science, called BJU Press or Bob Jones University Press.   Our daughter who developed Type I (autoimmune) diabetes was not only initially detected by me, but was seeing an endocrinologist by then.  I remember the endocrinologist chiding us with "Is Bob Jones just a regular guy ?" backhandedly judging our homeschooling.   We continued successfully homechooling through our move to ninety acres in the country. We found a smaller but vibrant rural homeschooling community.  We found a homeschooling cooperative where I taught some things, and a chemist taught chemistry, a pharmacist taught science, and a teacher taught Latin.  We had a homeschooler field day, and my eldest son, who was fourteen by then, taught ornithology.
             Ultimately, as the older kids grew, we transitioned them through a particularly good community college quite a distance away.  At first, this was labor intensive as they did not yet drive.  I took the younger two kids and we used the college library while my others were in classes.  We also joined the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and lent our home as a meeting place for a family who was being harassed regarding their homeschool, in our own county.   Homeschooling gave our kids a flexible education, time of pursue personal interests such as art and music. It gave them all a chance to get to know people of a variety of age groups.  Our kids also became uncommonly articulate as I eventually did half our lessons and exams as orals, as is often done in medical schools.  Although we had no way of knowing in advance, it allowed us the flexibility for our daughter to see her endocrinologists and manage her Type I diabetes, and my son to see specialists and accommodate hospitalizations for Crohn's Disease, which in a conventional educational system would have been potentially devastating to his education.    I also must add somewhere in this post that I did not do this alone.  As the children hit high school age, we found it more expedient for my engineer husband to take over the math instruction, which he graciously did.  
             A couple of years later half our homeschool (our two older children) headed to university, leaving the remaining siblings a little bit sad.  Somehow we reinvented our homeschool and found new routines each week.   Our youngest son Daniel, 12 1/2,  died suddenly in 2008, and that left one remaining son at home schooling.  He moved on to the community college the next semester, and now he too is at university.
                The following year we chose to do what Daniel had always wanted us to, we adopted a boy without a family. He was a young teen.   We had thought we would not be permitted to homeschool him between placement and finalization, but his state of origin had other ideas.  Apparently, we had been selected because we homeschool successfully and because they believed our newest boy would benefit from this level of attention.
               This year that last son who came to us through adoption, no less a gift from God than any of the others were, though from biological origins, completed his last obligatory exam for homeschooling.  He will be 18 soon and will be the last one to head for college.  His last homeschooling test scores will be provided to our superintendent and then our legal obligation to them shall cease.  Other than keeping records of their exams, and copies of their diplomas (which we had signed by myself and a couple of our former Governors) our homeschool shall cease to be.   Our library of books and references and tapes and educational DVDs and VHS will become an archive.    It was a long and sometimes frustrating journey, but all of them benefited immensely from the time and education they received.  All of them have done exceptionally well at both college and then universities.  Why do I want to cry ?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Assembling Freeze Dried and Emergency Foods for Diabetics

This is my favorite Augason Farm product.   This can be used in oatmeal, with other cereal, or can be reconstituted and added to other fruits you have making perhaps an apple and strawberry compote.

    A number of companies now provide entrees, vegetables, fruits, soups, and some desserts in freeze dried packaging much of which can be used for 25 to thirty years depending upon the individual product.  Unfortunately, many freeze dried entrees which are ready made are higher in carbohydrate that is desirable for many diabetics.
                   As the parent of a daughter who has had Type I (autoimmune) diabetes since age nine, this has always been a concern for us. When she was very young feeding her properly involved a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. We used leaner cuts of meat, and kept corn syrup and other sweeteners out of our food and therefore out of hers.  I did worry when she was very young as to what we would do if we needed to evacuate or had to provide food in a protracted outage. We also worried about "sick day" plan foods. Sometimes, you can't head out and buy a cluster of bananas !   The issue is made a bit more difficult by the fact that many freeze dried food manufacturers have in mind large men who are hiking when they not only create their menus, but formulate the meals themselves.
                  My suggestion, without sounding like a commercial for Augason Farms, is to begin to look at their line of foods.  Although it's true that Food Insurance *  has a line of pre-made entrees which simply requires reconstituting with water and heating, a diabetic requires more of an ability to modify their foods, and freeze dried foods are no exception.
                   When feeding a diabetic child or adult during an evacuation or other emergency, you will need to know a number of things.  You should discuss a "Sick Day Plan" with the endocrinologist who orders medications for your or your child's diabetes. This "Sick Day Plan" is where you will get your medication and dietary guidelines to follow when you or a diabetic child develops the flu or another illness. Your doctor will also tell you how much insulin to use during a sick day and how often to monitor blood sugars.  One of the things you must also find out is how many calories your physician wishes this person to have on a daily basis, both generally and during a sick day.  Some endocrinologists will provide a sample menu to follow, and others will refer you to a registered dietician who is also a CDE or certified diabetes educator.   A physician, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant, registered nurse, pharmacist, or registered dietician can all be certified diabetes educators.   You should get a three ring binder and keep all the information you need in such a notebook, and mark it "Diabetic Sick Day Plan".   If you or your child are diabetic and you use an insulin pump to control your diabetes,  you should also have a page in this book which outlines the type of insulin you are to use, and how often, should you, in some type of an emergency need to abandon pump use for a time.  A person who must abandon pump use may need four injections per day during an emergency. You need to have insulin syringes and the long acting and short acting insulin used for a temporary return to injecting insulin.    When your physician has ordered your medical back up plan, make sure he or she tells you how many calories you are to have daily, and what percentage of these are to be carbohydrates, fats, and protein.   Many times this is delegated to a registered dietician, and she will help you select the exchanges which will allow you to stay within the number of  calories and grams of protein, carbohydrate and fats prescribed.   Once you have this set out for you, in will become easier to make substitutions using something you don't eat on a daily basis, like elements from a freeze dried food company.

    Information concerning one Meal Plan for Type I diabetes mellitus

                Once you have a dietary plan and a pattern for meals and snacks, you will develop a healthy meal routine, which is essential for proper management of either Type I or Type II diabetes mellitus.

This is the University of Maryland information on Diabetes, both Types I and II, including meal plan info.

This is basic information obtained from the above link regarding general guidelines for diabetic diets.  The material within the two sets of undulating lines is solely the work product of the University of Maryland Medical Center.


General Dietary Guidelines

Lifestyle changes of diet and exercise are extremely important for people who have pre-diabetes, or who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle interventions can be very effective in preventing or postponing the progression to diabetes. These interventions are especially important for overweight people. Even moderate weight loss can help reduce diabetes risk.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes eat high-fiber (14g fiber for every 1,000 calories) and whole-grain foods. High intake of fiber, especially from whole grain cereals and breads, can help reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
Patients who are diagnosed with diabetes need to be aware of their heart health nutrition and, in particular, controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
For people who have diabetes, the treatment goals for a diabetes diet are:
  • Achieve near normal blood glucose levels. People with type 1 diabetes and people with type 2 diabetes who are taking insulin or oral medication must coordinate calorie intake with medication or insulin administration, exercise, and other variables to control blood glucose levels.
  • Protect the heart and aim for healthy lipid (cholesterol and triglyceride) levels and control of blood pressure.
  • Achieve reasonable weight. Overweight patients with type 2 diabetes who are not taking medication should aim for a diet that controls both weight and glucose. A reasonable weight is usually defined as what is achievable and sustainable, and helps achieve normal blood glucose levels. Children, pregnant women, and people recovering from illness should be sure to maintain adequate calories for health.
Overall Guidelines. There is no such thing as a single diabetes diet. Patients should meet with a professional dietitian to plan an individualized diet within the general guidelines that takes into consideration their own health needs.
For example, a patient with type 2 diabetes who is overweight and insulin-resistant may need to have a different carbohydrate-protein balance than a thin patient with type 1 diabetes in danger of kidney disease. Because regulating diabetes is an individual situation, everyone with this condition should get help from a dietary professional in selecting the diet best for them.
Several good dietary methods are available to meet the goals described above. General dietary guidelines for diabetes recommend:
  • Carbohydrates should provide 45 - 65% of total daily calories. The type and amount of carbohydrate are both important. Best choices are vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains. These foods are also high in fiber. Patients with diabetes should monitor their carbohydrate intake either through carbohydrate counting or meal planning exchange lists.
  • Fats should provide 25 - 35% of daily calories. Monounsaturated (such as olive, peanut, canola oils; and avocados and nuts) and omega-3 polyunsaturated (such as fish, flaxseed oil, and walnuts) fats are the best types. Limit saturated fat (red meat, butter) to less than 7% of daily calories. Choose nonfat or low-fat dairy instead of whole milk products. Limit trans-fats (such as hydrogenated fat found in snack foods, fried foods, and commercially baked goods) to less than 1% of total calories.
  • Protein should provide 12 - 20% of daily calories, although this may vary depending on a patient’s individual health requirements. Patients with kidney disease should limit protein intake to less than 10% of calories. Fish, soy, and poultry are better protein choices than red meat.
  • Lose weight if body mass index (BMI) is 25 - 29 (overweight) or higher (obese).
Several different dietary methods are available for controlling blood sugar in type 1 and insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes:
  • Diabetic exchange lists (for maintaining a proper balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins throughout the day)
  • Carbohydrate counting (for tracking the number of grams of carbohydrates consumed each day)
  • Glycemic index (for tracking which carbohydrate foods increase blood sugar)

Source: Diabetes diet | University of Maryland Medical Center
University of Maryland Medical Center

Although this is not inexpensive, it can be invaluable in continuing with your child's diabetic diet in a serious emergency.  Not everyone can exist on high calorie meal bars.

    Once you have established exactly what you should have on a daily basis on a diabetic diet, then you can begin to review the nutritional information available on each Augason Farm freeze dried food product.

 For example, for each Augason Farm item, if you click the nutritional information a pdf file pops up,( which I cannot copy and place here) along with specific recipes for each freeze dried food in the Augason Farms line.   If you were looking at the The Freeze Dried Chicken Breast Chunks, you would see that 1/2 cup of these, when reconstituted as directed, have 130 calories with only 10 calories from fat.  There is 30 mg. of sodium, zero carbohydrate and zero fat, and 26 grams of protein.    You would then see recipes. Greek chicken pita pockets, and chicken burritos are two of the recipes they suggest.  

       Once you review each of the foods and learn how to begin to combine the foods it makes possible using many of the Augason Farms products in a diabetic diet.   This is important because then you begin to develop a strategy for which foods in the line you can buy for long term storage and how you would reconstitute and combine foods in order to maintain a diabetic diet during a flood, a protracted power outage, or even a severe winter storm when you might not be able to get out to buy bananas, strawberries, etc. or when you have used up your supply of frozen blueberries.

        Using freeze dried food in a diabetic meal plan takes some pre-planning but it is definitely worth the initial effort of learning what the optimal amounts of everything are in your normal diet. Once you really know what exchanges you should have, you will become very quick and skillful in the substitution of emergency freeze dried food when necessary.

        Please contact me and let me know what you learned should you need to substitute freeze dried food during an emergency with either Type I diabetes mellitus or Type II.

         In a pandemic flu of which the world is due, we might choose not to leave our home for a few days, or worse yet, you might have the flu and need to remain at home Wouldn't it be nice to have food at home and be able to remain there ?

*  Food Insurance does have an 'a la carte line" including some gluten free foods.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Call Out to the Brain Trust: Seeking to Avoid Barn Termites

This is the kind of thing I am seeking to avoid.  (Picture: )

  I am not joking.  I truly consider the readership of this blog and some of my cyberspace friends to be some of the brightest people I know.  Often, their strategies for dealing with challenges are superior to those provided by people who supposedly do such a thing for a living.
            I have a question for all of you which I know must impact other readers worldwide.  I will update this post periodically with input from those who either post responses here, or contact me in private or by e-mail.  This way we will all learn something about this important issue.
            I live in Virginia in an area where termites are particularly fierce.  Most people here have a Contract with Terminix or similar company to inspect their home annually and treat if necessary.  In our first farm we had a mailbox for a time, mostly for fedex deliveries.  We placed a salt treated post in the ground with a mailbox on top, and within a year the salt treated post, which must have been treated in a marbelized fashion, had the telltale small tunnels that termites bring.  We eventually simply took the mailbox down.  One of the neighboring farms replaced his with a brick mailbox holder.  Suffice it to say, termites and healthy and well established here.

This is late termite damage in a post in a pole barn.  ( )

          I am not overly worried about my house here.  A large portion of my house was constructed using superior walls, and so there is no wood on the first floor anywhere near the ground.  Much of the house is brick and there is some vinyl siding on the second floor.  We do have a second story deck and we watch it very carefully.   I am concerned about our outbuildings though.  We have four fairly large outbuildings of wood with steel roof, each built on concrete slabs.  These are primarily animal, kennel, alpaca, horse, and garage buildings.   Originally when these were built the builder used a chemical around the perimeter of each building to "sterilize" the area from termites.  This was not a problem because there were no animals residing in any buildings at the time.  We housed them in temporary buildings which existed in another part of the farm at that time.  We did not move animals over to the buildings for quite a time and my then, the chemicals used were inert.
       This year,  I need first to ensure that there is no termite activity anywhere.  My husband the engineer has inspected each building and they all seem fine, but I would like to treat to prevent termites.   All of these buildings are either occupied by animals now, or frequented by people...  farriers, sons rebuilding a car or two, kennels, or storage.
       Goes anyone have some wise words or strategies relating to a high risk termite area, appropriate chemicals that will not injure people or animals ?   I will contact an exterminator and get input also, but so many of them are suburban exterminators and may not know much about farm issues or animals.  I will also post the response of whichever farm or equine vet wishes to weight in on this big question.
        Are termites an issue where you are ?   Do you worry about stacks of wood, downed trees, or shredded pine as used for horses as an attractant to termites ?  Thank you all in advance for your input.