What Should I Do?

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What Should I Do?

Hands coming together

A Case Study in Creating Community

Finding support and building resilience
Monday, November 8, 2010, 10:33 PM

Take a little trip with me...

Ben Bernanke finally prints A Dollar Too Far. Or the bond vigilantes have their day. Or various foreign countries begin to dump their Treasuries en masse one Wednesday morning. Or Fraudclosure pitches the TBTF banks (and mortgage insurers, et alia) into a hole too deep for any bailout. Or oil producing nations decide to cut back exports by 20% when it becomes apparent that some of their largest fields are well past peak and starting down the steeper part of the back side of the curve. 

You can pick one of any number of liminal events, or more likely several of them will make up the Family-Size Valu-Pak o'Doom. But it's obvious to me that El Ponzo Grande is beginning to develop a mortal wobble. Like the top in the last shot of "Inception," it only continues to spin endlessly in a world of illusion. In the real world we inhabit, wobble indicates the top is getting ready to fall. » Read more

What Should I Do?

Peak Certainty, Food Resilience, and Aquaponics

Growing food with aquaponics
Thursday, November 11, 2010, 7:24 PM

Long-time readers of this site undoubtedly share one thing: We know no matter what exact course the future takes, or what twist or turn the economy makes, the “future,” as we had come to know and think about it for the past 30 years, is now woefully uncertain. I call it “Peak Certainty,” and we passed it sometime between 2008 and today.

The manners in which we thought we’d live our lives, from the realistic to the idealistic, have radically changed. We could be facing hyperinflation, deflation, a currency crisis, social upheaval - all bad enough without factoring in whether Peak Oil manifests itself sooner rather than later. All of these macro-structural developments are of such high impact, whatever plans we may have had need serious reconsideration.  » Read more

What Should I Do?

Sharing Our Thanks

And much to be thankful for
Thursday, November 25, 2010, 12:10 AM

While we deal with some pretty heavy material on this site, it's important to remember we all have a tremendous amount to be thankful for.

Thanks to Chris, we're aware of the interplay among the Three Es and how things are likely to unfold. Take a moment to appreciate that gift - the vast majority of those yet to swallow the 'red pill' are still sleepwalking into the future unprepared.

Thanks to our still-functioning societies & economies, we have time. Time to debate & process the implications of peak oil and to take informed steps to increase our resiliency to them - in our investment portfolios, in our homes, and in our communities.

And thanks to each of us, we have this site - a collective of smart and encouraging individuals doing their best to "figure it all out" and help each other do the same.  Your forum contributions, comments, and feedback are making this site the pre-eminent resource on the Web for those seeking to prepare for an uncertain future.

So this year, I'd like to invite us to share our Thanksgiving experiences with each other. » Read more

What Should I Do?

Solar Panels ready for mounting.

Installing a Solar Energy System

Building resiliency with the sun
Saturday, November 27, 2010, 12:51 AM

Like many of you reading this article, I am fairly new to the realization that our future may not turn out the way we originally planned.  A little over two years ago, after the financial turmoil set in, I began to wake up from my comfortable, relatively uncomplicated life and take a closer look at what was going on around me. 

I was first introduced to the Crash Course by an attendee at the 2009 CPAC Liberty Forum in Washington, DC where I had gone to hear Ron Paul speak.  Little did I know how dramatic an impact that one conversation would have on my life.  After watching the Crash Course a couple of times, many pieces of the puzzle started to fall together, and I quickly progressed to Stage 4 - Fear.  (See The Six Stages of Awareness for more on that topic).  A few weeks after I attended Dr. Martenson's Lowesville seminar, I decided it was time to take immediate action.  I've also had to deal with the challenges of convincing my partner that these changes were really worthwhile and necessary and that I wasn't a raving lunatic who would soon be wearing a tin foil hat!

I hope reading about the thermal and photovoltaic solar systems we have installed will encourage you to think about actions you can take to prepare for our uncertain future.  Since it would be impossible to even begin to give every detail about how the systems work or how to put one together, my goal is to show what can be done, give you things to consider, suggest rough costs, and provide links for further research. » Read more

What Should I Do?

The Keys to Transitioning Healthcare: Empowerment, Education, & Prevention

Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 1:53 AM

A few months ago, I developed red spots on my face and neck that were kind of itchy.  After another day or so, the spots had progressed down my torso and onto my thighs, so I decided to go to a doctor.  Although I have health insurance, at the time I did not have a primary care physician, so seeing a doctor quickly proved to be difficult.  Most everyone I called told me to go the emergency room, a ridiculously expensive suggestion, given that my situation was certainly not a life-threatening emergency.  I finally got an appointment with a nurse practitioner at a local clinic.  She hurriedly looked at the red spots, pronounced that I had hives, and immediately decided to give me a steroid injection and to prescribe a week-long dose of Prednisone.  There was no discussion of reasoning for her prescription, likely symptom progression, or treatment options.

I know that steroids significantly impact my body through increased anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and suppressed immune response, and I was about to leave on a month long trip, so I really didn’t want any of these side effects.  I slowed her down long enough to get her to tell me what I could expect if I didn’t take the shot or the Prednisone.  She told me the hives would likely progress through the rest of my body, enter my lungs and then cause difficulty breathing, and that I definitely needed both the injection and the Prednisone.  By this point, I internally questioned her judgment due to her extreme prognosis and lack of willingness to engage with me, so I accepted the shot and decided to mull over whether or not to fill the Prednisone prescription.  That afternoon I spoke with a friend of mine who is an MD (I should have called him first), and he said that I likely would not need the Prednisone and that I should see how it goes for a couple of days.  I did not need the Prednisone and the hives disappeared in a week or so.

So why am I sharing this story? In my opinion, health care remains one of the thorniest problems that we face, because even with relatively abundant cheap oil, our current system serves us poorly. » Read more

What Should I Do?

A Quiet Revolution in Bicycles: Recapturing a Role as Utilitarian People-Movers (Part I)

Saturday, December 4, 2010, 12:06 PM

This post initially appeared on CM.com in June 2009. Given its continued relevance, we're republishing it as part of our 'What Should I Do?' series.


Bicycles were invented over 200 years ago and were used for many years as significant and efficient means of human transport. But over the past 40 years, bicycles lost their status in the US as human transportation vehicles, due to inexpensive oil and far-flung suburban development. Since both of those factors favored automobile usage, the bicycle industry responded by refocusing their marketing strategy to promote bikes as recreational objects, only to be carted out on weekends and vacation time. 

For many years this has been the status quo, with the typical bikes available in many bike shops catering to the weekend warrior, not the utilitarian cyclist. But in response to concerns over oil dependency and the environment, a quiet revolution started brewing in the mid-1990s that produced new bicycle designs and features, reinventing the bicycle as a significant mode of transportation. These new developments include cargo-carrying capacity for passengers and their stuff, plus compact, quiet, efficient, electric-assist motors that can extend the biker's traveling range and encourage biking more often.

This article is intended to provide a broad overview of the recent developments that make the bicycle a practical utilitarian vehicle for daily transportation. In Part 1, I introduce the concepts of cargo bicycles and electrical bicycles and address the question, “Why do these developments help make a bicycle a great personal transportation option for those concerned about Peak Energy?” Then, in the upcoming Part 2, I will get into the nitty-gritty details of the products and designs available, addressing the questions, “What are the features, how much do they cost, and where can I buy one?” » Read more

What Should I Do?

A Quiet Revolution in Bicycles: Recapturing a Role as Utilitarian People-Movers (Part II)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 1:08 AM

This post initially appeared on CM.com in June 2009. Given its continued relevance, we're republishing it as part of our 'What Should I Do?' series.

So you’re inspired to try more biking... 

Now what?

If you haven't yet read Part I of this article, please do.  After learning about Peak Oil a few years back, I decided to get a cargo bicycle setup with an electric assist as an alternative to using a car for around-town trips. I had been a cycling enthusiast for about 20 years at that point, and I had prior experience tinkering with electric bicycles. During my college years, I worked in a bike shop and commuted daily by bike. In 1994, I ordered and installed my first electric add-on kit, consisting of a very basic setup - a friction roller against the tire, activated by a two-speed toggle switch on the handlebar. I also happen to have a degree in Physics, which helped a lot with debugging early electric bike equipment that was not quite ready for prime time.

Nevertheless, when I decided to take on this project in 2007, I quickly found out that it wasn’t a simple undertaking, despite my fairly broad experience. The local bike shops were not enthused by this project. They wouldn’t touch electric assist, and ordering an Xtracycle kit to convert my bike to a cargo hauler was something they were decidedly lukewarm about. Given that attitude, I decided to just order the parts through the Internet and do it myself.  » Read more

What Should I Do?

The Ready Store

CM.com Alert:

Food Storage Shortage Risk Emerging
Friday, December 10, 2010, 11:47 AM

After hearing reports of depleting inventories of pre-packaged, ready-to-purchase stored food, CM.com did a little investigating. It turns out there's truth behind the rumor.

Yesterday, Zero Hedge observed:

It appears that Mountain House, which is one of the better purveyors of freeze dried food and holds over 30 servings and last for 20 years because they are packed with nitrogen rather than oxygen, is now sold out of all #10 cans. And for those who go to NitroPak, which sells these products, they have the following message:


There is currently EXTREMELY high demand for all of our Mountain House foods nationwide due to current economic uncertainty and inflation fears. With this increase in demand, our food order processing times have increased also. As Mountain House’s leading distributor, we are receiving huge shipments weekly to fill our customer orders. We are shipping as quickly as we can. Your charge card will not be charged-up until we are ready to process your order. Thank you for your understanding and patience! Harry R Weyandt President

Nitro-Pak is one of the distributors we often recommend to our readers, so we started there. Sure enough, the above inventory update is prominently posted.

I then placed a call to The Ready Store, whose products we link to from the Storing Food section of our 'What Should I Do?' guide. They also include a lot of Mountain House products in their food packages. They, too, are seeing high demand, which is affecting their promised shipping times. » Read more

What Should I Do?

Fire materials being gathered.

Practical Survival Skills 101 - Fire Starting

Starting a fire during wet weather
Sunday, December 12, 2010, 1:56 AM

Throughout the Internet, a great many resources exist on an immense variety of topics. Some purport expertise in Survival – a sign you should instantly recognize as a red-flag.

Survival is not a topic, nor a way of life. It’s a measure of adaptability. Casually discussion of methods of starting fires, building shelters, procuring clean water and food is the academic tantamount to describing the process of surgery without having ever seen a scalpel.

For this reason, I intend to write a series on Practical Survival. This will not be geared towards the rugged woodsman who knows just how difficult it is to survive off the land – it’s written with an intended audience of the layman who knows little or nothing outside the modern First World. » Read more

What Should I Do?

Free Range Chickens

Raising Your Own Chickens

The basics of having backyard chickens
Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 11:02 AM

A major theme of this site is improving resiliency and preparing for a different future than we may be used to at present. One good way that is receiving growing interest is keeping your own chickens for eggs or meat. In this brief article, I will show that raising chickens is fun, easy, and provides many benefits, regardless of the need to prepare for the potential risks of Peak Oil or economic downturns.

There are many great resources on chickens already out there, with more detailed information than can be contained in this article. I’ll just highlight the basics here and share some of my personal experiences that have been successful. » Read more