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Comment Flood and Forest Fire (Score 1) 562

Well, flood and forest fire, yes. My home has a galvanized aluminum roof and is clad in cement fiberboard, so forest fires aren't liable to affect me. And my home is cited on the slope of a mountain perched between a pair of ravines (not that severe, but you get the idea) down which water drains, so flooding would require that the sea level rise a thousand feet. :) Both of these are steps that anybody can and should take when siting a home. The mountain range I'm in hasn't been seismically active for millions of years, so earthquakes aren't a concern.

But we didn't spring for the astroid or volcano-proofing. :)

Comment I'll Tell You (Score 3, Informative) 562

How many ducks and deer do you think there *are*? If there was an actual disaster, the deer, duck, quail, and lizard populations would plummet as a teaming horde of well-armed people suddenly ravage the landscape.

Cornell University Cooperative Extension: "Today there are over 20 million deer in the United States and numbers are rising. [...] Densitites may exceed 40 deer per square mile in some rural areas, and over 100 deer/square mile have been documented near many eastern metropolitan areas. [...] As long as adequate food resources are available, deer populations can double in size every 2-3 years. Eventually some form of population management is needed to control herd growth and maintain deer numbers within the social carrying capacity."

There are plenty of deer.

Comment Firearms (Score 1) 562

I almost forgot: firearms. We've got a 12-gage shotgun, a .22, and a 7.92mm 1948 Turkish Mauser. I've only got a couple of boxes of shells, and maybe three dozen rounds for the Mauser (they're expensive) but I have a few hundred rounds for the .22. We can hunt enough turkey, deer, and squirrel to keep us in protein year-round. Right now I hunt rarely, and when I do it's strictly for food (not trophies), but I'm certainly prepared to do so regularly if it were necessary.

If you have never hunted, note that there is nothing about owning a gun that prepares you to do so. If you're thinking "hey, I see deer around—I could eat those," then you are wrong. Learn to hunt now. Get a license. Find somebody to teach you how to gut and butcher a deer. Otherwise, if you do wind up in a bad situation, you might get lucky enough to actually shoot a deer, only to find that you have no idea of what to do with it. Worse still, it'll be gut-shot, and you'll wind up getting some horrible disease from eating venison streaked with deer shit.

Comment Moderately Prepared (Score 4, Interesting) 562

My wife and I like to stay fairly well prepared.

First, our home. We live in a very rural area, on the side of a treed mountain. We built our home last year, and it's passive solar, sited to take maximum advantage of the sun, built very tightly (LEED gold-ish, but we didn't bother to get certified). We maintain the forest, have large piles of wood in rotation being seasoned, and keep a large stockpile of planked wood on hand (milled from the trees on our land). Our neighbors have cows, goats, and sheep, from which they produce milk and meat—handy to have When The Shit Comes Down®. (I use that phrase facetiously—it's a generic term that my wife and I use to refer to anything that may or may not happen in our lifetimes that would disrupt supply chains, limit movement, or otherwise require short or long-term independence.) We paid a few thousand bucks to have an enormous propane tank buried next to our house, in which we maintain a two-year supply of propane. Soon enough we'll have a propane generator, a few solar panels, and a small windmill, which should allow us to maintain ~1.5 kWh of power during about half of the day, but make it possible to peak to 5 kWh when demand requires (until the propane runs out, and then we top out at 1.5 kWh).

Second, food and water. We always keep about ten pounds of oats, twenty pounds of flour, ten pounds of sugar, ten pounds of rice, and ten pounds of dried beans on hand. We always have 20 gallons of fresh drinking water stored, 55 gallons of rainwater, and we maintain a spring. Also, we have a stream. We have a small flock of chickens, a horse, and we're about to get ducks. Six months out of the year we have what's either a large garden or a small farm, and we put up a lot of food in the fall. Not enough to get us through a winter, but we do alright, and feel confident that we could ramp up production significantly, if need be. We save our seed, so the notion of increasing the size of our garden by tenfold with four months of lead time (seasonally depending, of course) isn't totally unreasonable.

Third, medical. We've got potassium iodide on hand (there's a nuclear power plant ~35 miles from us), a dose of Tamiflu for each of us, two very complete medical kits, moderate training in first aid (with more coming soon—see below), and we generally maintain a three-month supply of our medications.

Fourth, general supplies. We have an oil lamp (and, of course, lamp oil), a bunch of candles, several fire extinguishers, a NOAA radio, a hand-cranked AM/FM/shortwave radio, matches, lighters, a flotilla of batteries of all sorts, headlamps, and flashlights. We keep a couple of canisters of propane on hand (rotated through annually, thanks to grilling season) and have a propane heater that can heat our entire house for a couple of days with one of those plugged in.

Fifth, evacuation preparedness. We keep a 72-hour pack by the front door, ready to go, with a couple of hundred bucks in cash, a few days food, tinned water, flashlights, blankets, tarps, matches, fire starters, and so on. We've got sleeping bags and internal frame packs on hand for each of us. The idea is to make sure that if sheltering in place isn't safe, that we can leave without delay.

Finally, a flotilla of books (not all of which we've read, I admit) on wilderness medicine. This Tuesday we're starting an eight-week Community Emergency Response Team training course (held just once a week). This is available in most areas—google around to see if you can take it in your area. That's where you can learn to be helpful in an emergency, rather than somebody who needs help—learn to use a chainsaw, direct traffic, suture a wound, lead a panicked group of people to safety, etc. Recommended highly.

I've come to relish when we lose power in good weather. It's a chance to test out our plans. There are a lot of basic aspects to preparedness that would just never cross your mind until you actually need to carry out that plan. You know how, without power, you keep flipping light switches every time you walk into a room, or thinking "well, I'll just google that...*DOH*"? The same applies to all kinds of things, like having candles...but no matches. :)

Comment Vermont? (Score 1) 252

Both sides of my family are from Vermont—Rutland, on one side, and the White River Junction area, on the other. I've spent a lot of time there, and I think I'm about as familiar as somebody who doesn't live there could reasonably be. And I can say that with fair confidence that Vermont's rural areas are no more rural or isolated than the rural areas of Virginia, where I live. (Compare Vermont's population density and Virginia's population density. While you're at it, compare the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Green Mountains. If you were blindfolded and kidnapped, when the blindfold was taken off, you'd be hard pressed to know if you were in Vermont or Virginia.) Good luck finding any USPS address that has no other USPS address within five miles.

And I'm not at all frustrated about the lack of universal postal service—it's no problem for me at all, having been the case for me for much of my life.

Comment That's Already How It Works! (Score 4, Informative) 252

Congratulations, you've just described exactly how the USPS works.

Bajillions of people who live in rural areas (like me) pick up their mail at the post office, because the cost of delivery to their homes is prohibitive. Universal service is not, in fact, universal, and never has been. Even UPS won't deliver to my house—I've got to pick up their packages at the post office (!), too.

Also, your example is ludicrous. Have you ever heard of a house so isolated that it's in a "neighborhood" (?) five miles away and yet, mysteriously, this five-mile-long stretch of road, devoid of any homes or businesses, has a 20 MPH speed limit on its road? Because I can't summon any scenario in which that would be the case.

Comment No (Score 1) 221

I've put a bunch of time into this for a project of my own. The short answer is, no, I have found no such program. I've experimented with a few older programs, but they're useless. Sorry.

Comment Not Appointed (Score 4, Interesting) 617

Actually, Cuccinelli wasn't "appointed" as attorney general—he was elected. He defeated Democrat Steve Shannon by a huge margin. We chose to have this guy as AG, and it wasn't even close. Any informed voter should have known what they were getting into with Cuccinelli. He's really, really far right, and he's never hid it. It doesn't speak well of Virginia.

Submission + - Congressman Demands Parody Website Investigation (

waldoj writes: First amendment group the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has handed out their always-amusing Muzzle Awards on the occasion of Jefferson's birthday, and the ten "winners" constitute a worst-of list of free speech violators in the past year. Of most interest to Slashdotters is likely the top spot, which went to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), a hero of the far left, who tried to get the U.S. Attorney General to open an investigation to determine who set up a website parodying his own website. Also of note is Southwestern College prohibiting free speech on campus except for on their "free-speech patio" and Alabama barring the sale of a California wine with a painting of a nymph on the label.

Comment It's a Tool (Score 1) 624

Face it, a gun is purely designed to maim or kill. It is not a tool and is not designed for any other purpose.

Wrong. A gun is a thing that's designed to a put a hole in that thing over there. Just last week I was using my Mossberg to put holes in targets and, to spectacular effect, a full can of shaving cream. In a decade of ownership, I've never once used that particular gun to maim or kill.

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