Part-Time Dilletante

Some day I'll be able fulfill this dream - if I can ever quit my full time job.

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Location: California, United States

Just a normal American guy in California.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Quarantine Planning: Necessary commodities

List of things we should purchase or have on hand prior to the outbreak of a disaster or bird flu outbreak. Again, such an outbreak may last up to a year, so think "quantity."

Toilet paper (may even become a tradable commodity if things get really bad up here.)
Feminine products
Cash (phone lines may be down and credit cards wouldn't work)
Gasoline (keep vehicle tanks full, and fill up gas cans if an outbreak occurs)
Clothing (especially for growing children)

Shoes, boots, jackets in next size up from the kid's current sizes.
Probably should have extra pair of boots for each adult too

Cigarettes? Or just tobacco & papers? Or both? Or just figure on quitting?
Batteries & radio (internet may not be available)
Ammunition & Arrow heads
Kerosene lanterns & lamp oil or kerosene

Shampoo, detergent, dish soap, and lots of lysol disinfectant
medical gloves
medical masks

Quarantine Planning: Medicine

We ARE talking about a flu pandemic, so of course we should stock up on cold/flu remedies. Especially since even the government's plans state that we'll probably be left to fend for ourselves. Don't want to wait to get these until the point that store shelves are empty.

Should check with everyone to see what prescriptions they need, and try to get as much as possible of them.

Check the status of the first aid kit, and maybe beef it up with some heavier duty items such as splints, large trauma gauze, etc.

Other stuff: Pain pills, aspirin, Rid, prep h, milk of magnesia, toothache gel, hydrogen peroxide, cough medicine,

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Quarantine Planning: Water

Water should be available for us given that the power should be operable except during extreme/prolonged outbreaks of the bird flu, and that we can use the generator for short periods to run the well, and that the creek is nearby. Nevertheless, upon indications of an outbreak we should fill up the two water tanks we have and place one by the horses and one near the main house. At the least, these could be used to flush toilets, while water from the creek could be boiled for use.

Quarantine Planning: Food

This section requires more thought than the shelter section.


  • We have a large pantry already fairly full (enough for 2 months?)
  • We have 2 freezers of food, including nearly a whole cow.
  • Deer are plentiful
  • Blackberries grow free and wild, and we may have fruit trees soon
  • 6 chickens
  • 3 cows
  • Plenty of room for garden
  • Cooking can be done on wood stove


  • We'll probably need more than 2 months of food
  • Power for the freezers can only be depended upon during low severity outbreaks
  • No roosters, and we haven't seen any eggs
  • Garden is not deer proof
  • Needing to butcher the cows assumes we haven't power for freezers. Which means that if we do butcher one, we still need to preserve it somehow, or waste the majority of it.
  • No oven if we have no power


  • 6 months or more supply of hay for horses & cows
  • Dog & cat food
  • Chicken coop, with rooster, for egg collection & chicken replenishment
  • Greenhouse, for year round veggies
  • Deer proof fence around garden
  • More fruit trees (with deer proof enclosures)
  • Purchase veggie seeds
    • Corn, Tomatoes, lettuce, squash, beans, peas, watermellon, cantelope,
  • Stock up pantry
    • Dried beans
    • Rice
    • Sugar
    • Salt
    • Cooking Oil
    • Canned veggies
    • Canned hams, tuna, & other meat
    • Flour & yeast for bread? (No oven possibly, but could we do flatbread or tortillas? - Note that yeast doesn't last forever. Perhaps we should begin sourdough starter)
    • Fruit juices

    Quarantine Planning: Shelter

    We have shelter, so this is the easiest section. The only real consideration is how to continue receiving enough income to make mortgage payments while discontinuing any contact with others outside of our property. Fortunately, more than half of our income comes from the internet. So timing becomes important. We'll have to stop doing construction work when its obvious that an outbreak of bird flu has occurred, but can continue internet sales so long as that is up and running. Unfortunately, this still means trips to the post office. Precautions would have to be taken for this (gloves, masks, disinfectant of parcels/mail/checks received, etc.)

    If it gets to the point that the internet is down, or business is so affected that no one is purchasing insurance any longer, then we can probably stop worrying about making the mortgage payment. If things are that bad, then millions will have stopped paying by that point. We're unlikely to be thrown out of the house immediately, and could likely expect some sort of governmental relief in the long run.

    We'll simply become squatters.


    No difference from normal, since our primary heat even now is a wood stove, even if we lose power & services (except for Mom's office, which is heated by a propane heater).


    Unleaded fuel for chain saws.
    Oil for fuel mixture in chain saws
    Bar Oil (though we currently have over 2 gallons)
    Extra chain saw blades
    Blade files


    Last year we did without our swamp cooler, even though we went through a record heat spell. Though Mom had an air conditioner going in her office. Other than the office, I guess we could do it again. Not much choice, since this would requrie power. But at our location & elevation, we don't need to take drastic measures.



    Planning: Bird Flu

    Avoiding the flu

    Improve health and immune system now
    Get flu shots
    Purchase Tamiflu
    If possible outbreak occurs:
    Disinfect phones, doorknobs, lightswitches, refridgerator handles, bathrooms
    Limit contact with others
    Consider wearing gloves, masks

    If definite outbreak occurs:

    Disinfect even UPS packages received before opening
    Discontinue contact with others (quarantine ourselves)
    Quarantine may have to last up to 18 months

    Quarantine Planning

    Major factors to consider:

    • Shelter
    • Food
    • Water
    • Medicine
    • Security
    • Power
    • Necessary commodities (Clothing [especially for growing kids], toilet paper, tampons, ammunition, etc)
    • Desirable commodities (beer)
    • Tradable commodities (liquor, toilet paper, more?)
    • Income
    • Communication

    Bird Flu Disaster Background Material

    Some thoughts on surviving a long term disaster. I'm not talking about losing power for 3 days, or suffering the effects of a major earthquake for a week or two, but trying to live for 12 to 18 months during an outbreak of the bird flu.

    Up to this point I've pooh-poohed the hype on this flu, since only a handful of people have actually died, and since its not even known yet if it can or will mutate to the point where it can be transmitted from human to human (though recent reports indicate that there may have been at least one case where this occurred). Yet, given the likely severity, all encompassing range, and devasting speed with which the disease would strike, I believe its important to begin thinking and planning about how to keep my family alive.

    State & Federal Government Assistance? (From the US Dept of Health & Human Services Strategic Plan for a Flu Pandemic
    "If efforts to contain isolated outbreaks within the U.S. were unsuccessful and influenza spread quickly to affect many more communities either simultaneously or in quick succession—the hallmark of a pandemic—response assets at all levels of government and the private sector would be taxed severely. Communities would need to direct all their influenza response assets to their own needs and would have little to spare for the needs of others. Moreover, as the number of affected communities grows, their collective need would spread the response assets of states and the federal government ever thinner. In the extreme, until a vaccine against the pandemic virus would become available in sufficient quantity to have a significant impact on protecting public health [ME - Likely to take 3 to 6 months to produce, and longer to distribute], thousands of communities could be countering influenza simultaneously with little or no assistance from adjacent communities, the state, or the federal government. Preparedness planning for pandemic influenza response must take this prospect into account."

    In other words, "Don't expect any help from the government."

    Speed and Scope: (from: )
    "the epidemic will turn into a pandemic in just several weeks, spreading first in Asia before reaching Europe and the American continent 50 days later.
    At the end of week six, Americans will see 722,000 pandemic cases in the United States, by week nine -- 37.4 million, by week 12 -- 90.8 million, and by the end of week 16, 92.2 million cases

    From the US Dept of Health & Human Services Strategic Plan for a Flu Pandemic
    "The 1957 pandemic, during an era with much less globalization, spread to the U.S. within 4-5 months of its detection in China, and the 1968 pandemic spread to the U.S. from Hong Kong within 2-3 months. As was amply demonstrated by the SARS outbreak, modern travel patterns may significantly reduce the time needed for pandemic influenza viruses to spread globally to a few months or even weeks. "

    A word on how long the flu might last: (From
    "A feature of influenza pandemics not well appreciated generally is that they occur in waves.

    The 1918 Spanish flu (H1N1) was associated with three waves while the 1958 Asian flu (H2N2) and 1968 Hong Kong flu (H3N2) pandemics have two distinct waves each. The reason for this wave behavior is not known but some have speculated that it is due to a change in the season of the year. The timing of a wave may also be related to a genetic change or mutation in the new strain of influenza virus. In past pandemics, the time between two waves was 3 to 9 months. A point to keep in mind about pandemic waves is that the second wave can be much more severe than the first or third wave of the series. During the 1918 pandemic, the deadly second wave was responsible for > 90% of the deaths for the entire pandemic.

    [See this map/movie for an illustration of how fast that second wave spread througout the USA]

    While the typical flu season predictably occurs from November through March, during pandemics, flu can vary from this script. The first wave of the 1918 flu occurred in the spring of that year ending in March. That flu was very severe by usual standards but the second wave beginning 6 months later in September was the most fatal. The third wave occurred during the following winter/spring and was the mildest of all. It is of note that pandemics end simply because all or most susceptible persons within the population have contracted the infection and have either died or developed immunity. "

    Tamiflu (From: )
    "Over the course of the pandemic, predictions are that 25% to 50% of the population will become sick. There is an anti-viral antibiotic tablet, Tamiflu®, oseltamivir, manufactured by Roche Pharmaceuticals that is effective against Avian Influenza H5N1. The World Health Organization has recommended that every country establish a stockpile of enough drugs to treat 20% of its citizens in preparation for a possible Avian Influenza pandemic. Most of the developed nations have begun to do so.

    The wholesale cost of Tamiflu is about $25 for a 5-day treatment course (10 tablets), a price that places it out of reach for the less developed nations to establish a Tamiflu stockpile. Manufacturing capacity for Tamiflu is also limited and manufacture of this Roche product takes place almost entirely in Europe. Most of the G8 countries have already placed their orders with Roche and governmental demand has been so great that this product was unavailable for a while in the spring of 2005 but as of June 2005, some Tamiflu has begun to trickle back into the retail chain but supplies remain tight.

    Tamiflu works best if it is taken early in the course of the disease symptoms (within the first 48 hours of the illness). It might be useful even if started later but this is not established. I plan to administer it to very sick patients no matter how long they have had symptoms as long as there is hope they can survive.

    It is also possible to prevent the flu by taking Tamiflu tablets at or immediately after exposure to the flu. While this strategy works, it requires the continuous use of the one tablet daily until the pandemic is past.

    Under conditions of severe shortage of Tamiflu that we are likely to face during a pandemic, using the drug in this way is unwise. The strategy I plan to follow is to wait until flu symptoms are present before beginning Tamiflu treatment.

    The recommended does is one tablet twice daily for 5 days. A worrisome US National Institute of Health study published in the July 2005 issue of the Journal of Infectious Disease reported that mice experimentally infected with the H5N1 avian flu strain required 10 days of Tamiflu treatment to prevent relapse and death instead of the currently recommended 5 day course of treatment. If this proves true for the pandemic virus it means that treatment for 10 instead of 5 days with Tamiflu would be needed which is a problem since the current stock of this drug would go only half as far thought initially.

    Since half the population who contract influenza have no or only few symptoms of the disease, even if you don’t take Tamiflu in the preventive regimen you still have a 50% chance of not getting sick. By reserving the drug for those who become ill with flu, you will be able to effectively treat a much larger number of patients than if the drug is used in its preventive mode.

    One recent development reported in May 2005 is the detection of some strains of H5N1 avian influenza that have crossed over from birds to humans in South East Asia that are developing resistance to Tamiflu.

    While this is a disturbing observation, it does not mean that when pandemic flu arrives here it will be totally resistant to Tamiflu treatment. This is unlikely to be the case. It is likely however that some strains of the virus will carry this resistance factor meaning that some patients infected by those strains will not respond as well to Tamiflu treatment as expected.

    Early Warning

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Your Small Mind Just Can't Comprehend It

    Why did the movie Alexander flop? Oliver Stone says its because of 'raging fundamentalism' which caused folks to stay away from the film -- or even to read the reviews, because "the media was using the words: 'Alex is Gay.'

    Additionally, the rubes in red America are too stupid to get it anyway, according to Stone. Its simply "too complex for 'conventional minds'. "

    Friday, December 24, 2004

    Thanks for your service, Matt.

    Opportunities to help someone out during Christmas time often seem to pop up unexpectedly in ways that don't seem to happen during the rest of the year.

    This year a young Navy kid crossed my path, and it was my good fortune to be able to assist him.

    This started about three weeks ago when my boss informed me that I must go to our main office in Philly during the week of Christmas. I wasn't thrilled to hear this, considering the likelihood of inclement weather and/or heavy holiday travel which might make for difficulties getting back home in time for Christmas. Sure enough, a blanket of 'Tooley fog' had settled into the basin that makes up most of the interior of California. Locals know this fog can last for weeks. The Saturday before I was to leave, my Sister flew into the Fresno airport around 10 PM. The pilot landed the plane on instruments, in a fog so thick that spontaneous applause broke out among the passengers when they could finally see the runway lights and the wheels touched down. The pilot came onto the intercom as they taxied to the gates and remarked wryly that, "there's not very many planes on the ground here."

    In fact, her plane was one of only a few that risked landing that evening, so that as I stood in line at 6 AM the next morning to catch my flight a murmur began near the front and moved to the rear that flights were being cancelled. Sure enough, the board showed the first two flights (mine included) as cancelled, and cell phones began popping out all around. There was a family of travelers in front of me, and at about this point a clean cut young man carrying two cowboy hats in one hand, pulling a large suitcase with the other, and wearing a green duffel bag nearly as big as him on his back, walked up and strained to read the board. "The flights are cancelled?" he asked me. "I'm supposed to be in Missoura today." I figured he was probably reporting for duty, since he looked like he was about 17 - 18 tops - and he confirmed that he was in the Navy. I (misunderstood) him to say that he had orders to be back that evening.

    Another young person, a young lady wearing a hikers backpack, also arrived, and it didn't take her long to determine to her poorly disguised disappointment that this handsome cowboy was engaged. By this point the line had come to a standstill, as each traveler now spent up to 20 minutes at each window trying to find alternatives. More cell phones appeared, some polite conversations broke out, and one older woman standing in line alone began loudly complaining to no one in particular, "Its always something!" I broke out "For Whom the Bell Tolls," which I'd found the day before while unpacking my library from our recent move to our new house, and couldn't believe that I'd never read it, since I've always wanted to. I'd figured it might help me to escape the tedium of the flight, but now it helped me escape the gridlock in line. Yet, something about these two young folks drew me, and I kept one ear open and occasionally joined into their conversation about his rodeo experiences, his previous tours on the aircraft carrier he was assigned to, and her seasonal job in Yosemite National Park. Nice kids, both of 'em.

    Well, we'd nearly reached the front of the line when my reading was interrupted by people groaning around me.

    All flights had been cancelled, people were saying, though the board continued to show just the first two.

    No planes would leave for the next two days, floated back among some. There just weren't enough planes currently at the airport, and no incoming planes because of the fog.

    Personally, this wasn't particularly bad news for me, and I began working out a phone mail message in my head that I'd leave to my boss explaining why I couldn't make the meeting. Yet I could see the worry in the young woman's face, who was trying to get to Dallas to see her folks, while the Navy kid heaved his duffel bag to the ground and hitched up his sharply creased blue jeans by pulling on the big rodeo buckle on his western belt and wondered aloud what it could mean that no flights would leave for days. So, I finally got my cell out and called the airlines to see about alternatives. The three of us discussed driving times to nearby airports, though neither of them had cars. If I had to go, both or either might as well go with me, I offered. After about a ten minute hold, I was able to find that I could take a flight from Burbank (about a three hour drive) and also that there was a flight there to Dallas. I offered to drive the young woman, but right at that point we'd reached the ticket windows and she found a flight on another airline. I thanked the young Navy kid, and remarked that it was his good luck that the Navy's orders had been cancelled by a higher authority, at which point he explained that he wasn't returning to base, but trying to go home on leave to see his family - - for the first time in two years.

    Sighing, and mentally erasing my planned explanatory phone mail to the boss, I booked the new flight out of Burbank after we determined that he could also catch a flight there.

    So, we hopped in my dirty Taurus, and over the next three hours I had the pleasure of getting to know Matt. Finding someone who, for being only 19 years old, really had his head on his shoulders. He'd joined the Navy at 17, while all his friends around him said he should take a year after High School to goof off, because "right now they're working at Macdonalds, and I'm on my way to a career, with 36 college units already completed." He'd already weighed the options and calculated that he'd remain in the Navy for the next 20 years, and planned to retire at 37 with nearly two million in savings. This factored in the differing pay amounts for his upcoming tour in the Gulf, and other areas around the world, as well as the increased pay and costs of being married - - which he planned to do without his parent's knowledge this upcoming week, I came to find out. So - Okay, he might not have his head on straight on this one issue, yet I'd seen my 18 year old daughter do exactly the same thing the day before she shipped out for her tour in the Army in Korea. You know, that's a lot of upheaval and uncertainty in a life at that age.

    I'm proud of this fine serviceman, and its my joy and profit to have been able to help him get home to his family and fiance. May they have a very merry Christmas.

    Friday, December 17, 2004

    Osama - another whining leftie (Chrenkoff)


    Osama's pre-American election tape already sounded like a promo for "Fahrenheit 9/11", with its carefully scripted list of MoveOn-esque grievances. Now, in his latest production aimed at the House of Saud, bin Laden is moving one step further along the path of the great ideological - or at least rhetorical - convergence between the angry left and the angry Islamofascism:

    "The speaker on the tape accused the regime of 'injustices against the people'. The Saudi Royal Family had misspent public money while 'millions of people are suffering from poverty and deprivation', he said."

    And thus Osama becomes yet another billionaire complaining about the growing gap between the rich and the poor, a sort of George Soros with a Closed Society Institute, and a Peter Lewis, who instead of insuring cars blows them up.

    ...And not that bin Laden is actually sincere, either. If you look at the Islamofascist utopia like the Taliban-era Afghanistan, one thing that strikes you is that, well, "millions of people were suffering from poverty and deprivation", and genuinely so, not the Saudi sort of poverty. In fact, in Osama's restored Caliphate, poverty and ignorance are both equally treated as virtues and are thus assiduously cultivated in place of such evil infidel concepts like growth or self-realization.

    Still, it's funny (in a horrible sort of way) to watch bin Laden promote economic disadvantage as a grievance against what he considers a corrupt Muslim regime. For Osama, version 2005, poverty is the root cause of terrorism. For the rest of us, we know it's Osama.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2004

    N. Korea: "This means War"

    N. Korea warns Japan against sanctions - (United Press International)

    "North Korea has warned Japan any sanctions against it would be regarded as a declaration of war and an "effective physical response" would result. "

    Tuesday, December 14, 2004

    14 Executed Bodies in Mosul

    Daily Times - Site Edition