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  • Thanks for the Rain, Pineapple Express! (Got any more?)

    Finally. After an unexpectedly warm, dry February, the Pineapple Express has dumped enough rain and snow on northern California to bring reservoirs there up to average levels – the first time they’ve been that high since the drought began.

    Drought Monitor Released Thursday March 17, 2016 - Pineapple Express Drought Monitor - Released Thursday March 17, 2016

    This doesn’t mean the end of the state’s drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report shows 55 percent of the state is still in extreme or exceptional drought. Groundwater is a major concern too. The state’s underground aquifers, which have been building their supply for hundreds or thousands of years, are being depleted far faster than they can be refurbished. Some of them have caved in and will never recover.

    The good news is the drought has been a wake-up call for the need to better manage water use.

    Here’s how some people are trying to save water.

    In California’s Central Valley, where a huge percentage of the food the U.S. eats is grown, declining aquifers have become a health hazard. Shallow municipal wells have gone dry as large agricultural companies draw down groundwater from deeper wells. This has left residents without water, or with polluted water.

    One problem is, when a lot of rain falls, the area doesn’t have enough surface storage, like reservoirs, to keep it, according to a story in the Christian Science Monitor. According to the story, George Goshgarian, an almond farmer in the San Joaquin Valley, is trying something new: flooding his almond orchards during the winter rainy season when his trees are dormant and don’t need the water.

    The idea is, the water will soak into the ground and hopefully some will trickle into the aquifer below. If he’s careful, the flooding shouldn’t hurt the trees because they are dormant. Then, during the drier growing season, the ground will have more moisture. And the aquifer below will have a bit more water.

    According to a study for the California Water Foundation that was cited in the story, groundwater in the southern San Joaquin is being depleted at a rate of 250,000 acre-feet per year on average. Using the rainy season’s runoff could reduce that amount between a third and a half, the study estimated.

    Homeowners and municipalities are also trying to figure out how to use rainwater runoff. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power last August presented a plan to capture more rainwater for the city.

    According to Andy Lipkis, president of Tree People, which advocates for sustainable urban water use, an inch of rain falling on Los Angeles represents 7.6 billion gallons of water. Half that runs off into the ocean, he said in a story in the Christian Science Monitor.

    The utility’s master plan suggests projects to capture water that range in size from major basins to individuals’ yards.

    Drip Irrigation - Pineapple ExpressThe yard of Carrie Wassenaar of North Hollywood, Calif., is a case study in how water catching works. As described in the Christian Science Monitor, her yard has drought-tolerant plants watered by a drip-irrigation system that uses rainwater. A depression in the yard allows water to pool and seep down to the aquifer below. The water comes from an above-ground cistern that collects rainfall from her roof.

    “You want to feel like you're at least trying to help with the solution instead of just contributing to the problem,” she said in the story.

    Ready.gov says the best way to prepare for a drought is to use less water beforehand. Here are some tips from ready.gov for saving water inside the home.

    Replace washers in dripping faucets and repair pipe leaks.

    “One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year,” ready.gov said.

    Insulate water pipes. This will reduce heat loss, which means it’ll take less time to heat water from the tap.

    Install low-flow appliances, toilets, and shower heads. Some water districts will offer rebates to offset the cost.

    Instead of rinsing dishes and using the disposal, scrape dishes into the trash or compost.

    Lawns - Pineapple ExpressOutside, reduce the lawn and put in plants adapted to your climate. According to a study, lawns cover an estimated 50,000 square miles of the country. That makes lawns the biggest crop in America. And you can’t even eat them.

    Don’t water too much. Lawns only need about a half inch of water per week and less in the autumn and winter. If water’s running down the gutter, you’re using too much.

    Consider using grey water for outdoor watering. For information about installing a rain catching system, check out the web site for the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association.

    Be aware of regulations when considering water-saving tools. California offered homeowners tax-free rebates of up to $2,000 to help homeowners pay for water-efficient yards. As of February, the state had spent $22 million in rebates. Unfortunately, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is taxing those rebates as income.


    Drought Preparedness - Pineapple Express

  • 10 Cloverfield Lane: Why Preparing for Emergencies Makes Sense

    Have you ever been in a situation where a little extra preparation could have made your life a lot more comfortable? These scenarios can range anywhere from the mundane to the extreme. While mundane moments such as short-lived power failure and an inconvenient tornado might happen frequently in the United States, the television and movie industries tend to depict extreme emergency situations. Most likely we won’t ever have to experience these extreme emergencies, but they sure are exciting and, most importantly, can teach important lessons in preparing.

    10 Cloverfield Lane Poster Via Wikipedia

    On March 11th, 2016, 10 Cloverfield Lane was released in theaters starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, the story has a loose connection to the 2008 surprise hit Cloverfield.

    The initial movie trailer first aired during Super Bowl 50 and the movie features a small group of people trapped in a bunker underground waiting out whatever apocalyptic event may or may not be happening above.  Inside the bunker are loads of emergency food storage items, water, gear, and other necessities. They looked like they could live quite comfortably (as comfortably as a bunker can be with people and intentions you don’t know, anyway) for quite some time.

    10 Cloverfield Lane is very entertaining if you are into movies with intense drama and lightning fast turns in the story line. From a preparedness perspective, the movie makes it evident that regardless of your motivations you can be prepared for almost anything. So, thanks to producer JJ Abrams for entertaining us and giving us food for thought on preparedness!


    Did you see 10 Cloverfield Lane? Let us know your thoughts on the movie in the comments below!


    Along with the release of the movie, an interview video was released in which the actors of 10 Cloverfield Lane discussed what they would like to take with them in a bunker in real life. See the video here.



    Put yourself in their shoes. If you knew you were being forced to live in a bunker for who knows how long…what would you take? Personally, I’d make sure I had a load of board game. After all, things could get boring really fast. But what else? What are the necessities in your life that you just couldn’t imagine living without?

    And why, then, would a big film company make a movie about living in a bunker if it’s so boring?

    And that got us thinking: what is it about prepping that makes for such great entertainment? One reason could be because there are plenty of real threats that most people aren’t prepared for, so that adds an extra sense of drama. Or perhaps it’s about seeing if all that preparation was really worth it. Whatever the reason, producers of mainstream media have realized that this whole “prepping” or “survivalist” thing touches a nerve with the cultural sentiments and realities of our day.  They then grow the story to levels they feel will trigger feelings or emotions that make the experience memorable.

    As we rehash 10 Cloverfield Lane’s scenario over and over in our minds, we started thinking about other movies and TV shows that had a similar theme of emergency preparedness. Here are a few we came up with.


    You, Me, and the Apocalypse

    You, Me, and the Apocalypse first aired as a TV series in the fall of 2015. While not so much focused on the prepping aspect for the end of the world, You, Me, and the Apocalypse is a comedy-drama that follows different people during the last month before a massive comet – supposedly on an unavoidable collision course with Earth – ends all life as they know it. Even though the “stock up on food and gear” mentality isn’t entrenched in the show, the fact that they’re dealing with the end of the world shows us that it’s at least strong enough on their minds that they would make an entire TV series out of it. That being said, if a comet the size of Manhattan was going to hit Earth in 30 days, how would you prepare?


    The Walking Dead

    Zombies seem just about as likely to infiltrate our world as a super-massive comet striking our planet, but at least with The Walking Dead, the characters are in a survival setting. Civilization has all but collapsed, and those remaining must use their survival skills and instincts to keep from falling to the mindless zombies.

    The entertainment factor is definitely there judging by the popularity and longevity of the show.  There are also a number of things preppers find useful in this series, including survival techniques. The Walking Dead first aired in 2010 and as of this writing in 2016 is still going strong.


    Falling Skies

    Similar to The Walking Dead, Falling Skies follows a group of survivors following an alien invasion that basically ruined Earth. The same survival instincts and techniques apply to aliens as they do to zombies, so it’s worth a watch if survival shows are your cup of tea.



    Released in theaters in 2011, Contagion depicts the swift outbreak of a disease. As opposed to disaster survival and zombie shows, this movie makes viewers realize that we should be prepared for anything – including an epidemic.  Catching a bad bug can be devastating to an individual, but If many people contract the same illness at once a society’s infrastructure can’t help but suffer.   Taking note that not all emergencies are due to otherworldly influences it’s good to keep some balance in mind as we plan and prepare for the future.


    The Hunger Games

    A popular young adult dystopian novel, The Hunger Games films became box office hits. Following a young woman struggling to stay alive in a kill-or-be-killed arena designed to be a large, outdoor world, there are tons of prepping and survival tips. One thing that sticks out in particular is the main character’s realization that they need to stick close to a source of water. There’s a lot to be learned about survival when you’re running for your life in a game designed to kill.


    Man Vs Wild

    Why is it so entertaining to see one man, alone in the wild, showing off his survival tricks? We generally watch it from our comfy couch cushions because we can.  If ever there was an irony in watching these prepper shows, this might be it.  But again, this is a widely popular reality TV show, something both survivalists and non-survivalists alike tune into on a regular basis. There’s definitely something enthralling about emergency situations and the skills used to survive.


    Doomsday Peppers

    Perhaps the most direct in topic, Doomsday Preppers highlights different survivalists and their preparations should civilization as we know it come to an end. While some prepare for economic collapse, others prepare for a polar shift, while others still prepare for urban survival. If preparing for an emergency is your thing, you might very well be interested in how these preppers go about their business.


    These are just a few examples of a host of preparedness-related movies and television programs, many of which can be viewed on Hulu or Netflix. These programs may be entertaining and exciting, but perhaps that’s because they’re designed to be that way. By showing us extreme cases in which preparing is crucial (like fending off zombies), we are much more invested in what’s going on in the show.

    However, in all my years on Earth, I have yet to meet a zombie, get lost in the wild with just a pocket knife and a will to live, or flee from a super-massive alien intent on obliterating everything in its path. These scenarios are exciting, yes, but real life just isn’t like that (for most of us, anyway).

    The world is a relatively safe place. We have modern amenities that make life easier. When disaster does come, we’re usually able to rebuild quickly. But it’s the mindset behind these programs that stick with us. What if severe weather rolls in and knocks out your power for a few days? What if you unexpectedly lose your job? These less-apocalyptic situations are more apt to happen, and when they do, being prepared with extra food and gear can help life continue on as normal.



    10 Cloverfield Lane

  • 4 Things Everyone Should Do to Prepare for an Economic Recession

    Some economists are suggesting an economic slowdown is imminent. Others say the next one is probably a while away. Either way, it’s wise to prepare financially now for what’s to come.

    “The key to keep in mind is that anything can happen. Therefore, always prepare for any possible emergency,” said Kaylee Chen, a peer mentor at the University of Utah Personal Money Management Center, in an e-mail.

    Chen recommended four steps to prepare for an economic downturn: Have a savings, have necessities like food storage, learn a new skill and mentally prepare.

    Budgeting for the Recession Start saving now for the next recession.

    First, have or start a savings.

    Peter Dunn, a financial columnist for USA Today, suggested that more people have been saving since the 2008-2009 recession because they’re thinking about it. Chen said she hadn’t necessarily been seeing that.

    “People are definitely more aware of the idea of saving. However, following through and acting on it is a different situation,” she said. “I find a lot of people are still spending.”

    She suggested budgeting based on the 50/30/20 rule. Fifty percent of income should go to fixed expenses. These are expenses like a house payment and utility bills that must be paid.

    Thirty percent of income should go to discretionary expenses. These are more flexible expenses like groceries, gas, and entertainment that can be adjusted.

    Twenty percent of income should go toward investing or financial goals and saving for emergencies. Chen recommended women put 12 percent of their salary in long-term investments and men 10 percent.

    “The reality is that women live longer and make less income than men,” she said.

    She recommended people talk with a financial planner yearly.

    “They will work with you to plan for children’s college, travel, or retirement,” she said.

    The important thing is to start saving.

    “Even as small as setting five dollars aside, it’s still a start,” she said.

    Homemade Year Supply - Recession Food might be hard to come by during a recession. Prepare while you can by obtaining an emergency food supply.

    Second, keep some necessities like food storage.

    In any emergency, whether it be short-term or long-term, it’s important to recognize nobody can do everything by themselves. Therefore, one of the necessities to build is a list of resources. These can include a church or non-profit organization. It’s also useful to network to develop a list of where to go for extra help in case of job loss or other emergency.

    A column making the rounds online that was said to have been written by a man who survived Hurricane Sandy pointed out that networking is useful for many aspects of emergency preparation.

    “Quote, ‘A man with a chainsaw and knows how to use it is a thing of beauty.’”

    Learn camping skills -  RecessionThird, Learn new skills. Like chainsaw wielding.

    These can translate into side jobs for additional income. Chen used the example of a piano teacher. Secondary skills can be useful when a person is younger because it helps them faster achieve their financial goals. When a person is older and around retirement, a side job can help them with retirement savings.

    Finally, mentally prepare for bad things to happen.

    One key to mental preparedness is to get out of debt. Chen encouraged a budget or lifestyle change. Dunn suggested decreasing spending by 10 to 15 percent over time.

    “You’ll tighten the budget before you are forced to tighten the budget,” he said.

    Another is to practice caution in an investment portfolio.

    “When the market goes down, many people get scared of the market and take out their money. You do not want to buy high and sell low,” Chen said.

    KiplingerStock Market - Recession, a finance education web site, pointed out that markets quickly recover. Since 1945, the site said, markets that have lost 10 to 20 percent have rebounded in just four months on average. Bear markets, with losses of 20 percent or more, have had an average recovery time of just 25 months.

    “If you’re in middle age, consider making a portfolio less aggressive,” a Kiplinger column said. “No single sector should claim more than 5% to 10% of your holdings.”

    Very few people can affect global markets. But they can take care of themselves and their families.

    “Understand that you have no control over the economic downturn,” Chen said. “Honestly, all one can do is to wait.”

    And, she added, a person can start taking these steps even during an economic downturn.

    “It’s never too late,” she said.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Recession

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