So I'm in Costco today. A lady wants to know where the rice is located. Turns out they had no white rice in stock. They were sold out. Only brown rice was available. Limit of 5 bags on the 25 pound bags of pinto beans.

I'm reminded of the Jericho boy whose mom was at home trying to grow beets in the bathtub. Not such a bad idea...well not necessarily turning your bathtub into a gardening operation but learning to grow vegetables indoors using hydroponics might not be such a bad idea. It seems hydroponics components are not that easily acquired in my area. Forget about buying all the parts at Home Depot and I was sadly disappointed by the selection of items at my local plant nurseries. They seem to have all switched to ornamental plants with just a tiny selection of seeds. Their hydroponics selection consisted of an 'as seen on television' sit on your kitchen counter growing setup. Not exactly what I had in mind and too pricey for my budget.

This weekend I began collecting parts to build my own lettuce raft. What the heck is a lettuce raft? It's a raft of styrofoam that floats in a tub of the nutrients feeding the lettuce roots. I already have an 18 gallon rubber storage tub. Net cups to hold the seeds and growing medium? No where to be found locally, I mean less than an hours drive away. After all it's not the distance but all the stop lights and stop and go city traffic that kills the gas mileage. Hydroponics nutrients and, nada. Might as well have asked for moon rocks cause they had no idea what I meant when I said rockwool. Rockwool is made from basalt rock and chalk that are heated together and spun like cotton candy. It looks a bit like wool, thus rockwool.

What I did manage to find locally was the pump, air line for the pump and my air stone. Hello, Petco aquatics department. Of course, a couple of betta fish came home with the kids. They've survived a day and half and are not plant food yet. It appears as though the kids may be on their way to having a larger pet in their future. Or maybe we'll step up to raising trout in a barrel before we go for the dog. Worst case scenario, it's a lot easier to eat one of the fish from the barrel than the dog that licked your face and kept you warm last night.

So the plan is to start with lettuce on a raft, if I can manage that without any huge setbacks...or children sitting on the raft, I'll move on to other vegetables. I want to get the kinks worked out before winter when I'll move the tub indoors. Perhaps that big, unused, jetted bathtub would make a great place to park the tubs. It's got good sunlight....oh wait, we're talking Oregon in Winter. Cross out that sun part. We'll just call it daylight. I think the towel bars will work nicely for clamping a grow light above the plants. I think window boxes of carrots around the tub should add a nice touch, perhaps some beets and radishes for color.

I don't think food is going to get cheaper or more plentiful anytime soon. It's in our own best interest to learn to grow some of our food ourselves. It doesn't take much to grow bean or alfalfa sprouts on the window sill. Wheatgrass looks nice, cleans the air and has lots of nutrients. I'm not sure how successful I'll be but I just put a couple of avocado pits to sprout. I love glass block vases and candle holders. They have clear lines and river gravel for aquariums look nice in them. So much better than sticking toothpicks in the avocado pit.

I'll update on the lettuce raft when the rest of the parts arrive and I begin the adventure of assembling all of the parts into a growing system.

Preparedness Begins

It started one night as I was watching the SciFi channel. They ran a marathon of Jericho episodes. I was hooked. I should have been working. I should have been writing but instead I watched. I was fascinated, intrigued, and thinking.

If you've never seen Jericho, here's the scenario. Jericho, Kansas, population 5,000 is cut off and fending for itself after 23 nuclear weapons are detonated in cities around the country. They receive Homeland Security messages to sit tight, help is on the way. Then they are hit with an EMP pulse that knocks out most electrical circuits. Winter comes and food is getting scarce. If that scenario intrigues you, as well, then stop by and catch up on all the episodes.

Twenty-three nukes exploding on US soil would be devestating to this country and mind-boggling to many of it's citizens. In this fictional account, Washington, DC was one of the targets. So it's safe to assume that a good portion of the government as we know it would be destroyed. Our government hasn't shown itself horribly efficient at handling emergencies lately but it is nice to know that there is still a government. Without a defined goverment, many people try to become the government usually for their own best interests.

The writers for Jericho have been quite imaginative or maybe it's just realistic. After the attacks of 9-11-2001, government officials commented that they'd never imagined someone flying an airplane into a building. Perhaps they need to watch a few more television shows and read a few more books...after all, Tom Clancy imagined a plane flying into the capital building in one of his books and he imagined it before 9-11 happened. So if writers can imagine these things, then so can the bad guys. There are hundreds of things that can be used to attack this country; just spend a little time reading about EMP bombs. There is little that a country can do to protect against it without ruining the things that make this the country that we love. So what do we do? Cower in fear? I suggest preparedness.

Other than being observant of things around me and performing self-defense tactics in the face of danger, there is little that an ordinary citizen does day to day that fights terrorists. It's sort of like fighting Mother Nature. Do we give up? No. We continue to build dams, control avalanches, predict the weather. But what do we do when Mother Nature hits us with a devastating blow from a hurricane? We pick up the pieces and try to be prepared for the next one. That's the big lesson that I learned from watching Jericho...preparedness. Everyone, everyday can do small things to be better prepared for a disaster; buy an extra bag of dried beans, a couple of extra cans of food, an extra pack of toilet paper. You don't have to buy 300 pounds of rice, 20 cases of bottled water, and a generator in one trip. Just a little extra here and there.

So there's the first lesson from Jericho. I'll be writing and letting the thoughts flow as they come along. That may mean two posts a day or one a week. The topics will be wandering and varied. Lots of things interest me these days. It's been a circular trip lately through wind power, moon shining (ok, ever wonder how to make a still?), solar power, hydroelectric generation, storing vegetables in the ground for winter, hydroponics, seed storage, and earth sheltered dwellings. I'm an expert on none of these but after watching Jericho, some knowledge on the topics might prove useful. Knowledge is power. Let's learn more.

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