Prepper Money toilet paper, ammunition and alcohol

    In every crisis, you learn what is most important. Across America, the one item most people hoarded, during this Covid- 19 epidemic, was toilet paper, followed by disinfectants, face masks, hand cleaners and sanitary wipes. After toilet paper, ammunition and alcohol came in a close second and third. When the chips are down, and cards come out on the table,” Preppers”  all know what they need to barter with, their neighbors, and guard with their lives. When jobs are gone, banks are closed, grocery shelves are bare, people keep their distance, and money is worthless as the paper it is printed on, a few cases of toilet paper, alcohol and ammunition will be worth their weight in gold. This latest ” National Emergency” has just been a rehearsal for a bigger emergency down the road, one that will be planned as well as this one. In our state, gun stores are closed as non-essential and liquor stores have been closed,too, though you can still buy alcohol at the grocery. There is just so much that doesn’t make sense about this ” Government induced lock down ” that hoarding toilet paper seems just about the most rational thing a citizen can do. We have always lived in a world full of germs, bacteria and viruses, disease, infirmities, and death. Why, in human history, do we approach this virus any different than we ever have?    

Waiting in Line Smith's Grocery, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    It is not quite seven in the morning, and at seven the Smith’s grocery opens up for senior citizens, those over 60. We, in this line, aren’t asked for our ID’s and grey hair seems to be good enough to get us in into the store at seven. A store employee tells us that carts have been wiped down and sterilized, and the most customers they can let in the store, at one time, is 150 . Some people in line now wear masks, some check their cell phones, some talk, most shiver as the sun is barely coming up. Waiting in line is something we all do, but waiting at the grocery at seven in the morning, standing six feet apart, wearing masks, watching the economy melt down, is a new experience. We read about riots across the world as people fight against government instituted shutdowns of jobs, livelihoods, businesses. We hear about long lines to buy food, rationing, and lack of food to buy on the shelves, something you can already see inside this store. It will seemingly get more ugly, but, this morning, everyone is patient. Ordinary people will go along with the party line, for a while. When they are pushed too far,however, see their freedoms taken, see their country, as they knew it, stolen before their eyes, then ordinary people won’t be so nice. When the herd stampedes, fences are broken down, people get killed, and you best stand out of the way. Often, cures kill you quicker than the disease. 

Chicken Pot Pie Gourmet TV Dinner

    Food is always popular, with people; talking about it, selling it, growing and raising it, trading recipes, criticizing it’s taste and preparation, perfecting its creation, enjoying it with a fancy wine or domestic beer. With lots of restaurants and eating establishments closed in our community, those of us who don’t have cooking interests, or skills, fend for ourselves. In honor of our current American lock down, due to a mysterious virus from the East, tonight’s meal is a chicken pot pie, prepared and sold by Marie Callender, in a local Smith’s grocery, for $2.79 plus tax. Slipping it into the microwave for ten minutes, with two minutes to cool down, it makes a dinner, not too much to give me nightmares, but enough to make me feel full and sleep when I turn in. ” Why do you have to write about a chicken pot pie, ” some might laugh? I can only say that Scotttreks writes out of the moment, and this moment belongs to Marie’s pot pie. This pie has a crust many bakers would kill for, is chock full of meat and veggies, and is so much cheaper and better than I could cook on my own if I had too buy all the ingredients. We had these when we were growing up, but they were cooked by our mother, who was a master chef without the title. Taking a few photos of the pie, and looking at it, as I eat, convinces me, that, even after this lock down becomes history, my eating habits have changed, forever. Eating light, and eating at home, is a money saver. Because I live in a city, far away from where people raise and grow food, I get a little jumpy in times like these. What do us city folks do when we can’t buy a pot pie, or chicken, or pasta, or fruit, in our stores? When that happens, revolution is just around our corner. All this national drama, twisting around me like a tornado, makes this pot pie, this evening, much more important than it should be. Food gets more important as it becomes harder to get.  

Getting Screwed

    The project is simple enough, putting up a thirteen foot shelf and using the shelf to secure a back privacy wall along a back porch wall. All that is needed is wood, deck screws, a drill, a tape measure, a handsaw, and patience. A local Home Depot isn’t far from the house and they cut a sixteen foot, 2×8, down to thirteen feet for me. Next, I look for a box of deck screws. The deck screws, incredibly, come to $9.94, for a box of fifty 3 and a half inch deck screws. These same screws, several months ago, were, for the same sized box, in the six to seven dollar range, including tax. Made in Taiwan,the box does include a little drill bit, which I need, because the screw heads have a star pattern and can’t be driven with a normal bit. The cost of building a house is going up at the same rate as this box of screws, around 30%. Even with an illegal immigration workforce in this state, that keeps costs down, it is going to cost a pretty penny now to put up a house. With supply chains broken and dollars everywhere,the total on my sales receipt is going to keep going up, up, up.  We are told there is no inflation, but, building this simple shelf is getting expensive. Inflation is sometimes defined as too much money chasing too few goods. Seeing a simple box of exterior screws, fifty to a box, costing almost ten bucks, hammers the point home. Most of the workforce in New Mexico don’t make ten dollars an hour. When an hour of your life gets you fifty screws, you really are getting screwed.

Embudo Canyon Hike Albuquerque's East Side

    Our country is now on  ” lock down. ” I’ve never been through a government ordered lock down where businesses are shut down, movement is restricted, banks are closed except for drive up windows or internet banking, and the real economy grinds to a halt as the stock market tries to reach it’s old- new heights. One of the few things we are still permitted to do, before we are fined for being on the road, if we don’t have our papers in order, is hike in the Embudo Canyon in the Sandia Mountains. The gate has still opened at seven in the morning and people are still coming to meet nature, in person, in their back yard. People are cautious with the new  ” social distancing ” orders from our state capitol building. On the trail, some hikers wear masks, and back ten feet away from us as we pass them on the same trail we have been hiking for the last several years. Some people you pass don’t even answer you when you greet them with a cheerful ” Good Morning. ” When you are not a billionaire, you can’t escape this new reality as easily,you can’t take a private jet to your private bunker in New Zealand or Australia,you can’t play the stock market casino with someone else’s money.  It’s a great morning for a hike and Albuquerque, from up here, looks like it always does, from a distance. It makes me wonder about the sanity of a “lock down.” For most of us, at ground level, the health of the economy is always life, or death. Is saving 2% of a population worth crippling the other 98%? What would Spock say?

Waffle House Shutdown Tramway/Central, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    ” We are not in the food business. We are in the people business. ” Joe Rogers Sr. – Co founder of Waffle House Inc. says on their website. The Waffle House has been in business since 1955 and has seen some history. The country, since then, has been through the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, several recessions, the Gulf Wars, the Moon Landing, Aids epidemic, legalization of pot in some states, the creation of food stamps, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 9-11 bombing, the introduction of computers and cell phones, the ” citification ” of America. This store hasn’t been here since 1955 but it has been here enough years to be a landmark in our local area, always busy on the weekends, but open 24/7 for quick economical food cooked right in front of you. At one time, this place was my early morning hangout for coffee and conversation. Since the Covid-19 explosion, this business, as well as all restaurants and food places in New Mexico, that can’t do drive up, or delivery, have been shut down, by order of our Governor, following what other Governors are doing in other states.  Why the Waffle House remained open during all the other bumps in our United States history, but is shut up tight for this bump, is something talking heads will discuss on television shows on Saturdays. Whether life will resume, as we knew it, after this whirlwind of emotion has passed, is an unknown. Even  ” People Businesses” are in jeopardy these days. For everyone associated with this business, ” shut down” has become very very personal.

Rainbow in my Front Yard A really nice one this time

    The news we have these days is apocalyptic. Across the world, an unseen virus, emanating out of China, is obsessing people and governments. Daily, we are shown body bags and stressed hospitals, see death totals that are not yet of the Black Plague category. Total economies are shut down and we are told our jobs and businesses are not essential, but you can still buy pot and alcohol. Some people, driving the same streets they have driven for decades, are fined for being on the road and neighbors are told to call a hot line to tell the government who is not following orders. Banks are closed and you have to make an appointment for most services, and you are questioned if you want to take your money out of the bank. Congress magically finds 2 trillion plus dollars when we have been arguing about healthcare for decades, and bails their crony’s out, again. Walking, quite by chance, out my front door, I am greeted by a rainbow masterpiece. This double rainbow, just fading, has the right proportions, right colors, and a gorgeous, rich lustre.  It is quite breathtaking, radiant, and rejuvenating. Troubled times will pass and then talking heads will analyse and tell us what they want us to believe has just happened, politicians will claim they fixed the problems they created, and life, will go on. In a year, most of this will be forgotten, but the precedents created will live with us, forever. 

Empty Shelves How did we get here?

    This is a scene from a local Wal-Mart, a scene many Americans are now becoming familiar with. This is the Russia we used to see on national TV, in the sixties and seventies, and talk about in high school when the benefits of Communism were trumpeted by the hippie in the back row. Now, reality,  has come to roost, in our neighborhoods. In the space of several weeks, ten million Americans have been laid off, private businesses have been shut down and called  ” not essential ”  by people who have never run a business. Ideas of ” social distancing ” and ” flattening the curve ” are flown from flagpoles, and executed in marching order by federal, state, county and city governments. Hot lines urge citizens to call and report neighbors for daring to keep their business open so they can feed their families. Where we go from here is unknown, but it isn’t going to be something I accept, or like, and must resist. !984 took a while to get here, but  we are living a good dose of it now.         

Get away from my register UNM South Golf Course snack bar

    Bazookas are old technology but World War 2 vets will tell you a thing or two about their effectiveness in the war they fought in. This plastic army man, with his bazooka pointed at me,his helmet securely fastened, his feet planted and secured by a heavy application of scotch tape, looks at me with a stern no nonsense attitude. Mounted atop the snack bar register, he is protecting the money, and, throws me back to grade school days when we kids actually played with these Army men, taped firecrackers to them and stood back as they were blown up with the striking of a match. These days, Army men still wear uniforms and helmets, but they have put their bazookas in museums. Army men, these days, are likely to be killing people with their computers, sitting in a room thousands of miles from the battlefield.  This cash register is protected, and, at night, when employees have gone home, this army man goes to the refrigerator and helps himself to a beer. Fighting makes one thirsty and there doesn’t seem any end to war.  

Amish wagon on the road to Westcliff, Colorado

    We pass people every day. An old man with a cane shuffles past us in the grocery, squinting to read the fine print on a box label.Two little children pull on their mom’s dress at the bank as she makes a deposit and reaches them a sucker out of a little bowl on the teller’s countertop. A homeless vet passes our vehicle to take a dollar from a hand reaching out of the window back of us. We don’t talk to the politician rushing past us to hold up a baby and smile for news cameras. On the road to Westcliff, I pass a man in a black wagon pulled by a black horse. The driver pulls his horse and wagon towards the shoulder as I go past, and I wave. I watch him in my rear view mirror as he goes another block, then pulls his horse and wagon into a little drive leading to a country house on the other side of a closed gate.  Amish, from Pennsylvania, have come to this part of Colorado for farming, solitude, the ability to worship as they choose, to raise their families in an old way, and drive to town in a wagon pulled by their favorite horse. This, my first Amish sighting of the season, makes me wonder how they can maintain their traditions in the onslaught of 21st century propaganda, polemics, politics and problems? The march of 21st century technology, information, control and surveillance, secularism, is crushing. Seeing a horse and wagon on the road is like seeing an old John Wayne movie on television. It pictures a way of life, long gone, that some folks still never want to leave.  
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