Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lessons From Ike

Still think you're safe if you live inland and away from the Gulf Coast. You might want to think twice about it! I'm sure there are a lot of people in the Ohio Valley that never dreamed of damages and power outages from a hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast of Texas.

That Guy In Kentucky can tell you about it! Check out his Lessons From Ike.

For those recomending moving away from the Gulf Coast as a means to avoid hurricanes, it won't always work - sometimes the storms find YOU! No matter where you live!

So to all my fellow Texans, take heart! You weren't the only ones to get hit with the fury of Hurricane Ike!

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mistakes I Have Made - Part 6

I still believe that we can learn from our Mistakes. Remember: Always be on the lookout on the lookout for the purveyor of all things bad - "Murphy". Rule #47: The simple things are always hard.

Always trying to find a way to make the "Turf" more productive, I did some research into the growing of grapes. I discovered that not only is Texas a good place to grow grapes but that a man by the name of "T. V. Munson of Dennison" is world famous for his research into grape culture and did much of his research right here in Texas. I also discovered that at some point in the past a disease called phylloxera infested much of the European grapes which was defeated by grafting European cuttings onto American rootstocks a process still in use today.

I have a large number of "Wild Grapes" growing all over the Turf. Some of the vines are as big around as my forearm. You know the kind that climb up into your best Oak trees, shade out the trees leaves and eventually kill the tree. Not only that, the only fruit they produce are the size of a "Scratch Anywhere Match Head" and are so sour, you will only taste them once. I figure that there must be a way to use this ability to grow and grow and grow for some good purpose.

Sooo…, I began to devise a "Simple" plan to do just that and perhaps even cut vine development time down considerably. The plan is to pull the vines down from the trees and train them to grow on wires that are stretched between the trees much like "Muscadines and Scuppernongs"! Train them to the same spur system that they prefer and later graft some of them onto the wild vines thereby gaining the benefit of its extensive root system and reap the bounty sure to come

The project began with the purchase of a couple of spools of "Horse Wire", six dozen large "eye-hooks" and half that number of large "turn-buckles" which should be enough to tame up 30-35 individual wild vines. Eye-hooks to attach the wires to the trees and turn-buckles to keep the wires taught over the years.

It took the better part of 2 years of spare time to pull the vines down from the trees, trim them to the length of wire from the original tree to the next closest tree (20 -30 feet on the average) about 6 to 7 feet off the ground . Attaching vines to the wire was easy - just wrap the vine around the wire several times over its length and tie it to the wire at the far end.

It took 2 years because in some instances the project required clearing brush and mowing just to get access to the vines. In other cases there were some vines that were unsuitable for the project and were remove altogether for the sake of the trees. The end result was 32 separate wild vines to begin the grand experiment with. The vines seem to flourish in their new environment, putting on lush growth with their meager grapes even growing a little bigger but not much. They are so vigorous I have to trim them back every winter as they like to escapee back up into the trees. Best of all - Even though the vines are the most luscious green things around the Turf - The Deer do not bother them at all.

The commercial grapes for use in the grafting phase on the other hand are another story. This has been an 8 year ongoing experiment with 4 separate plantings of the grafting grapes without a single vine maturing to a size that will allow cuttings to be taken. (You guessed it "Murphy" is in this game as well). Each planting is started inside its own chicken wire cage that grows with the vine as it grows to the top of the post it is planted next to for training. (About 2 years.) As it branches out and begins to get with the program - Here come the Deer! - Party Time!!! "Thank You Murphy"

Again, I have learned another of "Murphy's" rules: The Simple Things Are Always Hard". Next spring I'm thinking of planting some grafting grapes out in the wooded areas of the Turf. (Could this be another Mistake)? See ya'll again on "Mistakes Part 7".

Take Care - Belwether

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hurricane Dolly Damages - Registration Deadline for Disaster Claims

The Rio Grande Valley is continuing its recovery from Hurricane Dolly. Residents in the disaster declared counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy have until Tuesday, September 30th, to register for aid from FEMA and to submit a disaster loan application to the US Small Business Adminstration in order to help them recover.

Registration can be done online at http://fema.gov/ or by calling FEMA's toll free registration line at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for the speech and hearing-impaired at TTY 1-800-462-7585.

So far 13,463 people inpacted by Hurricane Dolly have met with disaster recovery specialists at one of the 13 Disaster Recovery Centers that traveled through the affected areas. All Disaster Recovery Centers have now closed.

Be aware. Be prepared. Be informed.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Financial News - The Pace Quickens

Financial News Item # 1: the pace quickens

WAMU goes down


Financial News Item # 2: but the price stays down? Defies economics law...

U.S. Mint suspends Buffalo gold coins after depletion



Thursday, September 25, 2008

NEW YORK - The U.S Mint said Thursday it was temporarily suspending sales of American Buffalo 24-karat gold one-ounce bullion coins because strong demand depleted its inventory.
"Demand has exceeded supply for American Buffalo 24-karat gold one-ounce bullion coins, and our inventories have been depleted. We are, therefore, temporarily suspending sales of these coins," the Mint said in a memorandum to authorized American Buffalo dealers.
The Mint also told dealers that it would work to build up its inventory to resume sales shortly.
In mid-August, a shortage of American Eagle one-ounce gold coins due to "unprecedented" demand had also forced the U.S. Mint to temporarily suspend sales of the popular coins.
The Mint said Thursday it would continue to supply the American Eagle 22-karat gold one-ounce and American Eagle silver bullion coins on an allocation basis to coin dealers.
In addition, the half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and 1-10th ounce American Eagle gold coins and American Eagle platinum were also available, the Mint said.
Coin dealers from the United States to Canada have recently reported a surge in buying of bullion coins and other gold products as troubles in the financial markets prompted people to seek a safe haven in precious metals..
On Thursday, the U.S. gold contract for December delivery ended down $13 or 1.5 percent at $882 an ounce on the COMEX division of the NYMEX, while spot gold traded at $873 an ounce.
Bullion hit an all-time high of $1,030.80 an ounce on March 17.
With files from Frank Tang
© Reuters 2008


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Practice Drills

Anyone who's ever been in the military knows, they beat things into your head with drills, drills, and more drills. You know why? It works. Right now, nearly 15 years after the fact, you could put me in the lower level of the engine room on the USS Stout, blindfold me, and I could find my way out to the weather deck in short order. After being turned all around. You could even block my path, and I'd find an alternative route. Blindfolded. I still remember where every single piece of equipment on that ship is (provided they haven't changed anything around....). I could draw you a complete deck plan.

Drills can help you and your family in the event of an emergency. Best of all, they don't cost anything. What drills do is establish everyone's role in an emergency, what they're supposed to do, how to do it, and it engraves the tasks in their minds so that they become automatic. No thought required. This is valuable beyond words when an emergency takes place.

First off, you have to make a list of possible scenarios. What can happen? A house fire, tornado, earthquake, or any other natural disaster are the obvious things. But also consider riots, food shortages, power outages, terrorist attack, or any of the other endless possibilities. You can't prepare for them all, obviously, but pick the ones you think are most likely to occur and go from there.

Sit down with your family, friends, survival group, or whatever, and make a list of emergency steps for each possible scenario, for each person involved. For example:

House Fire

*Establish evacuation routes from each room of the house, bearing in mind the most likely locations for a fire to start (garage, kitchen, furnace, fireplace, electrical panel....)

*Establish an assembly point for all members to assemble once clear of the house. (i.e. on the corner by the stop sign)

*Set up alternative lodging should your home become uninhabitable (Grandma's, friends, specific hotel, RV, etc...)

*Ensure that everyone is clear on when and where to go, what to bring, and what to do (including Grandma!)

*Establish secondary assembly point/ communication strategy should members become separated.

*Get everyone involved. "Jimmy, you get the dog. Sally, you bring the emergency pack. I'll grab the important papers and such (in their "ready to go" container), and Mom is in charge of ensuring everyone gets out."

*Practice! Have each member find their way outside, blindfolded (you won't be able to see in a smoke filled house!) Assemble at the predetermined point. Do a comm check (everybody calls Dad. If no answer, call Mom. And so on down the list....) Reiterate secondary assembly points, and procedures to follow in case of separation. Also, have everyone practice each other's role in case someone should become incapacitated. Know where your supplies are, and have them at the ready, in the same location, at all times. Have everyone lay their hands on everything that will be involved. Break equipment out and demonstrate it's use. Everyone should be familiar with everything.

Doing this will not only help your family or group in an emergency, it will also bolster their confidence in themselves. People panic because they don't know what to do. Panic kills. Knowing exactly what to do in a crisis will save the lives of your loved ones, reduce stress and anxiety on yourself, and help you become better prepared for virtually anything that might be thrown at you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Federal Resources Supporting Response and Recovery After Ike

A press release with additional information about response and recovery efforts due to damages caused by Hurricane Ike is available at;


Here are some excerpts from that news release.

Release Date: September 18, 2008
Release Number: HQ-08-223

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the joint efforts of federal, tribal, state and local partners as immediate response activities begin to reach completion and recovery efforts begin across the Gulf Coast.

Residents from the declared disaster areas in Texas and Louisiana should register for federal assistance - including disaster housing assistance - by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or logging on to www.fema.gov. Registrations will remain open in the weeks to come to allow all those who need to register the time they need to apply for help. Mobile Disaster Recovery Centers are opening across the region and additional offices will soon open to provide expanded service. To date, 317,791 households have applied for assistance.

Federal agencies are working together with state and local partners to provide eligible disaster-affected individuals and families with a safe, secure and sanitary place to live until it is safe for them to go home. FEMA, at the request of the State of Texas, has activated its transitional sheltering initiative to allow eligible Ike evacuees from Texas, who cannot return to their homes, to stay for a time in hotels or motels. FEMA will pay for the lodging directly. A listing of participating hotels is available online at http://www.FEMAEvacHotels.com. To ensure reimbursement, evacuees must first apply for federal assistance. To date, 9,179 households have applied for this assistance.

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG):

USCG is working to restore navigational and port operations. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is open from the Houston and Galveston area westward to Corpus Christi. The ports of New Orleans, Lake Charles, Morgan City, Neches River, Sabine-Neches Waterway, Galveston, Corpus Cristi and Mobile are open with restrictions. The ports of Orange, Port Arthur/Beaumont, Houston, Texas City and Freeport are open with a 16-foot draft restriction. Port Lavaca/Point comfort is open.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA):

Beaumont Airport is scheduled to resume operations tomorrow.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

NOAA aircraft are completing their damage assessment missions - imagery will be available online at http://ngs.woc.noaa.gov/ike/.
NOAA navigation response crews have completed the waterway surveys in the affected areas.

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):

DOJ's Disaster Fraud Hotline continues to operate. Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations through the Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at disaster@leo.gov. Individuals can also report criminal activity to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or www.fbi.gov.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mistakes I Have Made - Part 5

I still believe that we can learn from our Mistakes. Sometimes we just think we know what we think we know. And above all, be constantly on the lookout for the purveyor of all things bad - "Murphy". Rule #37: "He really does know what we only think we know and will make us pay the usual high price to learn it".

I thought I had done my homework and felt that I was ready to make my first batch of "Jerky". I had just finished building a real neat 2' x 2'x 3' tall dryer with three separate racks of 8 dowel rods each 1/4" in diameter powered by a 100 watt light bulb under the vented floor board. I had even located some of those new large plastic coated paper clips to use as hangers so as not to taint the meat.

Next I took out the partially frozen Venison Back Strap, cut it up into 1/4 by 1' strips 4 to 6inches long to get it ready for the brine soak. I elected to use just salt brine instead of a more fancy marinade as I was planning to use the jerky in a big pot of stew for the Scout Campout on the upcoming weekend. (Right On)

I then tossed all the back strap strips into a large bowl, added the salt brine covered it, stirred well and set it in the fridge to do its thing over night. The next evening I gingerly blotted each piece of meat before it was hung up by the homemade paper clip hooks inside the dryer. (So far all went well!)

It took all of three days for the back strap to become dry enough for it to become Jerky. The temperature in the dryer varied between 130 and 150 degrees depending on how long I had it open to check on progress. (Not Too Bad!)

On Friday after work I had just enough time to gather all of the Jerky together and wrap it in foil before the dads and their Scouts began to arrive. Just before leaving for camp I gave each of the dads a small piece of Jerky to sample. Too my surprise, not a single comment from either of them.

After arrival at camp and everything was set up and we were all gathered around the traditional campfire for the evening, I passed out small pieces of the Jerky to each of the boys as a surprise. Again, not a single comment - Not even from my own two Sons.

Later after everyone had gone to bed and as I was making the rounds of the campsite with my trusty and loyal German Sheppard ("Moose"), I tossed him a full strip of Jerky. Since he had caught and eaten a large number of scraps during the making of the Jerky, he eagerly caught the strip that I had tossed to him and began to wolf it down. What happened next gave me the only true and honest appraisal of my first attempt at making Jerky.

If you have ever given a dog a big "Gob" of peanut butter and watched the gyrations that he goes through to get every bit of goodness off of the roof of his mouth you have some idea of what "Moose" was doing as he tried to chew on the Jerky. Only, this time he was "Frothing" at the mouth and was trying to spit it out, not swallow it. When he finally got it all out of his mouth he gave me a look that only a devoted pet can give when he thinks he has been mistreated.

"Murphy" had chosen this way to show me that I really did not know all that I thought I knew about making Jerky. I finally tasted a piece of it myself - "Yuuuukkkk!" - "Way Too Dammed Salty". Needless to say - We had no Jerky Stew on this camping trip and I learned another of Murphy's Rules. "Sometimes you just think you know what you think you know." See ya'll again on "Mistakes Part 6".

Take Care - Belwether

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hurricane Preparedness Information

New Hurricane Preparedness Information has been added to the side bar for members who need up-to-date information when a hurricane is threatening our state. With the recent tragic events caused by Hurricane Ike I hope this will be of value to everyone out there.

The first additional source of information is for State of Texas Hurricane Evacuation Routes.

The second source of additional information is for Texas Road Conditions.

I hope this information will be of value to members.

Anyone wishing to join our network can e-mail me at riverwalker_texas@yahoo.com . There is no membership fee or requirement. We do ask that when possible you contribute ideas and information which you think may be of value to others.

Thank you to all those who have donated to the Disaster Relief Fund. It is greatly appreciated.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Member Information Update - Victims of Ike

Well it seems we had a couple of members who suffered from the devastation of Hurricane Ike. Luke in Beaumont had some roof damage to his home and lost the roof to his porch and all of his fencing around his home. Luke was pretty well prepared and weathered the storm even though it got a little "hairy". His family was able to bug-out to the Hill Country and is doing well. He's just waiting for authorities to get the power back on line and right now that looks like it's going to be a couple of weeks before that happens. He also said the water supply was contaminated by the salt water and that the sewer systems were a mess. Let's keep Luke and his family in our thoughts and prayers as he and his family work to recover from the effects of Ike.

Bobby in Galveston didn't do so well. Bobby's home was only about a block from the bay and after talking to a neighbor found out that about 3 foot of water got into the house. Bobby was able to bug-out to a safe location northwest of Houston and is currently staying in a motel till authorities can get the power back on and start letting people back in. Bobby's a little nerve-wracked at this time and I can understand why. This hurricane caused a lot of damage and it'll probably be months before the full extent of the damages are known. Let's keep Bobby in our thoughts and prayers and help Bobby get over this devastating storm. Bobby won't know the full amount of damages until they start letting people back in and won't have full computer services for a while.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike Pictures

A picture really is worth a thousand words...... I'll let them do the talking.

New Food Storage Link

This is Deborah from the Texas Hill Country, one of the Texas Preppers members. I have some info that members might be interested in knowing:

Sharon Astyk of Causabon's Book [http://sharonastyk.com/] - author and prepper - is starting a weekly series of posts to assist folks in creating a long-term food pantry.

She writes:

"I got a great idea from one of my food storage students, by way ofher LDS church. She told me that each month or week at her church,they hand out cards that encourages people to focus on one area offood storage, and one or two other issues - including suggestions for where to get things at reasonable prices. One month might focus on protein sources and flashlights, another on sweeteners and blankets."

Check out the rest of her post at


.. This week's purchase suggestions: pasta, popcorn and matches.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.

Deborah from the Texas Hill Country

Monday, September 15, 2008

News Video from Hurricane Ike

"Survival" stories from those who chose to "ride it out". Not smart..... http://www.khou.com/video/news-index.html?nvid=282612

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mistakes I have Made - Part 4

I still firmly believe that we can learn from both our Successes and our Mistakes. We must always pay attention to the things that go on around us. Above all, be constantly on the lookout for the purveyor of all things bad - "Murphy". Rule #27: "If Things Are Going Real Well - Look Out It Is Fixin To Turn Sour".

It took most of that Summer to get all 12 of the "Raised Beds" constructed so no crops that year. Having read about a process called "Sheet Composting" and deciding that it was not all that difficult and that it was something I could do, that became the plan for the Fall.

I was able to collect tons of Leaf Mold from the wooded areas of the Turf and spread it all 6 to 8 inches thick on the beds. Now since I had purchased my own 8hp "Troy Built Horse" tiller, I was able to till all that Leaf Mold into the beds and let it cook till Spring when I had great plans...

Come Spring the beds looked great, very few weeds that were taken care of by a few passes with Ole 8 Horse. Then it was crazy time, I planted A bed each of Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Onions, Pinto Beans, 2 of Tomatoes, 3 of Peppers, and 2 of Potatoes. All that was left for me to do was water on the weekends and watch the crops do their thing.

Everything was growing just great, nice and green and blooming. I was beginning to feel pretty smug once again and could not wait to begin sampling some of the fruits of my labor and sharing some with my neighbors. Again, Murphy chose this time to enter the picture.

It was the week before the Memorial Day weekend as I recall. We had 6-8 inches of rain during the week. When I arrived at the Turf on Friday evening, the first thing I did was check out the garden area. Sure enough, Murphy had seen to it that a 10' wide gully had washed down the whole 100' length of the garden. It even rained again that night just to add insult to injury.

I had constructed the Beds running across the slope of the land thinking to catch as much rain run off as I could. I caught it alright… Had to rethink that whole project. Thank You For Your Help MURPHY!!!!

As usual, I hope that we learned another of Murphy's Rules and that ya'll were able to see the error of my ways. (Still not sure that I made a Mistake here - Unless not allowing for "Murphy" is a Mistake - Yeah I Made a Mistake!) See ya'll again on "Mistakes Part 5".

Take Care - Belwether

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike - Update - Ports

Just a brief bit of information for right now.

Ports: The U.S. Coast Guard reported that the following Texas ports are closed to all traffic:

Houston, Freeport, Galveston, Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Texas City .

The following Texas ports have limited traffic:

Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Port Lavaca.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike - Update - Port and Refinery Closures and Emergency Procedures

Information about fuel supplies in Texas has been obtained and is being posted here and on Stealth Survival for the benefit of people wanting more information prior to Hurricane Ike's arrival on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Here is that information:

Update, September 11, 2008 – 2:00 p.m.

Storm Update:

As of 10:00 a.m. CDT Thursday, Hurricane Ike was about 470 miles east-southeast of Galveston, Texas. Ike is traveling west-northwestward at 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph. Ike is a very large Category 2 hurricane. Hurricane-force winds extend 115 miles outward from Ike's center. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.

The circulation of Ike is so large that it is already causing water levels to rise 1-3 feet across the entire Gulf Coast from South Florida to Texas.

The best estimate right now is for landfall somewhere between Matagorda Bay and Galveston, Texas. Nonetheless, a devastating storm surge is expected for more than 100 miles east of landfall. One should not focus on an exact landfall location at this time, and all interests along the western Gulf Coast should monitor the progress of Ike closely.

Ike will remain a major hurricane when making landfall along the Texas coast during the early morning hours Saturday. There is some chance for Ike to become a Category 4. hurricane;

Operational Update:

No wide-spread outages have been reported. Historically, we do experience spot outages due to the increased demand. We are focusing on regional evacuation outages and as we can.

Other reports:

The overall fuel system is stressed with increased demand.


In the Houston area, retailers reporting retail demands that are 4-5X higher than normal but not abnormal for this type of situation.


The industry continues to obtain, position, and load fuel into the Texas regions likely to be impacted by Hurricane Ike.


Refineries are evaluating their safety considerations and shut-down processes.

Seven of nine Houston-area refineries representing roughly 1,985 million barrels of refining capacity have confirmed that they are shutting down ahead of Hurricane Ike.

Another refinery in Corpus Christi has shut down, taking an additional 288,000 barrels per day out of the fuel supply. Valero’s refinery in Port Arthur is operating at reduced levels.


It is likely that once terminals experience sustained tropical winds (39 mph), the racks will shut down loading activities until it is safe again. Tropical Storm winds are to be expected in the Houston/Pasadena area sometime on Friday morning. After Hurricane Ike passes through and all assets are operational the Truck Rack will reopen and all customers/carriers will be contacted. Racks in San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston are increasing supplies in readiness.


Grade outages reported at some stations. Demand is intense in some locations and this changes as refueling occurs and newevacuation takes place.

Dynamic Messaging:

Since Ike has entered the Gulf, TXDOT is now running messages on their dynamic message boards on the Gulf coast that a hurricaneis in the Gulf and to fuel vehicles.


The following counties have issued Mandatory Evacuations: Galveston, Chambers, Jefferson, and Orange.

Partial Evacuations: Southern Harris and Matagorda.

The following counties have issued voluntary evacuations: Nueces, Victoria, Brazoria, Jackson, and San Patrico.


TXDOT issued the waiver for overweight trucks and hours of service. (See TxOGA’s website).

TCEQ: TCEQ will exercise its enforcement discretion in advance of Hurricane Ike's projected landfall for temporary vehicle fueling facilities (Stage II Vapor Recovery Requirements) to allow for fueling of vehicles from facilities other than service stations. The length of time for this enforcement discretion is through the duration of this event. Please know that TCEQ is supportive of this proposal, to allow the flexibility needed to prepare for and respond to the catastrophic threat Texas faces from Hurricane Ike.

TCEQ is granting a 1 week extension for the Title V deviation report.

The TCEQ will extend its enforcement discretion in advance of Hurricane Ike's projected landfall to the counties to be potential impacted, and from today (September 11, 2008) through the "duration of the event." This will include:

Ongoing physical opacity monitoring and leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements, including daily and weekly audio, visual and olfactory requirements, component monitoring and inspections, carbon canister monitoring, container monitoring, initial repair attempts, final repairs, and follow-up monitoring;

Periodic monitoring of cooling tower systems;
Periodic sampling of storm water outfalls;
Periodic groundwater monitoring and inspections pursuant to agreed orders or compliance plans;
Inspections of hazardous and solid waste storage areas;
Continuous Emission Monitoring (CEMs) requirements due to the potential loss of CEMs prior to equipment being brought down;
State and federal NSPS, NESHAP and MACT requirements regarding flare operations and monitoring due to potential loss of pilot flame and inability to monitor;
State and federal NSPS and MACT requirements for floating roof tanks, including the potential for landing tank roofs on their legs;
Recordkeeping and reporting obligations related to the above; and
Other recordkeeping and reporting obligations that would otherwise be due during this period.

TCEQ will exercise its enforcement discretion in advance of Hurricane Ike's projected landfall to industry that is within an area covered by a mandatory evacuation order. The requested length of time for this enforcement discretion is from the date of the mandatory evacuation order until, through the duration of the event. This will include:

State and federal NSPS, NESHAP and MACT requirements regarding control devices (vapor recovery units, vapor combustor units, and flares), including permit terms and conditions.

Truck Staging:

San Antonio has offered Wolff Stadium as a staging area for fuel trucks and chemical haulers to wait out the storm. Please contact Debbie Hastings at 512-424-2208 (Fuel desk) for more details.


The U.S. Coast Guard ordered area the Port of Houston Port to begin closing to ship traffic today over concerns that Hurricane Ike would produce rough seas.

Port Freeport, about 65 miles south of Houston in a mandatory evacuation zone for Brazoria County, shut down early Wednesday afternoon.

Port Lavaca no ships are coming into the port.

The Port of Galveston is closed.

Recovery and Re-entry:

Employers report that they are activating their response teams are preparing for recovery including the pre-positioning of generators. We are working with TCEQ to obtain waivers specific to staging temporary fuel tanks for these generators.The re-entry letter prepared for Hurricane Gustav will be applicable for Hurricane Ike. (The letter and motor carrier waiver are available on TxOGA’s website.) As a reminder:

Please keep a list of persons to whom your company distributes this letter. This list should be available should the state request confirmation of individual names.

In addition to this letter from the state, your re-entry employees/contractors will need a letter from your corporate office authorizing them as critical personnel.

Re-entry employees will need photo identification like a driver's license or employee identification.

If personnel have TWIC cards or local credentials, please ensure that they have those as well. The more information that they have available to demonstrate their critical role in the re-entry process, the smoother it should go.

Be aware. Be informed. Be prepared.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Update

The 8 AM update is just in, and still shows a northern Texas landfall, somewhere between Houston and Beaumont.... Rita II.

This all depends on what the front does. The models show the tail end of the front dissipating, causing the northward turn, but as you can see on the frontal map, that ain't happened yet. It's still wait and see, but if I lived anywhere from Matagorda Bay northward, I'd be gettin' outta Dodge. Keep your eyes peeled, and good luck.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ike Aims For Texas

Well, we're fully in the "cone" now for Ike's US landfall.

He still has a ways to go, and things can change as we well know. But now is the time to check and recheck your preps, check on your evacuation routes, establish your possible bug out locations, and basically make sure everything is in order. Fill your gas tanks, water containers, and check your tires, belts, hoses, etc. on your car.

Ike has some nice warm water to cover before his arrival, so he'll spin right back up after he clears Cuba. I suspect the catagory 3 forcast shown in the above map is a bit optimistic. Catagory 4 is my bet. Dolly cooled the Gulf a bit, but it's still pretty warm, about the same temperature as where Ike was a catagory 4 just a few days ago. Couple that with little to no wind shear and you've got perfect conditions for a lot of strengthening. Keep an eye on this bugger, and be aware, be informed, be prepared!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Update On Ike

Folks, we really need to look out for this one. I got that sinkin' feelin'..... He's doing everything I don't want him to do. Check out the full update at Keep It Simple Survival, and get ready...

More Bad Financial News

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the U.S. Treasury Department could announce big changes for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as they struggle with the current mortgage and housing crisis.

Here is an excerpt from that story:

“In a statement, the Treasury Department said it would not "comment on rumors." Representatives for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac declined to comment on the report.”

Read the entire story here:


This trend is quickening. Soon it will be GM, Ford, etc.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ike Update

Ike is heading southwest like I anticipated he would, and will soon be in the Gulf. There is a frontal system steering Ike in this direction, and low pressure moving in from the west that will help pull Ike along.

At this point it looks like another northern Gulf landfall, but this far out it's anyone's guess. He is a borderline catagory 3 at this time, which is amazing due to the relatively cool water he is over, and the amount of wind shear he's experiencing. But once he moves into the Gulf, he'll have less shear to contend with, and some really nice warm water to feed on. Y'all keep your eyes peeled, he's gonna be a monster. The models show him slipping northward behind the front, but I think the computer model thinks the southern part of the frontal boundary will dissapate. I don't know about that, we'll just have to watch. Me, I think Ike will skirt right along that frontal boundary, staying in the lower Gulf, then turning northward after the front passes...

Either way, this is definitely a storm to keep a close eye on if you live anywhere on the Gulf coast.....

Friday, September 5, 2008

Storage Recipes - Canning Butter


Jars of Canned Butter & Hamburger Rocks.

Now you can purchase canned butter from The Internet Grocer http://www.internet-grocer.net/butter.htm or make it yourself using the directions below.

1. Use any butter that is on sale. Lesser quality butter requires more shaking (see #5 below), but the results are the same as with the expensive brands.

2. Heat pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars. A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.
3. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see #5 below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.

4. Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4" of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.

5. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids "ping," shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.

6. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.

7. Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. [It does last a long time. We have just used up the last of the butter we canned in 1999, and it was fine after 5 years..] Canned butter does not "melt" again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.
A lovely glow seems to emanate from every jar. You will also be glowing with grateful satisfaction while placing this "sunshine in a jar" on your pantry shelves.

We have canned over 75 pints of butter in the past year. Miles loves it and will open a jar when I'm not looking! I buy butter on sale, then keep it frozen until I have enough for canning 2 or 3 batches of a dozen jars each.

Source: http://www.endtimesreport.com/canning_butter.html

Belwether Notes:

The most difficult part of the whole process is coming up with the necessary extra funds to purchase the 11#'s of butter all at one time. I already had the jars. I used "Land-O-Lakes" unsalted.

Keep the temperature as low as possible yet let it simmer so as not to scorch the butter.

Shake, Shake, Shake and Shake some more - Looks good and tastes just fine.

Take Care - Belwether

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cheap Bug-out Locations in Texas

Need a temporary bug-out location that's easy on the budget. Get a Texas State Parks Pass for you and your family and it's good at over 90 locations in the state of Texas. If you have to bug-out for a while due to whatever (storm, flood, or just to get away) a Texas State Parks Pass is a great way to do it on a budget and have a large variety in your choice of destinations. Mine only costs $60 and it's good for a whole year. I have a lot of places I can go for only $5 a month!

You can get information about a Texas State Parks Pass here:


Monday, September 1, 2008

The Near Future?

Is this what we have to look forward to in the near future?

Rat meat in demand as inflation bites
Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:32pm EDT

Cambodian shoppers search through rodent meat at a market northwest of Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - The price of rat meat has quadrupled in Cambodia this year as inflation has put other meat beyond the reach of poor people, officials said on Wednesday.

With consumer price inflation at 37 percent according to the latest central bank estimate, demand has pushed a kilogram of rat meat up to around 5,000 riel ($1.28) from 1,200 riel last year.

Spicy field rat dishes with garlic thrown in have become particularly popular at a time when beef costs 20,000 riel a kg.

Officials said rats were fleeing to higher ground from flooded areas of the lower Mekong Delta, making it easier for villagers to catch them.

"Many children are happy making some money from selling the animals to the markets, but they keep some for their family," Ly Marong, an agriculture official, said by telephone from the Koh Thom district on the border with Vietnam.

"Not only are our poor eating it, but there is also demand from Vietnamese living on the border with us."

He estimated that Cambodia supplied more than a ton of live rats a day to Vietnam.
Rats are also eaten widely in Thailand, while a state government in eastern India this month encouraged its people to eat rats in an effort to battle soaring food prices and save grain stocks.

($1 = 3,900 riel)

(Reporting by Ek Madra; Editing by Alan Raybould and Paul Tait)

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnough/idUSBKK27922820080828

Take Care - Belwether