Roku or Make Do

Emergency preppers are often faced with a dilemma now and again.  Spending our money to prepare on what may happen or spending our money on what is happening now.  A recent small windfall activated immediate mental agony over what action to take to convert this worthless fiat currency into something that will have instant value.  Let me give you a brief history of our “entertainment” system:

Many years ago, sometime in the 90’s, we purchased an ultra-modern 42 inch t.v. that weighs approximately 400 lbs.  To add to our listening pleasure, we also eventually purchased a home theater system consisting of a receiver and five speakers (very LARGE speakers).  We already possessed a VCR deck and added a DVD player once they came down in price.  It took me literally days to figure out how to hook up every system and still have working cable.  The wire and cable mess in the back of the t.v. was a nightmare.  When we purchased our newest location six years ago, I was careful to label each cable and wire before we moved the system.  Still, it took me literally days to get it re-hooked back up.  Then, broadcasting switched from analog to digital transmissions.  Okay, I had cable, it wasn’t going to affect me.  However, when I was waiting for disibility and cut my budget to the bone, we dropped cable and purchased a digital converter and antenna.  Somehow, no matter how we hook everything up, we still cannot get the VCR to play anymore.  Since most of our VHS tapes have been replaced by DVD’s, this wasn’t the end of the world.  Now we get Netflix movies to make up for the deficit.  We also watch streaming instant movies on the computer, but that is difficult to do with more than one person and you really have to watch as many streaming movies as you can in order to get your money’s worth while you are waiting for your next shipment in the mail.  So here we are and here is my dilemma.  Netflix is changing their accounts so we will have to pay for streaming movies or mailed movies separately.  I can’t afford both and since they will eventually change over to all streaming, I need to upgrade my technology as cheaply as possible.  Can’t afford to buy a new HDTV, or a blueray DVD player and all new DVD’s so a new streaming system may be our savior.

After browsing around the internet and discovering what devices will and won’t work for our purposes (we do not own any gaming systems or Wii), I decided on the updated version of the old Roku which was originally made just for streaming Netflix movies, but which can also be used to stream Hulu movies and tv shows, Amazon movies to rent and other entertainment options.  Many reviews claim that the system is simple to hook up and use even if you have an old t.v. system like mine.  I was so excited, I jumped right to the order page and pushed the button.  Soon, we would all be able to sit around the t.v. and watch streaming TEOTWAWKI entertainment at will.  Utopia!

Instantly, I was sick to my stomach.  What had I done!  What if the lights go out.  All that money could have been used to purchase board games and Future Essentials snacks which have a shelf life of 15+ years.  I could have purchased more propane cannisters for my Mr Heater to keep toasty when it gets cold and more lantern oil to see the games we could be playing together as a family unit (all two of us).

I did regret my decision, but what is done, is done.  Will it be worth it even for a short  period of time since the Aztec Calendar will supposedly end on October 28, 2011 more than a year before the Mayan Calendar?  Maybe.  It depends on if it is going to take days or weeks to get it hooked up without losing any of my other components.


Walk on the Wild Side

Is it time to take another giant step toward self sufficiency?  A great addition to your emergency preps, 72 hour kit, 3 day to two week bag and go food supply is a longer term food storage plan.  Some organizations suggest that you may want to store about three months worth of food at home in case the just-in-time supply system breaks down.  This supply would consist of regular canned and boxed goods that your family is used to eating on a regular basis.  Three months can be a lot of food to store for a family so I learned how to use coupons to get them fast and cheap.  It has been an ongoing project.  Maybe eventually a one to five year food storage plan can be put in place.  This would be even more expensive since it would require purchasing dehydrated or freeze dried foods along with bulk items in buckets.  And where would we put it?  Learning vegetable gardening, preserving and seed saving was the logical next step in order to extend a food supply beyond storage which will not last forever and would be difficult to replenish during hard times.  It’s a wonderful skill set to own even if you never have to use it in a survival scenario.  A satisfying hobby.

Emergency Preps or Survivalism?  Another segment to add to these preps and skill sets is something that many preppers have never thought of, but most survivalist types include in their repertoire of knowledge.  It’s actually a very natural transition.  Always an active, outdoors child used to a variety of activites including hiking, camping, and fishing, the interest carried over into my adulthood.  In my 20’s and 30’s in particular, the out of doors experience drew me out of hibernation (I tend to be reclusive) and into the wilds, even if it was just a short adventure near to home.  I began to carry various field guides with me on these little adventures, books with pictures and information telling me about birds, insects, animals, tracks, reptiles and wild plants.  Jotting down notes, locations and drawing little sketches became routine.  Soon I had chosen my area of special interest and felt there was a very practical application for the things I had learned.

Ever thought of doing your grocery “shopping” outdoors?  There is no shortage of hunters and fisherman in my neck of the woods, and if ever a disaster hit, they would know where to “shop” for protein for their families, probably overlooking the obvious (and trampling over) the wild garden of goodies that’s free for the taking and is not a moving target.  Wild edible, medicinal and useful plants abound in every ecological zone and in every season.  The Native Americans knew about them, the pioneers and mountain men learned about them and once settlements were built, food and supplies began to be shipped in, they were all but forgotten.  Many of these plants are considered to be the weeds growing in your yard.  Every year when my husband wanted to spray herbicides to make his job a little easier, I reminded him that we may need those weeds to keep us alive.

Set your sights beyond your cupboard shelves and take a walk.  Look in empty lots, nearby fields, parks, greenways and picnic spots to start educating your family about what’s available in your area.  Get familiar with the names and uses of each plant and if you feel adventurous, start experimenting with preparing and eating or using these plants in your every day meal routines.  You’ll be amazed at what you’ve been missing!