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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Zero Utilility Homes, Work-From-Home, Privacy Tips

Bruce’s Poor Man Survival Bulletin
A Digest of Urban Survival Resources
ISSN 2161-5543
In This Issue:
1.       Interesting work-from-home resources
2.      Local recycling centers
3.      Get help with medical bills
4.      Zero Utility bill homes
5.      7  ‘Best Practices’ for protecting privacy

Alexander Hamilton originated the put and take system in our national treasury: the taxpayers put it in, and the politicians take it out. — Will Rogers

The Renewed Focus of the Poor Man
   After several phone conversations with subscribers last week, we’ve decided to renew our focus to feature more solution oriented resources which will help you survive the coming financial collapse.
It’s rather apparent we cannot rely on our ‘leaders’ to do the right thing as they are owned by special interests.  Americans have always displayed a ‘can do’ attitude and with that in mind, we’re in the process of creating a how-to report or action plan you can use to become more self reliant, debt-free, develop sideline income sources and more.
At this stage, I’m not certain how this mini-course will be offered.  We’re toying with offering it via seminar, selling it or by simply asking for a donation.
The Poor Man already gives a ton of useful information away and we need to make money too in order to pay for our continuing development…perhaps sponsorships might be a route to explore?  Let us know what you think and/or if you wish to consider sponsoring our newest effort at restoring freedom and self sufficiency in America.
Beginning with this issue you’ll notice this emphasis at providing tools you can either make or save money from.
A reader wrote in with this suggestion:  We don’t have enough jobs in this country.  How about a moratorium on all new immigration, unless they’re investing in a business here?’  What do you think?
Paper towels are ridiculously expensive. Many people have moved to cleaning with old washcloths or a sponge, and that is certainly a great alternative. However, I am one of those people who prefer to throw away things I have used to wipe the toilet. If you are like me, try using cheap coffee filters. They clean better than paper towels (especially mirrors), and are way cheaper.
PM’s ‘Betty Shocker’ Compendium of useful resources
Find Local Recycling Services in your area with these sites:

Keep up with recycling news and trends at:

Find Eco Friendly advice and products at:
Two-thirds of all consumer bankruptcies are due to medical debt - even for those who are insured.
Get help with medical/hospital bill using a patient advocate service…
Apply here for free drug programs, resource assistance from state and federal sources, help with medical debt, charity cases, bill reduction and more.
Save money on medical lab tests by visiting - it uses independent labs that cost 50-80% less than your doctor’s office or hospital.  Log onto their site which features 2000 sources near you - results are posted to a private online site for you and your doctor to view.
Provide Customer Service - More Work from home resources
Many retailers are outsourcing their customer service operations to third-party companies like
Alpine Access and Working Solutions, who in turn contract with home-based workers. The reps, who typically work 20 to 40 hours a week, take calls for large and small companies. The hourly rate is about $9, but agents can earn up to $13 with incentives and bonuses or up to $30 for special projects. Some companies offer benefits like health and dental insurance and a matching 401(k) plan. LiveOps is similar, but service reps operate as independent contractors, typically invoicing LiveOps $10 to $15 per hour depending on the type of call and performance. And with LiveOps you can work as many hours as you want. The hiring process is rigorous: Expect a comprehensive written or online application, skills exam, phone interview and background check

Has anyone ever complimented you on your beautiful locks? If so, you might have some extra cash on your hands (and your head). Long "virgin" hair—meaning a mane that hasn't been chemically treated—usually garners the most cash to be used for hair extensions and wigs. The record sale at hair brokering website (which is currently under maintenance) was over $2,500. will pay $3 to $5 per ounce of hair—provided it's at least 12 inches long and meets the Industry Standard Qualifications.

A penny for your thoughts? Try between $25 and $200. Participate in a focus group and you could get paid just for giving your opinion. Companies that want to get feedback from consumers about products or services hold sessions where people are paid to answer questions about their products., a site that lists focus groups across the country, includes a range of available sessions, which usually last anywhere from one to two hours.
Learn about the Work-at-Home Success Bible
Outdoor activities like concerts or picnics can be less comfortable if you are sitting on a blanket in soggy grass. I like to keep a cheap shower curtain liner with my picnic blanket for these occasions. The liner keeps the blanket dry, and my family and I no longer have to worry about wet bottoms after our picnic
Zero Utility Bill Homes

How would you like a home that’s so energy efficient, there are no utility bills?  It cost more to build, but so would adding on to a pre-built home.

Dow Chemical and Freeland Builders built such home in what they call the “InVision Zero”  which features Dow’s new solar shingle and a geothermal system to produce heating and cooling.  At $250,000 it’s about $12-34,000 higher in price than a conventional home but the utility savings average about $2500 annually and it reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 30,000 pounds annually.

In addition to the Powerhouse Solar Roof Shingles, next-generation Styrofoam insulation is used along with other air sealing products and energy efficient appliances from Whirlpool and DowFrost GEO 20 heat transfer fluid, which extracts heat or coolness using geothermal coils 8 feet underground to take advantage of consistent underground temps.  Learn more about when this will become available in your area at:

DIY Smokehouse Plans
Someone on a homestead living blog asked me if I could find some historic plans for smokehouses. I searched the Historic American Buildings survey and found some.
Some of them are attractive little buildings. I guess that they might give you some design ideas if you're planning a backyard shed or cabana. Or, you could build one and smoke your own meat.
In any case, if you're at all interested, please take a look.

The Nanny State Updates…
Some of the reasons why we’re headed toward default - few US Corporations pay taxes

(1) The financial maneuverings of a single hedge fund manager made him enough money in one year to give a $30,000 per year job to every one of the 168,000 unemployed people in Louisiana.
(2) One year of Bush tax cuts would pay ALL U.S. unemployment benefits.
(3) If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.
(4) The trillion EXTRA dollars a year taken by the richest 1% (by TRIPLING their cut of the income pie since 1980) would provide a $50,000 a year job for every college student in the United States.
(5) According to Citizens for Tax Justice, 12 of our largest corporations paid an effective tax rate of negative 1.5% on $171 Billion in Profits. The oil industry paid only 4% in U.S. federal income taxes over the past three years.

Debt ceiling watch and many useful perspectives on our unsustainable path
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget The Killing of Allen Kephart - How the Police Lost the Trust of a Law-and-Order Town
On May 10, 43-year old Allen Kephart died after being tased multiple times by three San Bernardino, California sheriff's deputies during a routine traffic stop. Kephart, a quiet and well-liked member of the tight-knit mountain community around Lake Arrowhead, allegedly ran a stop sign and became "combative" during the stop. But local residents say this claim is wildly out of character for Kephart, who had no police record and no history of aggressive behavior or even temper. Kephart's death has galvanized the local community around a problem they say is getting worse: aggressive policing and the souring of relations between civilians and local law enforcement

As recovery lags, corporations prosper–and lobby for more
Call it a tale of two economies. Across a range of measures, the current "recovery" is among the weakest since the government began keeping records. Meanwhile, American corporations, which already have been raking in massive profits, are poised to report strong second quarter profits. And despite that imbalance, one economic commentator notes that those same corporations are still lobbying for more tax breaks--concerns over the deficit be damned.

Simple ingredients like baking soda splashed with vinegar are terrific for cleaning showers and toilets, and they're especially great at opening drains. If your bathtub drains are clogged with hair, replace the Drano with a few shakes of baking soda, a splash or three of vinegar, and a kettleful of boiling water

The Parting Shot – More ways to protect your privacy
Lawmaker Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont moved to amend the Privacy Act of 1986 to rein in warrantless search powers by law enforcement.  Under the proposal, federal agents would need a search warrnat to access any archived electronic communications stored on a remote server, protecting 4th Amendment rights.  This will include email, text messages, Facebook posts and more.
7 Privacy "Best Practices" for Your Family or Business:

Purchase a crosscut paper shredder: Shred important documents. If you're not sure... shred it too. Mortgage, banking, dentist, doctor, school, addresses, account numbers, phone numbers, insurance... everything.
Secure your wireless router and keep your web/email use private: Set a security code to connect to your wireless network. The default setting for most wireless routers is "public," which means anyone can link up to your Internet connection and use it as they please or possibly watch and record what you do online. Also, you can reduce your online profile by cleaning out needless "cookies."
Consider a VPN: A Virtual Private Network service allows you to encrypt your email communication as well as keep your Internet browsing private – even from your ISP.
Buy a hard-metal and lockable mailbox: This makes it harder for crooks and nosy neighbors to reach in and take your personal and financial mail. Also, don't let mail sit in the mailbox longer than it needs too. Pick it up immediately.
Use a ghost address: Avoid having mail sent to your physical address, where you and your family actually live. This can keep you safe from physical harm or from having uninvited company show up at your front door. Send mail to your office, a PO Box, or private mail accepting service, or an alternate address where you don't physically live.
Talk on prepaid cell phones and prepaid calling cards: Keep your voice conversations private and avoid the nuisance of phone records. In 2007, the Inspector General found the FBI had improperly used "national security letters" to obtain people's phone bills. An additional bonus to using these privacy tools is you don't need to divulge your banking information or credit history to own a cell phone. Just buy it, add minutes to it, and talk.

Pay with cash or a prepaid Visa, MasterCard, or American Express GIFT card: As discussed in last week, buying these gift cards doesn't require any personal or private information. Plus, you can use them anywhere Visa, MasterCard, or American Express are accepted. Keep your purchases and transactions private. Avoid the danger of exposing your credit card, debit card, or banking information with a long trail of receipts and statements.

That be it for this issue from your contrarian Poor Man!

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