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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Offloading US Jobs, Make the Most of Meals, Uses for Aspirin

Bruce’s Poor Man Survival Bulletin

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

ISSN 2161-5543

In This Issue:

1.        Learn how to make the most out of meals

2.       Unusual uses for Aspirin

3.       Now it’s Offloading, not Offshoring of US jobs

4.       Freelancers miscounted, shortchanged

5.       Buy foreign currency easily

“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination.” — Mark Twain

  Weathering the Storm(s) by stocking up before disaster strikes

   With every disaster, the nightly news is filled with clips of people raiding their local store for food, water and batteries, often emptying shelves within hours.  It would seem many wait until the last minute to stockpile emergency items. Why is that?

While more people are starting to stock pile food in their homes,  the dollar has lost more than 500% of its value since 2001, making food an ever more expensive commodity.

The potential for food riots in the U.S. – and some experts have predicted they'll start occurring before the end of 2012 – does not have to leave you hungry. Start preparing now and you can weather the rising food prices and potential food shortages.

Build up your own food storage system. Take the right approach, it's actually pretty easy and it doesn't have to break the bank. Start by storing enough food for one month. At a bare minimum, each person in your family needs 1200 calories a day... 1500 would be better.

During your next grocery trip, begin buying extra shelf-stable foods that you can stock in your pantry or your garage. My preference is for canned foods. The main reason is that canned foods contain water, so if the water supply is disrupted or limited, you'll still be able to eat from your food stores and the foods you're eating will help to keep you hydrated.

Shelf life for foods of more than a year include bouillon, instant cream, nuts, cereals, and hydrogenated (or antioxidant treated) fats/vegetable oil. Vegetable oils last longer than lard or similar products and are better for you health-wise. Olive oil lasts the longest and may be used after several years if care is taken to keep it cool and away from exposure to the light.

Unprocessed grains give you the most nutritional calories for your money. And when they are stored properly, they last almost forever. This makes them ideal for many people who have the space to store them. At the time of this writing it is possible to buy enough food to feed a family of four for one year (or more) for just a couple thousand dollars (or less).

In previous issues we’ve suggested stocking up on weekly staples that go on sale, finding local grocery outlets such as Save-A-Lot, joining the popular warehouse clubs and creating your own buying cooperatives with like-minded friends and families.  For very long term storage, MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) are useful but not cheap.  You can find similar items, including freeze-dried foods at sporting goods stores where camping supplies are found and online at specialty outlets and even on eBay (visit our site to find these resources - click on the Preparedness tab).  Another source:

Better to be the ant than the grasshopper of the old Aesop Fable fame!

Use chewing gum to patch a hose.  Works well enough the hose will most likely never leak again.  Chew a stick of sugarless gum and place it over the hole and flatten to fit tightly.  Let it sit for a day or so.  During WWII, soldiers fixed flats on jeeps with this.

PM’s Compendium of Useful Resources

Learn Techniques to Make the Most Out of Your Meals

Some cooking techniques like braising and slow cooking are very cost-effective and simple, producing flavorful meals; you can tenderize extremely tough—and inexpensive—cuts of meat with these techniques.

Make the Most Out of Cheap Proteins

The biggest cost savings you find may be on proteins, especially with today's rising meat prices. If you're not a vegetarian, the meat portion of the meal could very well make up the majority of your grocery budget (thus, it also follows that you can make the most out of your food budget by switching to a flexitarian diet or just eating a meat-less meal every once in a while).

Learning a few cooking techniques to enhance even cheap cuts of meat can help you turn a $5 steak into a $50 steak, so to speak:

Find the best rebates at: or or

Aspirin - the wonder herb

The bark of the willow tree is rich in salicin, a natural painkiller and fever reducer and in the 3rd century, Hippocrates used it to relieve pain.  Felix Hoffmann, a chemist from the German firm, Bayer, developed a modified derivative of it which became known as aspirin.  Native Americans used herbs containing salicin to treat colds and flue.  It’s truly a wonder drug.

A few unusual uses for aspirin:

>Revive a dead car battery by dropping two tablets into the battery itself.  The acid will combine with the battery’s sulfuric acid to produce one last charge.

>Some gardeners grind it up to use as a rooting agent, or they mix it with water to treat fungus conditions - typical dosage would be one aspirin to one quart of water.  Also, drop a tablet into the water of cut flowers to prolong their fresh look.

>Clear pimples by crushing an aspirin with some water and apply to the pimple and let it sit for a minute or so before washing off with soap and water.  Repeat if needed.

>Soften hard calluses on feet by grinding six tablets into a powder.  Add a ½ tsp. of lemon juice and one of water, then apply the mixture to the affected area and wrap in a warm towel and cover with a plastic bag.  Stay off your feet for ten minutes, remove the wraps and file the callus with a pumice stone.

Shop Online with Virtual Credit Card Numbers

Disposable everything - disposable credit card numbers. It's hard to track someone using a different number every time, and it's even harder to steal their identity. If you're concerned about the safety of an online retailer but are willing to take the risk, virtual credit card numbers (or single-use numbers, as they're sometimes called) can help you isolate transactions and easily prevent fraudulent activity. Not every bank/card provider offers this service, but call and see if yours does. It can be really helpful when you need it.

You can even get disposable email addresses through

Buy Foreign Currencies Easily

This is not an ad for Everbank (, but I thought you should know that it is easier than ever to invest in a foreign currency. So if you are worried about the destruction of the U.S. Dollar, check out their options. They have FDIC-insured CDs in a variety of currencies. Of course the FDIC insurance covers the even of a bank failure, and does not protect you against the fluctuations in value, so you definitely can lose money if the dollar rises against the currency you put your money into. At the moment, I like the Brazilian Real, which has done well against the dollar this year.

Source: Steve

If you’re a coupon clipper, clip some for pet food, toys and treats and donate them to your local animal shelter.


The Nanny State Updates…

The Fed already holds more than $1 trillion dollars of U.S. treasuries - that's more than 70% of all outstanding debt - making it the largest lender to the U.S. in the world.

"The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone," China's official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

Xinhua scorned the United States for a "debt addiction" and "short sighted" political wrangling. China, it said, "has every right now to demand the United States address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets."


For many years now, the (U.S.) government has underestimated independent workers and their importance to the economy, many experts agree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the SBA and others charged with measuring businesses and workers have fallen behind rapid changes wrought primarily by the Internet.

For example, as a recent Businessweek piece notes, even “[t]he number of so-called contingent workers hasn’t been measured since 2005, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics last calculated the population.”

Sara Horowitz, whose
Freelancers Union numbers 160,000, wants more accurate definitions and measuring of contingent workers. She also makes the excellent point that health and unemployment insurance should cover independent workers, too.

As we often preach here, the U.S. economy needs to emphasize entrepreneurship at LEAST as much as it does jobs. (Middle-class jobs are disappearing!) If we don’t, the global economy will leave us behind the way we once left it behind. Counting indies accurately and supporting their critical role are important steps in that direction.

For more, see the
Businessweek article and the Freelancers Union website.

Public services are staggering under the weight of 43 million hungry dependents now on food stamps, millions more exhausting their unemployment checks in addition to the masses who are foolishly relying on bankrupt public retirement programs and medical services to be there for them. With government finances teetering on the brink at all levels, it all adds up to mega-potential for civil rebellion from the dependent class.

Use lip balm to fix a stuck zipper by rubbing it up and down the teeth of the zipper and then work it in with your fingers.

The Parting Thought - Offloading US jobs, the new trend

DejaView: Recession II with no end in sight…


A smaller share of men have jobs today than at any time since World War II

As President Barack Obama puts together a new jobs plan to be revealed shortly after Labor Day, he is up against a powerful force, long in the making, that has gone virtually unnoticed in the debate over how to put people back to work: Employers are increasingly giving up on the American man.

If that sounds bleak, it's because it is. The portion of men who work and their median wages have been eroding since the early 1970s. For decades the impact of this fact was softened in many families by the increasing number of women who went to work and took up the slack. More recently, the housing bubble helped to mask it by boosting the male-dominated construction trades, which employed millions. When real estate ultimately crashed, so did the prospects for many men. The portion of men holding a job—any job, full- or part-time—fell to 63.5 percent in July—hovering stubbornly near the low point of 63.3 percent it reached in December 2009.

 These are the lowest numbers in statistics going back to 1948. Among the critical category of prime working-age men between 25 and 54, only 81.2 percent held jobs, a barely noticeable improvement from its low point last year—and still well below the depths of the 1982-83 recession, when employment among prime-age men never dropped below 85 percent. To put those numbers in perspective, consider that in 1969, 95 percent of men in their prime working years had a job.

While off shoring of US jobs has been a major contributing factor to job loss, another factor is now in place, that of offloading - cutting jobs while dumping the work onto the remaining staff.  According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, more than half of all workers surveyed said their job responsibilities and hours have expanded, usually without a raise or bonus.

US productivity increased in 2008, 2009, and again in 2010 - workforce down, productivity and profits up (by 22% since 2007).  What’s been good for corporate America, has not been good for workers.  Everyone is working harder, running in place twice as much but without the rewards.  Predatory corporations also pay less taxes than 20 years ago.  Is it any wonder why this country is in trouble?

Yours for surviving tough times, the Poor Man. 

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

60 Frugal Skills You Should Know, Easy Home Canning

Bruce’s Poor Man Survival Bulletin
A Digest of Urban Survival Resources
ISSN 2161-5543

In This Issue:
1.       60 Frugal skills everyone should know
2.      Easy Home Canning
3.      Groupon for college kids
4.      Share your donations and do some good
5.      Why is Congress dysfunctional?

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience. --Unknown

The essentials for survival…

   I’ve always been a fan of indoor plumbing.  Since WWII most Americans enjoy running water and indoor toilets.  To me, this might be the best part of progress during the 20th century. Nothing like a hot shower each morning.

Other bits of progress I enjoy include electricity and the PC.  Of course, advances in medicine and agriculture have helped the world too.  Television has been the big disappointment (so-called ‘reality shows’ are dumb jokes and we rarely see any hard hitting documentaries).

So what are the essentials you need for survival?

This is a no brainer.  Food, water, shelter and many would argue, electricity.  All of these are getting more expensive and many predict clean water will be the new ‘gold’ in the coming decades. Learn how to purify water and/or purchase purification tablets (sold in the outdoor camping aisle at Wal Mart and other retailers).  Although expensive, you can also purchase freeze dried ‘camper’ food there too.

Earlier in the year, one of our readers told us he and his family purchased a used RV to use as emergency shelter and would be able to park it, if needed, on the farm owned by his brother.  He also keeps several 5-gallon containers filled with gasoline for emergencies along with a generator.

Backup supplies of toiletries are useful.  Benjamin Franklin used a mixture of honey and ground charcoal as a simple toothpaste…doesn’t sound good to me but a paste of baking soda and water will do the trick just fine.

With the spate of natural disasters hitting our planet almost weekly, a good first aid kit and bug out kit would do well in a survival situation. Taking a first aid class is always a good idea (consult your area Red Cross).

  Emergency communication devices would prove useful but I wouldn’t always rely on a cell phone.  Instead, invest in a pair of two-way, multiple channel radios or CBs and keep extra batteries on hand.

Knowledge and a plan of action is essential for surviving disasters, whether man-made or natural.  Even a little amount of preparation can go a long way for creating peace of mind…one book can help tremendously, the Boy Scout manual and of course, using the free resources at our site, is useful as well.

Stock up to prepare for disasters…
The National Hurricane Center has released a suggested list of supplies. Among these are first aid kits, toys, books and games, and of course food and water. Make sure that you have what you need to entertain and nurture yourself until it’s safe outside once again.

Finally, some might argue the need for a bed bunker in order to survive.  Check out this $2000 item at:

A dab of mayonnaise is perfect for cracks in the wood, according to blog DIY Life.
Of course, this will only work for small cracks, but smooth mayonnaise over the crack to fill it, wipe off any extra, and let the crack sit for a few days. According to DIY Life, the oils and proteins in the mayonnaise will make the wood swell up at the point of contact, and while it likely won't close the crack entirely, it'll definitely shrink. When it's swelled shut a bit, you can then wipe off anything left behind and polish the wood to obscure the crack.

PM’s Compendium of Useful Resources

Easy Home Canning

A majority of Americans agree home canned jams and vegetables taste better, but few of us have the time or desire to can at home.  Here are some basics of home canning.

--Wash the jars and lids, then place into a large pot of water and simmer to sterilize.
--Seal the jars with a boiling water canner or covered stock pot fitted with a rack.
--Lift jars out and empty out the water.  Fill your jars leaving room at the top per whatever recipe you’re using.
--Remove air bubbles using a spatula and clean the rims of any excess.  Place hot lid on each jar and secure with the band.
--Place the jars back into boiling water maintaining at least a three inch level of water over the jars and process according to whatever recipe you’re using.

Learn more at:

Or…go to your local Walmart and get a Ball Canning Discovery Kit which gives you everything to make your own jams and jelly, salsa and more.

Share your donation and do some good…
If you’re like my sister, you only have a path in your basement as it’s so full of stuff, no one can get around.  At this site you can browse 1,300 charities and learn what items are on their wish list.  Then, complete a simple form to arrange a pickup or drop off.  The site then shares your gifts online and who it has helped…inspiring others to donate too.

Save Money with these college sites
Known as the ‘Groupon’ for the college crowd, zeroes in on deals relevant to a specific school or sports conference…students can snap up bargains ranging from pizza to school supplies/
Find more scholarship programs at this online social network which connects parents and students with admissions recruiters…

60 Frugal Skills Everyone Should Know

The ‘Grandma’ of money saving coupons - Coupon Mom
Save with our 51 store lists in the Grocery Deals by State section including Kroger, Publix, Shoprite, Safeway, Ralphs, Shaws, Stop n Shop, Giant, Harris Teeter, Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo, and many more
Drugstore Freebies: Find the Freebies at all national drugstores at once in our Extreme National Drugstore Deal List
Grocery Store Freebies: You can find and print the best deals for all your state's grocery stores in one list in our Extreme Grocery Deals section.

The Nanny State Updates…

Less Regulation Equal More US Jobs…
The National Retail Federation (NRF) issued a press release on Tuesday welcoming plans announced by the Obama Administration to streamline hundreds of government regulations.

President Obama signed an executive order in January requiring federal agencies to review business regulations and streamline or eliminate them where possible. The Administration unveiled Tuesday a package of regulations that have been identified for action, saying it would likely save $10 billion over the next five years.
Retail organization NRF said the move was a step in the right direction, but said the government is continuing to crank out new rules that "hamper the ability of the business community to create desperately needed new jobs."
NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said that in addition to reducing government regulation, the administration should focus on assisting employers, especially small businesses, with regulatory compliance rather than aggressively pursuing fines and penalties.
"If the purpose of regulations is to ensure that companies conduct business in a responsible way, then let's give them help in doing so," French said. "Massive fines simply take away money that could be put to better use creating jobs and growing the economy."
Americans' confidence in the economy is sitting at its lowest point since March 2009, and in every state in the country, a vast majority of Americans see the economy as getting worse. Meanwhile, the number of people claiming new jobless benefits rose again last week. Under those circumstances, it's no wonder the White House is doing everything it can to make even the most dismal economic news seem like a silver lining on a very dark cloud.

That shred of news came yesterday in the form of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO)
mid-year assessment of the budget and economic situation. In the report, the CBO lowered its projected 2011 economic growth rate from 3.1 percent in its January report to only 2.3 percent--well below the growth rate needed to reduce the unemployment rate.

The Parting Thought…
Stymied…Why is Congress so dysfunctional?

Few would argue that Congress has been dysfunctional for decades, through Republican and Democratic majorities, through Republican and Democratic Presidents, through divided control and one-party domination, through crises and calm, through good times and bad, through good leaders and bad. Both parties have proven dangerous to its citizens.
 Its procedures and the collective behavior of its members do not produce anything close to what the public expects. Even on those rare occasions it does get something done, it is absolutely incompetent. A little dysfunction is one thing, but in perpetuity is another.

And now, with the country in recession and fighting two wars; when politicians continue to suffer puzzling lapses in ethics or wisdom…violating its Constitutional authority seems to be the rule for the past 30 or more years.

Congress has been corrupt for a long time. "Public policies for the benefit of the people" is no longer the purpose, nor even the goal, of Congress. The first purpose of Congress is to gain and retain the control of congressional power and to get themselves reelected.

It’s an endless game of partisanship over progress, greed over gumption in its endless self-serving pursuits.

Consider its inability to create a meaningful energy policy that would remove America from being held hostage to foreign oil producers while depleting our treasury.  Consider its anti-gun stance, essentially ignoring the Constitution; its inability to do anything meaningful about illegal immigration, its inability to create a fair tax system versus huge corporate welfare programs; its inability to remove the barriers and red tape which fuel our huge unemployment and so on.

Is Congress merely gutless and incompetent; are they bought and paid for by Corporate America or are they simply taking advantage of a gullible, dummied-down public…or a combination of all three?

I’ve felt a disturbance in the force…May it be with you!  The Poor Man…

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A Shallow Planet Production