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The Meaning of It All

from the September 2010 Star Beacon

by Ann Ulrich Miller

It's the eleventh hour... are you ready?

      In our community we have a group that gets together twice a month to discuss how to deal with upcoming changes. We call our meetings “Eleventh Hour,” meaning we are in the 11th hour before midnight — and time is short.
We meet in each other’s homes and the member hosting the meeting that night gets to choose the topic. We have had topics that include “Storing Safe Water,” “Food Storage,” “Dealing with Emotions,” “Colloidal Silver to Treat Infections,” “Energy Alternatives” and “Communication Methods.”
      All of these topics deal with ways individuals and groups can handle daily living issues in the event of a disaster or an emergency that might mean no power for long periods of time, or no supplies being shipped into your town.
      What would you or your family do in the event of your water source being cut off? What if it’s the middle of winter and you have no electricity, and no way of heating your home? What if all commerce comes to a halt and you can’t fill your car with gas or buy food and supplies at the store?
      These are the questions that we ask ourselves when we consider that our society runs on people’s expectations that there will always be the convenience of grocery shelves being stocked with what we need, or that our lifestyles will always be fueled by the technology we depend on to get through each night and day in comfort and ease.
      What if banks fail? What if nobody has money, or worse — what happens if cash is absolutely worth nothing?
      At our “food prep” meeting we talked about storing foods such as apples, potatoes and onions over a period of time. For instance, apples will last if you store them in sand. But the apples can’t touch each other. Potatoes and onions store better in the dark, with potatoes preferring cool areas whereas beets and carrots prefer higher humidity. Onions like it dry, and squash likes it warmer.
      We talked about root cellars, canning and dehydrating foods, and we discussed the use of silica bags to keep out moisture. All kinds of ideas came from different members of the group. By pooling these ideas and agreeing to go in together on purchasing certain items, we save time and money, plus it is far better getting these things done ahead of time, before disaster strikes.
      At our last meeting the topic of discussion was “communication.” We brought in Star Beacon columnist Ray Larsen, who is a ham radio operator. He gave an enlightening talk on radio and the various modes of communication that are possible in the event of an emergency.
      We depend so much on communication in this day and age. Cell phones rule the communications world as do computers. Amateur radio (ham radio) has been around for decades, and it’s the hams who go into action during national emergencies, when other modes of communication have broken down. They can talk long distance — sometimes across the world — informing others of weather conditions, news, etc. I have a brother in Nevada who has been a ham for more than 50 years.
      Ray showed the group a hand-held ham radio, which is a far cry from the monstrous equipment my brother housed in his “shack” many years ago. But you need to be licensed as a ham in order to transmit. Anyone can listen in, but to talk to others requires FCC licensing.
      We discussed citizen’s band (CB) radios, and the group consensus was that CBs are more practical for local communication. Truckers rely on their CB radios to talk to one another on the long stretches of highway, and Ray pointed out that Channel 19 for CBs is the main avenue for communication. If you want to know what’s happening, tune your CB in to Channel 19. The emergency CB channel is 9.
      The group discussed buying CB radios and keeping them in our homes, charged up, in case of an emergency. One person brought up the fact that in the event of a power failure, how could we keep our CBs working? A regular car battery charger relies on electricity, along with a marine or RV battery. It was suggested that we get solar battery chargers to solve this problem.
      CB radios work well locally, but are of no use for long-distance communications. Here is where ham radio becomes a preference. There are also wind-up or battery-operated radios on the market, some which include bands for short wave and ham.
      I would suggest that if you are serious about becoming prepared for what’s ahead, you find others in your neighborhood or community who would like to get together and discuss similar topics. There is power in numbers and it is amazing the amount of information generated by someone who’s good at surfing these topics out on the Internet.
      Community is an important part of surviving the times ahead. By preparing ahead, members can decide who is expert at one thing or the other, and you can form a chain of communication to check up on one another. Besides, it’s fun getting together in each others’ homes, discussing these things, and enjoying iced tea and home-baked cookies.

      SPECIAL NOTE: Thanks to those of you who sent me get-well cards or e-mails wishing for a speedy recovery. I’m back to normal after my June surgery and buzzing around once again as Doug calls me ... the “Busy Bee.”

      Order your copy of Ann's latest novel, Rainbow Majesty.

       You can view her articles on Relationship Transition at the Denver Examiner, Do a search on site for Ann Ulrich Miller.

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