Sunday, September 30, 2012

Attention Fiction Writers

For those of you who are unagented but have completed manuscripts - especially in the SF/fantasy genres, Harper Voyager, a subsidiary of Harper-Collins publishers, might be looking for you ;). They are accepting completed, unagented manuscripts for the next two weeks. If you have one, it wouldn't hurt to submit it. Who knows? :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Localized TEOTWAWKI? It could happen to you!

I had some really interesting conversations at the Fair. One young man wanted to debate with me the use of the word apocalypse in the title of my book and whether or not it was correct to use that word without referencing the Bible.

In his opinion, the only valid use of that word would be in reference to the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse as foretold in the Book of Revelation which was documented by the exiled Roman author, John of Patmos. As a writer, a word-smith, an afficionado of English linguistics and the history of the English language, and a student of a few other languages, I understand the nature of words as dynamic and fluid - changing depending on the user and the circumstance.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, the word "apocalypse" comes from the Greek apocálypsis and means "uncovering" or a revelation. The Dictionary.com meaning includes the meaning I use of the word as any universal or widespread destruction or disaster. When I used that word, it had no religious connotations to me, at all.

As I told him, I don't think it's my job to tell anyone what to believe with regard to one's personal spirituality. Further, I believe one's spiritual beliefs are very personal, and there is a very distinct difference between religion and spirituality - in my opinion (and just remember, please, that my book is entirely my opinion, and so, since we're talking about a word I chose to use in the title of my book, my opinion really is all that matters).

Then, there was the conversation I had about the whole idea of TEOTWAWKI - the end of the world as we know it. The book I wrote and published is based on the premise that in twnenty-one days some catastrophic event is going to happen that is going to change life as we know it, and that change is going to result in a loss of all of the things we take for granted in our modern societies.

There seems to be a mistaken assumption that people, like me, who toss about phrases like the end of the world as we know it believe the end will be one single catastrophic event that plunges us all into a new Dark Ages and sends us all back to live in caves, eeking out an existence as best we can while we compete with the bears for meat and the bugs for vegetables.

That sort of easily defined That's All Folks is not the future I envision, at all, in spite of my book's premise (which is just a thought exercise). In fact, while I write about imagining we have twenty-one days, my bigger concern is that it will be more like twenty-one YEARS or some other, equally lengthy (by human standards) period of time before we've really collapsed far enough for the average person to think, "Wow! Things sure have changed!"

A slow collapse concerns me, and yes, I did mean to use the word concern (not that I want there to be an EMP or nuclear war, although it's a little like the difference between pulling off an adhesive bandage all at once and trying to peel it slowly - the pain may seem more intense the first way, but the recovery is much quicker), because my concern is that a slow collapse allows people to be either complacent about the future, or to be making very short-sighted and disastrous decisions that will solve very short-term problems with very long-term and significantly destructive consequences, like razing whole forests for the lumber, fracking, deep sea oil drilling, mountain-top removal, nuclear power plants, mono crop agriculture, feeding corn to livestock, BPA-lined cans, High Fructose Corn Syrup, coal mining .... Any one of those things was a short-term solution without any understanding of the long-term consequences.

The problem is that, for the average person, the collapse will be slow enough that he/she won't notice it until it's too late. It's like the boiling frog syndrome - put a frog into hot water, and he'll jump out. Put him in cold water and incrementally increase the heat, and he'll boil alive before he even knows he's dead.

So, what if instead of some catastrophic event that changed the world, we moved a little closer to home, and we were given a heads' up that in twenty-one days, our own personal life would suffer a significant shake-up? It could be something as simple as losing a job and not finding a new one or something as huge as another World War. It could be a natural disaster, like the Colorado wildfires, which will take years to recover from, or an event like Hurricane Katrina, and seven years later, some people have not, nor ever will, return to New Orleans, and parts of the city are a ghost town.

Maybe the kinds of preps I, and people like me, discuss wouldn't be useful for some possible scenarios, but there are a lot of things that we could be doing to minimize the negative effects of normal, everyday, life-changing events. The challenge is to recognize that sometimes the "apocalypse" looks nothing like Four Horsemen, but the reality is sometimes just as catastrophic as our TEOTWAWKI fantasies.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fire Wood

This year was the first time in four years that we've paid for firewood. We bought one cord (we need about five cords to get us through the winter with using wood as our only heat, and didn't quite have what we needed to feel comfortable that we'd make it through the winter), and it was as much because we could use the wood (because we've been busier than usual - it seems - and we didn't have as much time to gather as much free wood as we've found in years past) as it was a favor to a friend - who cut, split and delivered said cord. All we had to do was stack it, and with me and my three girls all working together, it took around forty-five minutes. They're pretty awesome girls. This will be the wood we burn at the end of the season.

Since 2008, when we replaced our antique cast-iron woodstove with a high-efficiency Lopi cooktop woodstove, we've been burning free wood, for the most part, and usually, it's pine, because a lot of pine and fir trees don't survive our increasingly intense winter and spring storms, and most people just want someone to come and get the trees out of their yards - either because they have no use for firewood, or because they don't burn pine.

We do ... burn pine.

We like burning pine.

Prefer it, at certain times during the day, in fact.

Personally, I love the intense heat it puts out. Wet clothes in front of the woodstove that is filled with pine logs dry in about forty-five minutes. Honest. That's faster than an electric clothesdryer ... and it's free.

What I find is that there are a lot of misunderstandings about burning wood and what kind of wood is the best to use for home heating.

Luckily, I happened upon a really fantastic website that provides some pretty interesting facts about the nature of firewood.

Not everyone is going to or even needs to, burn wood for heat, but if there's a possibility of using firewood as a replacement for other heat options, checking out the article Best Burning Wood might prove very useful.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Free Food ... Really!

Deus Ex Machina and I spent the end of last week on a cross-country adventure. No, it didn't snow in Maine prompting us to pull out the skis a few weeks earlier than usual, but we did drive halfway across the country to a ski-resort in Pennsylvania where we were Presenters at the Mother Earth News Fair.

It was an incredible experience, not because of the hundreds of people who stopped to listen to my talks, but because of the opportunity to meet some pretty wonderful and really smart people - like Sandor Katz, who helped fuel my intense interest in fermentation as a means of preserving my harvest ... and who was just a really nice guy (even though I was a little agog and must have sounded like a star-struck teenager - thank goodness Deus Ex Machina kept his level-headedness :).

My solo talk was about our adventures in wild foraging, mostly this year, when we embarked on a personal challenge to make a concentrated effort to forage some of our food - and not just go out and pick a few plants, but to really incorporate those foods into our regular diet.

In the beginning, we had three goals:
  • To have one meal per week that included some foraged component (like foraged maple syrup on our foraged blueberry pancakes);
  • To learn to preserve some of what we gathered for use later on;
  • And to have a party at the end of the summer and invite our friends and family to join us in a foraged feast.
We were successful in meeting all three of our goals, but there was another, unexpected but very exciting consequence to our "season" of foraging. We discovered how incredibly empowering it is to know what's out there, and know, that worst-case scenario, there are things out there to eat. We can feed ourselves. We might not eat a lot, but neither will we starve, and so foraging isn't just a one-time project for us - it's become part of what we do.

I started my talk with some reasons why we decided to start foraging. Part of it was just for the skill-building, but there were several other reasons we have been attracted to learning to forage. Concerns about food safety certainly fueled our efforts. From BPA in packaging to GMOs to bacterial contamination, it's gotten to the point that nothing in the industrial food complex is safe to eat.

The other significant motivator was the cost of food. As I mentioned in my talk, in 2008 the price of flour tripled - a fact which I reported here on my blog, and after I mentioned it and linked to the well-known flour company, I had a comment by their PR person, who told me (and all of you), that weather-related crop failures that year had affected the price of wheat, which, in turn, affected the price of the flour they sold.

Food prices have been increasing, pretty steadily, since 2000. In fact, this graph shows that, while prices have been on a kind of roller coaster up and down, the general trend has been steadily increasing with some food commodities tripling.



After I got back home, I spent a few hours reading news and headlines. I found two articles that really hit the proverbial nail on the head as to why Deus Ex Machina and I have so fully embraced this foraging lifestyle.

The first is a poem called Being Poor. There was a time in my life when I lived that reality. The one about not taking a job because there is no reliable child care hit home pretty hard, but for me it was not taking the opportunity of a lifetime to teach in Guam, because I didn't have (and my credit was so bad that I couldn't even borrow) $3000 to get me through the first month until I got paid. I would have added that "being poor means borrowing from Paul to pay Peter, and then, being so poor that one can neither pay the debt nor afford the filing fees for bankruptcy." That's where I was in the early 1990s, as a recent college graduate with children. In fact, when I was a grad student, my son was in preschool, and his clothes were in such rough shape, one of his teachers sent home a note telling me about a clothing pantry where we could probably qualify for help.

The second was an article about shortages at a food pantry here in Maine. When the cost of food increases so much that those organizations that are designed to feed people who can't afford food, can't afford food, things are pretty bad. As the article mentions, Maine is one of the ten poorest states in the US, and we have some pretty significant environmental factors working against us. When it's cold, and we have to choose between heating our homes and eating, life can become scary.

Taking control of finding our food has been a huge part of what Deus Ex Machina and I have been trying to do for the past decade. I mentioned to Deus Ex Machina that if something happened to our income, we'd definitely be making some significant lifestyle changes, and it's long been my stance that I'd fight with everything I have to keep our house - even if it means that we have to eat weeds and burn what twigs and fallen branches we can find out in the woods.

We haven't reached that point where doing those things is the difference between life and death, but by cultivating that knowledge and skill now, we're much better positioned should that become our reality.

We were so fortunate to be asked to present at the Mother Earth News Fair last week, and I was humbled by the number of people who came to hear me talk. The best part, though, was that so many people came up afterward to share their stories with me. It gives me hope, that even with all of the bad news, there are some incredibly amazing and positive things happening.

As Kenny, from Veggie Gardening Tips, mentioned, there is a lot of food out there. The key is knowing what to look for ... which isn't really as hard as it sounds - at least that's what this suburban-raised, suburban-Mom learned in her "Season of Eating Free."

And if I can do it, so can others.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My, You Have Some Fancy Jowls, My Dear

I recently purchased a pig from a young friend who raises them as part of her participation in 4-H. Said pig is now in my freezer, after visiting our friend, Ken.

Ever since I read Kate's post about making guanciale, I've wanted to try it. Unlike Kate, I am not a chef, but like Kate, I love experimenting and trying to make new foods in my kitchen. To date, I've made yogurt and cheese; I've fermented all sorts of vegetables (although mostly cucumbers and cabbage); I've helped Deus Ex Machina with fermented beverages (wines and beers); I've made kombucha (another fermented beverage); I've dehydrated just about anything that will fit in my dehydrator; and I've canned just about anything that can be stored in a jar.

The only thing that was holding me back from trying my hand at guanciale is having the right ingredients - specifically, I needed pig jowls.

Guanciale, I discovered from my research, is, basically, bacon, but it's more ... so much more! I've never had real guanciale (most resources I found insist that the only place to really find guanciale is in Italy, and since I've never been to Italy, it's a safe bet that I've never eaten it), but I do love some bacon, and I also love most other cured meats, including porscuitto, which is incredible, but very expensive for the good stuff (and who wants to skimp when one is eating what is already a pretty high end sort of meat).

So, when I filled out the order form for the pig we purchased, I made a note to the butcher, please save the jowls for me. And he did.

I'm very excited to give it a try, and I may screw it up ... or we may end up with some fancy bacon. Either way, it will be an exciting and interesting experience ... and the best part is the learning of a new skill, and the chance to honor this animal by using a part that is, sometimes, just tossed in the scrap heap.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Can You Guess What I'm Doing?






If you guessed, making soap, you're right!

Recipe and instructions are in the book ;). Ukulele playing optional :).


Strumming Around the Pea Pods

I took out my ukulele this morning and started strumming. My favorite song to play is "Angel of the Morning" - not the Juice Newton version, but the Merrilee Rush version, which goes a little better with a ukulele accompaniment.

I'm debating whether to take my ukulele with me to Pennsylvania. I imagine myself sitting and playing as people happen into my talk and explaining that my talk has nothing to do with the ukulele, but that it calms me.

I find calm is what we need these days, because there seem to be a lot of things that could really freak us out, if we let them.

I read an article yesterday that stated 1 in 7 Americans are currently receiving food stamps. It's not something I see much of in my personal life. I'm pretty well isolated here in my ivory tower in the suburbs where the flowers are (literally) growing and the bees (also literally) buzzing. Most of what I know about what's going on is from reading the news and other blogs.

What's confusing sometimes is that I'm a huge fan of history, and so a great many of the books I read are historical fiction, memoirs, or history (right now I'm reading Charles Mann's 1491, Pearl S. Buck's A House Divided, and as a read-aloud with my daughters Elizabeth George Spears' Calico Captive). I find these historical references very useful, especially when they describe ordinary human struggling, because it's good to see how resilient and innovative people can be. Because I read a lot about what was, sometimes I get confused when I'm reading about what is.

This morning I was meandering through the blogosphere and on one blog a highlighted paragraph talked about the drought. The local feed store is closed and farmers are selling off or slaughtering their animals. I had to read it three times, and then, I had to look at the date five times, because I thought I must be reading an archived news article from seventy-five years ago. No, it's real, and it's now.

It's real, and it's now.

One in seven Americans need a food subsidy because they can't afford to buy food.

I was looking at my garlic stores the other day - contemplating. Do I take bulbs from the biggest heads to plant, or do I buy seed? It's nearly time to plant the garlic, which I seed in the fall and harvested in the early summer. The acorns are dropping, and it looks to be a good acorn year, which is good for us, as foragers, but if tales be true is the harbinger of a hard winter, which is not good for us, because our wood pile is a little slimmer than, perhaps, we'd like it to be.

I planted peas the other day - yes, in August. Crazy, right? I didn't know what to expect. Peas are cold-loving plants. It's not cold, yet, but as we move closer to the autumn equinox, the nights get colder, which is just what peas like. They've sprouted, and the lettuce I planted in early Aguust is threatening to bolt.

None of this, necessarily, goes together, and this isn't, perhaps, a puzzle to be solved, but just little snippets of what I think about as I sit in my office in the early morning, sipping tea and strumming my ukulele.

On the other hand, perhaps, it does all go together - this reading articles about hunger and growing peas in my yard, in Maine, in September. Maybe there is some message in my madness (I know the phrase is "method to my madness", but allow me some poetic license) - it's not too late to start doing something. Maybe it's never, really, too late, and the old saying about teaching old dogs new tricks is simply a pessimistic untruth.

In that respect, then, all of it does, kind of, fit like a neat little puzzle - strumming my ukulele, sipping tea and watching as the rising sun's rays touch the little pea shoots. I'm not young, by any stretch of the imagination. In short, this old dog is learning, every day, and my ivory tower may come crashing down, but in the remnants of my entitled suburban world you'll find me, tiptoeing through the garden, singing to the peas ... to make them grow bigger, of course.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Welcome to My Lily Pad ... Come in ... The Water's Fine

When I read news articles - like this one that details the selling off of stocks for American-based consumer products companies and banks - I wonder what do they know that we don't.

I'm not talking about insider trader secrets or conspiracy theory fodder, but the reality is that these billionaires (like Warren Buffett) who are selling off their stocks in these companies (like JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Johnson&Johnson, Proctor and Gamble) made their fortunes in the stock market, and one has to think that these guys probably know a thing or two that, perhaps, we average folks don't know ...

... and maybe we should be paying attention - not so that we can emulate their actions and also become billionaires, but so that when they do something like this, we can, perhaps, be a bit more prepared when there's an upset (like the real estate bubble that burst in 2008. In this May 2006 article, Buffett cautioned that the real estate market was on a downward trend).

To be clear, Buffett is not/does not predict the future. What he does is react to trends - the same thing Gerard Celente (who has been warning of the types of economic downturns we've been seeing for many years). In the case of the housing bubble, in 2006, he noticed a slowing in the real estate market in areas that had, formerly, been hot beds of activity, and he began investing less, and then, selling his properties in those areas. In other words, he got out while the gettin' was good.

What they're noticing now is that consumer spending is down (duh!). Most of the companies whose stocks are being jettisoned by these billionaires are consumer-based products. With 70% of the US economy dependent on consumer spending and an obvious downward spiral in consumer spending, one would have to be blind - or completely oblivious - to not see that something is coming up the pike.

According to the article, ... these professional investors are aware of specific research that points toward a massive market correction, as much as 90%.

*After this quote a lot of the rest of the Moneynews.com article is a promo for Robert Wiedemer's book "Aftershock", but the point should be taken, regardless of Wiedemer's the hard sell, that paying attention to market trends and knowing when to take a gamble and when to take one's money and run is what these guys do. If they're running from these American companies (in particular the big lending giants like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs), we need to be taking some steps to protect ourselves, too.

The problem is that most of us think of prepping for this economic collapse in the same way that we think of prepping for an approaching storm. We stock up on water and/or food, check the flashlight and radio batteries, and batten down the hatches, settle in with a good book, and roast marshmallows over candles while the storm rages. Then, we go out, assess the damage, clean up, and go on with our lives.

It's not like that, though. With economic collapse, there's no, single, catastrophic event that can be tracked on the doppler radar. Instead, it's a series of, seemingly, unrelated events with one happening in Europe, one in Syria, one in Peru, and one in Iowa, and all of these places will be hard hit by whatever disaster (whether nature or man is the culprit), but we tend to think that what happens in Europe is of no consequence to us in Iowa.

We can stock up on bottled water and food in our basement (and probably should, for every winter, which we replenish with fresh home-grown and canned goodness every fall :), but if nothing happens (like the Y2K non-event), we have 30 cases of MREs, which we won't, on an average day, ever eat. Problem is that, even in the midst of this collapse (and we are in the midst of it, right now), every day is an *average* day for most of us. We'll keep holding on to that treasure of stored MREs, and never realize that the big IT we've been waiting for happened while we were busy watching Honey Boo-Boo.

The collapse won't be a single event that marks the end of the world - at least not for those of us who are living it (it took several HUNDRED YEARS for the Roman Empire to collapse and plunge the world into what was to become known as the Dark Ages, but the folks living through just knew that today was just a little worse than yesterday was). In retrospect, we'll look back and think, "Oh, it was that day", but in the here-and-now, we'll just keep living our lives, until one day, we realize that we can't keep living the lives we've been living - either because we open our eyes and make a change or because the reality of the new way of things finally catches up to us.

It's simply not enough to prepare for TEOTWAWKI by setting up a storm shelter. We have to change our attitudes, and our way of living in the world.

The fact is stocking up on peanut butter, rice and oil will only shield one from the eminent price hikes until one has to replace those items - and then, the sticker shock could be paralyzing. Consider, if you bought your first car in 1988, and it was a Yugo, for which you paid $3000, and you've been driving it since that time, and then, finally, had to replace it, because you just can't find repair parts anymore. You choose as your replacement a Ford Fiesta, which has a similar body type, but the sticker price is four-times what you paid for your Yugo. Sure, you've saved money all these years over having a car payment, but there's still that mental and financial leap of expecting to pay $3000 for a car and realizing that it's going to cost $13,000.

The problem is that all of those years of no car payment did not prepare one to pay $13,000 for a car that is not really any better than what one paid $3000 for twenty years ago. In short, not having a car payment did nothing to encourage a change in lifestyle to not-being-dependent on the car.

Buying and storing prepared foods from the grocery store certainly can provide some sense of security, but food is a perishable consumable. It will either be eaten or will expire. And then ... what?

The point is that, while we might save ourselves a bit of money in the short-term by stocking up on peanut butter and olive oil today, while prices are low, eventually, we're going to have to purchase those things again ... unless we learn to produce those things ourselves, or we eliminate our dependence on them.

In short, go ahead and buy the peanut butter, if one lives in a region of the world where peanuts grow, but also buy peanut seeds and learn to grow peanuts to roast and grind into peanut butter.

We need to be using this time, while we're still able to think about buying our supplies, to learn to produce them ourselves or learn to live without them.

The other day Deus Ex Machina and I were chatting about gasoline prices, and I was reflecting on the general apathy and lack of news coverage regarding the ever increasing costs (which are, now, only $0.35 cheaper - and still increasing, almost daily - than at their 2008 height). Deus Ex Machina called it the Boiling Frog Syndrome.

If one drops a frog into a boiling pot of water, he'll jump out. But if one puts a frog into a cold pot of water and sets that water to boil, the frog will be cooked before he feels the change in temperature.

In short, with slow change, we become accustomed to the change a little at a time, and never think much about what's happening until it's too late for us to react.

It took two years for the housing bubble, which Buffett saw coming in 2006, to finally burst. It's going to take time for whatever bubble is inflating now to pop.

But we'd be smart not to be frogs in the slowly simmering pot, and the only way for us to do that is to emulate those billionaires and get out while the gettin' is good.

As consumer spending slows, company profits dwindle, and management starts looking for ways to cut costs and increase profits. One way they usually do this is by cutting jobs, which means more unemployment. When people are out of work, they tend to spend less, which means that consumer spending slows and company profits dwindle, and management starts looking for ways to cut costs ...

Pop!

If you can't imagine how you'd survive without the money earned at your job, you should probably start trying.

Don't focus on limitations - Imagine the possibilities.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Reprint

The following is an old post from my archived blog. It was originally published: FRIDAY, JANUARY 09, 2009

A Cow and a Shrimp Walk Into My Freezer ...


Today, while we were on our way to the butcher's to pick up our portion of the cow we bought from a local farmer, Big Little Sister said, "My friend said that in 2012 the sun is going to burn up all of the satellites."

Her tone was matter-of-fact, like her friend had said in 2012 the Boston Red Sox would win the World Series, and we'd all eat peanuts, popcorn and cracker jacks in celebration.

She continued, "When all of the satellites are gone, we won't have any electricity, and it will be the end of the world."

I looked at her kind of sideways (I was driving and couldn't take my eyes off the road to really study her face, like I wanted to do).

"And what do you think about that?" I asked her.

She just shrugged.

I told her that the Mayan calendar ended in 2012. I also mentioned that each astrological age was approximately 2025 years long (stating that most things in nature aren't exact, and so that number, 2025 years, is not definite, but an estimate), and the current astrological age started about 2009 years ago. I told her that we were coming to the end of the Age of Pisces and entering the Age of Aquarius.

Then, I said, "You realize, though, that every ending is also a beginning, right? The end of a road is the beginning of a wilderness. The end of the day is the beginning of night. The end of one year is the beginning of another. Just because the Mayan calendar ends at 2012, doesn't mean that the world is going to cease to exist. It just means that it's the beginning of something different."

We arrived at our destination, and I parked the car, taking the opportunity to look her square in the face. I told her that I thought she should have a reassuring talk with her friend. I told her that not having electricity did not mean the world was ending and that we'd all die. I assured her that people had lived for hundreds of thousands of years without electricity. I told her, making sure that she was really listening to me, that everything we use electricity to do, we could do without it ... except the computer, and, then, I stopped and smiled at her, because she and her friend spend a lot of time on the computer together ;). But after a pause, I added that it was possible to make electricity on our own, and maybe we wouldn't have as much electricity, and maybe we'd have to give up our washing machine and refrigerator to keep the computers, but there are alternatives to those things.

She nodded.

And I went into the shop to get our meat, while she and her sisters played with the cat that came up to the car to greet us. She didn't mention it again.

I was suddenly very thankful - thankful that we'd lost power for three days just about a month ago, and that we'd come through without any problems. I was thankful for the Twenty-one Days 'Til Collapse challenge in September and October, and I was thankful for the Independence Day Challenge.

Maybe if I'd been a little less prepared, maybe if I'd been at either extreme of Camp TEOTWAWKI (the grab-your-gun-and-your-beef-jerky-and-run-for-the-hills Camp or the Bill-Gates-will-figure-it-out-and-sell-it-at-Wal*Mart Camp), her comment might have freaked me out a bit, but it didn't.

What does kind of knock a hole in my socks, however, is that she and her friend are even having that conversation. It's weird, a little, I guess. It makes me wonder where her friend heard the date, 2012. There are a lot of people, with very different points of view, talking about the significance of that particular year. Of course, in 1995, I was told, very emphatically, that the end of the world would come in February 1997, and the people who were telling me (a religious group) had proof. While I certainly didn't believe that anyone can predict the exact date the world will end, based on information in the Bible, it did cause me a bit of concern. So, when I started hearing the year 2012 being tossed around as having some spiritual significance, I began to wonder. It's probably as accurate as the 1997 prediction.

But I wonder.

Regardless, though, as I tried to assure Big Little Sister so that she could soothe her friend, even if the end of the world As We Know It does occur in 2012, the best we can do is learn what we can to survive without all of the luxuries we've come to depend on.

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