New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Everyday & Holiday Gift Ideas for Family, Friends and Preppers

 I just had to squeeze this in before I continue with the Great American Supermarket Games ;-}

Well folks despite all the Mayan Calendar and political mumbo-jumbo, we have made it to the string of holidays that signal years end and winter.

We should all have our fall and winter prepping completed and if you have been frugal and a planner, your holiday gifts are completed and you can avoid the shysterism of Black Friday and holiday shopping.  That’s right anyone who keeps track of prices will realize that starting around September the prices on most goods have gone up.  This is a pricing strategy of merchandisers so that when they put on holiday ‘sales’, they get the same price as always – i.e. the stuff really isn’t on sale at all.  The big shysters of the group will actually make a higher profit per item!  Don’t know about you, but to me this appears to be worse than ever this year with commercials and advertisements on “Black Friday sales”. 

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Winston Churchill

Put all that crap aside and let’s remember the true meaning of this holiday season.  From the fall festivals, hectic harvesting and stocking of foods for the winter months, Halloween; to Thanksgiving and the battle of the colonists that settled our country and how they got along with the peoples that already lived here at the time; then all the various spiritual holidays and their corresponding time of prayer and thanks concerning the miracles of each faith; the Winter Solstice and on to New Year’s with the reminder that we are now on the downhill side heading towards spring and re-birth. 

The thing is gift giving is a year round endeavor, what with birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, promotions and the like.  When it comes to our Prepper oriented friends we may feel in a bit of a quandary about what to get and still save money for ourselves.  So here are some ideas to get you started. (Yes, some of these are from last year.)

Read on for all kinds of inexpensive and still worthy gifts for him, her, children, family, friends and Preppers and many that are easy to make yourself too ;-} @


“It isn't the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.”
Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

PS - In the next day or two I'll continue with the Supermarket Games ...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Games - Store Design & Layout Game

The Store Design and Layout Game
There's nothing haphazard about the layout of your grocery store or where various food items are placed within the store.  It starts with the placement of the entry, which has a significant effect on how people shop and how much we spend. 

  • Right-hand side entries favor counter-clockwise movement through the shop, while left-hand side entries favor clockwise patterns.
  • Counter-clockwise shoppers spend, on average, $2 more per trip, than do clockwise shoppers.
  • People use the perimeter as a home base, so key items are placed on the perimeter of the supermarket.
  • Shorter trips tend to stick predominantly to the perimeter.
  • Familiar brands are placed at the end of aisles to serve as a psychological ‘welcome mat’ to those aisles, which results in increased traffic.
  • Products at the center of the aisle will receive less “face time
  • On an average shopping trip we cover about 25% of the supermarket.

People who use the fresh food (e.g., meat, fruit and vegetables) areas tend to spend more, so supermarkets place the produce area at the beginning (or the end) of the supermarket experience.  They also make the produce area a relaxed, inviting, and fresh/clean environment to create a sense of trust and emotional involvement in the shopping experience. 

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t weave up and down aisles. Research of movement patterns using GPS trackers attached to carts show that people tend to travel in select aisles and rarely in a systematic up and down pattern.

Even long shopping trips are punctuated by short excursions into and out of the aisle, rather than traversing the entire length of the aisle.  What this means is that key products (the ones with the greatest profit margins, or those that have paid a premium), will be placed at the ends of aisles in endcap displays.

Supermarkets are designed to make you walk out with way more items in your shopping bags than you intended.   They do this by being designed to slow us down as much as possible.  According to research every extra minute we spend lingering will cost us $1.70.  The more time a supermarket gets us to spend in the store, the more money we will likely spend.  This is why milk is put way at the back.  A store is often designed so that you cannot even follow a straight path to the back but must move around the produce, the fresh baked bread and the large displays in the middle of the aisles.

Sure, some of the layout is practical (like refrigerated cases along the periphery or meat cases in the back by the store's loading dock), but some is carefully calculated to ‘help’ us part with more money.  Walk in the front doors and chances are you're faced immediately with hard-to-resist items (not on your list) like fresh-cut flowers or just-baked loaves of bread.  Just try walking past them en route to a carton of milk without tossing something extra into your cart.

Think it's a coincidence that you almost always have to walk through the produce department when you enter the supermarket?  The produce is the second most profitable section.  While it occupies a little over 10% of the supermarket, it brings in close to 20% of the store's profits.

  • People also tend to use the perimeter of the shop as the main thoroughfare, rather than heading down aisles.
  • Supermarkets don’t block your way, but they do “push” the products that you may be interested in, into your path.
  • Many items are opportunistic purchases, or impulse, however, they tend to, again, be in the main pathways around the supermarket – although there are some caveats to this, particularly in relation to the placement of staples such as milk and bread.

Arrangement of the Products on the shelves is designed to have us explore and buy …

Some products are categorized and shelved according to their value to the shop.  Leading brands and more recently store-labels, are put in high traffic locations and are given priority for secondary placement.  Niche categories are placed in visible, but low traffic areas – because the target market is willing to hunt for them.

The Keep Us Guessing Strategy

Many supermarkets make it a habit to re-arrange the store layout every once in awhile just to get us to ‘explore’ all the aisles to find what we are looking for and hopefully do a little impulse buying in the process.

The Leveraging of Human Characteristics Mole

Products at eye level sells! Companies pay big bucks to place their products at adult eye level for adult sales or children's eye level for children's sales.  Stocking fees or "slotting allowances" are often paid to place products at eye level.  Brand-name products and high profit products are often sold this way.  Food companies pay for product placement and we pay the mark-up to the companies every time we purchase their item. The little-known companies and local food producers are often on the very top shelf or way down at floor level because they can’t afford to be right in the middle, where companies pay a stiff price to be closer to your eyes and hands.

Forget Peer Pressure try The Pressure of Children Gambit

Kid-friendly food is purposely placed within their reach.  Anyone who shops with a child (or several) in tow has to keep an eye out for products the kids grab and toss into the cart. "I always tell parents never to bring a kid to a store," says Nestle. "The packages with the cartoons on them are often placed on low shelves where even toddlers can reach for them." A trip down the cereal aisle will confirm this. "Sugary cereals are at kid's eye level, while the healthier, all-bran options are usually on the highest shelves," says Tara Gidus, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. It's the same situation at the cash register, where candy and gum are strategically placed to encourage impulse buys by adults and kids can easily grab low-lying products.

End-of-aisle Display Obstacle

These are there to distract you.  Supermarkets strategically place non-sale items along with the big sale items at the end aisle displays. They hope we will buy the item thinking it’s on sale. "Food companies pay the stores to place their products where they can be seen most easily—such as in a display at the end of an aisle," says Nestle. That prime real estate is likely to hold high-profit items or grouped items (such as marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers for s'mores) designed to inspire impulse buys. And although sometimes those aisle-ends are used to promote sale items, mostly they are used to have us think the item is on sale and buy it. "People are 30 percent more likely to buy items on the end of the aisle versus in the middle of the aisle—often because we think what's at the end is a better deal," says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating (Bantam, 2007).

The Impulse Buying Attack 

Not surprisingly, grocery store ‘eye candy’ (which sometimes is actual candy), you know those foods with enticing come-ons and delectable photos on the packaging that aren't on your shopping list—are prominently placed to encourage you to reach for them. 
When you are bored and standing in line at the check-out counter, you may find yourself reaching for a magazine, a pack of batteries, duct tape, or chewing gum. It turns out that this section of the store sells roughly 3x as much merchandise per square foot as the rest of the store (Food Marketing Institute, Washington DC). Often these are high profit items. Batteries, for example, usually sell for less at discount department stores.

The next post will be on the Lighting Game, the Life Style Game, the Freezing Switch-a-roo and Pricing Games ;-}

“Every step we take towards making the State the caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our master.” 
Dwight D. Eisenhower


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Did you 'Fall Back' Today?

Yes this morning at 2AM Daylight Savings Time (DST) we switched to Standard Time (ST) and turned our clocks back 1 hour.

Time is basically calculated based on Earth’s rotation, which determines the length of an Earth Day.  The rotation of our planet is variable.

Because of the variable rotation time of the planet and all that ‘orb’ science, the earth is divided into various time zones.

There are all kinds of ‘time’ or systems of time and our methods of keeping time have changed over the centuries. 

Systems of Time

•    Atomic Time , with the unit of duration the Systeme International (SI) second defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 cycles of radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of cesium 133. TAI is the International Atomic Time scale, a statistical timescale based on a large number of atomic clocks.
•    Universal Time (UT) is counted from 0 hours at midnight, with unit of duration the mean solar day, defined to be as uniform as possible despite variations in the rotation of the Earth.
o    UT0 is the rotational time of a particular place of observation. It is observed as the diurnal motion of stars or extraterrestrial radio sources.
o    UT1 is computed by correcting UT0 for the effect of polar motion on the longitude of the observing site. It varies from uniformity because of the irregularities in the Earth's rotation.
•    Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) differs from TAI by an integral number of seconds. UTC is kept within 0.9 seconds of UT1 by the introduction of one-second steps to UTC, the "leap second." To date these steps have always been positive.
•    Dynamical Time replaced ephemeris time as the independent argument in dynamical theories and ephemerides. Its unit of duration is based on the orbital motions of the Earth, Moon, and planets.
o    Terrestrial Time (TT), (or Terrestrial Dynamical Time, TDT), with unit of duration 86400 SI seconds on the geoid, is the independent argument of apparent geocentric ephemerides. TDT = TAI + 32.184 seconds.
o    Barycentric Dynamical Time (TDB), is the independent argument of ephemerides and dynamical theories that are referred to the solar system barycenter. TDB varies from TT only by periodic variations.
•    Geocentric Coordinate Time (TCG) is a coordinate time having its spatial origin at the center of mass of the Earth. TCG differs from TT as: TCG - TT = Lg x (JD -2443144.5) x 86400 seconds, with Lg = 6.969291e-10.
•    Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB) is a coordinate time having its spatial origin at the solar system barycenter. TCB differs from TDB in rate. The two are related by: TCB - TDB = iLb x (JD -2443144.5) x 86400 seconds, with Lb = 1.550505e-08.
•    Sidereal Time, with unit of duration the period of the Earth's rotation with respect to a point nearly fixed with respect to the stars, is the hour angle of the vernal equinox.
Delta T is the difference between Earth rotational time (UT1) and dynamical time (TDT). Predicted values of UT1 - UTC are provided by the Earth Orientation Department. An example showing the variation of the length of the day to late 2008 is shown below. Units are milliseconds.

When told the reason for Daylight Saving time the old Indian said,
"Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket
and have a longer blanket."
Author Unknown

For more information on how we came to today’s system of time see Fall Back – Spring Forward @

For making the most of your time see Time – Tracking It & Making It at

Winter is just around the corner so be sure to hit those Fall & Winter To Do’s.  For more information see Fall To Do’s - Preparing for Winter @ and Winter Preparedness & To Do’s @


Keep On Preppin'

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Great American Supermarket Game - Misleading Labeling Game & Dissonance Mind Game

The Misleading Labeling Game

Just remember that here in the U.S. “natural” and “fresh” have NO legal definitions.  However, “fresh” is generally considered any item under 5 weeks from harvest to point of sale.  The term “local” has a federal meaning of up to 400 miles from point of harvest, however most local farmers consider 20-50 miles as truly local.

Also keep in mind that the use of various chemicals, gases and GMO’s are NOT required to be listed on the label.  This means we can inadvertently be eating chemicals that we don’t wish to consume.  In some cases, like with fresh produce, all we have to do is wash the chemical off the item before we eat it.  In too many other cases the chemical(s) have been absorbed by the produce, dairy or meat item and cannot be washed off.

Good source of” may mean “bad for you”: You’ll see the claim “good source of” on cereals, crackers, and Pop-Tarts. The thing is, rarely are these vitamins worth the calories they’re embedded in. They’re usually just run-of-the-mill vitamins that processors are required to add to enriched flour—vitamins that can actually wash off your cereal the minute you add milk to it!

Lightly sweetened” could mean “sugar overload”:  This is another term that’s completely unregulated, so processors use it however they please. In Smart Start, that means 14 grams of sugar per cup. That’s more than Fruit Loops.

“Natural” doesn’t mean squat:  Outside of meat and seafood, the word “Natural” when applied to foods is completely unregulated and has no legal definition. So when you see 7Up Natural, a loaf of “natural” bread, or a product that claims to be “made with natural sugar,” that doesn’t really mean anything.

Reduced fat” may make you fat:  Sometimes, the full fat version of a product is more nutritious. Cookies and crackers often claim to contain “a third less fat than the original.” But that fat hasn’t just vanished—it’s been replaced by extra doses of sugar, starch, and sodium. They might have dropped the fat from 4 to 3 grams, but they’re hitting you with 2 grams extra sugar and 300 mg extra sodium.

“Zero grams of trans fat” may include trans fat:  Some products carry the “Zero grams of trans fat” claim when they do, in fact, contain trans fats. The FDA allows this claim as long as the food contains less than half a gram per serving. But serving size is whatever the food marketer wants it to be. So if the processor claims that, say, a serving is one cookie, you could easily get 3 full grams of trans fats by eating 6 “no trans fat” cookies. If you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on the ingredient statement, rest assured that it contains trans fat.

Don’t be ’100 %’ misled:  Drinks may be labeled ‘100% pure juice’, but that doesn't mean they're made exclusively with the advertised juice.  Take Tropicana Pure 100% Juice Pomegranate Blueberry, for example. Pomegranate and blueberry get top billing here, even though the ingredient list reveals that pear, apple and grape juices are among the first four ingredients. These juices are used because they're cheap to produce and they're very sweet—which means you're likely to come back for more.

The Dissonance Mind Game

In-store food marketing can and does influence our food-purchasing behaviors.  Let’s face it; most of our supermarket buying is habitual.  We don’t tend to put a lot of cognitive effort into the purchase of most of our brands.  We mostly choose from the same brands week after week.  So to convert us (or get us to change brands), supermarkets like to create dissonance in our mind. They do this by using ‘cues’ such as specials, price changes and the use of color.  Red, for example, is the most noticeable color in the spectrum, yellow and gold have been shown to bring on salivation and hunger (perhaps because of its links to the color of fried food), while blue is said to promote trust.

Think that cold supermarkets are just a fluke?  Think again!  When the temperature is just a shade above making the average human shiver with cold chills or get goose bumps – we humans get hungrier and when we are hungrier we buy more.  If we are hungry when we go shopping – we buy more!

Next time the Store Design and Layout Game

To all those on the East Coast - Hang in there, my church group collected and sent a number of items your way.  If your preps were up to date you are doing OK, otherwise my prayers go out to you ;-}


Keep On Preppin'