Monthly Archives: May 2012

Finding a Product that Sells on a Shoestring

Finding a profitable niche is even more important when you are starting a business or new product line on a shoestring. You haven’t got time or money to waste, so you need to be able to determine in advance when you’ve got a hot item that will sell itself if people know about it.

It is not difficult to find suppliers who will give you a reasonable price on hundreds of an item at a time. It is much more difficult to find suppliers who will sell you two or ten at a time. Or one. At least, who will do so at a price you can afford to pay and still have room to make a profit. Expect to purchase for 50-75% of the resale price if you want to make a profit without running yourself into the ground. For many product types, that can be hard to find. For many of the product types that you can find at those prices, nobody wants them because they are saturated markets.

So how do you find products you can sell at a profit, that people actually want to buy? Well, there isn’t a simple answer, because each market area varies, but there are some ideas that can help you find what works within your arena.

  1. Make do. When you are looking for a new product, you probably won’t be able to go out and find a manufacturer to make something just for you. Find something that can be used in the same manner, and sell that instead, or something that you can easily modify. If you are smart about it, you can get by until you can afford to have something custom made. If there is competition in the market, you’ll have to offer a significantly lower price if yours has a built in inconvenience or detraction, but if you can still come out at a profit, there is a market niche for that.
  2. Simplify. Look for the simpler ways of doing things, not the complicated ways. If you make a thing, make sure you can do it fast enough to profit from it at the price you can sell it for. Make sure you can repeatedly get low cost materials to make it so the cost of production does not eat up your profits. Keep things as simple as you possibly can to start with. If something is too complex, brainstorm easier ways to do it. This is how inventions come about!
  3. Get creative. Don’t just look at what a product was designed to do. Look at how it can be used and niched to fill a need. There are actually a lot of raw products out there which can be adapted to various uses, and just by changing the label, you have a salable product without having to significantly remake the item. If you know a particular item might sell, think about how you can make it using existing low cost supplies. When searching for supplies, get creative in how you search, as well. Many supply items go by many names, and are classed under multiple categories. A polished round wooden piece with a hole in the middle may be classed as a “wooden wheel”, a “wood donut bead”, a “wooden circle”, or a “wood round”. It might be found on jewelry sites, toy making sites, craft sites, woodworking sites, or wholesale import parts supply sites.
  4. Dropship. Drop shipping means that the supplier ships it direct from their warehouse to your customer. Blind drop shipping means they put YOU as the reseller, not themselves. Either way can work, though if it is NOT blind drop shipped, you will need to note on your sales page that the item is “shipped direct from the manufacturer”. Finding drop shipping companies is NOT simple. People think they can source them by searching for “dropship merchandise” or something like that. Nope! That gets you a bunch of scam companies that have no unique product, who overcharge you, and who could care less about the success of your business. The best way to find drop ship companies is to go find a product you really like, or have a use for and know you can sell, and see if they drop ship. Many do that do not publish that fact. Many mom and pop companies will drop ship if you explain what you want, and many will go out of their way to blind drop ship for you as well. The rule is, find a drop shipper based on the PRODUCT search, not based on a search for drop shippers, if you want to find a good one. Remember, when you choose to drop ship, you lower your operational costs, you do not have to worry about carrying inventory, and you spend only a few minutes processing an order to make your profit. But you rely on the supply company for YOUR reputation. You also have to make sure you pass on accurate shipping costs, which can be difficult if you carry items from more than one supplier. It can be a good place to start when you are needing to get product moving on a shoestring.
  5. Be flexible. Many people get an idea in their heads, and if it does not work exactly how they wanted it to, they bail. So maybe you decide to sell 3 armed widgets, and all you get are requests for 4 armed widgets. If you can supply 4 armed widgets, and that is where the demand is, by all means, adjust your dream and go with what is needed! Don’t get so stuck on doing what you want that you forget to pay attention to what the customer wants. Most new businesses start out with different concepts than they end up with – because certain things you do not know until you try them, and when you do, it is only smart to learn and adapt, even if it doesn’t seem to be quite what you thought it would be. Follow the opportunities, and don’t get discouraged over the seeming failures – they aren’t failures, they are learning experiences.
  6. Try a new angle. There are more saturated markets out there than you can shake a stick at. Often the difference between being another of the numbers, and a wild success is the way in which you approach the product and marketing. Come at it from a fresh angle. Put a spin on it that makes it more desirable – most saturated markets are saturated because the item IS popular, there are just more people trying to capitalize on it than there are customers who want to buy from a new source. Humor, kindness, color, decoration, attitude. All of those things make the product YOU sell more desirable than the product someone else sells, even if it is functionally identical.
  7. Level the competitive field. When you are a small business trying to compete against a big business, you need to offer something desirable that they CANNOT offer. Look at the business model of the competitor. Find the weakness. Maybe they don’t have an easy way to contact a real person. Maybe they cater to a 20 something crowd, and ignore the older customers. Maybe they offer automated product delivery that could be personalized. Look for a thing that they can’t change without losing what makes them distinctive. Offer THAT along with the product. Your competition can’t touch that – and even if your store is not as professional looking as theirs, and even if your product is a little more inconvenient to get, if it meets the needs of people who are NOT being served by the big competitor(s), you’ve got a chance to grow around them.
  8. Add value. Sometimes if you can’t find a product to resell that you can get at a true wholesale price, you may be able to add value to it. It isn’t really that hard, it can be very simple. Sell it in a bundle, sell it with a decoration added, sell it with better instructions or personally accessible help. Add value somewhere that makes it worth paying more for, or which makes it a separate product type.
  9. Brainstorm. Get together in a group of business people – I don’t mean the ones that wear suits and think the only way to do business is according to the SBA. I mean other small business owners who have done similar shoestring startups. Make sure they are people who are following their dream – then you don’t have to worry about them sealing YOUR dream (you won’t want your competition in the brain trust, as a general rule). Discuss ways to improve value, niche a product, and source a wholesale product or drop-ship product. Often the synergy of two, three, or four people is enough to spark some ideas. Generally, they won’t tell you the thing you need to do to make your business work – but something they say will spark your creativity and help you get past a hurdle. There is great power in brainstorming.

You absolutely need to avoid selling products which are carried by every discount department store in the country. Nobody wants to buy those for the price you’d have to charge, plus shipping.

You’ve got to do better than that! And you can!

Our company is now offering Cottage Industry Consulting to help you get started right.

The Hen Who Laid Invisible Eggs

Large hen

The spring sun smiled brightly on the farmyard, where about a dozen hens and one strutting rooster scratched at the ground, pecking up bits of grain, small stones, tender young weeds, and juicy worms and bugs. They especially loved the worms and bugs.

One especially fine looking hen would periodically stop and turn in the sunlight so the sun could catch the gold lacing design on her feathers. She knew her feathers glowed golden in the sunlight and she was very proud of them. She posed a great deal when the farmer’s wife came to feed the chickens and collect the eggs, and she particularly enjoyed the compliments that the farmer’s wife gave her each day.

“Aren’t you a fine one, then?” the farmer’s wife would say. “So fluffy and shiny looking!” She called her Goldie for the gleaming gold in her feathers.

The farmer’s wife had a soft spot for another hen also. This hen was a middle aged hen, who was anything but fluffy and gleaming. She was rather thin looking, with an unimpressive gray and white feathering. She stood very upright, with a neck that went straight up on one end, and a tail that went straight up on the other end. Her breed was known for outstanding egg production though, and over the last few seasons she had proven her worth by being the soonest in the spring to lay, the last in the fall to stop laying, and the most consistent layer in between. She also normally sat at least one clutch of eggs each year, bringing new chicks into the barnyard to replace the aging hens.

When the farmer’s wife noticed this hen start to get broody, she would leave her alone and let her hatch the clutch of eggs. A good farmer’s wife knows that chicks from a good egg layer are worth more than the eggs, and lets her sit a clutch now and again if she gets broody.

The farmer’s wife named the skinny hen “Fayoumi”, and talked to her each day as she passed by to feed the hens and gather the eggs. Sometimes she’d pick her up and smooth her feathers, and Fayoumi always let her.

If a farm has good egg layers, then they’ll get an egg from every hen at least part of the time. This is how they know that all the hens are laying. This year, the farmer’s wife kept waiting in the spring for all the hens to be laying. But she never gathered more than 11 eggs. One of the hens was not laying this year.

The farmer’s wife told her husband that she knew that Fayoumi was getting past her prime, and maybe she was not laying this year. She felt a little sad about it, because Fayoumi was one of her favorite hens, and she had been such a good layer. A successful farm just does not have room to feed a hen that does not lay eggs, and Fayoumi was just not attractive enough to sell as a pet. The farmer’s wife decided to wait and watch, and see if she could see for certain whether Fayoumi was still laying or not.

Every morning, Fayoumi woke with the sun. She quietly climbed into the nest box and laid her egg, then she covered it with straw before hopping down and leaving the henhouse. She’d go off to hunt and scratch for a few hours, then she’d find a shady spot for an afternoon nap during the heat of the day. After her nap, she’d busily scratch until dusk, when she’d skitter into the henhouse with the other hens to roost for the night.

Goldie followed a different schedule. Goldie liked to wake up later in the day. She’d stay on the night roost until noon, and then she’d hop down and wander sleepily out into the yard. She would scratch around for a few hours, always appearing at the feeder when the farmer’s wife fed the chickens in the evening.

Sometime during the afternoon, most of the hens would head, one by one, for the nest boxes to lay their eggs. There were five nest boxes, and they liked the middle ones best. Fayoumi laid her egg in a corner nest box, and the other hens did not like the corner. The hens would deposit an egg, and then cackle loudly to announce their accomplishment. The rooster would cluck proudly to claim his part in the job.

Goldie never went first. She always waited until the other hens had all been in. She’d climb into the nest box, sit there for a while, and cackle loudly. She’d climb out as the rooster cheered her on.

But Goldie never laid an egg. She did not know how, and she couldn’t do it. She would always pick a nest box with eggs already in it, so no one would ever know she did not lay an egg.

One day, Goldie went into the henhouse too early, and all of the nest boxes were full except the one in the corner. Goldie decided she’d hide there until the other hens left, and then she’d pretend to lay an egg. To her surprise, she found an egg, at the back of the nest box, under the straw! She waited a few minutes, then cackled happily, and she uncovered the egg and hopped down.

The next day, she checked the corner box again, and sure enough, there was an egg under the straw again. From that day on, she used the corner nest box, and simply uncovered Fayoumi’s egg, and claimed it as her own. Of course, she had no idea whose egg she was claiming.

Fayoumi knew though. She noticed Goldie’s fraud. Fayoumi now knew that Goldie could not lay an egg. She also knew that Goldie was claiming Fayoumi’s egg, and she was not happy about it. She knew it would not last though – fraud has a way of exposing itself.

Goldie was not happy either. She lived in fear that someone would notice that she was not able to lay an egg. This made her feel like she had to make herself look more important, and like unhappy people often do, she decided to make someone else look bad, so she could try to make herself look better. Fayoumi looked like an easy target – she was skinny and not so young anymore, and she was quiet. So Goldie started to insult Fayoumi.

“Look at that lazy chicken,” she would cluck in the afternoon. “What is she doing taking a nap in the middle of the day? She should be laying an egg! I’ll bet she can’t even lay an egg anymore!” Goldie insulted and criticized and meanmouthed Fayoumi worse every day.

Then one day, Fayoumi skipped her afternoon nap. Instead, she found a bush in the corner of the farmyard, and began scratching out a nest. It took a few days to get it just right, and Goldie started criticizing her about sneaking off to take a nap where no one could see.

On the fourth day after Fayoumi had started making her nest, she was nowhere to be found in the farmyard! She was not in the henhouse at night, and she was not scratching in the yard when Goldie was up! Goldie thought Fayoumi had just run away. Goldie smiled at that, because this was proof that she was right about Fayoumi all along!

That afternoon, Goldie sauntered proudly into the henhouse, ready to begin her daily ruse. She hopped up into the corner nest box, but there was no egg! Goldie shrugged and moved over to a middle nest with several eggs already in it and faked laying an egg there. When there was no egg in the corner the next day either, Goldie knew that Fayoumi had laid the eggs that she had claimed for so long.

The farmer’s wife wasn’t worried about Fayoumi, because she got up earlier in the morning than Goldie did! She saw what Goldie missed – she saw Fayoumi come out from under the bush each morning, and scratch for food, and then go back under the bush. The farmer’s wife smiled… she knew that Fayoumi had not stopped laying after all. But she still did not know who was not laying.

The fair was coming, and the Farmer’s wife decided to enter Goldie in the fair. She was such a fine hen, she was sure to win a prize. Goldie was in the farmyard though, getting dusty and dirty as she scratched around each day. To win a prize, she’d need to be clean, so the farmer’s wife caught Goldie and put her in a small pen by herself. The pen was much cleaner than the dusty farmyard, and had a nest box in the corner. The farmer’s wife started her on special feed to make her look as pretty as possible. Goldie grew cleaner and sleeker every day. But the nest box in the pen never had an egg. The nest boxes in the henhouse had 10 eggs every day, and Goldie had none.

Goldie went to the fair, and won a blue ribbon. And then she went to the sale barn, where she was sold to a family who wanted a pet chicken, for $5 – they did not want to pay more for a chicken who could not lay eggs, even if she was so pretty. Goldie lived out her life in a back yard, with a bossy chicken who laid an egg every day except on the coldest days of winter, and who never let Goldie forget that she could not lay. The neighbor’s cat never attacked the chickens, but Goldie was always afraid that he just might.

A week after Goldie was sold, Fayoumi emerged from under the bush in the farmyard, with a clutch of eight fluffy chicks peeping loudly around her legs.

And the farmer’s wife smiled.

Moral: Fraud has a way of exposing itself, and faithfulness has its own reward.

Quick and Dirty Market Research for a Salable Product

You’ve got an idea, and you want to know if it will fly. Or you have heard that you can make money doing something, and you want to find out whether you actually CAN make money at it. This is the quick and dirty method of researching a market to find out of people are buying at a price from which you can make a profit.

1. Go to eBay, and do a search for your product. IMPORTANT… search Completed Auctions (under Advanced Search). That way you know what SOLD, not what people were dreaming it would sell for (either high, or low!). This tells you when a thing is so hot people want it at any price, and when a market is so overloaded that 90% of the auctions are unsold, and the other 10% are selling well below cost. eBay won’t work for everything – it is a flop for services so you can’t research them that way. They also forbid the sale of many things, so you’ll have to look elsewhere if they forbid the sale of the thing you need to research.

2. If you hit on a winner, where things are either selling well, or at least not selling badly, then do some more research. Go to Google, and find out what people are selling it for off eBay. eBay typically offers a skewed vision of the marketplace – ultra low prices for saturated markets, ultra high prices for hard to get items. Neither is a good guideline for how YOU should price your items. So find out the range that real people are selling the item for. This will also tell you how saturated the ordinary marketplace happens to be – if you have tons of shops out there, and the first page is littered with Amazon.com ads, then the item is well supplied online – which means you’ll have a lot of competition (not a reason not to dive in, but it will be potentially more difficult to get rolling). Get a good idea of the price range, and aim somewhere for the middle, or high middle – but make sure you can justify your price! If you charge high, make sure you’ve got a selling point that is wanted so bad that people feel it is worth the extra money.

Now, once you’ve done that, you have some numbers to work with. You have some important data that you can take to the calculator.

Figure the cost of materials or wholesale cost of the item.

Estimate or average the time it takes for you to produce an item you make yourself.

Do some math to figure profit per item, and see whether you can make enough to justify the time you put in.

Do two sets of calculations: One for eBay “liquidations” (to move product fast if you get in a situation where you need to move some out), and one for regular every day sales from a non-auction online presence. It is important that you do both of these, so you know whether you can move surplus through eBay or not, and how much it will cost you if you do. Remember that eBay does have some fees involved, so don’t forget to estimate that as well.

For some types of businesses, you need a customer when the product is ready. This is true of many perishable or live items. eBay may be a way to move some of them when you don’t have an established customer base, but you’ll usually get a lower price (often 50% or less).

If you are examining ways to make money, a little research before you dive in can tell you whether you are getting good info from someone who genuinely knows their stuff and really wants to help people earn, or whether you are just hearing hype and empty get rich quick promises from someone who is either unethical or ignorant (and the marketplace is DEFINITELY saturated with both of those!).

A little bit of homework can save you a lot of grief.

Best wishes as you venture forth!

Our company is now offering Cottage Industry Consulting, and a variety of market and marketing assessment services.

FaceBook’s Method is Bad for Advertisers

FaceBook shows ads in the sidebar, and the text ads have a little checkbox where you can tell the ad to go away. You can also give a reason, and choose to banish all of the ads from a specific advertiser. Or so it seems.

But the choices do not have the results you might expect. FB’s programming does not ever get smarter over time, it seems to be pretty stupid to start with. You’d think that if you select that something is offensive to you, or against your views, that they’d not show you similar things in the long term? You’d also think that if you repeatedly indicate that an entire category of advertising is uninteresting to you that eventually they’d show you other things? And you’d assume that since they have the capacity for smart ad display, that they’d show you more of what you actually click on, less of what you indicate as uninteresting?

Nope. Telling it to go away is temporary. You’ll often see it again in two or three days, often sooner. Banishing one dumb ad is often replaced by an identical one from a different advertiser. Both annoying, and really stupid, because it makes FB advertising FAR less effective than it could be. And it has a nasty backlash on the advertisers.

First of all, it means that FB is charging you to show your ad to people who have already said they are not interested. Often repeatedly. That is a waste of your advertising dollars.

Second, it is annoying the people to whom it is being shown. They already don’t like you. Irritating them further isn’t a smart PR move.

One of the problems is the manner in which FB determines ad relevance. Many advertisers do not understand how the ads are selected, so their ads go to EXACTLY the wrong sort of people. I’m a good example…

I am a marketer and web developer. I am also an instructional writer. I really don’t want to see ads for spammy marketing webinars and tacky “I can make you rich” online promoters. They not only leave me cold, their innate dishonesty and pushiness offends me. Showing me your ads is a waste of your money, and is only more likely to make me strengthen my efforts to teach people how to identify and avoid YOU. You really don’t want FB showing ME your ads!

If I indicate that I am a photographer, FB will show me ads from OTHER photographers! If I indicate that I design websites, they will show me ads from OTHER web designers!

This problem is two-fold. One is the fact that FB picks up keywords and matches them by the descriptions, hobbies, business pursuits and interests of the profile owner. The other is that most advertisers don’t understand that – so when they put in the keywords to DESCRIBE their ad relevance, it is matched with people who often are NOT their target market! A web designer should NOT put “web design” as a keyword for their ad! They should put “business owner”, or “jewelry designer”. They should put words that attract their target market, not their competitors.

Profile owners have no control over the bad interface. FB could care less what they think, after all, the service is free, and big enough that they think they are the 800 lb gorilla who can sit wherever he wants.

The advertisers, on the other hand, do have the power to change things. Money talks. If they start talking with their wallet, and complaining about ad relevance and ad preferences being ignored, and how that wastes their marketing money, then maybe FaceBook will condescend to listen.

It is already hard enough to be heard above the crowd on FaceBook, and promotion there really only helps a very small percentage of businesses who promote there (less than 1/20 of 1%. If you are actually spending money on ads there, then you need to know the limitations of the system, so you can avoid throwing money down a hole for months, trying to adjust the marketing to find what works, when it may not be possible for it to work for your target market. Understanding how it works helps you evaluate the potentials better to start with, and to make more effective adjustments early on, and to waste less money in the long run.

If you are in that 1/20 of 1% or less for whom it can work, it can be successful enough to justify the money you put in. If you aren’t, then it will suck money and not give anything in return.

That could change radically if FaceBook decided to get a clue and actually target ads, using the technology that they already have in a more effective way.

So Many Things to Not Write About

I just hate that feeling… That feeling of excitement like you have something important to say, but can’t for the life of you think what it might be!

I feel like that a lot when I’ve been busy learning something that I’ve not had a chance to test out yet. Also feel that way when personal things are happening in my life. But personal means they are not suitable for worldwide broadcast.

On the non-personal side, strawberries have taken up residence next to the pots of herbs and greens on the porch. They are, admittedly, small pots. But you do what you can.

The tomato plant is probably not coming back to life. The leaves have continued to blacken, and the tomatoes on it are ripening, but no new ones are appearing. Not a good sign. I think it was too far gone when I got it, cheap, on sale. But it came in a triple pot with basil and lemon thyme in the other sections. The basil and thyme are thriving, and the basil has an absolutely heavenly flavor and aroma. It was a terrific addition to last night’s soup. I’m gonna use some of that lemon thyme with some chicken – the thyme tastes like thyme with a lemony overtone. Smells wonderful too. So the pot was worth getting even if the tomato doesn’t make it.

I planted ginger too. This is a first. Summers here are warm enough for tropical plants. I put it in a 1 1/2 gallon pot. Mint is next on the list for potted plants – it is too aggressive to plant with abandon anyway.

Funny thing about farming. You set out to do it, get set back, and find that the desire and compulsion just won’t go away. We do what we can – we grow and raise what we are able in the circumstances we can’t change. If a thing is important, you keep trying as best you can, in spite of set-backs.

It makes me view things differently. Try different things, look at options I’d not be trying otherwise. I decided NOT to try raising snails, even though they can be quite lucrative. They are a regulatory nightmare. I avoid regulatory nightmares as much as possible, especially when accompanied by slimy things that I really don’t want to touch anyway! Someday, if we end up having an abundance of edible snails as a natural occurrence, I would seriously consider encouraging them and selling them. But otherwise, they are off my list.

The list does contain things now though which I had not considered before. No, I’m not going to give anything away at this point, you’ll just have to be eaten up by curiosity. We are testing out some options though, and preparing to test some more. There are more cheap options out there that take very little space than I thought there were!

So today I have nothing to say. I think I’m done saying it.

How to Afford Food Storage

 

Many people have the perception that a food storage has to be expensive, or that you have to do it all at once. They let themselves be overwhelmed by the prospect, and end up doing nothing. Achieving a functional food storage is an attainable goal by any family.

There is no “right way” to do it. There are a few wrong ways (like going into debt for it, or stocking up on ten year’s supply of Little Debbies), but there are enough right ways that one of them is bound to fit your situation.

1. Monthly budget. You can assign a certain amount per month to food storage. It need not be a huge amount. Even $10 a month will get you there in the long term, if you stock up on sale items. $25 to $50 per month will generally allow you to participate in a monthly plan through a food storage supply company.

2. Spend the same, buy more. Any time an item on your grocery list is on sale, add an extra if you can do so and still stay within the amount you intended to spend.

3. Shop less often. There is real magic in this! You’ll plan better, eat better, and spend less. If you spend the same, or split the savings (half in savings, half to food storage), and you’ll still be amazed at how quickly you accumulate a usable supply. The key to this one is that every time you go in the store, you usually lose a certain amount on impulse buys. If you reduce those impulse buys, you have that money for more important things.

4. The Two-Can Plan. Buy two extra cans of food every time you go shopping.

5. One Plus One. If you are purchasing dry packed food, grains or beans, or bucketed food storage, aim for ordering one item each time you go to the grocery store, or one item per month.

6. Food Storage On the Hoof. Get chickens, ducks, rabbits, or other animals that can eat your kitchen produce scraps and leftovers. You’ll still need some feed for them, but they’ll benefit from kitchen waste, and reduce your expenses, while providing a food source that replenishes itself, reducing the need for other kinds of food storage.

7. Grow a Garden, and Save Seed. You can grow a garden any time of the year, even if it is just sprouts in the kitchen – usually though, you can do way more than that! A garden reduces food costs if you do it smart, and gives you food reserves that keep producing. It can provide surplus to can, freeze, dry, or brine. It can provide seeds this year to grow next year. A good garden can be started for $100 or less (often WAY less), and can produce hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of produce from that investment. Keep it simple, and make sure each expense really IS an investment.

8. Look for sales on produce, and preserve it. A $30 food dryer from Wal-Mart is sufficient to dry large volumes of food, one to two batches a day (as long as it has a fan, it will dry food quickly and efficiently). You can often find canning supplies at yard sales or being given away. Many foods freeze easily, and all you need are zip bags (some vegetables need to be blanched before freezing, but most fruits do not, and a large number of veggies don’t require it either). Dried or frozen foods may be stored in repurposed containers – peanut butter jars are a great storage container, as are other reusable containers.

9. Stock up on cheap storage items. Tuna, dried beans, rice, split peas, pork and beans, canned soup, and other items that cost less than $1 per item. It is easier to start with these items – either one or two at a time, or by the case. Easier to think of getting case goods when you know they’ll only cost you $12 for a case.

10. If you buy bulk grains in bags instead of in pre-packed buckets, you can significantly reduce the cost of acquiring bulk grains or beans. If you have 5 gallon buckets shipped, they’ll usually cost more than if you acquire them locally (feed stores usually carry them). Buckets can sometimes be obtained used, either free, or for a low cost, from fast food restaurants or bakeries.

You can’t do a food storage with no sacrifice. You have to give something. But if you think about what you can do, and what you are good at, you can find a way that works for you. It IS achievable.

Rebuttal to 50 Excuses for Not Preparing

In response to a list of 50 excuses posted here:

http://totalcollapse.com/2012/05/20/the-top-50-excuses-for-not-prepping/

  1. “The U.S. Economy Is The Greatest Economy On The Planet – There Is No Way That It Could Ever Collapse”

    The Greeks said the same thing of their country before it collapsed. The US Economy WAS the greatest economy on the planet – did you fail to notice when we lost our AAA credit rating? Did you fail to notice that we have record high unemployment rates (the real rates, not the skewed ones reported each quarter that leave out people who have stopped looking)? Did you fail to notice that the price of fuel (not just gasoline) and groceries are at all time highs and still rising?

  2. “Once Barack Obama Wins The Election Everything Will Be Better”

    Been there. Done that. It didn’t get better. If you throw gasoline on a fire instead of water, it isn’t going to put the fire out any better the second time you make the same mistake.

  3. “Once Mitt Romney Wins The Election Everything Will Be Better”

    Mitt thinks the things Obama did for the economy (you know, the ones that escalated it into a rapidly worsening state?) were GOOD things. His can of gasoline is only a little smaller than Obama’s can – but it is still gasoline, and he doesn’t know how to find water.

  4. “When Things Get Really Bad The Government Will Take Care Of Us”

    Things are really bad. The government made it worse. They have no plans to make it better – only to use the economy as an excuse to take away your liberty, under the guise of “helping you”. There aren’t enough government resources to go around in a major crisis. If there were, things would not BE really bad now, they’d have “fixed” it by throwing money at it. When the government does something, it takes 99 people being taxed at 50% to take care of ONE person. In a major crisis, the equation just doesn’t work!

  5. “When Disaster Strikes I Will Just Steal From Everyone Else That Has Been Busy Preparing”

    Preppers have guns. They also understand their Constitutional right to defend their home. They also have rope. Some have handcuffs. If they have to wait for the police to arrive, they are prepared to hold you until they get there.

    On the other hand, if you really are in need, and you ask nicely, chances are pretty much any prepared person will share a meal with you. They won’t do your job for you, and they won’t adopt you and let you be a sponge. But if your children are hungry, they usually won’t let them starve.

  6. “The Rapture Will Be At Any Moment So I Don’t Have To Worry About Prepping”

    I guess if your goal is to meet God, and the Rapture does not come when you expect, you can die of starvation and meet Him that way. Your choice. I’d rather use a little common sense and do what I can to take care of my own needs.

  7. “The Economy Has Always Recovered After Every Recession In The Past And This Time Will Be No Different”

    It takes 10 years average to recover from major economic depression, and that is when the government has NOT been meddling in a way that makes the eventual fallout far worse. Even if it took just 4-5 years, that’s a long time to survive without any reserves or backup.

  8. “The People That Are Running Things Are Very Highly Educated And They Know Exactly What They Are Doing”

    That’s true! But what YOU think they are doing and what they are ACTUALLY doing is two different things! They are not trying to “take care of you”. They are trying to get money and power. Yes, they do know exactly what they are doing. The less you prepare, the more power they have to take your liberty and limit your choices. I rather like freedom. I rather like independence. But by all means, believe that the people in charge are smart – if they can enslave you, they are smarter than you are, for certain!

  9. “Wal-Mart Will Always Be There”

    Have you ever seen a Wal-Mart that was THERE, but which wasn’t any good? I have. I’ve seen a Wal-Mart damaged by a tornado. Shut down, doors closed and locked through the whole emergency. I’ve seen a Wal-Mart with the power off – cash registers don’t function without power, and Wal-Mart clears the store of customers, and locks the doors until the power comes back on. Have you ever seen a Wal-Mart after the interstate highways have been closed for three days? I have! A Wal-Mart does you no good if there is nothing left on the shelves. And it takes about three days to completely clean out a Wal-Mart of everything useful in an emergency.

  10. “Our Politicians Are Watching Out For Our Best Interests”

    See number 8. Our Politicians are watching out for THEIR best interests.

  11. “The 2012 Apocalypse Is Almost Here And We Are All Doomed Anyway – So Why Even Try?”

    Because an Apocalypse doesn’t destroy everything. It just makes a mess of things, involves a lot of war, and leaves the majority of people to live through it and clean it up. You aren’t going to die tomorrow – you are going to live. Horribly! (Ok, so that is melodramatic… but seriously, doesn’t anyone know what an apocalypse really IS?)

  12. “Preppers Do Not Have A Positive Mental Attitude”

    We absolutely DO have a positive attitude. Preppers believe that if they do what they can, even if it is just a little, they can survive what they have to survive. BECAUSE they are as prepared as they realistically can be, they feel confident.

  13. “If An Economic Collapse Comes I Will Just Go On Welfare”

    Um… what part of “economic collapse” do you not understand? The government is broke. It is borrowing more than the entire US makes. It is the most likely CAUSE of an economic collapse. And it means that when it happens, there won’t be money for welfare. There WILL, however, be long long lines of unprepared people, standing around filling out applications for assistance, on the hope that there will be enough of nothing left by the time their application is processed, for them to get help that isn’t available. Because people who rely on the government to fix things would rather stand in a line to fill out an application (somehow filling out an application seems productive to them even when it isn’t), where there is no real hope of getting something than go out and work to take care of themselves.

  14. “There Are Some Things You Just Can’t Prepare For”

    Right. But there are some things you CAN prepare for, and SHOULD prepare for. It just makes sense to prepare to depend upon yourself when you realistically can do so.

  15. “Prepping Is Too Expensive”

    One can at a time. If you stock up on sale, budget a small amount each month to invest in storage supplies, or shop less often so you spend more on core food items and less on impulse buys, you can painlessly build a good food storage over the course of a year or two? It really works.

  16. “We Are Not Like Other Countries – U.S. Cities Are Designed To Withstand Major Earthquakes”

    Just like San Francisco. Right? The earthquake in the 80s only caused damage to a few of the major roadways, and a small percentage of buildings (earthquake and fire damage). Only PART of the city was shut down. Only PART of the city was damaged severely enough to be eligible for Federal Disaster Relief Assistance (remember what that is? Only available in a MAJOR disaster?).

  17. “I Need To Save Up For Retirement Instead”

    Food storage pays a better rate of return. Who says it has to be one or the other? A little here, and a little there accumulates quickly for either one.

  18. “The Stock Market Has Been Soaring So Why Worry?”

    Which stock market are you following again?

  19. “I Don’t Have Room To Store Anything”

    Of course you do. You just don’t want to make the effort!

  20. “Prepping Is For Crazy People”

    So is Welfare. Prepping also goes by other names… Wisdom. Prudence. Security. Emergency Planning (that is the one the Government uses when it is THEIR idea). Pretty crazy alright!

  21. “I Don’t Believe In Conspiracy Theories”

    I don’t either. I do believe in the normal ups and downs of life, and I do believe in the lessons history teaches, and I do believe in basic math that says that 2 + 2 cannot equal 14 trillion, no matter how you cook the books.

  22. “All The Food I Store Is Going To Go Bad”

    Not if you eat it first. Good food storage is rotated regularly. This ensures that you are storing things you actually EAT, and it keeps you in the habit of regularly using and replacing it to keep it fresh.

  23. “I Would Rather Spend My Time Watching American Idol”

    Keepin’ your food storage around your waist, are you?

  24. “All The People Who Freaked Out About Y2K Look Really Foolish Now, Don’t They?”

    No. They are the ones who have not had to fear as grocery prices escalated. They are the ones who have made it through unemployment with less pain and hardship. They are the ones who still have their homes because they were able to use food storage to reduce their grocery budget and still have enough to pay their mortgage. They are the ones who have been able to cope with high fuel price spikes because they had something to fall back on to keep their monthly expenses within their incomes.

  25. “I Don’t Want To Look Like Those Idiots On ‘Doomsday Preppers’”

    So don’t. Apply some common sense. Sometime within your lifetime, a food storage is going to be a major asset to you. So it makes sense to have a reasonable food storage. If you know what “overboard” looks like, don’t go there. Just be smart about preparing for what is most likely – unemployment, financial loss, snowstorm, electrical outage, etc. Those things DO happen. To everyone!

  26. “An EMP Attack Could Never Happen”

    Whether it could or not is not really the issue. Electrical outages DO happen, internet interruptions do occur, hard drives crash, and lightening strikes. Often enough that you are going to be inconvenienced for anywhere between a few hours, and a week or more at some point in your life. The more dependent we become on electronics, the more likely it is that something major WILL interrupt it, for short or long periods. But the realistic interruptions are more likely to be the same old thing that has always caused problems. If you are prepared to last the week without ordering pizza over the internet, you’ll get along better!

  27. “There Will Never Be A Nationwide Transportation Disruption In The United States”

    Perhaps not. But there are frequently local interruptions, which will inconvenience YOU just as much as if there was a nationwide interruption. Big things are scary, and horrifying to consider. But smaller local disturbances are the things that are not just LIKELY to occur, but pretty much GUARANTEED to occur. Most of the nation won’t even notice – but YOU will. And if you have food in your cupboards when everyone else is searching the empty shelves at Wal-Mart in desperation, you won’t regret your decision to plan ahead.

  28. “Instead Of Being So Paranoid, I Would Rather Just Enjoy Life”

    Paranoia is not required. Wisdom is. Life is far more enjoyable when you don’t need to fear, and preparing keeps you from fearing. No need to get caught up in the impractical race to prepare for EVERY eventuality. Just do what is REASONABLE, within your means and capacity.

  29. “If Society Falls Apart I Wouldn’t Want To Continue To Live Anyway”

    Congratulations. You don’t need to prepare for anything. In fact, you probably better commit suicide tomorrow, because society has been falling apart piece by piece all around you and you haven’t even noticed.

  30. “There Will Never Be Another World War”

    They said that after WWI. And Santa Clause is real too.

  31. “I’m Too Lazy To Grow A Garden”

    So don’t grow a garden. Or grow a Lazy Garden. There’s an amazing thing about gardening… It takes a lot less work and expense than most Gardening Books or Seed Catalogs will let on (after all, they want to make it seem complicated enough to justify a BOOK on the subject, and expensive enough to justify BUYING all that stuff). Gardening is also addictive – once you grow something, and it produces food you can eat, that you DON’T have to buy at the grocery store, you get a feeling you get from nothing else – not even from laying in front of the TV eating potato chips. If you can’t expand your life beyond the TV and Ruffles, you will be pitied. If you think maybe you’d like to feel really good about yourself though, try growing a tomato plant in a bucket, or put in some lettuce in a corner of your yard. There really is nothing quite like it. If you need more on successful, easy, and cheap gardening, you can find it at http://books.firelightheritagefarm.com

  32. “If You Assume The Worst Is Going To Happen Then You Don’t Believe In America”

    Preppers never assume the “worst” is going to happen. They do assume Bad Things will happen though. And you know what? They ALWAYS DO! Even in America! That’s life, folks! Preparing just means you are smart about knowing that the Constitution does not give us the right to “happiness”, only the “pursuit of happiness”. It is easier to be happy when the Bad Things that are LIKELY to happen don’t have the power to derail you, because you were already prepared to handle them. Besides, what defines America has always been individual independence. You can’t be independent if you expect the nation to provide all your needs and protect you from calamity.

  33. “Deficits Don’t Matter”

    The government in Greece tried to say the same thing… And if you don’t know what that means, then the government financial deficit is not the deficit you need to worry about – a deficit in intellect is a more pressing worry for you.

  34. “I’ll Always Be Able To Get A Job In My Field”

    Good luck with that. Farriers thought the same thing at the end of World War I. They did not see the automobile as a threat to their livelihood – after all, horses were still less expensive, friendlier, and more prevalent, and horses were still the only practical choice for farming. They could not have forseen the increase in credit which allowed for the rapid adoption of tractors, and family auto acquisition. The job of farrier disappeared overnight. So have hundreds of other jobs as technology has advanced suddenly into new areas that were merely theoretical, and for which a pivotal breakthrough was not anticipated. There are a dozen new college grads coming into the job market for almost every position available, and the government is strongly encouraging students to get degrees in understaffed industries. With the economy so bad for hiring, many people have gone back to school, which means that we will be seeing a flood of new graduates in the job markets over the next few years, and the markets will get increasingly flooded over a period of 4-6 years. That’s your job they are going after, one way or another.

  35. “If There Is A Financial Collapse All Of My Debts Will Be Wiped Out So I Might As Well Live It Up Now”

    Funny thing about financial collapse. When your creditor goes under, their records don’t just evaporate. They go into collections. Very aggressive collections. When high numbers of people default, the credit companies do NOT get more compassionate, they get more ruthless.

  36. “If Things Hit The Fan I Will Just Go Move In With My Relatives Who Have Been Busy Prepping”

    Most preppers are willing to share when someone is truly in need. But if you aren’t really in need, or could have avoided being in need, they aren’t going to have much patience with you! They also tend to operate on the “no worky no eaty” philosophy. Your relatives won’t have any patience with a sponge. If they let you stay, they are going to make you muck out the barn, weed the gardens, and butcher chickens, so you might as well start getting in shape now.

  37. “Those That Believe That There Will Be Massive Riots In American Cities Someday Are Just Being Delusional”

    Pretty delusional to believe that what has already happened could happen again.

  38. “My Spouse Would Think That I Have Finally Lost It”

    Yeah… planning ahead is pretty stupid. If you come at your spouse with both barrels firing and mount an all on frontal assault on Truth, Justice, and the American Way, and start spouting conspiracy theories and doomsday prophecies, then yeah, they’ll probably wanna lock you up. But that isn’t what it is about. If you explain that you’d like to have a little extra food on hand, and not have the cupboards running from shopping day to shopping day, so that there is enough on hand in case you or they get sick, or in case you experience an income interruption, or in case something stops the stores from stocking up on schedule (this is more common than people realize), then they just might listen!

  39. “I Don’t Know Where To Start”

    Start with things you use. An extra box or two of Mac and Cheese. A few extra pounds of burger in the freezer. A few extra cans of tuna and mushroom soup, or pork and beans. A couple of extra bags of rice. A great way to start is just by shopping less often. This forces you to think ahead on your needs, and reduces impulse buys, leaving room in your budget to buy extra of sale items.

  40. “I’ll Just Deal With Problems As They Arrive”

    That’s a good attitude for things you CAN’T see coming. But it doesn’t make sense for things you KNOW are coming. Think about your life, and the things you are very likely to have to deal with. Plan for those things. You can do that and still retain your capacity for impulsive coping!

  41. “I Don’t Have To Prepare For A Natural Disaster – That Is What FEMA Is For”

    FEMA takes three days to get help anywhere. That includes water. And FEMA takes weeks to get financial aid to an area in a way that benefits individuals. When they do come in, you get what they think you need. If you have special dietary requirements, forget it. Big disasters are all FEMA handles anyway, and you are more likely to experience small disasters that affect only yourself or a few other individuals. FEMA isn’t gonna help you, and most of the time, there won’t be other organizations there to help either.

  42. “We’ll Never See Martial Law In The United States”

    We’ve already got it. What do you think Homeland Security really is?

  43. “I Don’t Want To Scare My Children”

    So don’t. Teach them the wisdom of intelligent and calm preparation. Teach them that when you have to get up very early for a field trip, that you make sure you have your socks and underwear clean and found the night before, and that you go to bed early so you don’t end up tired and half dressed in the morning when you really need to be getting out the door to make it on time. Teach them that when you have company coming for dinner at the end of the week, that you plan the menu early, get the shopping done, and prepare as much of the meal ahead as you can so you don’t get bogged down with prep chores when it is time to welcome the guests. Teach them that having extra on hand means you can feed unexpected guests without fuss, and that if Dad or Mom loses a job, that you won’t be hurting for food during the time between the last paycheck and the first unemployment check, and that the decrease in income won’t kill you because you have enough food on hand that at least you won’t starve. Not starving is a good thing. Not scary at all.

  44. “Once I Get Rid Of All My Debt Then I Will Start Thinking About Prepping”

    If you have food on hand, it is easier to get rid of debt, because you are not tied to having to choose between paying the bill or buying the full complement of groceries. Even a little extra on hand can make it easier to pay off debts. Try the shopping less often trick – you’ll be amazed at what that can accomplish!

  45. “My Relatives Already Think That I Am A Nut Job – I Don’t Need To Make It Any Worse”

    If they already think that, then you have nothing to lose!

  46. “If People At Work Find Out That I Am Prepping It Could Hurt My Career”

    Ummm… yeah. No employer likes an employee that actually thinks ahead! If you go all overboard and stockpile flamethrowers and grenade launchers, and stuff your mattresses with packets of soy protein powder and dried spinach, sure they are gonna question your fitness for duty. Wise preparedness doesn’t attract attention.

  47. “If There Really Was A Good Reason To Prepare They Would Tell Us About It On The News”

    Sure, just like they told you about the rampant inflation, and about Obama signing the NDAA. Never mind that what they ARE telling you is reason enough to prepare.

  48. “People Have Been Predicting Doom And Gloom For Years And It Hasn’t Happened Yet”

    Yes it has. It just hasn’t happened to YOU in a way you identify. It isn’t doom and gloom that makes a person prepare. It is the certain knowledge that life has its ups and downs, and it is smart to prepare for the inevitable downs.

  49. “The United States Is The Greatest Nation On Earth – There Is No Way That It Could Collapse”

    See #33.

  50. “I Don’t Plan On Becoming A Card Carrying Member Of The Tin Foil Hat Brigade”

    Nobody who is ever planned to be. You get that way when life derails you and throws you so far off the track that you can’t find your way back. You are less likely to end up there if you DON’T prepare, than if you do!

If you need more help with preparing in smart ways, you can talk to our friend Greg, over at SelfReliance.com, or check out our farm site at MicroFarmLife.com.

Good Thing There’s No Inflation

In the last six months, the cost of groceries has increased so much that it costs 1 and 1/2 to 2 times the amount to get the same groceries today that it did six months ago.

But there is no inflation. We know this because our government tells us this regularly. So… we know that something is wrong with HOW we are shopping. It is my responsibility to balance the grocery budget, and keep it from increasing.

I can reduce the amount of vegetables that I buy. At the rate that prices are increasing, this means in six weeks I will have no more money for vegetables at all. This is ok though – if our family has problems with muscle weakness, poor concentration, and persistent obesity, it won’t matter. This is expected from the average American, and conforming to the norm is better than being a radical non-conformist.

After I’ve eliminated vegetables, fruit is the next thing to be decreased. We will then develop problems with our bones, immune system, and eyesight, and our ability to heal will decline pretty rapidly. But that is ok too. If we are unemployable because of health problems we’ll no longer be listed on the lists of unemployed people, and that will help the nation, so we’ll be doing our part.

The next thing to go would be eggs and dairy. Of course, this will mean severe problems with our bones (we really don’t need calcium, we’ve been deluding ourselves all this time), and it won’t matter that eggs are one of the only foods from which I absorb certain nutrients. But dairy is expensive and prices are increasing very quickly, so obviously it is not essential to our wellbeing. The painful and persistent symptoms this causes can be mis-diagnosed by any competent physician, and they can prescribe a pill for us – the FDA has approved “safe and effective” medications for everything after all.

We’ll then have to eliminate meat. Protein is overrated anyway, and weak muscles, infertility, low energy, are GOOD things! There are too many healthy people having babies in the world anyway, and the human race is merely a blight on an otherwise perfect world, it is better that nobody reproduces. We can do without meat, the government already said so, and we know they are always right (even when they are wrong), so we should just shut up and trust them! If the symptoms become too difficult to deal with, we can get an anti-depressant easily from any doctor.

We’re down to grains now. Of course, without vegetables, fruits, dairy, and meats, our bodies will have NO ability to heal itself, and we’ll undoubtedly have plenty of digestive problems, further inhibiting our ability to absorb the incomplete nutrient complement from grains. We won’t be able to afford whole grains for long, so we’ll have to switch to white pasta and white flour, and white rice. Rapidly increasing prices mean that we’ll have to decrease the amounts over time, but that’s ok too, since America is full of obese people and everybody needs to eat less (the fact that a nutrient deficient diet from processed foods causes the body to go into crisis mode and creates persistent obesity is just a myth so don’t worry about that!). It doesn’t matter how healthy you think you are eating, it is still too much, too high in fat, and too high in red meat, sugar, and junk food. So eat the enriched white flour products that the government has said are just as healthy as whole wheat and shut up.

If we collapse from nutritional deficiency, Obamacare is there for us. They can prescribe medications to mask the symptoms and we can suffer from chronic illness until we die a painful death. If we die young, so much the better, there won’t be enough money to pay for our Social Security when we are older anyway, and it will save on medical costs in the long run. We’ll be doing our part to better the general welfare of the nation by kicking off sooner anyway.

So cheer up, America! There is no inflation! The rising prices are just a means of encouraging you to do your part to effect necessary change! And change must be good, after all, the President promised change, and we got it.

Good food, in a healthy variety, isn’t really needed, and malnutrition and the subsequent illness are positive influences on the nation!

Aren’t we blessed to live in a country with no inflation?

Why There Will Never Be a “Cure” For Cancer

Wow… that sounds like a supremely negative statement. In a way it is, but in another way, it isn’t. Promises of a cure for cancer are invariably misleading, and manipulative. The average person does not have a sufficient understanding of the concepts involved with cancer to realize that the promises of a cure are merely a tactic used by certain segments of the medical industries to persuade you to donate money to their cause. Money that is NOT used to “help” cancer patients. Money that does not reduce the cost of cancer care. Money that simply allows pharma companies to continue to pursue their own goals, which are NOT the goals they want you to think they are.

When our son had leukemia, I researched cancer extensively, both conventional and natural treatments. Later, when treating myself for Crohn’s Disease, I researched many of the same issues, since auto-immune disease treatments and chemotherapy overlap a good deal, and since Crohn’s has a higher risk for many types of cancers. My son made a full recovery, and has been in remission for 8 years. I no longer have Crohn’s… and never took any of the toxic medications recommended for it. Anyway, my background for this article comes from the months and years of research during that time and the knowledge gathered from it.

The “Cure for Cancer” issue has two facets that individuals need to understand. The first is the motives and goals of the pharma and medical industry (and the supplement industry, as well as the “natural health” industry, “cure cancer naturally” writer’s arena, etc). The second is the science and reality behind the disease itself.

Currently there is no such thing as a “cure” for cancer. Because no matter how much you believe you got it all, you never know for sure – a single cell in the human body can be the source of a new outbreak, and you can never be sure you got it all. Current treatments have a high risk of CAUSING secondary cancers, so the treatment for the initial cancer may cause another cancer.

It is not like Strep, where you diagnose the illness, administer an antibiotic, and know that you’ll be feeling much better in 24 hours, with manageable side effects. No, it is not like that at all, and no treatment currently available for cancer can be characterized as a “Cure”.

So… the goal of the pharma and medical industry is NOT to find a “cure”. The goal is to create “treatments” which profit the industry. There is a vast difference between the two.  How much could you really charge for a cure for cancer? Far less than you can charge for ongoing treatment. We see this in many illnesses – heart disease, diabetes, Crohn’s, etc. Even when a “Cure” is possible, the pharma companies really aren’t even looking. That is not their goal at all.

(It isn’t the goal of many in the natural health arena either – they simply prey upon hope. So far NO natural solution to cancer has a track record that is documented well enough to be persuasive as a real choice for most people, they are not available for all cancer types, and the natural solutions that do work require VERY careful monitoring because they have the same side effects and risks as chemotherapy.)

Even if they were looking, it is just not that simple. Periodically a news release will promise some new miracle thing that showed great promise “in the laboratory”. It killed cancer cells in a petri dish. Big deal. I could kill cancer cells in a petri dish – just pour gasoline over them and light them on fire.

Killing them inside the human body is equally simple. If you drink gasoline and set yourself on fire, it WILL kill the cancer cells!

Killing cancer cells inside the human body, without harming normal cells (which is the implied goal of a “cure”), is vastly more problematic. There are layers and layers of complexity which make it very difficult to kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells.

Cancer cells are normal cells which have mutated in such a way that they grow uncontrollably. The majority of the genetic material in them is identical to the genetic material in your normal cells. Only a small amount is different. This is why your immune system typically has a fairly weak response in fighting cancer cells. This is also why you cannot just boost the immune system to kill them – doing so will trigger auto-immune disease, where the  body attacks healthy cells, mistaking them for the damaged ones.

Hence, we have chemotherapy (including “natural” supplements), radiation, and surgery. All of which do NOT set out to “kill cancer cells without killing healthy cells” (because that is impossible), but rather, have the goal of “killing the cancer cells FASTER than you kill the healthy cells, OR, kill the cancer cells without killing TOO MANY healthy cells”. “Too many” is a relative term…

First of all, chemicals and radiation cannot think. A lab tech can look at a slide of normal and cancer cells, and usually distinguish between the two based on known characteristics of specific cancer cell types. A radiologist can look at an image (X-Ray, MRI, CT, PET, etc), and see evidence characteristic of cancerous tumors. Cancers may be suspected based on the levels of some elements in the blood – which may be used diagnostically to suggest cancer, but which is not definitive of cancer in many cases, and which is not useful in a treatment that needs to target specific cancer cells.

So, we have the problem of getting a chemical or biological substance to recognize a cancer cell, as separate from a healthy cell. It is not like getting a chemical to recognize a dog from a cat. Rather, getting it to recognize an English Collie as being different than a Border Collie (two similar breeds).

The means by which this is typically done, is to target fast growing cells. Cancer cells typically grow faster than the majority of normal cells. Chemo drugs and radiation both have a stronger effect on fast growing cells. Unfortunately, the body has many fast growing normal cells – in the bone marrow (affecting blood cells and the immune system), surface cells within the digestive tract (starting with the mouth, and ending with the rectum), hair growth cells, and some skin cells. This is why people receiving those treatments typically lose their hair, experience digestive upset and pain, have a compromised immune system and possible anemia, and why they may have mouth or skin sores.

Some newer drugs block the uptake of certain nutrients, critical for growth of cancer cells. Some cancer cells use abnormally high amounts of certain substances. But normal cells use these substances too. Block it too much, and you won’t just kill cancer cells, you’ll create wholesale slaughter of healthy cells.

Natural supplements, cancer fighting foods, etc, work the SAME WAY as chemotherapy. There is no single distinguishing factor which flags a cancer cell with a chemical marker – in fact all types of cancer cells do not even respond the same to various substances, natural or manmade. Cancer cells typically just do things in a more extreme manner than healthy cells, which means natural or manmade substances can use that behavior as a means of killing them faster than they kill the healthy cells. It is important to understand, that there simply IS NO miracle substance which “cures cancer with no side effects”. This is a lie. It cannot happen. The human body simply does not function in that manner. The myth that cancer cells can survive without oxygen is also just that. A myth. The majority of cancer cells require MORE oxygen than normal cells, because they grow and replicate faster. Only a few slower growing ones can survive longer than healthy cells without oxygen, and they are extremely difficult to kill, because they cannot be targeted by higher needs. They are not killed by PH level in the body either, unless YOU are dead too.

The nasty backlash is that with chemo (or natural substances) or radiation, either one, it may not just KILL healthy cells. It may merely MUTATE them – damage them instead of kill them, but the cell survives, with genetic damage. Remember, cancer is simply a mutation of healthy cells? There is a very high chance that some cells will be damaged by the radiation or chemo in such a way that those damaged cells become cancerous, or that they are damaged in a way that makes it highly likely that any further insult (perhaps from chemicals in food, perhaps from other illness) will cause an additional mutation that then becomes cancerous years later. A tiny time bomb waiting for the switch to be flipped.

In general, the risks of a secondary cancer occurring from chemotherapy REDUCE over time. In general, the risks of a secondary cancer occurring from radiation therapy INCREASE over time at a very slow rate.

Surgery is problematic as well, and often a biopsy can cause a cancer to metastasize (spread to other parts of the body), and surgery to remove cancerous tumors may also liberate cancerous cells into the blood stream, and increase the risks of metastasizing. This seems to be especially a risk with bone cancers, but has also been reported with other cancers.

Surgery cannot always remove all of the cancer without causing too much damage to healthy tissues. When it can be, it takes a portion of healthy tissue with it – and results in significant side effects which may impair function long term. Amputations are common with bone cancers, colostomies are common with colon cancers, and seizure disorders are common with brain tumor removals.

So… “cutting edge” experimental therapies…

Better chemo. That just means chemo that is less toxic, or which works on more types of cancer. It still dances the dance of trying to kill more cancer cells than healthy cells.

More closely targeted radiation. Significant progress in delivering radiation in more targeted methods, which affects fewer cells in the body, and produces fewer side effects. But it still affects non-cancerous cells, and still has a significant rate of secondary cancer, which slowly increases over time.

Microsurgery techniques. Again, a refinement of current therapy, with reduced side effects, but with no less risk for metastases caused by the surgery.

Immune boosting therapies. In the research stages. The problem with it is that if you boost the immune system to target cancer cells, the risks of triggering auto-immune responses is not controllable. Cancer cells are too genetically similar to your healthy cells – if the immune system targets them, it is likely to target healthy cells as well.

Gene therapy. Again, problematic and VERY risky. The theory is that a genetic repair can be loaded into a virus that has the ability to permeate the cells, and effect the genetic change within the cells. If it is even possible, it is pretty scary stuff. The problem here is that it essentially has the potential to affect EVERY cell in the body, or any cells at random. The virus can’t tell a healthy cell from a damaged one, or even a pancreatic cell from a liver cell. Even worse, viruses tend to NOT be stable entities. If the virus is affected once it is in the body, perhaps by a reaction specific to that individual (high or low blood sugar, another virus exposure, environmental chemical reactions, an allergic reaction, etc), a minor mutation in the genetic load of the virus, or a minor mutation in the virus itself, and you can have anything from a worsening of the situation, to a deadly contained reaction within  a single individual, to the creation of a new contagious disease outbreak of any intensity. And these are not potentials that you can contain simply by minimizing the risks – the risks are NOT containable. As long as the risks remain, the potentials for harm are simply so horrific that one has to question the ethics of scientists who are researching these options.

Like it or not, the scientific issues in question are the SAME for herbal and nutritional treatments! The success rates so far are lower – some remarkable successes, but more failures than healings. The same issues are pertinent – if you kill cancer cells, you kill healthy cells, boost the immune system you trigger auto-immune disease, turn off nutritional or chemical support for cancers and also turn it off for healthy cells. There are many natural treatments which are every bit as effective as chemo for specific cancer types (though they are less studied and not well documented) – but they are also every bit as risky, so practitioners won’t recommend them out of fear, people won’t try them due to lack of data or dosage, and doctors look upon them with horror because they aren’t approved by the FDA for promotion by a pharma company. The point here is, the ones that WORK have significant RISK. Most do NOT work, and the Natural Health world is rife with opportunism and predatorial companies that heartlessly prey upon the hopes of the desperate (the pharma companies do this also, and with no better ethics – but it is foolish to demonize one side, and think that the other does not have MANY individuals driven by equally shameful motives).

There have been many “miracle cures” reported in the last three decades. None of them have significantly affected the treatment protocols for cancers in any significant way. Chemo is still toxic, surgery is still dangerous, radiation is still nasty, and those are still the only options through mainstream treatments. Alternative treatments are still mostly useless and risky when they do work.

What happens is this:

Some is researching something. They need money. In order to get money, they need to make it seem like they are really on to something. So they puff it up, list all the possible benefits, and do not mention the well known obstacles which stand in the way of the actual USE of the thing they are researching. They hope the public and those deciding on funding won’t notice those significant obstacles – or the fact that the scientists themselves have NO IDEA how to overcome those obstacles. They merely hope that at some point they’ll get a flash of brilliance that defies the rules of biology. And because a “cure for cancer” is a beguiling phrase, and a popular one, funders allow hype to overcome their common sense, and they fund another round or two, until it proves futile and is abandoned. Or until another rather ordinary chemotherapy drug is the result, which is then puffed up all over again to get physicians to prescribe it and make some money from it.

The science behind cancer dictates that certain things are possible, and certain things are not. Most of those rules WILL NOT change! There are some pieces to the puzzle which will remain puzzling, and some which will stay the same awkward shape they always have been.

The human body is an imperfect thing, affected by an imperfect world. You cannot remove the interactions between the two – hence, cancer will always be a factor in life. It will always affect people. The increase in negative environmental factors simply increases the number of people whom it affects.

Cancer will never be an easy thing to treat. And it will always be impossible to offer a guaranteed “cure”. It will never be possible to be sure that one lingering cancer cell is not hiding out somewhere waiting to be triggered into explosive growth. This is just the reality of life!

I think, rather than running around with pink ribbons begging for a “cure”, we’d all be better off if we looked at the chemical causes in modern life, which are inflating the number of people who are developing cancers, and reduce those. Because while “curing” cancer is not, and never will be possible, no matter how much treatments are improved, eliminating 90% of cases IS possible. But the medical community and the pharma companies aren’t interested in that either – there is no money in avoiding cancer in the first place!

Preservatives in foods, artificial flavorings and dyes, pesticides and herbicides, and antibiotic or antibacterial washes applied to foods, and especially chlorine in our water, are ALL mutanogenic (they mutate cells), and carcinogenic (they specifically cause cancer). They are KNOWN to be – they are all designed to KILL LIVING CELLS, and any time a substance is created to do that, it also DAMAGES living cells, other than just the type you wanted it to kill. If cells are DAMAGED, they are often damaged in such a way that they become cancerous. The more exposure you have to chemicals and substances that kill and damage living cells, the greater the chances that you will develop cancer.

Stop buying the line that our only hope is a cure for cancer. Our best hope is to avoid it in the first place!

So buy organic foods or grow your own. Use well water or use a good chlorine filter on your faucet water, AND in your shower (chlorine absorbs through the skin). Avoid organic foods that have been treated with detergents (loose gala apples [get the ones in bags], sprouts, and a few others – you can smell it and taste it on them).

There are no side effects, and no long term secondary cancer risks to that!

UPDATE: Our book Medicinal Mushrooms: Traditional and Emerging Uses for More than 90 Edible Mushrooms is now available on Amazon for Kindle, and in PDF format from our Firelight Heritage Farm Books website.

Kids and Food

Fresh Food

The uproar in the 70s about kids not knowing that milk came from a cow, instead of from a carton at the store, is nothing compared to the ignorance kids have about food now. Most do not know what vegetables look like in their natural state – not even common ones.

This is because their food is not coming even from the produce aisle. It means that most kids are getting food served up to them from boxes and cans, put on a plate in an unrecognizable form.

Most kids have never picked fresh food from a garden, have never gathered an egg from a henhouse, nor carried a bucket of warm milk in from the barn. And it isn’t a good thing that they’ve never done these things.

They’ve missed out not only on some of the best work and family experiences of childhood, but of life.

Open Letter to Sal Iozzia and Loaded Commerce

Loaded Commerce – previously CRELoaded

An overview of reasons why our company ceased to use CRE for client site builds.

We provide website development services to our clients, but we also provide business consulting – both for startups, and businesses in trouble. So this is written with a background of experience across a range of issues, not just as a web designer who is using the software.

In order to understand our perspective on eCommerce applications, you need to understand our client base. They are primarily sole-proprietorships, almost always single decision maker owner-operators. Their businesses are small, their time limited, and their budgets tight to the point of squeaking. They usually do not have teams for marketing – they hire a single individual (in this case, our company), to provide all website, graphic design, copy writing and editing, marketing, SEO, security, and coding services. They are not members of the “Internet Marketing” crowd, they primarily sell shipped product, a few sell instant services or ebooks.

Long term, their needs are for something that is low cost, easy to update, for which it is easy to find free or low cost templates, and which integrates with other low cost or free services. Most use PayPal Standard as a payment choice, a few use Authorize.net or YourPayConnect, with a few Canadians using InternetSecure.

This client base makes up a HUGE sector of Open Source cart users, perhaps the largest segment, and certainly the largest percentage of successful ecommerce users. For every big store out there, there are 2-3000 small ones struggling along, making it from year to year, but not rolling in it.

We gave our clients a choice between Joomla with VirtueMart, or CRE for a long time. Eventually the users of CRE simply faded out, and many of the choices were based on cost – there is no ongoing fee to use Joomla or VirtueMart.

CRE does do more things as far as the following tasks:

Reporting
Sales and Discounts
Coupons
Slightly better Shipping Modules

The reasons why we, as a site development team, eventually moved completely over to Joomla based solutions had to do with the following aspects:

Ease of templating. This is HUGE. It primarily has to do with three factors:

  • First, Joomla has a better separation of design and text code from core code. We can easily access the HTML and CSS for the basic template design, and don’t have to mess with 50 different templates in 300 different pieces. It is just so much faster to edit a template, and I can do it in the backend of the site instead of messing with the files. This alone saves me an average of 2-3 hours of time compared to CRE.
  • Second, I can get free templates for Joomla. There are only a couple for CRE. That hurts. My clients mostly can’t afford to pay more than $100 for a template. The templates you can buy are often buggy, there are only limited numbers available for the newer versions, and editing the commercial ones is even harder than editing the ones that come with CRE. Our clients are stuck with the choices of paying for limited choices in commercial templates, paying us to highly customize one of the two free ones, or settling for a site that looks just like everyone else’s site with different colors.
  • Third… Artisteer (artisteer.com). That program is amazing. Far more functional than it appears on first run. It has a layer of finer controls under the surface. This program saves me an average of 5 or more hours of time per design. If you could work with that company to change CRE so that they could get it to work with their engine, and persuade them to integrate CRE template production into their software, wow… You’d have CRE users springing out of the woodwork, because template issues are a MAJOR issue for CRE. They run an affiliate program also, so you could potentially use that to replace some lost revenue from template sales. Artisteer not only allows me to produce a template fast (http://www.divinepotential.com was produced in a matter of 15 minutes working inside Artisteer, plus a little bit of graphics time outside), it gives me a predictable code base, so every template I create shares the same code organization. AWESOME for saving time making hand edits (which I only do on maybe 1/3 of all templates that I create with it). Artisteer taking you on would also quickly amass a large body of free templates, because once designers get their hands on Artisteer, they start cranking out templates for whatever it makes. They can’t help themselves. If you haven’t got your hands on that, I really suggest you download the trial and see what it does – and make sure to set a background gradient, and then open up the Options button for that, and play around with the contrast, length of gradient, and other settings in there, just so you see what I mean by that second layer of controls. Then imagine what people could do if Artisteer worked for CRE…

Ok, so beyond that, Joomla, and VirtueMart, also present a few other advantages for us:

Both are free. It does make a difference. I don’t know what their business models are, but they do work. There are two points here that matter:

  • First, people do like a free thing best, but they will pay for a thing ONCE, and not mind. They don’t like being stuck for it over and over. If you charge for upgrades, fine, but only charge for major upgrades, not patches or bug fixes. People get that – new features, pay again (half what they paid before, or less). Yearly, they don’t get, and they don’t like. Yearly is a subscription plan, regardless of your achievements. They hate that. And make support optional. Not everyone needs it. Those who do can pay for it. The most profitable business model has HIGH software sales and LOW support (profit margins on software sales are more controllable than profit margins on support).
  • The second issue you have to deal with on cost is that the trust people had in your product has been thoroughly screwed. It is enough that they get stuck for it once a year, or once every time you do a major upgrade, or whatever. That feeling that they never know what the price is going to be the next time, or worse, that they got a free thing that is now no longer free, is scary. Having ANY kind of validation code ruins the sense of trust. They feel it gives you the power to take away their business any time you like to extort money from them. It isn’t just a cart you are providing. It is a business. They invest in you, even if they never pay you a dime. They spend time and money to build that store. If you fail them, they have to rebuild, and they may not be able to recover what they lost. It is a huge thing – you hold their livelihood in your hands, and it is not a trust to be taken lightly. It is a precious thing, of great responsibility.

Joomla has a fully functional extension system with very stable separation of core function from extension function. An extension can be installed, and upgraded, and the core never touched or altered – and Joomla can be upgraded without affecting the extensions in 99% of cases. You NEVER have to hack Joomla code. They have done a masterful job of separating the parts you touch and alter, from the parts that never get touched. I usually have to hack CRE multiple times to get things working right, or to modify things that need to be modified on every install. I know you are working with ancient code base in there, but the time is long past to drop all pretense of compatibility with OSC. It is past time to get the dinosaur out of the basement.

The article handling is more powerful, so it is much easier to create and manage the peripheral info pages. Article handling also just feels simpler – some of it has to do with the layout organization in the Admin. CRE feels cramped, looks complicated even when it isn’t, and isn’t very friendly looking. Users respond to those cues.

CRE still stores some things in files (including the mainpage content), which makes for upgrade hassles, backup and restore mistakes, etc. It is just sloppy, those things should be in the database. This is also long overdue – should have been changed 5 years ago.

VirtueMart is easier to hack when we have to. The code base is smaller, because it is only the cart portion. It also has good separation of code and design.

VirtueMart has no controls on the payment processors. We can install any we want, or even code our own. There is nothing proprietary about it, nothing that forces anyone to do it a certain way.

Updating Joomla is FAR easier than updating CRE.
Twice we’ve had to migrate sites due to catastrophic upgrades, but that is rare. Typically we just drop in the files and walk away. We can even automate it because it is so predictable and simple. VirtueMart is not that simple – especially since we added some custom mods of our own to it. But it is still simpler than CRE, even WITH the mods, and can still be automated with conditional statements.

There was no upgrade path from one version to another. I could not simply drop in some files and run a database query to move from Standard to Pro to B2B. That is pretty critical if you want to capitalize on store growth. Nobody wants to have to pay twice – you for the software, and the designer to rebuild the store! All three versions NEED to use the same templates, and all three versions need to be compatible for upgrades AND downgrades (business owners want to know they have a safe way to go forward if their business takes a dive and they can’t afford to upgrade a paid version). GIVE them the control, and they will give you their loyalty – try to TAKE the control, and they will run. I guarantee that this change will result in more upgrades than downgrades.

The Newsletter Manager in CRE has no throttling control.
You can’t set it to send slowly to accommodate server limits, so once a store gets more than 3-400 customers, it is useless, it will only send the first ones. There are other things that could make it better as well, but this one is the most critical, because it is a complete show stopper for anyone smart enough to know what the problem actually is, and for those who do not, it is hurting their business.

There were a few other reasons having to do with company attitude, and trust, but these are the major technical and performance issues which caused us to stop recommending it to our clients, and to prefer working in a different environment.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.