The key to staying up here in any kind of sane manner is non-grid-dependent heat. Since my furnace is on propane and I keep a lot of it in the tank (3 months supply), I have a propane-fired soapstone stove...expensive, and worth every penny. It is incredibly efficient and will actually keep the bottom floor of my house at 60 degrees @ 0 zero outside temp...of course the house is super-insulated and reinformed by an extra layer of sheathing facing the prevailing west winds. On days like this, with the outside temp running around freezing, I just run the stove occasionally. I didn't run it at all last night, and the house only lost 10 degrees in 12 hours. The stove is also fitted with a grill on top, and it's easy to cook on.
Entertainment comes from the iPod with battery-powered speakers or my excellent Sony SW7600 receiver. Thanks for the connection on beeswax candles...I'm been meaning to buy a bunch to replace my wax candles, which are getting a bit tatty. More intense light comes from Coleman LED latterns, with kerosene latterns as a backup. I blow hot and cold on adding a generator...I'll be moving the Secret Hidden Bunker in a couple of years to some property we bought with an eye to an off-grid set-up that would include a propane generator as the backup...I don't like storing gasoline at all, and I really haven't fiddled with diesel.
What irritates me the most is that the little town I live in is one of the few places in Colorado without cell service, so no 3G Internet hook-up. This is largely because of an unholy collection of aging hippies who are afraid aliens are tapping into their Grateful Dead cassette collection through cell phones and busybody stay-at-home women with indeterminate professions ("I, uh, photograph my cats, dabble in astrology, have done a bit of massage and psychotherapy and write a column on peace for the local shopper..." you know the type) with a relentless commitment to "the environment." Most recently, a cell tower supported by the local cops, the firefighters, all the first responders, the town's businesspeople and everyone else an above-room-temperature IQ was voted down because the fruit and nut basket that passes for a town council agreed that the tower would "spoil the view." The tower was going to be attached to a sewage treatment plant, which looks uncannily like a, well, sewage treatment plant. I can't quite craft a sentence that includes "beautiful views" and "bubbling crap" in close proximity. But, hey, that's just me...
Am trying to keep up on the gun front...am amazed at the tenacity of the Mexican connection that keeps getting debunked and pops back up like a turd roiling around a treatment pant. Here's a link to the most recent LA Times blog story...if I try to cut and paste on this dial up connection, I'll be here until the snow melts. Here's a second link to the FactCheck.org study they're referencing.
I haven't seen anyone address the addition issue of what "originating in the United States" actually means...for example, if the guns came from the U.S. directly to the Mexican military, such as it is, and went to the cartels when the 150,000 or so soldiers deserted or sold off military hardware to the cartel, does that count as firearms "originating in the United States?" Secondly, guns that were made here have been floating around Central America for more than a century. We've provided guns to various and sundry governments, dictators and wannabes, a wicked assortment of rebel groups and a generous collection of people and groups we perceived to be our surrogates south of the border. Do those count as "originating in America?" If a gunrunner ponies up a shipment of M4s that fell off a truck in Iraq, is shipped via Syria to Paraguay, then carted to the open arms markets in Honduras and sold to the cartels, do those guns count as "originating in America?"
Do the "no trace" American arms our government provided to El Salvador count? Hell, if the Cubans sell the Mexican cartels a selection of battlefield pick-ups dating from when we remembered the Maine or from the stockpiles their former partners in socialism, the Russians, delivered during the Cold War, are those guns lumped into the "originating in America" pile?
Inquiring minds want to know! Okay, it's SHOVEL TIME!