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happycube
31 May 2017 @ 04:50 pm
Decided to go back to my old blogs - I'm rather amazed that Livejournal's still around. Most of what we do is on local networks and community sites these days.

This all seems so naive now. worldwithoutoil ended at just the beginning of the... depression/crash/people-still-haven't-named-it-yet. Rather sad really, but even by the end I was too busy to update this often anyhow.

I do really odd jobs compared to Before. When I can I work on maintaining the local network here where I am, other times I work on maintaining anything, and other times I work on the field. My friends and I manage to eek out a living but it's nothing like Before. I was absolutely wealthy then by comparison.

Since this journal's a time capsule now (I felt bad updating it!) I guess I'll post a few big things that happened:

- Oil production kept sliding... it's about 40% of what it was. The oil sands are of very little help, although people are still trying to make something out of them without using up a ton of energy in the process...

- Famine was and is horrible in places. I think they've bottomed out but not without a lot of effort.

- There was another oil shock in 2009. This one didn't settle down at all.

- The rich are still rather rich, but not all of them could avoid what came...

- Housing prices went haywire and became very localized. I managed to buy a couple of older apartment buildings and a few acres of land while things were crashed, but that still doesn't make me rich at all... it's still tight. And I might need to replace the apartment buildings too... sigh.

[note that even though I own some land I still work... no idle landholderness for me, unfortunately ;) ]

- Eventually we went, kicking and screaming, back to an earlier standard of living. Materials quality isn't quite what it used to be, but I wound up building a couple of concrete/foam dome houses. Might have to replace the apartment complex with some, as I could at least afford to rebuild those every decade or two.


[OOG - I wrote this very fast to try to get in before the cutoff... I'll probably re-edit it later.]
 
 
happycube
30 November 2007 @ 12:19 pm
[RL got and is still in the way of me working on this. Ironically IRL I'm going to be in Denver airport on Sunday for an hour... in theory at least!]

It's almost December already and I have no idea how that happened.

I moved to a nice place with a few cool people and we're getting by. Food's a little tight but we'll have a garden next year. Perhaps food'll be really tight afterall - I don't know. There's enough farmland here so that there's a local supply, at least.

I think the theme of this LJ is that this isn't the end of the world, and neither will the next oil shock be. It'll be harder to get by and there isn't the 'cushion' there used to be against bad stuff... which is bad for the people who didn't have one to begin with!

The other thing that I'm not sure I've tapped into enough is that we all have to pull together. I've met and remet a lot of people over the last few months and managed to get most of the way through 'resetting' my life.

As for myself... I've got a couple of odd tech jobs now - people still need things to work, and far smoother than before. There's too little room left for waste anymore and I've been working on using computer stuff to optimize processes and make people's lives easier. On the side from that, I'm using what I'm figuring out to do some odd yet useful things that I don't want to go into yet ;)

I'm actually having fun, if you can believe it... and I hope... no, I don't think I'm the only one. It'd be too damn sad if I was.

... I guess that's it for now. Not much of a last entry but it'll do. :)

[OOG: Thanks - this has been really interesting and fun and thought-provoking and I didn't quite measure up to it but it's been quite a ride. My thanks to everyone involved!]
 
 
happycube
12 October 2007 @ 10:26 pm
The lights are on a bit less often now, but life's going on. Looks like FEMA took our advice and hired from within, so I'm still on unemployment from now. The camps themselves are interesting - I wish the trailers were better built, but if they're sticking around as long as I think they'll be, they're gonna be rebuilt using better construction Really Soon Now(tm) - take that as you will. ;) But I think their existance is saving us a lot of trouble now... it gives people a Way Out who otherwise would've made the Red Zones a bit worse. Fortunatly those areas are under control now... mostly. There are some parts of Westside SB I'd rather not be in.

Still mostly volunteering and keeping my eyes open for new offers and places to go. I might move out in a couple of months into a group house with some friends... I really wish housing prices were going down quicker here, but I never expected them to.

That and houses with nice lots full of gardening space are going for a premium.

Cheaply built tract houses in suburbs (orcutt, buelleton) are not, but none of us want to do that even if it didn't take a lot of gas to get anywhere interesting ;)

Everyone's worried about waste now - and living in a 600 sq ft apartment with even two people feels so wasteful now. Besides in these times having friends around is a darn good thing.
 
 
happycube
28 September 2007 @ 09:19 pm
Got a common ole' head cold... how come colds didn't go away with the oil? Not fair!

It's scary to think of food just rotting or not even being planted - I would've thought that the megafarmingco's would have kept things running better but it turns out they needed way too much diesel to keep going.

Just before I got the cold some FEMA people came by to the Linux group meeting and offered those of us on unemployment interviews for IT jobs. Aparently they're going to be around much longer than anyone thought... or is that so?

It feels like, given we haven't lost that much oil production (about 10-15%? We lost the Saudi's more or less) things shouldn't be this bad so soon. It's like we're in a perfect storm and we went several years into the future all at once. Getting it all over with, unlike putting things off as we had been for the last few years with the housing bubble.

And now I have no idea where I'll really fall when this is all said and done. What I'll do when I get over this cold in a couple of days... I don't know. Used to be I could just go back to work, but now... sigh.

I wonder if the FEMA job'll pay enough so that I won't have to live there. I don't want fermaldahyde(sp) in my house, thank you. But it beats the alternatives... right?
 
 
happycube
10 September 2007 @ 11:30 pm
Been too busy to write much, but here are some little items:

- Watching someone get stabbed in a gang fight just down the block and seeing someone die in front of me for the first time. (I wasn't alone and they were definitely not interested in us... at least right then.)

- Trying to take care of a friend who ran out of antidepressants, wound up in a suicidal level of withdrawl, and was scared to go to the Goleta ER because her family's insurance had run out. Friends and I wound up dragging her there anyway - I have no idea how the bills will get paid, but at least she's still alive.

- The whole office getting laid off at once. Didn't matter how well we were doing - nobody's doing capital investments right now, so there was almost nobody to buy what we made.

- Watching people get more and more desperate over less and less food, even though the 101 is open from LA again.

- Looking at wildfires up in the mountains, and trying to keep from breathing the smoke. Some of my friends and I have a pool going over when the 101 will get cut off again in at least one direction. Everyone's bet on this month.

- Volunteering at a thrift store on the Q.T. and trying desperately to sort out wave after wave of items. I put Linux on a couple of Athlon 64/X2's and Core 2 Duo desktops going for sale. Now to find and fix UPS's so that someone will actually buy them.

- Seeing a new reality show on MTV called "Living Without Oil" about eight attractive twentysomething strangers who met "randomly" at a train station who were offered to stay solely in a protected farm for free from this mysterious Hungarian guy. In exchange, everything they do gets videotaped. They run two episodes daily - one family-friendly show at 8PM typically brainstorming (quite well!) on ideas to save the world, the other very not family or work-safe episode at midnight.

- Generally wondering how long I can collect unemployment, and if I could actually find a job that paid as much as the weekly checks.

- Still keeping my sanity anyhow - I don't have quite as much optimism as last week, but I saw this coming and I'm about as ready as I can be... and things are definitely not boring and my days are very full right now.

Now excuse me, for it's 11:30 and I have the 8PM episode of Living Without Oil to watch... and we're going to have a big Linux user's group meeting tommorrow evening. Who has time to keep a Windows laptop running anymore?
 
 
 
happycube
06 September 2007 @ 07:09 pm
We had a really fun and quirky labor day party - some of my neighbors and friends from around here biked and/or walked over and we had lots of great food (we kept the stove and gas grill busy!) and watched movies in the clubhouse (which has a silenced UPS now for those pesky power outages). It was a lot of fun and I really feel a sense of community that I never felt before the crisis.

I don't really feel like bringing friends - old and new - directly into my LJ, but I've met a lot of new friends this summer that I wouldn't have met without the oil shock. Making - or building - personal connections is probably the best thing to do before and during a crisis. You can have all the more technical preparations made perfectly but if you're alone the world can likely eat you alive so much easier.

Food, goods and services are still spotty but as I said before you can still get anything you actually need, if you have the money and more importantly patience - and the more patience you have, the less money you tend to need. The fires are pushed away enough now so that 101 should be fixed soon - and there are track workers coming in from up north who couldn't work on the Alameda rails. It looks like they're even going to try to do it right this time - they're double tracked and electrified. Perhaps we'll get commuter rail to Ventura afterall!

Sadly it looks like my coworkers and I are all going to be laid off sometime this month. Unemployment still works and I'm up two months on rent so I should be able to stay through December. And I'm not leaving here without a fight - no FEMA camps for me.

Thinking of unemployment leads me to some other news - the state deficit's gone completely bonkers - it looks like Arnold is preparing to do something about it and maybe even introduce formal rationing soon...

And as for the subject of this entry... yes, there's a lot of nasty stuff going on, but if we sat down and let it all take us over, just what would we be fighting on for?

Edit/side-note: Why do silly people abandon and/or smash up SUV's and [mini]vans? They're worth a few gallons to save if you can get them somewhere safe... and then you can put a bed in them and you've got basic shelter for 1-3 people. I should get a nice one into my parking space, even though I don't have a license...
 
 
happycube
03 September 2007 @ 11:00 am
The Labor Day party's in a few hours yet, so I bounced onto IRC and had a nice conversation with some cool people, including gala_teah and wwo_baltpiker on LJ... some of what's ahead is paraphrased from them, others me.

Some tidbits:

- Des is rarely seen these days, which is worrysome to say the least - he's in the FEMA camps and apparently nobody's sure exactly what's going on in there. My guess is that internet access is being very tightly controlled at all of the camps. There's one on the Ellwood Mesa which is seriously annoying conservationists, but nobody dares speak up too much about it.

baltpiker brought up this relocation camp that his great-grandparents were kept in during WW2. About 120,000 people - over 80,000 of them native-born US citizens were forcibly removed from their homes and their property stripped of them, just because they were of Japanese descent.

And it seems to be happening again... to many more people, now. They find themselves broke and have no recourse but to become homeless or go to the camps, where there is at least some food and shelter... and all but forced work.

- The air's a bit dirtier around here because of the ships - which already burnt the lowest grade fuel - and the ever decreasing quality of gasoline around here. Oh, and I forgot to mention the smoke from the fires. It's not nearly as bad as it is in LA, where the air is horrible, at least.

- Arnold and his buddies are still trying to work out a gasoline rationing plan in California other than 'you get it when you can.'

- People are stupid enough to steal crude oil tanker trucks. You have to get it refined somehow, right?

We also turned towards thinking of our possessions - as Teah said - some have lost their joy, while others become more precious... reminders of happy times. Everything has happened far too quickly - if we had more time to prepare before the shock, more people could have gotten their affairs in order - paid off debts, figured out what they needed in life. It's left us in chaos - grabbing pieces of what's falling apart.

I gave up much of my own stuff already so it would find good homes before any looters could steal them - I had too many to begin with, anyhow ;) It also makes bugging outta here easier, I realized later!

Near the end we started to reach a consensus, which I'm daring to push a little bit further:

We can start looking for a light out of the darkness, to be really clever and put something new together. To build something and stand on our own because the government won't stand for us. A world without oil, but with plenty of human spirit and heart.

It's time to lead - to begin building something new out of the ashes. Will you be a hero?
 
 
happycube
01 September 2007 @ 05:25 pm
It seems odd to write about something mundane as shopping, but I feel that it's a chance to show that life still goes on, no matter how trying the times are. And for better... heck, just plain worse, consumerism is engrained into our society at this point, and it's hard to change it this quickly. Things are going reasonably well here - the makeshift harbor conversion is finished and we're getting some ships from Los Angeles - including ones that couldn't be unloaded there because of the Watts bombing. And most importantly we're getting the diesel needed to get some of the stuck trucks and the cargo containers that we don't need back up to the Bay Area.

I went to Costco earlier today - Saturday's were always busy pre-crash - with some neighbors who have a van that still has some gas in it. My boss once quipped that Costco was the center of Goleta - and as for shopping that still feels right. People often come in groups now, often walking from as far as Isla Vista or Ellwood. Others take the local buses in - their exhaust is getting increasingly ugly as the quality of diesel drops further.

It often feels somewhat like a Soviet grocery store as described to me back in the 1980's - there are lines leading to other lines, and eventually you wind up with something. For security reasons only a relatively limited number of people are allowed in the store at any one time. Trucks come in sporadically even now, making shopping an even more random experience than ever. Pretty much anything can be had - eventually - if you wait long enough for it to show up.

Prices are random - the store's markup is still only between 8-15% on most items, though. Some things like TV's and desktop computers are actually cheaper than before because there are few people with the cash - and the will - to buy them. Laptops have gone up a bit though because of their portability and ability to last through rolling outages.

DVD's are also very popular, especially since even if you can't watch them during a power outage you can at least pick up where you left off later. Some of the major would-be blockbusters of the summer were rushed to DVD - you can already buy PotC 3, Transformers, and apparently the first and only season of Heroes. I'm hearing rumors there might be an animated second season, with most of the hard work done in Korea or Japan. Science Fiction series with an optimistic view of the future are very popular... season sets of Star Trek or the new series of Doctor Who tend to sell out very quickly.

Clothes and durable goods are hit or miss, but eventually someone buys them, especially if they don't require electricity to operate or reduce the need to use fuel in some fashion.

Food - no matter what it is - tends to leave the shelves almost immediately! Even though it's been like that for weeks I'm still getting used to seeing mad rushes for some things.

People returning products to Costco are watched like hawks - often people will buy usable scarce items from them for more than the return value.

Specifically for this Saturday, people were coming in to get stuff for Labor Day parties. Isla Vista in particular has not forgotten how to party in the least! With the reassignment of much of the foot patrol, IV is looking more and more like New Orleans before Katrina in those aspects. Other places are catching onto the spirit - there's a huge party here in the pool area... even though the pool closed back in July, people still congregate especially when there's gas to run the BBQ.

However, this means many, many things are out of stock today, and many of the customers were... irate. Thankfully security has been beefed up, although we saw a couple of "party vans" come by to take detained people to the detention center in bulk (what else do you expect there?) Most people take the shortages in stride - my parents live in Hawaii and they were used to things randomly being out of stock... just not this much.

We did get enough random stuff so we think the Labor Day party will be quite fun - albeit a bit quirky!
 
 
happycube
31 August 2007 @ 09:01 pm
I was over in Isla Vista today hanging out with a group during a power failure, and I paired up with a few other techs to find a way to get the latest news (for whatever it's worth) and watch whatever else came on:

We started with a very big (a few square feet) set of solar panels cobbled together from anything that we could find, which is then regulated to 12 volts and thus can power airport/car laptop chargers while slowly charging a 12v marine battery. One of us has a HD compatible USB tuner, which plugs directly into the laptop and is powered off it. Since I run Linux, I found DVB (the European standard, prodded to work with American devices) drivers for the tuner in question, and the computer itself has the processing power to decode HDTV in real time, so it looks very nice when we get it started up.

Of course you could plug in a regular portable TV, but when something interesting actually happens this also doubles as a video recorder that makes a perfect digital copy of what comes in. And the laptop screen's bigger than most portable TV's, too, and we can also go on the internet... when the ISP's working, that is.

Up next - we're looking at setting up an exercise bike with a car alternator which includes it's own 12v regulator, and then we'll be able to go online and/or watch TV when it's dark!
 
 
happycube
29 August 2007 @ 07:33 pm
Life's going on - but it's not so easy.

The fires near 101 are still burning and the best guess anyone can get is that it'll take a week - or more - to get 101 back. As for the railroad everyone south of here's been diverted to rebuild the rails in LA, so who knows when a repair team will make it to the Seacliff/La Conchita area. The satellites can't see the damage behind all the smoke.

What that means for us is that we're still more or less cut off from LA. Goods and fuel have to come in from Northern California and Bakersfield - we have far fewer of those now. When a truck actually does make it here to refuel a gas station there are... unbelievable lines. There's barely enough diesel for the bus agency and the fire department... so there's never any at the pumps now. Some trucks haven't been able to finish their return trips from here.

On the plus side, they're rushing to convert the Santa Barbara Harbor into a light port.

Gas is incredibly expensive when it does come - it showed up at the most expensive Chevron in town... for about $15/gallon, cash only. It still caused a major traffic jam - and the major protest group from Isla Vista showed up and slowed things down even further, and word is that some members were barely kept from going violent.

Meanwhile the lack of credit is making it much harder for people to actually buy anything. And the credit card companies still want their money, too... and if you fail to pay the minimum payment once they are now raising interest to 30%... so it's clear that hyperinflation, even if it happens, won't save anyone.

Socially there are groups forming all over the area - especially in Isla Vista. I've spent time with a few lately but sadly hardly anyone wants to be mentioned on the internet, and especially not show up on worldwithoutoil.org. They're afraid of getting the wrong kind of attention. I'm going to try to talk to a few over the next week or two and see if I can pass more on.

What worries me though is that some of the groups are getting militant. There's talk of disrupting the next $15+ gas delivery by force, for instance...

Here at the apartment complex some of us are meeting though - we're exchanging goods, services, and gardening tips. Most of us who are left are growing things in the patios and now in front of our apartment buildings where possible. There's a determination in most of us remaining now to pull through, somehow. And we will.

Finally... does anyone know what's going on with the FEMA camps? Quite a few people I know - the ones who aren't toughing it out - are already heading off to the perceived relative safety there. I'm worried about them.