Note: The fol­low­ing is the third install­ment of a series that rep­re­sents a first-hand chron­i­cle of a fic­tion­al eco­nom­ic col­lapse in the Unit­ed States. This series is to be viewed as only one pos­si­ble sce­nario.


Jan­u­ary 9 – 81 days after Black Swan Day


My Dear­est Chil­dren -

It’s win­ter. In more ways than one.

Win­ter this sea­son come in ear­ly just as I thought it would. First snow was by mid-Decem­ber and Christ­mas was a white blan­ket. Nor­mal­ly some­thing to be pleased with but not this year. The house heat has been on since ear­ly Decem­ber. At least we can still afford that some­what but I keep the ther­mo­stat at 63 dur­ing the day and 65 at night. Your moth­er com­plains but then I show here the bill and she goes off in a huff which I have come to learn over the years means she knows I’m right and can’t stand it. Your Aunt Don­na and Uncle Frank buy on the spot mar­ket. They won’t say what they pay but I’m sure it’s a lot more then with our cap. Their house is always cold­er. And we just received a let­ter from the oil com­pa­ny that due to high demand they won’t be mak­ing fill-ups but rather fixed gal­lon deliv­er­ies based on your tank size and usage. In oth­er words – rationing!

The President’s 5% “assis­tance tax” went into effect just before Christ­mas (a nice gift except to those who had to pay the tax) and that isn’t help­ing either. I wish we had got­ten that pel­let stove but too late this year. I hope we can next year.

Gas is now $8.29/gallon for no-name brand reg­u­lar. OPEC has threat­ened to stop tak­ing U.S. Dol­lars alto­geth­er and that sent oil up yet again. Just what we need­ed. And the Pres­i­dent is propos­ing the gov­ern­ment give low inter­est loans to farm­ers to buy new hybrid trac­tors and har­vesters since diesel is over $10/gallon. Prob­lem is: There are very few hybrid farm equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers now! He says it will stim­u­late grow and jobs as new com­pa­nies will form to make the new “green” hybrid farm tools but that hasn’t hap­pened yet. “Green on the farm” is the buzz slo­gan. And just how many peo­ple any­way will be employed? A few thou­sand? Nice for them but when unem­ploy­ment is at 11.2% (offi­cial­ly) you can’t get too excit­ed.

The Dow is gyrat­ing from around 7700 to 8100. No San­ta  Clause ral­ly this year. Even the usu­al New Year’s spike as port­fo­lios are read­just­ed for the new year has been lack lus­ter at best. Gold hit $5900 the oth­er day and is expect­ed to break $6000/ounce soon with sil­ver near­ing $70 an ounce too. I sold one of my 1980’s 14k gold wrist chains at the mall kiosk for $1900! It paid this month’s oil bill and bought two weeks of gro­ceries, if that’s what you can call the lack lus­ter selec­tion and qual­i­ty these days. At least the restau­rant sup­ply com­pa­ny near the Post Office still sells retail out the back. Prices are up but not so bad and the qual­i­ty is sur­pris­ing­ly good. I don’t ask ques­tions and nei­ther do they when cash is in hand.

Speak­ing of gro­ceries, a curi­ous thing at the super­mar­ket this week. A sign as you walked in said all cus­tomers now must use their Val­ued Cus­tomer card when mak­ing any pur­chase. If you don’t have a Val­ued  Cus­tomer card you can’t buy any­thing. And now you need to show two forms of ID, one with a pho­to, to apply for the card. And it isn’t’ just the local Wal­baums. Stop&Shop, Shop Rite, Path­mark etc all are doing the same. I con­firmed via net blogs this is hap­pen­ing with super­mar­ket chains nation­wide too though noth­ing on the news yet. I have a sink­ing feel­ing about this when com­bined with the new rent-a-cops thing super­mar­kets (and oth­ers too) have imple­ment­ed but will hold my thoughts for now. Not sure what a secu­ri­ty guard or two can do but I sup­pose it’s a show of force for deter­rence to at least some­one.

Dave’s rab­bits seem to be doing well. I think I smelled cook­ing rab­bit the oth­er night. I won’t say any­thing but it isn’t good for him that such odors car­ry. If I can smell it in my yard so can our oth­er neigh­bors and prob­a­bly some­one on the street. I real­ly should approach him about the rab­bits for trade. Maybe trade some sum­mer grown veg­eta­bles for meat? Worth a try even though I still think he’s unre­li­able at best.

Work is going ok. Not a lot of big long-term project but a lot of dai­ly grunt work. I’m not com­plain­ing. Your moth­er says the same at her job. At least we still have jobs. Doing more work from home to cut back on fuel costs. A lot of peo­ple are. The office is half emp­ty most days.

And on the sub­ject of cars your moth­er final­ly agreed to let me keep a lit­tle gas out­side. I have six 5‑gallon con­tain­ers and good sta­bi­liz­er. So that should be enough to fill both our cars. I’ll try to add a few more con­tain­ers but those have been hard to come by local­ly and I don’t want to be “on record” order­ing  them online. As it is more and more blogs and web­sites are post­ing leaked mem­os and emails from DHS and FBI about activ­i­ties they deem “sus­pi­cious”. Heck, just buy­ing 100 pounds of bagged rice, if you can afford it, might get you on someone’s ‘watch list’ these days! Pret­ty scary stuff.

The coun­ty and city laid-off a cou­ple hun­dred teach­ers, fire and police. Yet, fun­ny, they still found the mon­ey for the Caribbean Cul­ture Day parade and to re-tile all the pub­lic sum­mer pools. Guess that’s more impor­tant. Maybe those peo­ple should try dri­ving down the main roads with eyes open and see all the emp­ty stores and mini-malls. Ami­tyville looks like a old west ghost town. Brent­wood is even worse. And I try not to think about what it’s prob­a­bly like in Wyan­danch. As long as that ele­ment stays there – but for how long?

Still, at this time we remain lucky. And win­ter is half over. Hope that ground hog is right this year. I won­der what ground hog tastes like? (just kid­ding! Maybe.)

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