US Banking, Currency and Economy Host: Ray Becker… Audio player provided! My show was to be about the Economy and that’s where I should remain. I am going to do a long series of shows on Banking, Currency and Economy. My first priority is to continue the monitoring of the economy to try and determine … Continue reading US Banking, Currency and Economy!
If you live in an area that often sees standing snow for weeks or months at a time during the winter, you are surrounded by some of the best insulation you can use for your home.
“Banking” is the process of building snow around your home to help keep it insulated, and it’s a proven technique that can help cut your heating costs during the winter months. This technique is ideal for those who live in climates where there isn’t a real thaw until March, so that the snow stays in place all winter. It will still work in slightly warmer climates, but you need to be cognizant of any thawing cycles and add snow when necessary.
Although the concept may seem too simple to be true, banking your home with snow can add some serious insulation power. For every inch of snow, you gain an extra R-value of 1 or more for your walls. R-value indicates the capacity of a material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value a material has, the greater the insulation power. Most older homes are built with R-11 insulation, while newer homes can have insulation with R-13 or higher. Regardless of the type of insulation you have in your walls, banking with snow can significantly increase your home’s ability to retain heat.
When banking your home with snow, the goal is to build a wall of snow around the base of your home 2-4 feet high. You can do this by simply shoveling the snow up in drifts until they are at the desired height, but most people find it easier to use a piece of plywood roughly 4 feet by 8 feet with a bracing pole to keep it vertical. Starting at the corner of your structure, place the piece of plywood about two feet from the wall of your home, and then use the pole to brace it vertically. Make sure that you use a bracing pole strong enough to hold the weight of the plywood and the weight of the snow as you start to pack it in.
Shovel snow in between the piece of plywood and your structure until you reach the desired height. Be sure to pack the snow down as you go so it can resist any winds that may blow it away. As you finish one section of the wall, move the plywood one length down the structure and pack the next section. Continue this method until you’ve built a snow wall two feet thick and at least two feet tall around every part of your home. You may not be able to build a continuous wall around your entire home because of stairs or ground level doors, but any section you can bank with snow helps. It will make a significant difference.
Of course, while banking with snow, it is extremely important not to block any vents that may extrude from your home. Gas appliances, electric clothes dryers and other home appliances use these vents to get rid of gases that can prove toxic if built-up to certain levels.
It’s also important to keep a close eye out for warmer temperatures. As soon as it looks like a thaw is imminent, remove the snow around your home to prevent any moisture from seeping in. Modern-day homes typically have good moisture barriers to prevent this, but an older home may not have the proper prevention in place.
Aryn Young is a writer and farmer currently living in Homer, Alaska.
Have you ever banked snow around your home? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
We rely on the Internet for nearly everything in life, but in the wake of a natural disaster or large-scale collapse of the power grid, it is possible that the Internet could become inaccessible.
Even a few days without it could cripple American society’s ability to manage money, practice commerce, and communicate.
Because of that, it is a good idea to reduce your dependence on the Internet by moving more of your needs offline.
Here’s five areas to get your started:
1. Banking. Out of convenience, most Americans do at least a portion of their banking online. There’s no harm in using an online account to manage some of your bill payments and financial transactions. Just don’t rely on it to maintain your records. Monthly or quarterly, download a paper statement from your bank, print it, and file it away. Additionally, make sure you have paper records for all of the accounts you hold. Do the same thing for any stocks or important records of assets; record them on paper. Better still, do most of your bank transactions in person, at a local bank; you’ll have greater security and get better customer service.
2. Maps. Relying on GPS or Google Maps to tell you how to get around your local area is foolishness. Purchase or download updated local maps and keep them where they can be easily referenced or found in case of emergency. GPS won’t be a reliable source of navigation if the power grid is compromised.
3. Reference materials. Whether you read books on a Kindle or tablet, follow websites relevant to your interests, or just get the news delivered digitally, it is important to keep a paper trail for the information you’ll need in the future.
You may not always be able to Google your way to an answer. Buy reference books relevant to setting up and maintaining a homestead, including home improvement encyclopedias and farming manuals. Printing information from often-referenced websites and filing it appropriately will ensure you’ll have the knowledge at your fingertips long after you can’t get it online. Best of all, develop your skills now so you will not need as many reference materials to accomplish tasks around the homestead.
4. Email. Discussing plans and making decisions by email has become commonplace. Create a personal file of email correspondence for each family member and for your business activities. When agreements are solidified by email, print the message and file it accordingly. In addition to backing up your knowledge of what was decided, the written correspondence is an important record in your family. Just as our prior generations preserved old letters, so we must preserve meaningful emails in order to tell the story of our families.
5. Contacts. Many people scarcely know their phone numbers, let alone those of their families and other close contacts. Maintain an address book containing all the contact information and locations of anyone you care about, as well as resourceful peers and acquaintances.
Knowing where to find someone important to you is the first step to reconnecting, and you don’t want to be left high and dry by an inability to access your contacts.
Bonus – Unplug These, Too
Photos. Of course, this is a little sentimental, but there’s more to life than practicality. Don’t simply store precious family heirlooms “in the cloud.” Kids today are being raised with very few printed photos documenting their lives. What a shame if all of those digital photos were lost! Create a photo album for each member of your family, or a family album documenting your lives together. The small investment of time and money could reap rewards for the rest of your life and become an important piece of your family’s heritage.
Entertainment. Learn to amuse yourself without surfing the web, clicking through Facebook, or playing online games. Part of being resourceful is being able to find and create entertainment with ready supplies — paper and pencil, card, and dice games are a great way to connect with your family and have a great time without plugging in. Invest in a book of activities and start gathering around the table more often, and you won’t miss the Internet so much in times of outage.
What would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:
Hackers now have the ability to bring down an entire bank by cyberattack, one of the world’s top banking officials is warning.
Gottfried Leibbrandt, the CEO of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), said major cyberattacks on banks in three different countries in the past year demonstrated that hackers now have the ability to completely wipe out a major financial institution. SWIFT is a money transfer network for the world’s banks.
“The banks were compromised, credentials to payment generation systems were obtained to send fraudulent payments, and the statements/confirmations from their counterparties were obfuscated,” Leibbrandt revealed at a conference in Brussels.
SWIFT previously had warned that the attacks are “part of a wider and highly adaptive campaign.”
Three attacks have him concerned:
- The February 1, 2016, theft of $101 million from the national bank in Bangladesh. Experts are particularly worried about this attack because the crooks were able to transfer the money out of the Bangladesh bank’s accounts at the New York Federal Reserve.
- The January 1, 2015, theft of $12 million from Banco del Austro SA in Ecuador. In a lawsuit against one of America’s largest banks, Wells Fargo & Company, Banco del Austro alleged that crooks got the SWIFT codes from Wells Fargo that allowed them to make the transfer.
- The 2015 theft of 1 million euros ($1.1 million) from TPBank in Vietnam. The money was taken through a fraudulent money transfer and it nearly caused the bank to collapse, Bloomberg.
“In the recent cases, thieves were able to move just some of those banks’ overseas assets,” Leibbrandt said. “As a result, for the banks concerned, the events haven’t been existential. The point is that they could have been.”
Officials are concerned because thieves were easily able to circumvent bank security and infect computers with malware, and then transfer money out of accounts, CNN reported.
Since SWIFT connects almost any bank in the world, hackers can use it to send money almost anywhere.
“The financial industry, as a community, has to be clear that cyber risk is big; there will be more cyber attacks. And inevitably some will be successful,” he said.
What is your reaction? Do you think America’s banks are safe? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Russia’s navy may be plotting a secret submarine attack that would shut down the world’s financial markets, disrupt the global economy and paralyze communications by cutting cables deep underneath the sea, Pentagon and intelligence officials say.
As reported by The New York Times, officials are worried because Russian spy ships and submarines are operating near undersea fiber-optic cables that carry much of the world’s data. In a sea thousands of miles wide, such maneuvers are rarely coincidental.
The cables carry business transactions worth more than $10 trillion a day, the newspaper said. Additionally, more than 95 percent of communications each day takes place on the cables.
“I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,” Rear Admiral Frederick J. Roegge, the commander of the US submarine fleet in the Pacific, told The Times.
The data going through such cables includes stock and commodities transactions, banking information, news, financial data, and email.
If the cables were to be cut, major financial markets including those in New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai would shut down. Major banking transactions, including credit card purchases, would be severed.
During World War I, one of the first actions of Britain’s Royal Navy was to cut undersea cables that connected Germany with the United States, Africa, and South America. The British cut the cables so they could control the flow of information in and out of Germany.
In September of this year, a Russian spy ship, the Yantar, cruised off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba, where one major cable resides, The Times reported. The ship carries two deep-sea submersible craft.
“The risk here is that any country could cause damage to the system and do it in a way that is completely covert, without having a warship with a cable-cutting equipment right in the area,” Michael Sechrist, a former researcher at Harvard and MIT, told The Times.
He believes that the Russians could cut the cables with undersea drones and nobody would notice.
Naval officers are concerned because the Russians appear to be searching for vulnerabilities in the cables deep below the surface of the ocean. Cables get cut “all the time,” Sechrist said, although those accidents take place close to the shore and are easier to repair. A cable cut deep in the middle of the ocean would be different.
“Undersea cables tend to follow the similar path since they were laid in the 1860s,” Sechrist said.
What do you believe the Russians are doing? Share your thoughts in the section below: