Survival Mindset Category

Sunday, April 13, 2014


I read with interest the after action reports for Sandy and the ice storm in the South, and I wanted to let people know what I have learned after three natural disasters, two ice storms, and a microburst. They all came on with little notice. The ice storm in January wasn't supposed to be much of anything until it covered the area with over two inches of ice. In some areas there was no power for 42 days after that one! The microburst came at 2am in July and knocked down every power pole on the main road for miles. Recovery took five days for that one. It wasn't bad because it was in the summer, and we didn't have to deal with heating. Then there was ICEMAS 2013, Christmas week. Four days there were temperatures down to -17°F.

If you are on municipal water, don't trust it after the power goes down. Fill your jugs and bathtub from the treated water in the pipes. Then don't use any without boiling or treating it because having no power means you have no treated water. If you are on a well, after the power goes out is not the time to think about storing water. If you have time to prepare, get that bath tub filled to the overflow line. Not having a flush toilet just because you didn't store some flush water is just one more thing you wish you had.

If the disaster comes on suddenly, like a microburst, there is no time to prepare at that point. The preparation happens when you purchase a storage tank and keep it filled. This can be done easily with a "Temper Tank". This is a 42-gallon, fiberglass pressure tank that is installed at the point just before the water enters a hot water heater or an on-demand, instant type heater. The tank's job is to even out the differences between summer and winter water intake temperature. If you are on municipal water when the power goes down, close off the valve to this "Temper Tank" to prevent contaminated water from entering. Then, the water is always fresh because you have been drawing hot water every day, thus, refreshing the "Temper Tank". All you have to do is open the drain valve on the bottom of the tank and draw off potable water as needed via gravity. Located at the top of a "Temper Tank" is an air admittance valve that allows air into the tank as you draw off water, so the tank doesn't implode from vacuum.

If you don't have a generator, you should have at least four gallons of frozen water stored in your freezer to keep your fridge cool for short power outages (up to a couple of days). Move two of the frozen 1-gallon jugs from the freezer to the fridge to draw out warmth. These can also be used as potable water after they have melted. If you do have a generator, only operate it four hours at a time to stretch your fuel reserve. Swap your gallon water jugs between the freezer and the fridge each cycle. If it's cold enough outside, simply re-freeze the jugs outside overnight.

I decided to optimize my resources by utilizing only one fuel– kerosene– for heat, lights, hot water, and cooking. It can be stored in large quantities safely, and it will not deteriorate if kept in a sealed container and out of the sun. Heat is obvious with kerosene. Open a window 1" in each room where there is an operating kerosene heater and you will not die! Really! The portable heaters are available everywhere. I use a mixture of modern portables (non-pinned wicks, 22,000btu) and antique Perfection brand heaters (11,000 btu). I like the Perfections because they heat up faster than the modern units and shut down with way less smell. Additionally, you can fill the founts away from the heater, and the heaters are easily carried about. However, you must clean them between every tank of fuel. Don't worry; it only takes about two minutes. Wick replacement can be accomplished without any tools, and you don't have to spend an hour without heat. Wick replacement should only take five minutes. For more information: & See Miles Stair for replacement wicks.

Military Thermo-Electric Kettle Fans keep ALL the heat from these heaters on the floor. They pop up as new surplus all over the Internet from time to time, but be aware they are pricy yet essential for not heating the ceiling (unless you live on the ceiling).

For everyday on-grid use, I use a Toyotomi Direct Vent kerosene fueled heater as my primary heat source. My water is heated by a Toyotomi kerosene-fueled water heater. Why these? Both can easily operate on a generator or, for a day, on a battery inverter/charger/switcher setup. (I used Dual Optima 8050-160 D31T batteries and a Surefire Heater Sentry 600w inverter/charger/switcher.)

For emergency cooking, few people use kerosene. It seems everybody turns to the Coleman portable propane or white gas, twin-burner camping stoves, but you can't use them inside. I prefer to stay indoors to cook when it is -17°F!

A hundred years ago if you didn't have access to gas, kerosene stoves were the preferred stove. Sure people can and do heat things up on a kerosene heater, but a kerosene stove produces a more concentrated heat with a blue, gas-like flame. There are several modern Korean multi-wick kerosene stoves available, Alpaca being the most recognized. These are tiny portable single-burner stoves. They can be purchased and ganged together in a stand for multiple burners. There is also a single-wick, #2688 Sockwick stove by Butterfly. It is a modern version of the Kerosun portable stove.

I prefer the vintage single-wick Perfection kerosene stoves in either the stand-a-lone cooktops or portable stoves, which can be purchased with one to five burners. The top of the line stoves have a built-in oven. I personally use an antique (1950's) Perfection dual-burner portable kerosene stove. New reproductions are available from Schwartz Manufacturing, 1261 W 200 S, Berne, IN 46711-9779. You have to write them because it is an Amish concern. These stoves are also available through Shetler's Wholesale, (260) 368-9069, fax: 260.368.9902 P.O.Box 8, 630 High St. Geneva, IN 46740. The single-burner portable stove is the 600MFG-Q model, and the double-burner portable stove is the 620-WQ model. New selected stand-a-lone models show up from time to time at Lehman's While kerosene stoves do produce a flame-like gas, you will heat things slower because the pot or pan must sit atop the tall chimney of the kerosene burner to produce the correct burn without smoke. Unlike the Alpaca's, Sockwick's, or the Kerosun models, you heat with an intense column of heat rather than a flame. By the way, the food doesn't taste like kerosene either, if you were wondering.

There are also portable ovens that set on top of the kerosene burners. Perfection was the most famous cook-top oven. Boss made them as well as Griswold. Modern reproductions of the Perfections are still available from the above stove links and Lehman's . I have found the portable stove-top ovens bake superior to a modern oven because of the flow of heat. There are no hot or cold spots. Don't be fooled by the knock-down camping ovens. They're not in the same league as a true Perfection or Schwartz reproduction. Kerosene stoves can also be used for emergency heating and will produce heat for over half a day on a single gallon of kerosene. Antiques are available on Ebay and generally cheaper than new, if you don't mind rebuilding them. The fuel for these stoves (and lamps/lanterns) is water clear kerosene ONLY. Do NOT use pink stuff because it clogs up the wicks. In a pinch a SAD heater can also be used for cooking with kerosene only; do NOT use Kleen Heat for cooking. The best emergency lighting, off generator, is accomplished with Propane-powered wall lights by Humphrey. You get 50-60 watts of light per mantle with 2000 Btu of heat. One pound of propane delivers 11 hrs of light. If you use gas for cooking, it is easy to tee into the gas line and place a gas light above your cooktop. Make sure you have extra mantles on hand!

For portable light, I use kerosene with both wall-mounted and table models, burning Kleen Strip's Kleen Heat. You can turn the wick higher without smoke and obtain more light with the Kleen Heat, plus there is almost no smell. It is basically Low Odor Mineral Spirits with the flash point raised to the kerosene level of 140°F. In kerosene carry lanterns, I prefer the Dietz #90 D-Lite style. They output less light than the tall style Hurricane lanterns, but for walking with a lantern as your only light, the #90 D-Lite puts more light on the ground and runs for a really long time between fillings. You can get them from W. T. Kirkman. Either antiques or modern reproduction lamps or lanterns work fine. For maximum light with flat wick kerosene lamps, not lanterns, I recommend replacing the 7/8" (antique) or 1" (modern) wick of a #2 Queen Anne or Eagle burner with a #3 Queen Anne Burner that utilizes a 1-1/2" wick for more light. It will retrofit the #2 oil lamp collars to #3's with dual size threads. This jumps the output of a single burner from 12 CP to 20 CP. They are available from . Duplex burners, if American and using 1-1/2" wicks, can output up to 45 CP. A Rayo center-draft lamp can output 80 CP but only if you have a borosilicate glass chimney (e.g. Pyrex) and ONLY when using Kleen Heat or Low Odor Mineral Spirits (not kerosene) in center draft lamps. See Miles Stair for the premium chimneys . He also has high quality OEM-style replacement wicks, not the poor quality ones found at the local hardware store.

Why kerosene? During a storm power outage, it may be impossible to get your propane tanks refilled or if you have a large tank, getting a home delivery. Kerosene can not only be stored safely for years but with five gallon cans you can obtain it yourself. I prefer to store my kerosene in recycled plastic drums. If you hunt around, these can be found intact with bungs. Get drums with a minimum capacity of 30 gallons, preferably 55 gallons, and in blue color to keep the light out. Then, purchase 5-10 gallons of kerosene every pay period. You will fill that 55-gallon drum in just a few months. Speaking of kerosene cans, the California mandated CARB gurgle cans are a POS! Please spend the $ and obtain real high-flow cans. My recommendation is the military "Jerry" cans. Usually things were made better years ago. However, with military "Jerry" cans, unless you already have the metal ones, look at the Scepter plastic 20 liter/5 gallon plastic cans. The first time you pour out 5 gallons of kerosene, you will wonder how you ever got along without them! Ebay is the place to acquire used Scepter cans. You can legally own the Canadian versions but not the ones marked as U.S. military. Note: Scepter is a Canadian company, so they all come from Canada anyway! Look here for Scepter accessories: These are two websites with instructions for making a DIY high-flow pour spout: and

I am fussy about my kerosene. You can use K1 from "locked" pumps. However, if you can find it, Canadian #1 Stove Oil is the best due to its 15ppm sulfur content. I then add .5 oz of Kero-Kleen Scented Kerosene Treatment per five gallons of kerosene. I like vanilla. I use the Kleen Heat Kerosene Substitute in all my lanterns and lamps.

One tip for finding food after a disaster, stay away from the grocery stores. They are most likely all picked over anyway. Hit the convenience stores for fast food and drug stores for canned goods. Most of the drug stores are just convenience/grocery stores that happen to sell drugs. Also, always take a flashlight with you. Most times the store personnel will let you in unescorted, if you have your own flashlight. Also, always have cash! Have lots of it and in small denominations because without power or banks, change will be hard to come by. Have another way to charge your cell phone besides plugging into the wall, too. Either a car charger, USB, or solar work okay. I notice that the crank units don't seem to work all that well.

Friday, April 11, 2014

This is my first time to submit anything to a blog. Since I found about a year ago, I have become a daily reader. In my opinion, it is the most worthwhile site on the Internet. I do browse a lot of the other sites but not on a daily basis. I have considered myself a survivalist since I was a teenager, some 40 years now. I grew up in a very small town on a small farm. We raised animals and always had a garden. The animals we raised were chickens, pigs, goats, rabbits, horses, and cows. The smallest garden we ever had was about a half an acre, and the largest I remember was four acres. My grandfather and father trapped most of their lives, with me tagging along sometimes. Everybody in my family hunted, including my mother and aunts. We would hunt rabbits, squirrels, deer, ducks, bear, and elk. I spent time fishing with polls, what we called trot lines, Yoyo's, traps, and nets. I guess that this gave me a head start on most people in the preparedness department. I learned job skills through my work with fabricated steel as a fitter's helper, fitter, and welder. My side jobs were as an electrician's helper on residential buildings. After that, I spent eight and half years in the U.S. Navy as an aircraft electrician and flight deck troubleshooter, during which time I managed to get in some jungle survival training. Then I moved back to the private sector as an aircraft electrician, aircraft technician (sheet metal and mechanical), and machinist. After years of school, I then worked my way up to become a Senior Manufacturing Engineer in the aircraft industry. My last job was as a Process Improver.

As for the title of this article “State of Mind” is where all Preppers should start, and from there they should try to improve. What I believe is the biggest part of prepping is situational awareness, which means paying attention to your surroundings. Your surroundings include everything– your home, your neighborhood, your community, all the way out to your solar system and beyond. I've always liked to observe people in public, and you can tell which ones are not aware of their surroundings. It's the people who go to the shopping mall, park the car, go in shopping, and then come out and cannot remember where they parked their car. One of the best examples of someone unaware of their surroundings was a lady at the mall; she was walking while texting and fell into a pool. How do you know when to bugout, if you don't pay attention to what's going on around you? I believe your mind is your best weapon, but like any gun the more ammunition you have, the more useful it is for long-term use. Knowledge is your ammunition. There are many sources of knowledge– the public library, the Internet, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and personal observation.

Security can come in many forms and should be personalized to every individual. Operational security (OPSEC) is first on my list. Without this you become a target. Next is a large area that I call passive security. If you think of security as layers of security, this would be most of the outer layers.

First of all, you want people to decide to go the other direction. How is this possible? Say you live some distance outside a large city. People fleeing the city come to a road that splits off from the one they're on, and they see a sign that points in your direction naming the city they just left. They do not want to go back where they just came from, so unless they know the area, they will not take that road. During World War II the retreating Germans often changed the road signs. This misdirected and slowed the advancing armies, in many cases.

Second, people are like animals; they followed the paths of least resistance. Downed trees would make a lot of people choose a clearer path. For the best effect, the trees need to look like they have fallen naturally. A tree that has been cut down would make smart people wonder what is being protected that direction, but a tree that has been partially dug up on its far side and then had its roots cut would not be as obvious. The same goes for a burned bridge. A burned bridge does not look natural, but if there are also a few burned vehicles or trucks that look like they may have caught fire and burned the bridge, it looks more believable. In an area with hills or mountains, rock and landslides may look natural.

A third item could be signs that look like a gang has moved in and that the fleeing people are entering their territory where signs say, “Keep Out”. There could be a lot of dead animals along the roads with no obvious signs of what killed them. I believe either of these would work far better than official looking signs from the government telling people to keep out. The one exception to this would probably be a set of yellow and black sawhorse type “Road Closed” and “Bridge Out” signs. These can always be made ahead of time and set out fairly quickly. The road really does not even need a bridge. One important point here is to make sure none of these items point directly to your location. It would be best if they point to the location a few miles away from your hideout that you can observe from a distance.

Now we move on to what I call active security. Get to know as many people in your area as possible. Join the local church. Join other local organizations, such as the ham radio community, volunteer search and rescue, volunteer fire department, and/or the local book club at the library. All these people could be a good resource for knowledge or serve as an extra layer of security. The towns around where I live hold emergency preparedness fairs. These are a great source of information and connection with people. See if people that live around you would consider joining an emergency assistance group. This could mean a lot of different things to different people. This group could be formed to help during storms, just look out for each other, form a neighborhood watch, or maybe just be someone close by to call for a helping hand. I have read that some people in communities start and run a tool-lending group. This is a group of people, who each has a certain dollar amount worth of tools (or chips in a certain amount of dollars for buying tools) that anyone in the group can use. This is a great cost-saving way to possess access to a large number of tools. This would be even better for you if you happen to have a large detached garage or building that could be used as storage and for checking out all of the tools. All members would have a key and would be able to use the tools at any time, as long as they checked them out on a logbook or some other way. I have joined groups in the past that had a woodworking shop set up and another that had a mechanical shop set up similar to this. Anything that gets the community working with you gives you more security. Of all the people you meet, make notes where they live, what do they do, what they like to do, what skills they have, and how to contact them. Are they elderly or do they have needs that you could help with in a disaster? Do they have skills that could help you in a disaster?

Security closer to home would be a subject for many more articles. There are many out there already. That is because it needs to be detailed to each individual's location and situation.

One of my highest preps on my list is knowledge of my surrounding area. By this, I mean knowing the location of all water sources within about 20 miles, as well as access points and other resources. This means identifying all creeks, rivers, ponds, and any town or city water storage facilities. Learn all the roads in and out of the area, noting the location of any bridges or structures that could block or be a choke point on the roads. This includes trees, rock formations, and areas that could be flooded. Terrain features are very important. Large-scale maps of the area are handy for note keeping. I also like to note all the other resources that are in the area. These would include any solar panels, even the small ones on polls or equipment. Mark locations of private and commercial fuel storage (gas, diesel, propane and kerosene). Note all businesses as to type and what materials they utilize or keep on hand. Just visit any of the businesses, introduce yourself, and tell them you have an interest in learning what they do. Most would be happy to give you a tour. Learn what waste products the businesses produce and how they dispose of them. This might be a good supply of prepping material. Find out how many local farms are producing certain goods, such as local dairy, chicken houses, and grain farms just to name a few. Every bit of knowledge you can gain by observation could be useful in one scenario or another. It could be very useful to know all about these resources after a large percentage of the population dies off or when you need to trade for certain items. An old saying says, "Knowledge is power".

Now that you have the basics down, let's fill in all of the details. How many, what kind, and what is the location of the fruit trees, nut trees, and citrus trees in your area? Who grows a garden every year, and where do they live? The county I live in and surrounding counties all have county-owned canning facilities. Do you have any near you? Where are all the greenhouses in your area? Are there gardening or tree nurseries in your area? Where are all of the libraries and bookstores in your areas?

So, it's a state of mind. I think a lot; it's free. The right question is more useful than a book of irrelevant facts! Some say that wisdom is "knowing how little you do know". I have lots of questions. Does that qualify? If you have all of this figured out already, I don't really want to talk to you because I don't believe I would understand you. For me, I still have a long way to go, and hopefully we all have a long time to get there! Thank you for your effort and good luck.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


The author should include a bidet bottle in his/her supplies, as well as all preppers. In fact I recommend getting one and start using it right away. I believe you will find, as I have, that once you start using a bidet, you will wonder how you ever did without. It will save great amounts of toilet paper, as now you will only use a few sheets to pat yourself dry. There are places to buy one, but you can also easily make one out of a 1-liter water/soda bottle. Once you get the hang of it, it will only take a cup of water (usually less) and will leave you feeling and actually being so much cleaner, that you won't have the need for as many showers, thereby saving more water and fuel. Here is a link telling how it works: This also is the site where one type can be purchased. I am not a spokesman for OBB. There are several other places you can find bidet bottles using a search engine. - J.P.

HJL Replies: We've covered this subject before, but it is worth repeating. Toilet paper always makes the list in shortages. Don't get caught without it. A couple of bidet bottles store a whole lot easier than a year's worth of toilet paper and is much less flammable.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

There is a quid-pro-quo to this proposal. If juries are allowed to "interpret" the application of a law, they could also decide to escalate the severity as well as diminish. I sat on a quasi-judicial board as chairman for a time, and on rare occasions the board would decide, by majority, on the "spirit" of the law rather than the letter of the law, thus compelling the municipality to appeal the decision to administrative court, wherein the decision was consistently overturned. The point is, sometimes they decided not to enforce the law, and sometimes they decided to impose a more stringent requirement than the law allowed. Having people decide your fate in court based on gut feel seems riskier, based on my experience with it. You want a court of law to be objective in its determinations. Otherwise, there is a huge risk of overloading the appellate system.

Hugh Replies: It is my understanding that jury nuliffication is legal and has been around since the inception of the court system. What is not done is specific instructions to the jury on whether it exists and how to use it. I believe this law is making the case that jurors should be instructed as a matter of general instructions. However, I am not an attorney and would need to hear from one to fully understand the implications. Jury nullification can be a potent check on out-of-control politicians, like in the case of the New York SAFE Act.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I was raised by two people that survived a depression, a world war, and a conflict called “Korea” to know the value of a dollar, to be resourceful, to be “smarter than the average bear”, and above all, to live with honor and integrity. I am a man that in these "seven years of plenty", has been storing grain for the years of want that are yet to be. I am exceedingly happy that these seven years have been stretched into several decades in this particular nation, but I see the writing on the wall and know that it cannot sustain itself forever on credit and poorly chosen leadership. Do not be afraid though, for I have read the Book all the way to the end. Mine will be a missive not of despair, regret, and unmet longing but one of hope, joy, and excitement of the proud days yet to be.

As for my particular credentials, I have never viewed “prepping” (as it is now called) as anything other than the way life should be lived. It rarely crosses my mind to prepare the car for a trip across the state or to keep it full of gas and well maintained. These are things that are merely my way of life. My grandparents instilled in me a great habit of preparing for things, and they balanced that with the importance of being thankful and joyful for today. While my own granaries are not as full as I would like, due mostly to my human desire for the amorphous "more" that we all strive to attain, I am content this day that my bread is provided. An equally important lesson my grandparents sought to teach– the one that was initially lost on me in my youth– was that a man's word was his bond. This is to be the topic of my contribution here.

Witnessing my grandparents practical lessons of preparing for tomorrow's uncertainties was easy, even for a man-cub. Tornadoes and winter storms served as gigantic billboards to display the "why we do things this way" message. Another, much more important life skill, was more abstract and harder for my ancestors to teach to my younger self.

Pa, I understand it now. Fully and completely has the message been learned. You may rest easy.

The lessons that my grandfather attempted to teach me, and the lessons that I did not fully understand at the time, have come full circle. I have begun to feel more prepared for an uncertain future than I ever have before. Questions from those soggy fields took nearly two decades for me to understand their answers. Why would a man work for half a day, covered in mud and grease and grit, to help a neighbor out, and then refuse any and all payment? Why would he fight back winter storms, ice, and snow to clear a driveway for someone who lived across the road, while not even stopping to tell them about the job he did? Why would a man weld and repair machinery without fail and also without compensation?

It was because that man knew the value of integrity and of keeping your word to those in your community. He had, without speaking it aloud or broadcasting it wider than his own thoughts, made a promise to do unto others as they would do unto him, without expecting anything in return. Doing a thing because it is the “right thing” to do is something that is getting to be an uncommon occurrence these days, but it was the way life was lived in my grandparent's generation. It was a common commitment to one another to strive together, to work together to get the job done, whatever the job at hand was. We have forgotten the power of our word, the power of our promises, and the power of our oaths.

However, you and I both know that some among us still know full well the power of an oath, and you will discover one shining example, which will be discussed here in due time.

A promise– an oath– was a very serious matter to my grandfather, and it was not until I had taken several oaths and matured quite a bit myself that I fully understood why it was so important to him.

Since I have no serious medical training nor survival knowledge, other than what you learn as a boy scout, I will attempt to entertain your mind and touch your soul this day with this thing that I do know a little about. Having seen many oaths taken by men and women that I admire, it is easy for me to see the utility and the value of a human promise.

I have no great knowledge of food preparation, nor water treatment, though I can witch a well like nobody's business. Instead, I will let you in on the secret of society, safety, and happiness as I have found it. My examples will be simple, and have been poured forth from my electric pen as I recall events that happened more than a decade ago, to the best of my ability. I hope that my meager credentials have provided me standing to allow me to deliver these words. I hope that I can illustrate to you how an Oath is a serious and powerful force.

It is my hope that you will be entertained enough to read on, and enlightened and uplifted enough to be encouraged thoroughly. I will set the scene three times, and, unlike Charles Dickens, I will offer encouragement in all three specters from the past.

In the first scene, a group of young men stand in a school gymnasium clothed in tan polyester. They are gathered to convey upon one of their own a high honor. We gathered that night to bestow upon Chad Brokaw the award of Eagle Scout.

(If you have ever seen the Sprint Cellular ads where there is a group of young men from all different cellular phone companies in various humorous situations, then you have seen Chad Brokaw and know a little of him. His character is called, of all things, "Chad". I was surprised to see him on the screen, several years ago, but not because I didn't think his acting was first rate, only because I had lost contact with him many years ago.)

On the night we all gathered in the gym, Chad was not acting. He was himself humble, kind, and soft spoken. He led the Scout Oath that night, which brings us back to the purpose of this piece. Oaths, and those that take them, form the basic building blocks of honor, integrity, and service that are required for our society. These promises are the foundations upon which society will stand when the end of things as we know them occurs.

That night, in that gym, surrounded by a group of young men that I was very privileged to be a part of, I swore an oath, and, for the first time, took the words deeply to heart and fully comprehended the meaning of every single word.

"On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

I did not know it at the time, but there were Marines, Airborne soldiers, airmen, city planners, teachers, and other civil servants in our midst that night. Yes, these young men came to know the depth of that oath as well as I did. This promise was the basis for my developing morality. To serve others, to keep myself physically and mentally ready for whatever troubles might arise, be it helping someone with their groceries or helping disaster victims, who are not as prepared or trained as myself.

If any of this sounds familiar, it should. That night was the beginning of something that has happened to all of those who call themselves by the moniker of "prepper". "Be Prepared", as the dear reader knows, is an order handed down from the highest of places to us, the mere servants of a Great Master.

That was my first oath– to take care of my body, mind, and soul, so that I could take care of others. Surely you can see the applicability of that to a survival situation! It was the beginning of wisdom for me because I was starting to see what really mattered, what was the very marrow of life. That has made all the difference and has driven many decisions and choices in my life.

Even in their youth, a young man in a khaki shirt can understand that oaths are a serious matter. They are the very cement that holds the fragile foundation of society together. Without our promises to each other, society will crumble even though tens of thousands of laws may be written in faraway books. It is those that have taken an oath to stand together who will prevail at the end of the world as we know it. I cannot think of anything that would help me more than a few like-minded patriots struggling against the forces of evil. History has shown this to be the case, and all the bullets and beans in the world will come to nothing if I cannot be a man of my word among other men of their word.

Having grown up and chosen a path that took me far from that gymnasium but never far from the foundations of integrity that were laid there, the story progresses a few years into the future. So I will set the scene, once again, that you might enjoy, as I did, the power of the moment.

It is now a summer day, at the foot of the mountains. From the twenty thousand that applied, roughly only fourteen hundred young men and women stand on this hallowed parade ground in Colorado. We are here because we have proven ourselves worthy to be here, on paper at least. We are physically strong, exceptionally bright, and highly motivated to perform our duty for this great nation. We have proven ourselves to the admissions boards and congressional representatives, but we still have everything to prove to ourselves.

I remember this oath very well, but I will record it here. Many have taken it and will recall the words. Many have not taken it, or took it very long ago, so the words are recorded here.

"I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

The power and weight of these words is something that I have thought about deeply in the years that have passed since I first spoke them. Standing near me that day was a young man. He was similar to us in many ways but also very different; he was exceptional really. He was always willing to go the extra mile in classes and during physical training. He was driven by a sense of honor and purpose unlike any that I met while I was there, in Colorado, at the university. Derek Argel was as good a man as I have ever known.

I still intend to fulfill this oath, as do many others who have sworn it, but I have never been fully tested. Derek Argel believed in his oath. He believed that the Constitution, the United States, his wife, his young son, and freedom were worth everything that he could give. He was tested to the fullest. On the 30th of May 2005, my friend gave everything that he had. He left everything behind to fulfill his oath to defend the Constitution. He was a man of his word and had sworn an oath to defend without regard for the cost. On that dusty ground, in a land many can't even identify on a map, all of Eternity learned how much Derek Argel believed in his oath.

It is fully my intention to live life so that when I see him again, I can look him in the eye. It would do no good to store up years worth of food if we all cannot look our friends in the eye when we see them again. Our assured survival is based not just on the things that are hidden away for us to eat but also on our ability to be there for one another to defend and protect the things that we value most highly. That which is worth defending needs those that are willing to defend it, those that are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder and say "No!" and spit defiantly in the very face of evil, whatever it looks like. It is not a difficult thing to say, but it is a very difficult thing to do.

Our next scene is a much more cheerful and happy one. This time, I stood alone, in front of a few family and friends. I stood waiting for a beautiful woman in white to come forward and join me in my crazy life. I had grown so used to standing alone that many wondered what I was doing up there. Many questioned my thinking. In the end, I decided that it was right to stand there and to wait for this girl to join me, and so I did.

It was a good day. No, it was a very good day.

It had been a long time coming, for both of us, to get to that place. While we were chronologically younger than most that get married, we had seen far more than most, far more than was our due at that tender age. We'd seen too much death, too much suffering, too much loneliness, and too much being alone. We each had a vision of the future– bright and full of life, and we wanted to get started as soon as possible.

So, we did.

Against the wishes of most who knew us, we stood there. We did not care. She had just graduated university, and I would be starting a civilian flight school in two weeks. (The school in Colorado decided my knees were too awful and sent me home.)

So there we were.

Both of us.

Together, standing beside one another– as it should be, as it will always be.

I took that oath with full mind of the ramifications and of what I was saying. I pledged to remain by her for the rest of the days of my life, to honor and defend, and to care for her until I no longer had breath in my lungs. In my own separate vow, I pledged to be mindful of “matters of consequence” and to always seek peace in an argument. I swore to stay and to fight for our marriage in the face of everything else, anything else, that would happen. I took an oath to remain with her, even when we stood alone against all others.

While the exact wording of my vow has been lost, the meaning, however, is faithfully recorded here. (My advice to others is that if you let someone borrow a Bible, make sure they don't use the original copy of your wedding vows as a bookmark and lose it.) So I have recreated the main points of what I said to that beautiful young woman.

She pledged the same things that I did, and we both said “I do”. Simple? Not at all. It has been a fight. We have spent more than a decade struggling against a society that does not value oaths, especially the oath between a husband and wife. Fighting the selfishness within ourselves has been a struggle at times. We have argued over trivialities that are not "matters of consequence" but merely times that I want to be right because I am right! While we tend to not fight each other overly aggressively, keeping that simple oath to one another is difficult. You see, we are beset by a society that marginalizes and devalues family. Our culture values the opposite of what we do, in most cases. We are attacked daily by images of younger or better or more luxurious or finer or thinner or bigger or stronger or...well, you get the idea.

The practical application here is that remaining together and honoring our oaths is ideally suited to survival in any situation. A man, generally speaking, was not meant to be alone, nor is a woman. Long-term survival depends on our ability to reform society in a workable and maintainable structure. Society is built on the family, and a family is built on two people holding onto one another and to the oath that they made to each other.

If we cannot keep an oath to someone we once found the center of the universe, how can we be expected to keep our oaths to our neighbors, our nation, or God? It seems to be a simple question, but it is not. It seems to be rhetorical, but it is deeply philosophical. If we cannot keep our word, what good will be all of the beans, bullets, and band aids that we have stored up for the coming hard times? If our souls have rotted, what good will feeding our bellies and taking care of our scratches be? If we are not men who can be relied upon and women who can be trusted, what will it matter that we can set a bone, stitch a deep cut, or procure clean water?

In the words of General Patton, in 1943:

"It is absurd to believe that soldiers who cannot be made to wear the proper uniform can be induced to move forward in battle. Officers who fail to perform their duty by correcting small violations and in enforcing proper conduct are incapable of leading."

This is wholly applicable and makes my point perfectly. If we can't be trusted with one simple talent, how then are we to be trusted with anything at all?

When my friend, Derek Argel, died, I openly wept. I am not ashamed of that fact, not in the least. He was a good man and had been a good friend to me and many others in the short time that I spent there in the mountains. He was a man you could rely on. He knew the weight an oath carried.

When my grandfather died, I was but a boy. Our time together was too short as well. My grandfather was a man you could trust to do what he said he would do. My only hope and desire is that I live honorably and can die in peace, knowing that I have honored my commitments and upheld the oaths which I have sworn.

The truly hard part of this message is the "How To" portion. The problem is that it looks so different from person to person that it is difficult to precisely offer a step-by-step model to be carried out by the reader. How can I describe the proper motivation to become one who honors their oaths? There are many reasons. Perhaps you are driven to not make the mistakes of your parents, or perhaps you are driven to be like your parents. If the latter is the case, consider yourself very, very lucky. Hopefully, you have found a Power that you rely on for your decision-making. The God of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and David is a powerful force and the strongest Ally you could ask for. Still, I know that many are not drawn in that direction.

The only advice that I can offer follows, and since it is free advice, you can rest assured that it is worth every penny that you pay for it! All attempts at wit aside, the only way to be one who is known to honor your oaths is to honor them, day in and day out, through excitement and newness, and also through boredom and pain. The daily slog through life and the highest joys of the universe both require our utmost attention.

  • Be the kind of neighbor that you would like to have.
  • Be the partner to your spouse you have sworn to be.
  • Be the parent to your children; no one else will.
  • Be a defender of the Constitution, even if that simply means making sure the flag at church is displayed correctly and with the honor it deserves.
  • Be the friend to others that you would like to be.
  • Be the hope to those that are in darkness. There is plenty of darkness to go around and too little light these days. Remember, in a deep cave, even the flicker of the smallest candle is blinding.

These are just a few simple ideas. Having read this far, I hope that these simple suggestions are a launching point and a great encouragement to you.

With that, I conclude our time together, dear reader. I hope that I have clearly made my point. I hope that I have been able to stir something deep inside of you or encouraged feelings already present. Really, that is the desire of anyone who writes for others to read. Thank you, again, for taking time to spend with me. I bid you go, now.

Go and be the kind of man or woman who will be deeply mourned at their passing.

Stand and fight for that which you have sworn to stand and fight for.

Do not merely survive, but thrive!



Wednesday, March 19, 2014


You have a good heart. To come as far as you have in 24 months is a real achievement. Keep up the good work. I do want to point out that by doing your “Christian best” you are only delaying the pain of these people that will seek you for help. So, why not take the “help” up a notch. Instead of just giving them some food and a few items that will just bring them back to your door when they are desperate again, open that door and bring them in!

Don't send these folks back out into a world gone crazy to try and survive alone. They are at your doorstep because they CAN'T! They are asking for assistance, not trying to take what is yours. This is especially true of those that you already know! I am not advocating for taking in every stranger that shows up, but the first people to come to you for help are those that know you, and they are looking to you for leadership and help! Friends, family, and neighbors will all be in the same boat– the one that is sinking. Because you are preping, you don't just have a lifeboat, you are sitting on an island! You are the “dry land”, and no matter how much you give them a bit and push them away, they will come back and need more. So, if you are going to open that “Christian best” door and give them a month worth of supplies to “get them through”, why not get some really good value for those priceless supplies at the same time?

We all know the folks that we have tried to get to prep. We have all heard the “we will just come to your house” answers over and over. I say to that, "Good! We will really be able to use your help on night guard. Your wife can help cook in the kitchen. Even your kids can help with the chores. How about we get together and talk about what you should pack up in a hurry to bring with you?" That is how I have things set up with my whole family. They don't prep; they know they are running to Momma when things get tough. They know I have done the preps for them and theirs, and that when they get here they will be a valuable member of our clan. Even though many of us don't want to really face this, as preppers, we have been training ourselves to be clan leaders. All that we have learned, all that we practice, all the lists and preps and inventories, even right down to our gun collections, position us as the leaders our family and friends are going to need. The people in our lives are going to look to us, and if we are ready to take on that mantle in a loving, Christ-like way, we will increase all our chances of survival. So don't just put together charity buckets. Load up more buckets. Think about housing and sanitation. Get more tools, and be ready to show these folks how to do what is necessary for everyone to survive.

Be bold with those you know are coming, and let them know you are getting ready for them to be there. Let them know that they will not have to go it alone back at their home; you all are going to group together. Let them know that they will have a job when they get there. It is insane to for anyone to think that in a survival situation that some will get to sit in the house while others do all the work. Let them know that will not be the way. They will NOT get to continue life like it was, and that they will have to work for their provision. Then put them to work right after that first meal! Even if it is just something small. Start as you intend to continue. "Everyone works; no one shirks!" is our motto here.

It may be tough for some. You may have to install some disciplinary procedures. You know best the personalities, and yes, there may be some that you will send away empty handed just because you know them! We all know folks like that, but with the help of the others that you have taken on, you can be secure in sending those away. There is safety in numbers. We will not be able to stand alone, so prepare for those that will stand with you. - J.O.

HJL Adds: An additional concept to think about is “authority”. Will the person whom you are bringing into your group subject themselves to the authority over the group? Without that, it is foolhardy to bring them in, no matter how charitable you feel. A person who has been part of your group and then ejected due to rebellious behavior is now a danger to you and your group. They alone may not be a threat, but the information they have about your “clan” may be enough to get them membership in another “clan” which can cause serious problems down the road.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When people talk about "The End Of The World As We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI), it is almost always in ways of how we might prepare for the end, what equipment to have, how much food to store, and what skills we must learn. These are all valid points. Most people can agree on common standards in these areas, but what if the act of preparing for the end can cause danger to yourself and your family?

I'm not mocking prepping; I'm a prepper myself. I'm simply stating that a prepper must be in the correct mindset to make choices they may not have expected to make. Say a disaster happens; you've prepared for this years ago, and you know what to do. You go home, get your bug out bag, and get to your bug out location, which you have stocked with ammo, food, and everything you need to survive for at least a year. What if that location becomes compromised? Maybe, word got around about a guy with a lot of gear and food, and people slowly started to flock to your location. Some went to ask for food, and some that want to take it. What do you do?

I've asked a few people this question. Some were preppers, some were regular people, and some were people in my life who I considered very smart and successful at life in general. I was expecting some of the answers I got, and I was surprised by others. Most of the preppers I talked to had a "stand my ground" mentality. Nobody was going to take "his” or “her" stuff without a fight. The regular folks said to start hiding supplies. (I wasn't really sure if this would be a feasible plan.) The answer that shocked me the most and opened my eyes to this problem is what I got from the people in my life that I thought of as successful. (These people are not preppers, but they have good jobs and have climbed the ladder fast.) They said they would grab a bag of bare essentials and leave.

I was very against this idea at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I believed that the common prepper mentality was very crippling. It is impossible to predict the future. You can have a lot of guesses about what might happen, but that is it. What if something comes and you are away from all that stuff you stockpiled, or you get injured right off the bat, or somebody steals everything? Prepping for a disaster is good insurance. However, if somebody doesn't have the mental fortitude to abandon all of it if they need to, then all the prepping in the world cannot save you.

That being said, how do you prepare for that? Sometimes it's just the type of person you are. There are survival stories all over the place of people living through almost impossible odds, without any prepping for it. To name a few of these people, there is Harrison Okene, who was trapped underwater for three days when his tugboat capsized; Norman Ollestad Jr., whose plane crashed in the mountains at age 11, and he climbed down, dragging an injured woman; Eric LeMarque, who got lost while skiing and used iPod radio signal as compass for seven days; Ricky Megee, who was lost in the Australian outback for 71 days; and many more. These people were very different in nationality, situation location, and the supplies each one had available to them. I found this very interesting while I was researching this. The recurring theme, in most of the survival stories I researched, was the complete lack of supplies. If any of these people did have supplies, they had no qualms about using them, but they had nothing compared to what is deemed necessary by the average prepper today.

There was some luck involved in these incidents, but was that all? How did these people survive with few or no supplies and little or no training? For every story of survival miracles, there are hundreds of stories about those who died or were never heard from again. What is that special "stuff" that they have that other people don't?

We need to rule out a few things first. Was it their experience? I don't think so. Many of these survival stories depict city slickers and woodsman that both survive, so that can't be it. Is it their dogged willingness to survive no matter what? A lot of people think that this is true, but I don't. I think that if determination and a little luck were all it took to survive in those situations, then we would have a lot more success stories. So what is it then? I didn't figure it out for a few months.

It happened when I was talking to my father about getting ahead at work. One simple thing he said to me struck me like lightning. He said, "Dave, you just need to be the guy that gets things done." I know that doesn't sound like one of the Ten Commandments, but when you really think about it isn't that who always seems to come out on top? Isn't that who gets the big account at work? Who gets the girl? Who are the people celebrated by society for heroic acts?

We all know one or two people like this. They are the guy or gal who are always calm in a crisis and react to situations with speed and decisiveness. They are the guys to take down the robber in the bank. They're the person who jumps down to pull a civilian away from subway tracks on which they fell. Once I realized this, I started to see it everywhere. You can also. I want you to go to where you see a victim fall on the subway rail and is then rescued by a fellow commuter. Now watch everyone else on the platform. It's amazing when you really look. Most people do next to nothing despite being so close to the victim. This is not because they are bad people or just don't care. It's just their natural reaction. The person who saved the victim was one of the furthest away, and the reaction was instant without time for thought. That was not the only example. You can search for "real life heroes" on YouTube and find many more. These types of people are the ones who have the natural talent for getting things done. I believe these are the people who have the best chance of surviving TEOTWAWKI. That's great for them. What is everybody else supposed to do? That is the really difficult question to answer. Luckily this problem has been around for a while, and other people have thought up solutions.

The army needed a way to keep soldiers from freezing up during battle. (I'm former military, and any of the former military guys reading this knows how epically messed up the situation can get, if someone in your chain of command freezes up. The way they do that is to train and train, and after that,they train some more. The theory behind the practice is to convert every action to muscle memory, so that you don't even need to think; you just react. This is a pretty effective method. The one downside is that it's very time-consuming, and you need a large amount of discipline, if you want to do this on your own.

Another way to deal with this problem is to just bypass it. By that, I mean that you team up with someone in your life that can just get things done. That way when the SHTF, you just stick to him like glue. I am personally not a fan of this practice. While it is better than nothing, it is just hard for me to completely trust someone like that, unless I know him or her really well. You also may guess wrong, and you can't take chances with something this important.

So, if you're one of the lucky few who was born with the natural ability to complete any task you were given, then I salute you and wish you luck. If not, then don't lose hope. Start practicing those drills until they are second nature. Remember, the right survival mindset is a far more precious commodity then a fully-loaded AR-15.

In conclusion, I now only believe that the people truly prepared for disasters are the ones that are ready and confident to do so with NO supplies. So, you need to ask yourself, can I survive with just my bare hands and the right mindset? The answer for myself is, “No.” If it's “no” for you as well, then you really need to work on this. Supplies and weapons are great to have, but you can't bet your life on the guarantee that you will be able to use them. I hope that everyone learned something from this article and that it won't be too controversial. Good luck and stay safe out there guys.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I've been following many survival blogs and prepper sites for some time. I realize that what I am posing in this piece will be received by some as controversial or possibly taboo, but in order to get a balanced view of things, many viewpoints must be examined. That being said, I will inform the readers that I have been in law enforcement for twenty-five years, and I am able to speak from what I've experienced on this side of things. There are a number of plausible scenarios that could entail the imposition of martial law, gun confiscation, and suspension of habeas corpus or a range of actions in between that may come to pass. Let's start with a little background.

First, I will admit that approximately ten years ago or so, the law enforcement community began to embrace a more "militaristic" outlook on their general job tasks. It started slowly, when I noticed at various conferences that vendors were moving to provide "tactical" equipment as a small percentage of sales. Today, these same vendors are primarily involved in 'tactical" equipment almost solely. This, coupled with the generous offer of de-militarized equipment through the DRMO / LESO Programs to law enforcement of items we would never have been able to afford on the limited budgets, we have. Why wouldn't police departments look to picking up equipment that could offer some useful function? But herein lies the great dilemma; what actually constitutes “useful” function for a public law enforcement agency? I would be hard-pressed to consider an MRAP in my jurisdiction, let alone the cost to fuel and maintenance of such a vehicle. Sure, it would be one impressive entry in our local festival, but beyond that I can't justify a use for it. I might be able to use a Humvee, given the rural character of my jurisdiction, and since it's "free", why not? An M60, not so much. The point being is that some of these surpluses, from the winding down of Iraq and Afghanistan, can be very tempting indeed. The bigger question, which I can't really find a good answer to from my peers, is given the crime rates (which have been actually receding downward), what are we gearing up for? I realize that there has been more attention paid to the militarization of the police lately, and quite frankly it is happening. The flip side to this argument is that BDU's are very practical for everyday uniform patrol duties. Tactical training does better prepare us for dangerous citizen contact. (There is a huge amount of financial stress in our communities, which can be directed towards the police.) Having as much firepower available as what we could be faced with, especially in a rural community, does even the field, and using the latest technology does help us get the bad guys a little easier, at times.

Since I've touched on budgets, I will tell you that public budgets have been strained for some time, and various cost-saving measures have been occurring. One such area has been the regionalization of communications. As we see less money coming into the coffers with reduced property values, dispatching centers are being consolidated to save money. This trend could transfer to actual law enforcement agencies, and in some cases it already has. Although we do not espouse to a so-called "national police agency", I guess we could call the FBI such an agency. By continuing to consolidate agencies, one could argue that we are well on our way. However, the hard question to ask is, if it saves the tax payers money, why shouldn't we be looking to consolidate, as long as services are maintained?

Moving to some of the original points mentioned, I assure you that should there be some type of gun confiscation effort, the federal, state, and local agencies would have to make a combined effort to pull this off. Logistically, I'm not sure even the combined efforts of approximately 750,000 law enforcement officers from all levels could do this anyway. I, for one, encourage the citizens to arm themselves for protection, as long as they train regularly, can pull the trigger when necessary, and are prepared to deal with the possible fall out afterwards. I know there are many like-minded officers who would agree with the last statement. One needs to look no further than Detroit to see the new chief advocating citizens protecting themselves through arms. Several would-be robbers and home invaders have ended with citizens killing them. There is also the growing "Constitutional Sheriff's and Chiefs" movement, which fully supports operating within the confines of our Constitution. I believe this movement will grow, but if martial law is declared, it wouldn't matter much since deference would be handed over to the military, who abide by a whole different set of rules for engagement. In the climate I've witnessed over the years, there has always been an uneasy partnership between the local LE and the federal counterparts. I'm not certain there would be full support in a scenario of an outright confiscation of weapons, as far as your local police are concerned. Your local LEs are adept with dealing with the constitution on a regular, if not daily, basis. We are constantly faced with fourth, fifth, and sixth amendment questions or situations that require split-second decisions. Of course, the law books are filled with case law on our exercise or abuse of these particular amendments, but I believe the vast majority of officers strive to remain within these parameters. We do this because we believe that the system, although dysfunctional at times, works.

Another area that I believe fits nicely into preparation is the discipline of emergency management. I have been involved for many years as a planner and drill developer, instructor, and evaluator on many disaster scenarios. One thing we always take home from these table tops, functional exercises, and full-scale drills is that citizens, by and large, are way too dependent upon government resources. At minimum, I always suggest and write regularly about having some food stores, medicine, pet supplies, and the like stocked up for any type of disaster. This "all-hazards" approach can possibly guarantee survival for the short term, in case the government resources are overwhelmed. Of course long-term, serious, logical, well thought out preparation is infinitely better and relieves some pressures on government, so we can assist those who have planned less or not at all possibly by no fault of their own. They just are not able to. I can't tell you the number of articles, newsletters, e-mail blasts, reminders, meetings, and presentations whereby I've espoused the ideas of preparing. I know a few people have taken this to heart, which gives me impetus to continue and not give up. The bigger problem I see is that many people just don't want to believe anything will change. Unfortunately, it will take a trigger event to wake up many people, and it could be too late by then.

I would be remiss not to mention the all-too-familiar media treatment that LE receives on a regular basis. I would say that the vast majority of men and women working in law enforcement are by and large dedicated, honest, and wanting to perform their duties legally and compassionately. You do not enter this business without a certain conviction to do things right. I'm not saying that there aren't bad apples in this profession, which can be said of any line of work. Unfortunately, as one old stringer told me when I started, “Bad news makes good copy” (in the newspapers). LE is constantly second guessed, analyzed, and critiqued by media sources and others who have never been in confrontational situations. So, I tend not to put much faith in objective reporting these days. I usually go outside mainstream U.S. media to see what's going on in this country. Remember this when watching the nightly news, if you are so inclined.

Finally, I must end with this thought for other LE's out there. I taught for a number of years at an institution of higher education. I lectured on various courses on Administration, Community Policing, and the like. One idea I always gave to my students was that one day I would be retired and a private citizen once again. I certainly would not want to give up more liberty to empower our police. It may make my job easier at the present, but it would be too dear a price to pay in the name of terrorism, homeland security, or however it is marketed. Moreover, LE's take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, their respective states, and their jurisdictions. I, for one, have always held this oath in high esteem, and I'm certain there are many like-minded LE's that feel this same way. So, when the proverbial SHTF, we will be torn between several factors of providing for and protecting our families, protecting our communities, and upholding our oaths and keeping some semblance of order. The choices will be difficult at best.


Regarding the gentleman consigned to receiving IV meds in the hospital: I'm not sure what he might be dealing with, but IV vitamin C has been found to cure just about every viral and bacterial affliction (and cancer) known to man. There are many "alternative" cures out there that traditional doctors either aren't aware of, or won't mention for fear of the FDA. - M.T.

o o o


please pass this along to LDM, if you find the time. I don't mind if you post it; maybe it will help others as well as him.

After reading your post, I want to say a few things to you good sir:

1. Your body can do way more then your mind ever dreamed it capable of. I picked that up in the army.

2. Keeping a positive attitude will serve you better and carry you further then any training. I heard this by God's grace this morning with an interview of a Vietnam Special Forces vet, who was awarded with highest honors, before work today.

3. Never focus on quitting; focus on your goal and only that goal.

That being said, I want you to consider that cancer, like most disease, is caused by thinking. Right now my blood pressure goes up each time I read, or I get angry over government news distraction or propaganda, like this missing plane while Russia and the U.S. are about to pop off. When you hold onto anger, pain, or grief, it creates physical problems in your body. Japanese scientists said you can think yourself sick, so you can also think yourself well.

I've lost relatives and friends to cancer. So, let me say this, “What if I could tell you that changing your mind will change your life?” I'm going to say that traditional Chinese medicine as been around for 4000 years. By doing breathing/stretching exercises you have a better chance at healing yourself. Besides if your saying you won't be around in 5 years, do what I did. Spend $150 on training DVDs, or find someone who is teaching Chi Kung (Qi Gong), and focus on healing yourself so you can take care of your family.

My experiences with it: Doing it is like drinking a few beers, breathing you over-oxygenate the blood, and you will detox, likely 12 hours later.

There are a lot of things to learn about Chi Kung. I'm new to it, even if I've been doing it since 1992. I'm still a beginner. It's not a religion, even if it offers some insight into the unseen world. The person I watched on DVD explained that there is science behind it all. Like microwaves, just because you can cook things in a box, doesn't mean it's magic. The guy I saw teaching on DVD, Dr Yang, has a PhD and Masters. H PhD is in physics. He explains concepts scientifically, including that the eight pieces of brocade are exercises invented to keep people healthy. Modern doctors know how to do two things– cut stuff out and medicate symptoms. They treat symptoms and some times cure people, but often times fail. It's worth looking into, if you don't feel you have options in the modern western medical area.

Oh, and NY laws generally are terrible, and sadly I'm from across the boarder in PA. All those flatlander city flakes are infiltrating into Pennsylvania, too. It's “nanny state-idious”. It's spreading. It won't be long before we face what you're facing now. You should never need government permission to possess a pistol or own an AR-15 with standard capacity magazines!! In my travels across the boarder, I often find the laws contemptible; nothing is worse then being disarmed because of bad laws. I'm now facing a felony conviction to visit my girlfriend (soon to be wife), which isn't acceptable. It forces me to go disarmed to visit her. My girlfriend will soon be moving to Pennsylvania to escape that denial of rights in those unconstitutional laws. Anyhow, I wish you well- F.M.

o o o

Hello, This is the first time I have ever emailed you but I have been reading your blog for about a year now. Could you please share this email with LDM. After reading Plan B by LDM I felt a need to say how courageous you truly are. Your ability to face and accept what the future has handed you is truly inspiring. Your faith in God in spite of the cards you have been dealt is heart warming. I truly wish you all the best and pray that you will have a long and happy life with your family. Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your insights with us during what must be the most challenging time of your life. May God bless you and keep your family safe. I truly hope to read articles from you in the future. God Bless - M.Y.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

About 24 months ago, I made a change in the way my family bought and used Proverbs 25:26 groceries. Before that, we visited the grocery store almost every day and did not have enough food in the house to feed our family for a week. It was easy to see the price of food slowly creep up, even though the government was telling us there was no inflation. Then I saw "After Armageddon" on the History Channel, and it really scared me. I'm generally an optimist, but I also believe in being prepared for whatever may come. So, I immediately began to stockpile the foods that we used on a regular basis. I did all the things I could to prepare for local, regional, and national disasters. I planted a garden for the first time in 10 years, sold some firearms that were good for collecting but not self defense, and even bought reloading equipment and supplies to load up to 2,000 rounds for our pistol and rifle calibers. We canned our vegetables and the venison we killed during hunting season, all while teaching my college-age kids the how-to's and why-to's of living a prepared lifestyle and the peace of mind that comes with it. That's the short version of my prepping career.

Then a series of severe storms, called a Derecho, hit the mid-Atlantic in late June of 2012, and we were without power for six and half days in unusually hot weather, with daytime temps ranging from 98 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and with high humidity. This was a great test of my preparation, and I learned several lessons. The first being to take better care of my generator and to run/test it regularly. My big takeaway from that event was just how unprepared my friends and family were at living without electricity for any prolonged period of time. I saw first-hand what it was like for grocery stores and gas stations to not have power, thus cutting people off from their usual supply of food and fuel. Luckily for me, my elderly mother could travel two hours and stay with my sister.

Luckily for everyone in central Virginia, the suffering was short lived, and most survived relatively unscathed. I remember sitting by my Coleman cook stove early one morning, while the coffee perked, listening to my emergency radio about the status of the repairs to the power lines. I thought, “What if the power was not coming back on at all?” Most of my close friends and family did not and still do not prepare. They don't even buy food in bulk at Sam's or Costco. They resemble me 24 months ago, where the bulk of the "food" I kept in the house consisted of spices and the random bag of popcorn or tortilla chips. If the power was not coming back on, how would they survive? What would I say when they came to my door starving and looking for food? This is a situation I pray we never face.

I realized that morning that I honestly was not prepared to handle that situation at that point in my prepping career. I've heard some in the prepper community say, "Too bad they didn't prepare; they can't partake." That's easy to say now, but imagine a close relative or a family from your church standing at your door begging for something to eat or drink, or maybe they're in need of medical care. As I considered how to expand my prepping efforts after the power was restored, I came to the conclusion that in addition to enlarging my preparations, I would also prep for others. That's what this article is really about. So I began to consider:

  • How to put together preps that I can give away to others, without risking the survival of my immediate family.
  • How to have a mobile solution to meet the immediate survival needs of clean water, food, and medical care to give to a family in need.
  • How to do this in a cost-efficient manner, as I'm not made of money.

My solution can be carried by one person, and while it would not feed a family of four for months on end, it would give them a base on which to survive and build. When planning its contents, I started with the survival pyramid, shelter, water, and food. Then I always throw in fire, because fire helps with the first three.

I started with using the two 5-gallon bucket water filter systems as a basis and then added a backpack. I have been using the two 5-bucket water filtration system for several years now at our hunt camp in the mountains. It works great, and its simple to make and assemble. The system works with two 5-gallon buckets with the tops installed stacked one on top of the other. A tap is placed in the lower bucket about a half an inch from the bottom edge of the bucket. Then a ceramic water filter is installed through a hole drilled in the bottom of the top bucket and a hole in the top of the lower bucket. Water from a creek, lake, or even a rain barrel is poured into the upper bucket and the water filters through the ceramic filter that is filled with active charcoal into the lower bucket. It takes several hours to filter five gallons, but we usually fill the top bucket at night and in the morning it is all filtered in the lower bucket, ready for use. You can even install multiple filters to increase the rate at which the water is filtered. The easiest way to drill the holes is to turn the top bucket upside down, then place a bucket top upside down as well on the bottom of the top bucket. Drill the appropriate sized holes through the bucket and bucket top at the same time and install the filter with the rubber grommet that comes with the filter. I have the buckets pre-drilled, but the tap and filter is not installed, and the holes are covered with duck tape to keep my food safe from pests. If I intended on burying them as an emergency cache, I would not recommend pre-drilling the buckets. In a worst case scenario, the holes could be made with the knife, which is included. The contents of my buckets are as follows:

First 5-Gallon Bucket

  • Rice (15 lbs in Mylar Bag, sealed)
  • Beans (15 lbs in Mylar Bag, sealed)

Second 5-Gallon Bucket

  • (4) Canned Spaghetti Sauce (28oz)
  • (4) Boxes of Spaghetti Noodles (1 lb boxes)
  • (3) Canned Green Beans
  • (5) Canned Chicken
  • (12) Packs of Instant Oatmeal Vacuum Sealed
  • (1) Jar of Instant coffee
  • (1) Bottle of Barbeque Sauce (everything is good with Barbeque Sauce)
  • (1) Seeds in zip-lock bags– Kale, Beets, Turnips, and other vegetables

0.0.1 Backpack/Daypack (like kids use for book bags)

  • (2) 10' x 16' Tarps (2) 50' ¼" Rope
  • (1) Hatchet (1) Medical Kit
  • (2) Grill Fire-starters
  • (1) Folding Hunting Knife
  • (1) Fishing Kit
  • (1) Ceramic Water Filter (I buy on Amazon)
  • (1) Plastic Water Tap ( I buy on Amazon)
  • Instructions on how to make and assemble the water filtration buckets

What the buckets and backpack really represent is an entry level survival kit, with options to provide for shelter, water, food, and the replacement of water and food. My survival bucket system can also fill other needs. With the additional of a third bucket, one could store the backpack in the third bucket and cache these supplies in a remote location. If you buy the bucket tops with the rubber seal, they could even be buried underground. My family travels every Thanksgiving holiday to visit family, and even though it would be a little tight, I'm sure I can find room in the car for three buckets as a portable/get home survival kit. I always assume the worst will happen when I'm away from home and all my supplies.

I also decided to store these near my basement exit, as part of my bug out gear. Ever the optimist, I struggle to truly foresee many scenarios where I would have to bug out and have to leave the safety of my house in huge hurry. With this being said I have prepared specifics supplies that I could load in a matter of 15 minutes and be on the road in my truck with all the food, gear, and fuel I would need to survive. The portability of these buckets and the flexibility in how you use them, make them a great addition to my preps.

Thinking about the most extreme scenario, what would you do if your preps or your food stores were somehow compromised or confiscated? I decided to locate some of these buckets in my garage labeled as "Paint”, so hopefully they would be ignored. I don't think looters or civil authorities will be looking for paint during a SHTF scenario. These are just a few of the ways I have thought to use these survival buckets. I'm sure other people in different situations can come up with even more creative ways and add to the contents to make them even more valuable in a time of crisis.

As you can see, I am assuming people that I would be giving these to in an emergency situation would be able to come up with some basic items to assist with their survival, like pots and other necessities, if they simply look around their home.

That's where the real rub comes in. Do people, who chose not to prepare and not to live a sustainable prepared lifestyle, have the knowledge to do for themselves? Even beyond that, do they have the determination and grit to survive? My first guess is, “No”. Independence has been educated out of Americans these days. Knowledge, skills, and the determination to survive are not things that we can include in a bucket and give to someone. However, I know that I will rest better knowing I did my Christian duty trying to help those in need.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Regarding the article The Five Stages of Survival Grief , Dr Bob may be at "acceptance" at what he disclosed in his opening paragraph, but I am still at "anger" and don't know if that will change any time soon.

First a hearty welcome back to the good doctor! We have missed your valued contributions to this blog. I only know Doctor from this blog and having purchased some of his products previously advertised here. I presume it was the sale of those products that got him in hot water with the regulators. It "irks" me no end that this man was more "forward thinking" than the vast majority of his peers and surely all of the "regulators" that he would provide access to products that can save lives and spare needless suffering, and for that he got "hauled off" and stripped of his livelihood. It's disgusting actually and, folks, yet another example of how this country is not "fixable". - B.J.

Hugh Replies: It is good to hear from Dr Bob again, and we will certainly keep both him and his family in our prayers. Grief is often a subject that we just don't think about until we are experiencing it, and this article was spot on. I fear that his story will become more common with the advent of the (un)Affordable Health Care Act.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I've contributed several articles outlining my journey through preparedness. I have outlined how, as a rookie, I started my journey with no support from my family. I shared how I brought my family into the fold, how we picked out a retreat/retirement home, and what I've done to make it my own personal bastion.

One thing I have never considered is: What happens if life throws a curveball, and my own personal, long term needs and plans are irrelevant? Or more accurately, what do I do with all this stuff and all these plans, if I'm not around to make "it" happen?

You see, I've just been diagnosed with cancer.

It's hard to explain how surprised I was by this, since I'm an “ancient”, only forty-two years old. To say that I've been taken aback is an understatement. Still, life is what life is, and there's no sense crying over it when there's fighting to be done. That's another story.

So, I re-pose the question: What do I do with all of this stuff?

As I've said, my family has been brought into the fold, but they are not as "hard-core" as I am. Mostly, I think my wife humors me and will continue to do so as long as it doesn't negatively impact our lives. I don't understand how being prepared could ever negatively affect anyone, so I guess I'm good.

However, now that I have about a fifty percent chance of being alive five years from now, I have to take into consideration everything that I've accomplished and how it can be protected, preserved, and propagated by the people I love, without causing them undue stress. I've been putting some serious thought into this, and I'm going to break it down as best as I can.

Things That Go Boom. Anyone, who may have read any of my previous submissions, might also recall that I live in New York. I'm not in the city, but well over an hour north of it. My retreat home is in the mountains of the northern part of the state where like-minded people are plentiful. The problem is that sixty percent of the state's population lives in the bottom twenty percent of the real estate, and so people hundreds of miles from my home have too much say in my life, with no understanding of how I live it.

That said, a New Yorker without a pistol permit is prohibited by "law" from so much as touching a pistol, let alone owning one. At this time, I am the only person in my house with a permit. My son, as of now, is just a bit too young to apply for one and my wife, who was raised and indoctrinated in the New York City school system, has no interest in getting one.

This leaves me in a bit of a pickle. I believe that my long guns are safe, and I have taken measures to conceal my non-SAFE ACT-compliant firearms. My family is familiar with my bolt-actions, plinkers, and shotguns, which currently do not require a permit to own. Though, what do I do with my pistols, and who's to say that if the Sheriff comes to confiscate my pistols after I die that they'll stop there?

Not once did I consider that this might be a problem. I simply assumed that when my son became of age for a permit, he could register (as co-owner of) my collection of pistols, thus insuring his inheritance. Now we face the prospect of confiscation after my death.

If you live in a "free state", this is not likely an issue for you. Those of you out there living in oppressive leftist environments need to consider the provisions of your states firearm laws. I do not wish illness or hardship on anybody, but this is an aspect of preparedness one should consider to avoid being in my quandary.

Additionally, I have taken great pains to acquaint my son in the various aspects of improvised munitions. I am confident that were I to have an inventory of ingredients scattered around the property of my retirement/retreat home, my son could safely manage it. If you have an inventory of such items, do your "heirs" have a working knowledge of them that will contribute to their safety, in the event something happens to you?

Food Stores. I have managed to set aside well over a year supply of food for my family as well as my sister and her children. Rice, beans, oats, and TVP by the bucketful, as well as canned goods in a scheduled rotation and a root cellar full of items grown in my garden are in abundance. If we were to marginally limit our intake, there is enough food for two years for eight people.

I have involved my son in the rotation schedule, and taught him how to preserve and maintain the stores of dried goods. My sister has a knack for gardening and enjoys canning, so I imagine that they'll be fine with those tasks. Have you involved your children, spouses, or group members? Did you store foods that they will eat? If not, what will happen to this food?

The food pantry near my house will not accept food that is not in its original packaging. If you needed to disperse, share, or otherwise discard some of your stores, this could be an issue. I'm not sure why you would need to "get rid" of food, but if you were called upon to help your fellow man by sharing your food, you might not be able to use a pantry as an intermediary, which I believe is crucial to preserving your operational security. After all, there's no sense in risking your safety in an effort to try to help others in a crisis.

Garden and livestock. Over the last several years I have cultivated two rather large gardens– one vegetable and one herbal (medicinal as well as cooking). It took years of trial and error to cultivate my soil and heirloom the plants, so that I have the best crop I can harvest. My sister, nieces, and nephews have helped with this, but neither my wife nor my son have a “green thumb”; rather, they each have a plaqued thumb. Thankfully, my sister and my wife have a good relationship and will help each other long after I am gone. Who can and will maintain your crops?

Do you have animals? I have over a dozen chickens that provide me with enough eggs and meat (to a lesser extent) to feed my family with enough remaining to sell. What other member of your family or group have the knowledge required to not just maintain, but promote a healthy life among your flock or herd?

I have been derelict in sharing my duties here and must take corrective action immediately.

To bug or not to bug? I have never been entirely confident about my ability to determine when the time to run to the hills came. As a matter of course, I watch and listen to multiple sources of news, and I watch the market and pay attention to global events that may have a direct effect on things here at home. Still, no matter how much information I gather, there is no great big neon sign that will tell me: "Go now!"

As a result, I've had to come up with several scenarios that have corresponding plans. As we used to say way back when, writing computer programs was easy, "If then go to…" or, as my scoutmaster was fond of saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

I am rather happy with the knowledge that the adults and teens in my family are familiar with the various routes they can take to get to our retreat location. But will they know when to go, when I admittedly do not (with any degree of certainty)?

What if the best course of action is to stay put? Does your family have the knowledge and ability to defend your home? Do they know how to locate the supplies you've stored and how to properly utilize them? Does your “bug in” plan include drilling, so that your family can function without you? Even if you aren't facing your own mortality, there is a possibility that you may not be able to make it home in the event of a large-scale event, as happened to many people during Katrina.

Make sure that your plans include a written procedure and that it is familiar and available to all members of your family/group.

I think that overall, redundant redundancy is critical, not just with supplies but with skill-sets. Every person involved in your plans should be able to cross cover at least one other person when it comes to specialized skills. When it comes to general skills, such as gardening and day-to-day livestock management, everyone should know what to do.

The most important prep. As I sit here typing, I am forced to consider my fate. There is a strong chance I will be gone in the relatively near future. This is not to say that I couldn't get killed in an accident on my way to work, but it's different when there's a timeframe attached to you.

I look back at my life and see so many places where a different decision would have positively changed an outcome, but I see not one single place where I would've done anything different, based on the information I had at the time. I have no regrets.

I also look back at the single most important reason that I face this challenge without fear for myself. It's because of the single most important prep I have at my disposal– I'm right with the Lord.

I have tried to live His word, while walking the path of honor and duty. If you can look in the mirror and say the same thing, then you have everything you need to face the uncertainty of the future, or a certainty that is fearful.

Good luck, my friends. I pray we never need to use our knowledge, skills, and stores, but it always pays to be vigilant. With God's graces and some luck, maybe I'll be able to post again. Be well.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Ecclesiastes 9:10

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

(In writing this submission after quite a long hiatus, I am hoping to bring awareness to the issue and help people be better prepared. After having to go through this cycle of grief myself in regards to the State and their overreach in professional licensing and control of physicians, I have reached acceptance and have emerged willing to try once again to help others. Acceptance of the fact that ANY one of us can be hauled off by the State now for "infractions" is a tough thing, but as Doc's wife says often: "It is only through faith in God that the State can't control people, which is why they try so hard to eliminate faith". While all of us, Christians, would indeed agree that this is true, it is a tough thing to have faith that you don't need a paycheck!)

The five stages of grief have long been defined and established by medical and psychology circles. Since the late 1960's, the Kubler-Ross cycle of grief has been defined as having five separate stages, with no set timeline for movement through those stages. One person can progress within moments to acceptance, while others can get mired in denial for their entire lives. These stages will be familiar to you and are as follows:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

In regard to these stages and survival issues in a collapse, there are three populations of people to address. The first is the masses– those who will not, and often cannot, cope with the idea that a collapse is even possible. There are plenty of debates about what will happen to this group of folks, but surely the outcome is not good for them. If they do face a collapse, surely many will be stuck even before denial in the "shock" stage, which often leads to indecision, inability, and apathy to the situation. Surely these folks are venerable to State control, dependence, and early death in violent situations. They may get to denial and then progress very quickly to anger at "the government" that they see as responsible for "letting this happen". As many preppers are very aware, these folks usually have less than three days worth of food and provisions available in any type of disaster. After denial and anger, they nearly must progress to bargaining within a few days to avoid dehydration and starvation. They are likely, in the bargaining stage, to willingly give up any and all prior rights in order to eat or even be provided with water. They may be willing to be State soldiers if necessary for their meals or their family's meals. This will lead to depression in varying degrees and then finally acceptance– WILLING acceptance. This is why the rest of us in the other two groups are and need to be armed.

This group of people will be completely helpless without State control. If there is a complete collapse of law and order without the State controlling millions quickly and efficiently, these folks will have to go through the stages of grief as they starve and die off. This would also make them extremely dangerous. Many will surely die in the denial stage as others progress to the anger stage of their process. Violence inevitably and very quickly increases as angry people don't have water and food. Those in denial will be likely to never progress beyond it as they fall victim to angry people. Those that get to anger will vent that anger somewhere and in some way. Again, those they blame will be prone to danger, injury, and death.

In the bargaining stage, folks will be willing to do ANYTHING to survive. If the State does not swoop in and offer an option to people in need immediately, there are many folks out there more than willing to take advantage of these "bargainers" to further their own power towards survival. The bargaining stage will consolidate power in those that have and are willing to provide "favor" for something in exchange. If that is the State, then the State will gain power over those it controls and others that it may want to control. If that is the local gangsters, then they will become warlords themselves and those that are willing to bargain for those provisions that they control. Gangs will grow quickly and organize with warlords of power getting more powerful. This is the inevitable nature of humanity. History has proven this innumerable times, if you require proof.

Depression will be rampant in those stuck in those bargained positions, whether State-controlled or gangster-controlled. Many will be depressed enough for suicide as an escape. Suicides will be numerous, in the depressed seeing no way out, in varied situations. Many others would fail in their situations and either starve or be killed because of their failure. It would be a rough time indeed. As many progress to acceptance, a natural state of conflict will exist between those in power and those that have bargained for survival. This state of acceptance is very prone to volatility, and the usual rebellions (both local and regional) will occasionally cycle through. It would be in your best interest to avoid this group of folks altogether. Anyone that reads this blog will obviously say, “Well, duh.”

Once a person reaches acceptance, it is surely not locked down and static. Often those in horrible situations have to wake every day and progress through the stages of grief just to get up and dressed, and they are at risk daily for stage regression and miring. This is a very important fact about grief processing that is essential to remember: The stages are not 1,2,3,4,5 in order but can be a yo-yo within moments, days, weeks, months, or years. It can go 1,2,3,5,3,5,1,4,5,1,5 and take a lifetime to process. For others, it can progress in order, without deviation, and all within minutes. Some people can skip stages altogether and never have to actually process a stage. The essential fact for survival is to know and follow your own process and the process of others around you to improve your chances. To deny mental health issues and avoid their discussion increases your failure risk in any collapse situation.

For the second group of folks, the stages are the same, but the process is very different. This group includes most of the readers of this fine blog– those who did some preparation and are not surprised by the collapse, but feel that they were caught "not finished" with their ideal preps. Almost all preppers would be in this group of those wishing they had done more and had a little more time (myself included). For these people, denial will likely be minimal. Anger will most-likely be self-directed. Bargaining will most-likely be with those friends and family that were not prepared, urging them to quickly do what they can to help their own survival. Depression about those "lost" will be very real. If communication is quickly difficult or impossible, the unknown status of loved ones will bear down on us all. Depression about our state of being in a collapse environment is serious and also inevitable. Denying this fact is very dangerous indeed. Depending on the situation of the individual, the group, and the larger society, depression will eventually give way to acceptance, if you live long enough. It will be a tough time though for preppers too, not just the unprepared. While the unprepared masses will immediately feel overwhelmed and give up their control to others, the prepper will have to go through this cycle over and over about countless things putting them at risk for stage regression and miring.

Think about the things over the years that you have prepared for that you suddenly "light-bulbed" in terms of your preps. There are so many things that you could have missed that will become front and center in a collapse situation. Every time you run out of something that you wish you had stored more of, every time you wish you had something that you feel like you should have remembered, every time someone complains about some inconvenience and you know that ultimately it was up to you as the "survival nut that read that blog all the time", and when you run out of toilet paper, you have to go through the grief cycle. When you have no more gasoline, it will be time for the grief cycle. When you run out of propane, batteries, ammo, sunblock, bug spray, tape, shoes, it will be time for the grief cycle. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance– that's just the reality of how it works inside our brains.

When you think about the hunting or camping trip you had when you were a kid, you know the grief cycle. "Don't tell me we forgot (BLANK)?!?!?!". "Oh no, we forgot (BLANK)!". "How could we forget (BLANK)??? Are you sure?" "Son of bleepity bleep bleep bleepity (depending on your relations), I can't deal with this trip without (BLANK)!!!" "Maybe the neighbors have (BLANK) and will trade for cash". "At least we have beer...(let the drinking to cope with (BLANK)-missing begin).” "Oh well, the trip will go on, and we can cope without (BLANK)." In my family, as long as (BLANK) wasn't the beer, that was usually the conversation. It won't be a camping trip or a hunting weekend though, so the magnitude and severity of the stages of grief will be much greater.

Finally, the group that you want to be in and hope to achieve is that of the fully prepared. Those lucky few are the hardcores– those that practiced living without power when they had it to see their prepping holes, those that ran drills and practiced security and safety, and those that forced their kids (adult or otherwise) to do what most families do not do– really prepare. Even these lovable nuts will have to go through the stages of grief. Denial, check. (It's over on the news that there is the hint of collapse.) Anger, none, except perhaps venting to God and family. "I told them all!!! Why did they not listen! How could they be so stupid? R17.5 trillion. What did they think would happen?!!!" Bargaining is likely to be minimal, except internally, worrying about what is coming to them for challenges. Most of this will be directed at God, in the form of prayers or pleas. "Get us through today, and I will venture out and try to help people tomorrow" type of stuff. Depending on the nature and severity of the suffering around, these fully-prepared folks may find their Christian nature starts in on them, and they wonder if they are being "too selfish" or should be "making more of an effort" to help others than "just themselves". Depression is a reality for the fully prepared, too. Minds are a tricky thing in crisis, and to deny this is to deny our humanity. Acceptance is much more likely in this group to be reached faster than the other groups and with more permanence.

Interacting with others will be more effective and safer if you can quickly and easily recognize that they may be in a different stage of grief than you and yours. It will not be easy to turn away a known family that are dangerously ill-prepared, even with the food and preps you were just willing to give them to try to help. It would especially not be easy to turn them away at the point of a gun when they again returned to you for help, desperate and bargaining for their lives. How would you deal with them if it was your blood family or a best friend of if they want to leave their three-year-old so that the child might live? These are horrible, difficult grief cycle issues that may be more reality than any of us might like in a collapse. Just because you are well prepared does not protect you from the grief cycle.

So, how does this help your preparations? What can we do about this now, during, and after a collapse to help survival? There are some concrete things to do. First, acknowledge that the stages of grief are indeed real, and talk about the grief cycle now. Think through your own "preparation grief stages" and how you might deal with various scenarios. For those of us in the middle group of preppers, realize that immediately progressing through denial and using the anger that you have for constructive action can save your life and the lives of others. Waiting a day in a dollar collapse may be too long. Have a plan for yourself and your group for collapse day. What happens if you are wrong? So, you have more dog food and gas that you might need that month, big deal. You may also find something that your "24-hour list" might be missing. We have a "24-hour list" that has many helpful survival items that we have thought about buying in quantities and without worry of cost in the event of collapse, as recommended by many prior articles and books on the subject. We have moved past the denial of ever needing it to have it ready. If you have not, perhaps it is time.

Second, realize that sometimes it is the little things that get to us more than the bigger ones. "So there has been a complete collapse, oh well. But we ran out of (BLANK)?!!?!?!?! That's it, time for a complete freakout!!!" This is more real than you can possibly imagine. People in real-world survival situations have found this to be the real-world manifestation of people in grief stages. We have all been upset about something unrelated and taken our anger out on the dog or other loved one. Minimize these risks now. Have everyone in the family make a "top ten things I would not want to not have in a collapse” list. Many of the items may surprise you. While brownies seem like hardly a survival necessity to me, it might be the #3 on both my daughter's and Doc's wife's list. Time to get some "just add water" survival brownies. For $20, we may have avoided a double freakout and have increased the time my family has to progress to acceptance of the bigger situation...well worth it. My own list was a challenge, at first full of foods and other niceties that later seemed petty and selfish. Later, the list had more practical items and retained some of the niceties, just because.

Lastly, realize that you may have a better grasp on your mental thread than others in your family or group. Talking about it openly now may prevent serious problems later. For us, we really don't want to see how my daughter truly reacts and behaves when the grid goes down. She doesn't like thinking, talking, or preparing for even a power outage. We force her to talk about it occasionally, and she does at least relate her thoughts that she knows we have prepared for her, and she appreciates the idea in the back of her mind. It would be the front of her mind that we would worry about when you take her Starbucks away! She is certainly the biggest risk for denial and anger. She would be likely to quickly progress past bargaining when she got there because she would be bargaining with us, so easy solution there. However, when depression hit her, it would likely be hard and smothering. It is up to me, as our family leader, to watch all my people closely, continuing to talk about how they are really doing and if they are progressing through the stages appropriately. Just talking about it helps people process that it is happening. Reminding them of how they denied an issue, then got angry, then pleaded for a bargain helps to reassure them that their current depression is NORMAL and will eventually pass.

So, to recap, before any collapse, talk and talk and talk and better prepare as a group. During a collapse, avoid denial quicksand and turn anger into action with a 24-hour list and a plan. After a collapse, continue to help lead people in their grief as well as the other areas of your strength. Perhaps there is a person in your group that is best suited for this, and you are not. That person should spend some time studying the grief stages and how people progress more quickly and effectively. Perhaps purchasing a book to help for the survival shelves might help if your group is poorly psychologically-gifted. There is the original text and there are more modern versions

There is also a more challenging modern grief "textbook" that is regarded by many in therapy circles to be a must-read if you are into the "current theory" grief idea.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mr. Hugh,

I am a long-time reader of Survival Blog. A recent diagnosis requires a lifetime commitment to receiving IV medication every month in a hospital setting. This does not bode well for my long-term survival, when the world falls apart. I am right with God, so no worries there. My children think my views about prepping are somewhat eccentric. I am okay with that too. I am ready to move forward to help the grandchild generation. Would you ask your readers to comment on tasks I could complete to accomplish this? - J.G.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I am an avid reader and have not attempted to contribute to this fine blog because I personally had little to offer from the perspective of knowledge or skills that many more knowledgeable individuals have already contributed. However, as I have been closely monitoring the current events in Venezuela I realized that this is an area where I have knowledge and skills that many others don't. Also, there is a great deal about these events that,in my opinion, correlate to the United States' political and economic directions and possible outcomes. The people of Venezuela are learning lessons the hard way.

My background very briefly: I am a U.S. citizen married to a Venezuelan, am fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and have been actively collecting information on the situation in Venezuela since Chavez came to power in 1999. Although I took a hiatus, there was a time when I had a network of informants that resulted in DEA and FBI investigations into issues we reported. I still have family and contacts there and worry about them. My sources, therefore, are coming directly from the Venezuelan Spanish language news (online and broadcast), relatives and friends, and by monitoring their internal communications within Venezuela social media.

The news media here in the U.S. have completely missed the boat on the Venezuelan situation. Suffice it to say at this point that the conditions over the past 15 years have deteriorated so much that between one and two million out of 30 million citizens have fled the country. Violence has spiraled out of control. Some estimates indicate that during the period of 2003 and 2011(the same period as the Iraq war) the number of murder victims reported in Venezuela rivals the number of people killed in Iraq. In addition to the intolerable violence, socialist government policies collapsed many industrial and agricultural sectors. In an effort to maintain forceful hold on power, the socialist leaders used class and racial conflict to divide the nation. When Chavez decided to upgrade his military weaponry, he purchased tens of thousands of AK47s and then trained paramilitary militias, giving them the military's "old" weapons, mostly Belgian FAL rifles. To those militias, add other paramilitary shock groups that function like Mussolini's Black Shirts or Noriega's Dignity Battalions– goons on motorbikes who drive around shooting at protesters and anyone on the street in order to strike terror in the populace.

So the people of all classes now find themselves in a situation in which electric power is no longer reliable, blackouts are common, and diseases that were eliminated are returning. Inflation can run up to 50% per month, rendering the Bolivar fiat currency nearly worthless. Since the government had forcefully expropriated (through the Venezuelan socialist version of eminent domain) huge tracts of productive domestic livestock and then given it "to the poor" who didn't know how to farm it, domestic food production crashed. Food was then imported, using dollars. Once inflation soared, the government clamped down on the ability to purchase dollars. This had repercussions throughout the economy. Nearly all medicines are imported, bought with dollars. Hospitals and clinics are now almost completely devoid of medicines. Patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, cannot get their medicines. Cancer patients cannot receive treatment and are dying. Food supplies are dwindling and what food there is has become expensive. Shop shelves are bare, and long lines form whenever food becomes available.

This is the background that led to the most recent wave of protests, led primarily through a grass roots, social media-driven campaign by students of high school and college age. Their message was simple: "Enough! We need a new government." Protests by hundreds of students swelled to become thousands. This startled the government, so they unleashed their goons to try to intimidate the students. However, a “strange” thing happened: The more they were attacked, the angrier the people became. After they killed their first victim, they thought the people would cower at home, but that's not what happened. The people who had previously perceived their own personal safety as tantamount now placed their own lives in a lower priority over the lives of the youths who were fighting for their future. The numbers of protesters swelled into the hundreds of thousands. More were killed. Still they refused to back down. So the government unleashed the military. Citizen journalists with smart phones have documented proof of brutality and even executions by some of the military, and this has been disseminated around the world. For the first time since the height of Chavez's revolution, nations and organizations that tolerated Chavez's "excesses" are now beginning to move. Even some of the nauseating progressive politicians here in the U.S., who previously spoke warmly of Chavez, have tweeted photos of themselves supporting the opposition.

At this current moment, the reality of what is happening is becoming difficult to find out. The government has realized, perhaps too late, that social media was used to mobilize not only their internal enemies but to mobilize the external community. They are shutting down telephone and Internet services in some cities and states. We know they are flying their Russian Sukhoi and older U.S. F16s low over the cities as an act of intimidation, and we know the military is coordinating with the civilian shock troops because they have been recorded doing it. Distinguishing between accurate citizen reports and wild rumors is becoming difficult.

Observations From Venezuela:

Foolishness is the Norm in the Face of Slowly-advancing Tyranny. Anyone with common sense could have foreseen that this was coming. My wife and I, both "moderate" preppers, have been warning our relatives to purchase a supply of food and ammunition and make other preparations, but the average person is an easy victim of the "normalcy fallacy”. Even when faced by impending crisis, the majority of people will simply fail to take adequate steps to ensure their own safety. Thus many of those, who had the means to be prepared, failed to take steps to do so. One must also remember that the poorest citizens simply have no means to stockpile food when it is already difficult to find and expensive. I do feel good that, when a nephew came to visit last year, I took the time to teach him to fire a revolver, like the one he inherited from his father, and to fire a shotgun. He may not have much ammunition, but he knows how to use his gun safely and with relative accuracy. Lessons learned: Make as many outreaches as possible to teach family and friends how to prepare, and make sure they can defend themselves. Count on the fact that normal, intelligent and educated people will ignore the warning signs.

Social Chaos Benefits Organized Criminals. As stated in the preamble, social unrest and violence had been growing thanks to the lawless conditions fomented by the government. We have all read about criminals taking advantage of the situation. We are seeing this proven yet again in Venezuela. Gangs are naturally organized, ruthless, and accustomed to violent action. They are the ones who have the least to lose and are the least afraid to use violence. If food is scarce, they can easily smash shop windows and take what they want. Anticipate that these individuals will not only enjoy and thrive in these conditions, they will ally themselves with the politicians who are making it happen. This holds true for the "nickel and dime" delinquents but also the big fish– the drug cartels and mafia. Kidnapping has become a cottage industry, and they will pluck anyone off the street, if they think they can make some quick cash. Smart people will never wear expensive clothing, drive fancy cars, or display any sign of wealth. When conditions get bad--and I mean truly awful--they will shoot you to take your phone without even bothering to say "stick 'em up". Human life becomes utterly worthless in SHTF.

Creative Community Defense is Vital. Venezuela is not one of those countries that completely bans firearms. Until recently, firearm ownership was legal and quite common, but don't confuse the ability to own hunting rifles, shotguns, and pistols with the kinds of arms we patriots covet. I know a few Venezuelans who own revolvers or semi-auto handguns, and none who own rifles, like AKs or ARs. The people, therefore, are becoming extremely clever in their defense. In the previous days, the students have burned government vehicles, including at least a couple armored personnel carriers with improvised devices. The neighborhoods are organizing and creating 24-hour guards. They are creating slings, slingshots, and other means to propel "munitions" at the enemy. Cooperation and coordination has been key. The youth in particular have been brilliant at using every communication method to coordinate. You can hear them by using Zello, and to my amazement they have devised codes to maintain OpSec. They are now coordinating increasingly complex maneuvers to attack and in recent days even captured a Cuban soldier wearing Venezuelan military garb, and they are holding him prisoner. I presume they captured his arms as well. Since the paramilitary groups attack mostly on motorcycles, they are stringing cables neck high across roads leading into their neighborhoods and then luring them in. Once they have been unsaddled, they sweep in and counter-attack, burn their motorcycles, and chase them on foot.

In the Andes state of Tachira, fighting has been particularly fierce. Known as Gochos, these people have proven to be especially resourceful. They are pouring burning oil on the roads and have set out traps of oil in turns to cause the motorcycles to fall over, so they can be attacked. I saw a photo of around 30 men who had cut down a pine nearly 50 feet tall, and they were carrying it to block the highways. In the city of Maracaibo, the Indian tribes arrived by the busload last night carrying clubs, bats, spears, and machetes to join the students. Infamous in the country for their ferocity, this news has lit a new spark because it means that the people, regardless of ethnicity, are standing shoulder to shoulder.

The Enemy Will Use Food, Water, and Power As Weapons. The government has begun using access to food, water, and power as a weapon. Not only have they cut electric power and television service, they also brought down land-line telephony and cellular service to prevent communication. They also cut the water supply in towns in Tachira state. Access to food is extremely limited, and I have no idea what the people will do for water. This is not the desert of Syria; it is a wet country, and with their indomitable spirit I am sure they find a way.

Lack of Communication Causes Panic and Rumors. As the communications are shut down, we are seeing that a sense of panic is growing. No one knows if other states have surrendered, and they are the last to stand at the Alamo. They don't know if the government is losing either. This is why it is growing difficult to differentiate between rumors and fact. Rumors and reports are that the government is now massacring prisoners by the dozens if not hundreds and burning the bodies. Some report that the jets are bombing cities. Information is as vital at this point as food and water. Calm leadership is needed to keep everyone from panicking or shutting down. It would have been wonderful if they had prepared with a radio network that was interstate rather than just within small, cloistered groups. Those of you with Ham equipment will be hailed as heroes should this situation come to a theater near you.

The Enemy Will Use Psychological Operations Against You. This topic is closely related to communications. Both the government and the paramilitary groups as well as the organized crime syndicates are using Psy Ops to spread fear and confusion, as well as division. A recent example illustrates what I mean. There are radical groups that once supported Chavez but do not like the new president, Maduron. One of their leaders, a 20-something criminal, had apparently been willing to shoot at the opposition to support the government, but also engaged in battles with the national guard and police when they invaded what he thought was "his territory". I guess he had become a liability, since his allegiance seemed to flip. He was shot in the head by police, and the incident was actually caught on video. The government tried to blame the opposition in order to damage their reputation and reduce support. In other cases, the police sent plain-clothed officers into the protests to have them act as agent provocateurs in an effort to discredit the opposition. As we examine our own country and speculate about the types of situations that might arise should our economy collapse or for whatever reason causes SHTF, we need to be aware of the actions of people we "think" are with us but intend us harm.

Faith is Key to Survival. I will wrap this up by pointing out that the majority of Venezuelans are devout Catholics, and their devotion to their faith has been inspiring. They have been far more patient and peaceful than I can fathom. In most cases, when their children have been murdered, they respond not with violence but with a peaceful gathering, holding open-air masses and prayer. Their faith gives them optimism and strength. Not surprisingly, because Venezuelan women are typically the ones who instill religious faith in God to the children, they are absolutely key to keeping the community morale high, and make up greater than 50% of the people marching. It is quickly becoming a nation of "Mother Grizzlies," who are on the front line of the struggle.

I hope this article has been enlightening to some, entertaining to all, and thought-provoking. Every night I tell myself, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Friday, March 7, 2014

While some of us currently have enough to survive for months and the necessities to survive for much longer, this article will be for the beginner. There are so many different ways to start prepping. My family started by setting financial goals. Getting excited about prepping is really easy, but so is deciding that it won't work for you. I have seen this before with friends who I have spoken with about what I do. They get really excited and go home and rally the troops. Then they realize that they have no funds to do so. While most Americans have the ability to create a spreadsheet and figure out what they need and do not need, the majority do not do so. That was the start for us, but there are many different areas where you can start that may work best for you. Here are a few:

Water. When you are out grocery shopping, purchase an extra large jug of water until you have enough to last your entire family for three days. This is the suggested amount of water that you should have according to the local agencies where I live. I would strongly suggest taking a look at your own situation and coming up with a different number. You should take into consideration the climate, location, population, number of people you plan to support, their body types, and their current physical condition. For example, since I live in a desert that has very cold winters and very hot summers, I will likely use the same amount of water in both extremes. I am located in the center of a valley and would likely be the last to be evacuated depending on the disaster. It could take an extra two or three days, based on the current population of the county. I currently would need to support three people. Our body types are a large male, a petite female, and a small toddler. The current physical conditions include a male with kidney infection that requires two gallons/day w/ two more days of antibiotics; a female, who just found out she is pregnant and is experiencing nausea, vomiting,and hot & cold flashes; and a toddler with no known issues. Whether they are short-term issues, like a kidney infection, or long-term issues, like pregnancy, you should have a sufficient supply ready. Disasters come whether we are ready or not.

In addition to a supply of water, you should also have a water filtration system. This is a must if you are going to only store enough water for three days. You may be stuck for another three days and need to replenish your supply from an unfiltered supply. There are many ways to filter water. Whether you decide to go U.V. lights or a hand pump filtered system, do some research and save up for it. These can get pricey, but even if you have to use it once, it will be worth it. I am looking to add a new Katadyn Hiker Pro to my bug out bag (B.O.B.). I have had a good experience with Katadyn's before and would highly recommend them.

First Aid Kit. You should already have a first aid kit. Some companies do a great job putting together pre-made kits. What you need to do is make it yours. If you have asthma, add an extra inhaler to the kit. If your baby gets really bad rashes, add some butt paste or cream. Whatever the medical situation might be, you need to be ready for it. I have heard that some people don't do this because the item expires in two years and then it gets wasted. As with all of your perishable items, you are supposed to cycle them out. With all of the technology available today, nothing bothers me more than hearing someone say that their food storage has gone bad, and they have to start over. Set a reminder in your phone, on your computer, or set it as the same time as your dentist appointment. Whatever the method, you should be able to cycle your band aids, first aid cream, pills, and everything else without wasting anything. Worst case, you don't need to use it and you donate it to a homeless shelter than can. A side note to add with the first aid kit is a “how-to” book or guide to first aid. Having the tools is great and all, but knowing how to use them is what will save you. There are many posters, guides, and books. I also would recommend classes that are fairly inexpensive.

Food. If you are reading this now, chances are you already can your own food and possibly dry some too. If you do, then you are off to a great start. If you don't, you should look at learning. Some people don't take advantage of what comes from the ground and end up spending $3-$5 per can of jelly/jam or even more on the fruits and veggies that we can grow ourselves. I am very proud of my community because they have a community garden for those that live in condos or apartments and cannot have one of their own. You can make canning parties with a group of friends and split or trade what you have to expand your supplies or just make it a family event that you do. If you really don't want to get into "that stuff", then you can always buy the pre-packaged food storage at your local emergency supply store or some big chain retailers. Most brands will either offer single meals to purchase or some for free to try before you buy. I highly recommend this if you are a picky eater or have dietary restraints. Finicky eating may go out the window when you are starving, but again it is personal preference. Regardless the route you go, always be sure to keep track of expiration dates, use what is close to expiring, and replace it.

Bug Out Bag. In emergency situations, you can't always stay where you are. If say an earthquake or hurricane comes and you need to bug out, you still want to be prepared for the worst case scenario of being stranded. That is where B.O.B. comes in. B.O.B. is not a person. B.O.B. stands for Bug Out Bag. There are other names like Go-bag, GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag, and PERK (Personal Emergency Relocation Kit), but I like B.O.B. Your B.O.B. can consist of anything that you think you might need to keep you alive on the go for a certain amount of time. My B.O.B. should be able to keep me and my family alive for four days, which by the way is how much time it would take to walk to my bunker. There are tons of YouTube videos of young guys who pack it full of guns and ammo and say that they will survive anything with it. While a weapon can be useful in many situations, one gun with a box or two or even a machete should be sufficient. Don't go packing a B.O.B. for you full of guns and ammo and make your poor wife and children carry the rest in separate bags. That's going way too far. This is only supposed to keep you alive for a short amount of time until you get to a shelter, bunker, or safe zone. There are a lot of considerations when choosing a bag for your B.O.B. I chose a bag that is water proof, can be comfortable on long hikes through the mountains, can be worn while riding a bike, is extremely durable, and can hold everything that I need. It varies on the person/family. Some need more for medicine or special food needs while others pack them full of guns and ammo and hope for the best.

Multi-use Items. Believe it or not, right now in your house, you probably have a lot of the other items that could help you survive, if needed. I'm sure I don't need to go into how useful duct tape can be. Just watch the Mythbusters Duct Tape Island Episode. Matches or Zippo lighter, floss, multi-tool, tampons, bleach, and much more can serve many purposes. So when it comes down to it, you have already started prepping, and you didn't even realize it. Just do some more research on how to use basic household items to survive, and you will find that you have a lot of useful tools that you would have never thought of before that you could use in an emergency situation.

Go sit down with the family and talk with them. Use this time to learn about your family's habits and needs. Make it something fun for everyone to do and participate in. Have some random pop quizzes on where items are in the house and how they can be used. Have your kids plant something in the garden, and teach them how to take care of it. They will enjoy taking care of it and watching it grow. If they are not into that, you can always do some emergency situation drills with them. Call them in the morning on a weekend and give them a scenario. They then have to go through the steps, and at the end you can talk about what they could improve on and go out for breakfast. Make it a positive experience so they remember it. They may need to use those skills one day.

So as you can see, there are many different areas that you can start in. All you have to do is pick one and dive in. Once you are in, you will be hooked and the rest will just come.

Mr Rawles,

I listened and read as much as I could of the good advice of blogs like this and other sources of inspiration. I got myself an older 4X4 diesel pickup– an '86 6.9L. Just the other day the original alternator went, but the engine didn't seem to care as long as it got started. When my car alternator died, I was off the road in minutes. I'm starting to see the value of these old rigs. I'm considering taking off the turbo to eliminate an oil leak and simplify the system, because the turbo increases heat and can endanger the longevity of an otherwise running engine.

After I sold my home (thank the good Lord), I wanted to pull my good but not cherry '58 Airstream into a RV park close to work. While I respect the business proprietor's prerogatives, they did not want that old junk in their park. Even if I had a new Airstream I wouldn't take it back to them, so I parked it in an RV storage yard for 40 dollars a month instead of $300 a month. That was the best thing to ever happen. I still have visitation rights till 9:30 pm at the Airstream. It seems I need a 400 watt and 1000+ watt inverter based on my power needs. One yellow top optima battery powers the system, but I'm done with their "special" charging needs and will increase my battery capacity with good old marine batteries. Heated water is produced from an Ecotemp l-5 unit. Since I have worked in the waste water treatment industry and have a background in the sciences, I am taking the water system on the Airstream to a true NASA ISS level of tech. I can't wait till I can get some Graphene from Lockheed Martin; I can tell you that. Hopefully, I can give you a further report, as it is a work in progress. Overall, I perplex at the ten times cost of living when you have water, electric, and sewer hookup at a RV park. Mainly that society does not afford an alternative. You are either a bum or an indebted mortgage holder. Anthropologically, we are evolving as a species. Technology is pushing us forward, but we are now holding ourselves back. Governments regulate; humans innovate.

So the real news is my electric bicycle in the back of the pickup. It is a 48 Volt geared hub motor with 12AH battery. I use about 2-4 AH of charge to ride seven miles of graded terrain. Four of this being on the way home using it to fully augment my pedaling and to get home ASAP. It goes as fast as you want to go on a bicycle. I carry in a saddle pack a Shangri-La 5 tent, Tyvek ground cloth, a neoair sleeping pad, two "casually tarps", and a Tennier industries orange down sleeping bag. The sleeping bag is proving to be too big, so I'm scaling back to lighter bags and emergency blankets. Along with other “no-brainer” supplies, like a multi-tool, this set up is quite liberating. When I curl up inside a handswen casualty tarp taco, I think of the irony of being a casualty of the financial crisis. In reality, I feel sad for all the others that will be caught unaware. I won't feel sad, however, for those that scoffed, those that chose to consume a lion's share as if it was their birthright, or those that will try to take from me what I have prepared.

I try to keep my diesel tanks full, so I can hook up to the trailer and roll out to my bug out location. If I must abandon the pickup, the electric bike will get me to my bug out. Unfortunately, my bug out location is currently just vacant land, and I will really need my Airstream base camp for prolonged survival. One other thing, I was putting my lathe into my storage unit (also sad) and needed something out of a gig bag. Haphazardly, I left a mayday bar and some cranberries in the bag. A mouse took up residence and destroyed the zip-up hoodie, socks, and food that was in the bag. The bag itself needed to be cleaned and disinfected. What a lesson! Imagine struggling your way to your supply cache only to find it corrupted and destroyed. So far, using the gear and failing is the best teacher.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I have to disagree with T.S.' conclusion where Ham radios are concerned.

The days of 40-pound or more base station radios is long gone. Even the backpack type radios from the Korean and Vietnam era that many preppers seem to be so fond of are large, bulky, and inefficient by today's standards.

There are many lightweight, portable solutions beyond that of the typical HT (handi-talkie). Take the Yaesu FT817ND, for example;it has multiple power options, is super lightweight, can easily fit into a cargo pocket and doubles as a general coverage/shorthand receiver.

If someone is versed in Morse Code the options absolutely explode. From simple transmitters small enough to be housed in a tuna can or even a small altoids tin. To full blown packet station using a raspberry pi, low power screen, a few small batteries and a keyboard.

For me, any communication solution that doesn't include HAM radio is incomplete.

On a side note, there is software/app called Serval for android phones that allows the phones to work independently of cell towers through the use of peer to peer mesh networking. This offers another communication solution in a grid down/emergency situation. (I am not affiliated with the Serval project in any way.) - B.I.

o o o

Please be aware that safeties, slide, and magazine releases vary by manufacturer. Thinking that they are standardized could lead to a hazardous situation. - D.A.

Hugh Replies: Both of these responses have good information in them. Be aware that, like many of the articles published here, the authors are not writing generic how-tos, but are writing with a specific scenario in mind. In this particular case, T.S. was writing for his family with the equipment that they had on hand. In order for you to apply his writings to you, you must make the appropriate changes and substitutions for your beliefs, supplies, and knowledge levels.

I really enjoyed the article “Random Thoughts on Prepping, by Stymie.” I want to thank him for writing that article for the blog. For a long time, I've also questioned the thinking that the golden horde would migrate to places like Idaho. I keep telling myself that better minds than mine have come to that conclusion, but I still can't quite buy it.

I've been thinking long and hard about the issue of establishing a truly remote homestead as a prepping strategy. We bought property in the Sierras, in Northern California, above the snow line. I kind of question how likely that horde would be to come our way. Granted, there's decent hunting nearby and on our own land,but most of that golden horde wouldn't have a clue about hunting and would starve if they had to depend on it to feed themselves, much less a family. Where are they going? Would they go up to Truckee with more than 200 inches of snow per year or over Donner pass? They still have snow in June up there. If they got there, there's nothing to eat, since almost nobody has gardens or much stored food. Then, if they got that far, where are they going? Another 300 miles of Nevada desert and then they'd be in Utah. That's not where I'd head. In fact, it's the very last way I'd head if I was part of the horde. I'd either go no farther than the inland California valley where plenty of food can be had, or north into Oregon farmland. Aternatively, maybe I'd stay on the Pacific coast in some out of the way place where I could fish and with a year-round growing season, or maybe even down in Mexico. The very last place I'd head would be Donner Pass and the Nevada desert beyond it. I worry that this is confirmation bias on my part. I buy the golden horde from Reno migrating down into the California agricultural areas; in fact that's the only direction I'd head if I lived in Reno. Even later in a complete breakdown scenario when large well-organized locust-like groups are on the move, there just isn't enough food here to support them and no big distribution centers either. There's hardly even any markets. The people up here all make the long drive west and down the mountain to stock up for the week.

My husband and I live a few miles outside of a small town in the mid-level Sierras. We live at the end of a dead end road that's at the end of two more long dead end roads that aren't county maintained. We retired young and spent ten years before retiring looking around the country to determine where we wanted to retire. Our non-negotiable requirements were reasonable acreage (because at that time my husband thought he wanted to be a gentleman farmer) and at least 50 inches a year of rainfall. We have six neighbors on our road with acreage between 4 and 750+ acres each. As it turned out, my husband changed his mind about farming after we retired. He's a big guy and has trouble with his knees. I think he realized just how much of farming is spent on your knees. So I became the vegetable gardener. That was a steep learning curve. Despite all my adventurous ways, I was a city girl and clueless about growing food other than for the fun of it. Although I spent some time on a cattle ranch when I was young.

Neighbor 1 is a doctor, with wife and kids. His wife homeschools their kids. They could feed everyone for a mile around with their vegetable garden alone.

Neighbor 2 is an engineer who worked in the space program; he's retired now and single.

Neighbor 3 is a dedicated hunter and a mechanic, working on machinery of some kind; he has a wife and son.

Neighbor 4 is a county sheriff dept. deputy, with a wife and kids.

Neighbor 5 are a chef and school teacher; they are the parents of the sheriff's deputy.

Neighbor 6 are the uncle and aunt of Neighbor 3 (the hunter), a retired truck driver and his wife; they own 750 acres that lie on three sides of our combined properties.

Then, there is us: My husband has every tool known to man. He has arc welding tools, watch-making tools, blacksmith tools, furniture-making tools, machining tools (including a drill press), and every other kind of tool representing three generations of tinkers and makers. He has tools I never heard of, and he knows how to use them. He's also an award-winning craft brewer, president of the town garden club (more on this in a bit), and past president of large fish keeping and breeding organization. So he knows everything there is to know about keeping large fish and pond systems healthy by natural means (biological filters) and with brute force (constructed sand filters and so forth.). He majored in Zoology at UC Davis and worked as a fireman and EMT to work his way through college. He's been a Ham radio operator for over thirty years and used Ham radio to spy on China when he was in the Air Force, while stationed on Okinawa. We have a retractable 50 ft. Ham antenna. How cool is that? It's only visible when we use it. Heh, heh. It's electric but can also be cranked up by hand.

As for me, I approach life as if I can make, fix, or do anything, too. Soapmaking, canning, quilting, inorganic chemistry are a few of my skills. I've built houses and plumbed bathrooms and dug ponds for fun. I have a B.S. degree in Geophysics. Geophysics guys are the ones who look for oil, study volcanoes and earthquakes, and map the deep ocean bottoms– all the geology that you can't climb into to look at. It has to be done with remote sensing. Interestingly, one of the biggest source of jobs for geophysicists is remote sensing for government spying– satellite and drones and so on. I got that degree for fun and never worked in it. I'm a dedicated shooting, archery, and martial arts enthusiast. I can sail, have owned two large sailboats and lived aboard both.

We have a large garden and a propane-heated, fully-automated 8'x12' greenhouse and are in the process of building a second 12'x16' greenhouse that we'll either heat with house heat exhaust or wood stove or both. Our house has an 8 kilowatt solar system. It's a two story home with the bottom level earth-bermed on three sides and easily defensible on the fourth side. We live within a half-mile of a large river, and our access to the river is completely private via utility access roads that lie on our own property or our neighbors. There are no crossings on that river for miles in either direction.

All four sides of our combined properties are defensible– inaccessible even by ATV, except for a single point of ingress. Between these six neighbors and ourselves, we have three large, established gardens and a large chicken house. I've seen over 90 wild turkey at one time, grazing our land. We have our own herd of nine deer about 150' from our house in the woods, who we feed (Purina Deer Chow aka Antler Max) and provide water for but wouldn't hesitate to eat if necessary. They're so tame we can stand within four feet of them, and they don't even blink. This they do despite the fact that I also shoot on my land. There are several other deer groups in the vicinity who aren't that tame. We have two stocked ponds. The surrounding terrain is heavily wooded and steep with strong undergrowth of poison oak and traveler's misery. The only ingress is through an easily defended road (below our homes) with steep ravines on both sides. There are two old mines on our combined land (and a lot of old mining equipment).

The little town closest to us is a hamlet even by small town standards. There are no traffic lights and only one stop sign in town. There's only a single off ramp to access the town for five miles in either direction. As president of the garden club there, my husband knows every garden and greenhouse in the area and is super well-loved by the town. I have no doubt he could organize the garden resources to feed the town, if the need arose. The people in this town grew up here and spent their whole lives here. There is a market in town, and the guy who owns it has, in emergency situations in the past, opened the doors to the town and fed the town for free. He regularly helps out families in a personal crisis.

When we were looking for a place to retire, I had nightmares about being stuck in some God-forsaken dust bowl with nothing but wind and dirt as far as the eye could see. There I was, in my old apron, staring at nothing in the distance, with dirt in all the wrinkles on my face. I'm not even a social type of person. Still, that doesn't mean I want no contact, no restaurants, no movies, no Internet for the next 35 or 40 years.

Back to the question of a remote redoubt, maybe we were blessed with an unusually great combination of neighbors. I can't say. I think our "group" skills are probably nearly perfect for a SHTF situation. I question whether I could have found this good a group by looking for them. If I had looked for them and invited them to join us in a remote redoubt, I have to wonder how many would have made it there. Then, we would have been in too close quarters, living together like sardines. I've asked myself a thousand times if we'd be safer in a more remote place. I guess, even if my life depends on it, I'd rather take my chances in a place like I have, despite California's stupid gun laws.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

There has been some debate as to whether 'the Collapse' will precipitate quickly or not. I think it will depend on the immediate cause of the collapse. I was in the Ba'ath Party Headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 a couple of days after our cruise missiles hit it, starting the war. It was though Saddam Hussein was there watching a movie, but he was not. I walked through the Headquarters, and saw blood and brain tissue on the walls. I found a cruise missile fan blade on the roof. All the carpets, vases, pictures, furniture, et cetera had been stolen, virtually overnight. The system collapsed almost instantly, and it was “each man for himself.” In a military attack or coup d'état, I believe the collapse would be quick. If the collapse is precipitated by a economic depression, on the other hand, which I believe it will be, it will probably be a slow motion collapse. The Weimar Republic, Germany (1919-1933) slowly sank into total economic collapse. People kept thinking that the government knew what it is doing and would correct the problems. Of course, it did not know what to do, and in fact, did precisely the wrong thing (print money), as our government is doing. We are sinking into a big black abyss, as in a slow macabre dance, and the vast majority of people are completely clueless. It is interesting that the Founding Fathers– the very ones who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Bills of Rights, our Constitution, who were the first Presidents, Senators, Congressmen– were the very ones who most distrusted the government. Now everyone is expected to trust the government, or they will be called a fascist or racist. Do you trust the IRS or the NSA? I sure don't. I don't trust them as far as I can throw an elephant. Anyone who does trust them is just being astonishingly naïve. "Pray and pass the ammo." - Pastor Dave

Friday, February 28, 2014


The poster of this article did a good job overall. One thing that was mentioned in brief was dehydration in cold weather. In the Army, while stationed in Germany on a few tours during the winter, I helped to assist fellow soldiers who were in fact dehydrated due to “not feeling thirsty”. Thirst is a lousy gauge of hydration. By the time you are thirsty, it is too late.

One item not mentioned was how to make sure that you have plenty of potable water. In cities, snow melt can be contaminated with the exhaust of automobiles, and if you ever treated your roof with moss killer or the like, it may not be potable. So be careful. Most folks may not understand that while eating snow is not a good idea, as mentioned by the person who posted this article, the drinking of cold water (under sixty five degrees Fahrenheit, especially in the cold winter) can be just as harmful.

The author did make some solid comments as to what may be reasonable alternatives for staying mobile. I would add check your gear, before the weather hits. This includes and is not limited to such things as: Do boots need to be treated with products like "SnoSeal" or the like. Sno Seal is a brand name for a semi waxy covering for boots. I do not have a financial interest in the company. I have used the product for several years and believe in its effectiveness. Be careful about so called “Water Proofing" sprays or coating. Once treated, the fibers or material becomes highly flammable. Also such treatments can cause moisture from sweat to coat the interior of the material or clothing. This has its own hazards, such as the possibility of inducing hypothermia and degrading the thermal protective qualities of your garments.

Take time to review your sweaters and other weather clothing. Learn to mend it if at all possible. Be sure to take care about avoiding over layering, as this can also induce dehydration and other heat-related injuries, in some conditions. The usual precautions stand, like not using propane stoves or charcoal grills indoors. Neither carbon monoxide nor a fire in your home, other than in a well maintained fire place with an annually inspected chimney, are your friend. - grog

Thursday, February 27, 2014

In the 1970s as a native Texan living in Houston, I was a listener and reader of Howard Ruff, and I was a devotee of Mel Tappan and Jeff Cooper. I subscribed to Mel Tappan's Personal Survival and had two of his books– Survival Guns and Tappan on Survival. I even paid to talk to him about preps on the telephone. Then I journeyed to Oregon looking for a place and met the man. I was surprised to see him in a wheel chair, complete with a 45 strapped to the chair. I explained to him about a chapter in his book that I (the newbie) felt had too much diversification. I felt that as a scout I would want a rifle and a pistol in the same caliber, and we had a hearty discussion on it. I still feel the same way, although my feeling is that a scout does not engage in a fight unless he has too.

Then I went to Gunsite and took two practical rifle courses and a pistol course. I went to a school run by "Wally York and Sons" to become a guide and learned to shoot large caliber guns by Elmer Keith. I got real good at shooting my Ruger 44 mag. Then, in 2008, I took a pistol course at Front Site in Nevada. Being in my sixties, I'm not as good as I used to be when I was in my twenties. I feel one should be proficient in both rifle and pistol, although your rifle should be your primary focus. The idea is not to have anybody get that close to you. Going for the pistol is either a last ditch effort or to get to a rifle.

I built a solar still on the roof of my garage (much to the chagrin of my former wife); the results I fed to a '65 Chevy truck. I found out I needed bigger ports in the carburetor and a fuel filter closer to the engine because the alcohol cleaned out all the rust and debris in the fuel tank. It was simply trial and error.

I had farms in Mississippi, then Florida, and then Idaho. I raised chickens– Buff Opringtons, Rhode Islands Reds, White Leghorns, Aracanas, Minorcas, and meat birds. Of these I like the Buffs the best, as they get broody, and I have had hens raise chicks to add to the flock. I've also raised pigs, calves, and horses, and I've grown a big organic garden on all the farms. Idaho was the most difficult place to raise a garden, but I struggled through by building a hot house and working with a friend from church, who had a huge green house and had lived his whole life there (except for time he spent in WW2). I grew a lot of my hay, cutting it with a gasoline fueled swather and diesel tractors. Stockpiling diesel was my main concern since the farm trucks ran on diesel. However, I came to the conclusion that if my 2000 gallon bunker of diesel ran out, I was closer to making alcohol than diesel. My thinking was about running the farm, rather than driving anywhere, because in a SHTF scenario, where are you going if there is nothing to be got when you get there?

I had a horse-drawn wagon that could be pulled by a team or a single horse. I also had packing equipment that I used to pack "dudes" into the mountains to hunt and a field with 18 head of horses in it. I also began to think about the situation where you are not where you want to be in a SHTF scenario. One would probably not get there in their vehicle without fuel being available. If you are hauling most of your stuff with you, the word “improbable” comes to mind. Space or lack of it in your vehicle, carrying enough fuel to get you there, the weight of your stuff in the vehicle effecting your mpg, and terrain if you have to leave the road system are obstacles.

I have given some lectures at several survival gatherings and attended several where I felt that there were more questions than answers. I was being warned of the Golden Horde coming to Idaho, and I felt, “Why come here, where most people coming would not be prepared for the cold and would struggle to survive? Why would anyone head north in a SHTF scenario? It is more difficult getting there, and then you need to stockpile wood to cook and heat with, build a structure to live in, get the ground ready for planting, and a myriad of other things. If you get there in the winter, you are in for a real ride. I cannot envision people walking north if there is no fuel for driving vehicles. The number of people that have horsemanship to ride, herd, and pack animals are low. This person still has to travel through Nevada and Utah to get to me in Idaho. There are large areas without water or food along the way. Even if the horde rides, they can only make 15-20 miles a day, if everything goes according to hoyle for them. Then, if they are walking, it will take longer for them. I am sure most will follow the highway system and not cut across country, unless they were prepared enough to get a map, just a map not topo. I feel they have their work cut out for them. Resupplying has to be an issue with them because to pack-carry enough to get there is a lot.

I have a map that I got from Survival Press in 1977 that shows areas blacked out that are danger areas surrounding major U.S. population centers along with maps that show fallout patterns in the U.S. and isolated regions in the U.S. I saw a map like this on the Internet lately, and there is not a lot of difference now except that Salt Lake City is blacked out. I have asked the question before and never get a good answer to, “Why head north into snow country, where life is harder.” I hear people say they will head to the woods and live like Indians/mountain men. Well, the Indians were born into a hard life and lived it everyday of their life and did not drop in after going to the 7-11 store. Also the Indians were opportunist when it came to hunting, and they also did control burns to keep wildlife close. They also planted gardens but not the plains Indians who mainly traded with other Indians to get some supplies before the whites came into their lives. The mountain man was a hardy individual, but not many of them went solo. They endured some real hardships. Most people today are not that hardy; even most "hunters" quit less than a mile from the road or just hunt close. This is not a slam; it's just facts. People born today are not as hardy, in my opinion, as those born in the 1800's to say 1950. The nation was more rural; the people cooked and heated with wood, and they enjoyed no indoor running water or indoor plumbing.

I have a friend who lives in Alaska. He does not use any fuel-fed machines to hunt, travel, or cut wood. He uses an axe, a one-man saw, mauls, sledge, spittingmaul, and crossbuck saw to cut his lumber and firewood. A dog team pulls his sleds and a wheeled sled. He partnered with an old sourdough, who is now deceased, and learned from him. His big luxury is he has installed some solar panels for led lights and some entertainment. He admits a chain saw would be great, but it's a machine. He says they all break sometime, and it would make him depend on someone else. He grows a big garden and has a green house to get started in. He works everyday to keep himself and his dogs fed. He does draw Sosicla Security of about $1,000 a month, and he gets the Alaskan Permanent Fund once a year, which varies in amount from year to year for being an Alaskan. He also supplements with his trapping revenue and sometimes guide/cook revenue. His armory consist of two Remington rifles, one 30/06, 35 Whelen, and two ruger 10/22's (one with a regular one-inch 4x scope and the other fitted with a peep site). His shotguns are two 12 gauge 870 pumps (one with a rifled barrel and extended magazine for shooting bears while he's fishing), two S&W 44 mags, and two Ruger semi auto 22's. He has a reloading outfit for all center fire weapons and says he has enough bullets and powder on hand to last him a long time as he only shoots about a box a year, maybe. He did tell me that when ammo started to get scarce and expensive he did buy twenty thousand rounds of yellowjacket and stinger 22 ammo. His main hunting weapon are snares, which as he says hunt 24/7. He did tell me that his old sourdough buddy left him a garand from WW2, but he rarely shoots it because it devours ammo if you let it. He is not concerned about a SHTF scenario, because he feels we got there a long time ago, and he is not too concerned about visitors or a golden horde. He says, “It does not matter what time of year, getting here is difficult.”

Now I am back in Texas in the Houston area. I have access to a small farm midway to Dallas that belongs to an old high school friend and his wife. It's really off the road, down a so-called two lane road to actually an even smaller road to the farm. It has a log home and another portable building set up to live in. The farm is still dependent on community water, with a plan for a well sometime soon with a cistern fed from the roof of the home. The neighbors are like-minded people with a communications system already in place to aid each other. I am facing how to get my stuff to the farm when the SHTF happens, but I have been waiting since 1976. I still feel one needs to prepare for any event. Being close to the Gulf of México, there is always the threat of hurricanes. My adage is still: Having it and not needing it beats needing and not having it. I still remember my Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hello Hugh.
I have been following what is going on in Venezuela and the hoarding situation. Now of course their regime has made it illegal to hoard anything. So, I have been following what items that are in short supply. Not in any particular order they are: toilet paper, milk, powdered milk, coffee, corn flour, wheat flour, diesel, all soaps of any kind, and tires for cars and trucks. A black market is thriving, of course. The penalties for hoarding range from 6 to 14 years in prison. The very government that created this mess is now trying to lay blame on the merchants and people. Thank you, Hugh, keep up the great work. Matt in the West

HJL Replies: I have always found it disturbing how easily someone can be accused of hoarding. You are hoarding if you are keeping others from obtaining needed supplies. If you obtain your supplies during a time of plenty, you are simply being prudent. It's also a pet peeve of mine that I can scrimp and save and spend my money on preps, while others around me travel the world. Then, when they need the things I have, they feel I am obligated to share with them. It's a shame, but it is what it is. That's why OPSEC is so important. On this same idea, I have noted that toilet paper always seems to make the list. Sooner or later, toilet paper always becomes an issue. What do you do when you run out? The same thing 80% of the rest of the world does. How to Use a Bidet Bottle gives some specific instructions on how this is done. Most of the world simply uses a cup of water, but a quart (or pint) drinking bottle filled with water works very well. It's like a portable bidet, but it does take some practice to master. Most third world countries do not have facilities to wash your hands afterwards, hence the tradition of using only your left to touch your bum. With soap and water afterwards, there is no worry about it though. When I introduced this concept to my family, the comment back was, “Gross!”. I simply reminded them that when they take a shower or bath, they are doing the same thing.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

You've got your bug out kit, know your route, have the map, GPS, song-line, idea about who, what, where, when, and how; you even have the shiny where-with-all to bury stashes, practice an escape plan, share it with family, and then sleep better at night. “Be prepared” is the motto, and you have all the supplies, but can you succeed when the unpredictable, yet inevitable true survival situation confronts you? That question stalks your mind from the shadows in their many forms.

Making a primitive fire from scratch takes practice, but can you make that fire when you've only had 2 hours of sleep? Ever try to strike a match with numb fingers? Have you carried your bug out bag for thirty miles over rough terrain and then tried to start fire in the dark during a storm? The true survivalist battle is grappling with the unpredictable. Familiarizing the mind with stress and the unknown creates a stronger fortress of protection than any physical design.

Mindset is the ultimate survival skill. It's something you can practice any time, anywhere, under all circumstances without impediment. When we find ourselves performing under pressure in unfamiliar places, everything changes. Suddenly tasks, which appeared so natural and fluid, become unrecognizable. The mental tools of a survivalist are often put on the back shelf in place of shiny hard skills like tracking or shelter building. Indeed, these skills are important, but they are worthless if you don't have your head on your shoulders.

The classic example is getting lost. The first lesson learned is not to panic, admit you're lost, and then assess the situation. This is crucial foundation-building for a sound mind and confident discernment. Without rational thought, all of our shiny bells and whistle attachments in this modern bug out craze are a waste. Even this new phrase-- "to bug out"-- is a shift away from stability into panic. When you're already letting your imagination run away with you, how can you be prepared to take on the complicated challenge of keeping yourself alive?

So much energy seems to be put into what kind of a situation we are going to be facing. We can prepare our stuff, talk all we want about the who and what of survival, but these expectations create a false sense of security. What about what's happening right now? The concept of bringing the pot to slow boil with a frog in the water comes to mind. By the time the truth hits, you're already cooked. Keeping an awareness of where your food comes from, how you gather energy, the use of fossil fuels versus renewable energy from home methane catchment or passive solar, are all shifts in consciousness that lead to being better survivalists in the now. At this moment, your ability to be self-sufficient will determine what happens tomorrow.

If you are relying on some bunker out in the woods that you'll have to drive to, you've not studied the board enough. This is a simple case of trying to put the cart before the horse. Start with your own home. Where do you live, and what kind of relationships are you forming with the other people around you? This concept of cooperation is very important, especially for you, urban and suburban dwellers. Weaving a strong web of community now will create the support network to help in emergencies at any time, not just TEOTWAWKI.

Isolation will lead to failure. Divide and conquer is a classic military strategy. For so long we've been preaching fear-mongering and selfishness. This mindset puts us into a panic, allowing doubts to slips in. Suddenly everything is a threat. This kind of paranoid energy would kill us very quickly in an actual survival situation. The deer does not constantly live in fear of the cougar; she has a cultivated sense of awareness or vigilance without obsessing. If she was constantly in fear of being stalked, she'd never be able to sleep, eat, or accomplish any of the other sustaining practices that keep her healthy and alive. How is your self-care going these days? Do you take time to relax and rest? When was the last time you laughed? Being in a state of anxiety about the end of the world and whether or not you have enough will drive you crazy. Don't do this to yourself.

No one can really predict what's going to happen next, so live in the now-- today. Living in fear with the stress of not knowing is like sticking your head in the sand and just hoping for a better day to come. Get up off your butt and be a “doer”. Work towards what you want to see, instead of what you just talk about all the time. Organize in your community, and connect to the people you are already sharing your resources with. To sit there helpless and playing the blame game gets you nowhere fast. Maybe your blood pressure goes up a bit, but fits and hysterics are a sure sign of instability. That kind of malcontent breeds frustration and energy drain.

Why are we waiting to start a new life after "the fall"? Seems we've been falling for a while. The self-serve mindset is comfortable and easy for people these days; it takes the hassle out of dealing with others and removes responsibility for actions taken or not taken. Think about how you serve others in your community and what you bring to that table. Generosity breeds abundance, miserly action invites scarcity and greed. Being able to give confidently and serve without expectation creates the better world we are all looking for in this life. Carry yourself every day as though it will be your last and you'll embrace survival with confidence.

You know what the biggest struggle of surviving really is? Doubt. When you start doubting, the world gets a little darker, things stop working in your favor, and the easy everyday tasks becomes insurmountable. This negative mindset is all the more persuasive when we are tired, cold, hungry, and alone. Think of all the survival stories you've read and ask what determines the happy ending from the not so happy ending? The answer is courage, confidence, and tenacity for life through embracing adversity-- the will to carry on and adapt.

Adaptation is key and that flexibility comes with stretching the mind through experience. Honing your mindset begins with tracking your reaction to stressful situations in everyday life. How you handle day-to-day challenges is a form of survival. Are you the kind of person who starts sweating bullets and goes into a blind panic over a change in plans? How do you feel about breaking routine? How well do you cooperate with others? Can you handle acclimating to a new situation without struggling to take control?

Inward focus gives us a mental set of tools more valuable than any physical skill. Truly, mind over matter is something to take very seriously. For example, exhaustion is a common theme in survivalist situations. Learn to deal with this stress in day-to-day experiences by stretching beyond the point of “just getting by”. When we succumb to feeling tired, we surrender. This is not an option for a survivalist. Surrender means death. It may seem a little far-fetched to think that feeling tired will lead to death, but think about one of the common side effects of hypothermia. Dozing off means never waking up.

Prepare for stress by electing to take on difficult challenges occasionally, in order to better know your weakness, and then work on the gaps in your awareness. Those who know the cold and dark do not fear it, rather they embrace its gifts to their advantage. Figure out what triggers you to shut down, then challenge your habit. When the deer takes the same path to water every day, it becomes an easy target. In our fight for survival, the winning mindset will persevere, not a whining mindset of defeat.

Stillness-- the opportunity to take in all the senses and make an informed choice-- can be a powerful alley in your struggle. Discipline your thoughts by focusing. Act through reflection, avoid escalation, and remain calm and collected. Being mindful strengthens our resolve and tempers our reaction. Emotional impulse is not where you want to be in a crisis; it leads to blindness. Imagine being lost in the woods and blind! Survival depends on open-mindedness and the ability to see beyond what is just in front of us.

Another part of being mindful involves questioning. An inquisitive nature leads to discovery. Think of being trapped in a cave; would you sit and cry? What if you explored with your hands, feeling around the floor and walls? There could be a candle and match just out of reach on a crate near by. Every time you choose to “shut down” or close your mind, you invite limitation. This action in survival will shorten chances of a positive outcome through ignorance.

The average prepper won't ever leave the comforts of what is familiar to seek true survival experience. This is an unfortunate burden to put upon others. (Yes, our actions directly impact those around us.) When we are unprepared, someone else must carry us, which in survival, does not end well. Help reach your brightest, most empowered self by surviving your everyday life with intention, and track your actions, taking reasonability for the consequences. Prepare by living fully and experiencing the unknown.

To clarify, the current definition of "prepping" is NOT surviving. Hording stuff will give you an upper hand, perhaps, but to be truly prepared, you should already be living in the mindset of a survivalist. Split-second action determines outcome. Behavioral blocks, our emotional shut downs, are what create energy drain in difficult situations. Surviving is one of our greatest challenges, but we've become soft in mind and body through our conveniences. The mind is neglected, made to sit in front of a screen, or eased into a false sense of security through consumerism.

Maybe the idea of just hopping into a bunker sounds comfortable and safe. Recognizing that we live in a time of convenience is key. Surviving is not comfortable; being trapped in a metal box will wear on the mind. How have you prepared that mind for such irritation? Even before you go to that bunker or basement with the vault door, where is your mental power being spent right now? When you are cut off in traffic, getting mad is a waste of energy. If you capitulate to your anger in such an insignificant situation, how do you think you'll react when you find yourself on the run from a real threat? Our thoughts feed our actions and make or brake our abilities in the moment. Pay attention to these patterns and recondition impulse to invite forward thinking.

Learning to look ahead and strategize is another skill in the arsenal of the mindset. Playing chess may seem "geeky" to many out there, but concentration, spatial awareness, and strategizing (planning ahead) are good exercises for preparing our mind to handle pressure. If you look at a chessboard and roll your eyes, you've already met defeat. In a typical situation, shrugging off the difficult tasks when action is not critical will lead to slacking in our action when times are critical. In times of great challenge, effort and strategy are a necessary part of survival. Surviving cannot be accomplished through neglect. Chess utilizes critical parts of our thinking and trains the extra steps of preparedness into our everyday planning. This leads to quicker action time and less reckless knee jerk reaction.

Spend some time observing what you turn away from and ask why. Why is there a block? Avoidance can be a great strategy, but it's only a short-term fix. Eventually, that cut on your finger might go septic. The lack of forethought (an underestimation of stress and its toll) will catch up with you. This is when an exhausted, unprepared mind makes bad choices. These reckless decisions may not seem all that critical at first, but as they add up, your chances of surviving drop. You keep on walking into the blinding snow with no hope. Hope comes with a plan and solid thought cultivated in awareness. This tool, the mind, gives us the ability to act on all our other training.

Another method used to supple our thinking involves shifting the negative ("no, can't, won't") to positive ("yes, can, will"). This seems like a token move, but really our approach to a situation will make or break our success. It takes more energy to be in the negative, an ever-downward spiral leading to failure. In survival, wasted energy weakens stability, which leads to collapse. The positive reinforces our strength and feeds the move towards victory (survival).

To get the best result, sharpen the mind as you would any good blade. Keep pushing your limits to find new ways of challenging old-held fears and blocks. Change things up in life, find new interests, and explore all you can around you. The invaluable arsenal of questioning-- to learn-- familiarizes the unknown. Through creative ingenuity and strong will, cultivated with the wisdom of experience, the human mind will thrive under even the most difficult situations. This is the ultimate survival lesson.

It takes all our cunning to make it through a true survival situation, not just the latest flashy gear and over-stocked bunker. If you think about it, we're already putting ourselves in stocked bunkers. How are you keeping your thoughts active? Questioning and cultivating a bright mind leads to never-ending possibilities. In survival, every new opportunity presents a much-needed perspective. Perhaps TEOTWAWKI is something to embrace, in ending the world as we know it, we invite perspective and greater possibilities. In a survivalist situation, or any situation, why would you compromise for something less? Would you put just a lighter in your emergency fire kit? Perhaps, if that were all you knew.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dear HJL,

There are a few things that I do not understand in the article, written by TCG. First of all, his background in the food distribution business certainly qualifies him to write the fine article noted above, and I am certainly not critiquing the article. One of the things that confuses me, however, is in the first paragraph regarding the layout of a store. Any given building contains 100% of the available space and whether it is divided 25/75% or 75/25%, it contains the same amount of product. The variable is not the amount that is stored in the back but how the total inventory is managed by employees. It is conceivable that during a TEOTWAWKI event, store management would secure the entire building to control the release of supplies in the same way that an employee "checked in the back room for a customer request."

In addition, the addition of DCs and the receipt of several deliveries a day increases the flow of product, not limiting it to one or two deliveries a week as in TCG's example. Granted, store managers are urged to improve their return on assets ratio (ROA) by making greater profit on a lesser investment in inventory, thus creating the "just in time" (JIT) concept, but the involved companies have facilitated that process by creating DCs that were not previously available, thusly shortening the supply lines. If your local Wally World seems to have less on the shelves then it used to, it is due to Corporate or local management, not the supply chain.

Lastly, I certainly agree that it might be prudent to locate the local DCs in advance but, honestly, I can't see the management of a multi-million dollar warehouse loaded with hard-to-find commodities dealing a couple of cases of fruit cocktail out the back door for a few silver dollars or a case of scotch. Besides, his warehouse probably contains gallons of scotch. If he does have any "breakage", it will go to some very heavy bidders or relatives. Remember, all of the businesses that he supplies will be watching his (actually their) inventory closely and, when shortages occur, will descend like locusts on the DC, possibly with every truck that they can round up. You can also expect security at the DC to be several magnitudes greater than the Korean store owner's during the LA riots.

Anyway, good article which brings up a good point, but I just don't see DCs as a resource when TEOTWAWKI. Thanks again for your excellent work. Prep as if your life depended on it. - GLD

o o o


I feel the need to comment after reading yesterday's post, "Trading Posts of the New Frontier" by TCG. I read where "I am by no means advocating anyone run out and start looting their local Piggly Wiggly distribution center". I am unsure how to interpret that statement when the TCG then describes how to find these DCs by watching trucks, listening to the CB, and searching online. Holy cow, where do I start?

There are some DCs in the area where I reside, but even IF I were so inclined to visit, scout, loot any of these, unless I live next door, I would be traveling on the roads at a time when I want to be off the roads. Second, as a daily reader to SurvivalBlog, we know that we need to be prepared BEFORE the SHTF. That means that most of my preps should have been taken care of yesterday. We'll never arrive, but we should all have food and the means to grow more now. Third, most DCs are very large buildings without windows. If you are inside that building, how much can you carry out? Would it be enough for another week or month? That won't help you for a long scenario. Also, what happens if the DC is approached by a large, friendly or unfriendly force while you are inside and is ready to exterminate you? You'll just be another cockroach to be squashed. Aarrgghh! Please, use your time to prepare to live, not to loot. I remember the first time I read one of these posts.

I remember wondering why JWR put in a post like that. The next day, after the replies came in, he posted at the bottom that he wanted us, the readers, to understand that there are people that think this way. If they'll look at looting a business, they'll be coming down my driveway next. Thanks to the staff at SurvivalBlog. God bless you all. Piper in Virginia

HJL Adds: Just to clarify, I do not believe the author was suggesting that we should consider looting the Distribution Centers, but rather we should build relationships with the manager/owner of the DCs so that commerce is possible later. Of course, if the local gang takes it over, you do have a problem then.

o o o


There is just so much good information on this blog and this reader has clearly thought a lot about DC's and has a lot of information about how to find them, but this article seems to be avoiding the issue of one key element of these supply-line behemoths... employees.

I cannot imagine a DC that runs without a full complement of employees in staggering numbers who, A) know an awful lot more about the building, its security, its available resources, and every other concern than someone who's just done their research; B) live within a short drive or very long walk, if necessary (post-SHTF), of the facility; C) are, generally speaking, not the kind of upstanding, forward-thinking, well-prepared folks who will be hunkering down at home in the early phases of a true crisis.

I would hate for the readers of this fine blog to spend a great deal of time on this project, let alone hang their hat on it, when the most-likely scenario is that the horde of employees it takes to run these gigantic caches (along with everyone they know) will have those DC's cleared out long before the dust settles on whatever event triggered the crisis.

I suppose it might be worth checking them out, if they are within range of a patrol, but it would be a shame to waste precious resources, and maybe lives, traveling any real distance to see another empty shell. Isn't that locally-owned grocery store a much more likely trading post location in any case? It is close to home, everyone knows where it is, and it may be cleared out initially, but trade has to resume somewhere. Why not the same place folks are used to going? - KS

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Recently, I became a prepper-- a term that is still considered taboo to the general public. It often times draws ridicule and judgment from most people, including friends and family. Television has exacerbated this by airing shows on prepping that make its participants look like backwards hillbilly idiots that are getting ready for a zombie apocalypse.

Now before anybody gets all up in arms about the use of the term "hillbilly," I am one. That means I am allowed to say it. (Chuckle) In all seriousness though, because of this awkwardness, a person can have some serious difficulty in helping people to understand why it's important to prep.

I ran across this with my own family when I made known my intentions to change our lifestyle.

My wife, Melody, and my three children were very confused at the dinner table when I told them our budget, diet, and hobbies were about to be quite different from now on. After many questions and complaints were blurted, seemingly all at once, I calmly asked one question. "What would we do if...?” There I stopped short. My 8 year old daughter quickly popped off, "If what, Daddy?" I said we should think about that for a second. Maybe there was a horrible storm, and we had no power or maybe our country was attacked. Immediately all three kids, ranging from 5 to 8 started naming things that could happen. My wife, who I had briefly discussed this with over lunch that day (and thought I was crazy by the way), started to get involved and chimed in with her own what if's. Over the course of the next hour, many possibilities were discussed, and it was clear to me that I had their attention. After we cleaned up from dinner, everyone sat in a circle in the living room.

I proceeded to dump a large cardboard box in the middle with dozens of items. I placed a few backpacks in the bunch-- one of which was pink with a bright sparkly “hello kitty” picture, and the other was a condor, OD green, 3-day load out bag. Other items included silver bars and coin, waterproof matches, water filtration items, blades of different shapes and sizes, a snare kit, Para cord, Mountain Foods #10 cans, pocket fisherman kits, ammunition, gps, compasses, iodine tablets, a seed bank, survival books, medical kits, and many other useful items for bugging out. I did throw some curve ball items in there that children might consider important-- popsicles, sugary snacks, noisy video games, toys, and a few other items.

At this point my kids got excited. I explained that they should pretend they had 10 minutes to pack a bag before we left our house, never to return and that we had no idea where we would go. My instruction was to pick five items you think you would absolutely take to survive. I let each person go independently, while the rest watched.

First was my five year old son, Joe. As I knew he would, he went straight for the tomahawk, then the machete, the SOG seal pup combat knife, the silver coins, and finally the Popsicles. We all got a giggle from his run on the "cool" knives. Once he was done and had grabbed the condor pack to load his stuff up, I had him explain to us why he chose each item and what purpose it would serve. He did not have much in the way of reasoning for so many edged tools, and that was ok. I was just glad he didn't go for the video games and pop tarts! It seemed like, if we ever had to take on a pack of ninjas, we would certainly be able to match them for steel with Joe around.

Anyway, once he was done talking about his choices, his mom asked him a few questions. What would he do for water and food? Also what were some uses for the tools he did pick? This Socratic Method got his critical thinking going. He realized that tripling up on blades was counterproductive and that he should be wiser in his choices. He did give some good uses for the tomahawk-- building a shelter to keep warm, cutting wood for the fire, and hunting, which is unlikely but possible. This was the result I was looking for. Critical thinking about survival.

Next was my daughter Mackenzie who is seven. She smartly picked the OD green bag first, grabbed a small knife, the seed vault kit, a life straw, waterproof matches, and silver. I was proud that she considered all the necessary things needed to live. Water, food, defense, and heat. The silver was a surprise to me so I asked her to explain this. Her reply was that money is just paper, but silver and gold are real money and people like sparkling things, so we could use it to buy a new house. Such a cute answer, and while it may have missed the mark regarding a new house, she did nail the fact that paper money would more than likely be useless. Great job Kenzie!

My oldest daughter Makayla is eight and went next. She was paying close attention and could not wait for her turn to go. Kayla grabbed the same bag as her siblings, grabbed the machete, a survival book, iodine tablets, an MRE, and matches. She went through her rationale, which was fairly sound. We discussed how she had covered her basic, immediate needs but that there were a few items that could cover those same needs and allow for a more long-term solution. This was the case with the MRE. I explained to her that it would provide nutrients for a day or two but what would she do after that? At this point she asked to change her pick to a pocket fisherman. Score!

My wife went next; her motherly habits already kicking in. She grabbed the stomp medical bag, machete, sawyer water filter, seed vault, a GPS, and Bear Grills flint fire starter kit. The kids asked her why she picked the medical bag. They were adamant that there was not enough room for the rest of the items she picked and this was not smart. Then they realized how many things in the medical bag were in the pile that would have counted as one of their five choices. They also became aware that Mommy was ultra-resourceful when she was able to attach all but one item she picked to the outside of the MOLLE gear bag.

Next was my turn. I chose the bigger 5-day assault bag and grabbed the tomahawk, snare kit, sawyer filter, compass, and ammunition. At this point I explained to them that in a real emergency situation, we would already have our bags packed, and it would have much more in it than just those five items. To finish off the game, I asked them to get one non-survival item that they would miss and would like to take. The kids ran upstairs and brought down their favorite toys. Makayla brought her American girl doll. Mackenzie selected her toy dog that walks and barks. Joe brought Legos.

At this juncture, I was stumped. I obviously didn't think this one through. How do you tell a little girl, who just got her most wanted item for the last three years this Christmas that she could not bring a noisy, yappy WHITE toy dog with her? Needless to say, she was heartbroken. Her American girl doll was the second choice, but she was disappointed. Joe was a little easier. I had him put his Legos in a plastic container and jump up and down. It made way too much noise, and he understood. So, he went and picked another item.

I took this opportunity to explain how it will be hard giving up a lot of things we love, but that we would all have to make tough choices and sacrifices. This little game can be expanded to include building an entire bug out bag (BOB) for individuals, bags and plans to accommodate the needs of an entire family like mine, or even going deeper and find a way to build redundancy into packing bags for the family. Other games to try for different segments in prepping are below:

* Evacuation drills. Make this a game for everyone. This kind of drill happens weekly on offshore vessels. Let your family know that at some point in the week, an alarm will sound and from that point everyone has 5-10 minutes to be out front with their BOBs. You can adjust the time and parameters to fit different scenarios.

* Short notice storm drills. This scenario would prepare the family for a stay-on-site emergency. The focus here will be to pre-educate everyone on the different safety items and areas within the home so everyone can react quickly. For example, knowing where all fire extinguishers are and how to properly use them. Have everyone bring their assigned items as quickly as possible to the safe gathering area. Proper clothing and shoes are important here also. In the case of tornados, which allow for minimal response time for your family and extreme wait times for first responders, it is essential that you have foot and body protection, along with food, water, and a small medical kit. Having the preplanned meeting area as well as assigning each person with grabbing particular items will allow for quicker response, accountability, and assurance that nothing and no one is left behind.

* Long survival hikes. In the event that you and your family are in or near a big city and homesteading isn't an option, it is important to have a bug out plan in place. You should have a backup just in case vehicles are not an option. For instance, in an EMP situation, you have waited so long that the escape routes are jammed. In this situation if staying isn't an option, you must be ready to walk it out. With small children like mine, setting a realistic range in getting to safety is a huge factor to consider. Within 100 miles is ideal. Children who are not extremely active would have a difficult time with this. Grabbing your go bag and hitting some trails on a sunny day will help to familiarize everyone with what bugging out on foot would be like.

There are a ton of variations and ways to prepare. Practice like you play. Take it seriously, but at the same time this isn't the military, so keep it fun and some humor involved. My family has taken this new passion of mine and embraced it because they see how important their lives and safety are to me. They understand that life isn't always iPods and pizza. Over the summer we have made plans to do more camping and hiking, start scouts, participate in more hunting and fishing, and generally be without modern electronics. Changing the mindset of our children and family early is important. Teach them how to survive without depending on outsiders. Playing simple games like this and others and doing dry runs and drills also helps build a sense of urgency.

One thing I feel I should mention, never wait until zero hour to pack. It's great to get motivated and go buy and stock all the gear for your bag, but if it's not organized and packed, you will more than likely forget an essential piece of gear when you're in a hurry. Have everything stowed and ready so that all you need to do is grab and go.

The Boy Scouts sure did get it right when they coined the phrase "Always be prepared". No matter what SHTF situation you believe will happen, it's important to prep for anything. That means all your basic needs should be considered. There are many different levels of prepping and countless strategies to consider. Starting down this road can be very confusing, expensive, and engrossing. Just take it one step, one day, one item at a time. This blog has more than enough study material and is just as much an asset for preppers as most items in your bag. Study, learn and, most certainly, keep prepping.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hello all! I've been a reader for a couple of years now, but really wish I had found this site a lot earlier. The prepper primer posts are, hands down, the best comprehensive posts for beginning preppers. They are not so technical that interest wanes, but they give a great overview of important aspects of survival in a SHTF scenario. I am going to have my teenage son read them. There is one item I would like to address, however, and that is the bit about the backroads of rural America. The true backroads are the unpaved and poorly marked county roads. They won't be on any widely-published map. They can be complicated, so if you are not familiar with them, a map is essential or you WILL either get lost or waste a significant amount of gas. In my area, most of the roads are mapped on the county maps that are usually available at the county recorders office. If you have a rural destination in mind and are not familiar with the backroads, call the county now to order one for that and all surrounding counties. I also want to point out that using backroads can be dangerous from a couple of different perspectives. Here in rural Missouri, the natives are more likely to shoot first and ask questions later after the SHTF. Alternatively, they may be friendly to figure out if you have anything of worth and then rob you blind and/or leave you for dead. Of the two types, if you can get the first group to trust you, they will be upstanding and do right by you. Stay away from the second group entirely. The other big concern will be the condition of the roads themselves. During the rainy season, large parts of the backroads can be washed out, and bridges aren't even passable (unless the idea of drowning is appealing to you). If it's raining, you can pass an area where the water is just an inch or two, but by the time you realize you have to go back the way you came, it's no longer passable. (Yep, spoken from experience.) Also, if there's snow, just forget it. Hold up and wait. If you do choose the backroads, you need to go about 25mph. That gravel will chew up tires faster than a hungry dog will eat a bloody steak! While there may be a surplus of tires for the taking elsewhere, it still takes time and effort, and mounting and balancing can be difficult if you don't know what you're doing. (I write this assuming you are traveling with a spare, full-sized tire.) If you have any kind of vehicle problems, try to stay off the backroads, if at all possible. It's a safe bet that most of those junky vehicles you see along dirt roads have a living owner with a shotgun ready, so you'll be walking back to the highway for spare parts. By the time you get back, your valuables (i.e. food) could be gone. I would really encourage you to weigh the risks verses advantages of using backroads, and to please just be prepared if you plan to do it, either right now or after TEOTWAKI. Thanks for all the great information on this site, and keep up the good work. - B.M. (Because girls can do this stuff, too.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I was born and raised in Québec City, Canada. For those who don't remember their geography class, Québec City is located about 160 miles northeast from Montréal. Considering the latitude and the very special climate (mainly caused by the sudden widening of the Saint-Lawrence River), one could call the city the northernmost "major" city in North America. Winters are comparable to those in Norway, yet we get more snow, on average. They get about 31 inches of snow in Oslo; we get 124 inches. I call that a difference. Just check Wikipedia to see if I'm right. Then, let's take into account our summers. Taking the humidy index into account, our record high temperature is 120 degrees, while in Oslo's high is 95 degrees. I'm not saying it's always so, but we never see a summer without at least a week or two of temperatures over 107.

So, the subject of this article must seem obvious to you by now. I've read so much about your polar vortex that I almost broke a rib laughing at my cousin's rant about Alabama's schools being closed because of two inches of snow. Now, now, I know that snow is rather unusual down there, but let me explain.

All of you, fellow preppers, need to adapt your prepping to the extreme cold weather. It might sound rather weird to tell a Texan he needs to buy a snowsuit, and actually that isn't the point of the article. You are the very best person to judge what you need or don't need to do in order to adapt to extreme weather.

I'm not a meteorologist; I'm just a student in economics and sustainable development at the Université Laval. However, I was thinking about it earlier today when I saw a guy wearing only a t-shirt, "chilling" outside. It was -40 degrees! I told him, "Wait, I know it's not my business, but you really need to put a coat on if you intend to stay outside!" Do you know what he said? "Oh, no problem, I was just feeling drowsy, so I came out to get some fresh air.”

A few things stunned me about this brief conversation. First, his answer seemed completely natural to me. I even said, "Ah, that makes sense!" Second, in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, this guy would probably end up dead, frozen in a ditch.

Now why did it seem so natural to me? It's because we all do this, sometimes. Going outside wearing only underwear to pick up the mail while it's -30 seems completely normal to us, Québécois. That's an advantage of being used to cold weather. On the other hand, in a survival situation after a couple months of lack of food, insufficient heating, low-nutrient intake, and poor sanitation, doing this would most certainly kill some people.

So I started thinking (while completely ignoring my Financial Markets and Institutions professor) about writing something on day-to-day survival in extreme weather conditions and where to post it. The first part isn't that easy, but the second part hit me like a train-- JWR's blog! That even gives me a chance of winning some stuff. So, why not?

Now enough anecdotes and back to the matter at hand-- climate. There is very little chance that one day one of us is going to be exposed to a sudden, unexpected weather extreme. Oh, wait. That's what I would have said before this winter's polar vortex. I suppose climate changes DO happen. I know it's not a very popular idea among most preppers who consider themselves to be "on the right," but it's just a fact. Now, whether or not that is caused or influenced in any way by mankind is subject to a completely different debate in which I want no part.

What do I mean by “climate change”? It's not only about global warming. It's also an increased occurrence of unusual extreme weather events. I'm not only talking about hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Calgary flood, or the polar vortex here. I'm talking about all those, plus several other events we might have no clue about yet. Why not 10 inches of snow overnight in Los Angeles? Well, chances are it won't ever happen, but what's prepping about if not preparing for the unsuspected?

Since I'm rather used to those weather extremes, my preps are adapted to those, and I might be the only prepping “frenchie” with at least a basic level in English, why not help you prepare better?

First, let's talk about heating. For those of you who own a wood stove, it might not seem like a big issue. In most cases you'd be right, but do you have any idea of how many cords of wood one needs to heat an average house to keep it at 60 degrees all winter while it's -30 outside? You can probably guess that it's alot. Well, it is at least 15! For those of you (us) who do not own a wood stove, gas stove, or other non-electric heating contraption, heating may pose an even bigger problem. That might even just force you into bugging-out, which we all know is not always the best solution, especially if we're talking about bugging-out of your BOL! That'd be crazy! So, if you don't own a non-electric heating apparatus, either you get one or do without. It's feasible.

Let's say you need to bug out 100 miles because you can't heat your home, or just that it's pretty darn cold and snowy and that, for whatever reason, you have to leave without notice. Is your car equipped with snow tires? (I'm not talking about those 4-season cheap stuff that gets hard when it's -10. I mean real snow tires, which can cost twice the price of a regular set.) You know what? Driving without them is illegal during the winter in the province of Québec. Yup. It's THAT necessary. Even with snow tires, some cars (especially those using propulsion instead of traction), get very difficult to drive. Chrysler 300s, for example, need to be AWD when there's good snow on the ground. I once made the mistake of jumping into a Chrysler 300 taxi that was rear-wheel drive during a storm, and it was the most terrifying experience of my life.

What if there's so much snow you can't even use your car? Back in the winter of 2008-2009, there was such a horrible storm that public transit (including buses and taxis) was shut down; the cars stalled in freeway exists were completely covered with snow. People had to drive in convoy behind a snow plow to circulate. A normal drive that would have taken about seven minutes took over an hour. We were about 20 feet behind another vehicle, yet we could barely see its tail lights. Yes, it can be that bad. Cleaning all that mess took a couple of days, even for us (who are prepared with equipment). In Washington, for example, it could take weeks. So, you might need to plan a back-up winter transit system. I suggest skis or, maybe, snowshoes. Both have obvious advantages and disadvantages over the other; price is one of them. Don't forget to take the weight of your BOB into account when buying them. They all come with a weight limit. Oh, and buy a sleigh to carry children and heavy stuff. Our ancestors could walk 500 miles every winter, bringing back furs to Québec City, only using snowshoes and a toboggan.

Now don't get me started on snowmobiles. Unless you live in the far northern parts of the USA, chances are there aren't any snowmobile tracks around, so it might be hard to use one except in case of emergencies. Of course, that's a great winter BOV, providing you can afford it, keep its tank full, and learn how to use it. Instead of going two miles per hour by foot, why not go 50 miles per hour?

Don't even consider walking long distances in deep snow. Your feet will get wet, so you'll get sick and might even lose a couple toes. Your pants will be damp too, so you'll lose a lot of heat. You'll burn so many calories trying to cross a snowfield that you could very well not make it, especially if you have a bad heart. I haven't yet mentioned snow blindness (yes, it does exist!), frozen body parts (at -40, frostbite happens in less than 15 minutes!), dehydration (you don't feel it, yet you're sweating your life away while making your coat all wet!), and other little hints you can never guess by yourself. Here are a couple of them:

  1. When it's sunny, it's cold, and when it's cloudy, it's cool.
  2. Do NOT wear your scarf right over your mouth. Condensation of water in your breath will make it all wet in a matter of minutes.
  3. When the snow makes a crispy sound when you walk, it means it's really cold.
  4. Black ice is invisible. When a street looks "dark" even when there's supposed to be some salt sprayed around, it's black ice, which is very slippery.
  5. Thermal underwear look ridiculous, so there might be a reason why people still keep buying them.
  6. When the thermometer says -5, take the wind in account. The temperature may feel considerably lower as the wind reaches higher speed.
  7. Blizzards do not only happen when it's snowing; powdered snow on the ground can turn into a blizzard.
  8. There are some kinds of crampons for everyday walking on ice. They work, but the heavier you are, the more often you need to replace them.
  9. Buy winter mittens instead of gloves; mittens are warmer.
  10. Hand warmers are great, but not only in your mittens; put them in your boots, pockets, scarf, cap, and everywhere you feel cold. Also, you can apply them directly on the skin of your hands, but nowhere else.
  11. The first body parts to protect from frostbite are the ears, nose, cheeks, fingers, toes, forehead, and thighs (if your clothes are tight).
  12. If you have a beard, it's going to get covered with ice as you breathe. It's okay; don't worry, but that means it's about -20.
  13. When possible, wear onion skin layers. On your legs, have underwear, thermal underwear, pants, and snow pants. On your body, wear a shirt, one or two cotton/wool sweaters and a winter coat with a waist strap so you can "close" it. Wear two pair of socks-- one cotton under one wool. If you feel hot, you can take one layer off.
  14. Carry sunglasses if it's sunny. Snow blindness happens in a matter of minutes, sometimes. You can also wear a baseball cap under your tuque (a knit stocking cap commonly worn in Canada), I've found it's a great way to protect from direct sunrays while adding an additional layer of clothing.
  15. Do not ever manipulate metal with bare, wet hands...ever! Also, if you ever try LICKING some metal, you're in for a Darwin award, pal!
  16. Do NOT eat snow, even if dehydrated; it's going to cause hypothermia. Fill a quart bottle with snow and let it thaw inside your coat instead.
  17. Woodland/desert camo is no good in winter. Urban camo works better, but a plain white poncho/trash bag would be best AND offer some protection against thawing snow.

Well that's all I can think about right now. I'm sorry I can't write about surviving extremely hot weather. Well, I could write about it, but I'd have nothing more to say than what common sense tells anyone. I hope you liked it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


If traveling by foot, plan on only taking the AM/FM crank radio. It will last for weeks on a couple of AA batteries and for much longer with its crank power. All the HAM radio equipment and walkie talkies are not worth the weight and have much higher power consumptions. If you can, always listen to any radio using headphones in one ear so you do not attract people to your location with the radio noise. Radio stations may only be operational for short bursts throughout the day, so try all the AM and FM frequencies at different times each day.

If you are traveling by car, pack all the HAM radio stuff and other electronic stuff you can find. Of course, also pack all of the batteries. Operating these devices would take a lot of room to explain; stick to the car's AM/FM frequencies. If time allows, you should be reading the first aid book and the wilderness/urban survival books, not the radio manuals (which are with the radios) though you should of course bring them. If you are rushed for time, make sure to at least bring the small walkie talkie-looking radio. Out of all the HAM radios, you may be able to make local contact with someone in a time of need using this radio.


Conservative estimates for the number of women raped in the 1992-5 Bosnian War climb as high as 50,000. Sadly, for many women, their rapes were not a one-time ordeal. Many women were kept in rape detention centers where members of the police and military could have easier access to them[1]. Why should we think a lawless United States would be any different. People will no doubt join together in the days after lawlessness begins; some banded for good and some for bad. In addition, those men or women who would never dream of committing a sexual crime, when driven mad by hunger or fear, will try to rob you for your food and/or weapons. One more note: Today in America many people take mind-altering drugs (because some would be in insane asylums without them), and others are addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs. When these addicts are forced to quite, they will all be going through some kind of withdrawal symptoms. As people begin to realize the value of having a gun and feel the pain of hunger some may do anything to steal from you!

While Traveling By Foot

Be very cautious after passing by or meeting any other travelers. Hopefully, your camp will be located somewhere that you will not meet other people. If you do meet anyone and exchange any words, do not give out any more information than you have to. Be on your guard within your camp and move your camp after anyone makes contact with you while you are in your camp! Assume they are coming back to rob/attack you during the night.

  1. Avoid having a fire at night, it will be a beacon that can be seen for miles.
  2. Always try to use fire away from the place you plan on sleeping.
  3. Practice “leave no trace” camping-- no fires, no garbage, et cetera. (Some call this having a “cold camp”.)

While Driving

Once people begin to fear the worst and see all 110 lbs of you loading up months worth of food and supplies, lock the car between EACH trip down. Assemble everything in the house and then ferry it all down to the car as quickly as possible. Carry a concealed handgun at all times. Keep super attentive while walking; scan around for people watching you. If they ask what you are doing, say something like “going to visit the grandparents.” Carry items in black garbage bags so know one knows what you are carrying.

Assume all road blocks are ambushes with an evil intent. Road blocks may look like cars parked across the road, downed power lines, or felled trees. As soon as you see any type of road block slow down, scan the road to the sides of the car, and (if you see no one around you) stop before approaching the road block. Take out the binoculars and scan the road block. Look for any sign of people guarding it. If you see people being let through but having to give up gas or food or any type of supplies, turn around and find another way. If you are traveling alone and have a car full of supplies, you will be a great catch to simply keep. If they are simply asking questions and letting people pass, use your judgment. Beware of traps, as well. Cars along the sides of the road can easily be pushed or driven across the road once you have passed, sealing you inside a trap. The best way to proceed when you see cars parked along side the road is to slow down and stop (after checking the road sides for safety) and then inspect the cars or potential road blocks for signs of movement from afar, using the binoculars.

If someone starts firing on you while you are moving, do not speed up to an unsafe speed. If a bullet hits your tires while traveling very fast you will lose control. Do not bother returning fire, you will miss (unless they are literally a few feet outside of your window). It would also be wise to have a gun in hand to let anyone hiding know you are armed while passing through/approaching any suspicious areas.

If you need to rest, cook, or use the restroom, use your judgment. Pull off somewhere you do not expect any traffic. People, however, may be more likely to mess with you if there are not a lot of people around to object to their behavior, so use your best judgment. Obviously, keep the car locked when you are away from it, and take a long gun and a handgun with you. Keep the handgun concealed. For sleeping in a rural area, conceal the car as much as possible and if at all possible do not sleep in the car. Sleeping in the car will ensure you will not hear anyone approaching your position. Sleep in a tarp near to the car; near enough to keep an eye on it. If sometime during the night someone does come knocking on the car, you will be in a much better tactical situation than if you were basically trapped inside the car caught asleep.

  1. Take your BOB with you when you leave the car!
  2. If someone approaches you while you are outside of the car, put the front of the car (where the engine is) between you and the direction they are approaching from. This is the best place on the car to stop bullets.

If you are forced to sleep in a non-rural area where people will definitely be around you, do not sleep in the front seat. Sleep in the back near the gas cap. Hang some sheets up in the car so people cannot see in. The sheet makes it hard for anyone to know how many people are inside. Sleeping near the gas cap lets you hear when someone tries to steal your gas. Leaving a window cracked will help you hear outside.

Operating the Guns

Tips on shooting:

  1. You are almost always better off avoiding/fleeing from any confrontations than you are standing your ground and fighting.
  2. Take your shots slowly. With the long guns, one shot per second is more than fast enough. Slow controlled fire is the idea. Use the scope!
  3. Never jerk the trigger. Always take slow controlled squeezes for every shot.
  4. Whenever possible, rest your gun or body against the ground or a tree to steady yourself. (This will also provide cover and minimize your cross section in the sights of your foes.)
  5. For the handguns, keep one arm relatively straight out in front of you and the other arm bent. Locking both arms out in front will cause you to have an uncontrolled recoil.
  6. Focus on the FRONT gun site, not the rear site. This will keep your aim much more controlled.
  7. Treat every gun as if it is loaded at all times. (Make sure it is empty before cleaning!)
  8. Know your target and beyond. (Do not fire at a squirrel climbing up the neighbor's house.)
  9. The safety can and WILL fail. (Dropping your gun may get you shot.)

Taking Care of and Using the Guns

In the BOB. you should have packed the gun oil and some cleaning swabs. Since you probably will not be firing the guns much at all, your main concern is keeping them rust- and dirt-free. There are two types of cleaning methods you will need to master: (1) cleaning the barrel and (2) cleaning the action and gun innards. The instructions below are limited. The owner's manuals for all of the guns are with our stored supplies; read them and actually practice taking the weapons apart, if you have time.

Cleaning the barrel is pretty easy. No gun take down is required. You will need to have packed the: (1) gun cleaning rods, which are gold-colored; there are three of them that screw together, or you can use the smaller wire cleaning kit that is in the BOB, (2) small and large patch holders-- one is for the 22 and the other for the larger calibers, (3) gun cleaning solvent, (4) gun oil, which comes as both a spray and a regular oil, found in a can in the “liquids” Tupperware and another oil bottle in the BOB, (5) patches, which are little squares of fabric that can also be made out of other non-synthetic fabrics in a pinch; don't use synthetic fabrics as the oils may break them down inside the barrel, and (6) wire brushes for each caliber of gun. To clean the barrel, assemble the cleaning roads (all three for long guns, only one section for pistols) and first attach the proper size patch. Add only a few drops of gun oil to the patch. Do not use a full size pad for the 22 as it could get stuck inside the barrel, rip off 1/3 of the small patch. For the other calibers you may also need to rip the patches smaller. You just want enough patch for slight resistance as you run it through the barrel. You may only need to run it through a few times to get any bits of sticks or dust that entered the barrel out. Change patches when they get fouled. Repeat until when you look down the barrel it seems clean and slightly shiny. You should not see any beads of oil inside the barrel; this can actually be dangerous, as it can cause your barrel to explode if you fire it. So, if you think you used too much oil, simply run a dry patch through.

If you have to fire the guns a bunch, you may look down the barrel after cleaning and see there is still dirt in there (or your patches still come out dirty). To get this more stubborn dirt out, put some cleaning solvent on a patch and run that through. Follow this patch with the wire brush a few times. Then run through some dry patches until they come out clean. If you cannot see anymore sticky deposits, send through an oil patch and you are done. If there is still a lot of dirty specks, repeat the process with solvent and the wire brush until the barrel is clean.

If you stick the barrel into the dirt, clean it as soon as possible (ASAP) because shooting it while plugged with dirt could cause it to explode. You can flush the barrel with water to save on cleaning patches and gun oil. Do not worry, it will not rust so long as you follow up with some oil when you clean it after the water flushing.

Cleaning the innards of the gun: The aim here is to clean the action/magazines/trigger assemblies/bolts of each gun. For all guns, you should never try to take apart the trigger mechanism! Limited take down instructions for each gun are listed below, but none of them have you taking apart the trigger assembly. To clean the innards, your aim should be to remove any dirt you can see using a water flush or cleaning patches, followed by a light oil coating. (Folding a cleaning patch over a stick is helpful to get into small places.) You should only need to flush with water if you drop the gun in the mud. Again, if you see beads of gun oil, you put too much on. Too much oil is bad inside the gun because it can seep into your bullets and cause them to malfunction. Therefore, be especially light when oiling around the magazine. For the magazine itself, you want to be sure you clean those as well. You should not feel or hear any scratching as you slide bullets into and out of the magazines. Dirt in your magazine can cause the gun to jam up or not feed correctly.

22 Long Rifle

The 22 has a “push button” safety. The safety is “on” when you push the cylinder located adjacent to the trigger from the left side. When you push this cylinder from the right, you will see a small red band on it sticking out from the left side. This means the safety is “off”.

The magazine release is located directly above where the magazine is fed. Simply push it along the long axis of the gun to remove a magazine.

After a fresh magazine is placed into the gun, you must pull back on the “charging” lever and let it slam forward. Now the gun is ready to fire. After you have emptied a magazine, the action will stay open. You need to put in a new magazine and then pull back on the “charging” lever and let it slam forward.

Sometimes you will pull the trigger and nothing will happen; this is because the bullet was a dud, which is not uncommon with the 22 LR ammo. Simply pull back on the “charging” lever and the bad bullet will get ejected and a new one inserted into the chamber.

The gun can jam. The most common way is a failed feeding/ejecting attempt, meaning a bullet may or may not have been successfully ejected, and the new bullet failed do go into the chamber. When this happens, you must “jimmy” the “charging” lever back until the lever is free to slide forward and a fresh round is chambered.

To get into the “innards” of this gun, you must remove two screws that connect the receiver to the stock. After the stock is off, you need to push out a pin that is located on the side near the back of the receiver. Now you have access to pretty much everything you need to clean the gun for the amount of training you can glean from a few sentences. Refer to the full manual for more complete take down instructions.

12 Gauge Shot Gun

The 12 gauge has a “thumb slide“ safety. It is located on the back top of the gun, where your thumb can easily move it. When it is pushed forward, you will see a red dot and this means the safety is “off”.

To load the gun (from being totally empty): (1) slide the pump towards the trigger (2) insert a round into the action (3) slide the pump forward and the round should be fed into the chamber/barrel (4) now you can push rounds into the feeding tube located under the barrel.

To simply add more rounds while there is a round already chambered, simply push rounds into the feeding tube located under the barrel.

Unlike the 22, I have never had this gun jam nor had a misfire.

To get to the “innards”, unscrew the bolt that is located on the end of the feed tube (where the pump slides on). Then you will be able to “wiggle” the barrel free from the receiver by rotating it back and forth and pulling on it (in the direction away from the butt of the stock). You can wipe away any dirt and spray oil into the gun from this state pretty easily. This really does not get you into the “innards”, so refer to the owner's manual with photos; it is with the supplies and has pictures!

9 mm Pistol

The 9 mm is a little confusing. On the left side of the gun there are three knobs of metal. This first (from the barrel end to the grip end) is a take down knob, the second is a slide release, and the third is the safety. The safety is engaged when it is pushed “up”. When it is down you will see some red paint.

To take the gun apart, you need to push down on the first knob. You kind of have to wiggle it back and forth until you get it into a sweet spot. The idea here is that this knob holds in a pin that you need to remove, so we need to push this knob down and out of the way. Try with your finger; if you cannot do it with your finger, use a screw driver to force it down. Once you get this knob pushed down, you need to go to the other side of the gun and push on the small pin that is located directly over the trigger. In order to see the pin, you need to push back on the slide until the pin comes into view. So you need to apply pressure to the slide and be pushing the pin out while simultaneously pushing on the pin from the right side of the gun. Once the pin pops out, the top of the gun will slide off. You can now clean the outside of the barrel, the big springs by the barrel, and every other exposed part of the inside of the gun. Make sure to clean the tracks where the top part of the gun slides.

To operate the 9 mm, you simply insert a loaded magazine and pull back on the slide. The gun will automatically load a round into the chamber and be ready to fire. You have done this before! The gun will fire until it jams or runs out of ammunition. After the last shot, the slide will stay in the back position. This lets you know you need to reload. You simply put a new magazine in and pull back on the slide and release; it will fly forward.

If this gun jams, you need to get the jammed bullet out of the way. I have never had this happen (unlike with the 22), so I assume you just “jimmy” the slide until the bullet pops out. The important thing is to somehow get the jammed bullet out of the way. Causes for jamming can be dirt in the gun itself, or on the bullets (dirty magazine). Clean it often!

45-caliber Pistol

The safety on the 45 is on the left side of the gun. It is a little lever that moves up and down. In the down position the gun's safety is not engaged and you will see some red paint.

To disassemble the 45, you need to push back the slide until the two small indents on the slide and the bottom part of the gun match up. Then, and only then will you be able to push out the pin that holds the slide onto the bottom part of the gun. Essentially, you are doing the same thing you did for the 9 mm, but there is not a knob you need to push down first. The pin in this case is attached to something named a “slide step”. It is a lever connected to a pin. You simply pull on the lever while simultaneously pushing back on the slide.

To operate the 45, you simply insert a loaded magazine and pull back on the slide. The gun will automatically load a round into the chamber and be ready to fire. You have done this before! The gun will fire until it jams or runs out of ammunition. After the last shot, the slide will stay in the back position. This lets you know you need to reload. You simply put a new magazine in and pull back on the slide and release; it will fly forward.

If this gun jams, you need to get the jammed bullet out of the way. I have never had this happen (unlike with the 22), so I assume you just “jimmy” the slide until the bullet pops out. The important thing is to somehow get the jammed bullet out of the way. Causes for jamming can be dirt in the gun itself, or on the bullets (dirty magazine). Clean it often!

General Defensive Attitude

  1. When in doubt, do not “borrow” anything from anyone. Some communities/individuals will most likely be killing looters on site or worse.
  2. Even for trained individuals fire fights are very, very dangerous. With no operating emergency services, even getting “nicked” by a bullet could kill you. Try to avoid as much human contact as possible.
  3. Put more trust in people you find that still have their family unit intact. A group of four men is much more likely to have the Lord of the Flies mentality than a man and his wife with their kids. That still does not mean they will not take what they need from you if they can.
  4. Rely on your own EXCELLENT judgment when it comes to joining forces with anyone you meet.

Staying Put

If you deem it is impossible to travel by foot or car for whatever reason, you need to radically change life at our home. Basically, you need to adapt each of the sections in this article to life at home. Below I will give some recommendations on doing so.

Supply Cache

First off, you do not want all of your supplies located (1) within plain sight within the house, or (2) within the house. You should both hide/camouflage your supplies and split them up between a cache located outside the house (preferably buried in the yard) and a cache hidden somewhere in the house. The idea here is to treat your caches like grocery store visits. Visit them rarely, and only keep a small amount of supples out of the cache at any given moment. This limits the chance anything will be stolen or burned in the event of a fire. For the outside cache, you need to make it water- and animal-proof. I recommend digging a hole large enough for the galvanized trash can in the back yard. This will keep out rodents and should be pretty water tight. Place all supplies in plastic within the cache and camouflage the top to look like a garden. For the inside cache, we already have one built, and you know where it is. If you leave by foot, you cannot carry both long guns. Leave the 12 gauge behind in the buried cache with extra ammo as well.

Water at Home

For water, obviously you do not want to be leaving the property to go down to the retention ponds by the highway. This leaves the house unguarded and you exposed. Instead, you must try to collect and store water.

  1. While the city water is still running, fill every container you can find with water! Do not forget about all of the wine making equipment and the kegs in the shed!
  2. Pull the trash bins around to the back of the house (within the fence line) and place them under the gutter down spouts. You will have to “rip” the down spouts free from the house to get them to feed directly into the trash cans. Those cans will hold hundreds of gallons of water. Treat this water as described in the section on water.
  3. Remember there will be water in the hot water tank and in the tank on top of the toilet.
  4. You can make little “ponds” by digging holes in the yard where you know we already have run off issues and lining them with plastic sheeting (tarps, garbage bags, etc.).

Home Heating and Cooking

For heating the house, we do not have a wood stove nor propane. As we have a very limited supply of wood in our neighborhood, I do not think a heating stove is worth the effort to construct. As we lack stove piping, it would be quite unsafe, too. Instead, focus on making small cooking fires OUTSIDE of the house. Most “preppers” seem to agree that the majority of well-populated city areas will burn. I also agree, but perhaps not so much due to looting as to people trying to make fires for warmth or cooking.

Home Fortifying

The doors on our home will not withstand a few kicks. In addition, the doors have glass panels near the locks which make breaking into our house child's play. You should begin fortifying our home by nailing boards across the glass portions of the doors. Then, nail a piece of wood across the short axis of the door about half way up. Next, nail another board into the floor parallel to the door. Next, measure and cut two or three boards to get jammed under the board you nailed to the door and resting on the board you nailed onto the floor. Draw this out on a scrap of paper and it will become obvious what I am having you build. Since this will now keep our doors from being easily kicked in, you will have more time to escape or defend yourself if someone is breaking down the door.

In addition to blockading the doors, I would also cover the windows in plywood. There are plywood sheets in the shed. (They actually are being used currently as a shelf in the shed). You can use interior doors to cover windows as well!

For home defense, I would pick two places on our property to “fortify”. We have sandbags in the attic and a shovel in the shed. The goal would be to have one place within the house you sleep in that also has a good view of the front door/front of the house. You must knock small holes in our walls to get a better view (use the stud finder in the garage). Similarity, I would construct a bunker at the highest point in the backyard near the fence. Dig deep enough that you can sit comfortably and only the top of you head is above the ground. I do not recommend actually using these bunkers to defend the house. You have no tactical training. Your best bet to avoid getting injured is to stay alert and avoid threats. If you have properly cached your supplies, no one should find the bulk of your supplies, if they enter our home. This means, however, you need somewhere to go when they are in our house. That is why the outside bunker was dug. You should try to camouflage this bunker as you did the outside cache. consider putting the wheel barrow over it. Even better would be to construct it such that it looks like a pile of leaves with only an opening for you to see and potentially shoot out of. Inside the bunker, you will have the advantage. Your bullets will rip right through our house. Any bad guy taking cover below the windows or around the side of our house will get hit, if you simply aim where you see them hiding.

Home Modus Operandi

At night and during the day, you want to keep as low a profile as possible.

  1. Pull the van into the garage.
  2. Keep cooking fires as small as possible. Put them out with water, if you can spare it, so you save wood and reduce smoke.
  3. Try not to use ANY light at night. It will ruin your night vision and make our house a beacon for people outside, although, after the windows have been boarded, it will be hard to see any light.
  4. Try to minimize both the amount of time you spend outside and contact with our neighbors. I would consider getting into the back yard through a window rather then the gate in order to reduce the amount of time you spend outside of our fence and therefore in the “open”.
  5. DRILL! DRILL! DRILL! Practice moving from inside to your outside “bunker”. Practice reloading the guns as fast as you can. Basically always be asking yourself “what if” types of questions and then coming up with a solution. Then, practice that solution!

For gardening at home, read Carla Emery's “Encyclopedia of Country Living,” especially the section of the book on growing vegetables. Then read, “The Seed to Seed” book by Ashworth. We have more seeds saved than space on our lot. Keep our seeds cool and dry; store them in the outdoor cache underground in an airtight container. I will say no more here regarding gardening other than use the 22 to get the rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons ASAP!

Purchase Plan

In the event stores are still open, please consult the book by Rawles called “How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It”. He has chapters on what to buy and how to buy it. Focus on buying (1) salt (get 50-lb blocks from the farm supply store), (2) rice, (3) wheat berries (or flour, but we have a flour mill!), (4) corn (preferably whole corn; try the animal supply company near our home first, and buy as much as you can get into the van), (5) oats (try the animal supply company near our home first, and buy as much as you can get into the van), (6) fat and oils (peanut butter, cooking oils, and such), (7) powdered milk (gets lots of baby formula, if possible, for the kids), (8) canned meat, (9) sugar, and (10) canned fruit and vegetables.

Discussion and Conclusion

This article is meant to give you a sense of preparedness. However, there is a reason astronauts have PhD's and must be great problem-solvers; you can never be prepared for everything! Inevitably, you will need to improvise when some of your gear breaks or gets lost or stolen. This is the fun part; how can you manipulate the objects around you to improve your chance at survival. Keep a good open imagination and a positive attitude, and with luck you will be fine!

[1] United Nations entity for gender equality, the empowerment of women: Fast facts: statistics on violence against women and girls. URL


I found Aldis tuna and chicken salad packs for $1.19. It comes with a small can of chicken or tuna salad and crackers to eat it on. It's not the lightest most calorie-packed food you can buy to walk and carry, but it has a descent taste and us good for the car/day trips or short-term power outage at home.

When I lived in the South I once broke down and had to take a taxi home. I emptied my trunk of emergency supplies, including six army wool blankets I had bought from the thrift store. The taxi driver was saying how it doesn't get “that” cold! I saw the report about the traffic jam in Atlanta due to the mass exodus and remembered his reaction. These folks living in the suburbs and commuting have money and can afford blankets from the thrift store and dry food like granola bars or peanut butter crackers for their vehicle. When I hear about the mothers not having food for their toddlers, I can't help but wonder why they didn't have a little water, food, and blankets in their cars. - L.E.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Not all those who wander are lost[1]. We are not men of Numenor keeping the evil of Sauron at bay. In the situation for which this document is written, your goal should be to travel to somewhere where your odds at survival are greater than your current location.

Our car has two spare tires-- one full-size tire in the back and one smaller one under the front of the car. The car's manual describes how to change a tire. Our car has a full hydraulic-size jack in the back (in the blue Tupperware container). This jack is much more stable than the little one the car's owner manual says to use. The instructions for the jack are on the box.

If you need more gas you can get it from any other car and/or gas-using device. To siphon gas, (1) use the acrylic tubing (or whatever tubing you can find) and insert it into the tank with gas. (2) Place a collection vessel lower than the tank with the gas. (3) Very carefully suck on the tubing until you see gas coming up to your lips. (4) Put your finger over the end of the hose and take it out of your mouth. (5) In a quick fashion, stick the tubing into your awaiting vessel and the gas should start to flow. (Siphoning by mouth is dangerous; if you get any into your mouth or eyes, flush with plenty of water.)

Gas should be a priority item that you purchase. There is an extra gas can in the shed. You can also fill the large 15-gallon blue plastic tank with gas (or go buy extra gas cans, if the situation allows). I have a can of something called “sta-bil” in the garage; it calls itself a gas stabilizer. Add this to any gas that you plan to leave sitting for awhile (more than a few months); do not forget the gas that is in the car.

Map Reading

The easiest way to know where you are on a map is to check it frequently. Your aim should be to constantly look for landmarks that you can locate on the map and in doing so confirm your location. The more zoomed in your map is, and the more details it has (e.g. topographical contour lines) the easier it will be to confirm you location. Depending on what map you are using, the symbols on the map may differ slightly. Read the key and make sure you understand it. While reading a map, it is best to align it to the North and then try and identify all the landmarks you can to connect the map in your hands to what you see. Know the scale of your map! A common mistake is too identify small turns in rivers or streams or small hills or rises as the larger ones that are actually on the map. Knowing the map's scale will help you to avoid this problem. (For example, while walking near a stream you spot a 100 by 100 yard pond; you look on the map and spot a pond near a lake and assume that is your location. However, the pond on the map may be several times larger than the one you see. Now you are unsure of where you are.) Depending on the scale and detail of your map, you should always have a general idea of where you are. Do not get upset over not knowing exactly where you are or not being able to identify some landmarks; it is very normal if you are using an unzoomed low-detail map! The easiest way to know where you are may simply be by staying a comfortable distance from major roads and “bumping” into them once in a while! The odds that you will find maps of sufficient scale and detail to navigate with using topology are pretty slim. Expect to get by using town and road names.

Using a Compass

To help with identifying landmarks on a map and to aid in actually walking in the right direction you should use a compass. (After aligning a map, it will become easier to know which hill is which.) Using a compass is actually pretty simple. Place the compass away from any metal objects (such as gun barrels or the car) and wait for it to settle down. Be sure the needle does in fact turn, however. If the compass is tipped too much, the needle will not move. Once the needle stops moving, it is telling you the direction of Earth's magnetic field at that point in space. Unfortunately, this direction is not going to be lined up with the lines on your map! The effects of magnetic declination, however, are pretty small in our region, so you can pretty much disregard worry about them.

Using the compass to walk in a certain direction:

  1. Locate yourself as best you can on your map.
  2. Pick out a direction you want to head on your map.
  3. Calculate how many degrees from true North (or magnetic) you need to head. Use the compass itself as a protractor and lay it on the map to calculate the angle you need to head.
  4. Holding the compass up to your face (flip up the little “sight” to help you align the compass) find some kind of landmark to walk to. In general, the further away the landmark the better, since (as you will find out very quickly) it is not easy to walk in straight lines through the woods. Often walking in straight lines through the woods is impossible, especially where there is any terrain whatsoever; stick to walking on contour lines!

Choosing a Route

For reasons discussed in the defense section, in general, you want to try and avoid all other people. As for where you will be headed, that will heavily depend on the reason for the collapse. In general, you want to head to a place with a low population density.

By car:

  1. To avoid large towns that may not show up as large towns on your map, pay attention to the number of advertisements for upcoming towns.
  2. Most towns have above-ground water holding tanks that you can see far before coming close to the town. This could be your cue to check your map and use your judgment about proceeding.
  3. If you have to go through a town, driving down main street may not be the best idea. Try getting on a side road near the outskirts of the town. Here, you are gambling you won't get lost and waste gas. Use your judgment.
  4. Rural America is full of county roads laid out in large rectangular grids. Avoiding a town may be quite simple in most cases! Check your map.
  5. Leave yourself bigger buffers for bigger towns and cities. (Remember the traffic outside Chicago on Thanksgiving when we were still two hours from the city!)

By foot:

  1. Stay away from using roads and rail road tracks. In some cases you may be forced to use roads, rail roads tracks, and/or hiking trails (if you can find one!) because some types of terrain are nearly impossible to get through. For example, thick brush is nearly impossible to get through without getting on your hands and knees, in places.
  2. Keep your water supply in mind. Water is heavy (one gallon weighs 8.4 lbs.) and you may drink more than a gallon a day. Therefore, consulting the map and picking a course that is close to ponds, streams, and rivers is a good idea.
  3. If you have to cross a waterway that requires you to get wet and it is cold: (1) Gather some kindling and some firewood; pile some on the bank. In case you lose footing and have to retreat back to the bank, you can start a fire to warm up. Later, you can take some over to the other bank with you to warm you when you get there. You can get more after the fire is going, or perhaps you can “pre-stash” a bunch of wood by throwing it over the water! (2) Take off and store your clothes in a water-proof bag. (3) Try to keep your pack over your head to keep it dry as you wade/swim across. If the water is pretty shallow and you only need to remove your shoes and pants, make sure you unlatch your backpack, in case you fall in, so it will not drag you under the water. (4) When you get to the other side light a fire, dry off, and warm up!

First Aid

The best first aid is prevention. Use common sense and try to protect yourself from minor cuts and scrapes, as they will tax your immune system. Barring some freak hiking or car accident, the worst damage you could possibly encounter will be from another human. Consult the first aid book in the first aid kit for everything! (Remember to swap out the first aid manual with the Weiss version from the bookshelf.) The first aid book covers many, many possible problems. Covered in this section are some things you may have to deal with and are presented in case you do not have access to any other references. You can substitute soapy water for iodinated water. Also, boiling water is commonly called for in this section to sterilize various items; I recommend keeping a few fuel cells unused for this purpose. (Starting a wood fire is not what you want to be doing in the middle of a first aid session.)

Sterile Dressings

There will be some sterile dressings in the first aid kit. To make more, boil any fabric. (This is a good use for that cotton you should not have brought along.)

Minor Cuts and Scrapes

Wear gloves when using the saw! Wear long pants and sleeves when walking through thick brush! Leaving minor cuts and scrapes unwashed and uncovered is inviting an infection. Clean minor wounds with clean water, and be sure to scrub the wound, if necessary, to get all the dirt out. You can put a drop or two of the iodine tincture on the wounds or a small dab of neosporin and then cover with a small piece of gauze or a band aid.

Major Cuts and Scrapes

For major scrapes and cuts, you first want to stop any bleeding. Do this by applying a clean (if possible) piece of cloth or gauze over the wound. Raise the wound over the level of your heart, if possible, to reduce bleeding. You can simply apply pressure with your hand as well as tie upstream of the cut, if it is on your arm or leg. Once the bleeding stops, rinse the wound with a mixture of clean water and 10 drops of iodine. (Here you want to avoid floaties in the water for sure.) Applying iodine tincture, without diluting it, can cause tissue damage. Apply some Neosporin and consider covering the wound with a layer of petroleum jelly to keep it clean. Cover with a sterile dressing. Clean the wound with the iodine solution or clean water daily, and change the dressings until it has healed up. (You can also drink the water treated with a double dose of iodine.)


If you find yourself confused, losing hand dexterity, or shaking violently when it is cold out, you may have or be getting hypothermia. The fix here is to get warm. If your clothes are soaked, get naked, dry off, and put dry ones on. (Even if you don't have a lot of dry clothes, a little bit of dry clothes is better than a lot of soaked clothes). It is going to be difficult to do it, but you must get out of the wet clothes. Then, wrap yourself in the mylar emergency blanket, shiny side facing you. Then wrap yourself in your sleeping bag and then all of the tarp material you have. If you can manage, get our of the wind and try to insulate yourself from the ground, as described in the shelter section. As for making a fire, only attempt to do so if you really think there is a lot of wood within easy reach. There is no guarantee you would succeed, and you probably would have been better off getting into your cocoon. Obviously if you have no dry clothes and no tarps, you should try to make a fire. If you have no dry clothes, keep your wet ones on and cover yourself with whatever you can, as described in the shelter section. Try to make something warm to drink or eat in all cases!

Heat Stroke/exhaustion

Unlike hypothermia, which may be unavoidable in the winter, heat stroke and heat exhaustion can be avoided in most cases. If you find yourself heavily sweating, getting the onset of a headache, feeling dizzy, having dark urine, or nausea, you may have heat exhaustion and be on your way to heat stroke. Stop all physical activity, get out of the sun, get fluids, and apply wet towels to your body. If you do not heed this warning, you may find that you stop sweating, get a worse headache, have red skin, start vomiting, and experience muscle cramps, a fast heart rate, fast breathing rate, dizziness and/or confusion. You know then that you are entering heat stroke territory. For your purposes, the treatment is the same as for heat exhaustion. Consider wading into a stream or pond to cool off, but only if you haven't had any severe dizziness or passed out up to that point. (You don't want to drown.)

Gun Shot

Treating a gunshot wound can be broken into three stages: (1) stop bleeding and avoid shock, (2) wound cleaning and debridement, and (3) daily wound care (cleaning re-packing/bandaging wound). First, you stop the bleeding by applying pressure (using sterile gauze, if possible), elevating above heart, and applying pressure to the “pressure points”. If you have avoided getting hit in a large blood vessel, the wound may only seep a little blood after awhile. If a major vessel is hit and there is no surgeon around, you probably will not be conscious long enough to help yourself. Step 2 is to clean the wound and get all the severely damaged tissue, bone fragments, and bullet (if possible) out of the wound. Debridement is the fancy word for cutting away any tissue that is dead or probably will not make it. NATO recommends[2] cutting away any tissue that has a bad color, does not respond to stimuli (contraction), has a consistency differing from surrounding tissue, and does not have adequate circulation. This is known as “the four C's.” Obviously, the laymen will not have experience being able to tell what is normal for each of these metrics. Do your best, and remember that any questionable tissue left behind will be a haven for infection to take hold. Use the scalpel and tweezers to cut away and remove any questionable looking tissue and bone/bullet fragments. Clean the wound by irrigating it with a mixture of clean water and iodine (diluted 10 drops per liter). Step 3 is to pack the wound with sterile dressings. You may also want to cover it with petroleum jelly. (You can boil it to sterilize it/Neosporin before packing.) The following is from the NATO emergency war manual : As a dressing, dry sterile gauze should be laid lightly in the wound. This should be no more than a wick. In no case should gauze be “packed” into the wound since this additional pressure can cause necrosis of any tissue that already has its blood supply partially compromised. The single most important principle in the management of battle wounds is their nonclosure following debridement. The surgeon must not give in to the temptation to primarily close certain “very clean appearing” war wounds. Such closure is ill-advised and inappropriate and can only be condemned.[2] You can close the wound 4-6 days postdebridement. Boil all tools that you use, wash your hands and the surrounding tissue, and you must ensure no foreign matter gets into the wound during the “operation”. Obviously, if you are at home, you can have a lot of these supplies set-up in a constant state of readiness (and encourage the neighbors to do likewise).


The key here is to get a deep cleaning of the wound. If the object is inside of you, try to get the first aid kit out and ready before removing it. Also try to get some water boiling. After taking the object out, or if it was already out, let the wound seep blood for a few minutes to aid in getting it clean, unless it is bleeding pretty severely and you risk losing too much blood. Irrigate the wound and clean the surrounding skin with clean water with extra iodine added. Again, do not apply un-diluted iodine as it will cause tissue damage. Use the syringe to force water down into the wound. Apply some Neosporin and consider covering the wound with a layer of petroleum jelly to keep it clean. Cover with a sterile dressing. Clean the wound with the iodine solution or clean water daily and change the dressings until it has healed up. Do not sew up or tape the opening closed; it must be left open to seep!

Damage to Eye

Damage to one eye will most likely cause the other eye to become clenched shut as well. This is your body's way of minimizing eye movement; both eyes move together, even if one eye is closed. The main concern for treating the eye is to not apply pressure. Applying pressure can “deflate” the eyeball and cause permanent damage. You can flush out the eye with clean water. You can use iodine treated water using the syringe in the first aid kit, which will force water at the eye. Just DO NOT APPLY UNDILUTED IODINE TINCTURE TO THE EYES! Cover the eye with a clean dressing and tape it in place. Again, be sure not to apply too much pressure when doing this. Try to avoid moving your other eye as much as possible. Use the mirror in the first aid kit to remove anything that may be stuck in the eye tissue or surrounding tissue.

Feet First Aid

  1. Give your feet daily massages.
  2. Keep your toe nails trimmed.
  3. Wash your feet as often as you can and make sure they are as dry as possible before putting your socks back on.
  4. Exposing your feet to the sun for as long as you can (while eating/resting) will help kill bacteria, dry them, and increase the circulation to your feet (since they will not be in socks or shoes).
  5. The “butt” cream used for baby butt rash is perfect for your feet! Use it if you start to have difficulties with you feet.

If you get a small blister, do not open it. An intact blister is safe from infection. Apply a padding material around the blister to relieve pressure and reduce friction. If the blister bursts, treat it as an open wound. Clean and dress it daily and pad around it. Leave large blisters intact. To avoid having the blister burst or tear under pressure and cause a painful and open sore, do the following: (1) Obtain a sewing-type needle and a clean or sterilized thread. (2) Run the needle and thread through the blister after cleaning the blister. (3) Detach the needle and leave both ends of the thread hanging out of the blister. The thread will absorb the liquid inside. This reduces the size of the hole and ensures that the hole does not close up. (4) Pad around the blister.[3]


Your diet, exercise, and stress will all be changed, and most likely your poop will look different as well! Do not expect to defecate that much if you are traveling by foot. You will be eating good food and burning a lot of it off. With that said, you may be constipated if you cannot poop at all or if when you do poop, it is very difficult. You may also feel like there is a hard turd plugging you up. This is known as fecal impaction, and the remedy is to go in there with your finger and break it/pull it out. Obviously, have something ready to wash your hand with after you do this. To avoid and or treat constipation: (1) Drink plenty of water. If you ever feel thirsty during the day, you are not getting enough, (2) Get fiber in your diet by eating dandelions or other edible greens, (3) Take some laxative that is in the first aid kit. Choosing not to deal with this problem may make it worse, and you may experience pain and vomiting, (4) try to defecate often to avoid your stool hardening while it waits to be released.

Might as well comment on how to go “number two” here. I find it best to find a log to squat against while in the woods, this gives you plenty of back support while you go about your business.

1J. Tolkien, The lord of the rings (HarperFiction-Tolkien-Profit Share PB, 2009).
2T. Bowen and R. Bellamy, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office (1988).
3P. Underwood, US Army Survival Manual (Skyhorse Pub Co Inc, 2011).


I saw a link to this in the Galts Gulch Daily Digest. I still am amazed that people think that they deserve such handouts without having to put forth any effort whatsoever.

It reminds me of the documentary on the Pruitt-Igoe housing project failure in St. Louis. Pruitt-Igoe was where people who were provided with low income housing allowed their neighborhoods to become overrun with prostitution, crime, and drugs, but were not willing to do anything about it. Other than call the police for someone else to fix their problem that is. My children are Millennials, but they have been brought up to know that if you're not willing to work for something (food, home, peace, etc.) then you have no reason to expect something. It is a sad thing when the MSM is pushing for more of this type of stupidity instead of using their access to the public to inspire for good.

P.S. I really enjoyed how you answered the question the other day regarding home security firearms, and I am in 100% agreement. I for one carry my sidearm 24/7 and that includes at home. When I am sleeping it is on my nightstand next to me, not locked in a safe. Fathers and Mothers need to seriously take the responsibility that your family is for you to protect, not the police, teachers, or other 'social interest groups'. Thank you - Brad M

Dear Sir:

For those who plan to leave the big cities in the event of disaster, the critical question is when to go. Leaving too soon means missing work and family obligations, but leaving too late may well be fatal. I am guessing the Internet will be down by then, so do you have any wise guidance in advance of that time? Thanks - Worried

HJL Replies: This is always the million dollar question, and if I knew the answer I could be a very rich man. The real answer depends on you and your situation. For some, the answer is now. They are simplifying their lives, learning to be more independent and doing without, at times. Others are unwilling to leave their work or family and are planning on walking the fine line, leaving right before it's too late to get out. Still others have no intention of leaving and becoming a refugee. There is no simple answer to this question. Only you can analyze the risks and rewards for “bugging out” at any particular time in your unique situation. You also need to have more than one plan. If you are one who wants to make that decision as close as possible to catastrophic circumstances, then you also need to be prepared with an alternative plan in case you misjudge the exact timing. My personal preference is to shelter in place. If I'm not in a situation to be able to do that, I need to make the necessary changes now to enable that. As part of that decision, I have chosen to have a much simpler life than I would if I lived in a big city. I have actually found that the choices I made to have a better family life were very compatible with the choices to get out of the big city anyway.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Food and Water

I recommend making a catalog of everything in our stores, if time allows. Do this for sure if you are staying at our home. Open all of our buckets; some contain non-food items! Do not forget to include items in the garage, shed, and throughout the house that may be useful. This list will be invaluable when it comes to planing what to cache and how to solve problems. You need to know what you have to work with. Obviously, hide this catalog very well.


The kind of foods you want to pack in your BOB include things you can cook easily or that do not require cooking-- oats, peanut butter, and all bread on hand. (Smoosh bread into balls to conserve space). After that pack as much rice as you can. Rice will require longer to cook. After that pack all the flour, sugar, and salt that you can. (You probably will not have much room for the flour, sugar, and salt if you are traveling alone. I have bought a lot of rice.) When you pack your BOB, the stuff I have ready is already in mylar bags. Double bag them in plastic grocery bags (or preferably some ziplocks) a couple times each in case they break open!

As far as packing for the car goes, after you have filled your BOB, get some kind of container for the rest of the stored food, such as a large Tupperware container. Then go to the kitchen and pack everything that has a shelf life. Take a few our your spices as well. Pack the pasta, beans, oils, crisco, and all of your baking supplies.

After you have all of the non-perishables packed, get the collapsible cooler and pack up what you can from the freezer. Meat is fine, but it will obviously go bad, and if traveling by car, you will not be able to cook it while driving. However, it will last for a few tanks of gas in the cooler. Take some yogurt, all of the veggies and fruit, milk (put it next to the frozen meat and drink a big glass as you do so), any syrups or jellies, and like-products. Most of the stuff in here will go bad quick, so this is where you eat from first!

Take the chicken feed and the chickens. Quickly read the section on butchering them from our butchering book. (It is one of the books I scanned at work, printed, and then bound myself.) Obviously, they will be a good source of fresh eggs, so only kill them if you cannot feed/cage them. You can eat their feed, but I would boil/fry it first if possible.

Any food and supplies you cannot pack in your BOB and/or the car, bury them in a cache as described in Section . You never know, you could make it one block from home and get all of your possessions taken from you!


For water, if going by car, take as much as you can in all the bottles you can. Take the extra water in bottles we have in the closet as well. Water stored in bottles from our tap should be fine for a long time.

As far as filtering goes, you have five means to get good drinking water. (1) the water filter, (2) the iodine tables, (3) iodine tincture, (4) boiling, (5) chlorine bleach or chlorine powder for the pool.

When using the water filter, find water that looks as clean as possible. The more cloudy/dirty the water, the more you have to clean the filter and the lower the pump rate. Our Nalgene bottles will screw onto the bottom of the filter. To fill other shaped bottles, use the Nalgene to pump and then pour the water into the other bottle. For short-term storage of the filter, pump any remaining water out of filter. For long-term storage, clean (with the included scrubber pad), and dry the filter. To sterilize, take off the O-ring and boil it in water for five minutes; then let it air dry completely. (It will take a few days to dry.) Only sterilize it if you get unfiltered water on the inside of the filter or plan on not using the filter for more than a few days. You need to clean every few uses by unscrewing the top, pulling out the ceramic insert, and rubbing it clean with the scrubbing pad. Then pour clean water over the cleaned filter and you are ready to go. Pumping is slow and hard with a dirty filter. DO NOT get unfiltered water in the inside of the ceramic filter, or you will need to boil the whole thing. So be careful with it when you are scrubbing it unless you plan on boiling it after. I have a replacement parts kit for the filter that includes extra O-rings and an extra ceramic filter. Be careful with the ceramic filters; they will crack if dropped. So store this piece of equipment somewhere cushioned.

The iodine tablets come in two bottles. They're in the bottles labeled “Potable Aqua Drinking Water Germicidal Tablets” and “Potable Aqua Plus”. The bottle labeled Plus does not purify water; it simply takes the bad taste away from using the Germicidal tablets! When using the iodine tablets, if you scoop up untreated water, put in the tablets and wait 30-60 minutes for the water to get potable. Be sure to flip the bottle upside down and let filtered water flush out the screws at the top of the bottle before drinking since unfiltered water will be up there since you used the bottle as a scoop!

To use the iodine tincture, place five drops in one liter of water and wait 30-60 minutes. If the water has a bunch of floaties in it, you can double the dose and wait longer, if possible. Try to filter the water with a cloth (or something similar) to avoid this problem.

According to the U.S. Army[1], to boil water safely, boil it for one minute at sea level plus one additional minute for every 300 meters above sea level-- just boil it for 10 minutes unless you are really constrained for fuel or time.

For chlorine-based disinfection, your options are (1) using standard household bleach or (2) using pool shock. To use household bleach (make sure it has no additives that make it smell like “mountain air” or “fresh grass”, those labels mean the bleach will harm you), add four drops per quart or liter, eight drops per half gallon, 16 drops per gallon (or four liters). Then stir the water, and let it stand for 30 minutes. You must be able to smell the chlorine after 30 minutes; if you cannot, repeat the steps above and let stand for 15 more minutes. If you still cannot smell chlorine, then the bleach lost its strength and you cannot use it. Double the dose for cloudy water.[2] The problem with household liquid bleach is that it looses strength really fast, within months. Therefore, we have two pounds of calcium hypochlorite powder (Pool Shock) in the garage. To use this, add 0.23 oz (half a tablespoon) of the powder to two gallons of water and stir. (Follow the safety precautions on the box and wear gloves and eye protection.) Then add one pint of this “stock solution” to each 12.5 gallons of water to be purified. The water should smell like chlorine; if it does not, then the “stock solution” lost its “power”. If the water smells too strong, you can pour it from one container to another a bunch of times to drive off the excess chlorine. These instructions are assuming there is “45% available chlorine”. Modify them accordingly. (Multiply by the ratio of 0.45/0.XX where 0.xx is the new “% available chlorine”) for different strength pool shocks. If you find some other pool shock, make sure it does not have any additives to control fungus or algae and that the chemical name is EXACTLY calcium hypochlorite.[3]

Water Sources

If you find yourself out of water and you cannot find any streams try:

  1. Collect morning dew from vegetation or anywhere you can find it. Then filter/purify it somehow. (I have done this; you can gather a lot of water quite fast using this method. Look for long grassy areas.)
  2. Dig for it. Try the bottom of dried up ponds/lakes/ditches. Try the deepest spots in such places. If you find soil that is really wet, but cannot find standing water, put the wet soil into a shirt and 'wring' any water you can out into something. Then filter/purify it. Believe me, this is quite tiring so do not attempt if you are already exhausted.
  3. Do not drink alcohol (not that you will have any) or urine[1] if you are running low on water.
  4. If you are in a forest, look for trees with multiple trunks coming from the ground. There may be a place in the center of the trunks with standing water. Scoop/siphon it out and then filter/purify it.
  5. Hot water heaters will still have water in them after the water/power/gas are all turned off. There is a valve at the bottom you can empty the take from. Toilets will have a gallon or more of clean water in their flushing tanks; many people may overlook this!

To not be tempted to drink un-purified water. Water borne illness and/or parasites can kill you when you are in an already stressed and weakened state away from all medical help.


For cooking, I mean anything that will require heat to eat. You can eat oats, flour, and rice raw. For the rice, some sources say you increase your risk of getting a food borne illness, but it can be done. Obviously the meat will have to be cooked thoroughly (since it was probably not kept fully frozen). For heat you have three options: (1) the camp stove, (2) the pocket rocket, (3) a fire. The large green propane tanks for the camp stove will not fit the pocket rocket, and the small red tanks for the pocket rocket will not fit the camp stove. You do not need to actually apply heat to cook rice or oats for the entire cook time. You can simply get up to boiling and then let it sit with a cover on for 10 minutes or so. This will conserve your fuel.

Using the Camp Stove or Pocket Rocket

To use the camp stove: you simply screw in a green propane tank, light a match (or use a lighter), turn the propane on, and bring the flame close to the burners until you see it ignite. You can adjust the output using the dial.

To use the pocket rocket: screw the pocket rocket into a small red tank, extend the 'feet' on the pocket rocket, light a match or lighter, turn on the gas and bring the flame close to the burner. You can adjust the output using the dial.

When you set up the camp stove or the pocket rocket (especially the pocket rocket), set them up shielded from the wind so the burners do not blow out. For the pocket rocket, be careful about not knocking the cook pot off the burner, you may have to hold the pot over the burner if you cannot find a solid enough surface to place the pocket rocket on. Use the aluminum pot holder for holding pots over a heat source and for moving around hot pots.

If you are backpacking and run out of the small red fuel cells, throw away the pocket rocket as well; it is now useless. Keep the pot holder!

The fuel cells will get cold during/after use. This is normal.

Disconnect the fuel cells when not in use in case there is a leak in the valve of the stove.


Making a good fire requires three things: (1) a way to start the fire, (2) fuel, and (3) air.

To start a fire:

  1. Use a lighter.
  2. Use matches.
  3. Use the flint and steel fire starter. While the methods above directly create a flame, this method only creates a spark. To get a flame, you will need something dry, combustible, and with a lot of surface area like dryer lint (which is in the bag with the flint and steel). You can use the little balls of cotton/wool that form on socks in a pinch. This method could frustrate you (not an easy method to start a fire), so use it only if you really need to cook something to survive, or if you have no other means to purify water than to boil it.
  4. Friction methods like the “bow method” or the “hand drill method” or the “plow method” all involves using friction to create heat to start a fire. Believe me, if you have not practiced this, do not attempt unless you are desperate.

Before you begin attempting to start a fire, you need to be certain you have enough fuel. Gather the dryest wood available. Look for low branches on trees in a forest that may have been dead for years and are shielded somewhat from rain; being off the ground they dry much faster relative to wood you find on the ground. Gather dried grasses or birch bark to light first. The basic idea to to light things that are going to burn for longer and longer until you get up to log size. For cooking, you really do not need to get logs. In fact, collect no wood larger than one inch or so if you can since you will want to the fire to go out quickly after you are done cooking. For fire starter, use least important pages from the Bible or the first-aid book if you cannot find dry grasses or bark.

You do not want to set up the fire in a very windy area, or it will blow out. You do, however, want some air to get into the fire. You need to leave spaces between sticks so air can get in. A good design is to lay down a layer of stick all parallel to each other (like a step pyramid), and then lay down slighter larger diameter sticks on top of those perpendicular to the first layer. Leave a little space between each layer for air to flow. Once the fire gets going, add more wood (more layers) as needed in the same manner. As sticks burn out in the center, 'flip' the un-burned ends into the fire as well using a stick.

To keep a fire going:

  1. Make sure the heart of your fire does not go out. A lot of times the small stuff you light first will not cause the bigger sticks to start and then the larger sticks are left un-lit and your fire goes out. This is why I recommend the pyramid style fire. It is much easier for the heart to go out of a tee-pee type fire than for the other types.
  2. If it is winter and all your wood has frost on it, keep your wood 'huddled' around the fire so it can melt off the outer layer of frost. This method will not work for drying wood for your purposes. For the amount of time you will have the cooking fire going, you will not be able to take wet wood, dry it, and then use it.
  3. In general, if your fire is very smoky after the initial lighting phase, something is wrong. Try fanning (or blowing on it) to give the fire more air. Try moving some wood around to open up the fire to any breeze that may be present. Make sure the heart of the fire is not going out, leaving the outer larger sticks to smolder.

I know you can do it! Just do not give up, Smaug!


General tips:

  1. Do not go to sleep wet, if you can help it. Get out of your wet clothes or wet under/outer garments. It will feel colder at first, but you will warm up much faster this way and hopefully they will dry some as you rest.
  2. Do not breath into your sleeping bag since it will put a lot of water vapor inside it, and it may start to condense.
  3. Avoid direct contact with the ground. Pile leaves, grass, pine needles, newspaper, anything to separate you from the ground.
  4. Assume anything left outside at night will get a nice coating of dew on it in the morning. Bag your boots and clothes if you think it is going to dew.
  5. Do not underestimate primitive natural shelters. Anything you use to get your body off the ground and to break the wind and perhaps even shelter you from a little rain will go a long way in keeping your body temperature up.

Shelter in the Car

Sheltering in the car is the best place to stay dry and, therefore, warm. Use what clothes and sleeping bags/blankets you brought with you to stay warm.

If you are traveling without a sleeping bag or blankets (or come upon an abandoned car) use the seat coverings and seat insulation to make a sleeping bag/blanket. Cut the seat coverings such that you have a tube or a bag shape of fabric left over. Put yourself inside that with as much insulation/crumpled paper/dry leaves/other seat fabric you can for insulation. Use your imagination. Good insulators have many pockets of isolated air.

Shelter in the Tent

Try not set up your tent in a low spot. Cool air pools up in low spots and these spots are much more likely to have copious amounts of dew than spots on top of small ridges or on slopes. If you find some dry leaf matter-- pine needles or dry grass-- pile them under where you plan to sleep to insulate yourself from the ground. This will help keep you a lot warmer than if you are in 'direct' contact with the ground.

Shelter Without Car or Tent!

The biggest mistake you can make is to try and construct some kind of elaborate shelter out of sticks and leaves. Most likely, it will take you hours to build, waste a lot of energy, and probably leave you colder than what could take minutes to build.

Try to use any type of plastic you can find or have with you. Plastic will keep you dry and will help keep you insulated for warmth. If you have two sheets of plastic (garbage bags, ponchos, tarps) use one for a makeshift sleeping bag and the other as a tent to keep out the rain. If you have only one plastic sheet and are already wet and have no dry clothes, use the sheet as a sleeping bag and wrap yourself in it. If you only have one plastic sheet and you have some dry clothes to wear, or think you can stay warm enough without using the plastic sheet for warmth, use it as a tent. If you have a plastic garbage bag, open a small hole for your face in one of the corners. If done properly only your eyes and mouth will be peeking out. This will keep you warmer by trapping a lot of your body heat inside the plastic. Be careful about falling asleep though, you could suffocate. And try not to exhale into the bag or you will cause condensation to build up inside the bag.

If you have nothing synthetic, you must rely only on the natural materials around you to stay warm and dry. Evergreen trees do a pretty good job of shielding the ground beneath them from rain. Look for any big tree and check under it. The taller and more densely foliated the tree, the better the chance it is dry underneath. To stay warm, cut as many foliated branches (evergreen or deciduous) as it takes to make a mound large (the U.S. Army suggests 1 meter of material thick) enough to cover your body. Then pile it up with some leaves or grasses. Then crawl into this pile (leaving some matter underneath you to separate you from the ground). People waste too much energy here. For a life and death situation, you do not need to make a fancy hut; you need a pile of brush that will hopefully trap some body heat, get you off the ground, and perhaps shield you from some rain and wind.

If you find any kind of rock formations that have natural shelters, be sure to sufficiently insulate yourself from the rock if you sleep there; the rock will be much more efficient at sapping your body heat than would soil.

Shelter Without Car or Tent in Snow

If there is snow on the ground you may be able to use it for your advantage. If the snow is less than a few inches, simply build your shelter as described above. If the snow is deeper, use it to cover your shelter. If the snow is deep enough in places to completely cover you, or almost that deep, you can dig out a little cave, line the floor with plant matter for insulation and crawl inside. You may have to gather some coverings for the top of your cave if the snow is not deep enough. In addition, some plant matter should also serve as a “mattress' as you do not want to be in direct contact with the snow.


If you have any clothes on and you are getting them sweaty or they are wet from rain, take them off and replace them with dry ones if you can. Try to under dress a little in the morning so you will not have to waste time later pulling off layers of clothes that got sweaty. You waste energy this way and you waste water. You want to maintain a comfortable temperature in which you can avoid having to sweat. This may be difficult if not impossible in summer with a loaded backpack. This is why I like to backpack in the summer with my “short shorts”.

For winter:

  1. Dress in layers. The outer layers should be something that snow will not stick too. If you can avoid it, keep cotton away from your skin as it will keep you warm only until you sweat in it. Save the cotton for the night when you should not be sweating, but if possible, do not bring any cotton.
  2. Take off any layers of clothing that have snow on them when cooking if you can. Clothes with snow on them get hot near fires, the snow will melt and then when you are done cooking, your outer garment will become hard like a board and loose its insulating capacity. Obviously keep your outer layer on if it is actually snowing while you are cooking.
  3. You need to protect your eyes in winter when there is snow on the ground and it is sunny. You can get sunburn on your eyes and go temporarily blind. The onset of this affliction is a feeling of dirt scratching at your eyes. Make sunglasses out of a cloth you cut small holes in (to restrict the amount of light reaching your eyes).
  4. Keep some water bottles inside your layers so the water does not freeze.

For summer:

  1. To stay cool tie wet cloth around your head and neck.
  2. When walking through thick foliage: some plants are toxic to humans and open cuts can also become infected. These problems can be avoided if you are protected with long pants and sleeves. So it is kind of a catch 22 when it comes to staying off the beaten path, staying cool, and staying free of cuts and scrapes.

Use your best judgment when it comes to shelter; be proud of yourself if you can find a nice dry place to lay low and rest!

Socks and Shoes

Socks are probably the most important piece of clothing to keep dry; underwear is second. It is important to keep socks dry because they are at the interface of a lot of pressure between your feet and your boots. Their job is to cushion and 'lubricate' your feet as you walk. If your socks become wet your feet may start to become irritated as your feet rub against your shoes.

Socks and Shoe tips:

  1. To keep your socks dry, change them often and hang them from your pack, if the weather cooperates, so they dry as you walk.
  2. In the rain, without rain pants, you feet will become soaked, and you may have to stay put for a day to dry your shoes and socks.
  3. Socks can be dried by 'cooking' them over a fire stretched out on sticks but extreme care must be taken to avoid them getting burned. Once singed up they will loose their water wicking ability.
  4. Avoid leaving boots outside at night. Dew can form inside them. If they are somewhat dry, bag them in plastic. If they are soaked then leaving them out to dry a little is probably fine since a little dew will not make much difference.
  5. Wash your boots if they get dirty. Muddy boots will not breath and your feet will get sweaty inside. In addition, mud on your boots will break them down faster. Mud and dirt on any piece of gear will break it down faster. Keep your gear and clothes CLEAN!
  6. Pack some kind of sandals or croc-like shoe to wear to give your feet a rest from socks and boots. Wear these secondary shoes while setting up/taking down camp.
  7. The “butt” cream used for baby butt rash is perfect for your feet! Use it if you start to have difficulties with your feet.

1P. Underwood,US Army Survival Manual (Skyhorse Pub Co Inc, 2011).
2S. Skipton, B. I. Dvorak, and J. A. Albrecht, Drinking Water: Storing an Emergency Supply (Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004).
3N. P. Cheremisinoff, Handbook of water and wastewater treatment technologies (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Purpose: To quote my spouse, “I didn't know when I married you that you were a bucket of crazy.” So essentially, this article is intended to help the spouse whom you love but whom is not a prepper. There are many hundred-plus page books written on this subject, but this primer can be read in less than an hour and is tailored to my personal situation. It is the hope of the author that others will create their own such document for family and friends using this as a starting point. Whether I am dead, geographically separated from her, injured, or present, this article serves to convey what I consider to be critical for survival, either to reinforce what instruction I can give in person or bring to memory what we have discussed in the past. Methods: The document is broken up into nine different sections: mindset, bug out bag (BOB), food and water, shelter, traveling, first aid, communication, staying put, and defense. Within each section, a set of tasks is given. For each task, guidelines are presented for successful completion. Only the bare essentials are included to efficiently accomplish each task. Alternate methods do exist for everything in this document but are not present to save space and to focus the reader's attention on (1) methods I have tried and tested (the majority of this article) or (2) methods I have researched and deemed possible. Conclusions: Throughout the article, the importance of keeping a positive mental attitude is reinforced. Without such an attitude, even the most simple task may prove impossible.


This document is meant to be a quick reading guide for maximizing the probability of survival in a lawless end-time scenario. What is meant by this phrase lawless end time scenario? I will define it here as a condition in which the police no longer answer, the utility services may or may not be functioning, and all the news you hear is bad. You will know when. It will be better to err on the side of buying that extra tank of gas and bag of rice sooner than later.

The document is broken into nine sections: mindset, bug out bag (BOB), food and water, shelter, traveling, first aid, communication, staying put, and defense. In each section, a number of tasks related to the section theme are described in enough detail to hopefully execute the task. In some cases, only a single method for accomplishing a task is presented. This document is meant to be a quick read and something you can use to reassure yourself in a time of crisis.

No guide can serve in place of the numerous books in our “prepper” library. Focus on reading the books relating to agriculture, first aid, shooting, farming, and outdoor skills. The first aid kit has a first aid guide in it, but I recommend swapping it out with the text written by Weiss “Wilderness and Travel Medicine”) is the only reference book I would recommend if you have to get away on foot.



Some people with little or no survival training have managed to survive life-threatening circumstances. Some people with survival training have not used their skills and died.[A]

It means always having with you an item that can't be carried in pack or pocket-- a positive mental attitude [B]

Survival in the wild, living off only what you can carry and/or find is very difficult for long periods of time. For short periods of time, if the proper preparations are made, it can be fun and enjoyable (i.e. backpacking)! Survival with the added element of lawlessness will be much more difficult. However, it should not be impossible. As the quotes above state, the most important asset one acquires in a survival situation is a positive mindset.

Be realistic about things. If you are reading this, things are not going to go back to normal any time soon. You need to rely on yourself. If you need to break down and gather yourself, note the time and do so for five minutes. Pray, cry, talk to yourself, read Scripture, or do what you need to do to get your wits back. You are your own best chance at survival, and you cannot help yourself if you pretend nothing is wrong.

Bug Out Bag (BOB)

Obviously, we do not live in the best of places in a lawless scenario for two reasons: (1) we live about three hours from Chicago and within our own city's limits. We are simply too close to too many people. (2) We live in a relatively high-density neighborhood. There are too many people in a very small place. We need to move. Where to move is covered in the traveling section. What to bring when we move is covered here. Section “Staying Put” (a link to the relevant section will be here when it is published) details a plan for staying put, which may be a necessity due to injury, the age of our children, or dangerous traveling conditions (nuclear fallout, blizzard conditions, police state, etceta). There are two scenarios for moving-- by car or by foot. Table 1↓ lists all the items I consider worth taking when traveling on foot. Items present on Tables 2↓ and 3↓ are to be taken if traveling by car. If you take everything else on your back and still have room, take whatever items from Table 2↓ you think may help you (but food takes priority over Table 2↓ items). Spouse, without me, you will not be able to carry all the food and all the essential items on this list. The list of essentials is very small so after them carry as much food as you can.

If traveling by foot or by car, it is essential to still have as much food as you can pack in your BOB. You never know if you will have time to repack food for your BOB once traveling by car. In other words, you may be forced to flee from the car and must have your BOB ready to go at that time.

Table 1 A list of items required for survival: BOB Itemsa

Item Used for Comments
Army issue camo backpack BOB
Blue Kelty backpack BOB Second backpack is only required if more than two people will be traveling on foot. Still pack this one in the car even if you are alone.
Camel Backs water/equipment storage Be sure you also pack the water bladders. They are stored separate from the backpacks. The Camel Backs can be attached to either BOB for extra storage.
Blue water proof ruck sack water proof storage
Black fanny pack easy to reach storage For things like binoculars, maps, pistol, magazines...
Small mummy bag sleeping/hypothermia treatment Stow in smallest size stuff sack, it should be quite difficult to get it to fit.
Large mummy bag sleeping/hypothermia treatment Bring this one only if it is really really cold outside and/or there is more than one person coming along. The larger bag is much much larger to carry than the smaller mummy bag.
Tent water collection in rain, shelter Only bring the entire thing (poles, stakes... if you can carry all the food on hand, if not, only bring the piece of plastic sheeting and the rain fly that are wrapped up in the tent.
Tarp water collection in rain, shelter Blue colored.
1-liter water bottles water storage / waterproof storage If you have both Camel Backs, bring two 1-liter bottles for extra water or waterproof storage. If you do not have the Camel Backs water supplies, bring as many of the 1-liter water bottles as you think you can manage. (They do not all have to be filled all the time.)
Iodine tablets water purifying
Iodine tincture wound treatment, water purifying
Space blanket water collection in rain, shelter Shiny silver side faces you.
Hiking boots foot protection/support
Crocs/sandals foot relief from boots Where these when you are in “camp” if the weather permits to comfort your feet
Head lamp light Takes AAA batteries.
Mag light light Takes AA batteries.
Batteries energy Take as many AAA and AA as you can for the flashlights and the radio.
Road atlas direction and location finding/fire starter If by foot, only take the states you think you will or may be traveling through, rip out the rest of the atlas.
Toilet paper num. 2 clean up /fire starter/emergency blood soaker upper Store in separate water proof containers/packages!
Zip lock bags water proof storage Keep your maps and tinder in these.
large garbage bags shelter, rain cover for back/clothes/firewood, water collection in rain Put one over your pack every night, if it rains and your pack gets soaked it will be heavier! Bag up everything at least double with these you want to keep dry.
Bible spiritual growth/ fire starter Take the small NKJV from the Gideons (NT plus proverbs and psalms).
Wilderness first aid book first aid knowledge/reading material/fire starter Read this when you have down time. Burn the useless pages.
Crank radio information/flash light Store this in a dry place.
Aluminum cook pot (w/ lid) food cooking, water boiling
Aluminum pot holder hold pot over heat source, manipulate hot pot
Measuring cup/eating bowl eating, rationing, scooping water Manila colored with a few lines denoting the volume of the cup.
Spork Orange plastic.
Pocket knife Do not use the tip of blade to pry something, it will break.
Mini leatherman If you cannot find this, make sure you bring a screwdriver.
Rain gear Bring both the jacket and pants! Use this in colder weather as well as an outer layer.
Underwear Use lowest % cotton (socks, underwear, bra, undershirts). Only bring three pairs, you can clean them. Bring synthetic running shirts.
Gloves Bring work gloves to protect your hands while getting firewood, walking through brush. If it is cold, bring two pairs of winter gloves.
Hat Bring a sleeping cap and something to block the sun from your face.
Pants Bring three pairs- one for insulating (fleece/polyester type), one for outer layer, and one pair of spandex.
Jacket/shirts Bring three-- one long sleeve running shirt, and two fall/spring jackets. If winter, bring an additional winter coat.
Vitamins Bring all the multi-vitamins you think you can manage.
Tooth brush teeth cleaning, wound cleaning
Toothpaste Use sparingly and brush well!
Floss teeth cleaning, rope, repairing gear
First aid kit Should include: Iodine tincture, pain killers/fever reducer, antihistamine, band aids, athletic tape, waterproof medical tape, neosporin, soap, alcohol wipes, gauze(pads and rolls), mirror, tweezers, scalpel, burn ointment, eye drops, and laxative. (Leave out the hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol, if traveling by foot; they weigh too much.)
Feminine napkins
Fire starting materials Bring matches in waterproof containers, steel and flint, dryer lint, fire starting sticks, magnesium block (with flint and steel attached), and lighters. (Throw away lighters after they run out of butane; if going by car bring the bottle of butane!)
Food Keep it dry. See section on Food and water.
Rabbit and pet supplies emotional anchor Bring an extra Tupperware for him to drink from so he does not get you sick. *****Keep Sticky Bun close since he will never die. j.k., may S.B. rest in peace********
Guns protection, robbery deterrent, hunting Bring both handguns and the 22; you will find a holster for the 45 in the BOB already. Put the little one (9 mm) in the fanny pack or hide it on your back or on your leg.
Ammo protection, robbery deterrent, hunting This stuff is heavy. Bring as much as you can. Bring a lot of 22 caliber (the lightest), followed by 45 and then 12 gauge slugs, 9mm (bring the least of this, only 50 rounds or so) and then some bird shot.
Gun cleaning supplies There is a fresh bottle of gun oil in the BOB; get the other from the gun cleaning kit in the closet.
Cash You may find someone stupid enough to sell you something for it.
Camp towel bathing, soaking up water, stopping blood Sham wow towel for cleaning the car.
Binoculars Use them often to keep from being surprised.

aItems on this list are essential for survival (shelter, water, food, protection). If you are alone, you will already find it hard to manage the weight of the pack even with the BOB bare essentials; you must load as much food as you think you can manage! Use one of the strollers to push extra items!

Table 2 A list of items required for survival: comfort B.O.B. Itemsa

Item Used for Comments
MRS water purifier water purifier Bring also the spare filter and spare parts kit.
“Pocket rocket stove” cooking/fire starter I have used this as a fire starter when small tinder was not available by directing the flame directly at the kindling. This is probably really dangerous but it works really well...
Red fuel cells fuel for “pocket rocket” These will make noise if stored together as they lank around, store them separately wrapped up.
Edible wild plant book survival food/fire starter/ reading material See the calendar in the book to see what plants are in season. Stick to things that require little or no preparations and are easy to forage. Remember our burdock and parsnip adventure!
Folding saw cutting wood (shelter making, firewood) Use the gloves with this saw; it will rip open your hand in a single stroke.
Seeds and a copy of “Seed to Seed” All of our seeds are heirloom, this could greatly increase your chance of being allowed to stay on a farm.
Silver Take as much as you can, especially if using the baby strollers.
Shovel Orange shovel or “army issue” one.

aItems on this list would be really really nice to have for survival. If you are alone, you will already find it hard to manage the weight of the pack even with the BOB bare essentials; you must load as much food as you think you can manage!

Table 3 A list of items required for survival: Car itemsa

Item Used for Comments
Surplus items from Tables 1↑ and 2↑
GPS digital USA highway map/location finder The GPS comes loaded with a map of the entire country. It will also tell you the direction (NSEW) you're heading, your elevation, and of course your position. It could take 10 minutes or so for it to fix on a satellite.
Chickens Barter, eggs, something to keep you busy Bring all of their food and fashion them a crate out of cardboard. Take some chicken wire to make them a house if need be later.
Clothes Bring all the exercise and quality clothes you can fit, especially cold weather things and things that wear out fast like socks and underwear.
Pots and pans Bring the cast iron dutch oven, a few big soup pots, and some frying pans.
Kitchen utensils You know what you use!
Tools Bring: the hammer, all the hand saws, the tape measure, the builders square, the clamps and vices, the boxes of screws and/or nails on hand, the box of liquids (oils, paints, lubricants...), all the screwdrivers, the black box of sockets, all wire and rope, do not bother with power tools, bring the shovels, the pitch fork, the steel rake, wire cutters, and the hoe
Large containers water storage, gas storage Bring the plastic carboy we use to make wine, bring the red gas cans, use the coolers to store food in from the fridge and pantry
1- and 5- gallon buckets food storage, gas storage, water storage You will have a few empty after you fill up the BOB; be sure to bring the ones full of food as well, and do not forget about the ones with the ammo!
Books and games Bring all the edible plant, survival books, country living, wine making, butchering, and gardening books for sure. After that use your judgment. Make sure to bring an entire Bible as well as the one in the BOB is not complete. See Table for a listing and reading priority of our book collection.
Extra shoes/boots Your boots will break down with constant wear quite fast if you are using them daily in the woods.
Ham radio equipment Bring anything you think is related to ham radio. Also grab the multi-meter from the tool box.
Fishing stuff Take the fishing pole and the fly rod. Take also the tackle box and the fly fishing vest which is full of fishing gear.
Personal hygiene items Pretty much everything from the bathroom.
Breathing mask Be sure to bring the extra filters. There are two different types of filters, the circular pink ones for small particles in the air and the larger thick ones for chemicals.
Acrylic tubing Siphon for gas Be careful where you siphon gas; do not become a looter.
Silver coins Barter
Canning jars food preservation
Seeds food Try to keep them cool and DRY!
50-lb salt blocks meat preserving/ flavoring Keep them dry
Flour mill and extra parts Keep this hidden when not in use
Pool shock purifying water Keep DRY or it can explode/catch fire!
Meat grinder
Anything you think will help!

aItems on this list are not required for survival but will make life much easier. Only take things on this list after all the items from Tables 1↑ and 2↑ have been taken (and more importantly you are carrying as much food as possible! Nothing on this list should be taken if there is still food to be packed if traveling by car is not an option).
You know best what special items would be needed for the kids. I leave that up to you! Obviously, take as many cloth diapers as possible and as many tubes of baby “butt” cream as we have. The jogging stroller can pack up to 110 pounds, so consider really piling a lot of food on it along with the kids.

[A] US army survival manual, Underwood, P.T., Skyhorse Pub Co Inc, 2011
[B] Wilderness Survival, Olsen, L.D., Boy Scouts of America, North Brunswick, NJ, 1974

Monday, February 10, 2014


While I absolutely agree with Mr. Rawles' statement, he left out the year 1913. That is the year States Rights were finally obliterated for good. While the War Between the States made the Federal Government supreme, the year 1913 legalized the concept.

The 16th and 17th Amendments provided for direct income tax and popular elections for Senators. Previously money for Federal operations were apportioned among the states, giving the States power over the Federal. Senators were the representatives of State governments while House Representatives were elected by and represented the individuals.

Using a reliable, and still successful technique, the income tax was passed by assuring everyone that only the wealthy would ever be taxed and then only by 1 per cent. Sound familiar? Social Security was voluntary and would never exceed 2 per cent. If you like your health insurance plan... in God we trust, Molone Labe, - T.V.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Be prepared," as the motto goes, means to learn from the past while living in the present, and at the same time preparing for the future. It should also be understood in the active present tense of the word “be”-- being. Being prepared means to be in a continual state of being and getting prepared. What for? For what comes next-- usually the unknown, at the wrong time, and at a high cost. Do something now to prepare for the future so you'll be ready to reap the harvest of future opportunities. Remember, someone once said, “Planning is simply about not being surprised.”

  1. The Prepared Mind

    The prepared mind is one that wants and strives to be ready. Mark Twain said, "I've had plenty of life experiences that turned into 'life lessons,'" and "Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment." But turning your experiences into lessons or good judgment means you have to get up off the couch and do something.

    A wise man acts. He prepares through education, training, observation, listening, experimentation, saving, preparing, networking, and through being friendly, trustworthy, and a man of high integrity and honor. Wisdom always has experience as a prerequisite. Any fool can stick out his thumb and hope for the best.

    The other side of the coin is revealed in the "Apollo 13" situation. In space, they "made do" with what they had available. You can use duct tape to fit a square "filter" into a round hole. Rent the DVD of the same name on Netflix, and you will understand the intensity and fire in the phrase, "Failure is not an option." Those who have the will to survive will survive. They don't quit.

    Physics says that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and one at rest, at rest. You know how hard it is to get into motion, and you don't want to repeat the start-up process. It's too much work! So quitting can never be an option.

  2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

    Situational awareness refers to your alertness to things around you in your immediate environment. Above, below, ahead, behind, left, and right. It's a snapshot assessment of whether you are safe or at risk. It occurs and transforms moment by moment, always changing, as the quality of a cup of water drawn out of a flowing river or snow in a storm. It should become as involuntary as a heart beat or blinking.

    There have been many books and articles written on this subject. You should read as many as you need to get you started, or to upgrade your skill-set in this area. A quick look will show how complex this process can become, and how easily you can make mistakes. Some of these will become second nature and be done instinctively in nanoseconds.

    When you are evaluating your safety in a situation, you should simultaneously think about:

    • Visually scanning your physical situation,
    • Who and/or what is around you,
    • The safety of your physical location,
    • The level of unpredictability (if and how fast things can change) in that location,
    • Your purpose and needs, and
    • What around you can be used for concealment, cover, weapons, medical aids, signals, fire, shelter, water, food, and other necessities.

    These can be incredibly complicated concepts, and each one has its own lengthy number of variables. Let's check some of the questions you may have about "who's around you."

    • Are they strangers or are they known to you?
    • What are your perceived impressions of their intentions or motivations; are they selling cookies or looking for severe violence?
    • How many are there; how many have weapons?
    • Will there likely to be more or less of them in the near future?
    • What is their potential to interact with you?
    • (Perhaps most importantly) Do you know them to be dangerous?
    • Do they "look" dangerous?
    • How do you look to them?
    • Could you rely on any of them for help?
    • How could you eliminate them, if necessary?

    You may notice the future is contemplated in a few of the above questions. It could be said the "goal" of situational awareness is to be aware of and anticipate threats in order to either avoid them, offensively act, or defensively react to them in a pre-determined, efficient manner. Panic is the action/reaction of the unprepared, untrained or unthinking mind.

  3. Get Ready Principles

    In getting ready for whatever might come your way, you should apply a few principles in addition to accumulating "stuff" and training. Remember that stuff and training are used to uphold and apply these principles.

    1. 80-20 Principle. The Pareto principle, commonly referred to as the 80-20 rule/principle/law is the law of the central few. It states that roughly 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the effort or cause.

      When I was an officer in the U.S. Air Force back in the 1980s, we always had to "do more with less." Meaning we did it with no increased funds, increased manpower, new or upgraded equipment, and usually doing it for free. We also had to make it look like we could do it effortlessly and without complaining. When (not if) you did this, you were rewarded with praise (maybe a medal) and more work to do with even less.

      When involved in a campus ministry in college, our campus director used a saying to keep whining at bay: "You cannot make it tough enough for me to complain!" Being competitive students, we responded pretty well to that saying. No one wanted to be the first to complain because complaining is highly contagious. You wanted to be part of the best 20 percent. In fact, to keep your focus sharp, try to be in the best 20 percent of the top 20 percent.

    2. One-third, 1/3, 33.3% (or one third, one third, one third). When you study the revolutions of world history, you can see that the population will usually break into roughly three groups:
      • Those actively committed and involved,
      • Those actively opposed, and
      • Those who don't want to get involved, and don't care.

      You will see these in any group today when there is a disagreement or the beginning of conflict at any level.

    3. You can't change. This is one of my favorites. I discovered this one day when I was feeling very frustrated with people-- the population in general, kids, coworkers, school friends, church friends, and committees. You get the idea. I was driving along when an epiphany hit me. I wanted grasshoppers to become ants or, at least, more ant-like. Why can't we take grasshoppers and "repurpose" them into ants? Why can't you put them into schools, clubs, training programs, or the military to turn them into ants? And then it hit me like a bright light. Are you ready for this? Grasshoppers cannot become ants (who work harder), and ants will not turn into grasshoppers (who relax). You cannot change species! If you are an ant, you will always be an ant, and if you are a grasshopper, you will always be a grasshopper. You can teach and learn opposite skills sets and techniques, but you cannot change your species or anyone else's species.

      Insightful? Yes.

      Frustrating? Yes.

      Easy to accept? Not really.

      When you are prepping, get to know the people you live and work with. It will help you accept them, and yourself, when trying to get work done -- or even relaxing.

    4. Responsibility and Response Ability. Your first priority and/or obligation in any situation is either to yourself or to others. It can be one (yourself or others), then the other, or both (synergistically and dynamically).
      1. Responsibility. You must get to the point in your life where you take total responsibility for yourself-- physically, mentally, economically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and so forth. You don't blame others when you fail or expect others to bail you out. If you are guilty, man up and take respinsibility for your own actions, results, and consequences. When asked who is responsible for this mess, and it's totally your mess, stand up as a man and say without disclaimers, "I am." Take care of yourself and lighten the load on those who are helping you now and give them a break. They need it. When you do a fantastic job on something later, deflect the praise, to keep yourself humble, and share the credit. Pride and arrogance get you in trouble. (You might end up being a politician.) If you become responsible for yourself and others, you need to have response ability.
      2. Response Ability. Do you have the ability, skills, resources, experience, and will to respond to a situation or set of circumstances outside of your control? Before you see the existence of a problem, become “response able” by aquiring the skills, experience, and resources necessary to initiate a solution, even if it means you have to do the work, all of the work, without praise, reward, or recognition. When (not if) someone needs help (whether they caused it or not), you help because you are the solution maker. You become a 911 "first responder" when the 911 calls you. Help clean up the mess yourself. You're an adult, a grown-up. Few actually make it.

      Our society is actively involved in creating masses of dysfunctional grasshoppers-- those who are dependent, unskilled, apathetic, entertainment (technology) dependent, entitled, and part of the sheep flock or in a herd of followers who will never become responsible for themselves or for others. They will NEVER become leaders.

    5. The Principle of 14. I discovered this one when I was observing my kids having an "intense discussion" as to whose will would be followed. "My way or the highway" was the mindset in question. I'm sure you have possibly "heard" of such a thing happening.

      I went into an adjacent room and prayed for wisdom; then it hit me. I went back in the room, sat the two combatants down, and asked the first, "What is 2+3+4+5?" After a short pause they stated "14." "Correct," I said. Then to the other, "What is 5+2+3+4?" After a shorter pause (and rolling eyes), "14." Then back to the first, "What is 3+4+5+2?" "I get it, Dad, 14." "You guys are trying to be 'right,' in charge, and inflict your will upon each other, and are not trying to solve the problem."

      When you have the same time, resources, funds, manpower, etc., you can get the same result.

      "The Principle of 14" states that with the same resources, yielding the same results, you need to admit that, sometimes, there is more than one way (yours) to accomplish the same goal, and it doesn't always have to be your way.

    6. Negative Panic. It is a reality that when we are in a set of circumstances where we are facing a choice that may result in life or death, human beings have an involuntary tendency toward denial or disbelief and to slow down or stop rather than speed up. It's not like when the chicken runs around with its head cut off. It's more like going into extreme slow motion. We need to decide what action to take: Fight, Flee, or Freeze. We believe we will think logically and rationally, with great speed, and make very wise and courageous choices.

      This is not the time to make a choice; it's time to implement pre-determined decisive action. However, studies have shown that our brains do not function that way in a crisis/emergency situation.

      You've heard it said by survivors of an event that "everything went into slow motion". We tend to move very slowly, not able to think clearly if at all, and try to search our mind's database for a similar incident to use as a precedent setting reference to make sense of what's occurring. However, in these situations we don't have a point of reference for comparison, so we freeze. It's the reason why first responders (paramedics, police officers, fire fighters, airline staff, and our military) spend so much time training. It's so that their responses become actions and second nature in a crisis. It's so they don't have to think; they default to their training and act accordingly.

      It's one of the most important reasons we need to make plans and execute repetitive drills now to prepare for a disaster! You won't be able to think straight during or after the disaster has occurred. Train now so you don't have to think.

    7. The Great Depression theme modified. During the Great Depression a theme was practiced by millions. It went:
      • Use It Up,
      • Wear It Out,
      • Make Do, or
      • Do Without

      I won't go into all of the various applications of this subject, but I've noticed in our current culture a variation of it that scares me to death. So I created the following to reflect our culture's thinking:

      • Use it up
      • Wear it out
      • Give me more for free
      • Make Do
      • Do Without

      These younger generations will be, and have, very little help during hard times. Very few possess useful skill sets, mindset, willingness to work, work ethic, traditional values, spiritual insights, and wisdom.

      We now have technology addicts of any combination of computers, tablets, laptops, phones, MP3 players, and on and on. I've included a few snippets from the article, “Expert Reveals the 21st Century Ailments Caused By Smart Phones and Tablets,” by Saadia Chevel.

      • "Nomophobia (No-mobile-phone-phobia)--- anxious when they 'lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage; sleep texting (Occurs in the first two hours after a person falls asleep and they are unaware they are doing it.)";
      • "Phantom Vibration Syndrome-- the belief that your phone is vibrating or ringing when it's not."
      • "Cybersickness-- caused by a disagreement between a person's eyes and the movement perceived by their balance system. It occurs when the brain is tricked into believing they are moving while they actually remain still."
      • Sleep Texting-- when people are so fond of their smart phones that they actually send text messages while sleeping and they are unaware they are doing it.
      • "Text claw is a consequence of repetitive fine motor activity. Most people work on their phones with their thumbs and in a position that's not natural for the thumb and wrist joints. This can lead to tendinitis which is inflammation of the tendons. "
      • "iPosture-- This refers to the slumping and hunching over computers and hand-held devices. "
      • "Screen Sightedness-- there has been a 35 per cent increase in the number of people with advancing myopia (short sightedness) since the launch of smart phones in 1997."
      • "Dry Eye Syndrome-- When people are concentrating on looking at a screen their blinking rate is reduced by a third. This leads to a higher rate of tear evaporation which is one of the leading causes of dry eye syndrome. This can, eventually, lead to permanent eye damage."

      I do realize there are and will be exceptions and they will be very exceptional. These exceptions will be the “on fire” youthful remenant and the "resistance / resiliance warriors" of our future. They will be committed beyond belief and willing to pay the ultimate price for their convictions. We need to find and train them now as quickly as possible. We're running out of time.

  4. Conclusion

    Some have accused me of being "too experienced in life". They say, "We, younger people, can do just fine. Sure, we will make mistakes, but we'll be okay." Me, I want to learn/profit from the "experiences" of others and not duplicate their lack of know-how. I don't have enough time to confirm ignorance and the lack of wisdom and poor judgment. The above is food for thought. Please, pass it on to the next 10 generations.

    "To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:3-7 (KJV)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I got a clue about prepping on Feb 9, 1971, when I was rolled out of bed at 6am by the Northridge-Sylmar earthquake. Shortly following that unique event, the National Guard came through the neighborhood announcing immediate, mandatory evacuation because the Van Norman earthen dams were expected to collapse and send a 30-foot wall of water into the Sepulveda detention basin through our suburban neighborhood. I was 13 years old; my siblings were 10 and 9. This was a pre-cell phone, pre-ATM era. We camped out at a public park with thousands of others for 24 hours before we could return home. Thank God for the kindness of strangers. Society was a little less sharp-edged then.

Flash forward to today. Though my prior profession died with the credit collapse in 2008 and I've experienced long bouts of unemployment and lousy, lesser jobs, my personal situation is much better than most. My wife and I have no debt, and we have two nice suburban houses; one is a rental. Both vehicles are paid off because we paid cash. She has an excellent job that has carried us through rough times and is the main source of our long-term investments. We can easily survive on 20% of our net pay. I have a few guns, a little ammo, and a bit of reloading equipment (add sarcasm now). We have a substantial amount of in-hand precious metals (the equivalent of many years' worth of income), a generous portfolio of bonds, annuities, and cash equivalents. We hold nearly zero stocks. I want to increase our food stores to carry us from six months to one year. Our house is partial solar, and even though we are in the desert, we could live here in re(physical, of courselative comfort for many months without any utilities (water, gas, electric, or communication). The house is a fortress, but it looks normal. We have 14mm 3M security film on all windows; premium locks, installed and reinforced correctly; a Pella triple locking sliding door; an audible-only burglar alarm because, when it goes off, my neighbors walk outside with MP5s (now that's neighborhood watch!); CCTV; multiple big UPS systems in the house, as well as a unique PV/generator/battery/grid power system (Xantrex 6048 with battery bank, selectable loads, and generator interface); and a tool inventory any tradesman would be proud of (from my early days as a HVAC mechanic).

Our cars are also loaded. We carry 72-hour kits are in the cars (and duplicate kits at the house). For communications, we have multiple multi-band ham transceivers, both hand-held and vehicle-mounted. My Toyota Sequoia 4x4 has traversed the dirt roads leading out of town multiple times. We carry modest water supplies in all vehicles, but have hundreds of gallons of potable water, plus six ways to clean our 14,000 gallons of pool water, in a pinch. Our kits include Level IIIA vests You get the picture by now.

I have a bug out location with a friend in central Utah, if things got so bad in the city we had to leave. We could get there without touching paved roads. But our ability to shelter in place is rather extreme given we are in a desert community. My approximately 100 neighbors would come together in this relatively close-knit gated community, and we would be a force to be reckoned with. Many are ex-military, some current LEO, and all of similar mindsets.

I read this blog to work on my weak areas. The gardening has been most challenging and often frustrating with our summer heat. Some things we can't do prior to collapse, like attaching glass shards to the top of our cinder block walls, like the Europeans or wwiring up explosive deterrents. However, we can survive and thrive for quite some time in the event of SHTF, and many are equipped to help our less-prepared neighbors.

So, when I read about possible currency defaults, it's covered. A food shortage crisis is covered. Power outages are covered. Cash, precious metals, communications, defense, coordination with others, refrigeration, and emergency cooling are all there. This journey has taken 20 years, and we continue to add items previously overlooked. Thank God I am blessed with a wife who understands the risks and why I'm taking such precautions.

This is our insurance against a society going down the tubes. We may not thrive as we used to, but we will not shrivel and beg for help, like the unprepared folks following Katrina and other calamities. That, my fellow readers, is why I can now sleep peacefully. I have done all that my resources and skills will allow. The rest is up to our Creator, and I can answer the question, "What did you do to prepare and protect your family?" My answer is, “Everything I could possibly afford or learn to do.”

We are preppers on a long learning path. Though I wish I lived in a more stable time, these are the cards we are dealt. All we can change is how we respond. Fortunately, many of the high dollar investments/expenses are fairly good investments-- solar house, guns, and precious metals. Plus, we enjoy fresh and tasty vegetables! It's all good.

Thank you, JWR, for your blog, the information, and, mostly, the encouragement to keep moving forward. You likely have no concept of the breadth of your influence.


I am an LEO in the Southwest. I had a few experiences recently I thought the readers of the blog would be interested in.

First, our Police Department recently switched to Federal Flight Control Buckshot. All I can say is, “WOW”. For those not familiar with it, instead of a wad opening up like a tulip at the front, fins pop out at the back so the shot cup crown stays intact and round. It makes a huge difference. We were seeing all nine pellets within 5-6" at 25 yards, and honest 8-10" groups at 40 yards. We were hitting steel at 100 yards as well. This is a real game changer for those that use buck shot.

Second, I recently had a chance to sit down with a rep from Combat Medical Systems (the Quik Clot makers) at a training course. A point of note brought up was on the procedure for stopping bleeding with the impregnated Z-fold Quik Clot gauze. After packing the wound, DIRECT PRESSURE MUST BE HELD FOR 3 MINTUES. If after three minutes, bleeding has not stopped, UNPACK THE WOUND AND REPACK WITH NEW GAUZE. This is the only time I have heard to unpack a wound rather than pack more on top, so it was notable, but it is what was being taught. The philosophy is that the medicine in the first packing did not work; so if it is in place, the medicine from the second will not reach the wound. He also recommended that if three minutes of direct pressure didn't stop the bleeding on a wound serious enough to use a hemostatic agent, it may be time to just go to a tourniquet.

Third, I recently went on a call for service regarding a cache that had been discovered. I thought it could be used as an interesting teaching point with some things to do, and things not to do.

Some teenage boys went hunting and located a sealed tin of ammunition tucked away in a rock pile. Being teenage boys, they opened it on a rock, and shot it up. Being teenage boys again, they came back the next day to look for more ammunition. During this second trip, they located an ammunition can. They opened this can, discovered some military EOD items, and called the police.

The cache was in the national forest, within 5 miles of a larger highway, and approximately 3-4 miles off of any road or trail. The cache was not buried, but was tucked in and under a large (car size) boulder pile (approximately 40 or so boulders). The cache consisted of multiple ammunition cans (15+) in various crevices.

My thoughts on the cache:

  1. Geographically, I think the cache was in a decent location. It was far enough off of the beaten path that it went undisturbed for roughly 20 years. It was on a probable route out of the closest metropolitan area, was defensible, and could be hiked to fairly quickly if needed. It was located at a prominent geographic feature, so it could be found again. The problem was that it was located at a prominent geographic feature, so it was found. If a certain rock pile or tree attracted your eye, rest assured it will attract others. There were hundreds of rock piles in the area, but the one he chose stuck out for some reason, even to us pointing it out to fellow responders. If he had used that same rock pile, and then used 150 feet of rope on a known azimuth, it would have most likely remained undiscovered.
  2. The ammunition cans were used, yet (after 20 years) were still intact with minimal rust and wear. The ammunition cans were hid around an area of approximately 60'x60', so all his eggs were not in one basket though multiple cache locations would have been a better idea. The ammo cans were not coated with any anti-rust material. The cans were not buried and were merely hid and tucked under rocks. It had been good enough for 20 years of secrecy, but still found. If they were buried, they would still be out there.
  3. The items cached were varied and included food, medical supplies, firearms, ammunition, and a detailed inventory lists of contents of cans. This list had been updated at several points in time over the years, and was dated; hence I knew the age. There was a rough hand-drawn map of an overhead view of the area in one of the cans, with numbers at various locations. These numbers corresponded correctly to the can numbers on the inventory list. To "decode" the map, we found three cans by searching in a grid, then figured out the can numbers by comparing them to the inventory list. With three cans, we were able to triangulate the correct orientation of the map and quickly locate the other cans. If you include a map or inventory list, please come up with a better code.
  4. The cache also included non-tax stamped goodies and stolen military EOD compounds. Something for readers to consider: From a public safety standpoint, ammunition is no biggie in our neck of the woods, nor are reloading supplies (primers and powder), even in massive quantity. However, stolen EOD goods do raise feathers, and they usually lead to calls to a local military EOD team and the ATF, Both of which come with lots of really sensitive metal detectors and other things. So, instead of two or three cops looking around, you have 30 people from various agencies. From that same public safety standpoint, we can stop (or not even start) a search after a few hours, if we are looking for strictly ammunition. If we miss some it's not a threat to public safety. If we miss EOD stuff, it's a big deal. So, the few hours spent searching may turn into days.
  5. Personal information should be removed. I am in no way offering legal advice or any recommendation, nor advocating possessing non-stamped goods or EOD items. However, Venezuela just made hoarding illegal, and what is legal today may not be legal five years from now. Be mindful of this when you are preparing your cache. Sterilize any personal information from your cache. Remove price tags, maybe even cut off expiration dates or destroy them. Only cache private party sale guns. Cosmoline should remove any fingerprints, but be mindful of other non-gun items that weren't coated as well. If you cached a legal AR or AK in California or New York 30 years ago and wasdug up now, there could be some legal ramifications. Consider placing your MBR and hi-caps separately from your other cache. Also consider various cache locations with different types of goods.

I know one of the main concerns when caching items is the safety of the items and the prevention of theft. I don't mean to add more work on to people considering a cache, but protecting yourself against possible future legal ramifications should be considered as well. God Bless! - Anonymous

Friday, February 7, 2014

Everyone these days is trying to budget and spend their hard earned money wisely. One place I found that I was able to spend a very limited amount or get items for free is at the local dump. It is a great place to accumulate items you could use in a SHTF situation. This may relate only to individuals living in suburban or city areas. There may be one in your county; it is important to find out if there is. If you have not been to your local recycle center or dump, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Take note that there might be a yearly or daily fee associated with using the dump. If at all possible, research the requirements to use the dump by calling ahead or using the local government website. The only thing that was required at my local dump was being a resident of the city and to purchase a twenty dollar yearly pass to the recycle center. Dropping off house hold appliances and tires had extra fees on top of the yearly pass. The pass included free mulch and sometimes top soil.

There is a social community at the dump, and you would never believe it unless you have experienced it. During my time spent as the dump supervisor for my local town, I interacted with many people that were involved with the unique subculture of the recycle center. I would like to give the readers some suggestions about what might go a long way toward improving the type of treatment and service you receive. This helps in order to be uninterrupted in gathering items or commodities that will be useful to you. Develop a first name relationship with the attendant or attendants and even patrons. People have developed strong friendships with other individuals and families they have encountered. At your dump there might be a “no scavenging” policy. I was the type of person to look the other way, if I knew you or you minded your own business. A small act of bringing the recycle center workers a bottle of water or a snack will bring you leniency. The main key is to be discreet and quick. If you see an item that might be useful grab it. Having a hook-like tool and small tool box will be something useful to bring with you. That way you can extend your reach into dumpsters and do small disassembles for parts if necessary.

The dump is a great place to find useful items for bartering. I gathered candles, tools, books, and anything I figured could be useful in a barter or economic collapse situation. I furnished my first apartment with a lot of things I found. People throw away things still brand new in the box! I once found a $500 coffee machine unopened in the original packaging. Many residents I was friendly with would put in orders with me for items they were looking for and sometimes put up rewards for finding those items. Couples and families would make a routine of showing up and making rounds just to see if they could find anything good or what had value.

Firewood is a sought after commodity by patrons that frequent the local dump. The firewood and yard waste would go into a special area. It either came from residents doing yard work or from the forestry division of the city. It was constantly searched for spring, summer, and fall. Residents would brag about how much they saved on their energy bills each month by burning firewood to heat their homes. Gathering firewood for winter was very serious business for many people. I have seen individuals go to such great lengths as to bringing their own chainsaws to make lumber pieces more manageable to carry and load into their vehicles. I often saw people collaborate to help each other. The most common occurrence was residents dropping off wood and another person that wanted the wood would arrange going directly to each other's home to help each other. In the end both parties received what they wanted, while taking less trips to the dump and conserving fuel. I have seen great friendships come about by this practice.

Another thing residents really took advantage of was the recycle center's mulch. The mulch came from the forestry department's composting of trimmings and branches. I have watched families work at least eight hours, making trip after trip refilling their buckets with mulch. I was told it works very well for helping growing vegetables in the garden. With your yearly pass, you were able to get unlimited amounts of mulch. That is a great deal for someone trying to be frugal with their resources. Besides the two main interest grabbers being the firewood and mulch, there are a lot more things that might be useful in times of uncertainty. There was a section at the dump for dropping off a mixture of rocks, stones, dirt and bricks. A lot of people would pick up rocks and stones and take them home. I could picture someone taking home dirt, stones, and bricks home to use in building a nice root cellar. Good dirt would not last long at the dump. It would be taken home for a variety of home garden needs. I could also see someone using a mixture of dirt, stones, rocks, and bricks to set up defenses around their property. With these items again, I have seen people communicate interest in what someone is dropping off. They will talk with each other and work out arrangements to cooperate. That is an efficient system for both parties but best for the one picking up the items.

There was a special section of dumpsters to recycle lumber. It was great for getting lumber or boards to burn if there was a shortage of firewood. You would be very surprised on the amount of good boards you could find, from hardwoods (such as oak or mahogany) to softwoods (such as pine or cedar). Even treated lumber or press board is easy to find, from 2x4 pieces of lumber to 4x4 pieces. This is a great way to practice and learn woodworking. I knew several people that would use the lumber for all sorts of projects and build different things. One's imagination is the only limiting factor on what could be built. You might even save lumber to use in boarding up your windows or doors during an emergency situation.

A great thing about the recycle center is the individuals and families. It is a great community to practice your people interaction skills. This is one of the most important skills you must learn for a SHTF scenario. If you don't know how to interact with all different sorts of individuals, bartering almost seems out of the picture in a severe economic downturn.

There were plenty of times where I, being friendly and asking politely, received things of value without any expectation for payment in return. I will tell you about a couple of examples from my personal experiences, but these are just a few of many instances. A gentleman and I somehow got into a discussion about gardening, and he told me about all the different types of vegetables he planted for the harvest season. Peppers were a vegetable he mentioned. I asked him if he wouldn't mind bringing some pepper seeds to me, if he had any extra to spare. He happily obliged; on his next trip to the dump he greeted me with a friendly smile and a zip lock bag full of pepper seeds. He also gave me a brief explanation of what worked best for him when growing the pepper seeds. There were also plenty of occasions where I would help someone shovel mulch, unload, or just have a pleasant conversation and ask if they wouldn't mind bringing me something to drink next time they came around. Believe it or not I was rarely turned down. Every so, residents often went even further. Once I was brought muffins and other times different types of snacks. I learned never to be afraid to ask someone a question. The worst thing someone can say to you after you ask them a question is “no.” There is an old saying: “The only stupid question is the one you don't ask.” The dump is a great place to meet like-minded individuals within your community and to practice your communication skills.

After practicing and perfecting your people skills, the next thing to work on is bartering. I would often collect lawn mowers and barter them to my supervisor for cash or alcohol. I have found snow blowers and traded them to a friend for cash. A great example of bartering was when I would find coupons and barter them to a friend for scrap metal. Bartering is an everyday occurrence at the recycle center. I have seen people trade different items they have picked up often. Maybe one party throws in some dollars or another item to sweeten the deal. Often, sometimes it could just be items that one party wants to trade for something that will be more useful to them. There are many more examples of bartering, but you need to get down to your own recycle center and practice. I believe the dump is one of the closest things you can get to a cash-limited society.

There are all different types of ways you can practice and learn skills for a survival scenario. One of the best skills to learn and practice is to fix things that are broken. You sometimes will get lucky and find things you can use that are still working and completely functional. Often a small part of something you find useful is broken. It's a great opportunity to figure out how it works. Often you can buy replacement parts or even keep your eye out at the dump for another of that same or similar item to find the working part you need. I would often tell people that the dump has a great return policy; you can take it home, hold onto it for awhile, and if it doesn't work out the way you wanted or you were unable to repair the item, just bring it back to the dump. A huge hit at the recycle center for repair-minded people were lawn mowers and snow blowers. Handy people would take them home, tinker around with them, repair them (when possible), and sell them.

Another skill worth practicing is making from the items you find at the recycle center. A lot of people I knew would gather enough items of value, fix the ones not working, and host a yard sale. Besides gathering items and selling them, there were a lot of people interested in gathering scrap metal. You might get lucky enough to find some copper pipe, an old brass faucet, or some romex wire. Some people do not know what these materials are worth, or they are simply too lazy or don't have enough to make it worth their time. Learn to identify different types of metals and what they are worth. I always carried a wire cutter and a magnet to identify different types of metals. A magnet does not stick to copper, brass, or aluminum, which are the three main types of scrap metals you should be interested in. Be careful, it can become an addicting and fun hobby.

Besides all the barter and survival skills you can learn at the dump, you can also practice charity. It's not a hard thing to learn at the dump when you are looking around. If you see an item say you might not want or use, but you know a friend who could use it, take it and give it to them. I knew a lot of people who would stay on the lookout for items that they could give to their church to help others. I knew a father and son what would look for lightly used mattresses for women that were less fortunate. Being charitable is also a great way to help others, while also reducing goes into the landfill. It's great seeing people find items that they can make useful instead of seeing these items destroyed and never used again.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I awoke around 9am on Saturday, August 18, 1992. I work the grave yard shift. The news was still about Mt. Spurr, located about 78 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska and on the west side of Cook Inlet. Little did I know the next four days would be some of the more interesting days of my life.

[Seismicity remained low through July and the first half of August. Seismic monitoring of the volcano was somewhat compromised by the destruction of the crater rim station. Despite repeated attempts to reinstall the crater-rim station, the closest seismometer was now 4.8 km away. Only one shallow and two deep events were recorded between 12 August and 17 August. Perhaps the 27 June eruption "opened" the conduit, and allowed magma to rise undetected.]

I worked, then, as an aircraft mechanic for a major airline at the Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. I was slated to go to work at 6pm that night and did what any father does on a Saturday with his boys.

[At 1538 on 18 August a 16-min episode of weak tremor including several LP events began. At 1548 a pilot reported an ash-rich plume. The main eruption began at 1642 when strong tremor was recorded on all Spurr stations. By 1658 a subplinian column thrust through low clouds to reach 11 km altitude. Large bombs were thrown 750 m above the vent Ultimately, the radar-determined plume top reached about 14 km -- pilot reports were higher. Small pyroclastic flows descended the east and southeast flanks of Crater Peak. Some flows were dry and hot, and left coarse, clast-supported deposits with lobate, steep-fronted margins. Other flows mixed with snow and ice high on the cone and were more mobile and cooler. A late shower of mostly lithic blocks as large as 1 m were hurled as far as 3.8 km southeast of Crater Peak. The southeastward distribution of these deposits was controlled by the position of the vent against the northwest crater wall. More than 170 lightning strikes were detected by the AVO lightning detection system during the second half of the eruption. Eruption ended after 3 hours and 28 minutes at 2011, but intermediate and deep crustal seismicity increased afterward to levels comparable to those of mid-June.]

In the afternoon the Emergency Broadcast System activated on both the television and radio, warning the residents of Anchorage of the impending ash plume and instructing people to take shelter in their homes, to tape all door and window seals, and to place wet towels on the floor at the base of the door. We were also warned not to drive our vehicles for the next 24 hours or more because of the expected ash fall, and if we had to drive after the ash fall, to drive slowly so as to not stir up the ash that fell.

[The volume of August tephra is about 110x106 m3 (40x106 m3 DRE). Upper-level winds took the tephra plume east-southeast directly over Anchorage where sand-sized ash fell as thick as 3 mm. Beyond Anchorage, the axis of the plume crossed the Chugach Mountains and followed the coast toward Yakutat Bay. At Yakutat, 550 km downwind, ash fall was significant; at Juneau, 1000 km downwind, the plume was opaque enough to disrupt air traffic. Ash fall forced the closing of Anchorage International Airport for 20 hours. Air-quality alerts were issued during the ash fall and on the following day, as vehicular traffic resuspended the ash.]

When I heard the warning I informed my wife and children that I would be going to work early and to stay indoors until I came home. As I went to work people were hurrying home to avoid the approaching dust cloud. As I drove west on International Airport Road and as I crossed the bridge over the Minnesota Parkway, I looked to my left toward the Kenai Peninsula and could see the approaching ash cloud and the lightning flashing inside of it. The first thought I had was “is this how the end of the world will look like” and, ”what did I get myself into.” I made it to the maintenance office and checked in with operations to let them know that the maintenance department was manned and confirming that all flights to Anchorage were suspended until further notice. I called the other mechanics and informed them I would man the office, and they were to stay home. Four years later, I learned that this incident would be one of many items that would be used against me to terminate my employment, reinforcing the saying "no good deed goes unpunished".

As the ash cloud approached, I went outside to experience it firsthand. Before the cloud arrived, it became eerily quiet. There was no bird noise to be heard. In fact there were no birds to be seen. Usually there are seagulls in the area and swallows flying around catching insects, and looking under the jet ways at their mud nests you could see two heads poking out of their nests. There was lightning flashing from cloud to cloud and as the ash cloud overcame me, even though I was under an overhang, the odor of sulfuric acid was strong and my exposed skin had a slight burning sensation. Breathing was uncomfortable, and my eyes started to burn from the acid in the air. In fact, it became downright uncomfortable being outside within a few minutes. I went back inside for the night. The next morning I drove home very slowly. We were warned not to use our windshield wipers to remove the ash from our front windows because the silica in the ash would scratch the windshields; we were instead to use water to wash the ash off the windows. In a few hours there were no gas masks, face masks, painter's masks ,or anything like them in the town of Anchorage. Also gone were air filters and oil filters for most popular makes of vehicles. The best type of air cleaner for a vehicle is the oil bath type of air cleaner; AMZOIL sells a good oil-in-foam vehicle air cleaner. Many people sprayed rags with WD-40 and loosely placed them either into or tied around the intake horn of their air cleaners in the hope of trapping the abrasive silica and keeping it from going into their engine. During this event, which closed Anchorage Airport for 20 hours, the following night a KLM passenger 747 flew through the ash cloud on approach to Anchorage. They did not see the ash cloud in the dark night and, depending on who or which account you listen to and believe, the ash (which is mostly sand) entered the engines and coated the jet turbine blades with molten glass from the ingestion of the sand (ash) through the engine into the combustion chamber and out the exhaust. Three engines shut down from air loss and imbalance as the molten glass coated the turbine blades unevenly. The last one had a severe power loss. This airplane was coming out of the sky! The APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) was started by a quick-thinking flight engineer. This is necessary to provide air to the "Air Starters" on the jet engines to get them started. Long story short and many stained panties at about 5,000 or 10,000 feet (depending on who you talk to), the airplane landed at Anchorage International Airport. It stayed parked at the base of the tower for many months, until Boeing mechanics came and replaced all four engines, the APU, all air ducts, the air conditioning packs, and all of the windows. The ash cloud sand blasted the windows (the pilots' windshields and the passenger windows), turning them opaque.

In an effort to help speed the city's cleanup, the City of Anchorage announced that residents could go to their area fire station and get old fire hose, a nozzle, and a hydrant wrench to wash the ash out of neighborhood driveways and streets. Some people swept up the ash to sell to pottery makers and glass blowers. Not to contradict Hollywood, but a fire hydrant usually cannot be opened by a vehicle hitting it. The plug is spring loaded closed so you must turn it backwards (counter clockwise) to push the plug down into the pipe. I live close to a hydrant, so in my shed I now have a hydrant adapter where I can hook up two hoses to the large outlet of the hydrant. My system includes lever (ball) valves for both hoses, 650 feet of hose (enough to reach both of the neighbors' houses on either side of me if there isno fire department response in a SHTF event), hose nozzles, and a hydrant wrench. I don't have these for my neighbors' benefit but to save my house from being burned down if their houses catch fire.

What did I learn from this event? At the time, I wasn't considered a "prepper," but up here you never know when the big one will hit again. We had some food, water, and oil lamps in the event we couldn't get to the grocery store for a few days or if power was cut, since our electricity is from natural gas turbine generation. There was some concern at the time about power. We had our camping gear for cooking. We have two Coleman two-burner propane camp stoves, several one-pound bottles of propane, and a hose with an adaptor to attach to a 20 pound (or larger) bottle with a splitter to allow the use of two stoves at once. You can buy these at most camping stores. Painter's masks were gone in a matter of hours, so we now have 100 paper painter's masks and gas masks for our family. Vehicle air filters for the most popular brands were sold out in hours as were some oil filters. So I now have extra filters (more than two) for all of my vehicles, plus oil and grease. I have a double metal wall locker in my garage with all of this as well as windshield washer fluid, 50/50 antifreeze, RainX, wiper blades, spare hoses and belts, clean cloth rags, and other automotive items. Also, if I was uncomfortable being outside during the event, so will your animals. Bring them inside or provide shelter or some sort of protection for your pets and livestock. Have various size tarps or a roll of visqueen available for quick emergency shelters. With visqueen, take a stone, fold a piece of visqueen over it, and tie a rope around it. Now you can tie it up or get tarp kits at the camping area of your favorite store. Fortunately, there was no adverse civil activity during the event. This could be that at that time, most of the people here had some sort of cache of food, and many of us have at least one or more firearms and the will to use them. Also, I have in my home two sets of plastic window insulation kits. You can get these kits at hardware stores. They have double back (carpet) tape and a very clear plastic sheet. You place the tape around the window casing or trim inside of your home then use a hair drier to shrink it. This, in the winter, gives another layer of insulation for your windows or, in this case, another seal to keep the ash out. They give you some protection, andthey are clear enough to see through.

While this event was, for many of us, simply a minor inconvenience, it was serious for the elderly and people with asthma and other respiratory health issues.

Few people live near a volcano, yet there is always the threat of the large caldera known as Yellow Stone or Mount St. Helens to come alive again. Also, some of these tips could be used in a "Polar Vortex"-- winter for most of us.

[Notes from Alaska Volcano Observatory]

Thursday, January 30, 2014

HJL Adds: S.C., age 17, wrote this as a homeschool project.


So you hear an ice storm is coming and you're not prepared, what do you do? This article will show you the ten essentials you need to survive. Back in 2009, Kentucky was hit by a massive ice storm that dumped 2 inches of ice on everything. Consequently we were without power for 8 long days. During the week many people had to leave their homes, because they had no heat, no water, and no food. At the time of the ice storm I was only 13 and really didn't know a whole lot about prepping for natural disasters. It was amazing how much damage an ice storm could do to people's homes, power poles, and roads. It was a huge mess! Now, four years later, I've taken prepping to a whole new level. I've put together bug-out bags, learned survival skills, built survival kits, and loads more. Now that I'm 17, I want to share my experience with others in hopes to educate them about the dangers of ice storms.

Most likely after a storm hits an area, roads will be impassible, water supplies will be gone, walking outside will be very dangerous, and power will be down. Depending on where you live, it may take weeks for power to be restored. What you do to prepare will either mean staying in your own home or suffering the bitter cold until you can leave and go somewhere else-- a family member's, friend's, or even a shelter, if need be. In this section I'm going to tell you the ten essentials that you need to prepare for an ice storm. The items listed below are what helped me and my family survive the ice storm (except for the generator), and may not be everything you might need. FEMA recommends that you have 3 days worth of food and water in your home. Let's face it, in real life how often do you know a natural disaster that's gone in three days? There have been many instances when FEMA or the National Guard can't even respond for three days. Never trust that the government will save you or even cares when a natural disaster strikes. Take it upon yourself to be ready and prepared. Make sure you tailor your preps to best suit you and your personal needs. If you have young children, elderly, babies, diabetics, or someone who requires some other special need, they will have their own specific requirements that will need to be cared for and addressed in your prepping. Here's a list to get you started:

1. A Wood-Burning Stove. The most important preparation we had was a wood-burning stove. When the power goes out there is no way to run a heater, unless you have a generator. Unfortunately we did not have the luxury of having a generator. When we first moved to Kentucky all of the elders in the community told us we should consider purchasing a woodstove. After a year or so we purchased one, and it was the best prepping item we ever acquired. We were able to keep our house warm, boil water for tea or coffee, cook our meals, and so on. Yes, woodstoves can be dangerous if used in the wrong way, but used correctly it can really make a difference when it's below freezing outside.

2. Firewood for the Wood-Burning Stove. Having the correct kind of firewood is key to keeping your house warm. You want a hard wood that is well seasoned or cured. It puts off plenty of BTU's (British thermal units) and burns for a long time. I would recommend having at least a cord (a stack of wood 4X4X8 or 128 cubic feet) of firewood ready to go. The best burning firewoods are Ash (will burn when freshly cut), oak, and hickory. The woods to avoid are pine, juniper or cedar, and poplars. These will burn quick and hot and use up your wood supply much faster than hard woods. This type of firewood is best suited for kindling to start fires and to get them going.

3. Plenty of drinkable water stored up. For us, we were hooked up to the city water system and had plenty of running water for the duration of the storm. However, there were plenty of people who didn't have city water and lost their water supply when the power went down. There wells were dependent upon electricity to pump. So store up at least 5-7 days worth of water. More is better. It's not like you can't drink the water you didn't use after the storm is over. An ice storm is just one reason to stockpile water. You need to be preparing for anything that could taint your drinkable water. Sometimes, even a water treatment plants will accidently put too much of a chemical into the water. It's always good to have some sort of water filtration device or a way to sanitize water when it's of questionable quality. The last thing you want is to get sick from contaminated water and not be able to do anything. You can only live around three days without water so keep that in mind when stocking up on water. Two very basic ways to sanitize water are boiling it or using a very small amount of chlorine in it.

4. Propane gas to heat your water. Our water from the city was hooked up to a propane water heater. Even with the power out we were able to wash our hands in hot water and take hot showers, which was much nicer than taking cold showers. Without propane-heated water we would have to boil water and use that to take showers, which takes a long while. I understand this may not be an option for some people. If you have city water or water coming from a well, consider hooking it up to a propane heater. Another reason for needing hot water is to care for livestock; our family had buckets of hot water that we could carry out to the animals to thaw their water troughs.

5. Cast iron cookware. Having cast iron cookware enables you to cook your meals on the woodstove. Unfortunately, having no electricity meant we had no microwave. During the eight days we were without electricity, we used the woodstove to cook every meal, from eggs to chicken. The reason cast iron cookware is important is because it can withstand more heat than traditional cookware. Another great plus to having cast iron cookware is that after the storm you can use it on camping trips to cook meals over hot fires.

6. Food Storage. This matter is very important. Without food you're not going to get very far. During the summer before the ice storm we planted a large garden and canned just about everything out of it. That winter we were pretty well stocked up. For those who don't have the ability to plant a garden, canned or dried foods from the supermarket will work just as well. You need to have around 5-7 days worth of canned and dried food. When buying food, buy items you're going to enjoy eating, not just staple foods such as pork and beans. Our family made sure the food items we purchased were easy to heat up on a wood stove in a skillet or pot of water.

7. LED Lamps and Oil Lamps. Nowadays they make low draw LED lamps that can last for days and put off considerable light. These are great way to safely produce light without the risk of fire. LED lights can range anywhere from $5 up to a $100. If you prefer something for lighting that is not battery dependant, then an oil lamp is what you want. I know that using oil lamps sounds a bit old fashioned, but they've been used for hundreds of years. You can find very basic oil lamps at Wal-Mart for around $10. Oil lamps are very simple to operate and hardly ever need any work done to them, except an occasional cleaning or a new wick. There are, however, a few risks involved with oil lamps. If you have small children, keep the lamp out of their reach. Also, put the lamp in a safe location away from flammable items to prevent the risk of fire. Before refueling the lamp, make sure that it has cooled down enough that you won't get burned.

8. Small personal flashlights and batteries. Flashlights are far smaller and more mobile then oil lamps when trying to work outside or moving around in your house. You can easily carry a flashlight anywhere with you on your person. When buying a flashlight, don't look for the most expensive ones; just look for ones that feel well made and that use batteries that don't weigh a ton, which is the case with size D Batteries. You can usually find low draw LED versions that take small batteries like AA and AAA. When it comes to flashlights, there are so many out there ranging in price from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. You're not looking for the brightest one possible but just something you can use to do work, read, or help you see to get to the bathroom.

9. Board games and books. When the power is out and there's no TV, no way to charge your electronics, and no video games what will you do? Board games are a great way to help you pass the time, hang out with your family, and relax a little during this stressful time. You can also read books to pass the time or learn valuable skills, which might help you prepare even better for the next ice storm. When I say books I don't mean electronic versions; I'm talking real hard copies. It's always good to have a book, like the Bible, to give a little relaxation when trying to weather the storm.

10. A small generator. I would recommend a small generator because, as I stated earlier, we did not have one. During the eight days without power, our fridge and freezer lost a lot of its coldness. We had to put our meat and perishables in a cooler outside in the cold. Although this worked for us, if the power would have been out any longer we would of lost a lot of food. A small generator would have been a lot easier. Losing a whole fridge and freezer worth of food means losing a lot of money and wasting food you could have been eating. For people with wells, a small generator will be great to power the well and give you a constant source of water for drinking, showering, and cooking. One major drawback to generators is buying enough fuel to last several days; in previous years it has become somewhat expensive.

I hope this article has taught you that being prepared means being ready for more than an ice storm. Whether it's a hurricane, a blizzard, the grid going down, or a flood, you'll be ready for whatever comes your way. The point I'm trying to stress is being prepared so you can help yourself and others. When you have preps ready to go, it will give you peace of mind knowing you neither have to worry whether the supermarkets have food on their shelves nor risk leaving the safety of your home.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

As a survivalist/prepper, I hear a lot of, "I don't want to be a prepper, but I want to be prepared. What should I do? How do I start?" So I compiled a lot of information from FEMA, Red Cross, and other places that have very "basic" information and started typing up a list for them. The four "basic" areas I decided would be a good starting point: getting your whole family involved, what to do before an emergency, what to do after an emergency, and emergency sanitation. I say "basic" because this is only a starting point! This by no means is all you should do. If you think it is because the government will step in ... I feel sorry for you. I tell this to everyone I give this information to and encourage them to research more and be ready for when "it" happens because you won't be able to find me in my secure well stocked locations.
So, here is the list I compiled:

  1. Get your whole family involved:
    • Build your first aid kit with the whole family.
      • They might think of something that needs to go in there that you don't.
      • Make it an activity to decorate and build your emergency kit.
        • While you are decorating it. Make sure that everyone is familiar with what it looks like and where it is located.
        • If there are items missing, make it an activity with kids to hunt for those items around the house.
        • Remember to review your kit's contents regularly.
          • Make sure that medications, batteries, identification, food, and any other items are up to date.
        • Recommended list of items:
          • 2 copies of your family emergency plan. ( Always have a backup just in case)
          • Personal identification for each family member.
          • Minimum of $20 cash. (Have different denominations. Coins will come in handy if you need to use a payphone, snack/drink machine, or for other vending items.
          • Extra copies of family health records, list of prescriptions, and insurance papers.
          • First-aid kit and manual. (Not everyone will know first aid or remember it in a stressful situation. The manual will help refresh your memory.
          • Prescription and nonprescription medicines for at least 3 days, and an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses.
          • Three gallons of water per person. (At least one gallon of water per day. Don't forget to add extra water for pets and if even more if you plan on using freeze dried food.)
          • Three day supply of ready-to-eat nonperishable foods and a manual can opener, since you may not have power or the means to start a fire.
          • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio; there may be broadcasts of what is happening or time frames on when help may arrive.
          • Flashlight and extra batteries. Make sure to test the flashlight regularly. Batteries do expire and should be swapped out when needed. If possible look into a solar powered or hand crank flashlight.
          • Tools. They can be used to turn off utilities, fix or secure areas, and to help get in and out of places. Don't underestimate the power of a hammer.
          • Personal hygiene items, such as liquid soap, shampoo, lotions, and ointments. They may not seem important until you don't have them.
          • One comfort item per child (and adult, if needed). This can be a teddy bear or soft blanket that will help calm them down.
          • Pet supplies, including food, water, pet carrier, collar, and leash.
        • Additional items to consider if you are building a Bug-out-Bag:
          • Whistle to signal for help. If you are separated from your group, you will appreciate this item. It also works great in back country settings.
          • Spare set of keys to your car and house. If you are like me and lose your keys a lot, this will save you time when you are in a rush.
          • Local maps in case your current location and the main streets become unsafe.
          • Paper cups and plates, and plastic utensils. Light weight ones are preferred, if you need to leave.
          • Blankets or sleeping bags. These should be light weight but not cheap. You may need to sleep in less than ideal conditions where staying warm can save your life. Exposure is not only dangerous, it can be deadly.
          • Moist towelettes and/or hand washing gel. You may have to stay moving and these items will help you sanitize on the run.
          • Plastic trash bags. There are too many uses to name.
          • Change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each family member. Make sure the shoes are broken-in and worn properly; blisters are not your friend. You will also want to wash your clothes to avoid mold, bacteria, and any other hitchhikers. Rain gear can also double as shelter.
          • Sunscreen and insect repellent. You may be forced into an area where you are exposed to the elements with little to no cover. A spider bite or bad sunburn could be extremely dangerous.
          • Additional items for party members may include paper, crayons, books, and travel-size games. These items will help the party stay calm and relaxed.
          • Special items for infants and/or the elderly. Small toys, nonperishable snacks, a cane, and/or a hearing aid may be quite important. A binky to stop a baby from crying can be just as important as an elderly person's cane. Overlooking these items can cause problems for everyone in the group.
    • Plan together:
      • Build your family emergency plan with your family. This will not only help everyone remember what it is but will ensure nothing is overlooked.
      • Use planning time to help explain the different type of emergencies.
        • Everyone has drills at school and work, but what about home. If a fire alarm goes off at school, kids know what that schools drill is. What about when it goes off at home and the parent is in the restroom? What about when there is no alarm, and there are loud noises outside? Going over these different situations and what to do will help you practice them later.
        • Explain that sirens and lights mean that there is an emergency and help is on the way. Going over the different sirens, lights, and alarms will help everyone understands the surrounding noises and can help calm them down.
      • Make sure that everyone knows the emergency meeting place, if you are not home. Phone lines might be down and you have no way to contact your family. Make sure that if you have a child in daycare, you know the emergency plan there and where they go in an evacuation.
      • Reach out to your trusted friends, neighbors, and emergency workers. If your house is inaccessible, make sure your family knows that these places are safe.
    • Practice makes perfect.
      • You may think that your spouse, parents, or teenagers know what to do, but putting them to the test is the best way to make sure everyone is prepared. Make it part of a monthly ritual. You wake up early and set off the alarms and tell everyone that there is a certain type of emergency and then go through the motions. After, spend the day together and talk about it while doing something the family enjoys. Having a ritual will help everyone remember what to do without having to think about it. Play games with your family to keep their memory fresh. Make a scavenger hunt with meeting spots or a matching game with family members and their phone numbers.
  2. What to do BEFORE an Emergency:
    • Safeguard your home.
      • Check for potential hazards. Get appropriate insurance coverage.
      • Bolt or strap down top heavy objects, such as bookshelves, water heaters, and gas appliances.
      • Check electrical connections and gas pipes for faulty joints.
      • Place heavy objects on lower shelves.
      • Securely fasten shelving to the walls.
      • Store glass vases, china, and other breakables in low or closed cabinets or drawers.
      • Be sure your home is anchored firmly to its foundation and structurally safe.
      • Keep properly rated and tagged fire extinguishers on hand and learn how to use them properly.
      • Store copies of important documents in a safe place away from home.
      • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
      • Remove hazardous objects from sleeping areas. These might include mirrors, bookshelves, and hanging plants.
      • Properly store flammable liquids and gases in proper locations.
      • Locate potential fire hazards and reduce their potential.
    • Implement preventative safety measures for you and your family.
      • Know where and how to shut off gas, propane, water, and electricity.
      • Work out a meeting plan for disasters.
        • Discuss responsibilities for each family member .
        • Remember to be flexible.
        • Practice occasional drills.
      • Find out community evacuation plans; learn them for your home, work, school, and other locations. Remember that you may not be able to use vehicles.
      • Have a complete home storage of necessities, including water, food, sanitary needs, and fuel.
      • Have a 72 hour kit that is always easily accessible.
      • Keep a flashlight/light stick, quick dress clothes, extra shoes, and glasses by your bed.
      • Have a first aid kit and know how to use it.
      • Learn basic first aid and CPR.
      • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them regularly.
      • Have an out-of-state emergency contact for everyone to check in with.
      • Learn local emergency warnings and what they mean.
    • Have your home inspected for compliance with current codes.
  3. What to do AFTER an Emergency:
    • Prepare for aftershocks, if earthquake related.
    • Check for injuries and give first aid. Do not move persons with serious injuries unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
    • Turn on a radio or television to get the latest official information from authorities. Note the location of emergency shelters.
    • If you need medical aid, food, water, or clothes, go to your local Red Cross stations.
    • Check your utilities for damage.
      • If you smell gas, turn it off at the meter. Open doors and windows to air out the gas. Extinguish any flames and leave the building.
      • If you suspect damage to the electricity, turn it off at the main switch or breakers. Do not touch downed lines or broken appliances until power to them is cut.
      • If water pipes are broken, turn water off at the main shut-off valve.
      • Before using toilets, make sure sewer lines are intact.
    • Use caution when cleaning up breaks or spills.
    • Do not tie up telephone or cell phone lines unless it is an emergency.
    • Cover broken glass to prevent injury.
    • Take wet wooden furniture outside to dry, but not in direct sunlight.
    • Leave buildings that have been moderately or severely damaged until they are made safe. Check structural members before entering a flood or mud damaged building.
    • Stay away from flood waters if possible.
      • They may be contaminated.
      • They may be electrically charged.
      • Moving water can sweep you away, even if it is shallow.
    • Be aware of where flood waters recede. Drive only when necessary. Roads can be weakened and may collapse under vehicle weight.
    • Do not use elevators, even if they are working.
    • Treat all water properly before consumption.
    • Do not use fireplaces until they are checked and certified for damage.
    • Do not go sightseeing.
  4. Emergency Sanitation:
    • After a disaster, water and sewage lines may be disrupted, and you may need to improvise emergency sanitation facilities.
    • Supplies: (Always have basic sanitation supplies on hand.)
      • Medium-sized plastic bucket with a tight lid.
      • Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags and ties.
      • Household chlorine bleach.
      • Soap, liquid detergent.
      • Toilet paper.
      • Towelettes.
    • How to build a makeshift toilet: If sewage lines are broken but the toilet bowl is usable, place a garbage bag inside the bowl. If the toilet is completely backed up, make your own. Line a medium-sized bucket with a garbage bag, and make a toilet seat out of 2 boards placed parallel to each other across the bucket. An old toilet seat will work as well.
    • How to sanitize waste: After each use, pour a disinfectant, such as bleach, into the container. This will help avoid infection and stop the spread of disease. Cover the container tightly when not in use.
    • How to dispose of waste:
      • Bury garbage and human waste to avoid the spread of disease by rats and insects. Dig a pit 2-3 feet deep and at least 50 feet downhill or away from any well, spring or water supply.
      • If the garbage cannot be buried immediately, strain any liquids into the emergency toilet. Wrap the residue in several layers of newspapers and store it in a large can with a tight-fitting lid. Place the can outside until it can be buried.
    • Water substitutes and water-preserving solutions for cleansing: (Keeping clean is essential to good health.)
      • Because water is so precious and should be reserved for drinking purposes, consider soap and water alternatives for washing the body, such as:
        • Rubbing alcohol,
        • Lotions containing alcohol,
        • Shaving lotion.
        • Face creams and lotions. and
        • Towelettes.
      • Wash cloths. Use a wet wash cloth to clean teeth, wash face, comb hair, and wash your body.
      • Makeshift shower. Use a spray bottle to shower.
    • Disinfectants: The best choice is a solution of one part liquid chlorine bleach to ten parts water. Other commercial disinfectants include HTH, or calcium hypochlorite, which is available at swimming pool supply stores, and powered, chlorinated lime, which is available at building supply stores.
    • Intestinal Ailments:
      • Consuming contaminated water and food can cause diarrhea, poisoning, and intestinal diseases. Protect against diseases.
        • Keep body, hands, and utensils used for cooking and eating clean.
        • Use proper plates or eat from the original food containers, if water is not available for washing dishes.
        • Wash and peel all fruits and vegetables.
        • Keep all food in covered containers.
        • Prepare only as much as will be eaten at each meal.
      • Controlling rodents and insects:
        • Keep living area clear of debris, garbage, refuse, and body wastes.
        • When possible, repair holes to keep out rodents.
        • Household insecticides will work in small and enclosed areas.
    • Sanitation Equipment: We are in this together. If one person gets this wrong, the whole neighborhood is at risk for disease. You are not prepared until your neighbor is prepared. When electricity stops, water stops, the disease begins. More people die from these diseases than from the disasters!
      • Make an Evacuation Sanitation Kit. You will need it before you need meals or shelter! Get your attitudes right and prepare in a way that "you KNOW that you know how" and your family knows these skills because you have been taught and practiced. Keep your hands away from your mouth and teach others to do the same.
        • For short term toilet needs, use a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat. Use heavy bags to hold the human refuse so that you can store them or carry contents to your yard and bury it. Cover contents with 6 inches of soil. If you use cat litter or a chemical toilet, don't bury waste in your garden.
        • Heavy rubber gloves, a shovel, household bleach, vinyl disposable gloves, and a bucket to collect urine separately.
        • Fly swatters and fly paper can be used by adults. You will want to stay free of flies and mosquitoes that land on refuse. Use insect repellents and netting over babies, beds, and heads. Wear long sleeves and wash hands often.
        • Use liquid soap if possible. It is more sanitary than bar soaps. You want ethyl alcohol, which is absorbed through the skin. Purell is toxic to the liver. Dawn dish soap is liked. Fill empty bottles with water so you have instant wash water with a squirt.
        • Grape Seed Extract (GSE) kills all germs on hands, food surfaces, raw meat, toothbrushes, and external wounds. For Dysentery, use four drops in a swallow of water to relieve symptoms within 30 minutes. It tastes bitter though.
        • Fire is a tool because you can sanitize water in metal cooking pots. Fire tools & matches are a necessity.
        • Laundry tools help keep you clean. Use detergent that has no fillers. Some people like Amway SA8. Clothes lines and clothes pins are needed to dry clothes in sun.
        • Toilet paper will be appreciated. Bury used paper as bio-hazard product. You can use old phone books cut in thirds. Crumpling paper before using makes it softer. If paper is not available use Peri bottles and rags that are then washed and boiled to sterilize.
        • Diapers-- disposable or cloth. Using throw away diaper liners makes it easier. Babies have not always worn diapers. Eskimos held babies inside their parka and held them out to go. Google natural infant hygiene or infant elimination communication.
        • Feminine hygiene needs may include Diva Cup, Moon Cup, and Keeper as catchers. Europe uses them. Or make flannel pads and have plastic and underwear. Google "glad rags". Women might also want to know about lady j or whiz free in order to separate urine from solid human waste. (weight issue)

I won't say that this is the end because it should be the beginning of your never-ending, always changing list. I hope that you learned something or at least enjoyed this "basic" refresher. As always, watch your back... no one else is!

Friday, January 24, 2014

What happens when your world is turned on end and everything you have planned for in life is now null and void. A little background of what I can say about who I am or was. Without being specific I will say that I used to be a government contractor doing things that I won't discuss. Needless to say I have a tainted view on life and what I believe is coming down the pike. This has majorly shaped the way I prepare and with what. Due to this previous life, big changes in my health, and many other things, my world has now changed and this is what I want to discuss.

I used to be the person that would jump out of perfectly good airplanes, rappel down and climb mountains, scuba dive, hike, camp, and a whole lot of other very physical activities. I am the type of person that often finds himself in the middle of an emergency or disaster either helping with it, surviving it, or... the cause of it. "Accident prone" is really a good definition of my life. So, learning about emergency preparedness has been a life survival tool for me personally. To say I have had a fair share of issues is an understatement. To mention a few, I have been shot and stabbed multiple times, gassed, radiated, majorly burned several times, electrocuted, broken just about every bone in my body at least once, and so on.

To not expose all my preps I will just say that I am well prepared for about 20 people, because there are 20 people in my extended family, for about 6 years with the ability to leave at a moment's notice with preps fully packed and ready to leave either on foot or in a vehicle or bug in and feel relatively safe in my home depending on what I choose according to the threats presented.

Okay so I am well prepared. In fact I teach emergency preparedness on a regular basis in numerous settings and venues. So what is the big deal. Well, almost 15 years ago I decided it was better to sleep while driving down a winding canyon road at 60 mph, resulting in rolling my truck and breaking my back in three places. To top this off, previous life adventures have also taken their tole on my body and combine that with a life threatening blood disease that is now literally killing me. Okay, not trying to play the sympathy card here, but I wanted to paint the new picture of my life.

Before, I could grab an 80 lb. bug out backpack and travel through inhospitable terrain for miles and miles in all kinds of in-climate weather. Now, there are days that I am tickled pink if I can get out of bed for the day and walk to the mailbox and back.

So, does this mean I am no longer prepared for come what may? Heck no. This means I now need to do things differently in order to do what I wanted to do before. I am stubborn enough to still be alive today and not say "die" and just throw in the towel. Things may slow me down, but I don't let anything stop me.

Below are a few changes that have helped me that may work for others: (Remember my preps work for me and are not the answer for everyone.)

  • Not being as mobile as before I found that a handcart can carry a lot of stuff and take the weight off my back if I ever have to leave on foot.
  • Being medication dependent, I have stored up to a year or more of medications, based upon their storage life. Also important is the ability to keep them cool, especially insulin, in a very small but adequate container. I can keep them cool in my container using fold up solar panels. Yes, I know that limits me to cooling in the daytime and only cloudless days, but the container is insulated well enough that even in 90 degree weather I only have to cool it down every 4 days to keep my insulin from spoiling.
  • I don't keep my truck permanently hooked up to my fully stocked and ready to go enclosed trailer because I use my truck regularly. However, I do keep the trailer in a position and level that I can back up the truck to it and leave at a moment's notice after unlocking it from its secured location. I have drilled this many times and even in the middle of winter I can do this in 3 minutes.
  • I can no longer carry an 80 lb. pack. In fact a 25 lb. pack gives me trouble now especially as I now walk with a cane. I learned from years of practice and training and real world experience that I can live off the land with literally nothing prepacked. Yes, it is nice to have a knife and fire starter and a whole host of other gadgets, but I don't need them. These same principles I have taught my wife and children. Now we all carry packs that we have drilled with and know we can actually carry and have packed them to the weight and size limitations of each person and their ability to walk long distances with them. We realize we don't have the pillow top mattress that we really want. However, we can survive if needed on literally nothing prepacked. So we prepack as much as we can, within our limitations, and pray we can actually take and use them. Regardless, we will not die or give up if we have to leave with nothing. Speaking of which the hand cart still goes with us just in case my sons have to put me in it to haul me out. If we can drive out, that's even better. Once again we are not limited to only bugging out in a vehicle if we so choose to leave.
  • Now, speaking of bugging out, years ago I planted or buried caches of food and other survival items every 20 miles along 5 different possible bug out routes from my home to aid in travelling up to 100 miles on foot. Yes, I know 100 miles may not be far enough, but where I live in the Intermountain West, 100 miles puts me in some very suitable locations. Walking that far for me is the new challenge. It no longer will happen in 3 days like I have been able to do before. It will take much longer and be a lot tougher for me. Once again, though, I am stubborn enough to make it there.
  • Years of prepping and practice and unfortunate real life situations have taught me to carry certain gear with me at all times. I have carried what I call a "crash bag" with me at all times. Some people call this a "SCRAM" or an "external carry bag". Mine is put together with the thought if I were ever in a airplane and it crashed in some remote location what would I like to have with me. As mentioned before this is a "want" bag and not a "need" bag. This is not a bug out bag but much smaller and easier to throw over my shoulder to carry literally everywhere I go, even walking with a cane. Now with the latest grope and violate procedures now employed at most airports, I have had to modify what I used to carry in the bag. However, I still keep the other non-compliant items in a separate pouch for when I am not getting on an airplane. This pouch goes in my "crash" bag for when I leave my house for whatever other reason. Examples of non-compliant items in my bag would be a compact sidearm, knife, and certain fire starters. I still carry my bug out bag in my truck at all times, since my mobility issues dictate that I am rarely very far from my truck any more.
  • Everyone that knows me or attends my classes and seminars know that I am prepared and many have expressed their desires to "share" in my preps, whether I agree or not. For the past couple of years I have been caching most of my preps, especially food, out of sight and out of general public reach. I am now more willing than I was before to give guided tours of my now almost empty pantries and storage rooms. I like to paint that picture, now that I am currently unemployed, that I am living off my preps and almost have nothing left. Hopefully, this is making me less of a target for those that would love to "share" in my preps. By the way I am not as destitute as the picture I show people. This is just part of the preparedness plan to keep me fed.
  • Other thoughts about staying home include rapid mobility concerns. Having serious mobility issues, I have now added ramps and railings throughout my house and yard to allow me to respond quicker to possible threats and issues.
  • I used to brag that I could shoot the left eye of a fly sitting on a pole 300 meters away. Now with my diabetes I cannot even see the pole, let alone hit anything with a real long gun. So long guns are not an option for me anymore, although my children are proficient enough that I still keep them around. So a few scatter guns with combat loads and a few side arms now do the trick. With my deteriorating health I have found that manhandling bad guys is not what it use to be, but at the same token I have not lost the understanding that the only way to take care of bad guys is not always with a gun. It is never a good day when you are required to take another life, especially in self defense. However, the last two men that tried to use a gun on me were subdued and eventually went to meet Allah after finding out that the bent over stupid American with a cane knows how to use it effectively. Needless to say I had to buy a new cane. Don't be totally reliant on only one way of doing things that works for other people. Find out what works for you and then practice, practice, practice.
  • One more security issue involves those that insist on "sharing" my preps. I have two thoughts on this. First, my best defense is a good offense. My offense is knowing the condition of my neighbors by being friendly or Christian with them. I would rather be on their porch with a casserole in hand saying "please eat" rather than them being in my face with a shotgun saying they are taking my food. Okay, so I give up a little food. However, food is a great force multiplier. Second, for those that show up on my doorstep wanting food, I will hand them a shovel. I will tell them in exchange for going to the park and turning under a 10' x 10' section of turf and preparing it for planting, I will give them a loaf of bread fresh out of the oven and warm to eat. I cannot turn dirt under for a garden any more. However I can bake bread. I will not give them the ingredients. I will give them a reward for their efforts. I have seed, a deal with a farmer neighbor, and a plan to turn the whole park into a huge potato and corn field and thus be able to feed the entire neighborhood. Yes, I have go give up some time, wheat, and other bread making ingredients, but I now have an entire neighborhood on my side. Now that is security. For those that don't want the shovel option, I offer them the lead option.

These are a few of the changes I have made in my life to still stay prepared in my new condition and lack of employment. So many that know me and my situation think there is no way I can continue to be prepared. All the better for them to think that so they don't show up on my doorstep. In the mean time I will continue to hobble along at my new pace and be ready for come what may.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Awhile back my husband and I happened to both lose our jobs within a two-week period. (I was doing in-home care and the client decided to enter a Home. Meanwhile, the factory where my husband worked went bankrupt and closed its doors.)

Due to some peculiarities of our situation (my work being part-time and his factory neglecting the paperwork) neither of us could get unemployment. So we had literally zero income for around six months of job search. We sold some things, the truck got repo'ed, etc... During this time we learned a lot about frugality, what true luxury is, and how far you can stretch when you really have to. Here are some basic principles in no particular order:

1. There is always a way to do it cheaper.

It might not be as fast, efficient, neat, or convenient...but there's always a way. In the overwhelming majority of instances, you are trading your money for someone else's time. (Examples: store bought bread costs up to ten times as much as home-baked. A bus ride--for those on transit lines--costs, while the mare is much cheaper it takes longer. Homespun hats and mitts and scarves take LOTS of time, but very little money.)

2. A good proportion of the time, homemade/cheaper translates into better.

Think about it. When you're doing it yourself, you are the quality control. There are fewer unpleasant surprises because the factory QC was tiring toward the end of a shift. Another example: home-canned meat is fairly simple, and I know there is NO gristle in it because I didn't allow any. I could buy canned meat at more expense, but then I'd be subjected to someone else's idea of "edible." (We pause here for a reminiscent shudder about the time I opened a store bought can of tuna which turned out to be through and through with worms.) I also home brew, and I'll say here that of the best beverages I've ever tasted, store bought stuff barely makes the top ten. (Other home brewers are generally willing to barter, too.)

3. Sometimes older is better.

I habitually haunt thrift shops and secondhand stores. It's amazing what people will discard in not only usable but like-new condition. And sometimes it's things that you simply can't buy--either that, or the price is prohibitive. Old Revereware, for instance, with its thicker copper bottom to affect the heat transfer of the pan, is more responsive for cooking. The copper in newer pans, for the past few decades, has been nothing but a thin aesthetic layer. With old cast iron, let someone ELSE do the work of seasoning it and wearing off the rough casting surface. Old furniture is made of honest planks instead of pressboard. Wool, silk, cashmere, linen, and angora have all turned up on the shelves where I shop from time to time.

4. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it IS broke...

Repairs will necessarily be a large part of your life should SHTF or TEOTWAWKI. Learn to fix things. Plastic can be repaired (depending on type) by "welding" it with a candle flame, drilling paired holes along the crack and "stitching" it closed, applying the eternal duct tape, or gluing. Other times, plastic must be replaced. I have whittled wooden elements to replace broken plastic ones-- cut to size, file to fit, and paint to match. Sock repairs are best darned in, not sewn. Learn to darn and effectively patch. Also, learn how to splice rope, sister a wooden beam, weld a straight bead, and suture when necessary. (Repairing yourself, eh?)

5. Even a small garden is better than none.

We were lucky in that our layoffs happened at the start of the growing season and I could expand our planned garden. I did learn that carrots dislike our soil, but potatoes love it, while our plot (hemmed in by Other People's Timber on three sides) simply does not get enough sun for corn to mature. Tomatoes limped along (that sun issue again), but the hot peppers thrived. Beans and peas took the middle line, neither withering away nor flourishing. For long-term frugality, save your seeds. I found not only heirloom/open-pollinated varieties for sale, but also advice, techniques, and support at Seed Savers Exchange-- In addition to freeing you from the chains of big agriculture, you will gradually select for the traits that favor YOUR microclimate, YOUR soil, and YOUR growing conditions. Besides, fresher is better. I haven't bought greens in years. During the winter, indoor-sprouted microgreens provide variety to the routine of canned and frozen vegetables, and during summer the cutting patch thrives also.

6. Skills cost nothing.

Practice, practice, practice. Unused skills quickly fade."Use it or lose it" is a truism for a reason. Even if you can't afford ammo, dry-firing drills and practice keep the muscle memory going. If you can learn to enjoy skills, practice your hobby, such as sewing, and double- or triple-task by providing your own entertainment while honing your skills.

7. We meat again.

Stretch that food to its limits also. One of my favorite frugal meal(s) involve a chicken. (Stay with me here.) Chickens can be bought whole for very little per pound on sale. The first meal is Roast Chicken, with vegetables in the roasting pan. Make gravy to pour on the vegetables. Second day, prepare Hot Chicken Sandwiches by slicing up some of the rest of the meat and serve with the rest of the vegetables on thick-sliced bread, smothered in gravy. Third day, serve Chicken Pot Pie. To make the Chicken Pot Pie, make a shortening crust or a batch of biscuits, dice up the main pieces of remaining meat (freeze the bones and remaining scraps), mix with the rest of the gravy and some supplemental vegetables (assuming the roasted ones are all eaten by now), cover the stew with crust or biscuits, and bake until done. Fourth day, enjoy leftover Pot Pie. Fifth day (or at some indeterminate date in the future), serve Chicken Soup by boiling up the chicken frame, picking off any remaining shreds of meat, seasoning the broth well, and adding more vegetables and some noodles, rice, potatoes, or dumplings.

8. Self-medicating isn't a dirty word.

We all do it whenever we pop a Tylenol for a headache. When you have no money and no insurance, your view of self-treatment may have to expand. I've stitched myself up before when it was necessary. It hurts, yes, but no more than a badly stubbed toe (for each stitch, mind you...and yes, it is cumulative). I was already a practicing herbalist for my own needs before this happened. Therefore, I had a stock of homegrown herbal remedies, including the ones that must be prepared ahead of time. But even without that stock, much of the time you just need to get out of the way and let your body heal itself. (There are exceptions, of course, but for most acute issues, they WILL get better on their own given time and minor first-aid.)

9. If you wait long enough, it will go on sale.

Clearance aisles and markdown racks. Sadly, some grocery stores refuse to mark down even day-old bread; avoid them for places that do. Buy your candy after Halloween; the cheapest source for baking chocolate is leftover bagged Halloween and Valentine's Day candy. Furthermore, grocery stores generally operate on a rotational basis. By saving the advertisements over time (typically six to eight weeks) you can figure out their cycle. For example, if the local store puts bricks of cheese on loss-leader sale every five weeks, it would be silly to buy it on week four just because you ran out. It's far more sensible to simply wait a week to restock. I highly recommend a full-size chest freezer for taking full advantage of food bargains. (Our freezer was a wedding gift we had before our personal financial crisis.) Our freezer would have been great for game, if hunting in our area were more than a gamble. Ted Nugent has been heard to characterize the blacktail deer in its native habitat as the most challenging critter he ever pursued, and after a few years of similar pursuit I'm inclined to agree.

10. Little by little gets you there in the end.

Adding one "storage" item to each grocery list was fairly painless, even when the grocery money was twenty a week. (Twenty per week is not as impressively skinflint as it sounds sincere there are only the two of us.) Add one extra gallon of gas per fillup. Stretch a tea bag to make two cups. The ocean is made of little drops of water and the mountain of little grains of sand. They do add up when you remember to be consistent.

A note on tea: I freely admit it's my favorite beverage, and what's not to love? In addition to black/green teas being good for you, it's inherently healthier than raw tap- or well-water due to boiling during preparation, and tea comes in so many flavors and varieties that it boggles the mind. If we expand the definition to herbal "teas" or tisanes, not only do they give you the benefits above but they're also frequently free for the growing or gathering. (Caveat: always be POSITIVE of what you're picking--identify it from a field guide, preferably one with photos, if you can't arrange for an experienced gatherer to tutor you in person.) Some of us can even grow the true tea plant, Camellia sinensis, in the right climatic zone (USDA 7-9, I believe). Even if you have to purchase your tea, it's still one of the cheapest alternatives to plain water.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

As a sound and forward thinking prepper you should already be on your way to some level of sustainability in the event of some kind of social breakdown.  The food, water, medical, and sanitation needs are boring, but important enough that without them-anything else doesn't really matter.  As readers of this blog I sincerely hope you've utilized the vast wealth of knowledge available here to develop your own systems of storage, rotation, and skills development.  So with all of that as a foundation, I pose a question.  With your family, your plans, and your supplies all depending on you for security-what do you next when whatever calamity strikes?

So many preppers, myself included, get caught up in the gear reviews.  Oh, its so easy to be swept away by the allure of product reviews or the exhilaration of arguing the merits of your favorite “survival” rifles and why all the rest should be used for decorative paperweights.  The bug out bags have become especially mainstream these days.  Its no longer the tin foil hat wearing crowd with three day bags and remote properties fully stocked and ready to go.  The bags, the gear, along with our food and water are easy to research and acquire.  What's proving difficult for many people is finding actual tactical common sense for defending our preps.

Lets pretend for a moment that some disaster has befallen our once great land.  Those with access to remote locations have already made it to their “bug out location.”  Those that are going to shelter in place have gathered their families and are worriedly wondering to do next.  I pray that scenario never comes to pass, but if it does, you will be far ahead of the herd.  With a little common sense,  a little planning, and a few inexpensive supplies it is quite easy to keep anything less than an infantry platoon away from you and the things important to you.
Whether a remote farmstead or a cute little suburb the first thing we need to do is grab our favorite beverage of choice and sit on our front porch for awhile.  The single most important foundation of a good defense plan is a thorough understanding and knowledge of the neighborhoods and adjacent properties next to ours.  People are like any other wild animal in that we almost always choose the easiest path to our objective.  In the Army we called these paths natural lines of drift, and with few exceptions our ability to read the terrain around us and identify the easiest routes of travel proved fatally catastrophic to the idiots trying to ruin our day.  The simple truth of the matter is that while sitting on our porches, and just a little help from our imaginations its quite easy to see which way trouble will come from.  Simply ask yourself this question.  If I was a bad guy and I wanted to get to this house, what would I do?  The human brain is surprisingly agile with matters such as these, and you will very swiftly become aware of the natural lines of drift leading to your property.
After we've done this exercise a time or ten, being careful to pay attention all sides of our property its an easy enough task to look at the google earth imaging for our areas of defense.  The way things look from the air is very often dramatically different from what we see on the ground.  For one, line of sight on ground level makes short distances feel longer than they are.  Looking at things from above will undoubtedly bring security concerns to light that would not seem relevant from ground level. 
So now we understand the terrain around us,  the obvious and natural access points to our homes, and the vulnerable and secure geographic features that we are dealing with.  Now its time for a basic tactical tutorial.  For those not familiar with combat, or those with a hollywood fueled perception of fighting there are a few very simple but very critical truths that are paramount to the success of a well planned defense.  First,  every fighting position needs to be over lapped or “covered” by another.  Meaning that the reachable distances from left to right of each fighting position should overlap at least one and preferably two other positions.  Your defense plan should be faced to the obvious vulnerabilities first, but placed in such a way that it provides 360 coverage.
Secondly,  Distance ALWAYS equals two things.  Time and safety.  The time aspect of this is quite simple.  The further away an enemy is from a target the longer it will take to achieve their objective.  The further away from your loved ones that you can engage a threat provides reaction time for your and your loved ones to initiate whatever pre arranged defense protocols you have established.  This in and of itself provides an added level of safety.  If you are trying to protect your family, and they are going to be in the home, than the defense should be started as far away from the house as is possible.  A good shot with an AR style rifle can ruin your day from five hundred meters in.  I am aware that it may not be possible to establish a perimeter at that distance, but that would be best.  I suggest possibly establishing a forward outpost at this distance if possible.  A forward placed rifle and a few well placed shots may well be all it takes to persuade someone that its better to go somewhere else. 
For the purposes of this article I will presume that the threats we are attempting to dissuade from entering our property are non governmental groups of loosely organized, lightly trained people who didn't clearly understand the precarious nature of our existence, and failed to prepare accordingly.  Therefore it is safe to assume that they will be armed in much the same ways that we are.  Probably some deer rifles,  a few AR or AK variants and a shotgun or two sprinkled in for good measure.  We should not be concerned with heavy automatic fire or anything resembling heavy weapons like mortars and such. 
With that in mind its important that after we identify where to place our defensive positions that we fortify them in such a way as to provide a reasonable level of survivability for those tasked with fighting from them.  I prefer the tried and true hole in the ground with a few sandbags for support.  Simply dig a small trench, maybe five feet long and armpit deep.  Place a double layer of sandbags all along the edges and that should be good enough for most small arms encounters.  Sandbags can be purchased for around forty five cents a bag and come unfilled and neatly stacked making storage an easy task.  I trust that we will all be able to tell when the time has come to bring them and a shovel out of storage and put to them use.
In many families it will be necessary to provide a safe room or mini bunker for non fighting loved ones.  This can be achieved by selecting an interior room of your residence and fortifying it with as many sandbags as is practical.  Obviously this is the reason for all of our other defense plans and should go without saying that special care and consideration should be given to its layout.  I think it most prudent to line the walls of the room with sandbags preferably two layers deep to at least waist height.  If you choose to add additional protective measures after this it would be a wise decision.  If you have a large group of people I might suggest an able bodied fighter to be posted to this room with a shotgun full of 00 buckshot and clear instructions on how to escape.
So,  we've planned a defensive grid consisting of multiple fighting positions facing natural lines of drift along our property.  We've procured sandbags and a shovel or two to be used after the poop hits the fan.  We have designated a hardened “safe room” for our loved ones.  Let's talk about how to function in a tactically sound manner while actually fighting an enemy.
The first and only rule to small arms fights is very simple.  Move or die.  This is especially true if outgunned or out manned, which is basically the same thing.  I can hear you saying “what the hell, this guy just told us to dig holes and use sandbags and fight there.”  Yes, the fighting positions should be manned and fought from, but if that's all you do a smart enemy will just sit tight, find some cover and pick you off when you show yourself.  In any small arms engagement the objective should be to kill or wound any attackers, or remove them from the battle space entirely.
This is accomplished by establishing a base of fire from your hardened positions, and a separate element flanking or maneuvering in such a way that your fire intersects with that of your static position.  Simply put, one group shoots and another group runs like hell around the attacker position and puts fire on them from another direction.  Even one person firing from behind an enemy while they are focused on what's firing at them from the front will suck the energy out of most untrained people.  
All modern warfare is essentially that simple.  Engage your enemy in more directions than he is willing to defend and they will have to retreat.  Plain and simple. With that said it should be inferred that you are not going to be able to do this alone.  You will need as many able bodied fighters as possible.  I pray you are in good standing with neighbors.  Not that they have to be preppers, because quite frankly that isn’t going to happen.  But if you know them, and do a little planning for them, when the time comes and their butts are on the line they will more than likely sign up for anything that resembles a path to safety for them and their families.
Planning goes a long way when it comes defense.  The more you put into it now, the less guesswork you will have when the stress is already high.  I would urge you all to print and secure in document protectors the aerial imagery of your area.  I would urge you to consider who will be tasked with what assignments, and with what weapons.  The smart move is to implement a night watch strategy.  That is when any group is at their weakest and most vulnerable.  I would think that a two hour rotating watch schedule would be the most convenient route for most groups.  Even during daylight hours it is a good idea to have at least one person dedicated to some sort of patrol route.
I am hoping that you have an adequate communication plan in place.  Once guns start going off having good communication is the difference between life and death.  With a good radio, and some pre planning your goals should be that each member of your team is well versed in retreat routes, flanking protocols, and feels comfortable making decisions for themselves.  In the Army we call them battle drills, but if you develop a short list of scenarios and train every member of your team to react the same way to each of those, than in the chaos of a gunfight you will all be well served. 
Leadership is critical once lives are on the line.  With that said, your goal should always be that any member of your team feels comfortable clearing weapons malfunctions on all weapons being used.  It is also important that everyone understands where to go, and what to do at the moment of truth.  Confusion and indecision get people killed, and loses fights.  The flip side is that the biggest difference between a ragtag mob and the navy seals is that each seal knows exactly what to do at all times.  Their brains don’t have to waste time considering options.  They just act, decisively.  They act with what's called violence of action.  They take the fight to enemy before the enemy has time to react and develop a plan.  In our situations most of this can be achieved with a good plan, and a clear understanding of each members responsibilities. 
Obviously, there are many many more variables to a well planned defense strategy.  This is merely the beginning or a template to be built upon.   A base of knowledge that can be customized and molded to fit you particular scenario.  I do not care to get into discussions of what guns are the best for this.  Take what you have, and develop a plan.  As long as you are prepared to act decisively even your grandpas deer gun will be good enough.
  I do not believe in violence as a means of survival, and am not advocating for that here.  However,  if things get bad than its a pretty safe bet that people will get bad just as quickly.  This information will put you in a position to protect the ones you love in a manner that is tactically sound. If the opportunity presents itself I hope to write more on this topic in the coming months because there are many methods of tightening a security plan that would be useful for our prepping community.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

As a blessed and married father of five, you continuously do what you can to make sure that all will go well on a daily basis.  Things like the car running, the roof not leaking, the kids having shoes on their feet, clothes on their back and family having food in their bellies.  Just recently I have been thinking more about the possibilities of a tragedy striking and the “what if” scenarios that could be involved.  You can call me crazy, concerned, or even paranoid but whatever the case may be, I want to be prepared.

I’ve never considered myself to be an apocalyptic nut or a survivalist of sorts.  I have to be honest with myself  though and admit that it completely terrifies me that I will not be prepared to take care of those around me, in which I love dearly, if it came down to the worst case scenario.

What would I do in the event an EMP does strike and all h*ll breaks loose?  What would happen to my family if in the event of an electric grid failure?  We would have no source of heat and any frozen food we did have would spoil.  At this point, when would store shelves be emptied from looting?  I could come up with millions of possibilities in which any could occur but what if it was an even simpler case?  What if I lost my job and my family didn’t have assistance?  When would I see cupboards bare?  Would it happen in a week?  In a month?  What would my next step be?

The answer?  Prepping.  Seems like a scary thing if you ask me.  I think about things like gas masks and warfare.  Maybe prepping is more than that though.  Maybe it’s just paying attention to what you have and making sure that you and those you love are taken care of.  What would I pay for something priceless?  How much time would I invest in something that I treasure?
I want to make sure that my family will have full bellies at the end of the night and that my provisions can handle those unfortunate courses of events if or when they did happen.  I wouldn’t do anything less on any other circumstance that means the world to me.  As an example, I have Band-Aids in the cabinet if anyone hurts themselves.  Heck, I have Band-Aids in the cabinet if my daughter looks at me and says she wants one for a doll which is obviously not bleeding out.

So now I look into the mass of confusion on the Internet which graciously lends me a hand as to where to start, what to do, what to pack, what not to pack, what to eat, what will spoil, etc.  You get the idea! It’s an absolute whirlwind.  It’s a violent tornado of best concepts which all will inevitably succeed or fail, time will only tell.

This morning I woke up reading a portion of a blog which quoted some studies from experts.  It stated that if the electric grid decided to crash east of the Mississippi “my location” that the mega transformers which supply us power would take 12-18 months to manufacture.  If this is true, I could be without power for 12-18 months?!  Along with this little tidbit of information, it also stated that we have 300 of these mega transformers that potentially could need replaced in a catastrophic event.  Where am I located on the list of first come, first serve in that scenario?  Here’s the scarier stat; if out of the 130 million people who would be affected by this scenario, it is also estimated that 117 million people would be dead within one year.  Hold on one second.  Within one year!  Gee!  I always thought we had things under wrap better than that.  I mean, I can go grab a gourmet pizza and some drinks and be home watching my favorite saved show with the family on any night of the week but this morning I read a stat that states in a blink of an eye all chaos is going to begin.  Nice.

So here’s my plan:  I am not going to pay attention to the hype.  I know myself.  I would drive myself completely insane if I was constantly looking for tragedy to fall on me.  In fact, I am a 100% sure that I would have a migraine by day three and an eye twitch by day seven or eight.  The year 2000 has indeed come and gone.  The Mayans failed to have a guy keep writing on their calendar.  At this point, I am confident that there have been thousands of other TEOTWAWKI scenarios that have come and gone and yet we are still here.
I asked myself if the impossibilities of something happening outweighed the possibilities of something not happening, would I rather be wrong or not be prepared.  This is what I answered myself, “Yes, you would rather be wrong but you should plan sensibly.” 

Reading another blog led me to a 52 week calendar which listed anything I should need if a tragedy occurred.  I needed to buy 50 lbs. of wheat on one of the weeks.  (Okay, where do I buy bulk wheat?)  I have 7 people in my family.  That means I need 350 lbs. of wheat.  In the same calendar year, there was another week that I was buying wheat yet again…700 lbs. of wheat waiting to be bought and stored in my house!  Now let’s do the same for rice at 150 lbs. per person.  At this point I would have to throw away the Christmas tree and décor, along with half of my childhood keepsakes, and still have 47 more weeks of stuff to buy.  At this point I’m done.  Or am I?

I know what my family will eat.  I know our habits and those that I don’t, you better bet that my wife will lend a helpful word of advice on where I am wrong on those opinions.  But, if I only looked at the 52 week “oh my gosh” calendar, even with the start path right in front of me, I would feel lost.  It also came to mind that if a crisis began halfway through the year on this 52 week plan we would only have half of our stock needed to survive.

Leaning against the kitchen island I ask my wife, “How many times a week do we eat green beans?”  Her answer was sweet and simple, “A few.”  I ask, “What about corn?”  She answered with a gently laugh, “Why?”  This is when I realized that I didn’t know anything about what my family eats and how we eat it. Thank God for my wife!  Per our conversation, I now know more realistic estimates of what we eat and how often we eat it.  Some of our kids will never eat one particular food but for others, it’s a favorite.

At this point we’re going to collaborate in buying canned goods on sale and if we have coupons, you better bet we’re going to use those too!  My wife says Chef Boyardee and Coca Cola are a must on that list.  I personally would love to have coffee on the list.  So it’s on the list as well.  I’m guessing with time and trial and error, we will be able to tweak this plan to accommodate our family.  Above all, essentials will come first…remember, sensible.

I have looked at the best by dates and found most canned goods are marked two-three years out.  That should give me ample time to use the previous year’s stock and then restock so nothing goes to waste. 
In the case that we would need more stock, I will locate the non-swelling, un-rusted cans from the stock of 117 million people which had a two year stock pile to feast upon and met an unfortunate demise.
Am I wrong?  Probably.  Initially I anticipated on buying a three years stock pile but I believe two is a fantastic start.

I am also looking into buying food grade buckets to store rice and beans in.  I have read that white rice stores better for longer, so I am going to start with white rice.  When I feel I have enough white rice, I will get bold and start buying brown rice. The dry beans…where to start?  I figure between the random assortments, we will buy what’s on sale and have a nice variety to choose from.  I still have some homework to do on researching bean spoilage.

I figure at the same point of time when shopping, if anything else looks good to me that will store nicely, I’ll make that purchase.  I laughed when I was talking this through with my brother in law.  I said, “Man, I’m going to buy Ramen!  If I get sick of beef, I always have chicken.  If I get sick of chicken, my backup is shrimp!”  It seems simple enough to just grab a few more items to throw on the shelves.
Also on the essential list will be water.  Lots of water!  Water will be needed for cooking, drinking and washing.  Though I do have a few ponds nearby, I am not sure that those will be suburban swim holes.  I’d rather take my chances with cleaner water for the cooking.

Last but not least, I need batteries and flashlights.  Kids are scared of the dark and at that point of time, I might be too!  Flashlights for everyone!  Oh, and fire starters.  I would like a few starter sets in which I could slowly work on perfecting before I need to use them in a crucial situation.

On the long list, I would like to start a larger garden than I already have.  I’ve been planning to buy heirloom seeds this year for planting so I can save the seeds for next year’s crop.  I can’t wait to can goods which we have grown with our bare hands, while my wife teaches our kids the principles and importance of self-sustaining.
I’m prepping.  At least beginning to and I am more than willing to take this journey because like I said before, I’d rather be safe than sorry.  Let’s face it, you have to start somewhere.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

If you take prepping seriously, you’ve probably stored up quite the array of supplies—or are at least working diligently at it.  You may have even downloaded the Excel spreadsheet found on Survival Blog, and if you’re like me, you might have been slightly overwhelmed at first, at the number of things that are necessary in order to really become self-sufficient in the case of a SHTF scenario.  For those of us who are actively preparing for whatever may come, prepping is a never-ending exercise in gathering, training and building.  In between all of these prepping activities, however, sometimes we forget that one of the single most important supplies in our “arsenal” is an intangible thing.  Morale, otherwise known as positive attitude, can mean the difference between life and death—whether you have 2 days’ worth of food or two years of it.

Morale is so critical that the military spends an incredible amount of time and money training troops to understand its necessity and teaching them how to maintain it even in the most dismal of situations.  Major Alexander Cox, in a monograph published by the Army's Command and General Staff College in 1995, explained that morale and unit cohesion are “the intangible entity that bonds men together and motivates them to push themselves to the last ounce of their strength or ability.”  In the worst case scenario, that type of motivation can be the last deciding factor in victory or defeat, whether the situation is a battlefield or just keeping your family focused on surviving from day to day when everything is crashing down around you.

So what exactly is morale?  It seems to be a fairly elusive concept that is often oversimplified or even given trite, clichéd meanings.  I polled several co-workers of mine, for instance, and asked them how they would define the word, and I received a plethora of varying responses.  “Just staying in a good mood,” said one.  Another stated that morale was “something you have in the military.”  Oddly enough, when I asked my boss, a former medevac chopper pilot in Vietnam, he gave me the best answer yet.  “Morale,” he said, “is the absolute belief, way down in your gut, that you will survive by any means necessary, for yourself and for the man next to you.” 

This sounds noble and courageous and lofty, but how does this translate to the average citizen in a SHTF situation?  How does one impart this to the members of their family and/or group?  More importantly, how does one cultivate this within himself?   Many prepper articles about morale offer games to play, or little distractions to engage in to keep the mind busy.  While these are all helpful, the truth is that morale building starts long before SHTF, and it is far more than just stashing a deck of cards in your bugout bag.  Morale is a mindset, a combination of core belief system, emotional health, training, and focus—and one member of the group without it can jeopardize everyone else.

The Marine Corps is often held up as the standard of esprit de corps, or the spirit of the unit.  What makes a Marine so different from other servicemen and women?  Certainly any member of the Armed Forces contributes something, but the mindset of a Marine is wholly different from the rest.  This is because Marines are not only taught to fight and kill, but they are taught the history of their beloved Corps.  They are taught about the spirit of those who came before and they have a pride instilled in them that spurs them on in situations that would break the average man.  They are part of a legacy, if you will, and every one of them believes forever after in the values and the standards of their Corps.  “Ex-Marine” is not something they say [as some even chafe at "former Marine"] , for they are Marines until the day they die.  Every piece of a Marine’s uniform is a symbol of a battle, a hard-earned day of reckoning—right down to the red “blood stripe” down the side of their dress trousers.  Everything has a meaning, and no recruit leaves boot camp without understanding the stories and the pride behind them.  They cultivate a mindset, and that training becomes the foundation for their endeavors both in and out of uniform, for the rest of their lives.

“So what?” you might answer.  “How does that help me here in my home, with my family, facing the whole End of the World As We Know It?”  Trust me when I tell you that you have far more in common with the United States Marines than you think—or at least, you should.

For those of us who call ourselves patriots, who love our nation and believe in the Constitution, prepping is not just setting up food stores in case of economic collapse.  It is not just putting escape plans in place in case of fire or tornado or flood.  For us, prepping also includes the solemn knowledge that we are in 1775 all over again.  Our freedoms are under attack.  Our government seeks to subjugate us under a socialist philosophy.  Our privacy is non-existent, and if the administration has its way, we will be disarmed very soon.  Stripped of our ability to defend ourselves, we will simply be sheep led to the slaughter, with no recourse, no way to save ourselves.  This is a sobering realization, for this knowledge brings with it another fact: We may be called upon to defend our freedoms in our streets, perhaps even in our homes.  The idea of morale, then, takes on a whole new meaning, for suddenly it is not just doing some stretches or playing cards by candlelight to “stay in a good mood.”  It is keeping that same frame of mind that allowed Marine Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly to rally his Marines in the darkest hour, screaming, “Come on! Do you want to live forever?”  It is the frame of mind that drove American fighting men through the mud and the gore of Iwo Jima, through 30 days of endless fighting.  It is the mindset that pushed thousands of wounded and starving Marines to survive Bataan. 

For us, morale begins with understanding that we have a history.  We are the descendants of Nathan Hale, of Patrick Henry and John Adams.  Our ancestors faced this same fight, and in their writings we see not only their humanity and their fear, but we also see their courage, and their steadfast belief in liberty.  We see their own willingness to do whatever was necessary to ensure they won this battle; even if they died, they would die free.  This, then, is the first step to building morale in your families and neighborhoods—understanding our history, and the legacy that we carry in our blood.  We should be teaching our children about our ancestors, and teaching them about who we come from and what was sacrificed on our behalf.

Secondly, morale comes from a core belief system.  Are we sheep?  Or are we the sons and daughters of liberty?  What do you believe in?  What is worth fighting for—or dying for?  When you’ve asked and answered these questions within yourself, there is a sense of confidence that stems from that self-awareness.  People who already know what they believe and how far they are willing to go in defense of that belief have a certain peace because the internal struggle about these things is no longer necessary.  They are free to move to action.  Corporal Jason Dunham did not have to stop and think about what he believed when the insurgent he was guarding attacked him and his men, dropping a live grenade on the ground.  Dunham did not need to stop and think about whether it was his job to protect his men, or whether he loved them enough to give himself for them.  He already knew the answers to these questions, and so he acted, shielding the grenade with his helmet---and his body.  He died eight days later…but his men are alive because of him, because he did not need to question his core beliefs during crisis.

There is a misconception that those who are willing to fight for liberty do not value life, or that they are eager for war.  This could not be further from the truth.  It is because we do value these things that we choose our path.  Please understand—I am not advocating that we all rush out and find a way to die for each other.  On the contrary: we are learning and preparing to survive.  But in order to survive, we must be willing to do what is necessary within the parameters of our moral code and belief system.  We only truly believe that which we are willing and able to defend.

Training is another critical piece of the morale puzzle.  Firefighters train constantly so that when they are inside an inferno, their mind can stay clear.  When you train, morale becomes easier to maintain because you have already prepared for the situation you find yourself in.  When you learn mental discipline, you can steel your mind against the emotions that we all possess, and get the job done.  We put flashlights and candles in strategic areas so that when the lights go out, we don’t have to hunt around for light.  We load rounds into magazines so that when we need them, they are already prepared.  In the same way, we must practice mental discipline so that when we are tested, we can remain strong—and keep the positive attitude that is so necessary.
Those of us who believe in the founding principles of this nation, who understand the purpose and the cost of liberty, know we have a target on our backs.  We have no illusions about what is coming.  But we prepare.  We learn.  We teach.  We persevere.  Because morale, at its core, is survival.

Imagine you and your family are asleep in your home and at 2am you hear a downstairs glass window breaking.  You hear voices laughing and cursing, saying that they are going to F-Up you and your family.  Based on the historical length of violent encounters, you know that this whole violent situation will likely be over in 1 to 3 minutes.

This is not a pleasant scenario, but I am setting the stage for you to do a mental exercise.  I will not give you solutions; rather you will.  As Gavin DeBecker describes in his must-read book, “The Gift of Fear” you already have within you much more knowledge than you might first think.  Join me as I lead you along a train of thought and as you consider my ideas, I ask that you challenge them, all of them; you are in charge.  From these ideas and your own, I challenge you to develop potential solutions.

Who Shall Protect Us? A professional team of warriors would be a good choice, perhaps a military Special Forces group, a team of private “security” contractors or perhaps your city’s SWAT team.  These men with their High Speed Low Drag (HSLD) gear, training and mentality would be an excellent choice.  They will happily respond if your situation warrants it; how close in distance and time do you think they are to your home?  Let’s assume they have just been executing search warrants and are all geared up, mobile and ready to go.  In another stroke of good luck, they are working only five minutes away from your home!  Yeah!  Let’s keep this as one of our options!

Another choice would be your local government law enforcement responders, a group of men and women that shoot an average of 200 qualification shots with their pistols each year, do not know what you or your family looks like, are not friends with your dog, have never been inside your home or studied its layout and are at least 2+ minutes away.  (Contact your local law enforcement agency and inquire about their average response time to emergencies, it is probably at least double what I assumed above.) 

Most of these nice folks have received between 20 and 160 hours of training on dealing with emergencies like yours, and 2% or so regularly practice martial arts, paintballing, shooting and tactical maneuvers; perhaps they will be the ones that respond.  These people will also collect evidence and write a report of what happened, including detailed descriptions of your family’s blood splatter patterns.  Consider how much time an average cop spends gathering evidence and writing reports compared to actively using their hands and tools to counter active and dynamic violence.  I do not aim to disparage cops, I do however suggest that we remove our romantic movie-based views of them and consider what their true capabilities are.

A third choice would be for you and your spouse to respond tactically to the situation.  What good can you do though?  You don’t have a police uniform or a star or shield to pin on your chest or access to criminal record checks.  You have not been to a 6-month police academy. What could you possibly do?  You are helpless, right?

Perhaps you are helpless, but I suggest that you are not.  I propose that if you and your spouse spend even an hour each week developing your skills, within one year, You will be the best of the three options above.  Depending on how much preparation you and yours are willing to do, this will require a lifestyle change. 

What kind of “training” can you do without a level 1-alpha security clearance?  What can you do to prepare?  Following are some suggestions, not all are necessary and the list can be as big as your imagination allows.  I suggest making all of these fun!  If you are having fun doing them, you are more likely to continue and will think of your training as fun recreation rather than a chore.

Take your spouse on a date to play paintball every few months!  Spending an hour learning from the school of hard balls to use concealment to observe and record in your subconscious your adversary’s movements and pre-motion indicators along with many other tactical skills will be of great value.

Take classes in hand-to-hand fighting.  It is prudent to evaluate your personality before beginning.  If you habitually start diets and don’t stick to them or join gyms on New Year’s Day with big plans for the year, then drop out by the end of January; perhaps you don’t have “ideal” self-discipline.  Yes, this is a weakness, and one that I share with you.  Until we fix this weakness, we should be realistic in our training.  Studying Taekwondo or Judo might not be the best option for a person lacking in discipline.  These take many years of dedicated study to turn one into a tough guy.  Mixed martial arts, boxing, and many other styles dispense with the “extras” and focus on fighting immediately.  Hiring a private tutor for a monthly or twice-monthly lesson who is an active or retired MMA fighter that is able to communicate well with you and your spouse and comprehends your goals might be an excellent option.  To be competent, you will absolutely need to practice on your own.

Watch some felony fights on YouTube and search for real street fighting videos.  These show how things really happen in a real fight.  Use these graphic and perhaps upsetting videos to make up your own scenarios, “What if I walk into a gas station and a drunk guy shoves me in my chest and I fly backwards and hit the store shelves, what could I do?”  If someone has your spouse in a headlock, what exactly would be a good way to respond?  Consider many scenarios and think about responses.

Learn the defensive tactics that cops and security personnel use.  If you have someone “proned out” at gunpoint and police are 20 minutes away, how should your spouse handcuff and search the man for weapons?  If you are alone and have someone proned out and police are nearby, should you approach them to handcuff them?  How do you put someone in a position of disadvantage to search them and handcuff them?

Investigate personal protection dogs.  Contact an expert like Ridgeback for advice on solutions for all budgets.  Dogs can serve not only as protectors in a fight, but more importantly can help prevent the fight from ever happening.

When you and your spouse dine out, select restaurants that allow you to “people watch.”  Come up with your own secret codes for evaluating people.  Perhaps “nice lady” means a person that a criminal would likely target for robbery, so when you see an affluent woman in furs with a thousand dollar purse walking with a slouch and ear buds in her ears you can say to your spouse, “She looks like a nice lady.”  Look for “victims” through the lens of a predator and look for predators with the lens of an astute observer.  Doing so will help you learn not to be a victim or appear to be potential one.

Read Terry Vaughan’s entertaining book on reading body language, “A Dad’s Guide to Screening Your Daughter’s Boyfriends.”  Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker and “On Killing” or “On Combat” by David Grossman.  Play poker with friends or at local tournaments, focusing on improving your ability to read the subtle "tells" of others.  This important skill set can help keep you safe.

Find local IDPA and USPA matches and compete frequently.  While the stress of a timer and a handful of observers does not exactly replicate the stress of a home invasion robbery, it is a good substitute.  Be humble at these matches and identify the nice folks that shoot well.  Ask them to watch you and give you tips.

Find a good shooting instructor and learn some basics of tactical shooting.  Be careful in selecting an instructor, of the more than 100,000 instructors in the US, few are “excellent.”  3 Hours of private instruction with Gabe Suarez, Clint Smith or another Top-25 Shooting Instructor will cost the same as a 40-hour class at a certificate-mill academy, but some believe that you get more bang for your buck.  Admittedly, I am biased, and do agree.  J

Use your local instructor for a 1 or 2 hour tune-up every few months, and if your budget allows, use your shooting instructor much like a personal trainer in a gym.  They will be able to guide you through great drills and help ensure that you are doing things properly.

Visit your local shooting range and practice shooting as much as possible.  Buy a Dillon reloading machine to make this practice much less expensive.  Set a goal of 500 or 1,000 or 4,000 rounds per month of practice. 

Dry practice at home!  You can practice the most important fundamentals without live ammo.  Your draw stroke, front sight focus and trigger press can be practiced safely thousands of times.  Many Top 25 instructors suggest that 90% of one’s practice be dry practice.

Take the NRA's Personal Protection Inside the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home or other similar courses. 

Practice safety drills with your family.  Make this a fun exercise and include your children.  Make your practice age appropriate, but I suggest you push the envelope to make it as realistic as possible as you and your family play your, “Defending Our Castle” game.  Does everyone know where the safe room is?  Does everyone know the 4 keys to punch to call 911 on your cell phones?  What other tactics are appropriate to teach and practice?  Perhaps you might also play a game rehearsing roles of each family member if you witness a serious vehicle collision right in front of you or if your house catches fire.  It is important not to frighten your family into thinking that a violent threat is imminent.  

If you have a friend that is a cop, go over scenarios with them, keeping in mind that your goals are not identical.  Good cops will happily share tactics with you if you are a normal peaceful person.  If you have a friend that just returned from a war zone and has experience performing violent home invasions, ask them to help with your defensive plan.

Play a sport at least twice-monthly that requires fast reading of your opponent’s body movements.  Basketball, boxing, soccer and many other sports will help you not only in understanding and predicting body movements in others but are also a great way to stay fit.

Send a Christmas card to the patrol division of your local law enforcement station, they will probably put it on their bulletin board.  Have it include a picture of you and your family in front of your home with the caption, “Happy Holidays from the Doe family at 1234 Elm Street.”

Build a few gear bags or gear vests.  If you shoot one intruder and the other is being held at gunpoint by your spouse, do you have a way of securing the intruder with handcuffs, zip ties or duct tape?  Would a flashlight and maybe your old cell phone (charged) be handy?  (Remember, cell phones without active plans still work for 911.)  What else should be in the bag?  Pepper spray, an extra car key, a key to your neighbor’s house…?

Evaluate your neighbor’s mentality and coordinate with them appropriately.  If they have their heads buried deeply in the sand, at least hint that if anyone ever starts a neighborhood watch program, your family would enjoy being involved.  If they are more savvy and trusted, perhaps they would allow you to hide a laminated simple floor plan of your house in the middle of a magazine hidden on their property.  Might you do the same for them?  Might this be of use to a responding cop, “There is a floor plan of our house under the South end of the camper shell at 1254 Elm Street.”

Learn about use of force standards and relevant laws.  Recognize that you will be sued if you ever shoot someone, even if you were absolutely justified in doing so.  Recognize that it will cost tens of thousands of dollars for you to “win” and get rid of the ridiculous lawsuit.  Consider that you are not only morally better off, but also financially better off if you can solve problems peacefully without seriously harming anyone.

Multi-tasking practice is a great way to improve your skills.  Why not practice your draw stroke while sitting on the toilet, and perhaps throw a few punches and do a few parries.  Each time you walk through your house alone, pretend a bad guy is playing hide and seek and is hidden somewhere.  Use your imagination to develop drills, perhaps connecting them to tasks that you will do anyway.  Perhaps each time you urinate you practice American Kenpo inward and outward blocks five times.  While brushing your teeth with your strong hand, practice eye gouging moves with your weak hand.  What else?
I hope the above ideas have helped get your brain wheels get turning.  I hope you have already decided that some of the ideas are really dumb and are not right for you and yours.  I also hope some of the ideas will serve as a foundation on which you can improve and implement.  Every single idea has pros and cons, and it is up to you to weigh them.  I will make the bold and controversial suggestion that if you train better than cops and know your equipment, know your home and your family better than cops, that you are pretty darn capable!

Objections?  I promise that if you show this article to a police officer friend, they will advise that most of it is ridiculous and that you should not try to “play cop” and handcuff and search people; after all you are not as highly trained and practiced as they are, are you?  They will likely advise that you plan to call 911 and let the professionals do their job.

I will not argue with those that disagree, I was once a cop and would have taken their side knowing what I knew then.  I still recommend that one of your first steps in a violent emergency should be to call "911 SEND!"  My suggestion is not that you eliminate government law enforcement’s response, I only suggest that you prepare to handle the situation until the cops arrive.

About The Author: Shepard Humphries is a former Police Officer, having served in Investigations, Patrol and SWAT as a sniper team leader. Shepard resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he operates several small businesses including an executive protection and security consultation firm and two firearms related businesses, the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience  and Counter Violence Institute. He provides shooting instruction, consultation and public speaking services in Jackson and elsewhere.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Who said prepping couldn’t be fun?   Granted, prepping is something that should be taken seriously, but in our journey to prepare for a possible eventual catastrophe we can enjoy the ride.  I think of it as setting up home, going camping and uniting the family all wrapped up in one. 

In my eagerness and urgent desire to see friends and family prepare for an oncoming disaster, either natural or manmade, I feel like I have frightened or overloaded them into inaction.  Discouraged by my lack of persuasion I was reminded of one of Aesop’s fables where the Sun and the Wind argued as to who was stronger.  During their passionate debate, the Sun saw a traveler walking down a road wearing his coat.  The Sun suggested that the one able to get him to remove his coat was indeed the strongest.  The Wind accepted the challenge and started blowing as hard as he could.   The stronger he blew, the tighter the man held on to his coat.  After the Wind did all he could, he gave up assured that nothing would get the man to remove his coat.  At last the Sun came out and spread his warmth over the traveler at which time he removed his coat settling the question of who was the strongest. 

In like manner, many of us eager preppers have distanced people from us through fear and have paralyzed them into doing nothing.  This should give us pause to reflect whether it is more important to be right or to get results.  If our love and care is greater than our need to be right, we need to put away the strength of the Wind and bring out the warmth of the Sun.  It would behoove us to limit conversations by merely drawing awareness to recent catastrophic news reports and offering bite-size solutions for averting potential calamities for their families.

When I was a child, I found a grove of pine trees near our home.  The limbs were full and low seemingly impenetrable, but for some reason I ventured in and found a tree-lined cathedral inside.  I was in awe!  In my childlike state I imagined it to be my home secure from all external danger.  I immediately went to work clearing the area of debris and setting up house.  I found pine boughs to use as a sweeper and used stumps as tables and chairs.  When satisfied with my work, I invited my friends to join me for imaginary tea parties as we enjoyed playing house all summer long. 

Just as the grove of trees seemed impenetrable so many years ago, preparing adequately for the myriad of catastrophic scenarios that could befall us seemed overwhelmingly impossible.  Once I embraced its eventuality, I found comfort in the shadow of its boughs through like-minded individuals sharing their knowledge in books, web sites and blogs.  I gained a sense of security through a cyber-family where all were welcome and useful information was shared.

In like manner, I always enjoyed camping.  Half the fun of camping was seeing how much I could pack in very little space.  It was almost like playing house with miniature objects.   As I got older, my camping skills became sharper, better…more creative and sometimes more expensive.  Camping became a game for me.  The object of the game was to provide as many comforts of home without taking much space and without compromising the outdoor experience.  

Prepping is much like camping, yet is far more encompassing which allows for more creativity and many more alternatives.  The explorations of these options expand the mind and unite individuals in a like cause.

I’m older now but the little girl in me is still alive and well.  I still like setting up home and camping in the woods, but now I have a husband to share my joys.  I am blessed that we have the same mindset concerning prepping.  I don’t need to convince him, nor does he have to convince me to invest money and time in preparing for potential calamities. 

The bond between us has grown through our prepping odyssey.  We compare notes and plan our next purchases.  We organize, arrange, design, and frame our goals as we continue to build our future together.  When we started our journey, in our eagerness to increase damage control, we started out thinking big.  But as we researched alternatives, we learned how to compact things in our modest home to maximize our limited resources.  

We don’t have the funds to set up a camp in Iowa with barbed wires and endless guns and ammunition; however, we can be somewhat comfortable in strained conditions.  Our goal is to remain strong in times of trouble so we can help others and offer them hope.  Though everyone’s objectives may be different, the important thing is to have attainable goals and take the necessary steps to reach them.

Sometimes I question whether we are doing enough or whether we’ll survive, but then I remember that our future is in God’s hands.  Eventually, we will all meet our creator.  Whether it is now or later, I’m having fun and life is good.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hey, Jim:
I think we need some more collective thought on this. I've got more time in the air than most people--4,000+ hours as an Army helicopter pilot (where we wore a cleverly-stocked survival vest; alas, a lot of the contents would not pass TSA scrutiny), 2 million+ miles on Delta, and about that many more on defunct airlines (especially Eastern and TWA). Getting stuck somewhere could happen to me on a trip. Here's some of my thinking (and I still need some help):

It seems to me that anything important should be in the carry-on bag, not checked. Most frequent-flyers will avoid checking a bag, unless going on vacation with spouse/family. So, that says we need ideas and separate strategies for carry-on and checked bags.

I've thought a bit about what I might be able to do in a hijack situation. I am much more realistic about this now than when I was young, buff, and a bit more foolish. I have read about various strategies for sneaking illegal devices, substances, and gadgets through security, but the downside seems too severe for me, especially when one's livelihood depends on being able to fly (getting caught a time or two will earn a slot on the "no-fly" list). Here's at least a partial solution:

In the carry-on bag, include three rolls of coins--one each of Walking Liberty [silver] halves, pre-'65 [silver] quarters, and Mercury dimes. This is $25 face value of silver. At today's silver price and value (per, that's about $350-worth, if I did the math right. That should be enough for a domestic SHTF situation/stranding. If you think you need more, I would carry the gold coins in my wallet/purse. Also in the carry-on bag--along with your athletic shoes (if they're not on your feet)--will go a rolled up pair of tube socks. I think the combination of the Walkers and a tube sock could come in pretty handy, if needed (swing hard).

Beyond that, I have no idea. Space blanket? Disposable poncho? Water purification straw? Why don't we put this out for suggestions and ideas? Or, have you plowed this ground before and I missed it? - AAA (Another Army Aviator)

As someone who spent several years asking people if they packed their own bag, and did it contain any of the following items (while pointing at the dangerous goods poster).  I would like to mention that at my locale the matches, magnesium and entire fire group would have been removed from the bag, as would any complete MREs. (The MRE eater pack is a no-no, and knowing which ones have heaters was not something any of us were likely to know.)

I would recommend anyone, as you said, to check with The airlines policy, Government agency (FAA, TC, etc) and airport security. If any one of them says no, don't bring it. Fortunately this information is all usually on the web these days. - Dave W.

I would caution TR from North Carolina against packing flammable/combustible materials in checked baggage, no matter how it's packaged (especially matches). Not only is it against fed regs, it is dangerous to everyone on board. Believe me, as a commercial pilot I know those rules are there for safety reasons. You don't want to end up like ValueJet in 1996. Consult for a good list of what is permissible in both carry-on and checked luggage. If TR wants a fire starter, he could carry a lighter in his carry-on bag no problem. Safe travels!

That was a thought provoking article. I purposely left my last job due to the heavy travel requirements. However I too sought risk mitigation while traveling ... I carried a minimal amount of items with me so I never checked baggage, however since my trips were to the same locations time and again (including outside CONUS) ... I found locations where I could keep appropriate items necessary should I need to try to "manage" in case of emergency ... this sometimes involved like minded individuals ...sometimes it meant leaving a bag locked in the hotel porters closet (big tip and explanations that I didn't like continually hauling my hair curlers and curling irons on the airlines ... hotels I frequented didn't bat an eye at the frequent guest who wanted to leave a bag.)
Obviously doesn't work if you don't return often, and I always assumed that the bag might walk off ... I was always prepared to replenish/ replace.
Just some more food for thought.

Keep up the good work. - Debra, Somewhere in the Midwest


Dear Editor,
To T. R. in North Carolina and anyone else who flies frequently did you know that the airlines have provided you with weapons and a host of defensive equipment?

I worked on big jets as a line mechanic for many years Boeing 737s to 747s, DC10s, MD11s and some others.

Let’s start before you board the plane for when you get off, how does an oak walking cane with the end rounded and covered with a rubber tip sound. Take some martial arts training that will teach you how to use the cane as a weapon. Medical equipment isn’t forbidden on air planes and don’t count against your carry-on baggage. Oh the rounded tip well cover it with a rubber grip and no one will know it’s rounded and it will have more impact power than a flat tip and in snowy climates you can get pointed tips that flip up and down as needed for traction on ice and snow.

Now you are in the boarding area start your profiling of your fellow passengers and be aware of where the problems you have identified wind up especially if they are scattered to strategic parts of the cabin. Choke points are the bulkhead between first Class and Coach and if there are lavatories or Galleys in mid cabin as on large wide bodies and at the rear of the aircraft. I like to fly First Class and have an aisle seat. This way I can view the passengers as they board and size them up while sipping a Sprite.

When you board the aircraft do at least two things, take a look into the first class galley and view the food service carts and note how they are secured. They usually are held in place by to methods, one a large usually red lever turned down to hold them in place and a break mechanism in the center of the cart on the floor and some have handles to grab that must be rotated to move the cart these are usually the drink service carts  these are the best as they have sodas, ice and other items in them for minor very minor ballistic protection but it will be the best you can get but this also makes them heavy to be used as a battering ram against someone in the aisle and you can throw the cans or shake them up and then open them in the face of the bad people. This can cause confusion, minor eye blinding and a reaction to clean oneself so a distraction. The second thing is to ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extension. If you are thin just say you don’t want to feel trapped and like the extra room the extension give you, me I don’t have this problem. Why do I need a seat belt extension well I do need one but if you have one it makes things easier just extend the buckle to the max and now you have a “flail”. That buckle will hurt. Let’s say the flight attendant won’t give you an extension not to worry Boeing gave you one.

During the hubbub of boarding if you can before you sit down grab hold of your seat cushion and pull up, it’s held in place by Velcro strips. It is designed as an auxiliary flotation device. There are two elastic straps on the back to hold onto if you are in the water, correct, but slip your arm in it and now you have a small shield that can be used for blades up to about 3 inches and to block punches. And lo and behold underneath the seat cushion is where the seatbelts are fastened to the seat frame. By FAA requirements these must be cotter pinned but most of the time they are not. Just a snap holds them to the little clevis attached to the seat frame. They are quick and easy to be removed and now you have a flail on the end of about a 16 inch strap.

Now let’s look into the pouch on the seatback in front of you, there is a rather thick in-flight magazine in there, in fact every seatback has or should have one. Now what can you do with a magazine? Well not much but if you hold it by its spine (back) and throw it in a spinning motion the pages will fly open hopefully distracting and confusing your opponent and you hit them with the seatbelt buckle and then give a push with your seat cushion which is attached to your arm and do a leg sweep or trip your opponent somehow now they are on the cabin floor pretty much at your mercy and the mercy of the other passengers.

Another thing to look for is where are the oxygen bottles kept? They are steel bottles and are formidable weapons as are fire extinguishers. Discharge a chemical fire extinguisher at a person and it is very confusing and blinding. Also look for the first aid kit it is removable and can be thrown at a bad person.

Guns on a plane, Well unless you are a sky marshal so don’t try it but if the bad person has one remember the soda service cart if you can get to it and the rapid decompression of an airplane by a gun shot well this isn’t Hollywood you won’t squeeze through a bullet hole in the side of the plane or a window.

Door opening in flight well forget it. I was a mechanic and we did pressure checks I couldn’t open a door of a pressurized aircraft if my life depended on it and I was a big strong person then.

Other things to look for when you board is overhead dropdown panels. On most 757 Aircraft life rafts are located in the overhead in the aisle of first class two latches hold it up and a safety catch string keeps it from coming all the way down it’s easy the unhook and drop it all the way now you have another barrier.

Oh and don’t forget your cane.

While none of these are deadly it could even your chances in a sky jacking and after all in a sky jacking you have nothing to loose but everything to gain and if there are other passengers of similar mind set well no airplane should be flown into a skyscraper again. - OldAlaskan


I'd carry a few extra wool socks, and rolls of quarters or a large padlock. buying knives gets expensive- but putting the rolled quarters in the socks makes a useful slap implement. it's probably not lawful in most un-gun-friendly states but it's likely to be something that if you carry the change rolled won't get taken from you through security.  nothing is more useless then a man with out a knife (as I was taught as a kid)- but since humans generally can adapt with intelligence we can overcome most roadblocks. - Fitzy

JWR Replies: In addition to their use as an ersatz sap in a sturdy sock, a large padlock also makes a dandy "brass knuckle." Just hold the padlock in your fist with your middle finger through the steel loop of the lock. Especially if is not expected, the blows that you land while holding a padlock can be quite devastating. There is an advantage in not using one in a sock sap, which generally "telegraphs" your intent. Just be sure that you use a lock that is large enough, or you can strain or break a finger. Test fit a few locks at your local hardware store.

Also see my previous comments in SurvivalBlog on Kubotan-type striking weapons. Some of these--mostly felt tip pens--go through airport security with ease. One good currently-available product for this is the Sharpie Magnum Permanent Marker.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I have recently been reading, and as an avid hiker/backpacker/adventurer, I am very interested in what this site has to offer. I have been reading the different TEOTWAWKI posts, and I have read different TEOTWAWKI situations, learning and understanding more and more about survival. I enjoy giving back to the community, and I have been searching for my own TEOTWAWKI situation that I can use to help myself and other people learn from it. I realized that about 1 year ago, a really serious TEOTWAWKI situation happened to my community (and family).

I am a religious Jewish 18 year old living in New York. My family and live in Far Rockaway, approximately nine blocks away from the beach. In other words, we are very close to the ocean. About one year ago, we heard on the news that a really big hurricane (Superstorm Sandy) was heading our way. Since we live very close to the ocean, you might think that we get hit with hurricanes all the time. The meteorologists seem to think that also, and about once or twice a year, we get a warning to evacuate. The truth is that we have been getting these warnings since I was born, and NOTHING has ever happened. A few examples are (as quoted from the NYC OEM web site):

Hurricane Felix lingered off the East Coast for nearly a week in 1995, menacing the northeastern U.S. before it finally drifted out to sea.
A weakening Tropical Storm Bertha brought heavy rain to the City in July 1996.
Hurricane Edouard veered out to sea after tracking toward New York City around Labor Day 1996.
In September 1999, Tropical Storm Floyd brought sustained 60 mph winds and dumped 10-15 inches of rain on upstate New Jersey and New York State over a 24-hour period. Flash flooding from this tropical storm — one of the most powerful to affect New York City in a decade — forced hundreds of people to leave their homes in counties just outside the five boroughs. Floyd caused New York City's schools to close for the first time since 1996 and led the city to open emergency storm shelters as a precautionary measure.
In August 2011, Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm right before it made landfall in New York City. In preparation the City issued the first-ever mandatory evacuation of coastal areas on August 26, 2011. The evacuation encompassed 375,000 residents living in evacuation zone A, the entire Rockaway Peninsula, and 34 health care facilities located in evacuation zone B. The City sheltered 10,000 evacuees at 81 shelters.

There have actually been more, but since they didn't affect the entire New York metropolitan region, only Far Rockaway, they didn’t count them. I remember Hurricane Isabella some time ago. But the bottom line is that most of these hurricanes are just fluff and nothing really happened despite all the warnings the news gave us.

As a result of all these factors, whenever a hurricane happens, no matter how intense the warnings are, almost nobody evacuates (at least in my community.) Just to slam the message home, in 2011, the year before Sandy, when the news people, the government, and local organizations told us how “this is the craziest, most intense storm to ever hit the Rockaways…..etc.,” some people did evacuate, and still nothing happened. So in October, 2012, when SHTF, nobody expected it, nobody evacuated, and everything went crazy.

Religious Jewish people in general usually live in the same community, go to the same events, and go to the same Shuls (synagogues). The Far Rockaway Jewish community covers an area of roughly two square miles. The community next door (Lawrence), covers approximately that same, and so on. You can probably walk from Far Rockaway to Manhattan and every few miles walk through a Jewish community. Because of this, when Sandy hit, we were all helping each other out.

There amount of good will was astounding. Just to give a tiny example, we have an online classifieds in the Five Towns (Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Inwood, Woodmere, Hewlett) and Far Rockaway, and to show you how the community got together in order to survive this episode, I will post a few samples of the posts:

“1 pair of Beige and 1 pair of Navy Blue Dickie Pants, New with Tags Size 7 regular. 1 pair each of Black George New with Tags Size 8 Regular. 1 pair of Black George Slightly used Size 8 Regular. Prefer these go to family affected by Hurricane like so many of us.  We also have some polo shirts in similar sizes if interested.”
“If anyone needs some lightly used baby clothes or lost baby clothes in the storm. Sized 0-6 months (boy). Please email or call” 
“you can have wireless internet access at XXX XXXX XXXXXXXX anytime. its wireless network is XXXX. password:   sandy 2012. you can come in or park near driveway and it will work. also for those who need showers come on over until 1 am. you can just come to warm up and relax if that's what you need
Ally and Sean”
“I have room for 3 people leaving to Brooklyn this afternoon.”
From Achiezer (Local organization):

We are compiling lists of those that are in the immediate need of clothing. There is a clothing gemach (lending/free organization) that has already been set up at XXXX Reads Lane in Far Rockaway. Anyone who requires may go there for clothing for men, women, boys and girls as well as coats and shoes. If anyone would like to donate clothing to members of the community, please email
If you have no choice but to remain in homes in the Far Rockaway/Five Towns and do not have food for Shabbos (Saturday) or during the week, please call our hotline and prepared foods will be made available for you. (Please keep in mind that many people do not have access to email. Please share this information with anyone you know.)  Fully catered meals are being made available to anyone in the Far Rockaway/Five Towns communities who require.  Please email XXXX@ACHIEZER.ORG or call  XXX-XXX-XXXX to let us know how many meals are needed.  The MET Council along with the JCCRP have opened up a respite area in the White Shul as well as the Young Israel of Bayswater starting at 7pm for Far Rockaway/Bayswater residents.  Anyone who would like some hot food or a place to charge your phones may go there starting tonight.”
“I have a few bags of challah (bread) rolls and some bread for someone that needs it. I can house a single or couple; sorry I don't have room for kids. If you need a shower; change; place for charging cell phones, computers, etc.  If you need (a) Shabbat meals(s) let me know.”
“Dozens of beautifully catered shabbos packages for any families that would like for shabbos are being distributed RIGHT NOW. These include challah, grape juice, matzo, bottled water, gefilte fish, chicken cutlets, kugels, assorted salads, cakes, cold cuts, soups, as well as cold cereals and other items for your children. There are dozens of people arriving there with hundreds more meals being setup.
The distribution is being handled at Shor Yoshuv, 1 Cedar Lawn Avenue, in Lawrence. There is no charge for these meals, and due to the email/cell breakdown we ask you to spread this service to anyone who may benefit from receiving these meals. If you know of someone who is unable to drive to get these meals, please let us know and we will have it delivered.
If anyone in Bayswater requires, please go to the Young Israel of Bayswater where there is also distribution taking place at the headquarters of the RCSP.”

Please read the following few final updates regarding shabbos plans for this weekend. We believe you will find this information both helpful and useful as shabbos approaches.

“From Achiezer Community Resource Center
1)Gasoline Update:
We are tremendously appreciative to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder who today brought Senator Schumer to our temporary community center to pledge their assistance. Together they are working on a major effort to bring and make available a supply of gasoline to our neighborhood. We should start seeing a major improvement in gas supply before the start of shabbos.
2) Security over shabbos:
We know that many are concerned about the safety of our communities over shabbos. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has arranged that there will be a major increase of police presence in the Far Rockaway area over shabbos. A call was also made to the NCPD to arrange increased patrols for the Five Towns area. The RCSP is also hiring additional patrols for the Bayswater area over shabbos.
3)Volunteer help:
We have numerous volunteers available to help you clean out your homes, pump out your basements, and whatever other needs may arise. Call the office in the morning, and we will be happy to set you up.
4)Shelter for shabbos:
If anyone still would like to be put up for shabbos in either Queens in Brooklyn, it is not too late. We have numerous homes available for complete families. Please call our office at  XXX-XXXX, or email
5)Financial assistance:
Rabbi XXXXXXX XXXXXX from Agudath Israel of America and a group of community trustees spent hours at our office today preparing this special fund. If anyone would like information about emergency assistance, please email us at, or call us at our hotline for further instructions.
We thank you for your incredible patience, and we will do everything in our power to try and alleviate the stress from what is undoubtedly a most difficult period in your lives.”
“I have power at XXX Grove Ave . you are welcome to power up your devices, and shower (after I am finished). There is a limited amount of refrigeration available since I have a lot of stuff from neighbors, but we can squeeze some more in if necessary.”

I think the foregoing messages illustrate an ideal way for a community to react to a TEOTWAWKI situation. This response was only possible after many years of coordination of the community members. We have our own volunteer ambulance service (the city one takes too long), a volunteer police department, a community patrol, etc.  There was incredible damage throughout most of Far Rockaway and the five towns, and many people’s houses were unlivable, besides not having heat in the early winter. Electricity was a rare luxury in few houses. There was no phone service, cell or land line. I think this should be classified as a TEOTWAWKI situation based on these facts alone. I know that a lot of the people who are reading this are from out of the city area, and are probably thinking that this is normal, should remember that this is a city area where there are not really any communities and most people do not know there neighbors. This would have normally resulted in chaos and mayhem. To show you how this is true, look at the next door community where there is no real community infrastructure in place. A few blocks from where I live is a lower to middle class community, and there was rampant looting, shootings, and burglaries. The local Best Buy, Costco, and strip malls were all looted. Our community was mostly untouched.

As a side point, there were signs in this community that read “you loot, we shoot.” Shows you the value of firearms in this type of situation.
It is worth it to organize and establish a community within your midst just to help each other out in this situation, besides all the obvious benefits. A few ideas are thus:

  1. Create a list of the different streets in your neighborhood
  2. Invite all those who live on those streets to partake in events, house parties, etc.
  3. Create an online classifieds that will bond the community members together. Craigslist is too shady and full of scams for many people to be involved.
  4. Create multiple volunteer organizations
  5. Welcome new neighbors to your area. This usually creates a feeling of togetherness.
  6. Assign communal posts. A few reasons for this: you can keep everything organized, it takes away pressure from you doing everything, and causes people to be more invested in your new community

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I first got serious about prepping in 2006, when I realized the U.S. Dollar was on its way down.  I had a young son at home, and I wanted to make sure he would be safe if civil unrest occurred. I built a home on some acreage in the country in 2007 and started getting setup to be self-sufficient. I believed 2008 was going to be a bad year, and I wanted to be ready. I installed a wood stove in my home and purchased a hand pump for my well. When I moved my chickens out to the new home, I felt we were right on target to survive the coming turmoil. In this article I am going to share some of the things I have learned.

As the years have passed, I have continued to perfect my small piece of heaven into a full scale food-producing compound. I have leveraged tax advantage from my sale of all natural meat, poultry, and eggs. I have learned many things about sustainable food production. And meanwhile, my son grew up and joined the military. He is thousands of miles away, and here I am still maintaining the refuge I had envisioned would be for him. I have had some trying emotional times learning to deal with a situation where I am no longer needed by the child I was trying to protect.  And then it occurred to me that there are many young people who are barely able to put food on their table, let alone make preparations for an uncertain future.  So I continue to live the lifestyle of a prepper and believe I may be sharing my knowledge and my stuff with people who didn’t have the time and resources to be ready.

The Tax Man Cometh
I have been able to use many of the expenses for developing my little farm on my income taxes.  Fences, buildings, irrigation installation, vehicle expenses, equipment, etc.   Because my goal is to make a profit by selling the food I raise, the costs associated with its production are tax deductible. The deduction has been very useful in keeping more of my hard-earned cash so I can invest it in the development of a farm. Each time I need to make a big purchase, I strategize how it is associated with the farming production, so I can properly account for it in my income tax return.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
When I first moved onto my acreage, there were no fences.  My German Shepherds would wander off to the neighbors at times. The neighbors’ dogs would help themselves to my chickens. The coyotes and foxes had my place on the top of their list of great places to score a meal.  And then one day, I heard a chicken in distress and ran with my dog to find the chicken in the tall weeds.  My dog got there first.  The scoundrel attacking the chicken was a small dog belonging to a neighbor. My dog killed it.  It nearly became an International incident.  The neighbor was furious. He threatened to kill my chickens if they crossed onto his land.  It was a tense time.

That is when I invested in good fencing. My fences are 5-foot high predator-proof mesh.  They keep dogs, coyotes, foxes and other neighbors out, while the chickens and turkeys are usually more interested in staying in.  I had a gate constructed with the same mesh.  My dogs patrol the acreage and anything that manages to get in, soon decides it wasn’t such a good idea to get in.  The gate is locked so some unsuspecting “visitor” doesn’t just open the gate and come in.  My chickens and turkeys free range and we seldom have a predator incident. The dogs are quite aggressive in protecting our turf.

Garlic Cures Everything
I need to get a good garlic garden planted, because I have so many uses for the stuff that I simply haven’t been growing enough of it. I have an astute neighbor who is also a prepper.  She noticed my need for garlic and planted a bunch to barter with me when things get dicey.  I put the garlic cloves through a hand-cranked juicer. The pulp is mixed in with corn for my sheep, cows, and poultry.  It helps flush out internal parasites, keep the lice and fleas away, and builds the immune system.  I also mix garlic into my dogs’ dinners sometimes to combat internal parasites. 

Garlic is a natural antibiotic and anti-viral.  The juice is potent stuff. I keep some on hand in the refrigerator all the time. If I feel a cold coming on, I can spread some of the juice or pulp on toast with butter and the cold almost always goes away within an hour or so.
When I had triplet lambs this past spring, one apparently didn’t get her dose of colostrum. She suffered an acute onset of e-coli within the first 24 hours and was near death.  I added garlic juice to some warm water and gave it to her with a syringe. I continued to administer the water with the garlic and honey every 10 minutes or so for a couple of hours. Three hours later, she was up and nursing. I have been told even with antibiotics, that kind of recovery is pretty much unheard of.

I have a small herb-garden in my kitchen.  Recently I noticed the basil was being killed by tiny gnats.  I mixed some garlic juice with some olive oil and put it in a small spray bottle.  The gnats apparently don’t like garlic, because they are gone and my herb garden smells like an Italian dinner.

There’s A Lot of Poop
Raising produce without the help of commercial fertilizers is tricky.  I started vegetables indoor this year with an “organic” fertilizer I bought at Home Depot.  They did very poorly and many of them just keeled over dead after a while.  I bought the fertilizer because, at the time, everything was frozen solid outside, so I couldn’t collect poop to make the poop water I usually start them with.  Lesson learned.  This year I have some poop set aside in a place where it won’t freeze so I can start my plants indoors with something I know works. I have also mixed some soil that I have ready to use.

Chicken poop is not ideal for gardening, but I have been successfully using it for several years. When I clean the chicken coop in the fall, I spread the stuff over the garden area, so it can be rained into the ground over the winter.  I till more manure in with my spring tilling.  This year, I did not use enough and I experienced poor potato yields.

Food Cooked on the Woodstove Tastes Better
I installed a regular woodstove (not a kitchen stove) in my home.  It has a removable rounded top that leaves a nice flat surface for cooking.  If I need to oven-cook something, I use a Dutch Oven.  Last winter I slow cooked Salisbury steak in a Dutch Oven and it was heavenly.  I have also found that potatoes have a completely different moist flavor if I wrap them in foil and put them in an area of the stove that isn’t in flames.  There have been weeks passed in the winter where my kitchen range was never used. It conserves energy and provides a warm glow to cheer through those gray winter months.

Cute Little Children Become Teenagers
It is a fact – those sweet little munchkins we build our lives around eventually turn into teenagers.  Mine became increasingly resentful of my prepping.  I have heard it said that teenagers become so ornery because it is God’s plan for us feel better showing them to the door when they grow up.  Shortly before my son left home, he decided it fit for him to list all of my personal defects which ailed him.  At the top of his list was my “paranoid” belief system that something bad could change our lives in big ways.  He made it clear he was unhappy with that belief and that he would be carrying on his life without such worries.  So far, so good.  He is traveling abroad and living a good life. I still believe I would rather be ready and wrong than not ready and starving to death.

The Lifestyle Is Very Attractive
Many people see my lifestyle and want to come join in.  Well, not join in the work, but join in the food and the fun and all the nice resources I have.  Over and over my generosity has been stretched and taken advantage of.  I have learned there are many lazy moochers out there who talk the talk and then lay around in my house watching useless television programs while I carry on with the chores.  And they feel the food is “free” because I raised it myself, so they have no urge to contribute.  My new policy for anyone visiting my farm is that they will be asked to participate in chores.  I will work them out of their fantasy about how great it is to live like I do.

People Hate Rules
When I have had to travel for business, I have also had to rely on friends to help with the farm.  I have found that, regardless of the careful instructions, they always think they have a better idea and do it their own way.  It has cost me animals and it has cost me having to retrain my farm to the correct behavior for my ecosystem to function.  It is frustrating. But it has taught me that I will probably have this problem if we have a SHTF scenario where people will be coming to me for safety and food.  And I don’t expect they will be thankful as long as they will be trying to change my life to fit their own view of how things should be.  It is human nature. I will have to be very strict and it could lead to confrontation.  I anticipate that will probably be unavoidable.

Counting the Tables You Put Food On is Rewarding
Last year, I put meat, eggs and poultry on the tables of 14 families.  Counting those families at Thanksgiving was a very satisfying experience.  Although this year it has been fewer because I haven’t had beef ready, I still feel grateful to play a role in many family meals. I have contributed to the lives of many people I didn’t even know.  I have sold products of my farm, the income from which has enabled me to continue on my adventure.

Life Just Keeps On Going
If I had poured everything I had and taken big risks when I first started prepping, I wouldn’t be prepping today because I would have lost it all. I truly believed 2008 would be a year of disaster – and it nearly was.  But the powers that be found a way to kick the can on down the road. And they keep finding ways to kick it down the road again.  Life is amazingly easy right now in the artificially secure world we have to live in here in the USA  I am so blessed to have good employment from home in an area where people are often trying to live on minimum wage. Technology has brought about enormous opportunities, while it has also let us be monitored 24x7 by not only the government, but also large corporations like Google, who track everything you do on the Internet and keep the data indefinitely (I prefer because they claim not to track).  While I hope it all keeps hanging on, I really can’t see how it can.  We are living in an unmaintainable sphere of reality that is rapidly growing more unmaintainable.  I have chosen to continue to be “paranoid” and prepare to feed people in an uncertain future.  The difference now is that I realize I will probably be helping people I never planned to help and I have learned some good lessons on how to deal with them appropriately.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The service has ended, we say goodbye to our friends, wait for everyone to leave then lock up the church.  The drive home takes only a few minutes and when we arrive my wife and I take off and secure our weapons and conduct a debrief on any problems we encountered during the service.  Not exactly the Norman Rockwell version of a day in church.  I realize that the fact that someone would carry a weapon in church is appalling to many people.  However, before you begin stereotyping Christians as right-wing radicals, ask yourself a few questions.  When you were growing up, how many people did you know who were the victims of some type of crime?  In the last year, how many people do you know that have been the victim of some type of crime?  If you are at least forty years old, you can easily quote the numbers, and the increase is significant.  Whereas crimes against property, institutions, and people have increased dramatically ( regardless of what the local media tells you), unfortunately the church has been given no exemption. 

My journey into the world of church security took the proverbial long and winding road, but I will condense it down to the basics.  A chance encounter a couple of years before had introduced us to a couple who were like-minded, great people.  We kept in touch and became close friends.  As the situation in the country continued to deteriorate we, like many "preppers", recognized that going it alone in hard times was not a good option. Clearly, our new friends were the ones we wanted watching our backs so we relocated to a city in the southeast to join forces with our friends to form a safe haven for "old geezers".  After all, we had four senior citizens and a .22 rifle, what could possibly go wrong?   Soon after settling in, we began a search for a church.  After several unsuccessful visits to area churches we found a small country church and sat down to listen.  One sermon and we were pretty sure this was the right place.  The pastor minced no words when delivering the message. Obviously this guy was not going to win any awards for political correctness.  Plain and simple this man spoke the truth.  We began regular attendance and I noticed that each time the pastor did the announcements that he would warn about some act which had occurred at the church, i.e. acts of vandalism, panhandler’s accosting elderly women as they walked to the church door, and other problems.  God began speaking to me and said you know what you need to do.  As usual, I procrastinated.  One day I timidly sought out the pastor to inquire further about the incidents, but he was corralled by other members and I could not talk to him.  The very next week, another incident occurred and as I sat in the pew God was very direct with me, get off your butt and do it.   After we returned home I spoke to my wife and told her my plan, she was in total agreement.  That day I wrote the pastor an e-mail simply stating that I have a number of years of experience in the security field and that if there was anything I could do to help let me know.  The Pastor's reply was quick and direct; I want you to set up a security team to protect the church.  Well, I guess I’m in it now!  Right on schedule the devil put the doubts into my head. I am brand new at this church I don’t know anybody, nobody knows me, why would a team follow someone they don’t know, etc.
Again, cutting to the chase, the team was formed.  The program launched and we continue to improve.  What I would like to do is offer some of the lessons learned from our startup to folks who are recognizing the need to protect their church.

Clearly state and understand your mission - When I tell people about our program the first thing they say is why does a church need a security program?  My first response is Proverbs 22.3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. A quick internet search will produce an astounding number of crimes directed at churches.  Most people remember the church shootings in  Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Knoxville, Tennessee, but harbor the same delusion that it could never happen at their church.  When you decide to start a security program, clearly define what it will and will not cover and get buy-in from the governing body of your church.  Nothing says that you cannot expand your program at a later date, and you probably should. More on that later.
Do your home work- Before you start worrying about whether your team should carry  .44 magnums or 9mms you need to understand what most police officers already know, most of the job is paper work.  Ah man, that’s no fun! Sorry people, but it’s the truth. You will be dealing with vulnerability assessments, threat assessments, job descriptions, operating procedures, architectural drawings, and on and on and on.  Don’t panic if your knowledge in these areas is limited, there is help out there.  Tina Lewis Rowe Training has some really excellent material on building a program and this fine lady allows you to use the material free of charge, just respect her copyright and follow her agreement. 
Pick your team (carefully) - When I started our program my team was chosen for me, and it could not have worked out better.  I got men of the church who were well known by the congregation, mature and level-headed.  Most were veterans ranging from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.   Later,  two ladies joined the team and if there were any doubts as to their abilities (which I doubt there were) they were quickly dispelled during a team trip to the range. All of  these team members were clearly a blessing, but the chances of you being handed a team of this quality are rare.  Choose your members using established criteria, look for mature folks who have good decision-making skills, avoid those who volunteer because of the “cool” factor.  Also, recruit younger members who you can train and have ready to replace people as they leave, and don’t get your feeling hurt because people will leave.  Establish a clear chain-of-command and impress on your volunteers how important the job is.
To carry or not to carry - This is one of the most controversial decisions you will have to make.  The church I attended before my move was partially governed by a group of elders.  Although we had no formal security team, a few of us stepped up when a threat was made against our pastor.  To our surprise some of the elders simply would not stand for anyone having a gun in church regardless of the fact that these men were police officers and concealed-carry holders.  The solution to this problem was obvious, smile, drop the subject, and do a better job of concealing your weapon.  After a lot of research and prayer, the firearms policy at my present church was formed and we tried to keep it simple.  Those who had valid carry permits were allowed to carry while performing their assigned security duties.  It is our belief that you must be as well equipped as those who seek to harm you if you are to have a viable defense.  However, each team member is made well aware of the legal and moral and financial hazards should they be forced to use a firearm.  If you have a church attorney, consult with them.  If you do not have an attorney, I recommend you read two books before deciding: Evil Invades Sanctuary by Carl Chin and  God, the Gunman & Me by Jeanne Assam.    
Build a comprehensive program- Please understand you must have a program that covers more than security.  If you protect the pastor from a mugger but the church burns down because you did not do routine fire extinguisher inspections, then your program has failed.  Your program must have many aspects including but not limited to security, fire protection, emergency evacuation, executive protection, and weather emergencies.  One of the first things we did was to install locks on numerous storage and maintenance areas, you do not need a kid playing with electrical cable. Do not alienate the congregation, once you start implementing rules no matter how correct and necessary they are, people will be offended.  Ask for input when practical, gradually implement new procedures.  When we first fielded our team, some church members were uneasy with these “security people“ hanging out at different locations.  After a few weeks of these “security people” holding umbrellas for people getting out of their cars and escorting the ladies to their cars when they parked in a dark area of the lot, sentiment changed. Write well thought out and researched procedures, practice those procedures, and drill on those procedures. 

In conclusion I would like to add if you hear the call that your church needs your talents, step up.  I was standing in the parking lot one cold rainy night and I realized that my years as a fire fighter, SWAT team leader,  and emergency manager were all preparation for this most important job and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I frequently read about varying doomsday scenarios.  Everything from a total collapse of the economy, to super-storms, to EMP attacks, and lately even dubious writings about life in a post-antibiotic world.  While the odds are not in favor of one devastating event that ends the world as we know it and plunges us into a repeat of the Dark Ages, there is still the possibility that something like a surprise EMP attack or an unexpected asteroid impact could wipe out most of humanity.  There’s always that “What if…?” 

Before I go any farther, however, let me offer this strong disclaimer: 

I do not advocate stealing.  I don’t advocate criminal activity of any kind.  I believe a man’s sense of honor has no price tag.  That being said, in a “What if…?” scenario where most of mankind is wiped out, it will literally be a survival do-or-die situation for you and your loved ones.  If that is the case, you will not be giving up your sense of honor if there is no chance of ‘recovery’, [massive de-population,] and you actively forage for the things you need to survive [and it there are no lawful heirs for truly abandoned property.]

Still with me?

Then let’s move on.  What I propose is that you begin now to identify resources.  You don’t live in the wilderness where deer and other wild game are abundant?  You don’t live in a place where wild edibles are everywhere, ripe for the picking?  Well, we don’t, either.  We live in a small town in northwest Ohio with a population of about 15,000.  We even live within the city limits, and our backyard is about 70’ wide, and maybe 60’ deep.  That’s where we have our garden and fruit trees.  Not much to survive on…
But – taking a look around our small town, I see many opportunities for foraging. 


First, we’re in an agricultural area of the State.  The farmers around here plant the Big-3 – corn, wheat, and soybeans.  Then they store their harvest in silos until the prices are right for selling.  Even then, the harvest moves to local granaries positioned on rail spurs, where it is stored until it is loaded onto trains for shipment elsewhere.  I do believe these local farmers will be willing to barter for their grains.  So we’ll most likely have access to wheat for bread, corn for meal, and even soybeans if, when treated properly, can be used for animal feed or pressed for oil. 
Not only do we have farmers tilling the fields and growing crops, we also have farmers locally who specialize in hogs, beef cattle, poultry, fruit, even bees.  So the chances are good that we’ll be able to supplement our own food stores with fresh food grown locally. 

Additionally, our area currently has a healthy population of deer, geese, wild turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits.  The local farms actually find the wildlife to be quite a nuisance.  Plus, there are three rivers that come together in our little town, so there is the opportunity for fishing as well.  Now I don’t count on hunting to supply my family with food.  If everyone in our area who owns a gun heads to the woods and starts shooting, our abundant wildlife will soon disappear. 

Notice I haven’t even mentioned the grocery stores.  In our small town, we have no less than three grocery chain stores, as well as a large Wal-Mart, and three ‘dollar’ stores.  All of these stores carry foodstuffs, but in the event of a total collapse, these stores will be emptied out pretty quickly.  Today Black Friday is still a fresh memory – only a few days ago.  In view of the violence and chaos that ruled the Christmas shopping experience then, just imagine what it will be like when it’s the last bit of food left available that’s being fought over!  In my own humble opinion, I think it will be safer to sit this one out – stay home with our pantry and supplies, and plan on bartering with local farmers for fresh food. 
But now to move on to things besides food!
What else will you need?  I venture to say that whatever it is, you can probably find it if you know where to look.  In our town, we still have a little bit of heavy industry.  Having done some research, and talked to people who are employed by these factories, I have found a huge reservoir of vital resources.


Need clean drinking water, but you haven’t had the means to buy a Berkey system?  Well don’t despair – at least not yet.  In many places of work, companies still utilize the old ‘water cooler’ systems.  Remember those?  Where people hung out and shared the latest rumors, talked sports, and speculated about who was getting promoted?  Many companies still use these today.  Not just factories, but offices, too.  I know that in our local factories these are in use, and in fact, they go through so many bottles of water that they’ve built racks to stock the bottles in, so they can deliver them with fork trucks.  The bottom line is this – if the collapse is sudden and/or catastrophic, there just might be a fairly large stock of clean fresh water readily available!
(To a lesser degree, vending companies also service factories and offices.  And while their snack foods and sodas probably aren’t going to do you much good nutritionally, they are after all, a resource.  Don’t overlook anything at a time like this!)
Another source of clean drinking water in our town (or nearby) would be ponds.  My sister – visiting from out of state – was astonished at the number of ponds that people have on their properties.  And I have to admit, it does seem like every other farm or property has a pond.  She was further surprised to learn that people often use their ponds as their main source of drinking water.  And if that’s the case, these people have filtration systems set up for that purpose.  So just like bartering for food, it will be possible to barter for safe drinking water, too.


Many factories use heavy equipment.  The industries here in our town use fork trucks (electric, propane, and gasoline), ‘burden carriers’ (like golf carts – some run on battery power, and some are gasoline powered), JLGs (like the lift baskets you see on the power company trucks - some battery and some gasoline powered), cranes, front end loaders, and dump trucks.  So there are storage tanks for gasoline and diesel fuel.  In addition to all of those things, there are literally hundreds of tanks of oxygen, MAPP gas, and propane.  And to make these gas bottles useable, there also torches, torpedo heaters, and space heaters. 

Plus – and this is probably unique to our area – we have a foundry in our town (you may have a power plant nearby).  This foundry melts down iron and aluminum to pour castings for the automotive industry.  What this means for us is that there is a huge stockpile of coke (refined and purified coal) and ground up coal.  Power plants frequently use coal as well – although the EPA is making that harder and harder to find.  They must still be in use, though.  We have trains loaded with coal passing through our town all the time.  So it’s out there…
And finally, when the gas, diesel, propane, MAPP gas, and coal are all gone, there is wood.  Just about every factory in the world is a user of wooden pallets.  The factories in our town not only use pallets, but they use plywood, too.  Lots and lots of plywood. 

So there are many opportunities for obtaining lumber from construction and fuel for heating, cooking, etc.  You just have to know where to look. [JWR Adds: Beware of pallets made of treated wood, or pallets that have been contaminated by spilled chemicals! Also use great caution when cutting up pallets. Destroying a $20 circular saw blade by hitting a nail while trying to recover the wood in a "free" pallet is false economy.]


The businesses in our town do some pretty heavy work.  As a result, they are stocked with some pretty heavy-duty tools and equipment.  Industrial grade hardware (nuts-n-bolts), heavy tools of every kind, steel (structural and sheet), hoists (electric, pneumatic, and chain falls), (electric and gasoline powered), generators, ladders of all sizes, scaffolding, power tools – in fact, if you name it, they’ve probably got it.  So even if looters have emptied out your local big-box home improvement stores, you still might be able to find useful tools, supplies, and equipment.
You might not have such a rich resource in your area, but there are some other things that many factories use that you might find extremely useful.  For example, many factories use thermal detection cameras (FLIR) for predictive maintenance.  Many factories also use vibration sensors, lasers, photoeyes, and proximity switches.  In the right hands, these things could easily be used to build a perimeter alarm system, or night-time surveillance system.  In fact, surveillance cameras are so common now that you can find them everywhere.  (Our town even has them mounted on all of the traffic lights…)  You might do well to do some research into how these systems work and what it would take to turn them into useful tools for your own protection and defense.
And another resource that might be overlooked is medical supplies.  Most large factories have their own medical facility.  Even if your town doesn’t have such a thing, don’t overlook the local drug stores.  In our town alone, there are eight different shops/stores selling prescription drugs and medical supplies.  And that isn’t counting the actual medical facilities like clinics and hospitals.  None of these possible resources should be overlooked!
And finally – name one thing that every public business has on hand.  Give up?
Fire extinguishers!  Don’t overlook these possible lifesaving items!

You might be tempted to think that if you live in an urban or even suburban area that you will have a really hard time trying to forage for your survival.  I hope I’ve given you some ideas with this writing.  Take a look around, and learn to recognize the resources that are right under your nose.  Take notes.  Plan ahead.  Every town and every situation is different, but I truly believe that every situation offers opportunity for successful foraging in the event of massive depopulation.  Good luck in your own search!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The ice storm that hit north Texas this past Thursday was forecast at least four days in advance, if not longer, but when it hit  apparently just about everyone was taken by surprise.  Drivers on I-35 north of Denton were stuck for so long they eventually abandoned their cars and sought refuge in local churches.  There was talk of sending in the National Guard to rescue them before that.  These people had days of advance warning about the weather but chose to drive anyway.  (Many of them apparently on their way to a rap concert in Dallas.)  Imagine the conditions if there had been a sudden emergency or disaster. 
The town we live in has one grocery store, and it was out of milk and bread by Saturday afternoon.  As of Monday afternoon, they still had no milk but had received a bread delivery.  When I say "no milk" I mean the liquid refrigerated stuff that is kept in dairy cases.  I walked over to the baking supplies aisle, and lo and behold, an entire stock of canned and boxed Tetra-Pak milk, untouched.  The shelves of powdered milk were well-stocked, too. Either things weren't bad enough yet, or people just aren't aware that there is more than one way to buy milk.  I already had a couple of liters of the Tetra-Pak milk at home, and plenty of canned milk, but I picked up a few extra just in case it takes longer than expected to get the highways clear and the trucks through. (Two of those cans of evaporated milk turned out to be expired.  Need to work on that can rotation!)
In addition to being stripped bare of milk and bread, the frozen pizza aisle was decimated, there was no chicken and no beef left in the meat section.  The store was completely sold out of Coca Cola, but there was plenty left of the other brands.  The canned soup aisle was pretty bare as well.  There was very little bottled water left. My husband and I made sure to note the items that sold out first so we’ll remember to stock up on any of those that we use regularly in our household.
The doughnut shop near our house had plenty of small bottles of milk, and there was milk available at the convenience stores we looked into during the few forays we made outside the house.  Those convenience stores were selling milk for four to five dollars per gallon.  In our area a gallon of non-organic milk is normally less than $2.50.
The groceries that were still in abundant supply as of yesterday afternoon were the things that take a little work to turn into food: flour, sugar, rice and pasta.  There were plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce section.  One takeaway for me- I need to become more proficient at making my own bread so that it becomes as easy as scrambling an egg is.
At one point in the weekend, there were over 250,000 people in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area without power.  We were lucky that our power never went out, but if it had we had plenty of firewood, oil lamps and candles on standby.  I would like to think that our neighbors had similar supplies laid in, but I would be surprised if they did. We lost power one night last summer and our house was the only one on the street with candle light flickering inside it.  (Some blackout curtains are on our list for future purchase.)  
I stayed home with our five year-old daughter because schools were closed and I was told to “use my best judgment” as far as driving in was concerned.  We made a fire and played with toys while listening to the audio book of “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  When my husband came home and said there was no  milk left at Kroger, our daughter said, "oh, no, now you're gonna have to give me hot water to drink!"  We took this opportunity to explain to her that this is the reason why Mama buys boxes of milk and puts them away in the closet.  We do it because we love you, we told her, and because we don't want you to go without milk just because there's an ice storm.  We went on to explain that people had known this storm was coming for days, but that most people waited until the last minute to go to the store and get the things they would need.  We advised her to remember this when she's older and act ahead of time so she doesn’t have to panic at the last minute.  Our little girl tends to listen and pay attention to us, so we hope she’ll remember this as she gets older and takes our advice about preparation and self-reliance to heart.
Everyone makes jokes about how Texans freak out when a quarter inch of snow falls and how no one around here knows how to drive on ice or snow.  That’s true because this hardly ever happens around here.  Weather like this has become more common in our area over the past few years, though (see Super Bowl XLV), but no one seems to have decided to anticipate or plan for it, especially TxDOT, who as of yesterday, still had crews stuck all over the state, rather than working on clearing roadways.  I saw crews sanding our local town streets for the first time this morning- six days after the storm first hit.
What I’m taking away from this six-day-and-counting inconvenience is that most people don’t plan and they won’t prepare. This would have been a relatively minor weather event if it had happened in another part of the country where municipalities are more prepared in general.  I’m sure readers in more northern parts of the country will be chuckling and shaking their heads at the site a big chunk of Texas brought to a standstill by a few inches of ice. This experience has driven home the need for us to be more prepared, to bring in more supplies, to be ready for whatever may come. This ice storm has also provided us a good opportunity to teach our daughter about being prepared and being self-reliant without scaring her.
It also showed where some holes in our planning and preparation lie.  While he was clearing ice from our driveway, my husband slipped and fell.  He landed on his side and luckily didn’t break anything.  If he had broken a rib or some other bone, we could have had quite a wait for an ambulance and/or faced a dicey trip to the hospital. This is one area where we need to make plans for the future.  What would we have done?  What other contingencies do we need to plan for? 
We cut down one old, dying tree just a week before the storm but there is still one tree that overhangs our roof.  This tree, too, may need to go for safety’s sake. Falling trees and now falling ice have done a lot of damage to buildings and cars in this area over the past couple of days.
As I noted, we never lost power (or haven’t yet), but if we did, can we be certain our fireplace would have kept at least part of the house warm enough?   We’re planning on adding additional insulation to one room in particular so we’ll have at least one room that we can keep snug and warm without electricity.  I’m certain we need to add more candles and oil lamps or lanterns to our stores, as well.  If our power had gone out Friday like it did for some, and was still not back on, as it isn’t for some, we would certainly burned through our supply right now.  I doubt, too, that the small supply of Sterno and Stoves in a Can see us through a five-day power outage.
We don’t let our daughter play on the computer much, so she’s not one of those kids who can’t function without electronic media to distract them, but she does enjoy listening to audiobooks and watching DVDs. We played “school at home” to keep her in school/learning mode.  Putting seed out for our wild birds and then watching them eat kept her entertained as well, but in an extended power outage, we might have had boredom and cabin fever to deal with on top of everything else.  We’ll need to stock up on more coloring books and puzzle books and look into a battery-operated CD player for her.
Our pipes did not freeze, but if they had, would the water we have stored lasted for six days?  I believe it would have, but we do need to store more water and purchase additional water BOBs or other means of water storage in case of long outages in the future.
The real problem in my mind though is what we’ll do if a summertime storm or other disaster, manmade or not, knocks out power for extended period of time while it’s 100F outside.  That would be a much more serious problem.  It’s always easier to get warm in Texas than it is to stay cool, and judging from TxDOT’s lackluster response to our icy highways and overpasses, and the fact that there are still people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area without power we’ll likely have no one to turn to for help except ourselves- as if we didn’t already know that. Thank you for considering this piece.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mr. Rawles,
I was happily married for 14 years.  I lived through hurricanes and snowstorms with my ex-wife.  We were preppers, with many firearms, ammunition, water filtration systems, storage food, etc.  One thing that was lacking was mental health.  She has suffered from long term mental problems for over a decade.  She tried to have me arrested as a domestic terrorist.  When that failed to happen, she tried to make me out as a child abuser.  When that failed, she divorced me, and forced a sale of all of our stored food, guns, ammunition, etc.

I wanted to let your readers know they should prepare themselves for all circumstances, which is something I did not do.   I never saw this coming, and have lost all my firearms as a result of this divorce.  I had over 50 firearms, and hundred of thousands of rounds of ammunition, which I was forced to sell at auction at a severe loss.  Seeing 1,000 rounds of 9x25 Dillon for $60 dollars is a complete waste, especially when all of the ammunition is from Doubletap ammo.  I am sure you can get the idea, but all of us thinking about long term survival should now consider the unthinkable, if their loved ones become unlovable or mentally ill.  Mine has since been founded for causing mental injury to our kids, but the system is slow and does little if the ones guilty/founded flee the state.

Make plans to cover all bases, even the ones that seem the most insane of all.  Best of luck to all your readers, and keep up the great work. - R.J.

Monday, December 9, 2013

We all have our own personal style at preparedness, and the style seems to mature with you the longer you prepare.  I have noticed this in others and myself; that we all gravitate towards the preparedness hobbies that best fit our personal inclinations—homesteading skills in the traditional sense just might not be your gig.  I get that—it is another great reason why a close knit community of prepared people is a super idea.  Let someone else make homemade candles if you just cannot get kicks and giggles out of dipping string repeatedly into a burning wax. (Tactfully)  Identify others, identify their skills sets, and build out from there.  However, I do not think that the “It’s not my fave” excuse will really be a luxury you can afford when it all goes down.  That works in a modern everyone’s-a-specialist society, but not in the real world of hunger and hard work.   If homesteading does nothing else, it builds the “somebody’s gotta do it” grit in yourself, your spouse, and your children—as I was reminded this week when I had to eliminate an animal that was born with spinal cord problems.  As solemn as that moment was for me, I took my place as steward of land and animal, also taking the opportunity to reflect on just how homesteading is a beneficial  crucial part of a prepared lifestyle.   

  1. The animals and structure are already in place.  Let’s face it: freeze dried food runs out eventually.  A steady diet of it (even the best of it) will leave your body hurting for a fresh egg fried up in some tallow or lard.  Just when do you plan on purchasing your livestock?  There will be many, who in a panic, will not reserve enough breeding stock to supply for themselves and others too.  Pack animals and livestock will be a true commodity.  So will fencing and shelter.   If you get it in place now, it will be life as usual for you later.
  2. You will learn your land.  You will learn its flora and fauna.  Before homesteading, I did not realize that I had such a mess of chokecherries down by the overgrown creek bed or that those Siberian Pea Bushes attracted the deer.  Knowing your land is key to protecting it from others and to surviving off of it in lean times. 
  3. You will develop a sense of stewardship.  You will feel a loyalty to the land that provides for you and will become better at maintaining it properly with a long-term perspective.  Sure, you could spray that nasty field of weeds this year, but you’ll lose a valuable cattle field for a season; so perhaps you’ll choose to cycle goats through it instead.  They will eat the weeds, fertilize the land,  keep Monsanto off your property, and provide meat or milk for your family.  This is a singular example of how creating an active polyculture on the land will create a sustainable yield for decades to come.   This mentality does not generally happen overnight; it is a seasoned approach developed through trial and error. 
  4. Frugality.  No one is as poor as a homesteader.  But then, we homesteaders measure wealth in different ways.  The bleating of animals, the rustling of the fruit trees, this is wealth to us.  When it comes to recycling and repurposing, we become masters by necessity.  Broken pots string together to scare the birds away from the garden, serve as plant markers, or work really well to provide drainage in the bottom of other pots.  You never throw a glass jar away;  broken furniture can serve as a chicken roost, a potting station, or a gate to a pasture.   You get the idea.  As a former rich kid, believe me when I say that this is a learned skill and an altered mindset that come only from practice (not Pinterest).
  5. Time Management.  You will learn to live seasonally based upon the season’s chores and food availability.  You will focus on the indoor stuff in bad weather, outdoor stuff in good weather.  This sounds trivial, but if you are accustomed to a consistent career in which your to-do list has a line of checkmarks at the end of the day, well….homesteading is not usually that.  You planned something that got rained out, or you fixed a broken fence instead of the original day’s plans.  You will learn to appreciate the successes along the way and to relax about the diversions.  Eventually.  In either case, you will make the most of the moment and learn to “make hay while the sun shines”.
  6. You will be healthy and strong.  I pounded fence posts for the first time in my life this past summer; I was unable to do it when I tried six months earlier.  The time I spend in the sunshine has altered my overall mood, appearance, and contentment.  I breathe deeply, I eat well, and feel  good. 
  7. Your children will receive a practical life education.  Most kids in modern America have a connection to their food, their land, or even to hard work.  If anything were to happen to our societal structure, how have you incorporated self-reliance into your child’s upbringing?  Problem-solving skills, tenacity, hard work, a sense of priorities, the ability to face unpleasantness, the list goes on.   
  8. Healthy Psychology.  Tied to number 7, it is not just the harder stuff that builds your child (or you), but the fun stuff too.  We have developed intrinsic motivators wholly unconnected…literally.  No plug, no batteries.  We reward ourselves for a hot day on the homestead with an icy dip in the mountain stream.  We reward ourselves on long wintery homeschooling days with a family game of Monopoly.  We know how to work hard, but we know how to have fun too.  We do it “off grid”…homesteading style. 
  9. Water.   A lot of preppers store plastic jugs of it “just in case”.  That is not a bad idea, by any means.  But is it the best idea?  When searching for our homestead, we knew the land had to have some type of water on it.  This is not possible everywhere, I understand, but it makes things easier now while trying to irrigate crops or water animals during a drought.  We use a Berkey Water purification system for our daily drinking water and I know—if it came down to it—the bucket brigade at the creek means that I never have to worry about clean drinking water in an emergency. 
  10. A rural environment.  This is the modern era—guys get pedicures and women get bicep tattoos.  Likewise, homesteading is no longer confined to rural America.  Goodness no—apartment dwellers can get into beekeeping and gardening, food preservation and other homesteading skills.  I hope that we can foster that self-reliant attitude no matter what type of geological environment you may occupy.  With that said, though, someone actively homesteading now will ultimately seek the place to stretch out.  Like-minded neighbors are usually the result.  If you are living out of the city limits with the hope of having livestock, your immediate (or even sprawling) neighbors are likely to have either the same tendencies or sympathy towards them.  I must make a caveat that I know firsthand this is not the case everywhere.  If you have yet to purchase land but are looking, talk to the neighbors.  Wilson and I, when initially searching for land in Montana, came across land with so many covenants on it that you could not have more than a single family pet.  The irony was that the land was originally Amish land in the mountains of Montana.   As an aside, that land has been for sale for over two years now…but still.   Find out about covenants, meet the neighbors.  You will find kindred spirits in most rural areas far more effortlessly than you would in metropolitan ones. 
  11. A physical connection to the Creator, which will serve as a moral compass in hard times.  This isn’t hooey about how you do not need fellowship because fishing on a Sunday morning meets that need; that excuse is contrary to Biblical counsel.  Still, there is something to it that when life hits me hard and I step out into the unforgiving snowstorm to check on the animals, I glance up long enough to see the deep hues of the pink and gray sky and think…for just a frozen moment…about my miniscule stature in light of an awesome God.  And then I hustle my tail back into the house.  The Heavens declare his firmament…not billboards, not the latest mobile app…the Heavens. When it all comes down in the end and you have the opportunity to help others in need, your long-term perspective of your smallness and your utter dependence upon God will guide you to do the right thing, should such a moment ever arise.  And it will arise. 

In the meantime, Wilson and I at Pantry Paratus hope that you will keep learning & working to produce, prepare, and preserve your own harvest.  - Chaya

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My most important prep,
While most people start by thanking Captain Rawles, and rightly so, I would like to thank Dan in Montana.  I’d also like to start with a question.  Has anything every just hit you and made you think, “that’s been it all the time?!”  Well it just happened to me.  I have been prepping for several years now and even farther back if I think about it.  So it seems like an easy question, what is my most important prep.  I have seen my focus change over the years.  It has changed, as I have changed.  Being a medic for many years I first prepared for medical disasters and relief.  Later getting into law enforcement, security became top of my list.  Meeting like minded people and being able to talk things out with them have shown me balance in my prepping but it is just now that I see what stands out most of all.  MY WIFE!  See how easy that was but bam, there it is.  My beautiful, smart, sexy, tough, sweet and intelligent wife.  Did I mention beautiful?  Well she is all that and more but it’s the more that is most important.  She is my partner and my backup.  She is the one I would do anything to save and the one who would do anything to save me. 

Survival can’t be your only goal.  To merely survive is to not actually live.  I feel like my prepping has a purpose now.  A goal that can and will be achieved.  To continue to be with the person who makes me want to live.  Like everyone, I’m sure, I have seen what I believe is more than my fair share of loss.  I have lost friends, family and even my faith it seems.  All the time struggling to find a path that seemed to fit.  I told her once that I have always felt like a proverbial bull in a china shop, looking for someone to tame me or fix me.  Looking for a woman who could make me fit better into this time and world.  So there I was, in a china shop standing on a mound of broken glass trying so unsuccessfully to be anything but the bull.  Bam! That was sound of another bull slamming into my china shop trying to find her own place in the world.  Turns out what I needed wasn’t what I was looking for but I found it anyway.  Or at least she found me.  I am so very thankful to have her, to have to part of me that was missing all along.  So I tell you now what I promised her on our wedding day:

  • “I will always love you”
    Seems corny and worn out but it’s true.  You must always love your mate.
  • “I will always be faithful to you”
    Again seems common sense but without trust there is nothing.
  • “Above all others I will put you first”
    Your actions are no longer yours alone.  The things you say, the actions you take are all a reflection of your character and your values.  You must value your mate above all others. 
  • “I will always work hard, in life and at love”
    Life is hard work and love is even harder.  The best things usually are, so work at it every day.  Everyday make sure your mate knows how much they mean to you and how much you care about them. 
  • “Forever at each other’s side”

These vows were important to me because I wanted my bride to know she will never be second to anyone, including me.  I didn’t need a maid or sugar momma.  I didn’t need anyone in charge of me nor did I need someone I would have to take care of every second of every day.  I needed a partner.  Someone who would stand by my side no matter what.  Someone who was as strong as I needed and as soft as I wanted.  We are partners because we are equals.  We may have different strengths and weaknesses but neither one of us is more or less important than the other.  Without her I am no longer whole.
These are some of the things I swore to her in front of god and our family.  They are things that I think about daily and they guide my decisions.
So you have now read at least two perspectives, one from a man who lost what was most dear to him. Preparedness and Divorce, by Dan in Montana  showed us a loss that may have led him what was most important in the end but by losing it.  My story is different but what I hope you take away is the same.  Love the ones your with.  Your marriage, your union, even your partnership can not be something that you fail to prepare.  The way you prepare your relationship for the worst times is by working at loving them now, through the good times and the bad times. 
“While I have failed at many things in my life, loving her will never be one of them.”  - A Prepared Sheepdog

Saturday, December 7, 2013

“We” had been prepping since Y2K, reading, watching, canning, storing, organizing, teaching and moving to the North West Montana mountains. A Monday morning knock at the door three months ago changed everything.  At the door was a court appointed clerk serving me divorce papers. The crash I felt was not the economy or a gale force wind blowing down my house.  My entire world had just collapsed around me. For me the TEOTWAWKI just occurred.

It took hours to orientate myself, stop my head from spinning, re-read the court papers and try to accept what had happened. My wife of seventeen years and my two daughters were walking out of my life. The anguish was immeasurable.  I watched them drive away and couldn’t stop my stomach’s upheaval.

If you are married or getting married please do not make the mistakes I made.  Don’t’ let the sun set on your anger.  Work out the issues when they first arise. Don’t forget that your marriage is a full time job.  It has to be cared for and tended to.  Like a garden, it has day to day necessities, left unattended; weeds will grow quickly and choke out the fruit. Today, I am reduced to a statistic as a Christian divorce.  The numbers are no different from non-Christian divorces. My witness has suffered and my church attendance is in a slump but my Bible readings and prayer times have hit new highs.  

All the prepping I had done up to this point was for my family.  I bought and stored feminine products, shampoos, hair conditioner and brushes along with all the beans, band aids and bullets.  I saved so that my family would be better off.  The twenty acre retreat we had moved into years ago now means so little. All the sweat, money and time building a garage, chicken coop, tool shop and garden; raising goats, horses and chickens now is questioned. What value is any of it without my family? 

Even with all the uncertainty I continue prepping.  It is who I am and what I do.  The habits engrained in my being have not changed. It is my comfort zone of sorts. Prepping is more urgent than ever before but I hesitate about what and how to prepare. I may have to sell the retreat and re-locate without my family. Maybe I can stay, maybe they will come back? Do I dare even hope?

Crazy as it is, this situation has stripped down and streamlined my prepping priorities. Once my stomach settled down and my head stopped spinning, I was able to re-focus. The surplus supplies stored in the garage and tool shed were first. Neither of us wanted any of these items.  I cleaned and packed those treasures and dropped them off at our local auction.  I sold my extra “barter” items: truck tires, outdoor lights, buckets, garden and hand tools. The frivolous possessions: golf clubs, ice skates, sports card and comic book collections sold for several hundred dollars. I split the money and deposited funds in a checking account for my soon to be ex-wife to access.  I saved my half of the funds as cash.  I am trying to save every way possible. 

Next on my list, (yes, I have an updated list), I attacked the closets.  I separated summer and winter outfits, paired up boots, gloves and beach slippers.  I organized them in; give away, not sure and save boxes. I  delivered the give-aways to the Goodwill store as donations. I have the "not sure" boxes ready for my wife and kid’s evaluation. The save items are labeled, dated and sealed. The concept of carrying and moving every item in the house helps the prioritizing process along nicely. 

The uncertainty of staying or moving has inspired me.  If I do have to sell the home, I’d like to get top dollar so on ward I went with my “to do list.”  I sanded and painted the discolored mud room door and placed new dead bolt locks and weather seals on all the doors.  Since no one is home most days, I have placed locks on the root cellar; tool shed, garage and generator shed.  I constructed a 12 ft metal gate at the entrance of my driveway with large boulders on each side for security. Two of the rooms now have new paint and one bathroom has new tile. Projects I’ve wanted to complete are now being finished.

My wife has returned on several occasions when I was not home and removed quite a few possessions.  Along with her clothes and personal items missing were most of my guns and cash. I trained her well; she took my Marlin .45-70, S&W .44 magnum along with several rifles and shotguns. I was left with only my Glock Model 30 that I carry with me and a Ruger 10-22. I felt vulnerable.

Using the cash from the sale of the barter and frivolous items, I purchased a semi auto shotgun, loaded it with slugs and OO.  Several of the articles read from SurvivalBlog recommend if you have limited funds or are just starting to prep a shotgun would be a purchase to consider. I have used quite a bit of the information from JWR’s site. (Thanks).
My fire wood trunk finally expired after over a decade of reliable service. My friend had a 1984 Ford, diesel 250 ¾-ton pick up he was using to spray his farm fields.  He sold it to me for a very reasonable price.  I used my remaining silver coins and cash I had from selling the extra items.

After the first month I started to feel depressed, especially when I arrived home.  Working two jobs, I leave at 6:45 AM and return exhausted, after nine PM to a dark, cold, empty home.  To help me fight the gloom I purchased timers for several lights.  They are scheduled for various on times. I made certain to have one tick on before nine  PM.  Amazing what a little light can do for the Spirit.

The weather is quickly changing and becoming quite cold.  I have my wood burner running open and hot when I’m home.  It’s marvelous what a glowing bed of red hot coals does for a log home’s setting. I use my best firewood when I leave, stuffing the wood burner full.  My log home retains the heat all day.  When I now arrive, the home is light and toasty warm. 

I have not purchased any groceries since my personal SHTF event.  I am presently cooking and eating my stores of canned foods and frozen provisions. I was surprised by the number of undetected canned foods that had expired under my watch.  Some of the freezer items were ice covered and freezer burned.   Items that are safe for consumption are being cooked and consumed daily.  The others feed my animals.  The freezer is on my list and soon will be defrosted and re-organized into sections with dates.

Cleaning out my freezer, I made venison stew nightly.  First thing in the morning I placed the frozen meat in the bottom of Granny’s crock pot, added cans of expired corn, beans and peas, set the temperature and blasted off for work.  I easily cooked up enough for several days.

I found several of the canned soup and pasta dishes quite flavorful, quick to prepare and easy to clean up. They have elevated their rankings on my inventory. There are also several that now won’t make my list. 

Returning home, I am now welcomed by a rich aroma that fills a well lit, warm log home.  Even with the inviting fragrance and notable taste, repeating the same stew night after night does become monotonous. A variety of spices and a wild game cookbook are essential and now on my list.

There can never be a substitute for my girls.  I pray after some of the wounds have healed, they will want to spend more time with me. In the mean time I elected to adopt a new youngster.  I picked out a year old black Labrador Retriever from the dog pound.  Kimber is great company and a reliable deterrent for unwanted strangers.  As an added bonus she has a fifteen hour bladder! So in my own peculiar way I found solutions to deal with a cold, dark and lonely home. 

Not having my daughters at home with me is excruciating.  I have pictures of them in every room.  I have cleaned their bathroom, closets and drawers.  The emotional cost of this loss is almost unbearable. I don’t know where they are staying.  I miss and love them so very much.  Divorce is horrible.

Attorneys on both sides are making quite a profit from my mistakes.  As the process continues they are the ones who benefit.  My stored silver and emergency funds have been cashed in to pay the attorney’s fees.  Any spare time I had is now used to gather statistics from my IRA, home insurance policy, pay stubs and tax statements then promptly forward them to the paralegal.  My stores of food and fuel are depleting quickly. I wish I had a “do over.”

Lessons learned:
Work at your marriage
Spend any minute you can with your family
Today with your family is more important than tomorrow without them.
Use what you are storing and planning to draw on when the SHTF
Clean out your garage, storage shed and closets, you have too much
Buy and store more spices
Check expiration dates
Defrost your freezer
Start and finish one of your “To Do” list jobs

God’s grace is never ending, in an answer to prayers, my daughter just texted me asking if we can go to lunch on Saturday. That appointment is BOLD, and number one on my list.

Howdy Captain,
Reading the other remarks about storing whiskey for barter made me chuckle, I've got a different take on this subject.

We're a dry household, always have been, just no need for that stuff. Life is pretty amazing when you're sober, why miss a minute of it under the influence of anything.

But, I've kept two bottles of Jack Daniels stored very prominently in our pantry for many years, and they're located in a place that makes them impossible to overlook.

We live in out in the sticks, and the idea is that if anyone breaks into the house while we are out, I want them to find the whiskey right away, and drink up. When I come home later that just might give me the edge I need!

Even when our kids were little they never touched that decoy whiskey, they knew what it was for!

Shoot straight, - Pistol Pedro in Colorado

If we are at a point in our lives where we are bartering, then supplies will have bottomed out. Alcohol withdrawal is not pretty and will lead it’s sufferer to really unwanted behaviors.
Being the neighborhood alcohol guy will be the same as a drug dealer on the corner today. While I see nothing wrong with trading with  uncle buck who has run out of his Saturday nightcap. Dealing with the public in general will lead to disaster.
Hope this finds you well. - G.B.


Captain. Rawles,
I gave up drinking decades ago but decided to keep a few cases of hootch in the preps for a number of reasons. I have a couple of cases of decent bourbon and scotch just in case it might help grease the wheels with someone I'm not on handshake terms with. I keep a case of Everclear which I can cut with water down to vodka strength, can use as a disinfectant and/or painkiller, burn for light, and which we started buying because my wife uses it in soap making.

I wouldn't offer a drunk a drink, but if others already have all the food, shelter, and security they think they need, my bottle might just be the thing they still want that will get me what I need. - Kevin in the Redoubt

Dear JWR;
I think it unnecessary to dip bottles of whiskey in paraffin or to worry about  the shelf life of unopened bottles.  My uncle, a career Air Force officer who was stationed at a USAF radar base in Canada in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when we maintained radar bases in the far north to give early warning of Soviet missile attack, brought back a large quantity of Canadian whiskey.  He gives me a bottle every Christmas.  The brand he has been giving me the last few years has a cork stopper rather than a screw top.  The tax stamp is dated 1952.  Even with the rather loose cork stopper there is no visible loss to evaporation and the whiskey is excellent after 61 years.  I think that with modern, hermetic screw tops, whiskey will last for hundreds of years with no deterioration.
Cordially, - Doug in Wisconsin


Okay, I read the letters on the whiskey for barter subject, and the one about vodka. Forget that. Buy grain alcohol. [JWR Adds: It is sold under the brand name Everclear, in two different proof grades-- 151 Proof and 190 Proof. The latter (95% alcohol by volume) is more difficult to find and may have to be special-ordered.] It will do anything vodka will do. It is 190 proof so it will work as booze, as a sterilizer in your first aid kit, a pain killer, and will start fires or burn by itself too. I buy stainless steel half-liter water bottles at the thrift store for about $2 each and use them to store the stuff - they won't break if they fall and won't leak unless somebody shoots a hole in them. Best part is it is price competitive to even cheap vodka or whisky, but more potent and more 'flexible'. - Rev. Dave   

Friday, December 6, 2013

The first snow of the season fell a few weeks ago at my location. It wasn't much, about 2 inches of heavy wet snow in the course of half a day and another inch expected to fall in the evening. Toward the end of the afternoon my sister dropped by for a visit and shortly before she arrived she noticed a couple of kids leaning on their bicycles at the side of the road. She stopped to see if everything was okay and mentioned to them they could stop by at our place it they needed help.

A little later on we saw them walking up the hill our house is located on with their bicycles in hand. About halfway up they stopped and, after some conversation, turned around and came into our drive way though not up to the house. So we went outside and offered to bring them home which was gladly accepted.

Before I relate the rest of the story, I want to stress that both kids had bright, clear eyes and their speech was polite, coherent and articulate. Therefore I have no reason to assume they are alcoholics or habitual drug users; something that could be easily inferred from what follows.

As it turned out they live in the nearest village to the south of us, which is nine miles away. Since the road was slushy, there was ample time to talk before we got there. From what I gathered they were on a sight-seeing trip and it had taken them about three hours to get to our place. I still do not know whether to marvel at their grit and determination or to label it a single-minded pursuit of the clueless. Perhaps its both.

At any rate by the time they stopped at our place, it was about 45 minutes before sunset. They had no lights on their bicycles, were lightly clothed and soaking wet right down through mittens and sneakers. They were also pretty much exhausted and had no hope of ever making it home on their own. Though I doubt that really had occurred to them at that moment.

Both kids, a boy and an girl, were fairly short (under 5 ft tall), slim built and each rode a kid's mountain bike with only 1 out of 4 tires reasonably well inflated. All in all it was quite an achievement for them to get as far as they did. It struck me during our conversation that they seemed to be around 10 years old as far their as comprehension of the situation went. For instance it turned out they had a cell phone with them and when they tried it, it picked up a cell tower, no problem. When I asked them why they hadn't called home, I just got some incredulous looks as if to say: a phone is for texting our buddies - not for calling home. [As an aside: When I dropped off their bicycles later on, I got the same incredulous looks when I asked them if they had learned that there are limits to what a person can do. The concept of learning from one's experiences seemed rather alien.]

During the conversation the girl volunteered that she'd had trouble with her knee during the trip. It had 'popped' but that wasn't a big deal because that happened regularly to her. It was just a bit painful at the time it happens. Then the boy showed me how he couldn't straighten his fingers. He said it was due to osteo-arthritis which he had been diagnosed with at age 11 and the cold didn't help things any.

At that point I just had to ask them: how old are you guys anyway? Turns out the 'girl' was a 17 year old high school dropout and the 'boy' - possibly her boyfriend - was in his early 20s.

This experience has been a bit of an eye opener to me, which is why I want to share it with you. First of all I didn't think such people lived around here. This is a rural area where the front page news are weekly tallies of flue fires (at least in the winter). Besides we have had a real winter every year for longer than these persons have been alive: i.e. they should know better. All youngsters I personally know wouldn't dream of engaging in such activities.

Secondly, and more importantly, this is before SHTF so getting them home was no problem. But what does one do after SHTF? If you are looking for a how to now - I don't have one yet. I am writing this mainly to raise awareness of the problem because I haven't seen it mentioned much on SurvivalBlog or anywhere else for that matter. Nevertheless you may want to spend some time thinking about what you are going to do when faced with this situation. Are you going to ignore them, hoping they will run into a better Samaritan than you?

We have all heard about the golden hordes, gangs and other threats to our existence. These people, however, seem to be truly clueless and only alive because their bodies run on autopilot. Chances are that (at least initially) they will be roaming around rather aimlessly - perhaps just to get away from violence elsewhere. So what's a person to do with them? I doubt they have any skills that you could put to good use. I also doubt that they are an imminent threat to you or your family unless forced to join existing gangs. They may not want to but most people can rationalize anything to stay alive.

In this particular situation about my only option (if I didn't want to take the risk to bring them home) would have been to give them a place to sleep and a few good meals before pumping their tires and sending them on their way home the next day. Which raises the issue: where do I put them? On an air mattress in the living room? Is the living room filled with the latest gadgets? I am sure they will remember some of the things they saw. Do you have room in the basement? A bunk house? A barn? Do you sleep or keep vigil in front of the door?

I know it is hard to prep for the unexpected and you may or may never run into any of them. However there may very well be many more clueless people around than we care to find out. The product of being put into this world and left to fend for themselves by absent parents, a school system that's focused on providing dumb financial slaves and cannon fodder, and having equally clueless peers as reference points. Would you or I do much better under the circumstances? I would like to think so but am thankful I don't have to prove it.

I will leave you with a text that keeps going through my head as I think about the situation: Should I not have mercy on (...) persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand? (Jonah 4:11) - D.P.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's not every day I get the chance to visit with a TEOTWAWKI survivor - but when I do, I listen up. That opportunity presented itself yesterday, when I was privileged to interview Paul.
An individual of small frame yet sizeable strength of mind and determination, Paul experienced the end of the world he knew and lived to help create a new one. Not only did he survive the collapse, but he proved to be a key leader and connector in his community as it struggled through the extended period of political upheaval, economic failure, widespread violence, and nefarious pillaging. Paul also dealt with treachery from friends and neighbors, epidemic disease, death threats, cessation of trade, prolonged lack of necessary supplies, and international contempt – as well as the death of two children.

Fortunately for me, he was not shy about sharing his story.

Exceptional leadership grabs my interest, and I had many questions for this extraordinary gentleman. Right away, I wanted to know: to what do you credit your survival? What were the most important things you did to ensure that you, your family, and your community would make it through the collapse? What lessons can you teach us?
His answer was most unexpected.

Preparing for Liberty

When I think of how I’d survive a collapse, my mind jumps to things like stockpiling supplies, starting a garden, learning to shoot, being able to live off-grid, or having a strategic bug-out location. All of those did indeed come into play, and were critical components of survival for Paul and his community. However, I soon realized he had a completely different perspective than most preppers with whom I’ve spoken.

As I heard Paul’s story, it became obvious to me that while we often have a laser focus on preparing to survive the impending collapse, his community had gone farther and made preparations for survival after the collapse. In other words: yes, he had to have practical necessities and skills to make it through whatever came his way – but what then? After the world as he knew it ended, was his community prepared to help create a new one?

As it turns out, they were indeed as well prepared as they could be, for they had men among them who knew very well what they were about. They wasn’t preparing merely for survival; they were preparing for liberty.

I wish you could all sit down in a room with Paul and listen to him relate his own story and the lessons learned from it. Unfortunately, that will not be possible. Paul died in 1818, 43 years after his famous midnight ride warning the colonists that the British Regulars were out to seize their gunpowder. However, we can still hold conversations with him, and the others in his community who survived the end of the world as they knew it, if we become students of history.

Liberty: Dead or Alive?

The spirit of liberty was alive and well in the hearts and minds of Paul Revere and his fellow American colonists in the 1770s as they endured the horrors of war and worked hopefully, against great odds, toward a new future, seeking to preserve freedom and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity.
What about now, and what about us? As you look around in your family, your neighborhood, your city, your state, and your country, do you see the spirit of liberty alive and well? Quite frankly, I don’t.
This begs the question: how do we plant and nurture the seed of liberty in the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans?

Allow me to present to you the LibertySeed, a branch of Project Appleseed of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association.

From Appleseeds to LibertySeeds – A New Option

Project Appleseed, a national organization and activity of the 501(c)(3) Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA), is gaining recognition for its rifle marksmanship clinics held all over the country. In addition to learning the best fundamentals of traditional marksmanship, participants at an Appleseed shoot are treated to a re-telling of the events of April 19, 1775 – the day the American Revolutionary War began, and the day our heritage was born. 

Until recently, those interested in hearing the history presented at an Appleseed event had to attend the two-day clinic at the range. Now, you have a 90-minute alternative option: the LibertySeed.
A LibertySeed is an indoor event consisting of the history portion of an Appleseed shoot. An RWVA instructor will come, free of charge, to your location and present the events of April 19, 1775 in a manner suitable for your group. You can request a presentation at a church retreat, a Boy Scout troop meeting, a gun club luncheon, a grassroots political meeting, a homeschool book fair or conference, or even a group of your family and friends gathered in your home.

Think of a LibertySeed presentation as a conversation with a TEOTWAWKI survivor: you get to hear vivid accounts of the preparations made, the networking put into place, the brilliant minds who sparked fires of liberty, and the faithful men who carried on and endured more pain than we can imagine. As you hear this fascinating history – your story – you will begin to understand why our nation’s government was set up the way it is. You will regain motivation to make the best possible use of the freedoms you have been given. You will come to understand that our forefathers used the bullet box to set up a system of government which we can influence in much easier forms: through the ballot box and the soapbox .
All this you get at a LibertySeed, as you hear of men who “knew very well what they are about.”

Men Who Know Very Well What They Are About

Before April 19, 1775, Lord Hugh Percy of the British forces held the colonials in disdain, considering them inept, uncouth backwoodsmen. However, after observing their skill and resolution that day, he wrote home with a completely different opinion: “Whoever looks upon them as an irregular mob, will find himself very much mistaken. They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about.”
He was talking about men like John Parker, captain of the Lexington Training Band – a man dying of tuberculosis who chose to spend his last days burning resolute determination into the souls of his men as they faced off against far superior forces, instead of considering himself exempt from serving…

Men like Isaac Davis, captain of the Acton Minutemen, who raised his sword at the North Bridge when a charge was deemed necessary and declared, “I have not a man who is afraid to go!” – and women like his wife, 29-year-old Hannah, who let him walk out the door that morning leaving her with four deathly ill children and a sickening premonition that was realized a few hours later when his corpse was carried into her parlor, a musket ball having pierced his chest and taken his life…

Men like 80-year-old Deacon Josiah Haynes, who turned out with the militia and set a rapid pace on the road, leaving the young minutemen panting behind him, until he was killed during the Regulars’ nightmarish retreat from Concord – killed while leading his townsmen from the front…

And men like Paul Revere, who became famous for words he never spoke (instead of, “The British are coming!” he actually called out, “The Regulars are out!” since everyone at that time was British), while key facts about his midnight ride– such as his capture by a British patrol before he reached Concord—remain unknown to most Americans…

As a LibertySeed presentation offers the gripping stories of these and many other men and women, it helps you to educate your children and your community on their nation’s heritage. You can play an important role in the survival of the spirit of liberty in our country simply by scheduling a LibertySeed presentation.

How To Schedule a LibertySeed

To schedule a LibertySeed presentation, simply contact the RWVA through the site A volunteer instructor in your area will work with you to organize the details of the presentation, creating an event tailored to your needs.

A typical LibertySeed presentation is often 90 minutes long and includes all Three Strikes of the Match – the three encounters between the colonial militia and the British Regulars on April 19, 1775 that culminated in the beginning of the Revolutionary War. However, the timeframe and contents can be adjusted.

For example, the RWVA has conducted LibertySeed presentations at elementary and junior high schools, political club meetings, church retreats, convention workshops, prepper expos, gun shows, backyard picnics, or even around a restaurant table after a ladies’ range day. You may request a luncheon speaker who will give a condensed history in 20-30 minutes, or a female volunteer who can address your women’s group, or a presenter who is experienced at working with children to tell the Three Strikes in an engaging and interactive format for a homeschool co-op. Your event can be private – only for you and your friends, or public – posted on for your community to attend.

There is no charge to you or your guests for a LibertySeed event. RWVA volunteers consider it a pleasure and an honor to reawaken their fellow Americans to our shared heritage of liberty, and they give their time generously in an effort to bail out the sinking ship that our nation has become.

How Are You Preparing for Liberty?

Perhaps it’s too late to save America. Perhaps the ship has already sunk too far and a complete national collapse is inevitable. Or perhaps not, if we are zealous to reawaken the spirit of liberty in ourselves and our countrymen.

As you're preparing for the survival of TEOTWAWKI, consider a conversation with those who've been there already. Sure, learn survival skills and be wise about stocking up necessary supplies for whatever may come your way. But don’t forget about the real goal of prepping – not just getting through, but keeping the spirit of liberty alive and well. It may be that, among all the seeds you want to have for your survival, the LibertySeed is the most important. Be sure to get yourself one.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I’ve seen many articles and entries on how to deal with various forms of property, power and safety issues in a TEOTWAWKI situation, as well as the proper means of dealing with disease and the disposal of bodies. But I have seen precious little on the psychology of being the survivor of those losses.  The horrible events in the Philippines have led me to address this.

Let me state here and now that I do not have the type of education that would make me “qualified” to address this.  Just experience.  I must also state that I have never lost “everything” in the conventional sense of the word; as most people equate that to a house, a car etc.

Over the course of my life though I grew up poor I had a home and on most nights, food.  As an adult I have all of the “things” I feel are necessary for a decent lifestyle.  But those things are just things, and transient by their nature.  I didn’t know what true happiness was until I became a father.  That was when I learned what was truly important.  Life was good.

I had seven years of true happiness before I learned what it meant to lose “everything”.  One month after his birthday, my only child (at the time) suddenly died.  One minute he was fine, the next I was performing CPR and praying with all I had to pray with that The Almighty take me in exchange.  My prayers went unanswered and my efforts failed.  My seven-year-old child died in my arms.

My world ended that night.  My life… My reason for being… Gone in an instant.  My late night promises to him when he woke up afraid… that while I lived no harm would come to him, were broken.  I failed in every sense of the word.

In the months to follow I found that food was irrelevant, physical pain had no effect on me, people could come and go through my home unnoticed.  My wife, my wonderful and patient wife, could do nothing to break me out of my self-imposed prison.  A jail to which I was sentenced by the judge and jury in my soul where I was guilty of killing my son by way of failing to save him.

Then the drinking began. 

Every time I closed my eyes I saw the change in his pupils at the moment where life left his body.  I still see it sometimes. But at the time I wasn’t as strong as I am now, and so I turned to the vice of so many before me.  I found sleep in a bottle and comfort in a glass.  I never saw that I was in danger of losing my wife and friends.

My will to live was non-existent.  Many times, during heavy storms I would take off my seatbelt and drive at high speeds along the freeway.  Once I was in a grocery store that was being robbed and I tried everything I could to provoke the gunman so he might shoot me.  He thought I was insane and fled.  I look back and think of how many people I could have harmed through my selfishness and pray for forgiveness.

But that is what losing “everything” can do to a person.  I was ill equipped to handle that kind of loss.  Truth be told I don’t know that I can survive it again, heaven forbid.  But the looming specter of such an event is always at my back.  Prompting me to be in a constant state of alertness regarding my family.  It’s the kind of pressure that will break a weaker man, as it had done to me.

I lived in a state of mere existence for a couple of years.  Waking up with a headache and the ever-present physical sensation of hopelessness.  Not caring enough to iron my clothes or even bathe most days, I’d go through the motions of living for eight hours plus commute, and then I’d return to my living death.  It wasn’t until I tried to end my life that I was re-awakened.  I won’t bore you with the details.

My return to humanity was difficult.  I had developed the mentality of a prisoner in a death camp.  I had accepted my defeat and done nothing to maintain my humanity.  I had lost my pride, my will and my hope. I had even come to embrace my prison since it was a known and predictable situation.  I assure you that until you have experienced a defeat of the soul, that you have not truly experienced defeat.

How did I snap back?  What did I do that reversed my course? 

Well… I must admit that Divine Intervention was likely the major reason.  I couldn’t have gotten through those early years unscathed without the Lord’s hand.  It was my wife that led me to that realization.  She also led me back to the Lord, and to my salvation, in more ways than one.

I have learned a few things on my journey.  I have learned that first and foremost, God is great.  That statement confuses many people.  They ask me, “How can you believe in God after your son died like that?” to which I reply “God didn’t kill my son, his illness did.” 

I have also learned that you need to be open to healing.  My pastor said just this past Sunday: “You know all of those people sitting in Church, trying to get a tan from the Light of The Lord?  Well, God isn’t in church with them.  He’s over there, in the darkness, trying help… because that’s where God does his best work…”

“In the blackest darkness, where even the smallest light can shine like a beacon… the light of the lord must be truly piercing.  We just have to learn that when we’re down and in the fetal position with our arms wrapped around our head, and life is kicking the heck out of us… that we have to unclench our eyes and get up.  We can’t see the light if we’re closed off in duck and cover mode.”

That last part is the message, I think.  Get up and look into the eyes of your loss.  Don’t let it throw you down and kick you into oblivion.  People are depending on you.  Even if they’re not nearby you will be needed.  Have the tools at hand to fight the darkness off.  I don’t know what tool I could have had to help me fight off my hopelessness at that time, but I know that there is little that can shake me now. 

When I feel weak I whittle, I read, I do push-ups, I cook and to my wife’s severe dismay I even sing.  All the while I take the problem before me and mentally spin it around so I can see it from many angles.  I never, ever just “do something”.  I’ve learned that sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to be done.  Answers may become apparent as a situation plays out.  Just be ready to provide solutions by maintain a variety of skills.

Mostly though, I learned to fight back.  I think that applies in a very practical sense to the preparedness mentality.  Not fighting in the physical life-or-death combat sense, but in combat of the spirit and soul.  I started a non-profit to raise money for research into my son’s illness.  I never feel as happy as when I am handing a check to the research team.  It’s my way of saying to the murderer behind the microscope “I’m coming for you!”

I don’t know what, if anything, you may take from this.  I felt compelled to write this because the loss of life in the Philippines has struck a chord in my heart.  I remember all too well how some of those people are feeling.  I understand hopelessness.  But I look back at my path and I see a direct line to where I now stand, and in so seeing I urge you:

Never give up.

The greater defeat is in the surrender, not in the loss.  I learned that the hard way.

Be vigilant, my friends.

Oh… I almost forgot:  If you say the Lord’s Prayer, keep in mind that when you say, “Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.” You had better mean it.  He’s taking you at your word.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I hope some of you know most of these things, but I’m sure most of you won’t know all of these things.

I took a camping trip not too long ago where I made one of my favorite childhood camping dishes, the hobo dinner. I’m sure those of you who camp have had it a few times. Put some potatoes and veggies in some aluminum foil and throw it right on the fire. Easy enough. Tastes great. Don’t even need a plate. I, however, am not your average cook. I like to try new things, and I don’t eat plain old potatoes. I need cheese, so I added some. All was going well until it came time to eat and guess what, the cheese stuck to the aluminum foil and I didn’t get any of it. Not a lick. The potatoes were still edible, of course, and I didn’t go hungry by any means, but it teaches a good lesson. It’s the little things that make or break your meal. So it is with life and so it will be when the SHTF or TEOTWAWKI comes. Just FYI, add the cheese after it cooks and it works great, now on to it. As the appropriately named hobo dinner shows us, those who have nothing find ways to make something that works. You need a meal? You don’t have fancy cookware or a nice electric stove? No problem if you’re a hobo, and it shouldn’t be a problem for any of us to survive given almost any situation. Just use your head and think of those little things. The ones who have invested hundreds of thousands won’t necessarily be the ones still living, and thriving, in a bad situation.

I don’t sweat the big things, I’m sure there are a million articles on them already and you have read them all, but I hope there are a few little things here that will give you food for though, and that might just save your life some day.

First things first, don’t panic. Could this be obvious enough? If I were reading a top five list of things that will save your life in a disaster and this was number one, I would roll my eyes and toss the list aside as obvious and unhelpful. Wait! Don’t toss it aside so easily(note to self). Even those of us that have a set plan and have rehearsed it to death need to take a minute and assess the situation. Time is not always our enemy. A well panned trip tomorrow may be more successful than a rushed one today. We are all human and can and will make mistakes. A few minutes of planning or double checking can save hours or lives later. There are very few situations when acting instantly is the only thing that saves your life, and presumably when that time comes you are prepared enough to make the quick choice. You can’t, however, be prepared for everything and until you’ve been in a bad situation, you can’t be sure how you will react. You can, however, try and get into the habit of good planning now. It’s also a good exercise in using your head. A tool you should never be without, so don’t leave it behind. Daydream, just as a fellow prepper enjoys sci-fi to get ideas, I daydream. It’s also often a valid way to entertain yourself when bored. Imagine you’re at work and there’s a zombie attack. How do you get out? Where can you get supplies? Do I think that a zombie attack will ever happen? No, but if there’s an earthquake guess what, I already know where supplies are and an evacuation route. Ever tried making up a lie on the spot? It’s more difficult than you think. You will inevitably find yourself regurgitating information that’s already in your head. It’s very difficult to think of something new on the spot. If you haven’t already planned on possible evacuation routes and know where supplies might be, you may find yourself walking the wrong direction and right past valuable supplies as you try to get out. Don’t panic, analyze the situation and take things one step at a time.

Water, hopefully, you already have stored. You can’t go long without it. I won’t try to tell you how much to have or how to store it, I hope you already know, but here are a few things about water you may want to think about. If you are ever without water for a long period of time, life will change drastically. By long period of time I mean like…three days. I’m sure we would all be fine for a day or even two before it starts to get really annoying that we have to bring in water to flush the toilet or can’t take a shower. What happens in four days or a week. Your daily routine will change dramatically. Think about this for a second. Who is really ready to haul a gallon of water to the bathroom every time they have to use it, or take a sponge bath because there is no shower? Even if you have a little water stored, lets say a few 55 gallon barrels, that is hardly any at all. Given the average family of four and each person needing a gallon of water a day, that’s 120 gallons just for a month. Those two 55 gallon barrels just ran out on you. I’m not concerned with can you get more or how much you currently have stored. What I really want to bring out here is are you prepared for how your life will change? Running water is nothing short of a miracle and we take if for granted much too often. Say you have an unlimited supply of water. Are you prepared to get it to where you will use it? I have some water stored in my basement. Just thinking about hauling gallons of water up the stairs every day makes me inwardly sigh. What a bother. Maybe a should add a water pumping system in my house to easily move water upstairs manually? Just a thought. That’s what I hope to invoke here. For those of you planning on bugging out, what about filters. I’ve got a great filter you say, it can purify 100 gallons a day or I’ll boil water till the cows come home. Great, good for you for having an alternative, but that won’t do you any good while bugging out. Do you have a small and effective filter for the road? If for some reason your chosen transport fails, are you aware how long it takes to walk to your bug-out local? How much water will you need for that trip? To end my thoughts on water, do you know how much water weighs? Eight pounds per gallon. That’s 440 lbs. for that 55 gallon barrel. It’s not moving anywhere. Safest thing in your house if you get robbed. They aren’t taking it with them. I’m promise.

With food storage, I hear stories that I really hope aren’t true. Like the guy who has 365 cans of soup and thinks he has a years worth of food. Good luck with that. He may survive but I can almost guarantee he will be crazy by the end of the year. Don’t ever forget the old adage, variety is the spice of life. You have an unlimited supply of spirulina, meal worms, rabbits or even wheat. I don’t care what it is. You better have a lot of something to go with it because you’re going to get sick of it really fast. We are blessed to live in a country where we have just about everything. That variety is great for everyday life. The transition to nothing will be as hard for some as the actual living afterwards. Don’t discount those stories of people who commit suicide because they just lost everything. It will happen. Life can’t just be, it has to be worth living. Concentrate less on staying alive and more on living. There is a huge difference.

Travel and bugging out. What a huge topic. Let me just say a few things. There are about a dozen situations I can think of off the top of my head that would prevent someone from using a motorized vehicle. Too big, too noisy, no fuel, roadblocks, just to name a few. Have you ever tried to walk somewhere, and I don’t just mean down the street? I mean walk 30 miles to the next town or 100 miles to your bug-out locale. The average human walking speed is about 3 miles per hour. Assume a bad situation where you may only make 2 or less. Even at the small distance of 30 miles to travel, that 30 min trip by car now takes you 15 hours to hike. That’s 15 hours that you may be getting shot at or avoiding hazards or whatever else may happen. What if you’re trying to outrun something like an angry mob or radiation. Good luck with that. Unless you’re a marathon runner you probably just ran out of time. I see people paying lots of money for these big bug out vehicles. Well guess what. If it hits the fan, it may be the guy with a nice bicycle and some leg muscle that lives to fight another day. You could easily increase speed to 10 miles per hour on a bike, or more. They’re inexpensive, easy to use, and allow for more weight for supplies than you could comfortably hike with. There are great fold up models if you work in an office building and want one with you at all times. Over-reliance on tech may well be a downfall for many. How many can navigate to their bug-out without GPS or a Google map? There are places I’ve been to a hundred times in my youth that I would get lost going to now, at least without glancing at a map first. How many of us have a good paper map and know how to use it? How many are prepared, both physically and mentally to leave everything and jump on your bike and go? For those bugging-in, you may still want a bike. I consider it a vital piece of equipment. That mile to the grocery store, without a car, gets old really fast.

Now let me say something that may be a touchy subject for many. I think that the prepper community is great. I’m glad that so many people are taking thought for tomorrow, but I’m afraid that too many aren’t taking thought for today and are being way too narrow in their preps. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Don’t get so caught up in planning your bunker for a nuclear strike that you die when a big earthquake hits. Don’t be so concerned with yourself that you forget about the six family members you have that will show up at your house and turn your food storage from a nice one year supply to a two month supply. Don’t spend so much money prepping for an attack that when you lose your job you can’t pay your bills, lose your house and thereby lose all your preps. The best prepper is a well rounded one. Have things, have skills, have people. You loose just one leg of a three legged stool and you will find it very hard to sit. Health is a big one, I’ve seen people with all the preps in the world and they are in such bad health that I expect they will be the first to go. A healthy person with a pocket knife and a head full of knowledge may be the only one to make it out, all your fancy preps notwithstanding. Prioritize, getting a personal trainer may be more worthwhile than another year of food or a better bug-out vehicle. A five dollar map may save your life when your $400 GPS fails. Plan generally for all possibilities and then add extra supplies for the most likely SHTF scenarios, not the other way around.

The way I see it most people are prepared for the imminent catastrophe. The whole prepper community is ready for it to hit the fan tomorrow, but I don’t think they are actually ready for it to hit next year. It’s very likely that there will not be one huge life changing event, but that a collapse of life as we know it will be a long and grueling process. You most likely wont wake up one day and say, times up, red light, everyone to the bug-out location. Most likely, life will get worse and worse over a period of weeks or even months and by the time you realize it’s time to go it may be too late. You had gas last week, but you’ve been going to work and running the generator every day and now the tank is empty and suddenly you can’t get more. Now it’s time to bug out, what do you do? It’s usually the combination of things that get you. You have a car, but no gas. You have food, but not enough people to stop that 10 person gang. You have a bunker, but you find after a few days that you’re getting claustrophobic. You have all the preps that man can buy, but you panic in the heat of the moment and get yourself killed. Life will change once TEOTWAWKI hits. Don’t just prepare for it, but for after it, and don’t let your hobo dinner be ruined because of the cheese. It’s those little things that will get you in the end.

You are the light of the world, let your light shine forth. Save someone.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Have you been able to sit quietly and thoughtfully imagine what your world would be like at TEOTWAWKI?  Your world? Your new and untried world? There are so many lists on the Internet, and so much information available that it would seem to be impossible to miss this point, but mentally and emotionally we will be all over the map! 

Anyone aware of extreme threat situations knows about physiological factors impairing wise judgment.  Body chemistry does strange things during life and death encounters.  In St Paul, Minnesota, an elderly lady was robbed at gunpoint.  She could not tell the police the height of the robber, his skin color, what clothes he was wearing or anything else to help identify the perpetrator.  She could only remember the snub nosed .38 pointed at her had a little piece of  blue fuzz hanging from the trigger guard!

Let me give you some relevant examples of traumatic stress. In Vietnam, under extreme stress, I encountered some very unusual thought patterns.  The first occurrence was when a buddy was drowning in a canal alongside his mobile advisory team fort.  I was flying as observer in the back seat of an OV-1 Birddog aircraft with Warrant Officer Dennis and was listening to AFVN radio between mail drops when Dennis came up on the intercom and directed me to the tactical frequency on our radio.  We listened to the dramatic rescue efforts and call for medevac.

Jimmy was in a sampan crossing the canal in anticipation of resupply by chopper when the helicopter came in low and fast.  Its prop wash blew him out of the sampan.  He was wearing his flack jacket and helmet, so he went down headfirst into the concertina wire strung under the water to prevent enemy sappers from swimming up to the fort. The helicopter pilot set down, unbuckled and jumped into the canal to try to save Jimmy.  His crew chief had to grab the pilot to keep him from getting entangled in the wire as well.  The next day, members of the Navy Seal Team attached to Advisory Team 80 at CaMau, recovered Jimmy's body and I knew I was going to miss his smile.

While we were listening to the radio traffic during the incident I thought seriously about asking my pilot to fly over the canal and I would jump out and save Jimmy!  Those were my actual, adrenaline induced thoughts on the basis of having been a certified Scuba diver and also on my college swim team. Obviously, I did not put the thoughts to speech,  but I was overwhelmed with one of my buddies dying and not being able to help!

The next occasion came when another buddy and I were shooting the breeze one night atop our 30' high guard tower.  We were not on duty (the guard was in the enclosure beneath us) as we sat on the top deck and enjoyed the cool evening breeze.  We heard an explosion that came from behind our Tactical Operations Center (TOC), about 100 yards away. I thought it was the mortar team doing a fire mission.  A couple seconds later, the next explosion was on the near side of the roof at the TOC.  We knew it was time to run for it and my buddy hit the ladder as fast as feet would move.  As he was going down the ladder another mortar round landed on a straight line for our tower and considerably closer.  The rounds were walking straight toward out position!  For some reason, I watched as my bud climbed all the way to ground level and ran for the bunkers at the middle of the Team compound.  My next thought could have proved fatal.  I reasoned that if I went down the vertical ladder head first I would get down before the next mortar round landed!  I couldn't believe I had that thought, so cleared my head and went down the ladder as I was supposed to do, feet first. There is a story about that next mortar round, but not for now. Several more mortar rounds landed along an ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) troop convoy with the soldiers asleep in their trucks.  Several died.

On another occasion, I was awakened at 2:00 a.m. to the sound of rocket, machine gun and small arms fire and realized we were under a ground attack. Jumped into my pants and boots, grabbed my M16 and reached for my bandoliers of loaded magazines - seven bandoliers in all.  While I was reaching for the bandoliers, and with the noise of gunfire growing more emphatic, my thoughts were along the lines of trying to decide how many of the bandoliers I would need.  Should I take three?  Four?  Then the thought came, "This is just like picking out a tie for getting dressed up back home!".  I grabbed the whole bunch and hotfooted it to the command bunker!  We lived to fight another day!

You see, under duress we may think and do strange things. 

A friend of mine was driving on the south side of Madison, Wisconsin and tailgating, as do most of the drivers on the south Beltline, when the car in front of her spun out on an icy patch.  My friend hit the spin-out broadside, the cars came to a stop and she got out of her car to run up to the car she had hit.  She then proceeded to physically attempt to pull the woman out of the other car so they could get away from the accident.  The woman resisted saying her neck was hurt and wanting to wait for the ambulance.  My friend grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out of the car to the pavement, at which time onlookers took control of the situation so my friend could settle down.

Afterward, still in a state of shock, my friend kept repeating "I knew better than to move her and I don't know what made me do it!  I knew better but I did it anyway!".

All right, so take these scenarios together and imagine what you will actually do if a military outfit shows up at your door to confiscate everything you have stored up for "Official Use" as per the myriad of executive orders now on the books.  What will you do now, today, to be able to survive if that happens?

Please don't tell me you will have hidden stashes in your house, garage, barn, shed, buried in the woods, and that is what you will be counting on.  The government typically has 15-16 years of advanced technology more than the world knows about at any given time.  I know about the currently deployed search equipment the Secret Service uses to scan the venue of a presidential appearance.  The search teams deploy sniffer dogs and technology to scan even into walls and concrete floors to ensure a safe visit.  Imagine the "search and identify" technology we will only get to know about 15 years from now and think realistically.  How are you going to work around scanning equipment that will penetrate through the ground to a depth of 15-20 feet?  What will your strategy be?  It will be too late when the humvees or helicopters arrive.

And if you don't believe it will be military, substitute a large motorcycle gang or a gang on ATVs busting out of the brush from all directions, or simply a large mob of folk coming door to door for any food or fuel they can find, with guns. Extrapolate from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

In the Congo several years ago, a dear friend and his family were caught between warring factions coming to his village to battle each other in the middle of the night.  One side arrested everyone and sent the women and children in one set of trucks and the men in separate trucks in completely separate directions.  Miraculously they were reunited several months later in a refugee camp.  They lost everything they had.  How would you respond?

How Would You Respond? 
As an emotional wreck or as a survivor.  If you are not prepared physically, mentally and emotionally for these very difficult circumstances you may not do so well.  Folks who do not focus on survival often do not go through these occurrences with the will to live.  Read about the victims of the holocaust in Europe and you will encounter a variety of instances where the will to live was lost and the end of life came soon after.  Same with prisoners of war.

Read about these folks.  Imagine what you would do.  Think realistically about what you need to do NOW to be prepared to think like a survivor and to harness your emotions toward that end.

You see, that's the point.  You must go beyond imagining and think realistically and plan and prepare now.  When it hits, if the only thing you have done is imagine how tough you are or how smart you are, you won't be worth much.

Again in Vietnam, we had a big strapping farm kid assigned to our advisory team as a machine gunner.  He was all fired up and ready to kick some butt!!!  On river patrol with a couple of advisors and a company of ARVN troops, the good guys were hit with an ambush.  With the bullets and rockets flying all around his boat, this young man failed to move his right index finger about 3/8 of an inch.  All he had to do was to pull the trigger on his M60 machine gun to help break up the ambush!  He froze!!  (I do not believe in "flight or fight", because there is a third "F" to the equation and that is to freeze, helpless and useless).

When they got back, the advisors wouldn't talk to anyone about what happened.  Some of the ARVNs died during that ambush. That night in his bunk room, with several of my closest buddies asleep in cots all around the room, he began to relive what had happened.  This time he was able to squeeze the trigger of his M60, which he had forgotten to unload.  My buds told me there were rounds mixed with tracers flying all around the room.  Miraculously again, no one even got a scratch.  The kid was shipped out the next day and we all moved on.

Phuoc was a Vietnamese Tiger Scout.  Able to speak both Vietnamese and English he was invaluable on patrols out in the jungle.  He was assigned to one of our best field command advisors and was with him on a particularly hot day about to search a village for VietCong.  I will call him Lt. Smith. The Lieutenant had recently heard all the talk about Vietnamese troops who were unwilling to fight.  On this day he chose to ignore Phuoc's warnings about an ambush he suspected in the village and the troops went into the village anyway. That's where Lt. Smith died, and several of the ARVNs.  Last time I saw Phuoc he had a leg cast on, was walking with crutches and gave me a very sad and resigned smile.

Be sure the information you are basing your decisions on is reliable for your set of circumstances, or it could prove seriously detrimental. Realistically, it will be like combat.  None of us knows for certain how we will respond during ongoing life threatening times.  What we can do is prepare to the best of our ability now, realizing we do not know how we will react if it hits the fan hard.  If we take that attitude, we will be much better prepared to think calmly and react appropriately.

I am not going to lay out an Anticipated Traumatic Stress plan for you.  You must do that according to where you are and what you are capable of during this time of relative peace.  I am going to encourage you to think about and even do research about what happens when overwhelming circumstances are presented to your mind and emotions; physiologically and psychologically.  I will leave you with this one piece of advise - what you do to prepare, don't broadcast it about.  Stay as secret and unobserved as you possibly can, given the thoughtful exceptions of like-minded family and like-minded close friends. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

I have been thinking about writing an article on what is going on in the Philippines since I first saw the news last Friday.  There is so much that I saw I realized that I would need to write far too many pages to explain it all.  But I will write a few.
I saw the news of Typhoon Yolanda, as it is called in the Philippines, live from PI.  They called it Typhoon Haiyan elsewhere.  I am married to a Pinay (a Filipina lady) and we get several of the Philippine television networks right here at home via satellite.  I think we watched all of them.
I wish to make some observations here from what I saw, and I do not plan on giving detailed answers on everything.  I do not have them.  But perhaps we can learn from what has happened.
Yolanda Arrives
On Friday, November 8th, at dawn, Typhoon Yolanda went first to the Island of Samar (my wife’s home island), right over her Barangay Basyao, then onto Tacloban and through the rest of the Vasayn area, touching Cebu (the number two city of PI) and outward after crossing a few thousand of the seven thousand islands in that nation.  That will not mean a lot to everyone on this list, but I know for certain it will to some.  Tacloban (the number three city of PI) is where the most damage was done according to the news.  That is the main city of the area and it has about 220,000 people not counting the nearby towns and villages.

A good number of the Philippine people I have met through the years are not so big on disaster preparedness.  Those that come from a local village (barangay) in particular live very much day to day.  Some have some things stored up, but not so many.  The poorer ones even in the cities do not always have adequate refrigeration.  And even those that do often do not have the space for general prep if they are in the cities.  People do what they have always done.  Not that it is wrong in itself, but that sometimes costs people much, and sometimes everything.
Yolanda came in as nothing like ever did before.  It had steady winds of 195 MPH, and gusts up to 235.  From what I could see, and I do not have all the information, Yolanda flattened many villages and a very big chunk of Tacloban, including concrete structures and many of those with corrugated tin roofs.  The villages typically have a lot of bamboo framed structures with coverings of palm leaves and grasses.
There were stories of people being pulled out of houses by the winds or the water and their bodies later found in the water, in trees, or not at all.  I do not know how many drowned from the twenty foot waves that covered so many people.  They were big enough waves that full sized cargo ships are now on land, on top of what used to be homes.  I do not see how one could have done enough preparations where they were.  Leaving would have been the only solution for most.  Living on an island, even a large one, makes that very tough though.
After the Storm

The stories of people surviving way out in the country are out there.  I do not know how many made it yet.  From what I heard was that some in that group may have survived because they did the only thing they knew how to do.  They went to the same mountains and jungles to hide where their parents or grandparents hid 70 years ago from the Japanese.  It was the same thing some of the Vasayn people did to get away from the Spanish several centuries earlier.  In the past they would also hide in the low laying caves.  That might not have been a good choice this time.
There was a strange side note to this.  Former first lady Imelda Marcos had a secure and fortified shelter and survived well.  Very few others had such an option.  Imelda and her now deceased husband Ferdinand Marcos (the dictator) had in the 70’s done at least as much damage to the people of PI as Yolanda did.
The pictures and videos I saw showed that sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there is hardly anything you can do about it.  Most of the Philippine people who Yolanda hit did not know it was coming.  They have no TV, radio, or even electric in a lot of places away from any city.  And even some of them do not even have a radio.  The only thing they do is personally watch the weather, buckle down as needed if they can, and they clean up later.  It is what they have always done.
The people of PI found there were too many to bury.  They took tractors and backhoes of all sorts and buried people with unknown identities dozens or even hundreds at a time.  It does not dawn on us, even those who prep somewhat that this can happen.  What a horrid situation.  But sometimes it happens that way in parts of the world.  We have not seen that here in well over a hundred years.  May it never happen here.  It could though.  One of our members on this list has already told me he thinking he may need do that one day, while he hopes not.  Me too.
TV and Media Coverage
The Filipinos have several TV networks.  ABC-TV5, GMA, and ABS-CBN are the bigger ones.  We mostly watched the first two.  TV coverage in the Philippines is not really the same as here.  They are very much to the point, open in what they say or do, and they tend to be fairly graphic in what they show.  What we see is more sanitized; for good or bad, maybe you know?
Some of the saddest things I saw were the dead bodies in the street.  They were in the trees.  They were floating in the water.  And more.  I apologize if that was a little rough the way I wrote that.  I say it this way so that if some horrific event happens you will at least know what to expect.  I have never seen that, but I have seen many dead bodies, including a large number in one place from a disaster.  It does something to you if you let it.  Prepare your mind for the worse if, God forbid, the stuff hits the fan like it did in PI.
I saw a man one day holding onto his young dead son, who was perhaps ten.  He had that thousand-yard stare and did not know what to do.  He just stood there.  Very similarly, another man carried his very young daughter’s body.  He was actively seeking a place he could lay her body down.  I do not speak the language, but the reporter said he did not want to put her just anywhere.  Later they showed a local church building that survived mostly intact.  People turned it into a morgue of sorts.  I do not know if that father found that place or another, but others thought it a good place to place their dead until they could be buried.  Would I do that as a pastor?  Would I allow others?  Yes, in a heartbeat under such conditions.  We are the Church.  The building is to serve the people that serve God.  May it never happen.  But I would allow it.
Some of the reporters did not just interview the people there, but they became the same people.  The network cut to one lady reporter who had just been in another church building.  While she was there the winds took the roof off.  She was trying to explain what happened, but when she looked around at everyone, she just began to cry.  Someone at the studio wanted to cut back when the lead reporter at the studio said, “No, leave her alone.  Let her cry.”  And cry she did, standing there in the rain.  Then she spoke.  She said, “WE have nothing.  Let’s pray to God for help.”  While I would never admit to it if I had, I almost lost it there.  Then the other lady in the studio agreed with her, and said “we must pray to Jesus for help”.  Often enough on air reporters there have said on other occasions they need to pray for their country, but this one really hit.  It took two reporters half way around the world to remind me that God’s people can pray anywhere and any time no matter what the circumstances.
One Philippine TV station began playing early Christmas music with one song in particular that was written to roughly say they were facing very hard times, but if we looked up, looked to the Child that was Jesus, all would be well, that we could make it.  When times were bad we must look up to God to save us .
Government Help
In general the thing that Filipinos know all along happened.  They were on their own.  Most of the gov people who were supposed to help did not help on time.  The people picked up their own dead.  The people moved whatever barriers out of the way that they could.  The airport tower went down.  No lights or radio communications.  All the cell towers went down.  No one in an official capacity seemed to know how to do anything, at least not at first.  Police and other local emergency workers did not show up for work.  Some could not, and those that could took care of their own families instead.  It dawned on me that it was a very real possibility that the same could happen here too.  We could well be completely on our own in some circumstances.
I saw one very good related thing though.  The PI president refused to declare martial law.  I did not fully understand what he said, but I understood clearly that he said no.  He said they would help their people the best that they could, but not like that.  I suspect that he remembered well that his own father was assassinated under martial law for speaking up against the tyranny of Marcos.  It was good that he remembered.
I also observed that the Philippine people know what their gov did or did not do right.  I saw that they did not appreciate what they thought of as meddling by CNN’s Anderson Cooper who reminded them of that “live from Tacloban” (which he could not pronounce).  The GMA network played clips of him talking too much.
I will not downplay the looting.  People were hungry and broke into food stores.  I saw one man standing in front of his store with a pistol in his hand telling everyone to stay away.  They did.  I later saw a different man open his store and tell others to take the food they needed, and they did.  Interestingly enough, there was one very large food warehouse that was never looted or broken into.  It became the distribution center for many when the food supplies did finally arrive.  Some of the food that was sent by boat or plane disappeared into I do not know where or how.  People just came and got what they needed.  But it was food.  They were not breaking into stores for new sneakers or designer “hoodies” that I saw.
I heard plenty of people, even in their desperation say they would not give up.  Some of those lost everything, families included.  A few put up Philippine flags to remember their nation.  One man who was interviewed said, “We are hurt, but we will rebuild.  We will turn to God.”
There was a lot of bravery.  Parents gave lives for children.  Husbands did for wives, and wives for husbands.  People swam out to where the waves took their families.  A few came back.  Many never came back at all.  In one case a sixteen year old gave hers for her mother.  Only one could get out, and the girl did not think she would make it.  She pushed her mother out telling her she needed to live.  That was a very hard thing to hear the crying mother tell.  I thought of the Bible verse that says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Miscellaneous Observations
It the time of a disaster like this, small motorcycles ruled.  I heard time and again that the gas pumps were all shut down.  And that it would not matter, because the roads were all shut down.  But the riders of these little bikes found fuel and were going everywhere.  There were even a few small motorcycles with side-cars holding more people than one would imagine they could carry.  I think it was a business for some.  I also saw people with soda bottles of gas for sale.  For the bikes?  Regular bicycles had a lot of good use as well.  Even in the worse of times people find a way to do things.
I learned that some people walked for hours to the airport, not knowing for certain, but they heard “the Americans are coming”.  It took a few days, but come we did.  It is nice to know some still think we are the Calvary, and in this case we were.  Americans brought C-130s, V-22s (Osprey tilt rotors), and all sorts of choppers.  A lot of supplies.  As of the time I am writing this, we have ships on the way.  It is not exactly a secret in the Philippines, but just because Subic Bay Naval Station and Clark Field closed does not mean all of our stuff left.  We still have things there.  And our military still stops there.  I understand that some of our naval ships can generate enough power to light up a small city.  If they have not by the time you read this, I suspect they will.  Having no control tower for the airport is no problem.  They bring their own.  One might think I was still proud of our troops.  I am.
I watched Philippine President Aquino wade through a crowd and spent some time handing out water to a very big group.  I saw them before and afterwards, but his security team was not visible when he was doing that.  They were either very good at blending, or the guy was just very comfortable with the people there.
The US military ran the airport well enough that by Thursday the 14th (PI time), some commercial planes could land even.  US C-130’s lifted many from Tacloban to Manila.
A couple of the cargo ships that were on land became emergency housing.  Someone figured that the ships were stable enough (we all hope) and were certainly going no place, so people took up residence.  In an emergency it is good to consider all possibilities.
Franklin Graham had his Samaritan’s Purse charter a 747 full of supplies to PI.  Our church took an extra offering and sent money that way through his outfit.  They have a high integrity.  I heard that the Southern Baptists are sending help, and I read that the Conservative Baptists are doing the same.  I fully trust both of these to do right in this also.  I understand there are other Christian organizations also doing right.  I read of one Jewish organization sending food aid, and some medical team arrived from Israel.  There is a team of American doctors helping at no charge too.  There are probably more people doing what is good and right that I do not know so much about.
I read the following in a British newspaper,
“Filipinos have a saying: Weeds don’t die easily,” she said. “When it’s safe, when there is electricity, when it’s livable, I’ll come back.”
Final words
I have said many good things about some people from the Philippines.  As I think about it, I believe that despite our often selfish society, there are many individual people here who would do every good thing I wrote about above.  While I do not think the percentage is as high as it should be, I think a lot of us still have that “I can do it attitude” that would help us get through some very terrible events.  We should accept help when we need it, but it is so very important that we learn to fend for ourselves.
We must never take God for granted.  He has preserved us thus far.  He may not always.  He may choose to let us go as a nation one day.  Job had a good answer for this,
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him." - Job 13:15
Pray for the Philippines.  Pray for our nation.  Pray for your families and yourselves. I wish you Godspeed.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The United States Military tests its capabilities and preparedness by exercising its systems, soldiers and supply chains in war games. [These include field training exercises (FTXes), Command Post Exercises (CPXes), and Mobilization Exercises (MOBEXes), Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercises (EDREs) and more.]  These war games are used to ensure that their personnel is trained and fit, that the hardware of every sort works as it was intended to work and that in times of duress their supply chain will provide the fighting men at the front what supplies they need in order to be victorious.  I have extended my preparations for what the future might hold by exercising my personal set of war games.

I have been preparing for surviving a variety of events for a little over a year. Living in a rural area in eastern Oklahoma we are in an area prone to tornados and wildfires.  Beyond natural disasters I am very concerned about the effects of geopolitical decisions our government has been making.  I have read numerous articles and books on what to accumulate, how to store what you collect, how to do it on a budget, what kinds of defensive arms and skills to accumulate etc. etc. etc.  I have used this information to formulate my own lists of needed supplies; food, shelter, hardware, knives, guns and so on.  I have broken it down into lists of those things absolutely essential, those things that would be great to have and those things that may not be essential to survival but that would make surviving more comfortable.  What I am about to share with you is as essential as anything on any of those lists!

If you are not mentally, physically and spiritually prepared to deal with survival situations all your supplies will only help you temporarily, if at all!  Sociologists have researched human behavior in disaster situations and have found that immediately after an event 75% are in a daze, 10% are even worse, crying and wailing, while only 15% start working on a solution to alleviate suffering and provide for human needs.  Not surprisingly they found that these 15% were also the ones that were trained and had practiced what to do and how to deal with survival issues (shelter-food-water).  In other words, they had participated in some form of war game prior to the event they were thrust into.  Preparation time is never wasted time.

My War Games consists of testing your personal readiness to deal with the physical and mental challenges we might face in the future.  I’m talking about testing your readiness to deal with off-grid living by regularly practicing those skills and preparing your body physically by wilderness backpacking.  Preparation time is never wasted time.  I’m talking about backpacking into wilderness areas as if you were “bugging out” and using the things you would use, both hardware things and skill things.  You will learn what things you can live without and therefore lightening your BOB and also you’ll learn what things you really need to have.  Just like when you started collecting your cache of prepping supplies you will learn slowly at first and grow in wisdom and ability, with time you will find out where your weaknesses are and also your strengths.  Backpacking as a recreation is not only a good war game to test your survival supplies and skills but you will be preparing physically for the challenges of post calamity survival, whether its days or weeks without power because FEMA is inept or even longer because of political, financial or petrol disaster on a nationwide or worldwide basis.  Surviving off grid will take skill, will take good preparation and will require a person to be healthy and fit.  I suggest that backpacking not only tests your ability and resources but also helps you continue to improve and prepare in all these areas.

Now this is an area of prepping that I have been working on for a lifetime, I just didn’t label it as such!  I teach backpacking and wilderness survival skills to Boy Scout Troops, Royal Rangers, VFW Halls, church groups and wherever people are interested in learning how to spend time safely in the outback.  A personal aside here, my goal is to reacquaint today’s youth with outdoors skills that sometimes have not been passed down from father to son as in the past.  My teaching is based on 40 years of outdoors experience, packing into remote areas on foot and horseback, sometimes to hunt and fish where others haven’t had the gumption to go; and other times just to get far enough away from civilization to test myself, hear from God and just think.

I divide wilderness skills into four categories; pre-trip planning, gear, skills and physical fitness.  I will cover each one specifically as to how it relates to survival preparedness.

Pre-trip planning:  Any trip to the wilderness requires planning, and planning means decisions and choices.  We have three basic needs, water, food and shelter.  Planning any trip, whether it’s recreational backpacking or planning to be ready to bug-out means evaluating where you will be going and making choices.  Is there water available?  In this day and age we can assume all water needs to be treated, learning to treat water on a backpacking trip will give you confidence in the case you might have to bug out and treat your water source.   Will you be able to carry 100% of the food you need or will you be able to supplement your supply by hunting and gathering.  Sure you can carry a weekends worth of food, but wouldn’t it be a good time to practice your hunting, snaring and gathering skills in case you have to be away from a grocery store for an extended period of time.  Is there firewood available where you’re going?  I own some pretty awesome lightweight stoves but in a long term situation you will probably run out of fuel so now is a good time to learn how to build a fire under any conditions, use it to cook and to heat a primitive shelter.

Gear-As I said earlier in the area of gear, backpacking will help you evaluate things that you can get along without, what gear provides more than one use (always a good thing) and what gear you absolutely have to bring, usually in duplicate.  Another value of backpacking is finding out if your choice of gear is dependable and durable.  If a necessary piece of gear breaks or fails to perform on a camp out it may mean discomfort or a problem until you get back home and can replace it.  Once you bug-out, if it fails, you can’t return it to the store for a replacement or refund!  You will also find out what gear needs to be duplicated.  I need reading glasses, so besides the ones in my pocket, needed for map reading and such,  I usually have two pair in my pack, one in the first aid kit.

Skills- This is the real crux of the matter!  You can read about how to build a shelter and where, you can read how to navigate with a compass, build a fire, cook with a fire, find your food et cetera. But the best education is practice.  By using your backpack and actually going into the wilderness you will be practicing survival skills and gaining confidence.  Training and confidence is what separated the 15% from the 85% in the scenarios that the sociologists studied.  Have you ever spent the night in your backyard with just a blanket and a canteen?  Most people never have.  Most people have no idea of what being alone at night anywhere is all about. Try it sometime,  it’s not as easy as it sounds!  Think about what the same night would be like if you were in the wilderness with only you and coyotes howling, or wild boar rooting around you, or someone looking for you that is not looking to “rescue” you.  How about building a fire?  Daylight, no wind, no rain, matches, -sure you can build a fire.  But what if you fell into a creek, its cold, you need a fire, it’s windy and raining? Now can you build a fire?  These are skills that need and can be practiced before you actually have to have them.  A soldier doesn’t learn how to acquire a target, identify it and squeeze the trigger the day he gets sent into battle, he learns the skills ahead of time and is tested in war games.  First Aid is another important skill-both to the weekend backpacker and also to the person trying to survive off grid.  It needs to be acquired ahead of time.  Learn how to bandage burns, how to control bleeding, take a CPR course, better yet take a complete First Aid course.  This skill will be a little harder to practice war game style but education and training will build confidence.  When the poop hits the ventilation system is not the best time to be learning essential skills.  It is not the best time to find out how far you can't walk with your bug-out bag, or how much weight you can't carry, and that brings me to my final category-physical fitness.

Physical Fitness-We live in a comfortable society, we have remote controls, we heat our houses by turning up the thermostat, we get a drink by turning the tap or reaching into the fridge for another bottle of purified, distilled water.  It hasn’t always been like this.  My grandfather heated a five bedroom house with wood, in northern Wisconsin, without a chain saw or log splitter!  He used a tractor driven 36” saw and a splitting maul.  He and my grandma had a large garden that they hoed by hand, no rototiller.  They were both physically fit because their lifestyle both demanded it and also contributed to it.  Any off grid lifestyle whether its short term because of natural disaster or long term TEOTWAWKI will demand that we be physically fit, and waiting until it happens to get fit is a recipe for disaster.  I’m 62 and still backpack on a regular basis with scouts and also a men’s ministry I’m a part of.  The boys (ages 12-16) often comment on my fitness.  Many times during a rest break on an outing I will forgo removing my pack or sitting down,  I’m fit, they’re not.  There are different types of fitness.  A weightlifter can seldom run a marathon,  a jogger usually won’t play the line in a football game.  In my opinion backpacking is a great way, probably the best way, to get the kind of fitness needed to survive off grid.  If you need to grab your BOB and go, all those miles jogging or lifting weights at the gym will help, but the best way to prepare the legs and back for your BOB is to carry your bag ahead of time, especially up and down hills not in the park or on a sidewalk.  Part of fitness is weight as proportioned to height. Too thin, no muscle is almost as bad as too fat.  Especially since many of today’s maladies are weight related.  Diabetes, High Blood pressure, even headaches can be weight related.  By getting physically fit now you may reduce or eliminate medications which will be at the very least, difficult to obtain off grid.  Essentially, the better shape you are in, the higher your level of fitness will translate into longer success in a survival situation and backpacking on a regular basis is a great way to get into survival shape. 

Wilderness backpacking will get you fit, get your skills refined, give you confidence in yourself and your equipment and the best part is that it can be done as a family, a couple, an individual or a group.  It doesn’t cost much (National Forests are open to free camping) and is healthy spiritually, mentally and physically.  So if you’re serious about survival-why wouldn’t you?  My intention in this article was not to get you trained, there are countless books and articles, whole shelves in most libraries, that can train you.  My intention was to show you why you want to get your skill level increased and your fitness improved.  Wilderness backpacking, with its accumulation of skills and physical challenges is an excellent test of your readiness for survival situations.

The military uses war games to test its readiness for battle.  Serious backpacking can be the war game equivalent that tests your readiness, hones your skills and improves your chances at survival.

I know that seeing this attitude is not news to you, but I read this article and thought it may be helpful for the SurvivalBlog readers as reinforces what you and others have long said: that all bets are off in regards to morality and standards by the average Joe who has gone without food for a few days. This tale of post-Typhoon Yolanda includes the gripping quote: "I am a decent person. But if you have not eaten in three days, you do shameful things to survive." 

In any event, I thought you might find the link useful. Thank you again for all your wisdom and the good company you keep us in.

In Christ, - Michael W.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It is a reasonable assumption that most SurvivalBlog readers are already going to be in the preparedness mindset. Whether you're preparing for a natural disaster, economic collapse, zombie apocalypse, or something in between you must always have each and every family member's needs in mind. Most of us start with the 'generic' items that everyone needs such as water, food and standard medical supplies. While that is the absolute best starting place for all families, after the basics are accounted for you should then consider any unique or special needs that you may have to provide for. Many of us have groups we are planning for which often include extended family or close friends which are expected to show up if stuff starts going from bad to worse. Quite often those loved ones will arrive with little to no supplies of their own. Or perhaps you are just planning on hunkering down to ride out the 'storm' with your immediate family. Either way, if there's even one woman of or near reproductive age expected to end up in your home or retreat, it is imperative that you do not forget to prep for Aunt Flow's inevitable visit (aka a woman's menstrual cycle).

Many sites have covered the multiple uses of tampons beyond the 'traditional uses', most notably and comically the Art of Manliness' "Why yes, that is a tampon in my mouth" but not many 'prepping lists' on survival sites include them or if they do, it is a box here and there. There's even plenty of urban legends about our military personnel carrying tampons in their med/survival kids (while this seemed hard for me to believe, one military member of my extended family who is a veteran of the Vietnam War insists that he knew some service members that carried them). With households where a male member is the one purchasing the family preparations, this very important item may be overlooked or significantly understocked depending on the time frame that the family is planning to be self-sufficient for.

Before I go further, it has been suggested to me before that, 'women in the old days used an old cloth that they washed and reused'. While this is true, I would point out that toilet paper as we know it today is a relatively new invention. 'Splinter free' toilet paper was not even advertised until 1935!  Modern products are more sanitary and have their obvious advantages. As a family that has made the decision to start preparing to be self-sufficient should a crisis occur, the 'old fashioned' rag should only be considered a last resort. So if you're stocking modern conveniences like toilet paper, there really is no good reason not to stock feminine products for the women in your life.

It is expected that many if not most males likely think that all tampons or menstrual pads are the same. While the concept is obviously consistent across all brands, the shapes and sizes are not. For example, some brands of tampons are longer which contrasts with other brands that are shorter but 'flower' out to make a bowl shape when in use. A woman's body comes in different shapes and sizes thus most women will find a brand or style that works for them and stick with it. Not because of the name on the box, but because that product does the job effectively for that particular woman. There's significant peace of mind that comes with being comfortable that the product you are using will be effective and not leak. Especially if the Schumer hits the fan, we may not be able to wear a fresh set of clothes every day or have the convenience of washing our clothes often, so not leaking will be priceless to the women in your life not to mention more hygienic.

I imagine that some readers at this point may have the blank 'deer in headlights' look. So where do you start?
Ideally the females in the household are involved in family preparations or are open to discussions so you can simply ask what brands/sizes/amounts they use each month. However, some women are not comfortable discussing these things as would likely be encountered with a family that includes a teenage daughter who is more concerned with social media than the end of the world as we know it. If this is the case, you may need to resort to more covert ninja-like tactics to obtain the necessary information. Your best bet will be to tear the top off of a box of products that she currently uses and go buy that particular brand/style.

Most women use different sizes of products depending on the point in the cycle since the flow ramps up and then back down. When looking at the boxes that they use, note the larger of the products and focus on that size when stockpiling. It is always better to have too much absorption than too little regardless of the point in the cycle. The larger size will also aid with the speed at which the products are used since they will not need to be changed as often during the lighter part of the cycle.

During a quick Internet search, I found a study that said 70% of women in North America use tampons monthly and will use an average of 11,000 tampons in a lifetime. So naturally the next question should be, how many of a particular item do you need to store. If the lady is not willing to discuss this matter with you, just watch the boxes as they get used each month and you'll get an idea. Then do the math and add some padding (pun intended) to that number.

On average a woman has a 28 day menstrual cycle. She will be menstruating for 2-7 of those days and it is recommended to change the product every 4-8 hours. Again, every woman is different so just watch the usage of the products to get an idea.

If your family is on a budget and cannot afford the particular brand she uses to stock up on, then there are plenty of relatively inexpensive options at discount chain stores and also generic store brands. Any product will be better than no products when going to the store for a resupply is no longer an option. Make sure to check the big box stores and online retailers first for cost effectiveness. Like any item, watch for sales or coupons and stock up. If going the generic brand route, it would be best to have the woman test out the effectiveness of various store brands for reasons stated previously before making large purchases.

Keep in mind that while these products are paper based, their purpose is to absorb therefore they must be stored appropriately just like toilet paper or medical gauze. A cool dry place out of direct sunlight and humidity is required. If the products have become damp, it is best to just discard the products and replace.

The obvious problem with products such as menstrual pads and tampons is that they are disposable and the supply is finite. Therefore when the supply runs out, an old cloth may be the only option. There are, however, some alternatives to disposable pads/tampons.

Products exist that are reusable which are called menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are as old as modern applicator based tampons although they are not as popular. The most common menstrual cups on the market are medical grade and hypoallergenic silicone however latex cups do exist so those with sensitivity to latex should make note of the materials. These products have a suggested use-life of about 5-10 years and can hold significantly more liquid than a tampon so they do not need to be changed as often. When it is time to change them, simply boil to clean. Pretty easy. One of the most well known brands is the Diva Cup and you can buy them at most all grocery and drug stores. Menstrual cups do cost more than tampons or pads but since they are not one use/disposable they are more economical and pay for themselves after only a couple of months of usage. It needs to be noted that just like tampons, some women have good experiences with them while others find them uncomfortable. Some women even modify them by cutting off the extra 'stem'. A plan to go this route really requires that a woman would need to test out various brands for themselves to determine the comfort and preference before a SHTF event requires usage.

Further alternatives are noteworthy such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) that have time released progesterone which act as a long term (5-10 years depending on brand) birth control and has a common side effect of reducing or eliminating the monthly menstrual cycle. However these options are beyond the scope of this article and should only be considered after significant research and consultation with a medical professional as everything comes with potential negative side effects.

The best part of prepping for 'Aunt Flow' is that she will always visit the ladies in your life even if the Schumer never hits the fan so the products will not go to waste. And if you really want to score extra 'brownie points', don't forget the chocolate!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Body
There are two primary tools used to in every situation ever encountered; the mind and the body. Despite the body being such a crucial aspect of survivability, preparing the body for the unknown remains one of the least addressed topics in survival books and on-line forums. It is also one of the areas of survival that necessitates the most maintenance, and requires the most amount of dedication and consistency. Though most survival manuals fail to address the importance of preparing the body, the fact remains that there are no military units in the world that do not have a physical fitness requirement, nor would you find any law enforcement or fire and emergency services department that do not have documented physical fitness standards. Field journalists, adventure travelers, and anyone else who has spent time in a hostile environment all know the value of being fit, and have an understanding of its necessity when the odds change and the environment becomes hostile.  The reality of life is that in a moment the environment can change and unexpected, and often grueling, demands can be placed on the body. The first step for anyone who is tempting the forces of nature, subsisting in a hostile environment, or simply preparing for the unexpected, is to ready the most effective tool in any survival situation; the human body. 

Fitness training for survival requires a different kind of mindset and athlete. Because of the unpredictable nature of a survival situation, the key to an effective physical fitness routine is balance. Balance, in this respect, can be defined as maximizing the body’s ability in the areas of strength, speed, endurance, and flexibility, to the point where any single area doesn’t detract from another. For example, weight lifting strength is an excellent characteristic, and one that has a diversity of use in survival situations. However, weight lifting, and consequently gaining size, to the point that is begins to detract from the body’s ability to maximize its speed or flexibility would be inhibiting for the purpose of survival. To truly maximize the body’s ability to perform at its peak requires a constantly changing exercise routine, to include stretching, strength training, cardiovascular training, interval and circuit training, endurance training, and mixed sports. Varying exercise routines develops muscles in a more effective, more natural, manner. Contrary to those who continually utilize the same exercises, varying exercises and techniques ensures that all individual muscles and all muscle groups are being worked, that all muscles are being contracted from all angles, and that the overall efficiency of the workout is being capitalized on.

In addition to varying the exercise routine itself, consideration should be given to diversifying the environments in which the training takes place. Varying the training environment prepares the body, and mind, to adapt to different conditions, and provides an opportunity to better understand how the body reacts in different settings. By diversifying such conditions as geography, climate, altitude, weather, time of day, etc. other inhibiting factors might also be revealed, such as the fear of heights, claustrophobia, or the inability to swim. This creates an opportunity to identify and address such issues prior to realizing them during a crisis.  The imagination offers endless possibilities for keeping an exercise routine diversified and interesting, and when it comes to training for survival, an exercise routine for the body is incomplete if it doesn’t include exercising the imagination.

Establishing a better balanced and more dynamic body through a diversified physical fitness regimen has other significant benefits. One of the most beneficial, is it bridges the communication barrier between the body and mind. This communication is crucial during a survival situation. As a person becomes consistent with an exercise program, they become more and more familiar with their bodies limitations, abilities, and signs and symptoms. In time, an understanding is established as to how far the body can be pushed without risking injury, or inhibiting future workouts. They soon understand how to fuel for specific types of work outs, and how to hydrate. They begin to understand how the body communicates that it is overheating, in pain, or needs rest. This type of communication cannot be taught by anything other than experience, and by pushing the body to its limits and exposing it to a variety of extreme environments. Another benefit is increased confidence. As fitness levels improve, and the body begins to continually prove itself in a variety of challenges and environments, confidence begins to breed. Confidence, in this respect, offers reassurance that the body is capable of achievement. This is particularly important during a survival situation, or hostile environment, when the body is heavily depended on. Confidence in the body reassures the mind and spirit, drastically increasing the odds of success during moments of adversity.

Strength Training
The balanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, known as core strength, is crucial for maximizing the body’s overall performance and can prove vital during a survival situation. The core muscles located in the abdominals and back are used for stabilization and support for all other muscle groups in the human body. Not only is the development of the core crucial for increasing the strength of other muscle groups, but core strength improves the body’s posture, supports the protection of the back and pelvis, and aids in injury prevention and rehabilitation. In addition, the strength derived from the core of the body is also heavily depended on when other parts of the body are injured, and/or when stabilizing the body is a necessity. For the purposes of building and maintaining a well-balanced and injury-free body, core strength should be the foremost objective of all strength training.
To supplement the strength derived from the core, additional exercises, which focus primarily on the extremities of the body, can be added to increase the body’s overall power and muscle endurance. Keeping in mind that the goal is to achieve the most strength and muscle gain possible without inhibiting speed, flexibility, and endurance, it should be noted that overall strength training programs should only be just one component of a diversified fitness program.  Some of the most effective, and most difficult, strength training exercises are nothing more than using the body’s own weight as resistance. This type of exercising, which is ideal for survival training since it closely mirrors those actions most often needed during a survival situation, is called body weight training.

Body weight training is an excellent way to develop both core and overall body strength, as well as add variety to a workout routine. Necessitating nothing but the body’s own weight, body weight training can be accomplished anywhere, at any time, and under any conditions. Another significant benefit to body weight training is its ability to develop smaller muscles within the body. As opposed to most standard gym equipment which uses machinery to isolate the motion of the body and focus resistance to a particular muscle or muscle group, body weight training forces the body to use smaller muscles to stabilize and balance the body as it is in motion.  As the body develops and becomes stronger, the intensity of body weight workouts can be increased by raising the number of repetitions in each set, by adding to the body’s weight with free-weight, or by making it more difficult for the body to stabilize and balance itself.
Standard fitness equipment, however, certainly maintains its place in developing overall body strength. Its use remains an excellent tool for becoming familiar with the basics of strength training, developing specific muscles or muscle groups, and working around injuries. Additionally, most machinery designed for strength training has safety mechanisms that forbid the uncontrolled descent of the weight being lifted. Though this doesn’t eliminate the risk of injury, it does provide a level of comfort when increasing weight or training a muscle until exhaustion. To understand the safety mechanisms, as well as to become familiar with the uses and functions of any piece of fitness machinery, professional guidance is recommended.

Flexibility Training

Flexibility is a key component to being physically fit. It enables to the body to prepare for exercise by stretching and warming the muscles, prevents injury, and maximizes the range of motion in muscles and in joints and series of joints. It also increases blood supply and nutrients to joint structures, which in turn increases circulation. Like all aspects of physical fitness, to reap the benefits of flexibility during a survival situation, a habitual fitness routine that includes flexibility must first exist. Stretching, which is intentionally elongating muscle groups and/or skeletal muscles, is an excellent way to increase and maintain flexibility, as well as, increase range of motion and increase muscle control. Practicing yoga, martial arts, and/or pilates is an excellent way of integrating stretching into a physical fitness regimen. Such art forms offer an almost endless amount of dynamic movements elongating the different muscles of the body, and can significantly develop the bodies overall core strength and mobility. A secondary benefit of practicing these art forms is developing a better understanding of breathing, and its relationship to the body and mind. Breathing exercises, which are an essential aspect of yoga, pilates, and of martial arts, have been said to revitalize the body, steady emotions, and create clarity in the mind, all of which can prove beneficial in a survival situation. Instruction in any of these art forms is available for every level, ranging from novice to advanced, and can be found in almost any format imaginable.

Endurance Training

The primary goal of endurance training is to increase the body’s ability to withstand stress for an extended period of time. Increasing the body’s endurance is a long process. While differences in the body can be seen and felt relatively quickly from strength and flexibility training, the rewards reaped by endurance training take much longer. Mentally, physically, and even behaviorally, training to expand the body’s stamina is trying. Endurance training takes a significant amount of determination and discipline, as it calls for continually pushing the mind and body beyond its comfort zones, and to new levels of ability. Behaviorally, endurance training might call for lifestyle changes to accommodate the processes of fueling, hydrating, for the training itself, and for recovery.

Before an understanding of endurance training can be attained at the most basic level, the two common forms of endurance must first be explained. Aerobic endurance, meaning “with oxygen”, means that the demands of oxygen by the working body are being met. With the body being supplemented with proper levels of oxygen, it is able continue working. Thus, strengthening aerobic endurance means developing the energy production systems to meet the demands of activity for as long as necessary. Conversely, anaerobic endurance is the opposite, meaning “without oxygen”, and the body is working at a level that exceeds the amount of oxygen and fuel being taken in. When the body is in such a state, it is forced to make use of its reserved fuel, depleting it until the body runs out and stops. Anaerobic endurance can be developed through brief, high intensity interval training.  Both aerobic and anaerobic training have significant health benefits in addition to increasing the body’s ability to keep going. 

As important as aerobic and anaerobic strength are to ensuring the body can continue working over an extended period of time, strength endurance is equally important to ensure that muscles within the body can perform repetitive contractions as needed. Exercises to increase strength endurance are performed similar to those to build and maintain overall body strength, but with a slight variation. Typically done at the end of a regular strength training workout, this kind of endurance training is accomplished by working the muscle until extreme fatigue, or failure. This is typically accomplished by lowering the amount of resistance being used and increasing the number of repetitions until the muscle is so fatigued it cannot support the resistance, or completely fails. This type of endurance strength training is commonly referred to as “low weight, high repetition training”. “Negative training”, which is another method for developing strength endurance, is done by applying negative resistance to a muscle or muscle group until the muscle fails.  In both types of endurance strength exercises, the amount of resistance applied plays a significant role. The lower the resistance, or weight, used during endurance exercises, the less strength is needed to be applied and the longer it should take for the muscle to fatigue or fail. Conversely, more resistance applied places higher strength demands on the muscle causing it to fatigue or fail more rapidly. Taking this into consideration, and to maintain a balance between muscle strength and endurance, many begin strength endurance exercises at their normal resistance level, and subsequently lower the resistance as the muscle fatigues. 

Speed and Agility Training
At first glance, the requisite of speed is not as apparent as that of flexibility, strength, or endurance.  Though situations can be identified where speed might be of use, such as running from an adversary or escaping a perilous situation, the true value of speed training is peripheral. In addition to the obvious benefit of reducing the amount of time it takes to get from one point to another, speed training improves the body’s agility. Essential when having to avoid obstacles at a high rate of speed or during moments of increased stress, agility increases the body’s ability to change body position intently without losing balance. The range of speed and agility training drills are endless, ranging from flat surface sprinting and hill runs, to shuttle and figure eight sprints. Sports that necessitate the body’s physical reaction to an opposing player are especially useful at building speed and agility.
In addition to the benefits discussed, speed and agility training also increase the body’s aerobic stamina, explosive strength, and confidence, and is a healthy way of learning to tolerate physical and mental discomfort. Developing speed and agility is a long process, and one that comes with a higher than normal risk of injury. It is important that conservative fitness goals are set when developing a training program, expanding the participants comfort zone a little at a time to reduce the risk of injury. 

A discussion on preparing the body for survival would not be complete without covering the importance of diet. Ensuring that the body has everything it needs to support its health and produce fuel for an active lifestyle is critical. Diet philosophies differ greatly and derive from all spectrums, but many share a similar foundation or best practices.  Primarily, there are three areas of diet that are of greatest concern.
The first, protein, assists in the rebuilding of muscles that have been broken down from exertion. A failure to include enough protein in a diet leads to inability of the body to rebuild these muscles properly. Those attempting to gain significant muscle use a “one gram of protein per pound daily” philosophy, maximizing protein intake thereby providing enough protein to allow for muscles to repair and grow larger. Athletes who aspire only to ensure the body has sufficient protein to repair itself and become stronger, use less protein daily, typically around 0.7 grams per pound. Significant sources of protein are dairy products, eggs, tuna, chicken, lean beef, nuts, beans, and supplement protein sources.

The second area of concern is carbohydrates. Providing fuel for the body, carbohydrates are the key to ensuring that the body has whatever it takes to accomplish the tasks that lie ahead. Glycogen, which is the storage form of a carbohydrate, breaks down during exercise. If the breakdown exceeds the rate of replenishment, the body becomes depleted and is not able to maintain its energy level. This is often referred to as “bonking”. Complex carbohydrates, which are carbohydrates that burn at a slower pace and release a slow, but steady, stream of energy into the body, are excellent for excursions taking place over a longer period of time. Carbohydrate loading is the practice of consuming carbohydrates to provide fuel for the body in anticipation of exercise. Carbohydrates can be found in whole wheat pasta, fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice, bran-based foods, and rough breads.

The third area is fats. Contrary to popular belief, fats are a crucial element in providing a healthy body. Fats are needed to absorb vitamins, and in fact, sensible fat intake boosts the body’s ability to burn fat. Most athletes consume less that 30% of total calories from fat, and approximately 7% from saturated fat. Fats can be found in beans, nuts, avocados, olives, fish fat, coconut and extra virgin olive oil, dark chocolate, and seeds.  There are fats, however, to stay away from to maintain effective health and fitness. Minimizing preservatives, highly processed food, alcohol, trans fat (unsaturated fat), deep fried oils, flour, white rice, sugar, and fast food is a solid beginning to reducing the negative effects of a bad diet and inhibiting the body’s ability to perform at its optimal level.

The counting of grams and the comparing and contrasting of ingredient labels can be laboring, and time consuming. There are several shopping strategies that focus on a healthier overall diet, and keep the simple trip to the grocery store tolerable. The first can be referred to as the “7 Day Diet”. The practice of the “7 Day Diet” entails limiting purchasing anything from the grocery store that will last more than seven days, and intently purchasing things that will expire within seven days. Generally, abiding by this philosophy increases the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit in a diet, as well as fish and meats. It also strives to eliminate items with a high level of preservatives, and ‘snack’ items such as chips, crackers, cookies, etc. A very similar philosophy to the “7 Day Diet” is the “Outer Perimeter Diet”. This shopping strategy limits food shopping to the outer perimeter of the food store only, eliminating non-perishable and non-refrigerated items. This closely mirrors the “Seven Day Diet” since most foods not necessitating refrigeration and/or are stored on the outer perimeter of a standard grocery store will perish within approximately seven days. As with the “7 Day Diet”, the “Outer Perimeter Diet” increases the purchasing, and consequently the consuming, of all of the major food groups while limiting needless, and unwanted, ingredients. With the emergent of several grocery companies whose primary focus is the selling of healthier, local grown, and organic foods, having a healthier diet has never been easier. Though typically a little more expensive than a standard grocery store, those who embrace the philosophy of primarily shopping at whole markets truly benefit from it. In addition to reaping the rewards of consuming products that are natural, those who shop at whole markets have the opportunity to introduce less chemicals and toxins into their body by purchasing food from a wider selection of organic foods.

Life does not exist without proper hydration, thus, it is crucial that there is an understanding of the relationship between hydration and the body. Hydration is a continuing process. It begins now, and remains a constant practice forevermore.  Firefighters, for example, are constantly hydrating in preparation for the next fire, never knowing of course when that will be. Much like exercise and diet, hydration is not something that can be accomplished at the last minute, but instead necessitates a habitual, proactive, lifestyle. The key to successful hydration is never allowing the body to become thirsty, which occurs when there is an abnormally high level of sodium in the body’s blood. A delayed response exists between the body losing fluid and the initial sensation of thirst, thus, thirst is not a reliable indicator that the body requires hydration, but rather is an indicator that it is already dehydrated. Dehydration is a state when there is not enough water in the body to perform normal bodily functions. When the body loses approximately 2% of its water, thirst occurs, typically accompanied by a loss of appetite and discomfort. At a water loss of approximately 5%-6%, the body moves slower, becomes sleepy, aches, nausea occurs, and numbness is sometimes felt in the limbs. Between 10%-15% the body becomes inoperable, vision dims, muscles spasm, urination ceases, and delirium sets in. In most cases, when the body has lost 15% or more of its water, death occurs.

Water makes up approximately 60% of the human body, and is used by every body system. The standard rule for daily water consumption is the “8 X 8 rule”, recommending that eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid should be consumed daily. Despite the many differing philosophies that exist, the “8 X 8 rule” has little controversy and is the most widely used rule for daily water consumption. There are, however, contributing factors to be considered when applying this rule. Consideration to the environment surrounding the body, the level of exercise or exertion of the body, any illness or injury, the level of food intake, any anticipated activity, and other such factors need to be considered when evaluating whether the “8 X 8 rule” is a sufficient calculator for determining how much to hydrate. Common practices to supplement the “8 X 8 rule” include drinking a glass of water during and between each meal, hydrating before, during, and after exercise or exertion, limiting the intake of caffeine and alcohol, and the most common rule among athletes, soldiers, and survivalists alike, is simply always having a method of hydration on hand.


Mental conditioning is a key component of surviving extreme conditions. Training the mind to operate more effectively under extreme conditions is a gradual, never ending process. The human mind constantly seeks to understand itself, and in doing so, allows itself to listen, and analyze its own thoughts. It is in this ability that a survival mindset can be created, and used when needed most. The most effective mindset for survival exists contrary to how many are led to believe. The “whatever it takes” mentality often credited to an individual pulling through a survival ordeal demonstrates more of the individuals will to live, than it does an effective survival mindset. The willingness to do whatever it takes to survive, by itself, is an excellent quality to exhibit during a survival situation. However, basing a mindset on this willingness alone often leads to carelessness and unnecessary risk taking. An effective survival mindset is one that remains able to analyze, objectively, a situation under extraordinary circumstances. The purpose in doing so is to reduce the situation down to facts, by stripping away what the imagination has added, and seeing the situation as objectively as possible. In doing so, the ability to clearly define individual challenges is easier, as is determining the appropriate courses of action to resolve them. Maintaining, under stress, the ability to understand that a survival situation is nothing more than a series of smaller obstacles, rather than a single unconquerable one, is the most effective survival mindset.

Consider this example: A man is running his first marathon with the only objective of crossing the finish line on his own two feet. In doing so, he will have achieved a lifelong dream, validated months of training, and will of course receive the coveted marathon t-shirt. He runs the first few miles with relative ease. However, on the 12th mile of the 26 mile marathon he begins to feel a terrible pain in his right heel. His survival mindset immediately kicks in and he tries focusing on putting the pain out of his mind, and pressing on. The pain continues, and his imagination begins listing the possibilities as he continues to run: Achilles tendon, blisters, bone spur. At mile twenty the pain becomes unbearable, and reluctantly, he is forced to stop. He limps to the roadside where he immediately falls to the curb, fearing the worst. He begins to unlace his shoe as quickly as he can, hoping for immediate reprieve from the pain. Grabbing the heel of the shoe first, he gently pulls it from his aching foot, and upon doing so almost immediately discovers the reason for his agony. He hangs his head thinking of all the training wasted, all of the effort that went into the day, and how embarrassed he is going to be telling his friends that he was defeated by a pebble.

Using the preceding example, consider how detrimental the mindset used might have been had crossing the finish line of the 26 mile race had meant his survival, and how the “whatever it takes” mentality inhibited him from reaching his goal. An effective survival mindset maintains the overall objective as its focus, which in the example given would have meant completing the race. It embraces and accepts that the path to achieving the overall goal might mean accomplishing smaller obstacles along the way, and having to be flexible to changing environments and conditions. The pain in the heel represented a small obstacle. An effective survival mindset would have reduced the information about the pain to facts, eliminating the imagination from clouding an otherwise clear situation. With this frame of mind, the runner would have recognized the pain as a hindrance to the achievement of his overall goal, and would have been open to being attentive to the pain in the heel when it was first felt at mile 12. The “whatever it takes” attitude is an excellent tool, but like most tools, should be applied only to an appropriate problem. The constant drive to the finish line that often derives from this mindset should never be a blinding factor to the obvious, or an obstruction to using simple logic, such as it was for the runner in the example.

A survival mindset often acts in contrast to what feels natural. In many survival situations, the first and most natural instinct is to move. Whether it is to immediately work towards resolving the situation, to create distance from the negative emotions and stress caused by the situation, or simply because it seems logical to do so, moving simply seems natural. Survival situations, however, are not often resolved by acting quickly, but rather by taking the appropriate amount of time to assess the situation, and act appropriately. Assuming, of course, no immediate threat to life or safety exists. Though survival situations are often accompanied by a feeling of urgency, mentally slowing the pace of the situation to assess, plan, and prepare can greatly increase the chances of survival. By having the survival mindset and taking the time to assess the situation, it might be determined that moving is not the best option. Having a survival mindset and the discipline to manage the pace of a survival situation, particularly in the beginning, is critical to ensuring that the chances of survival are increased for the entire duration. The successful beginning of a survival situation, to include the taking of time to assess the situation, locate useful resources, identify an overall objective, note specific risks and inhibiting factors, and outline a realistic and flexible plan, often leads to a successful conclusion.

There is no fraction of a survival situation that the mind is not immediately applied. No matter what the circumstances of the situation are, or the magnitude to which another resource is needed, the mind remains the most valuable, and most needed, resource during any survival situation. Mental conditioning remains the key to developing the mind beyond the “whatever it takes” attitude, and creating a mindset that is able to step back from a situation, even when the situation appears to be all consuming. In the end, a successful survival mindset is one that enables a person to step back from a situation and view it objectively, control the pace, identify resources and risks, adapt to the circumstances, and thrive in the pursuit of a single objective. 
The body and mind are the primary tools of any survival situation. They are the ultimate prep. Knock the dust off of them, mold them, sharpen them and ready them for anything.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I started my journey much to the dismay of my wife and family, in December, 2007. Not ever having been in the military or anything closely resembling it. Without having a clue of what I was doing I headed off to good ol Houston Texas where my journey began at an old shopping mall with portions of it still active selling goods. This was the “processing” phase of me getting ready to deploy as a US DOD contractor to the war effort in Iraq. My life was about to take a very drastic turn and I jumped head long into it oblivious to the aftermath of things like PTSD and getting typhoid fever all of which I am sure I wasn’t told about.

The whole premise of taking this processing, if I had to guess was it being similar to the army where you get ready to deploy to a foreign land to defend freedom. Except for the boot camp and workouts and discipline which to me is the most important part. Basically the processing consists of two weeks of checking in eating meals breakfast lunch dinner which is very much like a large buffet and preplanned meetings and or classes all to prepare one for upcoming deployment to a foreign land and in my case a war zone!

One of my more prevalent memories of this processing step was the medical clearing portion, a bunch of medical tests done to determine my overall health and suitability to become a contractor. One who works in an austere environment in Iraq. This also brings us to the first topic of my post which is more along the lines of EDC and preparedness. Basically this 1 day of hell for me sums up the whole mantra of prepping survival and the reason that I sort of woke up one day and decided that I wasn’t going to be that guy the guy that is caught out in the rain the guy that is asking for assistance with a flat tire the guy the Joe who is always asking to dull my favorite pocket knife for lack of owning or carrying his own. (Usually it is sitting on his dresser all nice and shiny new where it most definitely shouldn’t be when he needs it.) This was also when I started looking at my world for what it really was and seeing things that TPTB are doing and sitting up and taking notice.

After doing a few days of classes and meetings I carry on through the first week of my DOD Contractor preparations and the beginning of medical screening. At the end of the second to third day we are told that we are not to eat anything past midnight and not drink any water the day of the medical screening due to needing to take our blood sugar on an empty stomach. Our day which starts at around 04:00 hours we are picked up by a bus and transported to what looks like an abandoned warehouse with a whole bunch of single wide trailers as offices clinics inside.  All and all it doesn’t seem bad I pass my physicals breath strength, hearing BMI most of which are very simple but as the day progresses I start to get hungry and wondering when I could eat. I asked the nurse who gave me my hernia test. The woman looked like a large-handed man. At any rate she told me I had to wait until I got my blood sugar drawn and that I would receive a sack lunch. Not knowing that I could skip around the list as I may I continued to go down my check off sheet one by one noticing that the  blood sugar was close to last. Well around 19:00 hours I completed my blood sugar test and got my sack lunch and headed to my last and final test which was blood pressure. Which by this time I was still hungry and it was getting late and cold so I failed my BP test miserably. No worries I can try again back at the mall and should be fine.

Not sure who came up with the list or the rhyme or reason behind the order the items were in but with all of the confusion it wouldn’t have mattered I could have hit that section and got to lunch no problem.

Few things wrong there to say the least. We ended up waiting around the warehouse until 22:00 and I ended up being huddled with a group of Kenyans who also hate the cold next to a space heater that didn’t put out much heat. In retrospect I would have packed a jacket even a light wind breaker to keep the chill off. Maybe some snacks even though I was told not to eat. And sought out someone in charge and communicated with them about expectations order of business and what not to get a feel for what was going on and how I was expected to complete the screening not having anything to eat nor drink any water…

Keep in mind this was to be the start of a six year journey that would be chock full of hills and valleys to traverse, especially not ever having experienced anything like this before in my life.
After 2 weeks I made it through the orientation/processing classes and meetings. I learned a lot about my own patience and the ugly side of the human person when you stick them in to a group of 800. Funny how men and women act when their wives and husbands are not around to see or find out about what they do. It is time to deploy to the foreign land and off to the war!
 My very first day in-theatre I get to my bunk where jet lag is fully taken hold and I am fast asleep when all of a sudden I hear a very large explosion and gravel and shrapnel are being flung against my containerized housing unit (CHU.) (That is a a really cool acronym for a cruddy trailer on blocks. The CHU rocked back and forth violently. At that moment I seriously questioned how bad do I need this job and am I going to die in this foreign land never seeing my loved ones again.  Forget that! What can I do after I hit the deck and wait for a few seconds? Well nobody happened to tell the new guy where the bunkers are in the maze of T-walls and CHUs.

Second lesson: Ask questions, base decisions on questions and Intel and communication with others that have knowledge of the situation or the task at hand. I can honestly say you can be as prepared as anyone can be but you can’t do much with it if you don’t have any Intel to go by or any viable way of making an informed decision. The contractor company that I worked for is loosely organized like the army in the regard that there are different sectors all with different skill sets relying on the other to complete tasks. If one doesn’t network with the other sectors then he will have a hard time completing the task at hand. This works out especially well for bartering I once bartered an AK-47 bayonet for a battery powered saw.

Carrying on through the six years of my deployment in the stink hole they call Iraq, I developed a sort of disdain for the inept and much disorganized procurement system due to the fact that it is extremely slow and for not wanting to use a whole myriad of colorful words “lame.”

Thus it brings me to the Third lesson: Think outside of the box I couldn’t rely on the procurement process to get what I needed if I tried to get what I needed usually it was wrong. If I had a nail I was missing a hammer. Had a socket no ratchet. Silicone gun no silicone so on and so forth. All told hustling with the locals and helping their economy is very effective and a socket works pretty will with a pair of vice grips if you don’t mind what it looks like when you are done. The socket tends to get a bit chewed up… Too many times I needed to create things fix things and didn’t have all that I needed to do so. Hence would be the conditions in TEOTWAWKI.  This has become and is the “ARMY” ways they have taken “adapt and overcome” to a whole new level its called half ass! At any rate, you are not going to be able to run down to that blue or orange home service store and grab what you need to finish a project. Parachute cord (aka 550 cord) works wonders sometimes when you need to replace a shoe lace and don’t have one, drying clothes outside guy wire for an antenna or rope for a US flag on a pole. I have seen it used by adding a bit of weight and making a jump rope for calisthenics.  My personal favorite is the boot laces as that is what is holding my boots on as we speak.

One or two 1,000-foot rolls of paracord in your cache box what’s a cache box, you say? Check out Yeager on YouTube and see his take on it, very informative.
I once saw a guy make an alcohol stove with a soda or beer can and some steel wool. Very cool idea if you don’t have a stove. When TEOTWAWKI comes, these types of things will be common place if not they should be.

Thinking outside of the status quo is essential for life and especially during a tactical or trying situation and to overcome an imminent threat. If one wakes up can see things in a clear light and think things through without bias anger or spite one can see the true reality of the situation and make an unbiased and educated decision on how to act.
In summary from my six years as a contractor I would say the three essentials tools are EDC look at it, organize it, practice it,  plan it, look at your today, your tomorrow your week your month, use it Remember always have a plan “B”.
You cannot use what you do not have. You cannot use it if its broken because it’s the first time you took it out deployed it and it failed when you did now you’re stuck.
Communication is key. Effective communication with your team good comms are essential. Don’t forget operational security (OPSEC.) Communication with your family your community, your peers and coworkers. Base your decisions in an educated fashion; If to bug out, how to bug out, when to bug out, where to bug out to, bug in? Have a plan and run it through all the while be fluid and flexible. Again Remember always have an escape plan…
As it was told to me in Iraq, it is an ever evolving ever fluid mission and one has to be flexible to accommodate the needs of the mission to take care of the needs of the team. Whatever your team consists of.

Break the paradigm! We live in what I like to call a throwaway world. With that being said how many things that we take for granted that would in a normal household be tossed out with the trash can be repurposed to something else useful? If you can find him look online for the guy that takes old firefighter turnout bunker gear and refashions it into pretty sweet gear in my opinion, duffle bags, purses and other pieces of kit.

How many people could actually say that they can grow a garden enough to sustain themselves with something to eat? I watched a guy who lives in a CHU (remember those?) in Iraq grow tomatoes squash and peas in the window of that CHU using it like a greenhouse, cut milk jugs, dirt, some seeds, water and a little love. I cut him the stakes to help the plants stay up right out of old pallet lumber. Boy that was a pretty sweet tasting salad!

In summary, a few take a ways from being deployed in Iraq for six years (boy I never thought I would be there that long!) Every Day Carry (EDC.) Live it, breathe it, be it. Build a kit, use it, break it, and perfect it. It’s better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it.

Communication you can’t problem solve if you have no idea what the problem even is. Develop a plan with your family and friends. Who, What, When, Where, Why. Each person in an effective team knows what to do before they need to do it.
Be flexible, adapt and overcome and please please don’t do it the Army way and half ass it. Think outside the box don’t be trapped in it! If something breaks fix it and move on. Try and build it stronger than it was. When it comes to gear it’s amazing what you can repurpose to something you need. Duct tape! Need I say more?

Oh one last thing that should go without saying, always carry a knife, a good quality fixed or folder. My father is an Army veteran from the Vietnam War and he said “the only thing I need to survive is a good pair of boots and a Ka-Bar.”

I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard: “Do you have a knife?" Or, "Can I borrow your knife?” I’ve heard it all the way from the local national laborer to a Command Sergeant Major in the Army.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ask yourself this question:  “Do I really think I could use deadly force against someone to protect my family?”  Most, (if not all reading this) quickly respond with a resounding YES!  In fact, you may even have fantasized about scenarios where that might happen; usually in the context of “what would I do if…”   One has to plan for every contingency, right?
The thing is, these fantasies are usually on the same level as a Hollywood movie—contain some sense of bravado—and almost always leave you feeling like somewhat of a hero.  There are those who are unnerved about this and find themselves with a slightly different feeling in the end, but in my experience those who fall into the category of “preppers” or “survivalists” are of the mindset that protecting their families is a no-brainer and very straight forward… “Bang.”

First, let me preface the remainder of this article with a simple statement:  This is not about gun control, it’s not about teaching you to be a trained killer, and it’s certainly not about advocating a position of appeasement.  It’s about Resolve.  It’s about getting Resolve. And, it’s about when you need to acquire Resolve.  I’m making this statement because I don’t want you to have a predetermination about where the article is going before you finish…or don’t finish, as the case might be.  Please be patient and open-minded—it could save your life, someone else’s life…and your sanity.

The Advent of PTSD

PTSD—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—I am amazed with all the attention surrounding this newly termed ‘disorder.’  In World War II they called it “shell shock.”  In Special Ops, we didn’t have a title for it…well, beyond “the thousand yard stare” anyway.  There were those that displayed these characteristics, but not like today.  I believe it to be much more prevalent than when I was active duty.  Of course, just having a name to attach to it can make this so, thus making it easier to ‘diagnose’ and assign treatment…as well as create more popularity.  One could argue that the today’s victims have more damaging exposure than previous generations or they have experienced carnage on a level not seen before.  However, a brief review of world history will quickly debunk that position. 

I am not a licensed psychologist and I don’t fault the discovery of PTSD or even most of the treatments used, but what I do have issue with is the focus. It seems to be more about treating the symptoms, less on treating the problem, and virtually nothing to prevent the problem.  How do you prevent PTSD? I have a theory of my own…and it starts with Resolve.

I have had a full military career; the last 11 years were in Special Operations.  We were always busy; not just in the Middle East, but in many other places doing things you won’t read about.  In addition to my own experiences, I’ve had many discussions with veteran colleagues about their experiences as well.  Most of the conversations started with PTSD and the affect, if any, it had on us.  Most of us agreed that we were changed by our experiences, but thought just the military lifestyle alone would have accomplished significant change.  What I found common to this group of friends was that none of them had any issues associated with moderate to severe PTSD.  Most didn’t feel they had any symptoms.  All had effectively used deadly force and seen the results.  All had lost friends or colleagues and experienced the associated grief.  Most had witnessed atrocity.  So, what did this group have in common that helped them avoid PTSD?  All are Christian for one, which I think is key, but not necessarily a guarantee because it’s closely related to the second attribute, which is—you guessed it—Resolve.

I thought about writing a book for young warriors entering the fray, in hopes it could make a difference.  But, raising a family of six kind of got in the way and my focus was diverted…until my youngest son entered his senior year in high school and hadn’t shed the childhood dream of following in the ‘old man’s footsteps.’  Needless to say, my motivation to convey helpful or antidotal information to my son and others has changed significantly.  And so, I write.

I do not mean to trivialize PTSD or suggest those afflicted with it are weak, fakers, or need to just “suck it up.”  Nor do I intend to demonstrate they are any less the heroes we know them to be for defending our nation.  They are not failures.  They are the best we can ever hope to be and need to be treated as such for contributions that are essentially priceless.  For this, we should do all we can and provide all we can to make them healthy again—this owed for a debt we can never repay.

However, treatment is no match for prevention and preparation—and I’m not talking about false bravado or getting jacked up on “hooyah’s” before battle.  That will fail you every time!  It’s the first thing stripped of you when the SHTF.  Yet, it’s always encouraged by leaders who know no better because that’s what they were taught to do.   How else do you get someone to ‘charge that hill?’  All the fantasies of being the hero are ripped from your mind like a whirlwind.  Without bravado, without fantasy—and most importantly, without Resolve—you stand naked before the scariest scenarios of your life.  First it seems surreal, but it quickly becomes reality when death and atrocity confront you face to face.
You’ve picked up by now that the Resolve of which I speak is multi-faceted.  It consists of preparation, deliberate and pre-meditated action based on that preparation, and resolution of that action when it is safe to do so.  These are the key tenets of Resolve. 

Several studies conducted after World War II uncovered a curious fact:  Approximately 50% of the US soldiers that fought in battle admitted they fired their weapons with “plausible deniability.”  This means they really didn’t zero in on their targets, but fired in the general direction of the enemy—the idea being that they really wouldn’t know for sure if they killed another human being. 

Why?  Consequences of those actions and the inability to Resolve them.
Mad Dog, a very good friend and former Green Beret as well as strong Christian explained it best:  “God did not design us to take human life.  And, to engage in activities that result in it have consequences—not punishments—but consequences.”  For example, what’s the best off-road vehicle made?...A Rental!   Joking aside, a rental car can be a great off-road vehicle—once.  Then, it’s trashed.  Why?...because, it wasn’t designed for it.  This is a consequence of using something for a purpose it wasn’t designed to do.  The car wasn’t trashed out of punishment; it was a direct consequence of misusing it. 

Now, having said that, all real off-road vehicles are not created equal either, some do much better than others—and the same can be said about humans.  Case in point; only a select few are chosen for Special Ops—the hell they are put through to select the best candidates is a testament to it.  To the uninitiated, it is a belief that brute physical stamina identifies them as the cream of the crop…and they would be incorrect.  Certainly, physical ability is important, but it’s having heart and Resolve to push past physical limits that insure success, all the while maintaining perspective, mental focus, and situational awareness.

I’m reminded of Bible history where God told Gideon to select 300 men for a battle against thousands.  To select the best of the best, Gideon was to march all the candidates mercilessly around the desert for an extended time.  Finally, he was to guide them to a water hole and observe them.  Those that dropped their weapons and buried their faces to lap like dogs were disqualified.  God told Gideon to look for those that kept vigilance—retaining their weapons and maintaining their bearing—always at the ready, mentally focused, just in case—yet still satisfy their thirst.  The 300 selected were “special” because they had the mindset, the heart, and the Resolve to be prepared for any contingency.  I’ll make one concession here—these were men that naturally found the Resolve to be selected.  It was in their nature.  God wasn’t asking Gideon to train these men to meet a standard.  The standard was applied to insure they already had the Resolve to accomplish the task.

Preparing to Resolve

While Gideon only selected those with adequate Resolve, I believe it is possible to gain Resolve through training or learning.  And, while some will always have a natural preponderance to it, everyone can increase their ‘resolve quotient’ like anything else—simply by preparing.  No one can prepare for you, because it must be attached to a very personal and deep rooted belief or beliefs.  Certainly it can start with the position that you will protect your family and their livelihood, but you have to peel layers of thought deeper and deeper…and go beyond the logic of protecting your loved ones—use your heart.  You are training yourself here and in the training world we look to Bloom’s Taxonomy for the different domains of learning.  They are the Cognitive domain (mental skills or knowledge), the Psychomotor domain (matching knowledge with manual or physical skill) and the Affective domain (growth in feelings or emotional areas).  Learning about guns, their operations and increasing skill in the use of them is covered by the first two domains—dealing with the Resolve to use them and the emotional aftermath, is covered by the Affective domain.  This domain by far has the most impact and ‘bang for the buck’ if it is employed correctly.  I’ll give an example. 

Remember back to high school and of all that you learned—what sticks out in your mind?  Is it memorizing formulas for chemical concoctions from chemistry class or maybe the names of every bone in the human body?  Doubtful, unless you’re a chemist or doctor and work with it every day to reinforce your rote memory.  More than likely, it’s a subject taught by a well-respected and effective teacher—like history.  We all remember that ‘special teacher’ we really liked and their way of making things interesting or alive.  Think back to that time and the subject they taught.  Can you remember things you learned…are they still there?  Why?...because they employed emotion or feeling to facilitate the transfer of knowledge.   They likely used war stories or personal experiences and attached it to the subject matter being taught.  It’s well known in training circles that the Affective Domain will imbed knowledge more permanently in the human mind than any other method.  This is the most prominent distinction between a computer and the human mind.  A machine will never feel anything, they can only emulate.  It’s because they have no spirit…no soul…no heart.

Attaching emotion to learning is what you need to do in your quest to increase Resolve. Don’t use temporary emotion or heat of the moment techniques as I mentioned before—like watching a war movie, listening to pumped-up rock music, or getting jacked up on “hooyahs.”  Don’t think Dirty Harry—think Braveheart.  Don’t think AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”—think Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.”  Which of those move your heart?  Strengthen your Resolve?

I’m reminded of an interview I saw recently with the late Chris Kyle; the world’s deadliest sniper.  When asked by a smug reporter about how he dealt with knowing he terminated over 160 human lives, he responded matter-of-factly that it was to save the lives of his comrades.  He believed that every enemy terrorist he killed, saved the lives of American soldiers—that was his logic.  What he didn’t impart was bond that drove the deeper feelings and emotions he held that were the foundation of his logic and the basis for his Resolve.  Believe me, they are there…ask his wife, I’ll bet she knows.  There’s nothing cavalier about Chris and his Resolve. 

To wrap it up, I’m reminded of a Biblical scripture that says, “For greater love has no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”  If you have this kind of love for those you protect, then I believe you are capable of creating a healthy Resolve to do what is necessary.  I could write several chapters on this—and probably will, but for this article I will leave it at provoking deeper thought and feeling to establish the foundation for your Resolve.  Don’t be cavalier about this critical step in acquiring Resolve.  Of all the skills and preparation you acquire in your pursuit of survival, this is likely the first you may have to employ immediately following the start of TEOTWAWKI.

Deliberate & Premeditated Resolve to Action

Preparing to Resolve is the foundation for acting; knowing what action you are willing to take and under what general circumstances.  Now, you must join this with decisiveness—a willingness to follow through—before you are confronted with a situation.  You must have already made the decision to act—weeks, months, or even years before you find yourself confronted with a scenario that demands you to act.  If you prepare, but don’t act, you cannot benefit from your preparation—period!
Decisiveness to act also carries the crucial benefit of speed, or more definitively—lack of hesitation.  Any seasoned vet with tell you that he’s had successes because the enemy hesitated or paused to ‘think.’  These vital seconds can be the difference between life and death for you or your loved ones.
Have a heart to heart with yourself and ask the question:  Am I willing to act…can I do this?  If your answer is “I think so,” “I don’t know,” or anything other than a strong affirmation—you need to go back to preparation and Resolve it.  This isn’t easy, and to trivialize it or be cavalier won’t work. 

Resolution of Action Taken
When safe to do so and the dangers have passed, you need to Resolve your feelings and emotions.  A good warrior can easily push these aside during a fight knowing they are a distraction that could cost him or his comrades their lives.  However, it’s a slippery slope down the road to PTSD if you don’t deal with them afterwards; like a festering sore they will return to haunt you.  This I promise.  Knowing you are directly responsible for the loss life of another human being will change your life forever—even if you effectively resolve it—you will be changed.  It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, justified or not.

First step:  Start with logic, because you’re going to go there anyway.  What were the circumstances that required your actions and how did you respond?  Could you have handled it any other way…maybe a better way?  The purpose of this initial step is to confront yourself.  This may sound like you’re borrowing trouble, but it’s really about getting it out on the table.  Guaranteed you will second guess yourself at some point anyway, why not now? 

Consider an After-Action Report format.  Include everything from what went well to what didn’t, and include mistakes—especially mistakes.  The whole purpose is to learn from it and then move on.  “Maybe” and “if” yourself thoroughly, but don’t dwell on it too long because that causes ‘analysis paralysis.’  Then, formulate the perfect solution and compare it to how you handled it.  Are they the same—no, they never are…and they never will be.  Consider the deltas; the things you could have done better and vow to learn from them.  

The next step is to mourn.  Cry, pray, etc.—get it out. 

Now, forgive yourself…God did.  You have to go forward from here.  Again, vow to learn from it because this makes you more valuable to yourself and others.  Even if you are partly or directly responsible for the death of a comrade because of your action or inaction—you can be better for it.  Part of your healing is to vow to do better and educate subordinates so they won’t make the same mistake.  To clam up, quit, or even take your own life is not only an atrocity, it’s sentencing a comrade to make the same mistake because you weren’t there to pass on valuable advice…is that what you really want for them?

So…think you’re ready???

For those of you that believe they’ve already prepared themselves.  Let me drop a test scenario on you.
You’ve done all the right things.  Prepped, stored, and relocated to your retreat in the wilds of Montana.  An economic collapse was the culprit, just like you thought it would be.  It’s been several weeks and your family is in a routine.  Adjustments to your new life are going well.
However, a starving man and his family show up at your gate.  The man and his wife are gaunt and drawn; clearly they had given whatever food they had to their three young children, now clinging to their mother’s leg.   You decide not to draw your weapon as you approach because of the children.  The man smiles as you get within speaking distance.  It’s clear they need assistance and will likely beg for food.  You planned for some charity like a good prepper and prepared yourself for how you would handle this—give them what you can, but be firm in asserting they move on and don’t come back.

Suddenly, the man’s smile slips away as he draws a pistol.  He yells commands for you to disarm and voices his intention to take from you and your family.  Clearly, he’s desperate—like you would be if you had to stare in to your family’s starving eyes every day and listen to their cries of hunger at night.   The distance between you is 50 feet—an easy shot for you, as you’d practiced many times.  You recognize the man is not an accomplished gunman by the way he holds the weapon and wields it carelessly.  While he could get lucky, it’s not likely he would hit you.  Frequently, he looks away to glance at his family—more than enough time for you to strip your pistol from its holster and double tap him.  If you kill him, the man’s family will eventually suffer the same fate; wing him, and the result is still the same…just takes longer while they watch him die of infection.
He’s done talking, his gun fires…he misses you…he’s cocking it again…

What would you do?  Is this one of the scenarios you fantasized about?  Prepared for?  Resolution of Action Taken has a whole new aspect to it now.  You won’t be dealing with just the man’s death, but his family also…maybe they wouldn’t die, but what a tragic thing to witness for them.  If you don’t think that will rattle around in your head for the rest of your life, you’re a sociopath.   Bottom line:  You’re alive, but your sanity and quality of life is dismal.  In the end, you may have no choice except to defend yourself with extreme prejudice, but dealing with the aftermath will come hard.

You prepared to Resolve ridding the earth of a marauding biker gang, not the Brady Bunch—yet both scenarios are equally feasible in TEOTWAWKI.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

From Just Surviving Life to a Life of Survival Preparedness, by Michael B.

I was born into the percentage of Americans,who statistically don't make it to the American dream. I was Born 1980 in Modesto, California. The third child of a young mother and father hooked on Speed, KJ and any other number of drugs they could get their hands on. By 1983 we found ourselves 140 miles south in Visalia Ca. That year my father was shot point blank range in the lower abdominal area with a .22 Long Rifle hollow point. It was the neighbor in the next apartment who did the shooting and it was a fight over drugs. My older brother is the oldest of us three. He was standing next to our dad when he was shot. My dad drove himself to the hospital and passed out in the parking lot. My brother was seven years old at the time. He ran into the hospital and got their attention. The bullet did what hollow points do: It broke into seven pieces. Without the energy to exit, the bullet pieces ricochet around like a pinball machine. One fragment managed to come out his upper back by his right shoulder blade. The seven fragments ripped his liver, pancreas, and spleen. They had to remove several feet of intestine. The shot damaged a kidney so badly that it was removed. My dad was transferred from Kaweah Delta Health hospital in Visalia to UCLA Medical Center. They saved his life but not before he went into cardiac arrest three times and was in the hospital for six months.

At that point in our lives, our mother took us back to Modesto and continued on the same path of, Drug abuse, horrible mean men and Government assistance... I remember CPS coming to our house and taking nude pictures of all the bruises on us kids. Their were four or five families in this house. They took pictures of the empty maggot infested fridge. Pictures of over flowing feces-filled toilets. By fourth grade for me and seventh grade for my sister, she's the middle kid I'm the baby. Our older brother had run away from the madness to find our dad, to hopefully come to the rescue of us. We were too young to realize, he was living the same alcoholic drug life our mother was, only he was a little further south in canyon country. Sometime during my fourth grade year my sister and I just stopped going to school. We roamed all over Modesto. The school came by a few times but could never find our mom. My sister and I eat at the church two or three times a week, sometimes we eat at the salvation army. A lot of the time we stole food from the local market. Food to a couple kids amounted to whatever candy you could get in your pocket. Some people might say I mentioned Government assistance above. My mom and every mom in that neighbor-hood would make us kids take a dollar food stamp at a time into the market and buy a 0.05 cent candy and bring them back the 95 cents change. That's only when the guy behind the counter just didn't offer 50 cents on the dollar for the whole book of food stamps.

CPS never did anything in my several encounters. Our school noticed the trend and pretended (I know this now) my sister  and I won a shopping trip. They bought us several outfits and shoes. So by the end of  fourth grade we made it back to school but not before being School Administrative  Review Board (SARB) flagged. They found my mom and threatened her with jail and no more welfare. So she got us back in school pronto. That summer I was arrested for receiving stolen property at nine years old. I was sitting in a golf cart in an alley with another nine year old making motor sounds and pretending to drive. The thing never moved an inch not to say we  wouldn't have but we had no clue how. Either way the cop took me to juvenile hall where it took my mom three days to find me.  During this time my sister has blossomed into a beautiful young thirteen year old girl, who looks to old for our own good. We still  haven't heard from our brother or dad and our mom has now been with this boyfriend who hands out regular beating to all of us. My sister and I met a man at the arcade who's started buying cloths and food. He turned out to be a twenty six year old opportunist who seen us or my sister as a prime target. So by fourteen she gives birth to a beautiful little girl by a man thirteen years her senior.. I guess that's finally enough to get our drunk doped up dad  to Modesto. He paid a guy in a 1966 Chevy step side to bring him. I was never so elated when I seen him. I ran so fast I tripped in front of him. I thought it was all going to change. It did for a day or so. I was so happy when my dad slapped the hell out of my moms boyfriend. Slap! Nnnno! I won't hit them any more.  Music to my ears. The next day my dad chased my sister's guy around too.. Things are looking up. Then he got in the truck the next day and left. I was on my way. I was under a tarp in the bed of the truck. The truck pulled over about a block away.  My dad had seen me poke my head out, we cried and hugged and I didn't understand why he just couldn't take me. I was back to running the streets all night my sister was gone with the father of my niece. Now it's just me, until my big brother showed up out of the blue.  All of fifteen years old he was my Hero immediately. Strong long blond hair,  I was so happy he was here. He had a long hair friend with him. He told me he was in a big fight at home needed to get away. So he got our address from dad borrowed a car and here he was. He told me I don't care what any one says when I leave, you're leaving too!. Three days later we left.

Ten years old and back in Visalia, California. We lived in a huge apartment complex nicknamed Sin City. I was so happy to follow my brother around, our surroundings didn't matter. My brother was good at making my dad buy food but he never paid rent and we were locked out of every place we lived and in between the welfare office would provide motels, meals, money. On top of the normal welfare he got. So he knew how to use it. As do most. I found out my brother must of endured the same beatings I took only he got it from our father. I found this out shortly after moving in. My Dad got drunk put his hands on me and my brother attacked him violently and didn't stop until he looked dead. I was in shock, My big brother stood over our father and said your never going to lay a hand on my little brother, you understand!. He never tried to get physical again until I was fifteen years old. He was up for several days on meth. I tried to leave the apartment and he wouldn't let me out. He grabbed my neck, I bombed an overhand right and it put him out cold, I stepped over him and went to a friend's mom who knew my situation. That next year right when I turned sweet sixteen, I was confronted by a group of what I'd call then, "rich kids." They approached me and attacked during the fight one of the kids got his jaw broken. The cops arrested me and since I was the poor kid, I was immediately branded the bad guy. The courts sentenced me to three years and eight months. In the mea time my sister got away from the way too old  for her predator. She came to Visalia where our brother was and got a bank teller position. Meanwhile our brother was building car engines and doing maintenance work.

Me? Oh I got out of jail and knew, I'd be making my own path. My now wife of thirteen years was then my girlfriend since seventh grade summer. She waited and wrote me a letter every day I was gone. I came home at eighteen to my sister and girlfriend's house. Within a week I was unloading walnuts seven days a week, ten hours a day. The next year my wife and I married, I became a roofer and she went to Fresno State University full time and worked full time. No one in our families have ever owned anything. I bought a 1967 300 deluxe  post top Chevelle two-door I sold that car a year later a made a down payment on our first house. My wife got to pick it all ground up. My sister's teller job turned into a assistant manager position and our big brother was a master diesel tech. I bought our first home  in 2001 and sold in 2005 at he peak of the market. We walked away with $157,000 profit. For a kid from  the hood, "WOW!" is all I could say.. Before I knew what a retreat was I knew I didn't want to  raise my kid in the city. So I took our money and bought 2.5 acres on a aquifer with two wells and no home. I paid the property off and hired a contractor who was local. That contractor  stole $70,000 from our building account I set up for him. That's what happens when a poor guy gets money. I wasn't smart enough with it.

So here we are. Married five years. We have a 7-week early  premature little girl. No house and bare land? Well we had our credit,  land, boat and a paid-for truck. So I did what most people wouldn't. I went and took a $220,000 hard money loan 10% interest only and a $10,000 buy down. On top of the $2,200 a month interest-only loan. I only had thirteen months until the  balloon payment was due. I pulled all my own permits and built our 2,400 square foot house in ten months. When those hard money loan guys saw me in ten months, they were surprised.. I'm almost 34 years old now. My wife and I have lived in our retreat for five years. She's become a Oncology  Registered Nurse with ten years of experience. We home school our daughter, raise chickens and gardens. Yes I tell her stories of my wild child hood and even show her the paths I took.  Most of all she sees us, My brother ,sister and I care for her Grandparents who's drug filled youth funded by the welfare system has made them life time dependent on the government. It also goes to show although rare. Sometimes the Apples all roll very far from the tree. My sister with her seventh grade education and a child at thirteen years old, is now the district manager of twelve plus banks, manages her own five acres  of pecans and drives a Mercedes E550 coupe that is paid for. Our big brother is still a Master mechanic. He travels all over fixing specialty equipment and makes $50+ an hour.

Me, the young wild one. They tell me I endured the worst.To me..I have had the best life ever: The American Dream times a million. Where do you get to start with nothing and claw and fight to the top and come out like an apple pie. Out of us three kids, none of us smoke or drink or have ever done drugs. I'm now officially "Mr. Mom." My wife works three days a week with vacation that's 123 work days a year. We all shoot compound bows and pellet guns. We all have our hunting licenses. We ride dirt bikes, ride horses, gold mine, grow and store our own food.  All on an education of having nothing. So it is possible.

The main thing is to Fight no matter what, just keep moving forward. We talk to our parents every day. Our father is now 60 and hasn't had a sip in five years although our mom will be on psych meds forever. She's our mom and that's it. We love our parents no matter what. This is a glimpse of a few minutes of a few times in my personal life. I can fill book with the wild weird situations we were placed in. Us kids, We not only survived we thrive. Through beatings,  rapes and just plain craziness. I know these times shaped me to a tough an rugged  individual but it also taught me how to love unconditionally, share what you have and stand your moral ground and for me personally a great relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you Mr. Rawles and everyone who contributes to this very cool blog site. God bless the whole world.

First of all: The creators are in the "Hollywood way" so they live there, their friends are all there, They are not going to go build a bunker, they are already working on their next project about an Alien invasion or something like that.  So from my perspective, they did pretty good over all considering the source.

Over acting, oh yeah.  I have seen some pretty tense situations and there are many men who show no emotion at all.  they are deep in their thinking and in this video, we have simply lucked out that all the characters are highly emotional, extremely chatty and have extra batteries.  My wife pointed out, that if some one were able to video 10 days without power, they might be the extra dramatic segment of the population. Video recording obsessed. So I give them a break on that as well.

This is a great video for education,and if you consider it as a discussion tool, its priceless. 
Watch a short segment, stop the video and talk.  Ask questions like: What did this person do right?, what did they do wrong?  What if this happened to you tomorrow?, what do you think you would do?, where do you think you would be if this happened?, what items around you do you think you could use to solve a problem?  How could they have avoided the situation? Did they really need to put themselves in danger?  What motivated them to make that mistake?  Contrary to popular belief, there are right and wrong answers to these questions.

I give this video a big thumbs up, as others have stated.  Its better than nothing, I am actually surprised it made it to television at all and not straight to the obscurity section of Netflix.  - Brad S.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dear Survival Blog,
As a journalist, I'm constantly intrigued by the dissemination of information in our world. Obviously, with the advent of social media, people have become exceptionally lazy about seeking out information. There are very few circumstances in our modern society where your technology can't help you find out what's going on within seconds. However, every now and then, we encounter a situation where your technology can't help you - unless you're prepared

Earlier this week, I was in just such a situation. I was near the front of a interstate closure caused by a burning catering truck. Because I was in such close proximity (about a mile) from the closure, no one around me knew why we were stuck. The burning trailer was around a bend, hidden from view by trees. 

First some background: Years ago, my life was saved by a second-hand CB radio that I carried in my truck. I got caught in a violent, blinding snow storm in Colorado and - using the CB - I was able to estimate position based on the feedback from truckers also caught in the storm. Since that night, I have always carried a CB in my car and later I added a police scanner. I learned that night that yes, information can save your life. 

Fast forward back to my traffic jam. I realized that the closure had just happened and so the local media was not aware of it. Within the first two minutes of being stopped, I turned on my CB and police scanner and I knew all the information I needed: I knew who, what, when, and where. (The only thing I didn't know was what caused the fire - which really didn't matter) Satisfied with my knowledge, and knowing we would be there a while, I pulled my car off to the shoulder and hiked toward the fire so I could get some first-hand knowledge of what was going on. It was actually quite uneventful. The firefighters were waiting on the fire to die down a little because there were two propane cylinders on the trailer. 

The most interesting part of the whole experience was on the way back to my car. Probably less than 250 yards from the burning trailer I was stopped by a car full of women whose first question was "what's going on?" They were stuck behind two eighteen-wheelers and 45 minutes or more into this experience they still had absolutely no idea why they were even stopped. They hadn't bothered to get out and look with their own eyeballs. They couldn't call anyone who would know, and unless one of their Facebook friends happened to be stuck in the same traffic jam, social media wouldn't help them either.

After I explained to them in great detail what was happening, I said goodbye and began walking when I was stopped by the driver of the very next car. They saw me chatting with the women ahead of them and immediately sensed that I knew what was happening. After all, I had come from the direction of the closure and looked like a guy who knew something. 

All told, I repeated the same story five times in the walk back to my car to people that were either too lazy to find out on their own and simply had a passing interest in this event that was directly affecting their lives. I examined each of these people as I spoke to them and one word kept coming up in my head over and over again: unprepared. What if this had been an EMP attack? How long would these people sit there waiting for someone to tell them what had happened? It was chilling to think about. That day I realized that even if every car on the Interstate was dead in the water because of an electromagnetic pulse attack, most people would have no idea what had happened and would simply sit there and wait for information or help. 

After an hour and a half, the authorities re-opened the Interstate and suddenly everything was "normal" again and people got on with their lives. 

Continuing on, I pondered how disinterested some people were in finding out information. They relied on someone else to get it for them. I realize that in the case of an EMP attack, I would not have had my CB or scanner, but I did have my curiosity and a determination to find out information. In a grid down scenario I realized that much of the battle would be seeking information and determining what was true and what wasn't. And even more importantly, I realized that having the knowledge in your head beforehand about what could or is happening is as equally important.  I would know within two seconds that if every car on the Interstate inexplicably rolled to a stop, that we had been attacked by an EMP. (And beyond that, my car is a rolling bug out bag.) But the vast majority of people simply would not know what was going on.  

Information can save your life. 

Prepping with physical things is much simpler. It's tangible. You can see it and hold it. But after my experience this week, I am now going to double up my efforts on being able to propagate and receive information when TEOTWAWKI happens. Having knowledge and information allows to you to act and act fast, and that will save your life. 

Sincerely, - W.H.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What is a prepper’s number one tool? What is the asset that all preppers need regardless of where they are or why they are preparing? Some will say water purification, others will say food, and either others will give a list of shelter, weapons, or a medical kit. I disagree with all of these. Yes, all of these are necessary to survival and great preps to have; however, they are not the number one prep needed. After searching hundreds of lists and web sites, and watching show after show about survival, and piecing together preps on a budget, I have found the number one tool for a prepper: Knowledge.

Regardless of how well prepared you are, eventually, through time, all preps will fail. You will eventually run out of canned goods. Bullets (regardless of what television would have you believe) are not unlimited. Metal tools rust and break. Water stores will run empty. And shelters will fall. Given time, all of our preps will turn to dust and then we’ll be left with nothing but ourselves and whatever skills and knowledge we’ve acquired.

I have preps that include canned food, seeds for agriculture, extra clothing, shelter, water purification, rope, a bow and arrows, tools, extra bullets, and extra gas, but my number one prep is my book. I have made a book of roughly 2,000 laminated pages full of survival techniques, skills, and knowledge that I may potentially need. I have a section on shelter than diagrams and describes over twenty different types of survival shelter for each climate area. I have a section on water gathering and purification. I have a section dedicated solely to wild edibles and food preparation (canning, skinning, smoking meat, etc). Finally, I have a section that is full of a variety of skills I might possibly need such as how to make your own sapling bow or star charts for directions. Ultimately, the difference between survival and struggle is you.

I would suggest that every prepper make their own survival book, not for publishing, but just for you. Yes, you can go out and buy a survival book and, yes, it will save you on time and paper. However, making your own book offers benefits that buying one. The first benefit is that you will have to personally read and select each of the survival techniques you put into your book to fit your needs and situation. This will give you a general knowledge about techniques you may possibly need to use as well as what is in your book and where it is located. Making your own book also removes a lot of the “fluff” and flowery language that is contained within all books and gets to the nitty-gritty of what you, as a prepper, need.  Another benefit of making your own survival book is that you put in your book only what you need. If a prepper is living in the Southeastern United States, then why would they need a book with a section on how to survive in Alaska? Or the rain forest? Why do you need a book with a section that lists and details edible plants in Mexico if you live in North Dakota? If the situation arises where your prepper supplies will be needed, who is going to travel cross-country? With your own, personal book, you can input only what you need to know, saving space in your bug-out bag or prepper stash as well as saving you time if you need to look for something quickly. Another benefit of making your own survival book is continuity. If you have children and they are a part of your prepper plan you will be able to pass the knowledge you have gathered in your book on to your children who can then teach their children and so on. With this book you will not only be assisting in your own survival but that of your children and future generations. Making your own book that is based off of your own needs and geared towards your supplies is the absolute most important thing you can have in your preps.

As I said, some will disagree and give a large list of supplies and preps which, according to them, will be much more valuable than a survival book. Those people will not survive past a year or two unless they have a large group with a wide range of skills and knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I am not belittling the need for water storage, food stores, shelter, and defensive preps, all of these things are absolutely necessary for a prepper, however, a person with a wide range of skills and a vast wealth of survival knowledge will last longer than the prepper who has a year’s worth of food and water but no knowledge of wild edibles or agriculture. Take the most needed resource of life; water. The average person needs about 2,250 mL of water per day that is about ¾ a gallon of water. The average prepper will have somewhere between 100- 500 gallons of water storage. If we take the middle and say most people have about 300 gallons of water stored, then those stores will last roughly a year, maybe longer. If you factor in more than one person then those 300 gallons could be gone in 3-6 months. What will you do then? Typical prepper will say build a rain catch or gather water from a river or lake. Rain water, river water, and lake water could be contaminated and your purification tablets or your water purifier won’t last forever. You might need to know how to build a solar still in order to purify your water. You may need to know how to set animal trap such as a deadfall, twitch-up snare, a bottle trap or a gill net in order to procure your family’s next meal. This knowledge will prove invaluable as more and more of your preps fail due to age or use or as situations arise that you were not prepared to handle.

Many of the skills that I feel that I may need based off of my preps and plans in the case of an emergency.  You must go though and find what’s best for you and your family for the area you are in. The information is readily available through the internet for any who are willing to look for it.

Hiding behind your preps and relying solely on them can be as dangerous as not prepping at all. As a prepper we must realize that most of our preps are short-term. Canned food and water stores will run empty. Bullets will run out. Houses will be sacked by groups of bandits and your tools and supplies will eventually break. But having this knowledge should to cause us to despair but rather to encourage us to gather and soak up as much knowledge about survival as we can. Preps are for the immediate survival situation or three months to a year of survival; a survival book is for long-term, rebuilding survival. Your knowledge is what will keep you alive whenever you have nothing and the world is collapsing around you.
In construction your survival book, I would suggest a three inch, three ring binder. I would also suggest that you laminate your pages to protect against water damage. Make sure you include both detailed pictures and descriptive instructions. I would also suggest making a copy of the book so that you can have one in your bug-out bag and one in your home preps. Make sure include food (gathering and prep), water (gathering and decontaminating), shelter, first-aid, as well as your survival plans such as various bug-out locations and directions to get there, plans for defending your home or your bug-out location, and contingency plans for everything. Make sure your survival book will have you prepared for any conceivable situation you may come up against.
To give you an idea of what you may need in your personal survival book, I will share a list of things I have in mine:

  • Food procurement
    • Deadfall trap
    • Bottle trap
    • Drag noose
    • Trot-line
    • Wild edibles in my area of the country
    • Possibly poisonous plants in my area
  •   Water
    • Solar-still
    • Rain catches
    • Natural filtering systems
  • Shelter
    • Lean-to
    • Tepee
    • Swamp bed
    • Debris hut
    • Snow shelter
    • Beach shelter
    • Desert shelter
  • First-Aid
    • Broken bones
    • Stings and bites
    • Cuts and gouges
    • Rashes
    • Medicinal plants
  • Fire
    • Fire walls
    • Fire holes
    • Different fire starting  methods
      • Battery
      • Gunpowder
      • Fire-plow
      • Bow and Drill
  • Food Preparation
    • Canning
    • Skinning
    • Smoking
  • Weapons, Tools, and Equipment
    • Making an effective club
    • Making a stone knife
    • Making bows
    • Making arrows
    • Making natural packs
  • Misc.
    • Making a raft
    • Star charts for directions
    • Making clothing from animal skins

In the end, the only thing that will keep you alive is you. If you are able to adapt to different situations and are able to defeat the obstacles that will plague your post-prepper lifestyle then you will not just survive, you will overcome.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

“My grandpa taught me how to live off the land, and his taught him to be a businessman." Remember those words from “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams, Jr.?  Those lines are the story of my life.  I was born just outside of San Francisco in 1963.  I was raised overseas and lived in Singapore, a nation where possession of guns by citizens was (and is) illegal.   The extent of my outdoor life was exploring what was left of the jungles around our home, and digging up WW2 relics (casings, helmets, hubcaps etc.)  I returned to the US at 13, and lived in Miami during the cocaine wars of the 1980’s.  My father was an executive for a multi-national corporation.  We were pretty wealthy.  Hunting and fishing were not a part of my father’s past, so he didn’t pass those along to me.  Our idea of roughing it was going to the Marriott instead of the Hilton.  My dad was not a “fix-it” kind of guy.  When something broke, we called the repairman, or simply replaced it.  I learned early the value of a good auto mechanic.  I didn’t think I was totally incompetent.  I could change batteries and a light bulb.  I could mow the grass, and taught myself how to vacuum out the pool.  I played sports in school, which consumed most of my time.  I went to college and majored in political science.  I didn’t take the time to look at the want ads and notice that there were not a lot of jobs for political scientists.  After graduation, it took me a couple of years to figure out that my employment opportunities were limited.  I finally realized that I hadn’t been trained to “do” anything.  I had been trained to think deep thoughts.  What was a 23 year old “deep thinking” guy to do?  I looked around and asked, “Who is making money?”  It became clear that the lawyers were the only ones I saw getting rich.  So in 1987, I headed off to law school.  I graduated three years later, $70,000 in debt and unemployed.  I managed to find jobs to keep myself fed, until I began practicing law with a small property firm.  Eventually, I got married and began a basic middle class life.  By the time our first child was born, I was working full time as a Public Defender.  We spent what we made, and saved very little.  Over time, that changed, and I was able to invest in the market, and slowly began building up an IRA. Two more kids arrived, costs went up, but we have kept our heads above water.  Like everyone, we got hit hard in 2002, but still managed to keep going.  Over the last 10 years or so, we have been doing okay, watching our investments fluctuate and enjoying the “city life”. 

Two recent situations have caused me to take a long hard look at my life, and realistically evaluate my situation.  I had a total knee replacement.  Everything seemed to be going well, until I developed an infection.  My 30 days away from the office turned into 45.  My short term disability did not cover as much as I hoped, and it was tough to make ends meet.  As the infection refused to clear up, the Doctors started talking about 4 additional surgeries, and being out of the office for about a year.  Despite having long term disability insurance, I knew that a prolonged absence from the office would be financially devastating.  I began to seriously ponder how I would take care of my family.  Thoughts of selling possessions, tightening budgets and possibly downsizing our home, all went through my head.  It is important to know that I have no school loans, no car payments, and minimal credit card debt.  I wasn’t worried about paying off debt. I was worried about depleting our savings, buying food, and keeping the house.  While flat on my back with me knee in the air, I had to start planning for my son’s 15th birthday.
He is a World War 2 history buff, and all he wanted for his birthday was an M1 Garand.  I have some limited experience with handguns and target shooting.  Rifles were totally out of my realm of knowledge and experience.  I got on the Internet and started to check out the availability and price of a M1 Garand.  They were pretty tough to find, and I learned that they were cost prohibitive.  He really wanted a piece of WW2 history, so we went with a Mosin Nagant.  The whole family has enjoyed shooting it.  A few weeks ago, my son noticed signs for an upcoming gun show.  We decided to go in the hope that he would have a chance to see and touch some WW2 vintage rifles.  We spent the day with M1s, Kar 98s, carbines of all types, and just about every type of rifle, shotgun and handgun imaginable.  On a whim, I picked up a copy of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles.  The premise seemed interesting, and I was in need of a new book. Reading the book has been one of the most beneficial and terrifying experiences of my life.

The latest government shutdown, raising of the debt ceiling, international financial news, international instability and terrorism,  our over dependence on foreign made goods (my underwear is made in Viet Nam),  the general interconnectedness of supply lines and the “global economy” have convinced me that a Crunch, as depicted in the novel, is not only a possibility, but an inevitability.  When it happens, how then does a city boy survive?  How do I care for family?  How do I protect them?  I’m not thinking about giving them the best life has to offer, I am worried about literally keeping us all alive.  I realize that I cannot depend on the government or what passes for infrastructure.  I can trust in God and in his people, but that also requires that I use the brains and abilities that He gave me to be as prepared and ready as possible.  I had to admit that I had neither the supplies nor the skills necessary to keep my family alive and safe.  That is a horrible and terrifying thought for a 50 year old, married, father of three.  I knew that I had no other choice, but to make some changes and prepare myself to be the husband and father that I needed (and wanted) to be.

My first step has been to get my wife on board.  I have shared with her what I have learned, and why I feel a “crunch” is inevitable.  God has blessed me with a wife who is more “handy” than I am, and she danced a jig of joy when I told her that I was going to learn to do more of the “fix it” stuff around the house.   My best friend has agreed to teach me the things I need to know, to do basic home and auto repair.

My next step was to prepare to “bug in”.  In the event of a bad storm, being snowed in for a few days or a prolonged (but temporary) power outage, we would have been in a world of hurt.  I realized that we had one flashlight in the house.  We had no battery powered radios.  Come to think about it, we had no extra batteries.  We had little canned food stockpiled.  We had few matches and no wood.  We had no extra propane.  We had no stored water.  We had few hygiene items on hand (and three women).  We had one fire extinguisher, which is 19 years old.  I have taken steps to remedy this by clearing a section of the basement, and creating a storage area of food, water and supplies.  The things we need are in one place.  If a disaster hits, we won’t be scrambling all over the house looking for stuff.  Our next step will be creating “bug out” packs that are ready to go.

I have also expanded my collection of firearms.  I now have a Taurus .45, Taurus .357 revolver, Glock 17, Mosin Nagant and my newest acquisition, a Mossberg 100 ATR, chambered in .270.  I have just over 1,700 rounds of ammo on hand.  My next purchase will be a self defense shotgun. I am acquiring supplies and firearms as inexpensively as possible, while not sacrificing quality.   I have made a deal with two friends to have them teach me and my son to hunt and fish.  When the crunch happens, we will be able to make sure that we have protein/meat to eat.  We will pass those skills on to the rest of our family as we become more capable.  I am slowly reallocating my investments, and creating a more liquid financial situation.  I am trying to figure out how to survive in a future with little or no cash.  I understand that I cannot rely on or expect to receive Social Security or my pension.  I am blessed that my wife is a natural born trader/barterer.  I am learning how to make homemade soap.  My wife is a seamstress.  As long as she can fine material, a needle and thread, we will have clothes and something to sell, trade or barter.

I realize that all this is “old hat” to many of your readers.  I’m sure some of you want to shake me by the shoulders and ask, “What took you so long”.  Rest assured, I know how much I still have to do to truly be as prepared as possible.  That is where you come in.  Please keep posting your information on the blogs.  Let me learn what you have learned.  Allow me to grow into the type of compatriot that you would want by your side.  In the end, we will all be in this together, and we will need to be able to rely on the person next to us.  I am sure you will notice me or others like me, as you do your own preparations.  Don’t be afraid to say something.  If you see that I am about to buy a lousy piece of equipment, let me know.  If you see me at the range and I’m making mistakes, help me out.  I know we don’t have uniforms, or pins, or secret handshakes by which we can identify ourselves to others.  But we can recognize each other.  We can see that innate part of each other that is prepared and reliable.  We can, hopefully, see that growing in others.  Maybe it is like my Dad said, “You know more about a man’s character by his actions than by his words”.  I know I have a long way to go before I will feel ready or truly prepared.  I need your help, your wisdom and your advice.  Please come along side me, and be the men and women of action, that I know you are.

To respond to the recent letter about the fictional Blackout show:
I too was annoyed with the way they portrayed some of the people in the story but after thinking about it I am afraid that this is how a lot of the people will act. 
The prepper is the story obviously had no idea what he was doing.  I think they portrayed an arm-chair prepper with more resources than street smarts spot on.  First of all letting his young son patrol the perimeter in the middle of the night while he is nice and cozy in bed was the big mistake that lead into the rest of his mistakes.  As far as everyone else, that's how it will be.
The stupidity of how everyone acted in the show is precisely why we prepare.  Hopefully it was an eye opener for the sheeple because really our only hope of getting through something major is having everyone at least a little prepared. - Sean M.


Mr. Rawles,  
It sometimes causes me to wonder just how two people can look at something and come away with such different views.
You posted a message from a fellow in North Carolina who had very negative things to say about "American Blackout." I could only shake my head. He said that he "turned the television off in total disgust and went to bed," calling it "insidious propaganda." Really? Really?
He called the prepper father a man who was depicted as "gun toting, autocratic bully who bossed everyone and refused to act humanely by sharing all his wealth." What I saw was a no-nonsense, mission-oriented family man whose feet were firmly planted in reality. Indeed, his attitude was vindicated by the end of the program, at least from my perspective.
While he mentions that the young fellow was happy to live off someone else's largesse (as is the case with so many liberals), the writer described him as being depicted as the "compassionate one," as if this young man was somehow portrayed in the script as the ideal character in the program. What I saw was a young man who was depicted as being naive, and as one whose misguided inclinations brought the prepper family to the brink of tragedy. The "compassionate one" seems to have somewhat redeemed himself by the end of the program, apparently having seen, to some extent, the error of his ways.
His comment that the young woman who was attacked was shown as having "deserved" what happened to her reveals more about this writer than he might want to admit. Where did he get that? Regardless, what can be said about her character is that she does represent a certain defined class in our society who, literally and figuratively, live above the nitty gritty aspects of life that so many others experience. These people are usually totally unprepared for dealing with life if everything in their world does not work perfectly. So it was here.
His comment about the fact that the movie showed that we were all going to be saved by the government as our "fearless leader gravely assured us" is evidence of paranoia or of a political curmudgeon's perspective. The fact is that our political leaders routinely assure us that everything is being done, and will be done, and that order will be re-established. The fact that they say these things does not mean that they are true, however, and the fact that the producers included Obama's assurances from other crises only added to the cinema verité aspect of the movie. Should we depend on these assurances? Of course, not. Can we expect to hear them in the next major crisis? Of course, we can.
Why he calls this movie a "PC" version of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are is nonsensical.
I totally agree with him, however, that the program offered "an excellent opportunity to impress upon the average citizen that they need to be ready for bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances."
I think that the movie did so to a large extent, and that it will serve to change at least some peoples' attitudes about the need to prepare. The young woman's plaintiff cry, "Why is no one coming to help us?" may sink in with more people. Even the liberal young man who caused the prepper family's near disaster, ultimately came with a gun to aid of the prepper dad, saying to his assailants, "You guys wanted food? You should've prepared, okay?" Maybe more people will get that message now, too.
As for my criticisms, the movie did not show nearly enough of the violence that I believe would prevail after the grid was down for a few days. The manner in which the violence might have been depicted could have been handled in a way that was not so graphic as to offend the broad audience for whom the movie was intended. I would also preferred to have seen a portrayal that depicted the situation after, say, a month, not just for the first ten days. 
The writer ends by saying, "I think I'll just stick to SurvivalBlog." At least that's some good advice I won't dispute. - Howey

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When the subject of Prepping comes up there are many facets which can be equated with the reason for Prepping.  Many people in regions where severe weather is a perpetual problem are preparing to deal with the effects of a weather related emergency situation.  It was actually the ice storm of 2009 which devastated almost the entire state of Kentucky that opened my eyes to the potential danger of being unprepared.  We were without power for 3 weeks while others went longer.  The first week two of the grocery stores actually opened for a few hours a day on generator power accepting cash only until their supplies ran out.  My supply of cash didn’t last as long as the groceries did.  The grocery supplies only lasted for about 4 days.  There were stores open within driving distance but many residents had no access to their funds since the small town local banks were without power and there was no guarantee that your ATM card would work at banks in non-affected areas.

About midway through the second week things got somewhat better for us.  I worked at a Briggs and Stratton plant about an hour South into Tennessee at the time and the company brought in a truck load of generators and allowed affected employees to use them at no charge.  I was able to connect the generator to the lines going from the electrical meter to the main panel.  This allowed us to operate our heating furnace, well pump, and most small appliances.  Note: when attempting this be sure and disconnect the incoming lines feeding into the meter or you will send electricity back upstream and possibly injure workers trying to restore power to those direct lines.  The generator made our life much more manageable since we had no alternative heating source.  (Take this as a hint, get multiple ways to heat your home, shelter, compound, etc…)  Getting gas for our new lifeline was a bit of a challenge, but since I drove an hour one way to work in an area not affected by the storm I had access to the gasoline.  My only set back was the funds to procure the gasoline.  Without that generator we would not have been able to remain in our house.  By the way, I purchased the generator after using it and still have it today.

Then there were the incidents of people stealing generators that were in use.  The most perpetrated tactic was done in the middle of the night.  The thieves would start a push mower and leave it behind so the homeowner heard a gas engine running but before they figured out why they no longer had power it was too late.  The longer into the outage the more brandish the thieves became.  Taking generators in broad day light was also happening all around us.  I have always had multiple firearms and a reasonable amount of ammunition on hand, but between me and my wife we could not guard the generator 24 hours a day.  My only deterrent was to chain and lock the generator to the light pole where the meter was mounted and build a wooden box around it to shield its noise and visibility.  Not running it at night and locking it up in the house would have been best, but with temps still hovering in single digits… not a chance.  Keep in mind that this was in rural Western Kentucky at least an hour from a city with more than 50,000 people.  Yet even in “Mayberry” crime was rampant.  Those who abandoned their houses to go stay elsewhere returned to find ransacked homes and missing possessions.  There was generally no police presence in our part of the county anyway, but many areas experienced lawlessness that they were woefully unprepared for. 

Many churches in our region were able to help out tremendously with food, water, batteries, etc…  Our church received some of these donations at the beginning of the third week.   It was an overwhelming challenge to have to distribute everything that was donated.  Obviously our church members were addressed first, but we had to be hesitant in just advertising that we had supplies.  We were more than willing to give them away to those in need, but we did not want the word to spread to those who would take it all.  It wasn’t until the 4th week that the National Guard came by our house offering bottled water.  Not to discredit the men and women serving in the National Guard, but it seems they are always sent in after the fact.  This just adds comedy to the old saying, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help!!”

This lengthy section is an attempt to warn those that are driven to Prep because of weather.  Please understand that you have much more to consider than just the supplies needed.  Food and water are no brainers.  Don’t forget a power source, fuel, heating, security, etc…

We have become acronym crazy in today's over educated society.  I find myself using them also and try my best to refrain from it.  The military has an acronym for everything, the government is constantly creating them to spend more of our tax dollars, and every other part of society is following suit.  SHTF, TEOTWAWKI, WROL, and many others are used to abbreviate the foreseen result of an event that leads people to initiate Prepping into their lives.  Time and Space will not allow me to indulge into each of these outcomes and their differences.  The fact that an event can bring about one or all of them is a thought for another day.  Something that is SHTF for me may be total TEOTWAWKI for someone else.  I suppose the most basic differences would be the duration and scale of the event in question.  With this rudimentary thought, the kind of and amount of preparation would be different.  There would not be a significant difference in the “What” of Prepping.  Survival consists of the same elements in almost all situations.  The same preparations would be used for one of these acronyms as is used for the weather related events.  The substantial changes would be made in the “How much” and the “Where” of your Prepping.

Not to sound bold or over-confident, but while I am fearful of having to endure, live through, or adapt to any of the aforementioned events.  When you make preparations and try to approach them from various angles then you should have some confidence in facing these events.  I am far from being even remotely well prepared for anything, but the two things that drive me to continue to Prep is that the inevitability of something happening that completely alters, changes, or collapses our way of life and the belief that I can make it through it. 

The one event that does worry me is a military action.  Whether it is our own military enforcing martial law ordered on a section of the country by a tyrant in leadership trying to fundamentally change this country (pun intended), an attack by a foreign army, or quite possibly a foreign army here on invitation.  These events can be veiled as a way to help control, respond to, or counteract a nationwide movement or event such as a natural disaster, a failure of any part of our infrastructure, or a revolution (just a suggestion).  This type of event changes everything.  The preparations made to protect and defend for the most part focus on looters, gangs, thieves, politicians, etc…  But no one will be able to defeat a professional military force.  Regardless how big or well-trained your group is, you will be no match for a full blown military attack. The firepower available will be unmatched.  Sure you might be able to fend off a small scout team, but they will then know your location and then it is time to cue the fat lady.

One event that no seems to discuss is the one event that I see as inevitable.  That event is the persecution of God’s people.  Too many Christians in America have been blinded by the idea of American Exceptionalism.  The belief that we will be exempt from the attacks that are happening all over the world has shown the lack of spiritual discernment in today’s churches.  Let me state that I believe in the Pretribulational Rapture Position and the Premillennial Return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The first term means that the Lord will remove the redeemed from the earth before the start of the Great Tribulation.  The Great Tribulation is the term given to the events described in Revelation chapters 6-19.  This is a time of Jacob’s trouble meaning that God will deal with the Nation of Israel during this time.  The second term simply means that Jesus Christ will bodily return to this earth and set up his earthly kingdom as described in Revelation Chapter 20.  I will admit that many who hold to these eschatological positions are the same people that have the idea of American Exceptionalism.  While I do not believe those saved by the grace of God will endure the Great Tribulation or the time of Jacob’s trouble; nothing in the word of God assures us a life of ease and prosperity.  Much to the contrary of what many television preachers promote, the bible promises us persecution. 

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
v11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
v12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

I Peter 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

II Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

When you read an unbiased and untainted view of Church History you will find that those who hold true to the Doctrines that Jesus taught have greatly suffered throughout the church’s existence in every corner of the world.  This will not be found in the modern day history books used in government educational institutions.  Christians are continually being attacked, persecuted, isolated, and even murdered in many countries today.  These things will not be seen on the popular morning shows or the nightly news.  The truth must be sought out in our world today because it is being oppressed at every opportunity.  We as Americans are not immune from what the Bible promises.  We have enjoyed a great deal of freedom and prosperity in the past few decades, but never forget that what we have today is because some godly men and women decided to stand up for the word of God and fight against the evil, wickedness, and idolatry of their day.

The government, the mainstream media, and the charlatan preachers of our day downplay and ignore the battles that we face as God’s people.  The enemy is satan, but he attacks from various fronts with a multitude of methods.  The armor of God mentioned in Ephesians is quite extraordinary in the fact that it has no protection for the backside.  That is because we are to face and confront the evil of our day, which is part of the commission that Christ has given his church.  It is overwhelming when you consider that we have to deal with Political Correctness, Islam, Communistic Government Ideology, Compromise, and our own flesh.  I certainly do not know when we will face real persecution here in America, but I do know that it must come.  Just as the Constitution must be removed, replaced, or just plain ignored for the One World Government to form and usher in the antichrist, just as a major earthquake on the New Madrid fault will change the way of life for the entire Southeast region, just as Islam is determined to conquer the West and bring in Sharia Law, God’s people will suffer at the hands of the God haters.  I take comfort in knowing that it is part of God’s Sovereign will and that I can be an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb.  At the same time I must take steps to protect my family and be in a position to be used of God for His Glory.  I do not by any means invite this persecution into my life or even desire it to come about, but I must prepare for it physically and spiritually.  And so should every child of God.

Friday, October 25, 2013

In this, the third installment of the chronicles of my preparedness journey (#1 The Secret Prepper and #2 Selecting a Retreat), I hope to share with you the improvements I have made in my retreat home.

I have found in the last couple of months that owning a second home is a monstrous headache.  If you only own one home just imagine everything that can go wrong and multiply it by a factor of two to the exponent of Murphy’s Law.  Or worse… my liquid asset value has fallen victim to the inverse square law: The amount of money I now have is inversely proportional to the square of the amount I remember spending.
Current $ Amount  = Original $ Amount x   Funds I remember spending2
                                                                       Funds I actually spent

Head hurting yet?  Me too.  Good thing I have a background in mathematics and some education in basic engineering.  I strongly recommend that if you plan on being self-sufficient, you learn the basic principles of engineering.  That and pick up some additional skills like carpentry, masonry or welding.  A great way to do this is to volunteer with charitable organizations that build or remodel homes.  If you play your cards right you’ll make a friend who’s in a trade and he’ll teach you.  But I digress…

With some hard work and good fortune, my retreat home will be my primary place of residence as well as my work location.  I can make any changes to the house that I feel will improve its safety and functionality, but if they are completely visible or unappealing the power of veto will be exercised by the C.F.O. (my wife).  That, and OPSEC will be compromised by said visibility.  With that in mind I started looking for what needed improving so that I could fit it into the renovations that had to be done.  I decided on tackling emergency power and security.

Emergency Power:

One of the things I have quickly learned is that power goes out somewhat regularly in the middle of nowhere.  There simply is no modern infrastructure and what power lines run to my home need to traverse dozens of yards of old trees to get from the road to my abode.  The result: Wind blows hard, lights flicker.  Wind gusts heavily, lights go out.  It’s rather annoying but at present only an inconvenience.  Come TEOTWAWKI it will be much worse since there may be no return to power for some time.  At this point I can’t afford to buy a PV power system so I thought about alternatives.

I had decided early on that I wanted to make an effort to utilize every form of alternative power I could.  Having a stream running through my property affords me the opportunity to build my own miniature hydroelectric power plant.  My biggest problem is that the stream on my property is located too far away to make a direct feed work.  That turned out to be an easy fix: a wheel barrel, elbow grease and some car batteries suit just fine.

Building my micro hydro-power plant:

I tried several variations on my generator, using materials like wood, plastic and metal.  I started with metal for the frame and quickly learned that I have no business whatsoever using welding equipment.  Know thyself, and know him well… lesson learned (ouch!).

Then, I tried to use PVC since it’s fairly inexpensive and easy to work with.  I worked up a great model, until I put it in the water and it floated away.  The frame and paddles were too light, and so I mixed in some wood and plexiglas.  The combination of PVC framing, wood paddles and plexiglas wheels seems to work well.  I also added some gravel into the bottom of the PVC framing for additional weight to counter the streams current. It’s only a few inches deep at the point where I’ve decided to place this but because it’s at the base of a drop the water really moves.

The design itself was fairly simple:

First I made two 18” high triangles with 3 inch PVC pipe.  At the bottom corners I used 60 degree elbows, at the top I used the same but modified it with a 1½” hole and inserted the plastic ring from a roll of scotch tape.  It was a tight fit, which I additionally secured with a thin coat of epoxy so it wouldn’t wear loose after I added the axle: A 1” wooden dowel.

I then built my water wheel, thinking of an old steamboat’s wheel.  I cut 2, 24” diameter circles out of ¼” Plexiglas and cut a hole in the center for the 1” dowel.  After, I cut a total of 19, 2’ long 1x4’s for the paddles and coated them liberally with water seal.  (One situation where being liberal is a good thing.)  The circumference of a 24” diameter circle being 75.4” [C=D (pi)], I added 19 paddles at 4” intervals, which works out to 76”, so one of the paddles is slightly off.  I screwed the paddles straight out protruding 1” past the circle, for only one side.

The circle with the paddles was laid flat with the open side up and the opposing circle was placed on top allowing me to fasten it to the paddles.  At this point I added the water wheel to the triangle frame by lying one half on a table and lining up the wheel to the hole at the top of the triangle.  I inserted the dowel allowing it to extend past the frame by several inches.  I then placed the opposing half of the frame on top and stood it upright.  It bears note that the dowel was a tight fit, and I needed remove it and sand it down a bit.  Then I added graphite lube (it’s just what I had handy, no other reason for the choice) to get it to turn.  I hand turned it several dozen times and all was well.

The dowel was secured on the outside (water facing) half of the frame by drilling a hole through it to allow me to add a locking cotter pin.  The opposite end of the dowel was similarly secured with a cotter pin, but additionally I afforded this side an extra 6 inches onto which I secured a bicycle wheels rim, also secured with a cotter pin on the outside.

I placed the waterwheel in my chosen area and above it fabricated a wooden platform (treated with water seal) that spanned the narrow section, securing it with heavy stones at the base of the legs.  I mounted the alternator atop that, with the wheel of the alternator exposed over the side directly above the bicycle wheel.  Then I used an alternator belt to connect the alternator to the waterwheel.  (I had previously used sandbags to redirect the water to make this easier)

From that point, I wired the positive and negative ends of the battery using wire I salvaged from an old car at a junkyard. The wire needed to be spliced with another set so that I could lay the battery on a platform on the side of the stream.  After testing the system I built a housing for the alternator and the battery.

What I found is that, while not optimal, this set-up works fairly well and generates enough power to re-charge the car battery in just a couple of hours in relation to how fast the stream is moving (depending on the rain).  I plan to build a new one as time permits with an extended dowel that will allow me to mount the alternator on the bank of the stream.

[JWR Adds: For any reasonably durability, I recommend a commercially-made microhydro Pelton Wheel.]

I am currently using this to power my CB radio and as a power source for an emergency water pump.  I have only 3 batteries at the time I write this and plan to buy more to build a battery array, once I find the “perfect” design.  I also intend to apply this to an old stationary bike for use indoors.


My future home/retreat location, though on a dead-end tertiary road, is far from un-assailable.  I imagine that if a refugee group managed to get as far north as I am, they’d be somewhat knowledgeable of wood lore.  They could stumble upon my location while hunting, or simply by trying random roads to see where they lead.

A road approach seems to me to be the most likely so I decided to address that first.  I have a paved driveway that extends to the road, but runs over a pipe that funnels water run-off from higher up the mountain.  That pipe needed replacing, and so I dug it out and left the ditch.  Across it I placed a large steel plate, the kind you would see a road construction crew using to cover a large hole in the road.  I bartered some manual labor for this.

The plate came complete with a ring attached to one end.  I plan to hook a steel cable to this and use my truck or quad to pull this plate into my driveway and off of the ditch when security seems like it may become an issue.  Then in the recently evacuated soil I will, when the time seems right, dig holes and transplant bushes from further back on my property.  I will also spread grass seed there and back it up with smaller transplanted trees.  This way I can close off my driveway with a barrier while simultaneously camouflaging it.

As for the possibility of approach from other directions, well…  there’s only so much I can do to prevent that beyond regular patrols.  I’ve also looked for locations where I might maximize the use of various boobytraps [for an absolute worst-case situation.]  I realized that if a person were to get close enough to my home to fire upon it, my “contact” security would need a measure of home hardening. 

In my first submission to SurvivalBlog I wrote about “The Portcullis”; a method of closing off and hardening large glass doors on the deck of my primary residence.  I have decided to utilize this method in the walls of my retreat home, which is a ranch.  I needed to re-sheet rock the interior walls, so after the demo was completed I added sub-flooring from floor to ceiling around the windows, and floor to a height of four feet everywhere else.  Before adding the subflooring I insulated the exterior walls and added a layer of construction grade plastic sheeting to compress the fiberglass roll just a bit.

Then, as I added the subflooring I filled the spaces between the studs behind it with gravel.  The sheet rock I used to finish the job was 1” thick.  The overall thickness of gravel was a scant 2” after somewhat compressing the insulation. Between the wood siding, the exterior insulation, the subflooring, the gravel and the 1” sheet rock I have more protection then I was previously afforded.  That and it’s invisible as well.  If signs point to imminent danger, my family and I can always fill our sandbags and stack them strategically around the windows, doors and other firing ports if needed.

That is all I have had the finances and time to handle as of now.  I hope that when cash becomes available I can make additional modifications.  For now, it’s just paint and Spackle.  Hopefully this can give those of you out there without brick homes some ideas on how to secure/harden your home.

A quick note on booby-trapping…

I feel that this is an integral part of any TEOTWAWKI security plan.  However, the use of such devices should be weighed against the risks posed by having them in place.  I have made the decision to pre-manufacture a variety of “gifts” for unwrapping should any aggressors come seeking to force my generosity.  These devices will be placed in pre-determined locations should that level of security become necessary.  Before placing any form of traps walk your perimeter and determine places where there are holes in your security that you may not have the ability or manpower to fill. 

Also consider how you would approach your retreat if you were ill intended.  What would you use for cover?  Well that’s a great spot for a trap.  Have a blind spot?  Well put one there too.  Just be sure you have these spots marked on a map before you put your added security measures physically in place.  It wouldn’t do to have to try to remember where they go when they suddenly become necessary.

My final note on security is related to walking the perimeter and mapping traps.  While you’re out there, you should also measure out the various distances of landmarks relative to your retreat.  Fill out a range cards for each window, door or gun-port and place it at the associated position you will be using.  It will save you the guesswork later on, and the time saving could also be life saving.

Until next time, keep in mind that a physical structure is not our only shelter:
2Samuel 22:3-4
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.  I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
Be ready My Friends, the clock is ticking.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Your mention of Zus Bielski's birthday and the film Defiance. (and the book upon which it is based) brought to mind an excellent 90-minute documentary by PBS, "Resistance: Untold Stories of Jewish Partisans," produced in 2001. It is available online at Vimeo.  (or from PBS Home Video on DVD)

It includes interviews with many partisans among them Aron Bielski, the youngest of the brothers (still living). After more than half a century since the holocaust, the myth still persists that all of the Jews just walked peacefully to their deaths at the hands of the Nazis.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  More than 20,000 Jews fought the Nazis as partisans. In this group memoir, eleven men and women, now in their 70s and 80s, recount their battle against the Nazis in Poland, Lithuania, and Belorussia from 1941 to 1945. They chronicle their battle for survival, the almost insolvable dilemmas facing Jewish partisans (provisions, weapons, and prejudice) and the emotional aftermath of war. This is among the best documentaries of their story that I have seen. - Dollardog

Friday, October 18, 2013

You recently mentioned the death of the late Robert W. Ford, in England. I highly recommend his book Wind Between The Worlds, his account of experiences in Tibet, captivity by the communist Chinese, and his fight against brainwashing. It is an inspiring story of mental resistance which makes you wonder how well you would have fared in his
position. A free PDF is available to download.

Regards, - Don in Oregon

Thursday, October 17, 2013

This may inflame some folks, but for others I hope it jogs our brain cells to ask, how did we get to this spot, and why are we of this prepper mindset?

Think back to the early sixties (if you can), 6th grade in sunny California, and unlike my folks who suffered through the Great Depression, life was good.  NY Yankees' Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were hitting away, trying to break the Babe's home run record.  Every kid in my school played ball, at every opportunity, and you carried your glove with you, was a mark of boyhood.  The school janitor was our ump, and recess went by all to fast.  Girls did their own thing, and to be honest I don't remember what it was.  Even the teachers were "betting" on Mantle, but the principal held out for Maris. America invented baseball, along with the Colt .45 peacemaker and 1911, flying saucers, the muscle car, the movies, Rock and Roll,  NASA, the transistor radio, drive-in theaters, cowboys and the wild west, and countless scores of other things.  We were a nation of heroes and legends who won the World War against fascism and evil.  We even won at the Alamo even when we lost, because of men like Crockett and Bowie and Travis.  Sports figures were heroes, not thugs, they were paid well but not rich, and they spent time with kids, not like today's sports celebrities, who spend more time using performance enhancers to cheat.  Kids played outside, with no fear.

Eisenhower, the commanding General of "the Allies" in WWII, was President.  Kennedy and Nixon were running for President, and the girls all wanted Kennedy because he was the better looking and younger of the two.  We all felt a sense of strength in Kennedy, whether or not that was true.  He was perceived as a just man who would not be slapped around, who knew right from wrong, and had proven himself in battle.  John and Jackie Kennedy were the darlings of the era.  Nobody disliked them.  When we look back at those times, now-liberal agendas were simply not on the table and not debated as today.  And Kennedy was not mocked for his frequent mentions of the Almighty.  BHO would have never been elected during this time, regardless of skin color or attitudes then, but because of his socialist views, his associates, and his lack of proven leadership qualities.

Most boys were in Scouts, and most went through hunter safety.  I still remember that nobody caught any flak for walking down the street with your .22.  We all had a warrior mindset, but not a mindset of violence or evil to our fellow Americans, but rather, respect.  The NRA was not involved in politics like today, because there was no need to protect peoples' 2nd Amendment rights...everyone just had them - this was America!.  Kids could go into Joe Agueda's gas station and buy .22 rounds for very little money.  There were no background checks of course.

Most things were based on horse sense.  There were not a lot of "WSM's" (whining, sniveling malcontents) who showed themselves back then.  Men married women.  Homosexual people did not join up in the military and if found out they were booted out.  Women did not serve on board ships in the Navy with men.  Duh.  People refrained from certain locker-room talk in front of women and kids, flipped the bird only to your worst enemy, and the "F" bomb was not dropped in public, especially by young people, and never on the silver screen.  People helped others who were in need or in trouble.  People who acted like jerks were shunned, and those who were honorable were respected.

Certain things were never done.   Nobody, not even nuts,  not even suicidal nuts,  walked into a school full of children or into a movie theater or a military installation or a church,  and opened fire.  There was always a general, overall sense that this country was one of real manhood, whose people were warriors, who would protect us all from harmful people, from mentally deranged people.   There were far less threats because those of that bent were not allowed to just go about in society doing as they wished.  There were consequences, not like today.  There was far more respectful treatment among us.  Life was sometimes harsh,  sometimes "unfair", and sometimes folks' "rights" were violated...but we were far, far safer than today, and without "political correctness".  There were winners and losers, and that was not considered a detriment to our society.  People just dealt with it.  Like Clint Eastwood's character in "Heartbreak Ridge" said, "Adapt, improvise, overcome".

While people were different in many ways, and there were always the criminal types ("hoodlums" Granny called them) seemed like most Americans were on the same page.  Yes there was still problems with segregation in those days, especially in the South -  a  scar, a blight, and a curse on our country ever since the inclusion of slavery on our shores.  Native Americans and Japanese citizens were also treated poorly in our history.   In spite of our weaknesses and failures and differences, we seemed to be more of a nation of patriots, even black men (called "negroes" then) rose above the racial inequalities and fought their hearts out or competed their hearts out when called; As did our Native Americans, as did our Japanese people...persecuted and oft times ridiculed, but fought anyway, because we were a nation of patriots.  Adults were also hard working patriots, with a sense of dignity and loathing for handouts.  We all come from pioneers and fighters, most of whom were from foreign shores. Our whole culture is one based on survival in the face of hardships.

The UN was still an infant back then, and heralded by many as a new, ground-breaking way to have peace on Earth (okay so that didn't work so bueno.)  All of us in grade school had to know who Dag Hamerskjold was, the 2nd secretary general of the UN...he died in a plane crash while in office, and President Kennedy called him "the greatest statesman of this century".  At about the same time, Fidel Castro had stormed Cuba and we were all taught that he was a no-good, a "red" (communist) who murdered his own people and enslaved many, like Stalin or Hitler.  In spite of the celeb's today who want us to believe Cuba is wrongfully persecuted by the USA, talk to those who risked their lives to get out of there, to be here.

The 50's and early 60's were lazy, blissful days.  Saturday matinees, and Little League.   Weekly ball games on TV called by legends Pee Wee Reese and Dizzy Dean, and heavyweight boxing matches on "the boob tube" as my Dad called it (to him there would never be another Rocky Marciano - and Cassius Clay was no Marciano, he would say).  Push manual lawn mowers, record stores, rotary dial phones and party lines, hot cars, cheap gas, "Bonanza" (yay!) and Lawrence Welk (yech!)  It seemed like everybody smoked cigarettes except a few of the old timers who stuck with their pipes.  There were no microwaves, bottled water, smart phones, the internet, video games, iPods or pads, Kindles, methamphetamine labs or crack houses (although there were "dope fiends"), rock concerts, gyms, espresso coffee, pizza or fast food joints.  There was also no Super Bowl much less "tailgate parties", nor were there any "R" rated movies or any other rating for that matter..."Ben Hur" and "Ol' Yeller" were the hit movies.  And there were definitely no terrorists.  Still,  there were lots of mistakes made in those days, from abusing our lands and wildlife to unwise medical practices to liberal parenting models (thanks to Dr. Benjamin Spock)..we are, after all, fallen, imperfect human beings in constant need of a Savior!

Most importantly, there were no preppers as we know it today.  Folks just modestly put away here and there for emergencies, or disasters, not counting the "fall out shelter" craze that went on for awhile during the Cold War.  But Mom's knew more back then about making things, and all Mom's cooked like crazy back then.  Government and/or economic collapse was hardly ever talked about, pandemics and natural disasters were mentioned occasionally, there were no movies about these themes.  And climate change was not on the table at all.  Catch this:  Nobody would have ever dreamed that just owning a gun and ammo would be a big deal, or that .22 LR would ever be in short supply.

When we were stopped and questioned by the local gendarme's back then, it was always "yes sir" and "no sir"...or you suffered the consequences.  Same applied to teachers and neighbors.  In those days the male teachers wore coats and ties and were well-groomed, and used those long yellow chalk board erasers on sassy boys, with reckless abandon.  The female teachers wore dresses in class, and were equally well known for their lightening fast disciplinary techniques, again, mostly with the boys.  Parents used corporal punishment on children as well, with no fear of child abuse charges because somebody's bottom got a was just...common sense!  Try that today.  Respect.

Little did we realize, but there were hard and confusing times shortly ahead,  much different than the challenges of WWII and Korea.   There were also insidious forces at work behind the scenes, on the attack from the inside to change our way of life as we knew it.  Nothing like Pearl Harbor mind you, but attacks nonetheless.  Many of us remember watching little Nikita Khrushchev pound his shoe on the podium at the UN and warning us that communism would take us over...from within!

 As just one example, most of us did not realize that the number of attorneys would explode over the next few decades, litigating the USA into a society of fear and loathing where anyone could get sued for anything. The ACLU, founded by a card carrying communist, would become extremely powerful and give birth to many like organizations, such as the National Lawyers Guild.  These organizations have put a serious dent in legal fairness, common sense, and Americanism, and continue to do so, unabated.  They have warped our judicial system and have made a mockery of criminal justice.  

What has taken it's toll on America?  The killing of the Kennedy's and MLK, Viet Nam, the drug culture, abortion, segregation unrest, bigger and more abusive government, taxes, crime, liberal prison reforms, powerful labor unions, the growth of gangs, "alternative" lifestyles, Hollywood, the MTV culture, environmental hazards and disasters, the entitlement lifestyle, porous borders, ill health and obesity, and most importantly, the rejection of our Christian heritage.  We are a nation divided.  There are now many Americans who have zero respect for parents, teachers or elders, for our laws and our Constitution, our heritage, or for our military protectors.

Like the frog in the hot water, we are now close to the boiling point, and we are complacent, choosing to boil to death rather than jump out of the cauldron.  This is very dangerous for our society.

An example:  Who would have thought years ago that it is "normal" to hear a Hollywood talking head on the radio, advertising tax specialist assistance in order to keep the IRS from seizing our bank accounts and homes because  of "back taxes"?.  Why are we standing for this nonsense?  We are taxed to death already, and nobody's homes or paychecks should be seized by anyone in this country much less our own government!.  Yet we ignore the advertisement and think about getting a latte instead.

So we prepare for the worst because we can't rely on our leaders in Washington to do right by us.  Instead, we fear our own government, and with good reason.  With each passing year, the government shows itself to be a heartless and really dumb entity that exists to victimize it's own citizens.  To add insult to injury, our government and the Central Bank are bedfellows, and between the two, have managed to drive us to financial Armageddon.  The American dream is a little hard to come by when everyone ends up broke.

We prep because we can't trust the rest of the world to leave us in peace and worry about their own countries.

We prep because we  want to take care of our families and give our little ones a fighting chance.

We prep because we don't want to be boiled frogs.

Those who take the necessary precautions, those who are the willing, will be able to take our heritage back from those who are stealing it and destroying it.  Because we have respect for our country.  But if we continue to thumb our noses at the Creator of the universe and all mankind, it won't matter.  Time to realize that Jesus is coming back, and now is not the time to be goofing off!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Introductory Note: I originally composed this story in August of 2011 just months after our family went through a devastating event.  At the time of writing the essay was short, sweet and to the point.  I have reconstructed my family’s journey of the past 24 months to the present.

Thanks for all that you and others do by sharing information, educating and inspiring the thought process. It is my hope that this short family history will provoke some to think about their lifestyle, what is important and the effect an event like this has on a family.

Four years ago my wife and I purchased fifty acres that join our families’ three hundred and fifty acre farm, built a new home and a seven acre lake (we built both the house and lake ourselves, our labor our time).  We sold a business that we built at a very large profit.  We dumped the capital back into the purchase of the 50 acres.  The plans were to built modestly and have a small mortgage or none at all; we got carried away and ended up with land free and clear but $138,000 mortgage on the house and 10 acres.  Once the house was complete the market crash of 07-08 occurred, this is when we truly woke up, we must prepare.  In our research we discovered survival blog, and rural revolution blog we have learned so much.  Our family has farmed, gardened, canned, kept chickens for generations, just our way of life, but we didn’t truly prep for potential collapse, which leads me to the bulk of my story:

May 5th, 2011 changed my family forever.  With the wet spring in the Midwest early garden planting was nonexistent, May 5th was no different ground was in good condition to plant but rain was in the evening forecast so I took off from work early to plant potatoes’, broccoli, cauliflower and so on.  When I turned in the quarter mile drive I met our black lab, who never leaves the house, I thought this was strange continuing on I noticed blue smoke coming through the timber, panic struck, the house was on fire.  I grabbed the cell phone dialed 911, then the garden hose, long story short we lost everything.  People it is a sickening filling when you realize all you have in the world are the clothes on your back and the cash in your pocket.
I cursed God that evening, how could he let this happen to me and my family? Even now typing this I do so with tears in my eyes, not so much for the tangible loss but the pain I could see in the eyes of my wife and eight year old daughter, I’m dad, it’s my job to protect.  It took several days for me to realize that God sent dumpsters to my house instead of coffins, for that I am thankful, and I hope he will accept my apology for the things I said and thought.

The day after the fire my wife, daughter and I went shopping for clothes, we had been discussing money and the situation in ear shot of our eight year old daughter.  Our daughter who loves horses and collects Breyer horses lost her collection in the fire.  We had been in the clothing section of our local farm and garden center when daughter went missing.  I found her staring at the shelves full of breyer horses.  She would pick one up, look at it and set it down.  Pick another up and put it back. I watched from behind a cloths rack as she dropped her shoulders, turned to walk away with tears in her eyes.  Gentlemen if you have never seen this look in your child’s face I will tell you it will tug at your heart like nothing else.  I was so proud of her because she was not going to ask.  I stepped out from behind the rack and asked her if she found a horse she liked if not pick one out.  She said “but mom” I told her mom would understand.  This over a toy I could not imagine how I would feel if something of a larger magnitude were to happen.

Two days prior to the fire I turned the basement lights on and the light switch arced. I guess that is where the fire started.  I should have called my electrician buddy then and there. Poor choice, and poor decision.

You may ask “What does this have to do with this blog”?  Well, there are lots of lessons to learn and lots of blessing to count.

Some Lessons Learned:

  1. We lost several years worth of food, canned goods, canning equipment, meats the list goes on. Note: do not store everything in one location.
  2. Guns, ammo and hunting equipment. Note: purchase gun safe, make sure guns are on separate rider for insurance.  Most policies only cover $2000 worth of guns I had one gun that was worth that amount, just by itself. (Point of concern insurance companies require serial numbers for coverage) I listed most but not all.
  3. Cash and coins, thankfully a fire fighter was able to retrieve a large sum of cash hidden in the house.  Note: this goes in the safe or hidden outside with other cash. My dad was impressed when I took a shovel and dug up a mason jar.  He said “I thought only old timers banked that way”. Interest doesn’t pay much but I know where the teller is.
  4. Pictures, gone. Note store some in other locations
  5. Keep a list or film your personal contents you will have to list every item to collect your replacement costs from your insurance company, this is painful. Imagine setting down and listing every item in your house. The big items are easy but think of every can of beans, every item in the cabinets, bath room closet, toys (although our daughter had a pretty good idea of what she lost.)
  6. Important papers, titles, DD214, marriage license, birth certificates note: these go in the safe

Blessings counted

  1. My family is safe, yes we have a lot of work ahead of us
  2. The mortgage is gone, we can rebuild like we should have the first time
  3. Add a root cellar
  4. Insurance has eliminated all of our dept.
  5. Our commitment to preparing is stronger
  6. Our family is stronger
  7. Most of all we found out who we can truly call our friend.
  8. We will never look at someone else’s misfortune the same.

It hit me hardest when I was hilling potatoes. I thought if this was a total collapse, we’ve lost everything and if the garden I stand in fails my family would more than likely not see the spring of 2012.

During the summer of 2012 we spent some insurance dollars and built a 30 by 50 shed complete with storage, 30 by 30 living space and fireproof hidey hole.  We have been living for the past two years in a two-room shed, bathroom and the rest.  This has been a great experience in close living, a great example of retreat living.  At times this has been fun and at time it has been difficult the following are some examples of both:
Fun times

  1. We never replaced the satellite television.  Board games, cards, conversations and reading have been our main source of entertainment. Our 8 year old is now at the academic level of an 11 year old and her grades along with creativity have improved.
  2. The time spent outside has doubled maybe tripled. We walk the property more, garden more, camp fires in the evening
  3. This style of living has given us a glimpse of what close living will be like when family comes knocking.
  4. We purchased a Kitchen Queen Cook stove to heat with.  If you have never cooked with wood it is an experience of fun and education.  Although we installed an electric stove the wood stove has been entertaining, daughter loves to cook cookies, pizza and her morning toast on the wood stove.

Not so fun times

  1. Even though the shed is insulated the 12 foot garage door allows the cold air in when the wind picks up and the temperature drops.
  2. The experience has made the wife and I wonder how pioneers had such large families when living in a one room homestead.
  3. Storage has been an issue. Hanging cloths, books, toys, food, everything just seems to be cluttered all the time.  Constant cleanup and pickup. 
  4. Bathroom issues with just three in the house someone is always knocking on the door. Hot water is always in demand during peak times.

Lessons learned

  1. This has been hard, we cannot imagine what it would be like without electric or water.
  2. Fire wood being the only source of heat is tuff.  We have always had wood heat but we always had a backup (electric or gas) when the wood pile gets low you really start to worry about the outside temperatures.
  3. With a full time job, rebuilding the house (will discuss later) there is very little time to prep.  The garden did well this year but canning was minimal. Gave lots of produce to friends but let the garden go in august.  How did homesteaders find the time to build a home, put food by, cut fire wood? All by hand without modern equipment and energy.  This should be an eye opener for all.  Times could get very, very difficult.

Where are we now?  In January 2013 we finally demolished the old house. Our goal has been to rebuild with the end result of no mortgage payment.  Working with insurance dollars and out of pocket/savings we are finally trimming the home.  This is large mile stone to a more normal lifestyle.  We made lots of changes this time around because of our prepping lifestyle. Here are some of the major changes:

  1. We went from a conventional 2,800 sq. ft. home to a 1,400 sq. earth berm home. Both for security reason and efficiency reasons. 
  2. Because the house is a basement style home I found that if we have our water tank full we can back feed water through the hydrant to the lower level and have a toilet when the electric is out, doesn’t help with potable water but it beats running to the timber.
  3. Added some solar, but not near enough. But the house has been wired for future addition.
  4. On demand hot water (gas) hope to use the energy savings for additional preps
  5. Purchased a large gun safe all items of value are stored/protected
  6. The wood cook stove goes in the new house for both cooking and heat.
  7. This time around the kitchen stove is gas not electric.
  8. Utility room designed specifically for storage of food and other preps.
  9. All basement windows have large window wells installed for egress and potential fields of fire.
  10. Most important hard wired battery backed up smoke detectors. One in every room.

In many ways we are better prepared than we were prior to the fire. Most importantly we are free of mortgage companies and banks. This makes life so enjoyable, knowing that most of our monthly income can go towards prepping, savings, et cetera.  God has blessed us in that respect.  In many ways we are less prepared.  Our food stores are less than before, with two seasons sense the fire we have consumed as much as we have set by.  With livestock to tend, hay to bail, daily chores and a full time job something had to give while rebuilding.  It’s mid-October and we are in no way prepared for winter. Not a stick of wood is ranked.  Equipment has not been winterized. One last round of hay to get in the barn, the list could go on, but we should have enough to get us to new crop.

We have replaced many things already, we have a long row to hoe but with gods’ help and lot of work we will be prepared for our future.  We have a second chance to make changes to better prepare and make better choices.  My prayer is for all to look at your situation and think, double check and rethink, anything can happen and it may very well happen.

To my best friend whom I lost in June of 2013 to a heart attack, I think of you often, thanks for your help of cleaning, demolishing and rebuilding.  I’ve been helping with the boys they are doing fine you are missed.

God bless and please learn from our experience.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

As I imagine many of the readers on this site, I once found myself somewhat isolated in my prepping, embarrassed to let on to how I felt, why I prep, et cetera . My family is very close, very involved in each others lives, and I couldn't imagine or want it any different. My entry into this contest will be an explanatory background on myself and my preps, followed by a realistic guideline on how to "save the ones that matter" to you; or at least, my means of doing so.

I am a young, 30 year old father of an angelic two year old girl, with another child on the way (another motivator and complication to my prepping). My background was in the Finance/Insurance arena for years until I decided to open my own business in a different industry. One could say I am living the "American Dream," or at least, what it used to be - the house, two new cars, kids, a savings account, investments, hobbies, etc. It wasn't until about two years ago that a very close uncle got me back into coin collecting that my investment-guided mind started seeing the patterns and benefits of gold and silver and their true role as a store of wealth. With any worthwhile research, one will slowly find the fringe reasoning behind seeking metals as an investment, which I did....and then I continued reading. Quickly I began seeing through some of the fog that has been lowered over our field of view and the implications of where our current financial and economic status indicates we are...and it doesn't look good. I found myself up every night until 2 a.m. reading endlessly over conspiracy theories and radical ideas. Granted, I took everything with a grain of salt but I definitely had come to one conclusion; the system was hanging by a thread that seemed to be about to snap. Being naive and having a biased financial background, I started converting many of my liquid investments to silver and gold.

I was able to conceal this for awhile, or rather - felt I had to, however, eventually, my wife confronted me about the slowly growing clutter in our home safe. So one night, after she got home from work, I sat her down and had a very serious talk with her, something I am usually never the one to initiate or request. The last time I had done this was in 2011 after we had been burglarized and I told her that I needed her to swallow her distaste for firearms because this had been the last straw, and we were both getting sidearms, and a rifle. That was no easy battle and it was only when I had put it in black and white: "What if you had been at home with our infant daughter when they kicked in the door?" that she saw the light. And we did it responsibly, which I knew was important to her. We had my father, an ex-police officer, and highly successful/responsible/moral man, sit down and drill us together (even though I had grown up with his guns and his rules) on how to operate, use and maintain our firearms. We went to the range together many times and enjoyed ourselves finding a new and fun way to compete with one another.

But prepping is so much more than guns and silver. I remember one night reading something that said "you cannot eat your gold". This really stuck with me. I had focused so much of my time on first acquiring ounces and ounces of precious metals, followed by boxes and boxes of ammo. It was if I could see myself in a post apocalyptic world looking like Rambo, AR-15 in one arm, sack full of gold and silver in the other with my wife and child huddled behind me as I kept the roaming MZBs at bay (those are Mutant Zombie Bikers if you haven't read the novel Lights Out by David Crawford). So unrealistic. You cannot do it alone. (That is an idea we will come back to later.) But yet, so common amongst today's preppers. I would bet that most preppers, or rather, people that consider themselves preppers, follow the same misguided purchasing patterns that I did with silver and weapons first. This is the turning point that I consider when I really started to get serious about prepping.

It was also around this time that my wife started asking about some charges to our debit card, some high dollar amounts at Wal-Mart, some Army Navy Surplus store charges, etc. Purchases outside our norm. I did not want to start a fight with my wife, but if I had it my way, I would go out and spend $20-30k on what I would consider necessary preparations; she would go out and hire a divorce attorney. So we sat down and came up with an acceptable budget. I highly suggest that you do the same. But before you do, make visible sacrifices to your spending habits so that your significant-other/family can see your dedication and how important it is to you.

This whole time, my wife was slowly paying attention to my behavior. Rather than going golfing on the weekends, I was going to the target range instead with the husband of her friend. Instead of buying new business clothes or styles, I was purchasing quality boots, outdoor clothing, etc. Then, one day I came home and one of the huge plastic tubs in our garage was in the family room and had been emptied onto the floor. My wife had this look on her face like "What the ---- is wrong with you??" This particular bin had all of our clothing and footwear in it. All sealed in plastic. She was upset. "Why did you buy all of this stuff you haven't even used it" followed by "How much did all of this cost?" So we talked for awhile about it. I explained to her that I have a life insurance policy for the dreaded "what if" contingency. This was life insurance, but the real kind; to keep our life intact. I explained that rather than having all of my life insurance in the highest premium category known as "Whole Life", that we had diversified some of it into "Term Life"...that this was a tradeoff between the investment value of Whole Life and the extremely high premium it requires, all while still maintaining the level of insurance we require with a combination of "Whole Life" and "Term". This made sense to her. So I further explained that I keep these all terrain boots, all weather clothing, rain suits, etc in here for the very same reason. Eventually, she calmed down, and laughed that I had picked the right size for her by going through all of her shoes in the closet and guesstimating her size.

At this point, I had a pretty solid foundation of the essentials. I had food, water, shelter, fuel and security all set and ready to go in our closet and garage. All we had to do in the event of an emergency was throw all of the giant storage bins, our BOBs, 5-Gallon water jugs and fuel cans into the SUV and we could go 1,200 miles in any direction. I had even done a practice drill once while she was out shopping with our princess to see how fast I could do it alone. I even figured out a way to "Tetris" everything as efficiently as possible into the vehicle while not being able to see much from outside the vehicle. I was impressed; I could be loaded and ready to go in 15 minutes - alone. And that was when it hit me: Where am I going and what am I going to do when I get there? That brings me to what I call "Level 2" of preparing.

Ensuring that you can initially survive a disaster is a huge first step. Up to this point, I was positive I could sustain my wife and child for a month comfortably even if we had to drive out into some remote forest and live out of the SUV and tent. That was when I read the novel Patriots. That was when I realized you cannot do it alone no matter how well you prepare, no matter how much money you throw at preps. Every man needs to sleep and who is going to guard my queen and princess while I am sleeping. Where is the cross fields of fire going to come from with one inexperienced man defending his family who is probably wetting his pants in the heat of his first battle? It was time to reach out. So enter Level 3:

The first logical choice was my father. Understand one thing about him; he is the guy everyone in the neighborhood is friends with, the guy everyone calls when they need help, and a "guys guy". Everyone I know respects him. He owns his own company, so he has a lot of spare time and usually spends it helping people. Fixing things. Driving people to doctors appointments. Babysitting my princess when I have to run out for my company. I grew up with him coaching every sports team I was on, shooting, be honest, I couldn't have been luckier. So when the day came and I showed him all of my preps, I wasn't prepared for his reaction which was "Buddy, is all this necessary? Do you really want to live in a world where you have a weekly gunfight just to defend your garden from poachers?" This hit me really hard. All I could think was that my dad thought I was crazy, and worse, that he would be one of the people to just lay down and die. So I kind of dropped it for awhile and didn't mention this to any more family members for months.

Randomly one day, my father asked if I had any good books to read. I mentioned that I had a book on my tablet, "Lights Out," if he wanted to borrow it. So I gave it to him and crossed my fingers. A few days later, my dad called me and had a little spunk in his voice. He loved it. I mentioned that I had another as well, called "Patriots" by none other than JWR. He read it in two days.

On Monday mornings, my father comes to pick up my daughter and it is the one day a week I go out to my accounts and put an eye on site. The Monday following him finishing "Patriots" he knocked on my door like normal at 7:30am to pick up the princess. As I was walking to the front door, I noticed I didn't hear the car running like normal. When I opened it, he greeted me, and walked in. He played with my daughter for awhile but I could tell something was up. Usually he just scooped her so I could get on the road, and my wife, sister, her fiancee and I all meet up for dinner at his house and after we take our daughter home with us. Eventually he says "Hey bud, I know why you gave me those 2 books, I feel like you are trying to tell me something."

I didn't know what to think. So I started by asking him if he would just give up if the SHTF. He laughed. He then went on to explain to me how he had reacted that way months ago because he didn't want me obsessing and worrying about TEOTWAWKI, but at the same time, it has stuck in his head. After reading those 2 books he said he saw how realistic a disaster could be, and how close to a meltdown our country was...and....what was my motivation for making him read those specific two books? So I went on to explain my concerns, my preparations, etc.

It was at this moment that my father blew my mind. Remember, I was in Finance for five years. I wrote every policy, investment, etc that he owned; he trusted me that I knew what I was doing. And on a side note, I did well. He asked if I remembered about that piece of property him and my mother had purchased years ago in the mountains. My eyes almost popped out of my head. I don't know how I hadn't remembered it. It was just property, no structures. He then went on to tell me how it was a dream of his to build a cabin there, and use it as a vacation home in his retirement and to one day leave it to me. My head started racing with ideas, building plans, farming plans, security measures, and so on, it all started flying out of my mouth a mile a minute. He put his hand on my knee and said, "Buddy, we have some work to do, I didn't realize how much this meant to you, why don't we spend today putting a plan into place?"

So we did. I called my partner (my soon to be brother in law and sisters fiancee) and asked if he would mind making the rounds today and that I would see him tonight at dinner. He said no problem. We sat in my family room with a composition book until 5 pm. We hammered it all out. From immediate BOBs for everyone, to a short term "bug in" plan, to our long term disaster plan. We talked about building a cabin on the land, and even splitting the costs. We talked about who else we needed. Our immediate family was a given: myself, my pregnant wife, our daughter, my sister, her fiancee, him, my mother...and then we stopped. W e needed skills, or rather, people with skills . My partner's (my sisters fiancee) sister and husband came to mind. He was ex-military, and is now part of an undercover drug force,  and known to be a little bit of a gun guy. I figured he at the least could assist with security. My father was an ex-police officer but also has serious mechanic skills rebuilding muscle cars. I am an electronic tinkerer. One major gap we had was medical and farming. A very good family friend of  my wife and her husband were immediate choices. He is an ER nurse and she teaches Botany at the state college. The funny part was, he happened to be the only person in the last two years I ever really talked about prepping with, went shooting with, and we saw eye to eye on everything, and they had a daughter that our daughter played with frequently. It was all coming together. We just had to get everyone on board. I suggested to my father that he be the one to present it at dinner as everyone listened to him.

That night, we all met for dinner. About halfway through, my sisters fiancee asked if I was feeling ok. Everyone looked at me as if thinking "what is he talking about???" I started cracking up laughing. Here is where my dad stepped in and discussed with everyone what we had been doing all day.

Amazingly, everyone was on board. Initially my mother and sister thought we were a little crazy, but eventually agreed that this was necessary and a good idea. We even worked out a budget to start building on the land. My parents handled the initial chunk to break ground and my sister and I each contribute monthly. Over the next few days, we approached my partners sister and husband, as well as my wife and I's couple friend. They were all into it as well.

Since then, we have gone on three of what we call "prepper" weekend camping trips. One was for seven nights, and all 10 adults and five children came at once. It was amazing. We had itineraries where each day, each couple was responsible for teaching a "class," and if you didn't have a TEOTWAWKI skill to teach, then they either had to learn one very quickly and thoroughly to teach to the others, or were responsible for cooking all 3 meals that day (which my mother ended up doing anyway). My wife and I's couple friends ended up doing 2; one in treating traumatic injuries and another on basic planting/harvesting skills. My sister, of all people, taught us how to process a squirrel and a fish.

Since then, we all frequently communicate in what we call "The E-Mail Chain". Whenever someone comes across something relevant, we "CC" everyone in our group. Whether it be something in the news, a group supply idea that we will all split (and the resulting debates, ha-ha-ha) or people we are considering inviting. We rotate printing hard copies of valuable handbooks and "how-to" guides that we store with our supplies.

We have gotten a lot accomplished so far and I am proud and impressed at everyone's contributions. And to think, none of this possibly could have come to fruition if I hadn't just spoken about it, and about how important it was to those around me that they understand and get involved. That initial dinner was in August of 2012.

Monday, October 7, 2013

By the year 2020 we may be in the midst of (or in the early stages of recovery from) a major depression or perhaps even a full-blown socioeconomic collapse. An old saying is: "Hindsight is 20/20." So here is a gedanken: What will people observe in the year 2020, with the benefit of hindsight?
The following is my conjecture on what folks will cite when asked: "What went wrong?"

  • Profligate government spending at all levels
  • Multigenerational welfare
  • Rampant food stamp dependence (1/6th of the populace, as of 2013!)
  • Loss of American competitiveness
  • Declining academic standards and performance
  • Decline in manufacturing and a shift to a service economy
  • A systematically debased currency
  • Deteriorating roads, bridges, power distribution, and civic water systems
  • Increasing dependence on technology and long chains of supply
  • General apathy, moral decline, and degeneracy
  • Artificially manipulated interest rates
  • A declining work ethic and detachment from traditional self-sufficiency skills
  • Socialist policies, over-regulation, and over-taxation
  • Malinvestment in everything from wind farms to Tesla Motors
  • A narcissistic, self-absorbed, and overweight society
  • A populace obsessed with popular culture, fads, gossip, fashion, celebrities, and media sensations
  • A populace that ignores genuinely important issues
  • Statism
  • Corporate welfare
  • A corrupt crony relationship between Wall Street, the Federal Reserve banking cartel, and the Treasury Department
  • Enormous, uncontrolled debt--both public and private
  • Never-ending bailouts of public and private organizations, paid for with tax dollars.

They will also ask themselves: "What could I gave done differently, to be prepared?" They will realize that they could have, and should have decided to:

  • Move to a lightly-populated farming region that is well-removed from major population centers.
  • Learn traditional skills such as gardening, canning, hunting, welding, and home mechanics.
  • Network with like-minded individuals.
  • Get out of debt. and stay out of debt.
  • Stock up on storage food and other key logistics.
  • Arm yourself and get tactically-oriented firearms training.
  • Develop a second income stream with a home-based business that will be depression proof and resilient to mass inflation
  • Assemble a reference library.
  • Train in advanced first aid.
  • Get a ham radio license.
  • Become involved with your local farmer's market.
  • Join a local Volunteer Fire Department.

I don't claim to have any special insight on the future. But I can certainly see social, political, and economic trends and project their likely outcomes. The current trends do not bode well. Just by themselves, the public and private debt burdens will be enough to cause major problems in coming years. Get ready, folks.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Any parent of a teenager can attest that those highly coveted, deep and meaningful conversations between child and parent, the ones we wish occurred daily, are actually far and few between.  Try as we might, discussions surrounding topics like school, church, employment, and planning for the future, usually result in blank stares or moans and groans.

But a very wise woman (AKA my wife) once explained that when it comes to communicating with your kids, a good conversation on a ridiculous subject is better than no discussion on an important subject.   Sort of a “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach.  That is some solid advice for any parent and I have taken it to heart.  I have three children all under the age of 15, so the topics are pretty diverse.  Recently, I had a heated discussion with my 8-year old daughter about what kind of “My Little Pony” I would be and what secret pony power I would have (yes, they all seem to have cool powers).  And with my 11-year daughter I spent what seemed like hours deliberating which member of the boy-band “One-Direction” has the most talent.  This debate involved the two of us watching several music videos on YouTube.  I finally unplugged the wi-fi when she wasn’t looking.  Now if you quiz me next month, I guarantee I won’t be able to remember a single pony name or any song from Wrong Direction. 

Now with my 14-year old son, there is one topic that he is always willing to discuss: the Zombie Apocalypse.  Yes, I know that there is absolutely no chance that the “end of the world as we know it” will come about because the dead rise up and start eating brains.  The Zombie Apocalypse ranks on the bottom of the impossible list, right below a hostile space alien invasion and a robot uprising.  These are all great movie and television themes, but they are just not going to happen in the real world.  But my son is passionate about preparing for this gruesome future crisis and rarely misses a chance to point out things like “that house would be great for zombie defense because the windows are all high,” and “the best time of year to hunt zombies is the winter, because they are frozen”.  So I have spent many hours discussing weapons, survival tactics, safe shelter construction, medical supplies, etc.  Hmmm…starting to sound familiar?  Sure does!  At some point in these conversations I realized that my son probably has more knowledge and better survival skills that most of the weekend warrior preppers out there.  
So how does preparing for the fictional Zombie Apocalypse jive with actual TEOTWAWKI prepping?  Well if you can get past topics like “how to assemble your own flamethrower” and “tips to transforming a water tower into a zombie-proof bungalow”, then you might just discover like I did, several useful gems of knowledge.  Having an open mind is absolutely required.  So if you are ready, here are four jewels that my zombie obsessed teenage son taught me. 

Fill up that Bath Tub
One Sunday afternoon, my son posed this question: “So what is the first thing you should when the Zombie Apocalypse happens?”
 “Too easy,” I said, “Load your gun and get to high place.”
 “Nope.  Fill your bathtub up with water”
His answer caught me off guard.  “What? Why?” 
“Having drinkable water is the single most important thing to have when you’re trapped in a house surrounded by zombies.  Your tub holds a lot of water and it fills up in just a few minutes.”
Excellent tip! Whether you are bugging out or hunkering down, a good supply of drinkable water is paramount.  If you are staying in your home during an emergency, then filling your tub at the first sign of trouble gives an average family several days of good water.  Combine that with what is in your water heater, toilet tanks and any water storage, and you have greatly reduced your risk of running out of water in the short term.  Even if the water that comes out of the tub’s faucet is slightly contaminated, like in the event of an earthquake or a damaged water main, it is probably safer to purify and drink than the water out in gutter or a nearby muddy pond.  And the tub is indoors, making it easier to keep the water clean and protected. 

Preppers Are Not Isolationists
A few weeks ago I asked my son this conversation starter and was surprised by the answer.  “When the Zombie Apocalypse happens, which of our neighbors are going to make it and which will be Zombie-chow?”
Without hesitation he stated, “Well everyone in our cul-de-sac has useful skills and if we band together then I think everyone has a good chance of surviving”. 
Great insight my boy!  Don’t just get yourself ready for when the SHTF; help your neighbors get prepared as well, and then draw on each other’s strengths.
Now I will admit that I used to think that preppers and militant survivalists were the same bunch of dooms-days nuts living in remote desert bomb shelters.   Remember Burt and Heather Gummer (Michael Gross and Reba McIntire) from the movie Tremors with their sweet Nevada survival bunker and massive arsenal of weapons?  They were isolationists, prepared to survive the apocalypse without any outside help.  Even if you tried to help them, you would likely get shot anyway.

I am not ashamed to admit that when it all comes crashing down, I am going to need some help.  Most of us do not have a basement full of guns at our fully stocked, mountain safe house.  Nor do we have years of experience repairing cars or raising chickens.  But my next-door neighbor is a mechanic for a major railroad and the other neighbor makes all her children’s clothes: both very handy skills to have.  So between these friends, the electrical engineer on the corner, and the police office and his registered nurse wife across the road, I’m feeling better about our chances.  My son’s advice about “banding together” is as timeless as it is true.  There is strength in groups.  Reach out to your neighbors, get to know them and share your interest in prepping.  I did, and discovered that the retired couple  around the corner with the yappy little dogs, actually have a 1,000 pounds of wheat in their garage, and they even know how to grind it and make bread.  Cool!

Don’t Forget Some Entertainment
One of our family’s favorite activities is to play the card game Uno.  We are loud, silly and totally cutthroat with each other when we play.  We usually play until one person has won two games.  This might be 20 minutes or over an hour.  Recently my son emerged the victor after a grueling bout and while doing his traditional in-your-face routine, he declared, “Uno would be an excellent game to play during the Zombie Apocalypse”. 
Before I could even offer a rebuttal, both of his sisters jumped in with “it’s too noisy” and “the zombies will hear you, stupid”.  Even my wife tossed in the comment, “isn’t shooting zombies all day long enough entertainment?”
“Everyone needs downtime and recreation,” my son replied. “Uno is great because you don’t need electricity, you can carry it with you because it is light, and you only need a couple of other people to play with.  We should have a deck in our bug out bag.”
After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided “why not?”  I’ve recently read several articles on bug out bags and I have yet encountered this advice, yet it seems like such basic common sense to me.  If my family ends up at an emergency shelter or in the hills living in a tent, we could use a little fun and variety.  Electronics need to be powered and can be fragile, and board games or sports equipment are too bulky.  Any card game like Uno, Skip Bo, or just a standard deck of playing cards will add very little weight to your pack.  They are also fairly durable and can be used by almost all ages.   Other games like Pass the Pig or even a travel chess set are small and inexpensive and can easily fit into a bug out bag. 

Practice What Matters
I grew up around guns and have done a fair amount of hunting and plinking with long barrel guns.  But it wasn’t until recently that my wife and I bought handguns and took a concealed carry class together.   Of course we wanted to be very open with our children about guns in the home and set some safety rules beforehand.  My son’s response was as follows:
“Well if you want us to all be safe with guns, then we all need to go and practice shooting.  You can’t hit a zombie in the head at 20 yards if you don’t practice.” 
As macabre as this analogy sounds, I completely agree with my son.   Guns are powerful, extremely specific-uses tools that demands respect and requires practice.   And while I hope and pray none of my children ever need to point a weapon at another person, I know it is a possibility, especially if the world goes to hell in a hand basket.  I am very grateful they have all been to the range a few times and can effectively use a gun.
And the truth surrounding practicing your prepping skills is not limited to self-defense or hunting.  Has your family ever drilled grabbing the bug-out bag(s) and taking off for an overnighter, even if it is just to grandma’s back yard!   If you have food storage, have you actually tried living off it for a month?  When I was laid-off in 2009, we gave our food storage a test run for a month.   It was not pretty but we didn’t starve, and some excellent lessons were learned.  Now we practice one week each month (also a good way to rotate your supplies).
Point to learn? Practice makes perfect, so make your practice count.

A few nights ago I was flipping through the channels and came across George Romero’s classic “Night of the Living Dead”; the film that has inspired nearly 50 years of zombie movies and television shows.  I haven’t seen the movie in years and stopped for a moment to watch.  A few minutes later my son comes walking through the family room, pauses for a moment and says, “You know we have that on DVD?”
“We do?”
“Ya.  You can learn a lot of what not to do from that show,” he said with a bit of a laugh and a strong emphasis on the word “not”. 
“Hey, I’m going to Jordan’s house to play basketball,” and out the door he went.   Honestly, I was glad he didn’t stay to finish the movie.
Everyone has opinions and outlooks on what the future hold.  Natural disasters, societal collapse and epidemics have happened before and will happen, at some point, again. I think my teenager understands this and has dealt with it in his own way.  I think that shows some insight and maturity on his part.  So while I’m not going to buy an old armored truck and convert it into a Zombie Killing-mobile, I am going to keep an open mind and listen to different perspectives on preparing for the future, even those as fanciful as the Zombie Apocalypse.        

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I couldn’t help but notice the white plastic bags that covered the handles of the gas pumps at the corner gas station.  “Out of Gas”, said the sign. No gas on account of a hurricane a long, long way from Springfield, Tennessee.  Fortunately, I had filled my tank earlier in the week and was only there to get ice. But it all seemed fishy to me how a storm so far away would affect us like this. And honestly, a vague sense of worry lingered in the back of my mind until the following day.  The trucks arrived and filled the gas reservoirs at my corner gas station and everything went back to normal, as if nothing ever happened. 

I am a stay at home Mom and I had become accustomed to being semi-prepared. With two children in diapers, I had double wipes, double diapers, double sippy cups – the whole nine yards. I had even dabbled in sewing my own cloth diapers and some times, when there just wasn’t enough money (which was most of the time), I created my own baby wipes from cutting a roll of paper towels in half and soaking them in a mixture of baby oil, baby shampoo and water.  It worked. It got us by when we needed it most. It seemed to me my faith in Jesus had grown so much during the time when the kids were little. God was always there, providing when we just couldn’t make it to the next paycheck. He always showed Himself to be faithful on our behalf and always seemed to come through in the nick of time providing for our every need.  That night at Wal-Mart, it was no different. He opened my eyes to see things I never really gave a second thought to.  And that night changed my life forever.

It was 1 a.m. and I just couldn’t sleep. I had decided to go to Wal-Mart to pick up our groceries for that week while my husband was home with the babies sleeping soundly. I could shop in peace without being sidetracked with juggling coupons, lists and the kids.  It probably wasn’t the best choice going out that late at night, but it had to get done and I’ve always been a fairly tough cookie. I made it in to the automatic doors and had my list sitting on my purse headed down the aisles. I turned down the rice and bean aisle and as I did heard His voice. Yes HIS voice. I was very familiar with the voice of my Shepherd but it came kind of unexpectedly and really, He caught me off guard. I heard, “Look at the shelves.”  I knew it was Him, and I knew I needed to obey, so I pulled the cart over, waiting for Him to speak again as the night stockers went about stocking the shelves a few aisles over. As I looked at the rice – I saw two or three – 2# lb. bags, maybe three 5# lb bags and two – 10# lb. bags and one huge bag on the bottom shelf. Different kinds of rice, Basmati, White and Brown. It sure didn’t seem like a lot though. The same with the bean section. There were a few different types of beans, but not a good supply for a major supermarket. Gosh, it sure didn’t look like a lot of food there, I thought to myself. Immediately He spoke in a voice full of authority and power and truth. “If a world economic collapse was to happen, this would be the first place people would come, and it would all be gone in seconds.”  I was stunned. I was not panicked or alarmed, because I knew He’d show me the answers, but I was definitely stunned. What did this mean? I really wasn’t sure, but His voice was so unmistakable, I knew what He was saying was very important and He wanted me to hear – really hear -  what He was saying. After a few moments, and after the shock of His statement wore off a bit, I answered Him back gently,  “Okay Lord, what do I do?”.   This time, without words, but with a picture in my mind, I just knew that each pay day, which was every two weeks, I was to take $20 and buy $20 worth of spaghetti noodles; then the next payday $20 worth of spaghetti sauce, and the next, $20 worth of sugar, and on and on. So I did exactly that.  I needed basic building blocks for cooking from scratch. Cocoa, butter, flour.  I had never ever thought like that before. Usually our dinners were hot dogs and macaroni and cheese and pizza’s from a box. Most of our food was processed although I did some recipes from scratch. So this entire concept solidified in my mind as I finished up the shopping. I knew what I had to do. 

I began researching cooking from scratch. A couple of my friends said,  “The Bible says, look at the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin, yet their heavenly Father takes care of them. Are you sure you’re hearing from the Lord?”.  I thought to myself, “they’re right”, scripture does talk about trusting wholly and completely on the Lord. So I researched that too. Woven through the glorious stories of the Bible, God revealed to me, Noah, who prepared by building the ark. He showed me Joseph, who by the wisdom of the Lord, staved off starvation for all of Egypt and ultimately his very own family. I realized that with faith – there is also wisdom from the heart of the Father.  I remembered the days as a small child of five years old, I would sit on my Gramma’s side porch and pick elderberries and put them in a colander along side my mother and Aunt. To this day, I still remember the taste of her elderberry pies. I remembered how cold the water was that flowed from Gramma’s hand water pump that was only 10 feet from that same side porch. And I remembered the scary cistern in her basement that I was sure had dead bodies in it…  I knew the road. I had been there before, and the Lord was helping to crystallize it for me in my own mind and life.  I could no longer be sidetracked with day to day life happenings, I needed to look ahead. I needed to be prepared. And I needed to one day be able to teach my children how to be prepared. Being a Mom, it was already in my DNA to be prepared. I came from a long line of women survivors in my family and I was no different from them. So I went to work. I began to make everything from scratch. Deodorant (cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils), Toothpaste, Make-up. I began to sew. I sewed monthly menstrual pads! I stocked medical supplies in a tackle box. I created a bug out bag that would probably last us 3 weeks if we had to bug out away from home. I read every article online about bio-diesel all the way to permaculture. I bought hundreds of dollars in seeds.  I grew plants and learned what bugs like to eat them, and then saved as much seed as I possibly could. Every time we’d get some extra money from our tax refund or side jobs, I would buy 15 packages of coffee at Big Lots and 10 more bags of rice!  I wanted to make sure that we would survive if anything like the Lord hinted at, would happen. And I’m happy to say, I am, with all humility satisfied with all that I’ve learned and I believe we would be okay, should any unforeseen disasters happen. Of course, there’s so much more we want to learn, but I am confident in our basic knowledge.

As the years have passed since the day I heard the Lord's voice in the bean aisle, our family has accomplished so much in the field of prepping. We’ve re-opened the water well on our property. We’ve installed two wood burning stoves in our home. We are, for the most part out of debt, except for those few medical bills straggling behind us. Our cars/trucks are old and ugly, but paid for. We have ceramic water filters in case we need to get water from the creek. I’ve taught myself to can tomatoes, chicken broth, chicken and crabapple jelly. We raise and butcher our own chickens. This past summer our garden produced 200 lbs. of tomatoes that all got canned and I’ve become obsessed with meals in a jar and meals in mylar bags. There isn’t much to this prepping life that we’re not familiar with now. I knew I had become a hardcore prepper when I raced through reading JWR’s novel “Patriots” in one night!

Oh and yes,  our family members definitely think we’re crazy. But the running joke is, “We’re going to Connie’s house if anything “goes down”.”  I’ve probably dragged my husband kicking and screaming all the way, but miraculously he is now -- fully on board. 

We have worked so incredibly hard at this lifestyle. Approaching life this way, full of faith in God and grateful for the wisdom He’s given us, we will thrive and we’ll be able to help others should the need arise. And I look forward to teaching my friends and family these amazing skills. There is a wonderful balance that we’ve found. Times are coming when we’ll need to know God’s voice.  Times are coming where we’ll need to heed and obey His voice and be His friend. We’ve all read the end of the book, and its not going to be easy. I’m thankful that He loves us all so much to speak to us.  And our lives are so much better for the listening.

Friday, October 4, 2013

We've been preppers since the late 1970s when we were living in a New Jersey seaside apartment and our long term food was stored under furniture in a 400 square foot apartment.  After that a job relocation to a more rural area enabled us to buy a 35 acre fixer-upper farm where we lived for 16 years and learned how to garden, raise livestock, heat with wood, and become generally self-sufficient.  Then we bought our second rundown farm in upstate New York (we were suckers for fixing up dilapidated farmhouses) and started up a commercial sheep operation on 360 acres.  There we learned to farm on a larger scale for ten years, and became more prepared for a SHTF scenario, including the addition of draft horses to help with some of the work.  Now we're on our retirement farm in northern Vermont with the horses and a small flock of sheep, along with the dogs, cats and chickens.  We're both in our sixties and have been hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.  Now I've been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and I'm faced with survival of another kind.  We all know we're going to eventually die, but we like to think that it's so far out into the future that we can forget about it.  Being diagnosed with a potentially terminal disease pulls that eventuality back into the present.  This can really throw a kink in your SHTF plans because the S has now HTF in your own life and makes everything else seem pretty irrelevant. 

If you see financial, commercial or social collapse as potential emancipation from the status quo, as I have, you're jolted into seeing the world from a new perspective since you may very well now need the existing infrastructure to support your ability to survive.  This includes the potential need for grid-based medical treatment or nutritional therapies that require foods not native to your geographical area.  So far I'm able to keep doing what I've been doing on the farm, but now as I get ready to battle the disease there's the strong possibility that illness and/or treatments will soon impact my ability to do strenuous work, hopefully just temporarily, but possibly for extended periods of time, and possibly until death.  Wanting to be ready for a world without luxuries and in order to better prepare ourselves for a world that might lack many of the things we now take for granted, over the years we've prepped by weaning ourselves from a lot of tools that require fuel from outside sources.  We walk and use the horses instead of owning an ATV, split wood by hand instead of a power log splitter, garden without a tractor, shovel manure by hand, you get the idea.  Much of that work is beyond my wife's physical capabilities, so my inability to do those types of work could leave us pretty helpless.  In retrospect it looks like making ourselves ready for TEOTWAWKI has left us very exposed and without the financial resources necessary to retrofit our farm to one that's more mechanized.  I write this simply as food for thought for those who may find themselves preparing in a similar manner.

From a preparedness perspective, societal collapse and a grid down scenario could spell the end of my life unless my disease results in total prolonged remission.  Actually, under those circumstances and without a healthcare infrastructure, I wouldn't even know if I was in remission.  Nature would just take its course.  Yes, I would be able to consume anti-cancer herbals and foods from storage along with whatever we grow or is available in our area.  We always read about increased die-off in this situation, but we all think it won't be us.  Unfortunately, in many cases it will be us, no matter how prepared we may be. - Northern Vermont Shepherd

JWR Replies: Cancer has touched the life of nearly every American. You will be in our prayers!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Though food shortages and malnutrition are popular discussion topics for preppers, I doubt that many of us have experienced a real, prolonged lack of food. Certainly we’ve all had a day or two – maybe even more, for the gutsy– with minimal or no food, but often those days happen by choice and are for practice, with a set end in sight. How many of us have gone weeks, months, or more on limited rations? How many of us know what to expect and how we’d feel? How many of us are ready for the surprises and challenges that prolonged malnutrition will bring?

More than ten years ago, as a teenager, I grappled with anorexia nervosa for almost a year. Although dealing with a deadly disease (a mortality rate of 10% is often quoted. ) may not be the way most of us will confront starvation, many of the physical and mental symptoms I experienced will translate. If you’ve never really starved before, then you may be caught off-guard by what you experience if (hopefully never when) it happens. I hope that what I relate will help you know what to expect.

In this article, I plan to describe my physical, mental, and emotional experiences during illness and recovery. I also hope to sketch out some basic treatments and coping mechanisms for staying as healthy as can be possible during starvation. Due to the passage of time, and the memory lapses associated with anorexia, I know I’ll omit some details that could be helpful, and for that I apologize in advance. Moreover, I am not a doctor, and this article is not intended to offer medical advice, to substitute for professional care and consultation, or to guarantee or provide any health outcome.

Finally, anorexia nervosa is a serious physical and mental disorder affecting many men, women, and even children worldwide. If you or someone you know are dealing with it, or want more information about it, please utilize these trusted resources:

What you may experience right at the onset of starvation:

  • Emotional issues. Some people experience an initial euphoria (similar to a runner’s high) as they, in the initial phases of starvation, feel invincible. “Look what I can do with less food”, they think. “I still feel great, strong, and healthy, and a lack of food isn’t slowing me down! It’s just mind over matter.” This high won’t last – the body and the mind will grow weaker over time.

Other folks feel an increase in stress. “Food was already in short supply – how will I make it now,” they wonder. All their thoughts and energies start being directed towards meals, eating, and supplies, with little effort left over for life’s other requirements. Stress also takes a toll on the body and mind.

There may be other emotions happening that are quite different, or at least unexpected. This can disrupt your routine and feelings of normalcy, and make it harder to get through a day. Try now, or as soon as possible, to establish and stick to a routine and schedule. As I’ll describe further below, routine, repetition, and structure are incredibly essential to making it through, and recovering from, starvation.
What you may experience in the middle of a period of starvation:

  • Emotional issues. The high is probably gone, and the reality of starvation may be kicking in. This can prompt depression, anxiety, and more stress. These emotions and feelings weigh on us even during times of plenty. They may be even harder to deal with as your physical resources are depleted. Try to identify your feelings, verbalize them to someone, and work through as much as possible so that your limited energy can be directed not at carrying tough feelings inside, but at doing what will need to be done in a survival situation.
  • Osteopenia and osteoporosis. It’s possible that my bones weren’t robust to begin with; I was always a smaller kid. But what’s known is that at age 16, I had osteopenia in both hip joints and full-on osteoporosis in vertebrae L1-L4 (lower back).These  physical issues are usually found in 80-year-olds;  I was not a normal growing teenager. Three and four years later, I broke my left and right foot, respectively. Though bone scans didn’t explicitly show problem areas in my feet, I’m convinced that the low bone density brought about by starvation was a cause. Fortunately, I haven’t had a break since then. Be extra cautious of bone health. Prepare your medical supplies to take care of breaks and fractures. If possible, supplement your diet with calcium. The best way is via whole foods like leafy greens and raw milk, but if those aren’t available, take calcium in tablet or pill form.
  • Memory issues. The human brain needs fats to operate, and fats are in short supply in a starvation experience. I’d had an average to good memory as a child; remembering complicated dance routines or memorizing passages from Shakespeare presented no problems. In the last three months (out of eleven total months of restricted food intake), though, memory work that had formerly been routine became noticeably laborious and nearly impossible. This realization, and the realization that I couldn’t come up with any mnemonic work-arounds, prompted frustration and depression – which you can see is related to emotional state.

Additionally, animal fats (grass-fed butter especially) and some plant fats (avocado, coconut oil) are essential brain nutrients. Even if other foods are in short supply, if you still have quality fats available, add more to your diet. Try to avoid processed vegetable fats like canola oil, though.

  • Physical symptoms.  Not every person experiencing starvation experiences all the possible physical symptoms of it. For example, it’s often brought up that a starving person will start to grow soft, downy hair in certain places on their body (back, face, arms, etc) to trap heat and keep the person warm. I didn’t experience that. What’s important to take away here is that lack of any particular starvation symptom doesn’t mean that the person isn’t actually starving, it just means that it manifests differently in different individuals. You may grow weaker, feel dizzy more often, start to black out or faint (as I did), and be unable to do more heavy-duty tasks. In a survival situation, where medical help may be non-existent, it’s so important to be careful, especially because there may be outdoor tasks with power equipment. Work with a buddy, don’t over-exert yourself, take breaks, stay hydrated, and be realistic.
  • Obsession with food. As the amount of food I actually ate decreased, the amount of time I thought about it increased. In order to direct unwanted thoughts of food away from eating, I started reading cooking magazines and cookbooks, baking food for others, ogling other students’ lunches at school, and in general obsessing over eating (and not eating). In a survival situation, it may be irresponsible and wasteful to just think about food, rather than doing what needs to get done. Unfortunately, it’s really hard not to think about food when you’re starving – that’s how the body keeps telling you that you are, in fact, starving. Find a way (via routine, schedule, structure, and the assistance of others) not to let those thoughts control you.

What you may likely experience while recovering from starvation:

  • Long physical recovery time. It took about a decade after the initial diagnosis for my body to be essentially completely healed. My weight no longer fluctuates based on a day’s or week’s eating habits, I no longer have weak bones, my heart beats normally, and I don’t get abnormal dizziness. The dizziness and erratic heartbeat resolved after a few years, the osteopenia and osteoporosis healed (with a closely monitored, high-calcium diet, and weight-bearing exercise) after about eight years, and finally, now in 2013, my body has established a stable set point. The ratio of ten years of healing to make up for one year’s starvation may not be too far off.
  • Difficulty regulating normal eating patterns. This remained consistently incredibly difficult for almost a decade after the hospitalization, even under clinical supervision and with a structured meal plan. Don’t think that just because you don’t actually “want” to starve (the relation of will to eating disorders is debatable) that it’ll be easy to start eating regularly again. It won’t be. After the body experiences starvation, when it is presented with sufficient food again, it remembers the starvation state and tries to avoid that in the future. The body plans ahead, in a way, by increasing your food cravings in order to build up reserves (i.e. extra weight) to stave off possible future times of food uncertainty.
  • Emotional issues. It’s hard to experience physical changes in one’s own body without accompanying emotions and feelings. Sometimes, when bodies change via starvation or refeeding, it’s a traumatic experience, because it’s out of our control. Feelings of helplessness, being out of control, anger, and confusion can happen. These feelings, while powerful, are normal. You may be surprised to find you’re not thrilled when food is abundant again. Your normal way of life has changed once more, and again you have to cope with something new – plenty to eat. Get support from others during this time – even just talking about it with someone who can relate can be helpful. Again, use the buddy system, have a routine, plan your meals, and keep life as structured as possible during this transition time.

What you probably won’t experience during or after starvation:

  • Refusal to eat available food.
  • Denial of the problem.
  • Aversion to treatment.
  • Phobia of gaining weight.
  • All these symptoms are more representative of a patient in denial of a real medical and mental issue. If you or someone you know starts to manifest these behaviors, something more serious may be going on, and you should consult with a medical professional about how to proceed. My best guess is that most folks undergoing involuntary starvation will not show these symptoms, but again, YMMV, and I am not a doctor.

What this means for you (with concrete steps to take):

  • As food availability decreases, access to warmth, shelter, and good hygiene must increase. Your body will have essentially zero extra resources to spare to keep your temperature up and to fend off infection. It’s crucial that you take as much physical stress off it as possible. Wear hats, warm clothes, down, and wool. Keep your extremities covered – they’re often very difficult to warm back up, especially if you are prone to Reynaud’s Syndrome. Mittens can be better than gloves for this. You must also keep warm enough when asleep, which is when body temperature can often fall and the heart rate decrease. In the hospital, patients were often cocooned in Bair Hugger blankets (heavy-duty medical grade electric blankets). You might not have access to something of that caliber, but if electric blankets are a possibility, they could save your health. If not, again, use down and wool, and sleep with someone else if possible to utilize body heat (much like hypothermia treatment). Finally, it will be harder to stave off infection and disease – your body is working overtime just keeping basic systems going. Clean out cuts and scrapes, brush and floss your teeth, don’t pick your nose, wear a surgical mask... do whatever it takes to avoid unnecessary infection and exposure. You don’t have the physical leeway that a healthy, non-starved person does.
  • Physical exercise, while not a panacea, shouldn’t be totally avoided. It’s true that you won’t have a lot of energy to spare. However, if you, afraid of wasting energy, just sit inside and do nothing all day, your muscles will atrophy even further. It’s essential to maintain some kind of muscle tone, especially as your bones may become weaker. I’m convinced that one of the reasons I didn’t suffer a disastrous break in my back or hips was because of the level of weight-bearing activity I maintained during illness and recovery. Gardening, child care, and cleaning the house could be good lower-impact options.
  • It is very unlikely that you will be able to recover from starvation alone. Your brain won’t be working right, your body will be startlingly weak, and you won’t be able to correctly assess your physical, mental, or emotional states, or your physical needs, for that matter. You need an external point of view on your situation, which is hard enough to do when well fed. One of the more helpful things I practiced in recovery was making lunches for the younger kids in treatment. It would’ve been too easy to skimp a little (or, in a SHTF-type situation, to give yourself a little more than everyone else) on my own meals – I had no such investment in their lunches. I made their sandwiches with exact, measured amounts ; because of my mind not working so well about myself, I’d never have been able to do that for my own lunch. Find a buddy in your group who will do this for you; do it for them, as well. Plan ahead of time, when you’ve got enough food, how you’ll go about caring for each other when it’s a starvation situation. Develop a schedule and framework now to follow then. Get it on paper and put it in your resources binder. Chances are not good that you’ll be able to do all this under stress and without food.

If I had to narrow down the take-away message about real starvation to just the essentials, they would be these two points:

  • You cannot think straight when you’re starving. No matter how much you think you’ll be different – that you’ve got more willpower, more backup plans, more experience, more toughness, whatever – starvation is going to affect your mind, and affect it drastically. Your memory, emotional stability, perception of reality will all change. In fact, in some ways, starvation affects the brain more than it does the physical body, and I don’t think many people will be ready for that.
  • You cannot recover from starvation alone. Again, no matter how much willpower, toughness, backup planning, or whatever you have, I posit that it’ll be essentially impossible to return to mental, emotional, and physical health by yourself. Each of those strands of health weaves into the others, so if you, alone, are struggling emotionally, that’ll affect your mental and physical health – it’s the same for any of those strands. Having even one other person supporting you means you now have a source of strength and objectivity that you didn’t have when you were alone. Get a group; make a plan; find a partner – it’ll save your life.

I don’t wish starvation upon anyone. It can be not only physically but also mentally and emotionally devastating. I hope this article serves to highlight the seriousness of starvation, whether voluntary or involuntary, and helps those dealing with it to find the resources they need to survive and thrive.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

We started "Prepping" the day I was issued my DD-214 from the 2nd Marine Air Wing back in 1970. Even way back then the writing was on the wall if you cared enough to take a hard look and pay attention.   The VietNam War was pulling this country apart. “So you don’t believe, we’re on the Eve of Destruction?” We swallowed John Prine's antidote, hook, line and sinker.

"Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try an find Jesus on your own."

Homesteading here in central Missouri, we home birthed 6 strong kids, 3 boys, 3 girls on 25 acres of Missouri River hills and creek bottom. We planted an orchard, blasted out a well, used the rocks to build the root cellar. Farmed with mules, cut and skidded 150 saw logs off the hills. Set up and ran a small sawmill. Built a house from scratch. Built a business relining chimney’s and selling wood stoves. Inch by inch, row by row, we were just living the Dream. When 9-11-01 hit, the storm clouds started piling dark and deep. They were not at all interested in re-enlisting a 53 year old Marine Corps veteran, pissed and looking to dish out some payback but they are always ready to enlist an 18 year old Eagle Scout. In 2006, three months into his first deployment, our youngest son was killed in action by IED on night patrol outside Fallujah Iraq.

A downward, deep "dark night of the soul" ensued. Oh yes, the enemy can smell your pain like blood in the water. The real challenge is to not feel sorry for yourself, Old Nick can really work with that one. Our faith has been sorely tested but has stood fast. When this POTUS was elected in 2008, the slippery slope got steeper. The feeling of being in a slow motion train derailment intensified. Our preps became more focused and urgent. The result of the 2012 Reelection hit me with the finality of the coffin lid being shut on the land that I love, have served and as a family, we have sacrificed so greatly for. Every day the News lands with the thud of a coffin nail being driven home. I came to truly dread the daily Drudge Report  but then, this is a lot like watching the Hindenberg go down. “Oh, the Humanity”.  I’m getting to be a cynical, bitter man. Up late one night, cleaning my weapons and listening to the radio, I made a call and managed to get hold of George Noory on Coast to Coast AM, talking live with his guest, Jim Marrs from Texas. I despaired of the fact that although we were pretty well dug in, had our chain water pump, had our grain, beans, 15 grandkids to worry over, choke points on the road and clear field of fire in front of the house, what were we going to do when some bedraggled family and staving kids showed up straggling down our gravel road? Jim gave me some good, hard advice that I have taken to heart. Reach out to your neighbors, get it together, circle the wagons, work up a plan. Support a local Church to distribute charity. James Rawles has alluded to all this in his novels but it took Jim Marrs to "slap me upside the head" at 1:45 am.

So, then and there I decided to come out of the closet, overcome our self imposed isolation and make a positive, pre-emptive strike. Face it, most of us are private people, we’ve come keep this all to ourselves for some very good reasons.

My proposition to you is this, it is getting dark quick and the storm is rising. Its time to make like Peter and step out of the boat. My cousin Paul is an Army EOD Tech, career FBI, and retired Head of Missouri Emergency Management. Cousin Paul's Executive Summary of our collective situation is that: “We are so sc**wed”. We conspired to rent the hall and sponsor an open meeting at the local community building. We called it "Jamestown Prepares"  and  set out some simple flyers. We are located close enough to the New Madrid Fault to pay serious attention, we get randomly visited with Joplin sized Tornado swarms out of Oklahoma and I almost forgot the fun for all when the Missouri River busts it banks and cuts the state in half. Last winter we all lost power for a week when 2+ Ft. of snow came on the heels of a bad winter ice storm. No power at the gas station, dead of winter, and the roads are paralyzed. 

From a small country town of 362 Souls, the room filled up with 65 people. Cousin Paul started with a good, standard issue, FEMA Style, Power Point Presentation on Family Emergency Preparedness, passing out your tax dollar paid, slick FEMA brochures with the checklists and suggested 7 day supplies. Well received and timely, but now it’s my turn at bat.

"Folks, Cousin Paul's is the optimistic one. I'm thinking we are in for some very rough sledding and it’s high time we get ready. If you plot the trajectories of all the big things we worry about, there’s an undeniable tipping point coming closer by the day.  We can argue about when it happens, how hard and how long this goes on, but I’m thinking an Argentine economic crisis (1999–2002) at an absolute minimum, and that's only if we’re lucky, so then I bark out: 

“Brace for Impact” Do I have your attention? There’s a few nervous looks around, nobody laughs”. Lined up on tables down one side of the room I have a taste of the basic's. Water filter and chlorine bleach, Survival garden seed packs, Tattler canning lids. The Sam's Club FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer, a plastic-sealed brick of .22s, vacuum packed noodles, salt, canned olive oil, A 5 gallon bucket of dry ice evacuated Turkey wheat. An ear of open pollinated corn. A Corona hand crank grain mill, a field surgical kit, sutures, a gallon jug of Povidone Iodine Solution from the feed store, a jar of homemade Sugar-dine. KIO3 Iodine pills, Vitamin C. and Neosporin. A Dakota Alert motion sensor, base station and hand held radio. CB base station, hand held FRS/GMRS walkie talkies, Shortwave, and micro Ham radios, Harbor Freight Solar Panels and your new best friends, the rechargeable AA battery, solar recharger and LED head band light. You get the picture.

I went right on down the line, broke down the Why, Where and How and moved on to the next. You could hear the gears turning and see the tumblers falling in place. These are as good a people as you will find anywhere and have never forgotten or left their roots far behind. We had good mix of farmer's, veteran's, volunteer firemen, our local Banker, a retired Army full bird Colonel, and some home school Mommies. All of them some where along the road and awake enough to show up at this odd, community meeting. Although they were specifically invited, sadly missing were our town’s mayor, any local law enforcement or our "on the payroll" County Emergency Management Officer. Our local Sheriffs are really spread too thin to be effective and most government apparatchiks operate under a deep fog of "Normalcy Bias". There were many more questions and lingering conversations. I collected 56 email address’s and promised more information to come. We had to turn out the lights to run them out of there. In a couple day's I put out an email thank you, a page full of pertinent web links and notice of the next meeting. 26 folks showed up noon on a Saturday to plot the next steps. We agreed to and have set another open invite, steering meeting and a general community meeting in 30 day's on "Communications" presented by a couple of retired military Comm guy's to lay out the start of our CB radio network. Requested high on the agenda will be an Extension Service presentation on canning and food preservation. We created a private Yahoo group for a local “party line” and threw it out there. It's just starting to come to life with posts for excess garden produce, needed equipment, etc. This is the starting point I hoped it could be. I'm starting to feel a bit better. 

There are large sections of this country we will sadly have to watch go down in flames (Lord, Have Mercy). Not everybody can run to the hills but you don’t have to face it alone or go down without a fight. When we were planning this, a fellow traveler warned me not to pop my head up and draw attention to myself. 

“Get thee behind me, Satan”. Apparently, “They” already know everything about everybody and in the crunch, your neighbors will quickly figure out who you are and what you’ve got that they don’t. My Pop was in the Navy in World War II, he boxed competitively and taught his boy’s, no matter what the odd’s are, you’ll never be more than a punching bag unless you’re willing drop your guard and throw a well placed, timely punch. Its time we throw a punch and reach out to our neighbors. You may be surprised by the response. People stop me at the post office and thank me for getting things rolling. If you ever get in a room full of guitars, pluck a G string. All of the G strings in the room will vibrate. That's called a sympathetic vibration. You are not alone in your intuition and sense of impending doom. I am convinced there are millions of us located at some point along this road back to sanity. A timely nudge will be all it takes to get many folks off dead center, some encouragement and affirmation provides needed momentum for everyone.

So, I’m asking you: do you really want to be alone in your skinny little trench when the poop hits the prop?  The “Powers and Principalities” we face would really just as soon have us all frightened and fragmented, and, in fact rely on it. I would have you consider that the next logical step in your survival preparations is to reach out to those with ears to hear. There's strength in numbers and like the Old Man warned us long time ago, "Boy's, if we don't hang together, they'll hang us separately".

Now is the time to fix your eyes on Jesus, throw your leg over the side of the boat and put one foot in front of the other.
Pray for Mercy, Pray for Grace, and don’t hide your light under a basket. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

The never-ending threat of the TEOTWAWKI looms in the depth of all of our minds.  My work experience lays primarily in public safety, government peroration to emergency response, tactical team assaults, gang mentality and survival, logistics and law enforcement radio communication.  My personal experience is very broad beginning with my first job at age 15, working continuously through college, being married for the past 16 years to my “high school sweetheart” and raising three young children.  I have been validated in court as an expert in several fields regarding gangs, firearms and narcotics.  I would like to share with you my thoughts and expertise relating to successfully bugging out of an urban area.

My family and I happen to live in the California Bay Area and like many of the readers, live in a heavily-populated urban area.  Don’t be fooled though, many of us urbanites are just like our rural area pepper counterparts; we just haven’t made the jump to move to the desirable off grid lifestyle, full time.  That being said, most urban based preppers are vested in the communities we live in, go to Church/Temple, donate time and resources to local charities, and are involved in our children’s school(s) as well as many extracurricular activities.  Most of us have bug out plans and a small network of family and friends to help us achieve the goal of getting our families out safely.  However, the looming challenge is knowing the right time to leave, weather to leave together or in groups, what mode of transportation will be available (vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, small aircraft, boat), what we can bring based on how we can travel, safe routs of travel (neighborhoods, highways, bridges, chokepoints, time of day, waterways, air travel) and realistic time needed for travel to your safe location.

Deciphering the right time to leave the city or urban areas is something that you have to research in advance.  It’s not something one can effectively do after the mass evacuation crisis has started.  I recommend paying attention to the raw materials trade markets, indicators of local government preparations, public schools and local airports.  While these are not traditional sources of impending danger information what each one of them show are immediate shifts in normal behavior, change in the flow of resources and change in human behavior.

The raw materials markets show the flow of milled lumber mostly white fir to China, metals, mostly recycled metals overseas especially at a reduced rate, recycled oil products to Southern America and lastly vehicle buyback programs such as Cash for Clunkers, Kars for Kids and  These programs receive significant government funding to get abandoned vehicles, boats, RVs and trailers off the streets of America.  When we see the price of white fir lumber drop, the price per shipping container of metal or aluminum drop, the price to recycle your used oil increase or having to pay to “donate” your vehicle a shift in normalcy is on the horizon.  While these indicators may not be immediate indicators you should maintain a watchful eye on one or all of them to make a predicative analysis of the fall of the USD.

Indicators of local government preparations include an increase of public disaster drills (outside the norm), more specialized emergency management equipment being stored extensively at and around public safety buildings rather than at city or county corporation yards and police and fire personal response times increasing to a higher than normal routine.  When you notice changes in staged emergency management equipment and supplies at the public safety building in your community you should anticipate a large event taking place.  If it’s a preplanned event such as a fair, a celebration or a parade generally there is no cause for alarm.  But if the changes you notice appear unplanned or in such duration that goes beyond normal parameters you should pay attention.  Again these signs alone may not be indicators you should bug out, but the totality of your research and observations will be the deciding factor.

Changes in behavior at the public schools relating to free lunch programs, after school program accessibility and an increase in teacher absences are signs that the transportation logistics are failing and the priorities of the school administrators are changing.  The focus will shift from keeping children at the school to surviving with what funds and resources the schools left. 

Changes of behavior at the airports will show similar concerns.  When air fuel costs go up, plane tickets go up.  When airport TSA restrictions go up, freedom and liberty go down based directly on actions of the TSA Director.  This should raise eyebrows and should be evaluated along with the other change of behavior signs in your communities.

When you decide to leave you will need to already have a preplanned route as well as a secondary route for redundancy.  Your primary route will generally be the shortest you can take by way of a vehicle on a paved road.  If you have access to a small aircraft you will likely be traveling by vehicle with your supplies to the airport.  The same goes for waterway travel.  You will generally need a vehicle to get to a harbor or a boat launch with your gear to leave the heavily populated urban areas.  The most significant dilemma for most urban area preppers is not leaving too early where you may face being fired for not reporting to work if things don’t go bad and not waiting too long where all the highways are packed bumper to bumper where you can’t get out.  The last thing any of us want to do is lose our job if we leave without notice and are released from our employer in a non-emergency scenario.

A solution may be to leave in groups at staggered start times.  Those who have a low risk of a significant impact for leaving early are those like home makers who would face no more than a child’s school absence, telecommuters who don’t have to report to an office, business owners who decide not to open their business for a day or two, retirees who don’t have commitments in their communities and obviously those who are on their regular days off from work.  Those who can leave early with little or no recourse should leave as soon as the indicators outlined above begin to show.  Those who have jobs where leaving would cause employer concern such as construction, infrastructure jobs, public safety, government offices or other employers who require prior notification for unplanned absences, will face a tough decision.  At some point you will have to make the call to leave knowing your unexcused absence will have a substantial affect on your future employment.  Sometimes it’s a gamble and sometimes it’s an educated decision on your part.  Those who have fled suspecting troubled times in the past have suffered the loss of a job or disciplinary action because of their unexcused absence.  They know all too well what can happen for their decision to leave.  All I can suggest is you study the signs and make the best decision for you and your loved ones.

Determining you mode of travel is simple, if you have the discretionary free time and if you leave early enough.  Unfortunately that is not the reality for most of the working class in the urban environment.  You need to plan for moderate to heavy vehicular traffic.  Pack extra provisions, fuel and comfort items you and loved ones need to make the extended trip palatable.  Secondly plan for extra security measures.  Having quick and easy access to a firearm is you first defense when faced with marauders so it’s essential that you have one close to you when traveling during these troubling times.  If you flee in a vehicle is would be easy to inconspicuously and legally carry firearms with you even in the most restrictive states like California and New York.  All states allow legal vehicle transportation of firearms.  Some states are more restrictive than others and require the firearm be in a locked case and with the ammunition stored away from the firearm in the vehicle, but most do not specifically define what a locked case is and don’t require the ammunition be locked or unloaded from a magazine.  That being said I have seen some very creative case locks which include “rope”, zip ties, bailing wire and twist ties.  While under normal circumstances I would recommend sticking with a traditional key or combination lock, I think in a bug out situation law enforcement officials will be less worried about the manner in which you chose to transport your firearm and more concerned with problems of keeping the peace.

Be wary of hasty road blocks and haphazard detours.  Most traditional law enforcement road blocks need to have proper signage and notification and will “look official.”  Your best option to avoid checkpoints all together.  When driving keep your must keep your eyes on the horizon and always be looking ahead.  Travel efficiently but not too fast where you may come upon a roadblock too fast and can’t get out of the queue line before your trapped and committed.  At the onset your most efficient way of travel will be on the Highways and Freeways.  During the later stages of the exodus you will have to divert to your secondary travel route and stick to back country roads.  Lastly as a general rule never park your vehicle(s) with less than half a tank of fuel.  To do otherwise is lazy and foolish.  I shouldn’t have to say anything more on that topic.

If another mode of travel is your plan such as a boat, small aircraft or motorcycle/quad then the options open up for you.  Small winged air travel being the safest you will not need to be as concerned with the roadways.  You will however need to be concerned about flight restrictions and filing of flight plans.  If you are traveling by boat you are sure to run into some resistance and chaos at the docks with others fleeing the later you leave.  You should expect to run into frantic citizens loading copious amounts of supplies onto their boats at the same time.  The boat docks at most marinas are not designed for mass exodus and lots of people piling provisions along the docks at the same time will cause confusion and delay.  For those scenarios, it’s imperative you store as much gear on your bug out boat prior to the event to avoid delays and confrontations on the ramps and docks.  Stay light and quick and you can weave yourself and family through the rushes at the docks very efficiently. 

If the motorcycle or quad is your planed way of travel be prepared to carry extra fuel along with all your other gear which will be seen by all.  While we would like to conceal our gear and fuel it’s nearly impossible on a motorcycle or quad.  I would suggest painting your jerry cans to at least appear like traditional saddle bags so at first glance it doesn’t look like a gas can.  Also I would recommend a siphon.  There small light and can make the world of difference between only making it part of the way and walking versus riding all the way to your destination.

Travel routes and times are critical.  Plan primary, secondary and alternate routes out.  Have a road map or atlas with you so you can recalculate your route if needed.  GPS is a great tool until Murphy’s Law kicks in and it doesn’t work for any number of reasons (government satellite shut down, EMP, CME, system over use overload, etc…).  Areas of concern are heavily populated areas, low income housing blocks, chokepoints, bridges, tunnels, and highway to highway intersections.  Determining routs around these potential ambush points is your key to your safe travel.  Leaving early enough to avoid these problem areas is ideal but may not be possible.  If you run into a choke point sometimes it’s best to pull over to a safe location and observe for a half hour or so.  Learn from others mistakes and adjust your route accordingly.  Stay alert and watch your surroundings.

Most likely the best time to leave is late at night.  Just as the early bird gets the worm, the early traveler gets less traffic.  Leave after midnight but before 5:00 am.  You should give yourself enough time to be out of the populated areas in into the country before 5:00 am so plan for delays and rest stops if needed.  While headlights can be seen for up to a mile away and ambushes can be organized on you approach, it’s still safer and more efficient to travel at night.  Night vision capabilities are premium when driving at night but most of us can’t afford such an expense.  Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst and always have contingency plans.  The government does for just about everything having to do with emergency response, so why shouldn’t you?

The last two options are the least desirable.  Bicycling or walking are obviously slow and open you up to all sorts of potential problems.  While you will benefit from moving quietly while creating a small silhouette of yourself, you will have no cover or concealment.  Additionally traveling by bicycle or by foot will extend your travel time immensely so plan for it.  Coordinate it ahead of time with your group so members know to expect you in weeks rather than days or hours.

Realistic travel times need to be planned for.  If your bug out location is a five hour drive during normal conditions, then plan for twice that during times of crisis.  Inevitably you will be faced with delays, detours, unplanned refueling stops when the opportunity arises and necessary renaissance stops.  Plan for stopping to top off your fuel tanks at every reasonable opportunity you have.  Fuel prices could be rising every few hours and credit cards systems could be corrupted or shut down without warning.  I would suggest using a charge card as much as you can while the systems are still active.  Save your cash until the credit systems stop working then transition to your cash.  If/when you reach your bug out location and the credit card systems are still functional, unload your gear and family and go back out to the closest fill station and top everything off.  Fuel will be worth it’s weigh in gold when the refineries shut down and/or the fuel trucks stop rolling.  If nothing more, fuel will be a good bartering item for the new America.

In conclusion, be prepared, make the sacrifices now so you can live comfortably in the future.  Having preparations stored provides most with a sense of accomplishment and security in your future.  As Americans we mustn’t forget the duty of charity and helping others out.  That being said, take care of yourself, your loved ones and your group.  After then, and only then as J. W. Rawles says, “Give until it hurts.”  With that, be safe, plan ahead and God Bless.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Basic mechanical knowledge and skills are something that any person who hopes to be successful in TEOTWAWKI must have. I am not speaking just about vehicles, but vehicles are an excellent avenue to learn them. I can only talk with authority on my own past, but I know that the wealth of much of my knowledge comes from my extensive background in working on cars.

I won't claim that any of this post is going to be something that you have never read before. Heck, I am willing to bet that you heard much of this speech by a parent or grandfather the day you turned 16. I know I did. And, like almost everyone in this country, I rolled my eyes.

Before you roll your eyes, I propose that we conduct a quick experiment.

I want you to drive down your local heavily used state highway or interstate, say, the one you drive on every day to work. Within 5 miles, you will see a broken down car. Now, the reason for this breakdown can and will vary. It could be because of a catastrophic motor event or a wreck,  but 90% of the time, it is there because the driver doesn't understand the basics of vehicle maintenance, the limits of the vehicle, or how to fix the vehicle in either event.

Tire Maintenance
What's the most common automotive issue I see on American's roadways? Flat tires. Flat tires claim more roadside breakdowns than anything else. And not because the tire went flat, but because the owner either didn't have a spare, the spare was flat, or most likely can't change the tire. Of these cars you see on the side of the road, how many have a jack underneath them, or a wheel propping the car up, and were simply abandoned mid-task? How many of them are just left there because they didn't have AAA? I have seen many a fine car left alone on the interstate for hours or days at a time.

Changing a tire is perhaps the simplest task a motorist can learn. And while it is simple, it teaches several lessons while also being a useful and money saving skill. These skills can save you valuable time and money in the every day world, while perhaps saving your life down the line. Changing a tire teaches many things including, but not limited to, the order of steps needed to complete an involved task, it teaches using a long handled tool to develop a moment to break loose lugs, balancing an unevenly weighed object, and even safety.

Now, for those of you who can change a flat tire, you realize that while it's an inconvenient, it isn't a big deal. For those of you who have practiced many times in your life, it is now a habit and can be easily fixed in a matter of minutes. Now, for those of you that can't....what does a flat tire cost you? Mere minutes? Or hours? Do you have to call someone to come help you? What about their time? Does it cost you money? How is your stress level when you miss something important?

Yet, many times the problem is deeper than that.  I remember as a teenager my grandmother regularly telling me that my tires looked flat and that I needed to put air in them. But I always ignored her until one day the rim cut the tire down and I had a blowout. I remember driving to Auburn one time and I had a nasty blowout because a randomly 100 degree day caused the tire pressure to increase beyond the capability of the tire. In either case, simply paying attention to the tires would have raised an alarm and I would have rectified the situation. Not to mention that it would have saved me several hundred dollars.  But, I wasn't in the habit of paying attention to my vehicle, neither by checking it out whenever I thought about it or paying attention to it's behavior on the road.

Here are many things that can tip you off to a tire issue, but all require the driver to be in tune to the vehicle:

  • Uneven wear on the treads. If it's worn on the outside, the tire pressure has been too low. If it's worn in the center, the tire pressure is to high.
  •  Does the care pull to one side or the other while driving? This could be a misalignment or one under inflated tire, which will also cause uneven wear. 
  • Is there a "wobble"? If so, you could have tread separation and a blowout could be imminent. 

Furthermore, great care should be taken while driving to limit the hazards to tires. 

  • Always avoid potholes. It may not seems deep or wide, and maybe you have run over thousands of them in your life. But it only takes the right one at the right angle and speed to cut down a tire. That's a a real bad thing to have happen at 70. 
  • Never run over objects on the road. IT may look like a piece of paper, but it could be a shard of metal or class ready to cut your tire. It may be a piece of plywood. Then again, it could be covered with nails. 

Now, how about understanding the limitations of your tires? For example, do you know what the capabilities of a type of tire might be? Do you know if the tires on your current vehicle can be used to go off-road, if the need arises? Conversely, do you know just how long to expect a set of off-road tires to last on the street? In the case of a damaged tire, for example, a cut you know how to accurately gauge the remaining usefulness of that tire? Or know how to extend it's life by lowering tire pressure and travel speed? In the event of a flat tire, do you know just how fast you can continue to drive on it if need be? Or how to know if you have traveled as far as the physical limits of the flat tire will allow? Do you know what the danger signs of a tire are and can you gauge the severity? For example, what it means when you see the steel belts sticking out of a tire? Do you know what the effective stopping distance in your car is in all weather conditions? Specifically, do you know the conditions of your tires and how they might perform i the rain? In all cases, it requires the drive to be in tune with their vehicle, which in this age of automation and luxury, makes it easy for people to ignore all these important signs. 

So, many of you are asking just how this might save your life in TEOTWAWKI. Let's talk about one of my posts from the 5 Stages of Preparedness. Specifically, Stage 1: The Immediate. Let's say you have identified a major threat to all cities, specifically the one you live in. While it is important to always take care of your vehicle for your everyday life, it could become vital to your survival. Specifically, if you have to get out of Dodge. You will have so many other things on your mind that you don't need to be worried about if your vehicle will get you where you need to go. Getting into habits such as checking tire conditions and pressure will go a long way to ensuring that at least the tires of your vehicle will hold up.  And, while you are on the go, you have to take care that you limit putting it in circumstances that it might fail you. Paying attention to driving conditions, specifically on the road, may save you minutes, hours, or even a dangerous circumstance that may claim others. For example, if almost everyone is trying to escape a city, the roadways will undoubtedly be extremely busy. There will be wrecks. There will be objects on the road. Slowing down, paying attention, and limiting the potential for cutting down you tires may save you when it may doom others. What if it' raining? Getting out is the priority, but knowing the effective stopping distance of your tires due to their physical condition could save you from a costly wreck. 

But things happen. Sometimes there are forces you can't control. What will you do then? Could you change a tire if you had to? More importantly, can you do it quickly and safely? Will it be such a habit that you can pay attention to your surroundings? What if you didn't already have a vehicle and you needed one. You find one on the side of the road, abandoned. Keys still in it. But the owner couldn't figure out how to use a jack. With 5 minutes work, you have secured potentially life saving transportation. We talked about understanding the limitations of the tire. Let's say that you know there is a potential problem developing that you have identified. You also know that stopping is not a possibility. Understanding the limitations of the tires may allow you to continue your path. While it may not be the optimum speed or method, it may be enough to put those crucial miles behind you. 

What does it take to learn this skill? Just time. Luckily for you, your car manufacturer gave you all the tools you would need. I am willing to bet that there are instructions on the back of the cover panel to the secret compartment that houses the jack and the breaker bar in the trunk of your car. So, take some time on a Saturday afternoon to find out where that compartment is. Pull the cover off, grab the tools, and follow the directions. I promise that even the slowest of you will only need to change the tire 3 times before you will have it down. Even if you don't believe in TEOTWAWKI, you have to believe in saving time and money. How about keeping you from walking down an interstate late one night to find a gas station? I can't think of anything more scary for a woman than the thought of having to start walking down the street to find help.

Indirectly, there is a lot of things a person can gain from learning the basics of tire maintenance. How about the money and time that you can save from simply being in tune with your vehicle by getting in the habit of paying attention to the little things. No one likes buying tires. That's a fact. Identifying potential problems like noticing the vehicle pulling to one side can save money by having it fixed early.  Maintaining the proper air pressure can maximize tire life, saving you money. Simply knowing how to change a tire can save you hours and stress. What about the things you can learn indirectly? Off the top of my head, I think about the cause and effect of air temperature and pressure. How about understanding mechanical properties and friction? If the tire is flat, the surface area increases, so the drag increases causing the car to pull to one side. How about using a breaker bar to overcome your own physical limitations of force? I know it all sounds simplistic to many of you. But I am not writing for those of you that understand. The average American knows virtually nothing about hands-on mechanical work of any kind. They have to learn it by living it. I can't think of a better way to learn than to do so while discovering a valuable skill that has definite uses in your daily life and potential use to save it. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

During a break-down of society you may happen upon a dead body. In a without-rule-of-law situation such would not be unusual. This article will give you a rough outline of what to look for when you examine a dead body. The dead body may be near your camp and you may need to get rid of it pronto. There are several reasons why you might need to closely scrutinize a corpse and document what you see.

You may need to protect yourself from the outbreak of disease. You may need to protect yourself from later accusations of murder once the system rebounds. You may need to know whether a killer is on the loose somewhere near your camp. You may need to know if this is a body which can be safely buried and preserved, or whether the body needs to be burned in order to stop the spread of disease.

If you have a camera available, be sure to take photographs. If you have the means to write, by all means take notes. Put on disposable surgical gloves if available. Use a breath mask if available. Use common sense not to infect yourself. Put on old clothes or strip to the bare essentials if necessary. Obtain soap and bleach and water to clean yourself before you chance touching anything contaminated.

Each death scene is unique, so you must use your intuition. The steps you take may be the only chance this victim has for future justice. Loved ones of the diseased person, if they can, may later thank you for the information you retrieve. You may find evidence that exonerates an innocent person. You may find answers that determine whether your group should break camp and leave the area.

As you write your report it is important to both jot down your general feelings, and to specifically note certain important items. Note the location where the death occurred, because it may be important later for law enforcement purposes regarding jurisdiction. Different state or local authorities get involved in investigations depending on the location where the body was found. Make note of anything that seems unexplained or suspicious, or that may turn the death scene into a crime scene. State in your report whether or not you think the death was accidental.

Note the date and time, and make a record of any identification paperwork you may find, such as a drivers license or an identification card, because they may later be lost. Look for tattoos or identifying marks on the body. Do not overlook the obvious, such as cell phone numbers which must be written down before the battery gives out.

Try to determine the cause of death. Make certain that the person has not just passed out and is still breathing. Mark off the area where the body is located and do not let others contaminate it. Look for any loose hairs or skin under the person's fingernails that might reveal they defended themselves or have been in a fight. Do not jump to conclusions as to what happened, but rather look at things with an open mind. Your job at this point is to record facts and details, not to come to a firm conclusion of how the person died.

Notice how the dead person is dressed, and record any anomalies. Figure out whether you think the body has been moved. Note whether the body is stiff and rigor mortis has set in. If the body is contorted or looks like it fell in an awkward position, that might mean the person died suddenly. An apparently painful look on the person's face does not necessarily mean they died in pain.

Note any blood or vomit. Vomit can be strong enough to cause acid burns on the face or the skin. If the body has been dead for several hours, gravity will make the blood drain to the lower parts of the body, so look for tell-tale signs of discoloration. Note whether the eyes are open or shut, and whether the eyes have clouded over. These details may be important to later determine the time of death. Note any odor, discharge, or discoloration.

Take a photograph or make a drawing showing the position of the body before you move it. Only then should the body be positioned face up for examination. Begin without removing the clothing, rather tug and stretch the clothing to take an overview of the various parts of the body. Later an autopsy might be done, but at this point the purpose is to see if there are any general signs pointing to the cause of death.

Note any signs of good or bad hygiene, nearby liquor bottles, hypodermic needle marks, and torn or disheveled clothing. Swelling of the body may be due to retained water. Purple condition of the upper body often points to sudden stoppage of the heart. Record the condition of the hair and teeth. Abnormalities in the eyes such as different sized pupils should be recorded, as should puffiness of the eyes. Blue lips may mean lack of oxygen. Note any blood coming out of the eyes or ears or mouth, and anything else that seems out of the ordinary.

If you push on the skin and it dents instead of springing back, that is a sign of dehydration. Note and record the location of any bruises. Yellow skin points to liver failure. Pale skin may indicate loss of blood. Look for scrapes and lesions on the skin. Skin condition indicates many different things, so anything you find may be important to an expert later.

If there are any people around who know what happened, ask them questions and write down their answers. See if there are any medicine bottles nearby, and ask if anyone knows about any medical documents. Write down anything that indicates this was a natural death, as well as anything that indicates it was an accident, a crime, or foul play. Ask if the dead person complained of chest pain or other pains in the previous few days. Find out if the person over-exerted, for example by hiking much further than normal.

Write down relevant things like snowy or rainy weather, finding the body outdoors, finding the body in or near water, ropes or chains or weapons nearby, signs of a scuffle, etc. If there is an injury try to figure out if it was made by a blunt object such as a baseball bat or a sharp object such as a carpenter's saw. Look and feel for broken bones, which may or may not poke out through the skin. Look for scrapes and burns, and signs of suicide such as multiple cut marks on wrists.

Lacerations are blunt force injuries which are often confused with cuts. If there is a gunshot wound, look and see if there is also an exit wound where the bullet came out. The types and causes of wounds are so vast that it is important to take photographs or write down descriptions for later reference. Remember that the body will deteriorate, so chances are you will be the only person available to document these facts.

Decide whether you think rule of law soon be reinstated. It may be days, weeks or months before authorities can be summoned. If this is the case, then it is important to take steps now that will help identify the body later. This may include taking a DNA sample with a swab to the inner cheek, taking fingerprints with any ink or dye you can find, taking a blood sample,