Monday, March 26, 2018

Look at those numbers and quake in fear!

Take a look at this graph I found on the CDC website.  It's a government site so you know it's accurate.  Look at the comparison of gun deaths in the US compared to other high income countries!

Amazing isn't it? 

Oh wait, that is for traffic deaths, not gun deaths.  Oops, my bad.  Let me show you the whole thing.
Graphs sure can make things look clear can't they.

Here is some more info:
There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013.
About 90 people die each day in the US from crashes— resulting in the highest death rate among comparison countries.*Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

How do we allow this to continue?  Where is the oversight?  Why is the government not making sure that drunk drivers, high speed drivers, cell phone using drivers and just plain ignorant people who don't pay attention are stopped from driving cars?

Better yet, why would anyone get in a car and risk being one of the 90 people a day killed on the road?  

We need common sense vehicle control.  Do you really want a suicidal or crazy person driving?  How about someone who has different religious views?  How about a person with a known drinking or drug problem?  Why isn't there a metal health evaluation before someone is allowed to purchase a 4000 pound, 100 horse power metal and glass death machine with a high capacity fuel tank?

Other countries don't kill as many people with cars!  Other countries don't have as many alcohol related accidents! No wait, Canada shows more.  Good thing they have gun control so they can keep people alive long enough to kill each other on the roads, eh?

Some would say we should follow the other countries.  They have fewer vehicle deaths. Let's do it how they do it!

I agree.  

First thing we should do is reduce roads.  We have far too many miles of roads.  More open roads mean more chances of bad things happen.  You know what cuts down on accidents? Grid lock.  Hard to wreck when your are sitting still. 

Second thing is require public transportation or walking / bicycling.  I hear in England they have entire towns closed off to cars.  Sure they claim it's because the town is old and the roads are small and the traffic will damage the buildings.  And this is probably true.  But we can claim that too!  Granted we tear down buildings when the are 60+ years old and replace them with ugly metal buildings, but who cares?  We are saving lives here!  Many countries on this list have public transportation that will get you where you need to go.  No problem there, I love cheap, and I would love to read on my way to work.  So let's raise some taxes and make more public transportation.
I have visited cities and used buses and subways.  Nothing wrong there.  Unless you have a problem sticking to a schedule.  Running late for the bus?  Did it pull away before you got there?  Oh boy, you are really late now!  Call an Uber or a taxi.  You will still wait.  It sure would be convenient to hop in your car and drive yourself!  But people die in those things!  90 people a day! Who needs freedom when you can ride in the cheap safety of a public bus?  Ignore the guy passed out across from you possibly soiling himself. Try not to make eye contact with the panhandlers.  Just remember you are safe from all those people who should not be driving.  Ahhh safety.  Until your bus driver gets distracted, of crazy person punches you 5 year old in the face. But what are the chances THAT would happen?

Everything has risk.  Are we going to use each bad thing that happens as a reason to give up our freedom?  Not just to the government, but to ideas.  When you read of a senseless murder in Chicago, do you refuse to leave your house in Denver?  When you see a plane crash in Germany, do you cancel your vacation plans?  When you read about a church bus hitting a semi, do you refuse to go on a mission trip?  

I watched the local March for Our Lives here in Joplin. I saw speakers from local high schools cry about being more afraid everyday that they would be shot at school. I felt bad for them.  No because I agree that they should be afraid.  I felt bad that we are letting our kids be led by the nose to be afraid of what might happen. Yet fearless about what is probable to happen.  Car accidents in all their forms (DUI, speeding, cell phone use, etc).  Suicide and drug overdoses kill more 15-24 year olds each year than other "news worthy" causes.  Should we be aware of school shootings?  Absolutely.  We should also be aware of fire, tornados, floods, hurricanes, earth quakes, bad drivers, knife attacks, bullying, suicidal thoughts and the odd guy that hangs out around the school even though he graduated 8 years ago.  But, are we going to let each of these dictate what other people can and can not do?  People who follow the law, drive safe and have never attacked anyone with a knife?

What kid of disservice are we committing with our children that allows them to grow up willing to give up freedoms to the cause of the day?  More so, what are we teaching them about freedom vs security?  

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  - Ben Franklin

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lifestyle, hobby or something else?

After yesterday's podcast I kept thinking out time, optimism and preparedness.   To many people preppers are pessimistic nay sayers that are constantly forecasting the end of the world. Or at least the worst case scenario for the world.

So I have been thinking about preparedness as a mind set. In one of my earlier blogs I commented on prepper websites and their use of tabloid style news to get eyes on their pages. From the comment sections I tend to picture the average reader of those sites to be a 50+ year old man who may live in a house with a white noise generator, tin foil on the windows, way too many Confederate flags and a lack of proper hygiene.  But perhaps I am over analyzing.

One thing is apparent. These guys see doom and disaster around every corner.

How much time do you spend on preparedness?  1 hour a week?  1 hour a day?  Maybe an extra 15 minutes at the grocery store picking up some items with a long shelf-life? Is it a priority?  Or is it something you do when you have a bit of downtime?

If it is a priority, how much of a priority?  Do you think about it more than bills? More than planning meals?  More than work?

I am not going to argue what is the right amount for you.  That is between you, your family, your bank account and your schedule.

However, for myself, I have had to take a look at my own prepper philosophy.  As I have mentioned before, I do not hold to a single 'event'  philosophy.  Many preppers have an event that they have forecasted: economic collapse, EMP/CME, WWIII, an earthquake with hemispheric if not world wide effects, Yellowstone caldera eruption, and it goes on and on.  I myself have no idea what is most likely to come. My powers of divination, prophecy or prognostication can't guess the next card in a pile containing only 5 cards let alone what will happen in the coming year.   From what I have seen on most of these sites, the "experts" are not much better.  Weekly they predict the next card will be a joker and weekly they are surprised when it is just a 3 of clubs or some other mundane card. Those who are really out there will predict a "Draw 4 card", because they have convinced themselves that someone slipped an Uno deck into the game.  They have never seen an Uno card and Uno cards look completely different so it would be obvious, but they are sure that in that standard deck is one Uno card waiting to jump out.

So what is the proper amount?  When does the proper amount become too much? When does a hobby become a fixation?

I think it starts to happen when we let preparedness get in the way of life.  If you put off trips, or avoid investing your money longterm, or when your career is effected.  If you are surfing the web for freeze dried food instead of taking customer orders, this could be a sign.  Or perhaps you refuse to pay your bills with cash, check or credit card.  Choosing to only pay in gold or silver. This can put a real dent in your day to day living. Is there a public utility that accepts this as payment?

I understand that some people out there suffer from PTSD centered around events that they are now vigilant to prepare for.  I can not speak to these.  My knowledge of psychology and psychiatry is no where near sufficient. So I stay out of the deep end of that pool.   There are many people in the Joplin area that were deeply effected by the 2011 tornado. To the point that this time of year brings a hyper vigilance. They can not watch TV shows about tornados or even the movie Twister. People in this situation have my sympathy.

However, there are others that prepare for things that might never happen.  Extremely focused on an end of the world scenario that possibly will play out and more than likely will fizzle out.

Personally I think of preparedness like I think of my fire plan.  I make sure the smoke detectors work, fire extinguishers are in place and charged.  I have fire safe storage for documents. I hope and pray I never have to use these.  Much the same way I hope and pray I never have to use the gun in the quick access safe beside my bed. Once these things happen, people are not the same, so I hope I never have to utilize any of these preps.

I sincerely pray that my kids are going to grow up, get careers and families never experiencing how bad things can get.   I live everyday hoping that they will never loose any of their friends or family to a needless accident or horrible crime.  But it can happen.  I don't want my family to have to scratch out an existence working day to day just to eat.  But it can happen.  It has happened. In some places it is happening. So I prepare.

But if I miss out on my kids growing up, I miss out on time with my wife,  I miss out on my grandchildren all because I was too focused on what might happen, what have I really gained? 

Now I do keep a get home bag in my truck.  I  drive 30,000 miles a year, so it seems like I should be ready for on the road events, and it has paid off more than once.  I examine this bag about 3 times a year, especially when the weather changes. For example, now that is warmer, I have removed the large heavy wool blanket.  I have replaced it with a lighter blanket that is easier to pack and carry.  Come next winter, I will change it back. But I don't repack it daily based on the forecast.  I don't check my fire extinguishers everyday, but I know they are there.  I don't test fire my gun everyday (as much as I wish I had that much range time) but I know it's there.

Now there are some activities that achieve more than one goal.  I hike weekly with a backpack simulating my get home bag.  This gives me the piece of mind to know that should I need to I can hike 8 miles in under 2.5 hours with no issues. Plus it is a nice work out, and it gives me 2 plus hours to talk and solve the world's problems with one of my best friends.   I would call that a prepper hat trick.   You could say the same for gardening.  You get to raise your food, can if you choose, eat a healthy meal, plus there is something spiritual about raising your own food, using your own labor to coax your own sustenance from the soil.   You may have other hobbies that cross preparedness with time to just be you.  As I mentioned in the last podcast.  I am believer in alone time.  I believe that hobbies are important.  We can't run on the hamster wheel all the time.  We need time slow down and enjoy just being us.  Even a cat in a room full of laser pointers has to rest at sometime. We are not meant to go full board all the time.  For our physical and mental health, we need time to reset and recharge.

Perhaps that is a walk, prayer, meditating on the blessings that surround you.  Or maybe it is building something with your own hands, conquering a challenge or just organizing your tool box. Eventually we have to have faith that it is ok to take some time for yourself.  You can't save the world alone and your can't do much if you are exhausted.  An hour here, 30 mins there,  or even 2 hours on the trail will not change much as far as the world is concerned, but for you the benefits can be huge.

When do we have enough preps that we simply know they are there?   What is your outlook? How much do you think is the right amount?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Are you willing to let the government protect you?

I think the thing that makes preppers so odd or different than "normal" society is that most preppers believe in self-sufficiency.  This is becoming more and more rare. As a society we seem to be loosing the ability or desire to take care of ourselves and those around us.

Some want the government to take care of their feelings, retirement, even income.

Here in Missouri we have a State Rep by name of Jim Neely (R-Cameron).  He wants to block porn from everyone's computers and internet connected devices.  For the children of course.  It's always "For the children".

"The bill says a distributor who makes or sells a product that is accessible to the internet, like a phone or a computer would be required to install a blocking software that would prevent the device from accessing obscene material.
Neely says it would apply to all porn. A person could have the blocking software removed if they prove they are more 18-years-old and pays a $20 deactivation fee. The money would go into a fund called the “Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Fund.”
I don't care what your personal views on pornography are, this is preposterous that he would even feel comfort with offering something like this.  Yet people are jumping on board. Saying "YES DO IT!"  While completely ignoring that fact that they are leaving the choice of what they read, watch and listen to online. They are willing to hand over the decision of what to watch to the government.  They are willing to let someone else determine what is and what is not pornographic. They may even hand over they decision as to what is or is not appropriate literature.  How long will it be before the groups that are offended by what is in their lack of opinion diversity, trigger words, the presence of firearms, history or works of art? 
We already see this on college campuses.  People wanting to dictate what can and can not be said, places that certain races are allowed and others are not allowed. 
Imagine this in your home, on you phone or tablet.
Who are you comfortable with deciding what you can or can not view? The Pope? A self professed Black Lives Matter leader? The lawmaker's Baptist Minister? Donald Trump? Chuck Shumer? Eric Grietens?  A lobbyist from Focus on the Family or a lobbyist from the porn industry?  
Now he proposes that for $20 you can have the software disabled.  Once you prove you are of age.  So we get a porn tax. Call it what you want, it's a porn tax.  You want to look at porn? You want to disable the software just because you don't like Big Brother looking over your shoulder? Pay the tax.
Are you a computer tech? Are you proficient to know if the software is gone? Are you able to tell if the software is sending information to the company the state decided to hire to keep you from websites they don't like? Data mining is big business.  It is not out of the realm of possibility that this software could scrape your hard drive data or report your cell phone location.
It was not that long ago here in Missouri that we found out that the Highway Patrol gave lists CCW permit holders to the federal government. . This caused a backlash that moved the administration of conceal carry permits to the local level.  Why?  Because privacy, that is why. It also shows a precedent of what the state is willing to do without oversight. 
Of course this only effects people who are willing to follow the law should it pass.  Porn blockers have proven to stop kids from seeing porn about as well as a coffee filter works as a condom.  Kids are smart, some kids are scary computer smart.  They will crack it, the will disable it.  They will figure out how to use VPNs to get around it.  They already do.  Sometimes for porn, sometimes for pirated movies and music.  Once one kid finds a work around, social media, 4chan, and hack sites will have it posted for all to see. 
Apple routinely offers updates to disable jailbreaking on their phones, there is usually a work around posted in days if not hours after they release it. If one of the richest companies in the world can not stop work around how is going to do better with .01 percent of the funds available to Apple?  And Apple has a financial reason to stop jailbreaking!  They want you to get software from their store.  Software that is vetted and a vast a majority of the time virus free. 
The article mentions distributors will be responsible for this or face civil action. How many distributors will fall in line?  How many will choose not to sell to Missourians? or Alabama and Rhode Island where similar legislation has been introduced? What are they going to do about people who build their own systems? My 14 year old son (now 15) built his own computer.  Are they going to try to enforce it with people like him? Like I mentioned before, one encrypted vpn connection and they will never know. 
If you are worried about your kids and porn.  Setup your own security, its out there.  Have your kids only use the their PCs, tablets and phones where you can see them.  Talk with them about what is and is not appropriate.  Do what you feel you need to do, but take the time to parent your own kids. Don't leave it to the government.  Once you hand a job over to the government they rarely if ever give it back, and most times it grows.  What is a PC, phone or tablet porn blocker today could be the government ran content tv filter of tomorrow.   This is not beyond possibility.  Many tv's and  dvd/blu-ray players are already set up to be "smart" with apps and updates.  This makes them internet connected devices, and part of the equipment requiring a porn filter. 
Imagine setting down to watch the new Game of Thrones and BLOCKED comes up in its place.  Their is nudity, sex, violence and bad words.  To some that equates porn. 
So take care of your own or loose the ability to do so.  For me, I choose to parent my kids myself.  No thanks on the nanny state. 
 I leave you with the words of Justice Thurgood Marshall who wrote for the majority in STANLEY v. GEORGIA:
"These are the rights that appellant is asserting in the case before us. He is asserting the right to read or observe what he pleases -- the right to satisfy his intellectual and emotional needs in the privacy of his own home. He is asserting the right to be free from state inquiry into the contents of his library. Georgia contends that appellant does not have these rights, that there are certain types of materials that the individual may not read or even possess. Georgia justifies this assertion by arguing that the films in the present case are obscene.

But we think that mere categorization of these films as "obscene" is insufficient justification for such a drastic invasion of personal liberties guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Whatever may be the justifications for other statutes regulating obscenity, we do not think they reach into the privacy of one's own home. If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds." STANLEY v. GEORGIA

Argued: Jan. 14 and 15, 1969. --- Decided: April 7, 1969

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

High Pressure Sales

I hate buying cars.  Actually, hate is not a strong enough word for what I feel. I LOATH buying cars.  It is no surprise to my wife and friends that I am a germaphobe.  However, I would gladly stick my hands in stagnant sewer water and fish around for a missing Tootsie Roll than deal with a car salesman.

This is not based on fear or nerves.  I have good enough credit that financing a vehicle is not a problem.  I make enough money that I don't worry about the payments.

I just real hate the hard sell.

I am a believer that if something is good, it will sell itself.  At one time I sold auto services for the now defunct Montgomery Wards.  We were to push tires, and everything that went with them.  I hated selling junk just to make a quota or to get a bonus.  We were offered bonuses for different tires every month or so. Sometimes these were for great tires, with long life and good tread ratings.  Other times they were for crappy tires that they just wanted to get rid of.   It pained me to sell someone tires that were not as good as others simply for a bonus.  I did not do well on those months.

More and more I am seeing the hard sell in the prepper / survival websites.  Each week or month is new ominous threat coming from somewhere.

These are sites dedicated to preppers.  Help us with actual stories, techniques, ideas or alternatives to what we are already doing.  We are preppers, we found your site, you don't need to pull us in with tabloid like headlines.

One of the current threats is from above.   The first Chinese "space station" Tiangong-1 is falling into the atmosphere.  The actual date of it burning up and what is left hitting the ground is at this time up for speculation.  Most think between March 29 and April 9th.   One headline touts that it is OUT OF CONTROL AND WILL HIT WITHIN DAYS!!  Well, yeah.  It is no longer a controlled entry, but its not racing towards earth like the killer asteroid in Armageddon.  It is falling into the atmosphere and loosing speed.  Some have even started speculating where it will come down in the US.   As the for DAYS part, unless it is an imminent warning, couldn't days mean about anytime between now and a month from now?

The truth is it will fall.  The truth is also that you have a chance everyday of being hit by space debris.  Meteors, old satellites, parts of rockets that are not reusable.  The international space station fills space capsules up with trash and other waste, the releases them to burn up in the atmosphere.  Standard procedure.  The 8-tonne Russian Zenit second stage rocket from the December launch of Angosat-1 reentered over Peru.

One of the issues I have with the hard sell tactics is that they give no solutions. They are merely there to get eyes on the page so that we will also see the story about the coming economic collapse conveniently placed right under the advertisement selling gold.

There are so many real issues we could prepare for, why cater only to fear? If a piece of Chinese space junk is going to hit my house, what can I do? Maybe check my home owners policy? With each of these our focus is challenged. They pull us away from what could be seen as mundane threats and focus us on the outlandish. This is similar to the coverage given to airline accidents. People worry much more about flying than they do about car travel.

Fear can be a good thing. Fear real of possibilities is a good thing. It is good to be concerned about the condition of your tires. It perfectly understandable to be fearful of the car traveling beside you operated by a person talking on a phone in one had, holding a cigarette in the other and apparently driving with the lower half of her body ( I'm not being sexist, this is something I saw yesterday). It is not good to be so entrenched with fear that you won't drive because there is a chance the freeway bridge will get hit by a river barge and send you in to the river far below (it happened on I-40 in Oklahoma). One is a direct threat to you and others on the road, the other is a rare situation that while terrible for those involved, is not likely to happen routinely.

Focus on the day to day. What threats have a real possibility? What threats are possible but less likely? What threats are unlikely, but still need a plan? What threats are there that you just can't do anything about?

We live in a time that terrorism is around every corner. The TSA makes traveling in the air a chore, and public gatherings are starting to look like martial law has been declared. In actuality, our chance of being effected by terrorism is quite low (especially if you live in a place like Joplin, MO). The Washington Post in 2015 had this article about how you are more likely to be killed by falling furniture than by a terrorist

In the news now we are hearing about gun control.  This is a topic that gets people going.  Assault weapons with bump stocks and high capacity mags being wielded by deranged 18 year olds!  But it ignores other more dangerous issues.  In 2016, 2,627 kids between the ages of 15 to 19 died in motor vehicle accidents. In the same age group, 942 killed themselves with a firearm but 856 killed themselves by suffocation. Fire arm deaths in this age group were un unpleasant 1,611.  So if we add suicides (most pro 2nd amendment people don't want to include those) and homicides using fire arms we come up with 2553.  Still less than motor vehicle accidents.  Should we keep our guns away from unsupervised kids?  Yes!  But we have no issue with them driving or riding in a 2 ton death machine made of glass and metal.  

Out of all the age groups in 2016, the biggest killer was heart disease. 635,260 people died of heart disease.  Yet we still sell cigarettes at every gas station, Walmart, grocery store and on an on.  We don't outlaw smoking and we don't force people to eat right, and we don't make sure everyone exercises. Total unintentional deaths were 161,374.  You are far more likely to kill yourself with smoking, eating bad and not exercising than to be accidentally killed.

The numbers show what we really need to prepare for.  Our own health, storms, earthquakes in some areas, wild fires, droughts, these are all real imminent threats.   There is nothing wrong with preparing for a coronal mass ejection, nuclear war, EMP attack or the Yellowstone caldera blowing.  As long as we don't loose focus of the end result.  Taking care of ourselves and our families when times get rough.  

There is a saying amongst hikers and backpackers.  "Watch the ounces, and the pounds will take care of themselves".  If you are ready for the storms, droughts, fires and floods, You'll be most of the way to being ready for the rest. 

There is no need for the hard sell, just the sell basics and it will sell itself.  Taking care of ourselves and our family maybe mundane, but we all want it.  

Friday, March 9, 2018

Preppers and the media

Preppers have a tendency to distrust the main stream media or just the media in general.
Some say it is because they are controlled by the government, shadow government, the illuminati, George Soros, the military industrial complex, the list goes on and on.

I distrust the media for two reasons.  1. I worked in TV news and you could say, I know how the sausage is made.  2.  It is very hard for people who believe in preparedness to get a fair shake in the news.  Why is that?  Because most of us either don't look to be interviewed, or we are too mundane to hold a reporters interest.  Having worked in the media, I know there is a reason for this.  Laziness, that's right I said it.  Reporters for the most part are either lazy or in a rush for a deadline. Sometimes, both.

I have recorded many interviews with nut jobs, not because they new more, but simply because they were willing to talk.  Why look for a truly concerned citizen when Billy meth head will tell you how the lead in the soil ain't ever effected his brain? His children are just fine even after growing up drinking Crush soda.  You know it's healthy, it has an orange on the can! This lead scare is just a reason for the gov'ment to run us out of our house that we paid $2000 for!  Or we would have paid for if the owner had made us.  Now he just leaves us alone and plans to burn the place when we leave. Sure the floor has holes, but that just makes it easier for the dogs to jump down and kill the opossums! You just have to remember to cook everything low and slow.  Not because its tastes better, but because the adults have lost quite a few teeth.  The tooth loss is due to genetics, not those 2 liter bottles brewing up meth in the back room or the lack of a single tooth brush in the entire house. (True side not, I once recorded an interview for a national show, during which we were attacked by chickens.  We were inside the house.)

It saved effort, time and energy. Instead of researching or knocking on doors, we would just interview who ever jumped in front of the camera thinking they could be important for 1 min 15 seconds that night on the 6pm news.

A local magazine, appropriately named "417 Magazine" has an article on preppers this month.  As usual they found the stereo typical people to interview.  One is a radio host who has just a first name followed by a colon.  He believes this will keep him "out of the system", another is a guy who claims to have designed banking systems and yet another says he was part of the team that declared the US unready for an EMP attack back in the 80's.

That seems to be a common thread amongst these people.  They all believe they are smarter than all the "sheeple" wandering around not expounding their cause to reporters.  They know more than you, but they won't tell you how they know more than you.  Don't ask where they worked, got their degree, or to prove where they live.  For all the reporter knows they could live in a tin foil covered apartment with only enough supplies to last through a marathon viewing of all the Tremors movies.

If you would like to read the article and see what I mean, here is a link:

In view of this, I would like to tell you about myself and what separates me from these people that want to talk all about it, yet tell you nothing about them.  These doomsday prophets who claim unprovable credentials and want to sway you with divine fiat.

I prepare for snow storms, power outages, floods, tornados, and other events.  I prepare with generators, get home bags, stored food and plans. I prepare for these because I have seen them happen.  This gives me a template to work with. The upside it being prepared for these things, also keeps me prepared for the things that make these news preppers as excited as a politician in a room full of lobbyists. I don't know how the world will end or even if it will end.  But I'm as prepared as I can manage without turning my family into paranoid cult people who believe that the world is out to get us.

Here is a quick list of what separates me from the prepping "experts" the media likes to write about and put on shows like "Doomsday Preppers".

My kids are vaccinated, I have been vaccinated, I believe the moon landing happened, I believe that conspiracy theories are more complicated than reality.  I don't believe that Bigfoot is probable (the giant ape man thing, not the truck, I have seen the truck). I don't believe that announcing that keeping myself off the "system" will keep me off the "system".  As a matter of fact, since this article is on the web and his radio show is nation wide, his attempts to "keep off the system" have failed miserably.

Nothing will put you on the government's radar like announcing to world that you don't want the government watching you so you are taking steps to hide.  By announcing in media that you have a determination to stay under the radar, you are making your self as unnoticeable as an evangelist trying to have a bible study in a strip bar during fleet week. You're going to stick out and the people in charge are going to investigate you.

I do however believe, that it is my job to take care of my family.  That means gainful employment. Food for today, tomorrow and next month.  Maybe longer.  I believe in having a plan.  I believe in having a back up plan.  Sometimes I even have a backup to the backup plan.

This is why I prepare.  I prepare for my family and I prepare for the families around me and in my community.   Do I have enough food and water for all of them? Nope, that is up to them.  But I do prepare for my family so that in an event we will not be inline taking anything that could go to help others. I prepare so that while others are figuring out what they are going to eat and how they are going to drink, my family is taken care of.   How much easier would it be is after large events like tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes and the like, a majority said, "We are good, we are self sufficient. Help those that are not."?

I do not believe that the government or whoever may or may not be running the government give a flip about me as long as my taxes are paid and I am not caught breaking a law. I do believe that it is my responsibility as a husband and father to take care of my family.  But, I don't know it all.  I have never worked for the government, I have never engineered anything larger than a local database.  I'm just a guy wanting to take care of me and mine.  What reporter wants to waste time on that, when Bigfoot is faking landing on the moon to get our attention away from the fact that big pharma and is being paid by the illuminati to poison us all with measles vaccinations?

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rule of 2

The Rule of 2:  2 is 1 and 1 is none.

Most of us are familiar with the rule of 2.  However does it literally mean 2?  Do we really want to load our get home bag with 2 of everything?  2 mess kits, 2 wool blankets (which I can attest are really heavy if they are as big as the one I carry) or 2 AR-15 pistols?

I don't think so.  So how do we conform to the rule of 2?  In my case I am a fan of tools that do more than one thing.  Now, when I worked in auto parts we had a saying, "Universal means it does not fit anything correctly."  And for the most part I still believe that. I have purchased more cell phone holders for my truck than I will ever admit.   Each one proved to be a flimsy piece of junk that was not worth the money it took to ship it from China.

Now there are somethings that do multiple jobs adequately.  Leatherman multi-tools are great for in a pinch repairs.  Are they the best tool? Probably not, or we would see handymen everywhere sell they tools boxes and work with nothing but Leathermans.  I have a knock off multi-tool I keep in my get home bag because it backs up other tools I also have. Now if pocket knife comes up missing I have a backup.  Along with the pliers, screwdriver, etc. I use the knock off because I am cheap and it is a backup.  360 days out of the year I probably won't touch it.   This is primarily because I carry pliers, screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches and more in a converted ammo can I keep in the bed of my truck.  Although, should they come up missing or an emergency happens that I can not get to the actual tools, the multi-tool is there for the job.

As a Ham radio operator I love having a radio with me.  I have one mounted in my truck and I keep another in my day to day backpack.  One thing I learned from the Joplin tornado is that when everything else is down, amatuer radio still works.   But if I had to leave my truck I would be down to 1 and 1 is 0.   Now my go to radio is a Yaesu FT-60r. This radio runs $150 - $160.  I don't want to spend that kind of money on something I rarely touch.  So I have a backup in my go bag. Many of you are familiar with the Baofeng series of radios that start out at about $25.  Many Hams will scoff at this radios as being subpar in sound, reception and transmitting.  And I agree, however, they hold battery life while powered down for at least 6 months in temperature extremes.  I have tested mine out by leaving a fully charged Baofeng in one of my ammo cans in truck for 6 months or Missouri weather.  When I took it out the battery still had over 80% charge.  Now, I agree reception is not the highpoint of these radios.  I can listen to more inside my office with my Yaesu that I can while standing outside my office, but if you can get to a hilltop or other elevated area they will hit a tower 25 miles away.  Again I have tested this.   Now if you are not a ham operator and buy one of these I would encourage you to get your license and work with it.  Learn before hand how repeaters, offsets and PL tones work prior to trying to use one in during an event.

Another alternative to this, especially if you have no interest in operating an amatuer radio or getting a license is the Tecsun PL series of radios that start out at $45 or so.  These have shortwave, FM and AM.  I have the PL-360.  It runs on 3 AA batteries and comes with a shortwave wire antenna that will clip on to the main antenna plus a high gain AM antenna.  In an event you may not be able to know what stations are availiable and it has a self programming scan feature that is really handy.

Finally fire.  Most of us keep a bic lighter on hand. They are cheap and they work for the most part.   I keep a bic and zippo because I like the ability with the zippo to no keep lit.  I also keep a tin of wax covered makeup removers that are really easy to light using a pocket knife and a ferro rod.  It also holds some jute twine that is a great tender and some 550 fire cord.

You maybe saying well Jeff, that's a lot more than 2 fire sources.  And you are right.  But to me fire is important.  If I need to boil water, cook food, create warmth. Fire is there. the same reason I care 3 different water purification systems.  Lifestraw bottle, lifestraw knockoff and water purification tablets.  Because they are all rather small and light, and water is important I expand on the rule of 2. I carry one mess kit because I can eat with my hands.  One wool blanket because I have an emergency blanket and wet weather gear.  The more I need it the more I carry.

I probably carry more food than I need, after all its 3 mins without air, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.  It is also true that if you are on foot you are going to use calories like never before. But that is my choice, I train with a 45 lbs pack so I know how far I can go should I need to with my go bag. Plus it's a great work out.

Somethings do not lend themselves to multiples.  As I mentioned above, are you really going to carry 2 AR-15's even if they are pistol versions? I don't think so.   But an AR-15 and a small side arm you are good to go with the rule of 2. The choice of gun is personal and I won't tell you what to carry should you choose to. But keep in mind you don't just carry the gun, you carry the ammo too.

So the rule of 2 is a great guide. But not a law.  What is most needed in your plan?  That depends on the season, your location and you familiarity with living off the grid.  I have room in pack for more of somethings than others would carry while some pack extras of things I have no need for. Tobacco products and alcohol come to mind. If you are traveling with a full blown alcoholic (or are one yourself, you need to be aware and ready for the DTs.  If you chew or are a smoker, perhaps investing in some nicotine gum might be a prep worth looking to. I believe it can be bought individually sealed and is fairly small and light.   Prepping for your weak spots is just as important as prepping for your strengths.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Prepping: Return on Investment

Wow, it is has been a long time since I have updated this!  So here we go!

I've been thinking about investing. Not just money, but everything we have.

What is prepping to you?  Is it building a bunker in the mountains?  Is it making sure that you have provisions to survive an unexpected car breakdown in a snow storm?  A pantry full of food?
Or a off the grid homestead in far removed from large cities and building codes?

Each of us has a level.  A level that is dictated by, time, money, resources, skill and desire.

In the end I think it comes down to return on investment.  Usually this term is used in investing.  If I back this business idea, mutual fund, movie, etc what am I getting in return?

I think it is applicable to prepping as well.  Are you willing or able to spend the money, time, work on  land, upgrades, stocking, rotating supplies for a major catastrophe?   Or are you more prone to put a bug out bag together and take your chances in the wilderness?  Maybe you are intending on stock piling food, medicine and water to wait out the situation at home.

It all comes down to what are you preparing for.  A short term emergency, possibly local in nature? A regional emergency possible state wide or over multiple states?  Or are you ready for the big one, the one that takes down the grid and infrastructure for years if not decades?

Prepping is an investment or possibly even a bet. We are setting up for what we think might happen or could happen.  With investment of any kind, you have to have something to invest.  If you are fortunate you have the money to setup anything you want. If you don't have the money then your going to need time and resources.  Like gardening, canning, construction and training.

I don't believe any of these is more or less right.  If you have the money and you are able to buy what you need while saving time to continue making more money.  That works.  If you are short on the money but have time to do it yourself that works too.

Eventually though, we are faced with deciding if our investment is worth the return.  If you spend your last cent on a remote location that you may or may not homestead or use as a bug out location, is this worth it if you never have a reason to use it?  Is it worth, putting off vacations that you can no longer afford, or working over time and missing your kids growing up?  So you really want to spend weeks, months or years with people that you barely know because you were working overtime or spending every weekend digging a hole where someday a shelter might go?  Is it worth a pantry with 4 years of freeze dried food if you have neglected your friendships and spend the net 4 years eating alone while playing solitaire and hoping that your are not over run by hungry hoards that you have no chance of fending off because you are alone?

Financial planners will tell you to divest.  Portfolio diversification is important so all of your eggs are not in one basket.  In prepping this means networking.  Networking is a word that many preppers hate.  They sacrifice networking at the alter of OPSEC.

Do you have a network?  Do you have someone you can reach out to is a medical condition becomes unmanageable?  Do you have enough security to resist those who did not prep but see your preps as a honey pot for the taking?  How about communications? Someone that is handy with repairs?   Are you training others who will be with you?  Can they can food, are the familiar with firearms for hunting and security?  Do they have a working knowledge of your back up systems?  Do they know where your preps are stored? To center the survival of your family and or your group on one person is to plan to fail.  One person can not run security, fix the solar backup, move the stores from storage to a useable area.  If the you are on security who is going to monitor communications?  If you are working on the generator or solar backup who knows how to filter and decontaminate the drinking water?  These are just some ideas.

We need to remember, that if a major event effects a large enough area, free time will not exist in the way it does now.  Free time is a fairly new concept.  Look into history.  Only the rich had time to lay about, pursue the arts, or take vacations.  The normal person / family was just working to stay alive.
This is what we would be looking at in a collapse.  All hands on deck.  Remember they stories of kids who got up to feed the animals before school?  I did that when I was a kid, I had bucket calves.  However I did this for money, not for survival.   Its a different mind set. If one of my calves got sick or wandered off, I would go take care of it.  How much more intense would have this been if my family depended on that calf for food?  How much TV do you watch a day?  How much Facebook time? This will go away not just because the grid it down but because survival will trump it.  But if you have a network of people who can be counted on and know what they are doing you increase your chances of being able to sit down, have a glass of tea, maybe shoot the breeze or take a nap.

Food cooking?  Check!  Wood collected and cut?  Check! More food for tomorrow? Check!  Food for next week? Next month?  Are we ready for winter?   For the rains?  The kids are growing how are we on clothes?  Shoes are wearing out, who can fix these? Its getting dark, do we turn out the lights, dampen the fire or do we burn fuel to keep going?

If you truly believe that bad things are coming, what are your doing to prepare your family?  Do you camp? Do you teach?  Do you share information?  If you were out of town, and the even hit.  Would they you plan?  Would they know where to start?  Would they know the basics?  Do they know who to turn to if you are not available?

We can not be solitary survivalists.  We must invest in others.  Be they family, friends or people with similar interests.

John Donne's poem "No Man is an Island" says:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 

More and more we are becoming islands unto ourselves.  This is easy with Facebook, texting, emails
and all the technology we use everyday.  But when the big one (whatever that is) occurs, we will need 
each other.  Have you invested in people?  Good people that have similar interests or merely people 
that need you to feed and water them?  What is your return on investment?

Stress tests and public restrooms

So you’re getting ready for a trip. Maybe it’s a 4 hour trip across the state, or maybe its a 13 hour drive for a business trip.  ...