Thursday, May 31, 2012

Daily Briefing for Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Really Shouldn't Go Here.

When I spoke in chapel at Webb late last month, one young man asked me if I believed in the Zombie Apocalypse.  I'd brought the question on myself, since I'd told the audience that the biggest fear of kids their age was, in fact, zombies.  My response?  I don't believe in the ZA, but if you believe in it and as a result you're better prepared for a wider spectrum of perils, then I support your decision to prepare for it.

This week's news cycles have been filled with stories of people killing and literally eating their victim.  I ran across this story from Maryland in the Huffington Post of yet another incident of Punch and Munch (WARNING: Punch and Munch is an official trademark of the Suburban Dad Survivalist, 2012.  All rights reserved.  Use it without my permission and I will sue your ass into oblivion.  And then I will eat you.  Literally.)  It begs the question: New trend or just statistical outliers?

I'm betting on the latter.  I suspect most of these stories would not be getting the press they are getting  but for the incident in Miami which was apparently witnessed by a fair number of fine citizens residing in the 305 area code.  I lived in Miami for years.  Stories like this are rather common there.  No joke.  Ask anyone who lives there, and they will tell you the same thing. 

But there is clearly an undercurrent here I don't want us to neglect.  Look at what's going on around us.  Spain is "in a situation of total emergency, the worst crisis we have ever lived through” as reported by Ambrose Evan-Pritchard.  Jobless claims this week came in at "383,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 373,000. The 4-week moving average was 374,500, an increase of 3,750 from the previous week's revised average of 370,750."  Tomorrow morning's May jobs number may disappoint as well

Things are uneasy out there.  People are feeling the strain of expensive gasoline and an economy that doesn't seem to want to rebound.  Political rhetoric on television and talk radio may provide an outlet by giving us someone to blame, but in reality all of this is much bigger than any one candidate or one party. 

I'm not blaming these recent stories of cannibalism on the economy or politicians.  What I'm saying is that our world is filled with all sorts of stressers at the moment.  Be cognizant of that.  Note the people you meet in public are more likely to be on edge than they were a few years ago.  You may be on edge more than you were a few years ago. 

Stay grounded.  Stay focused on what's important.  Prepare.  Know that you're doing the right thing by taking care of yourself and your family.  Show charity when you can.  Be the reason someone is less stressed than they were before.  Be the true leaders we need right now, even if it's on a small scale. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Daily Briefing For Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nine Meals Away From Anarchy

It's a busy around here this week, so blogging will be light for the next few days.

I ran across this video today.  The "nine meals away from anarchy" tag line intrigued me.  I suspect in a real emergency we'll stop measuring time in hours and days and will instead measure it in terms of how many meals we've missed.

Note I am not predicting some event like the one in this History Channel segment.  But it serves as a good training tool for us - a regional power outage caused by an earthquake or hurricane might be one scenario we could envision which would disrupt the local economy.  And note what happens when everyone "bugs out."  I continue to maintain that sheltering in place is a great strategy for those willing to take the time to make the preparations. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Daily Briefing for Monday, May 28, 2012

Oak Trees, Bank Runs, Inappropriate Words, and Immigrant Tsunamis

I recently received some really good coupons from Northern Tool, and so on Saturday I went to their store to see if anything they had in stock would interest me.  This time of year in Texas, you tend to park anywhere you can find shade, and so I pulled next to a massive live oak next to the parking lot.

When I got back into the truck, I noticed a large plaque next to the tree.  Apparently, this particular tree was over five feet in diameter and thus was estimated to be over 700 years old.  The plaque went on to recount the various world and Texas history events during which the tree would have been alive.  As I sat there and read the narrative, it dawned on me that I was one of many people over the 700 year period who likely sought shade from this tree.

We've seen a lot in 700 years.  Hell, we've seen a lot in the last 100 years.  A global pandemic (1918), two world wars, two financial depressions, the mass production of hand held communication devices enabling me to send pictures of our dogs roaming the countryside to Kendel several thousand miles away at nearly the speed of light, the invention of airplanes and monster trucks, and the discovery for cures to all sorts of diseases plaguing the earth for centuries - we've seen and accomplished a lot. 

It reminded me of the fact that regardless of whatever plagues our country in the coming months and years, we have consistently shown that we will bounce back.  Given that, should we bother to prepare at all?

The tea leaves would tell you the answer to that question is an unequivocal "yes."  Here's a recap on the European financial front:

CNBC's Jim Cramer: "I'm predicting bank runs in Spain and Italy in the next few weeks. Without coordinated policy there will be financial anarchy."

The UK prepares for a "collapse of the euro" (their words, not mine): by giving immigrants "a really hostile reception" (again, their words and not mine) as discussed here and here.

The New York Times, which never fabricates stories (Jayson Blair), reported late last week about the sharp increase in bank runs and currency conversions out of the Euro and into the Pound and other currencies

Permabear Marc Faber: 100% chance of global recession.

Lloyds of London is "preparing for euro collapse."

From the Financial Times: "Greece’s public finances could collapse as early as next month, leaving salaries and pensions unpaid."

Meanwhile, Iran continues to play with its Fatwa Chemistry Set, whipping up a batch of enriched uranium large enough to put the snap, crackle and pop into five nukes.  Many, however, speculate our beef with Iran has less to do with their science project and everything to do with their decision to begin accepting any form of currency for its oil - instead of the global standard use of the U.S. dollar for oil trades (a move away from the U.S. dollar in oil trades would significantly weaken the dollar; some believe it would be catastrophic.)

Syria continues to resemble Hogan's Alley.  This past weekend, over 90 civilians were killed, including 30 children, in that country's ongoing resolution.  The number of UN-backed observers there grows geometrically, despite a large number of Americans who are opposed to our troops being involved in such an operation.

Back here in America, the U6 unemployment rate remains stuck at 14.5%.   The folks at ZeroHedge put together this profanity-peppered tirade about the growth in the defense budget and how it's affecting our debt and thus our future.  And in case you thought you were safe reading this blog, check out the list of words that DHS would prefer you not use in an email or read on line:

So what are we to do with all of this?  Be like that oak tree.

You don't get to be a 700 year oak tree without doing a few things right.  Here's what we can learn from it:

  1. Develop deep roots.  Anchor yourselves.  And by that I mean, get your affairs in order.  Live within your means.  Build meaningful relationships.  Develop and grow your spiritual life. 
  2. Always stay green.  The live oak tree is an evergreen, shedding its leaves in the spring while simultaneously putting out new ones.  Stay alive.  Stay healthy.  Get in good physical shape.  Get your diet in order.  Never stop learning new things - new skills, new ideas, new interests.
  3. Help others when you can.  When you can provide shade in the heat, people tend to keep you around.  Provide shade to others needing your time and expertise.
Crises come and go.  Be the live oak that outlives them all.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend Briefing - May 2012


A couple of nights ago, Delaney shared this link with me.  She told me the teacher in one of her classes shared it with the kids. 

I suspect many of you have seen it - the story of Dr. Randy Pausch, who died of pancreatic cancer.  Before his death, Pausch did a final lecture to his students about making the most of life.  The short presentation is worth your time, as it gives us some great ideas on how to make the most of our time here on Earth.  We owe it to God and to our fellow planetary residents to make a contribution.

The only issue I would take with Dr. Pausch's remarkable presentation is his assertion that, and I am paraphrasing, no one is pure evil.  There's some good in everyone.  Delaney seemed to agree with that, arguing that not everyone is completely bad.

I beg to differ.

Now I realize that people who may have pissed me off for one reason or another over the years weren't tools of Satan.  However, I think I can come up with a list of people for whom evil resides at their DNA level:  Hitler, Stalin, and Bin Ladin quickly come to mind.  These soulless men define evil.  I would submit any kindness they might have shown to anyone represents a calculated effort to manipulate a situation.

Evil is the absence of good.  For those people who lack any goodness in their heart, they are pure evil.  These people exist in our society and around the world.

Pure evil exists.  All around us.

Note I'm not telling you this to make your paranoid.  There's no need to be.  For as writers have aptly paraphrased Edmund Burke so long ago: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  The antidote to evil is our resistance to it.

This Memorial Day weekend, ponder the writings of Paul in Romans 12: Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Friends, I hate to tell you this, but most of our fellow citizens, as nice as they are, are simply too lazy or self-absorbed to resist evil or show kindness to others.  That falls to us in the preparedness community.  Take that responsibility seriously.

I will be taking the weekend off from blogging.  Look for another post on Monday night.  Have a safe weekend.  And God bless the families of those who have lost loved ones defending our great nation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't Be An AGAR

I have a new acronym for you: AGAR.  I hadn't heard of this one until yesterday, when a friend who an Army Reservist shared it with me.  AGARs refer to those civilians who do not have a means to leave an disaster area and thus must be relocated using government or charitable organization assets.  They have not the means, the plans, nor the ability to seek the aid of better prepared citizens to help them in their time of need.

AGAR stands for "Ain't Got A Ride."

We learned during the Hurricane Katrina debacle that there were a lot of AGARs in New Orleans.  As I have commented here in the past, I find it astounding that a citizenry in a city that everyone knew was a flood risk - the cemetaries are covered with above ground tombs - collectively had so little in the way of planning or ability to get themselves out of harm's way.  If your city looked like this, wouldn't you have a plan to get out of town if things started looking bad?

I can speculate as to why that is, and in doing so I'd probably upset some people.  But that's not my point for bringing this up. 

If you're preparing for emergencies, you need to work the AGAR factor into your prepping calculus.  AGARs will put an extra burden on limited government and charitable organization resources.  They will seek your help in getting them out of harm's way, providing them with food and shelter, cash, clothing, and whatever else they need.  Many of them will resort to crime, either in an earnest effort to feed their family during a catastrophic emergency or simply for the sheer hell of it.

Some random thoughts:

  • Prepare for people who will earnestly need your help.  I'm not really good about determining what the best practices are for doing so (How much extra food do I store for charity?  How many extra people would I take in during an emergency?), but any preparations we make here are better than none. 
  • Do NOT plan on relying on the government for anything.  And I'm not being critical about the government when I say that, believe it or not.  With tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people needing the most basic services post-Katrina, the government will have its hands full.  The more you can do for yourself, the better off you will be.
  • Think about those tough conversations now, and get your family to think about them, too.  If one of my fourteen year old step daughter's "besties" and her family show up at our house needing help, what will our response be?  Can I tell my stepdaughter we simply can't accommodate them?  And if we do, am I going to be resentful about having to feed, shelter and protect a family that I'm quite sure spent the last few years thinking I was a freaking lunatic for wanting to be ready for the emergency from which that same family now seeks refuge in my home?  This may sound odd, but I challenge you to put yourself through that mental exercise.  It's not fun.  At all.
  • As I mentioned last Wednesday, the sooner you find like-minded people around you, the better off you will be. 

Don't be an AGAR.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Daily Briefing for Monday, May 21, 2012

Yeast Beast

A number of you emailed or called to diagnose my yeast problem (hahaha...I just said I have a "yeast problem.") from Sunday's bread baking adventure.  Sure enough, it wasn't the was my poor technique.  I used much cooler water this evening and dissolved the sugar into the water before putting the yeast in, and hour later came home to this.  (Actually, it was much taller when I first saw it; I took this picture about 90 minutes after I'd put the yeast in.)

The lesson here - learn these things now when the stakes are low.  My next effort will most certainly go smoother than Sunday's. 

The Top 50 Reasons For Not Prepping

I always liked listening to Paul Simon sing when I was a little kid.  His smooth, melodic voice and easy to understand lyrics were great for learning to sing along.  In 1975, his hit "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover" went gold a year later.  I loved singing that song when I was little.

This link reminded me of that song.  Read up on fifty common reasons you hear from people as to why they don't prepare for possible emergencies they may face.  Numbers 33 and 37 are my favorites.

You need to understand why others don't prep.  Hopefully, it will help you correct their mindset and get them to thinking about steps they can take to be better prepared.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Daily Briefing for Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kendel Has Her Cooking Classes.  I Have Mine.

Thanks to the miracle of cell phone texting, Kendel and I have been keeping in touch on her activities on her first day in France.  So far, she hasn't seen any riots or civil commotion, but it's early in the trip.

She'll be in class tomorrow, learning French cooking (or doing some work for the CIA).  Since she is learning some new cooking skills, last night I decided I, too, should do the same.  And so today I baked bread in my solar oven.

I found a recipe on line, especially formulated for baking in a solar oven.  Here's what I did:

Foolproof Whole Wheat Bread
2 tablespoons dry yeast
5 cups hot water
2/3 cup oil
12 cups whole wheat flour (or 7 cups whole wheat flour & 5 cups white flour)
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons salt
2/3 cup honey or sugar

Sprinkle yeast into 1/2 cup warm water.  Let stand 10-15 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon sugar.  Combine the remaining 4 1/2 cups hot water with 7 cups whole wheat flour in a large bowl.  Add salt, oil and honey or sugar.  Continue mixing until well blended.  Add 1 cup flour to mixture.  Add prepared yeast to mixture and blend thoroughly.  Add 3 to 4 more cups of flour.
Knead for 10 minutes or until there is a consistency like cookie dough.  A stickier dough will result in moister bread.
Oil hands and divide dough into 4 parts.  Mold into loaves on oiled counter.  Place in oiled pans.  Oil top of loaves if soft crust is desired.
Cover loaves with damp cloth and let rise 1/3 in bulk.
Place loaf pans in dark pans with lids, or insert an empty loaf pan on top of each loaf of dough.  Cover.  Place in solar oven by 11 a.m.  Cook 2 1/2 hours.

I chose this recipe namely because of the title - "Foolproof" bread.  Given my skill level at baking bread (an EZ-bake oven would be challenging to me), I wanted something simple.  And to make it even easier, I cut the recipe in half so I wouldn't have to grind 12 cups of flour.
I ground the flour myself last night, using hard white wheat and a grinder I purchased from Emergency Essentials.  This is what it looked like in the kitchen last night:

This morning, I skipped church (but listened to a great podcast from Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor at First Baptist in Atlanta, while on a morning walk) and made the bread. 

Making the bread was very easy - easier than I thought it would be, in fact.  However the end product, below, was a bit short of my expectations:

I knew there was a problem when it didn't rise after 30 minutes from forming the loaves.  I put it in the oven anyway, leaving in there for 90 minutes.  The temperature fluctuated between 250 and 300 degrees, due to the cumulus cloud deck hanging over Austin today.

Taste wise, it's pretty good.  It's very moist, which I like, but it's also very dense.  I gather that's a function of the fact the bread didn't rise.  The yeast was still well before its "best by" date, so I am not sure what I did wrong (or if there were other factors beyond my control.) 

I give my efforts a grade of C+.  The bread is edible and tastes good.  In a power outage, I'd be thrilled to have this as part of a meal.   It could be better, however, and I will work on trying to figure out how to improve it.

One final thing I want to point out to you - other than using the microwave to heat up the water (which I could have easily done in the solar oven, as it does that very well), I used no electricity in any part of the process.  I used a hand grinder to make the flour, I kneaded the dough by hand, and baked it using the sun.  If we were to unplug the house from the grid tomorrow, I could make this again with about an hour's worth of my time.  And I suspect I could get much faster and more efficient at baking bread in the solar oven with a little practice. 

I learned to make bread in a solar oven today.  It may not be the most exciting thing I could have done on a Sunday, but it did greatly increase my confidence in the ability of the solar oven to prepare food when it really counts.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Daily Briefing for Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kendel Reporting On Location

As I type this, Kendel's flight from Atlanta to an undisclosed location in France is rolling down the runway.  Ostensibly, she is there on vacation at a cooking school and to visit some of her employees in Amsterdam later this month.  In between checking work emails and doing shots of Grey Poupon, she'll be reporting on any rioting/civil unrest/financial intel she gleans while traveling in western Europe over the next two weeks. 

And I suspect she's on the safest flight to France this year: one of the passengers is none other than former President Jimmy Carter and an entourage of Secret Service guys.  No word from Kendel if there are any Columbian hookers on board.  See the pic she snapped just before take-off:

Hurricane Season Begins Early This Year

This morning, I received a Code Paul text from Clifford advising me of a tropical system forming off of the coast of South Carolina.  This afternoon, the National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories for Tropical Storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2012 year.  Storm season begins officially on June 1.

More On The Bug Out/Shelter In Place Decision Tree

One reader shared this link they created, making the case for bugging out to a rural area in times of emergency. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Daily Briefing For Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Have To Bug Out, Right?

John the Banker posed a question to me last night which I'm surprised I haven't thought to address before now.  If you live in an urban or suburban area, must you leave those areas for a more rural area to maximize your ability to live comfortably during some sort of extended crisis?

Notwithstanding the fine writings of Jim Rawles on this subject, other authors have reached different conclusions.  History is complete with stories of how millions of people have survived in urban and suburban areas during times of crisis.  I highly recommend Ragnar's Urban Survival as a good overview on the challenges and advantages of sheltering in place in a suburban or urban environment during an emergency. 

Bugging out means you have a place to go.  Having a place to go means you have a place worth going to.  Having a place worth going to means you've spent significant resources - time and money - creating a safe location, stocked with food and other supplies, where everything is in good working order.  Spending significant resources means you'll have fewer resources to spend on other necessities in life. 

I would challenge you to think about the need to bug out when the time comes.  I would submit if you do a thorough analysis, many of us will find we can shelter in place in our homes with more success than we realize.

Solar Technology Up, Prices Down

Regardless of whether you intend to bug out or shelter in place, you can count on your solar energy preparations costing you less.  During the short breaks between CNBC's breathless coverage of the Facebook IPO today, their website ran this story discussing the fact that a) solar panels today are more efficient and b) cheaper, thanks to advances in technology.  Solar will continue to grow in popularity.  I'm hoping Jerid can help me learn how to use my solar power system this summer.  (It's fallen $50 in price since I bought it last year.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thoughts From One Of You People

Below, you'll find an email from a neighbor (call sign Stone Cold Steve Austin) on some of his preparedness efforts and recent sources of news and information.  When I asked his permission to share it with you, he graciously agreed, with this caveat:

However, you may wish to preface or talk about how prepping affects the household budget.    I haven't yet "bought in" fully to prepping as of yet.

Most of the outlay so far could be written off under "Other hobbies", etc. (Reading, camping, shooting).    But food prep can get really expensive in a hurry.

Watching some of the people on "Doomsday Preppers" shows how far some people are going as far as armament, bug out vehicles, and bug out locations.

But reading some of these books are eye-opening as far as what D-Day scenarios one might expect to encounter.   

Fair enough.

SCSA is a suburban dad just like me.  He has a professional career, a wife and son, and a home a few hundred yards away from me.  He's also a former CHL student of mine, having sat through my very first class as an instructor.  A few years back, we were visiting at our local grocery store and discussing national events, citing news stories from many of the same sources.   That's when I knew he was "on frequency" with me so to speak. 

He's made a lot of progress in developing a preparedness mindset.  As you can see below, he believes in doing his homework in order to educate himself on the risks that we face.

His caveat above resonates with many in the preparedness community.  This can be an expensive endeavor, especially when we think about laying in some food stores for an extended period.  If you choose your defensive weapons carefully and realistically, the food bill for a long term storage plan will even exceed what you've spent on guns and ammo.

One final thought: I take great comfort knowing that there are people like him - paying attention, preparing himself and his family, being proactive, not content on letting the collective "them" take care of any problems that might arise in the future - in close proximity to me.  His wife and my wife are good friends as well.  In a crisis situation, I know he's someone my family can count on.  I hope he feels the same way about us.

Get out and meet your neighbors.  Look for people who are on frequency with you.



How's it going, lately.   Keeping busy with the CHL classes, and life, I bet.    I have been following your blog posts and meant to forward a couple links to you, earlier.

I was waiting for some time to put this together and it's now a month later.    Oh well, better late than never.  You might find them interesting if you haven't seen them by now.

A new one:

Some (now) old ones:

In addition, I have been busy reading a bunch of fiction books for both entertainment and educational purposes.   

They all have to do with various SHTF scenarios and introduce the readers to different prepping and survivalist issues that people may run into.

Reading Now:

Half Past Midnight - Jeff Brackett   (EMP and nuclear strike)


77 Days in September : Ray Gorham  (EMP strike)

Apocalypse Law  : John Grit  (Pandemic scenario)

Apocalypse Law 2 : John Grit             "

Others in the genre that Amazon Recommends:

Dark Grid :  David C. Waldron

Desparate Times : Nicholas Antinozzi  (Books 1, 2, and 3)

Lights Out - David Crawford

I am trying to get in the mood to do some prepping other than getting guns, ammo, and camping gear together.

I think I need to come up with a plan and a bug out location first, however.

I did get that AK-47 style Saiga (IZ 132), but as I may have mentioned, I think it needs about a $200-250 conversion to move it from the Sporter model back to the original AK-47 trigger 
configuration and to take run-of-the-mill steel magazines.    I still haven't taken it to the range yet.

 I have been shopping for an AR-15 (.223) or AR-10 style (.308) gun.  Unfortunately, the more I have been educating myself the better my taste has become.  

I am now up to lusting after a $1750.00 (.308) weapon.   It may take awhile, but I want to get *something* before the election.   Maybe a $700 (.223) Bushmaster.

The SDS blog has been great and entertaining reading.   Keep up the good work.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Daily Briefing for Sunday, May 13, 2012

Grid Down Food Prep - Using Stored Foods and a Solar Oven

This was my very first attempt at shooting and narrating video.  Please forgive the poor production and editing quality.  I will try to get better at this in the future.  Hopefully this will help explain a little more what I've been talking about in prior blog posts.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Daily Briefing for Saturday, May 12, 2012

What Can We Learn From the Gay Marriage Debate?

Relax.  I'm not going to weigh in on gay marriage.  But I am going to discuss what I think we in the preparedness community can learn from it.

My bar association buddy from our young lawyer days, Parke "The Hammer" Morris, inspired me to comment on this.  Parke's suggestion for those who wanted to mimic the legal rights of a marriage without actually being married would be to "write a will and draw up a durable power of attorney."  The will would allow you to route your property to your significant other when you die, and the durable power of attorney would allow your significant other to make decisions for you in the event of your incapacitation. 

As I posted earlier this week, we should spend more time preparing for the more likely emergencies than the more exotic ones.  So what can we glean from the gay marriage debate?

Make sure your life planning is complete.  One of the arguments for gay marriage is so that some one's significant other can make life decisions and enjoy protections provided by law for property held by spouses.  Parke alludes to this point; a good estate planning attorney can create the necessary documents that enable us to be ready for the Inevitable Big Ride to Heaven, to protect assets from creditors, and to empower people to make life altering decisions for us.  Kendel and I have completed a comprehensive estate plan, empowering each other to make critical decisions and dispose of assets as necessary to provide care for the other.  As the odds are greater that one of us will have a critical illness or injury than a nuclear war, preparing for that contingency before we prepare for radiation contamination would be a better bet.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Preparedness and Statistics

My high school classmate, John the Banker, suggested I read "The Drunkard's Walk - How Randomness Rules Our Lives."  I'm through a couple of chapters already, and while I struggle through some of the more complex statistical nuances, one of the early premises of the book is abundantly clear: we make major life decisions with precious little regard for the statistical data which supports or refutes those decisions.

This reading, coupled with the article I referenced last weekend, has me really thinking about one of the crucial failures in the preparedness movement - the need to execute the basics well.

Let me expand on that.  From the aforementioned article:

.....Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.  Imagine that! You are statistically much more likely to be affected by the choices you make regarding diet and exercise than you are to be attacked and killed by an armed intruder.  I often run into “gun guys” who excuse their poor physical condition by telling me that is why they carry a gun … because they are just going to shoot someone rather than fight them.  First of all, it is not always that simple, and second, those guys are often the ones who die at a much younger age due to complications caused by an unfit lifestyle.

Using statistics gleaned from the Center for Disease Control, we see there's some merit to this proposition:

Number of deaths for leading causes of death

  • Heart disease: 599,413
  • Cancer: 567,628
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 137,353
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,842
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 118,021
  • Alzheimer's disease: 79,003
  • Diabetes: 68,705
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,935
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909
We are far, far more likely to take the big ride due to a heart attack, cancer, COPD, strokes, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer's and diabetes than you are from an exotic form of the flu.  Yet most preppers spend more time on collecting defensive weapons and storable food than they do on improving their physical fitness and diet. 

If you're overweight with an arsenal, are you really better off than someone who is in good physical shape with only one gun?  If you have a year's worth of food and smoke/drink a pack a day, are you really better off than the regular jogger who has less food and fewer chemical addictions?

Start thinking about the statistics.  What are the most likely threats to your well being?  Prepare for those first.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Experiments in Rainwater Collection

On Monday evening, we had a large storm system pass through the area around 7:30PM.  I went outside to investigate why I was seeing so much run off in my back yard (answer: clogged gutters.  Again.  Despite repeated efforts to clean and guard them.).  Since I was already soaked, I decided to go ahead and try a rainwater collection experiment I've wanted to do for about a year now. 

I'm new to posting cell phone video to the internet. Be sure to post a comment below if you like watching short videos on prepping, as it may inspire me to do more in the future.  Thanks to my awesome stepdaughter (whom I call Tox) for shooting this video for me as I narrated. 

I hope this gives you some ideas.  Be sure to watch both parts of the video.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Daily Update for Saturday, May 5, 2012

Update on Freeze Dried Ground Beef

I'm blogging as I eat lunch, a concoction I mixed up on my own.  My self-inflicted recipe came with no adult supervision (Kendel and Tox are at the beach this weekend, leaving me free to get ready for the State Representative Paul Workman meet and greet at our house on Tuesday evening), so I knew it would be interesting to see if I would actually like what I made.

Cheesy Beef and Rice

  1. Heat 2.5 cups of water in the solar oven.
  2. Pour one cup of freeze dried beef and one half cup of uncooked parboiled rice into the hot water.
  3. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring only once.
  4. Drain off the excess water with a colander.
  5. Sprinkle cheese powder (I use the formulation from Ready Reserve foods - good stuff) and Tabasco to taste.

Result?   Pretty good, actually.  The rice, cheese and Tabasco take the ever so mild edge off of the freeze dried ground beef.  Would I eat this in normal circumstances?  Sure would - it's rather tasty.  Lots of protein, and the parboiled rice is low on the glycemic index.  I could have/should have added some dehydrated broccoli as well.  Next time I will know to do so.

The lesson here: don't be afraid to experiment with your food supplies and cooking methods.  Even if you make something and it's awful, you've learned something.  That experience can be invaluable when you are using stored foods and alternative energy cooking methods to prepare meals.

Overheard at The Gun Store Today

Before I forget - those of you who are Glockheads (that's GLOCKheads....get your minds out of the gutter) like me, if you haven't joined the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation, do it today.  Get at least a two year membership, because if you do, Glock will send you a coupon to allow you to buy a Glock at essentially law enforcement prices.  It literally pays for the membership three times over.  Do it!

So I take my newly acquired Got-Me-A-Rick-James-Kind-Of-Deal-On-A-Glock card to GT Distributors, which is the Bed, Bath and Beyond of the gun community.  I'm looking to add a Glock 26 Gen4 to my collection, as I really need a back up gun.  While I am waiting to be served, I overhear a conversation between a woman from Houston, her adult son, and a local sheriff's deputy talking about preparedness. 

Their discussion catches my ear because they are talking about a) preparedness in general, b) the possibility and likelihood of some sort of emergency requiring preparedness skills and supplies, c) what might cause such of an emergency, and d) water collection, solar energy and building techniques that would allow someone to live grid down for a period of time.

While I didn't hear the whole conversation (and I didn't want to eavesdrop.  At least not too much, anyway), it was clear these folks were tuned in, to say the least.  They had a good understanding of the utility of solar power, the usefulness of concrete and geothermal heating/cooling, and the uncertainties in society and the economy which might create rather unpleasant times.  And the fact that the deputy was clearly on the same page with them confirms what I've thought for some time now - our local law enforcement folks know far, far more about the risks we face and the need to prepare for them than their leadership will admit publicly. 

Take heart.  Stay focused.  People are beginning to get it.

Hsoi Shares A Link Which Could Literally Change the Way You Think About Preparedness

My fellow KR Instructor John Daub, aka the Mighty Hsoi, found this brilliant piece at the Personal Defense Network.  As Hsoi notes on his blog, the advice is unconventional yet sound.  The guidance on first aid and physical fitness is spot on.  Don't be an armchair survivalist.  Train and get your butt in shape. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Daily Briefing for Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thank The Lord - Olympic Hockey Will Soon Be Interesting Again

The end of the Cold War destroyed the Olympics for me.  I remember eating ice cream one winter night in 1980 and watching the U.S. Olympic Hockey team beat the CCCP (which, in Russian, stands for Commie Comrade Coco-Puffs or something like that) team 4-3.  The Cold War made the Olympics interesting, because we could take out our nationalism on opponents worthy of an American ass whooping.  And everybody knows the Soviets were certainly worthy of our boot. 

I was reminded of this today when I read the former Soviets threatened to blow up some NATO missile sites.  Seems nationalism in the old USSR continues to run high.  And understandably, their national ego mandates they be taken seriously as a world power. 

This serves as a great reminder - global politics continue to merit our attention.  Whether it's the upcoming election in France, the Russians getting all uppity over a missile site, the Iranians playing in their nuke lab, the Chinese electing to create a gold-backed yuan, these things can certainly affect us here in the United States. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, May 2, 2012

Reading Too Much Into This?  Or Am I Just That Freaking Brilliant?

So this evening I'm out watering the Bermuda grass seeds I recently spread across bald spots of my backyard in what only can be described as an exercise in futility (given the ongoing mother-of-all-Texas-droughts), and I'm listening to the usual talk show host whose show I reserve for such chores - Alex Jones.

Yes, that Alex Jones.  The birther, truther, anti-NWO (that would be the "New World Order" for those of you who are, as Jones would say, "still in a trance"), anti-UN, pro-gun, pro-liberty, pro-preparedness beacon of all things conspiratorial.  Based in Austin, Jones is something of a local celebrity around town.  Texas Monthly ran this story about him a couple of years ago, which may be the first objective and in-depth backgrounder done on the self-made talk radio juggernaut.

Think "juggernaut" is a stretch?  Think again.  Rolling Stone's Alexander Zaitchik wrote last year that "Jones draws a bigger audience online than Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck combined."  The size of his audience is staggering.  More and more stations are adding Jones' mid-day three hour radio show, which competes head to head with Limbaugh, at a rate which no one would have imagined five years ago.

I personally started listening to his show as a form of entertainment back in 2006.  Back then, he'd recently begun a two hour Sunday afternoon show on a local AM radio station.  His energy and rapid fire allegations of how the global elite were stockpiling heirloom seeds in advance of their planned collapse of the banking system, which would necessitate the creation of city-sized FEMA camps in which to incarcerate liberty-loving troublemakers was, to me, sheer hilarity.  I'd laugh out loud listening to him while driving around town running errands. 

And then something changed.  The financial collapse of 2008 came with little warning to most of us.  Civil liberties seemed to decay or evaporate at a geometric rate.  The Federal Reserve, a frequent target of Jones' wrath, began constructing elaborate bail out plans for investment banks at the heart of the crisis. 

I'll be damned, I thought.  Jones is on to something. 

Since a broken clock can be correct twice a day, it's imperative to determine whether Jones was just really lucky at making his predictions about what would happen, or whether he did in fact understand there were forces at work which led to these events.  I still think he's completely wrong about 9/11 and several other issues.  But that's not why I am writing this tonight.

Instead, I heard something on his show I never thought I'd hear.  It wasn't something he said.  It was a company which just began advertising during his show:  ProFlowers.

I almost dropped the garden hose.

Jones' usual rotation of advertisers, consisting almost exclusively of purveyors of disaster foods, colloidal silver machines, gold and silver coin sales, books on the Bilderbergers, and water purification systems has now been infiltrated by an advertiser more at home hawking florist services on shows like Hannity and Levin.  This can mean but one thing:  Jones audience has grown to the point that mainstream, non-disaster/non-survivalist/non-conspiracy theorist businesses have begun to recognize just how many people Jones' show actually reaches.

Which brings me to my food for thought for you.  What do you make of this?  Does this mean more people are buying into Jones' world view?  And what does that mean for the preparedness movement?

My thoughts:

  • Jones' demographic is evolving.  I know people in their middle age who tell me they now listen to the show because their college age kids listen to it.  I know people who have advanced college degrees who are regular listeners. 
  • Jones' steadfast support for people like the Pauls (Ron and Rand) help solidify his stature among young people, active duty military, and Libertarians/Constitutionalists/Tea Party types.
  • His devotion to organic, non-GMO agricultural practices have gotten the attention of many on the left.  People who would never have voted for anyone other than a Democrat in years past are beginning to gravitate towards Libertarian ideals, thanks in part to Jones' alliance with many in the sustainable agriculture/energy communities.

Am I reading too much into this?  Or am I on to something?