Monday, July 30, 2012

Daily Briefing for Monday, July 30, 2012

Various Readings

Surviving an Active Shooter - Tips from a Navy SEAL, courtesy of Jerid.  I've been saying much of this stuff in my CHL classes.  Glad to see I am on the right track.

The Road Warrior, courtesy of Jerid.  One of the best articles I've read in a long time.  Worth the time.

Long Response Times in Colorado theater shooting - You need to plan on rendering your own first aid and having your own plan of action.  Don't expect a 60 second response time and a quick ride in the ambulance to a level three trauma center. 

Download this free e-book.  One of my top five all time favorites.  The discussion on storable foods may be the best discussion out there.  I've paid $20 for this book on more than one occasion.  It's now available for free.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Daily Briefing for Saturday, July 28, 2012

The BUG Class

As I mentioned previously, I signed up to take a Back Up Gun class.  I spent four hours at KR Training on Saturday at Karl's first ever class offering on this subject.

The back up gun is a small gun that you carry either as your primary gun when you can't carry something longer, OR it's carried in addition to your primary gun.  Since the back up gun is usually smaller, it

  • has a shorter barrel, meaning it's not going  to be as accurate as a full size gun;and
  • has a smaller capacity magazine, meaning there's not a lot of ability to get into a protracted gunfight; and
  • has a lighter weight, meaning the recoil will be more noticeable.

I chose a Glock 26 as a back up gun for the fact my magazines for my Glock 34 work in them (and yes, I've tested it to make sure). 

The class gave me an opportunity to try my pocket holster, my appendix carry MIC holster, and my brand new Galco ankle holster.  To sum up:
  • The MIC holster was the fastest out of the holster, but unless you have a very flat stomach, having the grip of the gun constantly poking you in your portable food storage plan (aka your gut) isn't a lot of fun. 
  • The ankle holster disappointed.  It was much slower than I anticipated, and it wasn't as comfortable on my leg as I would have liked (to be fair, I just got it in the mail on Thursday, so I need to experiment with it and practice drawing from it with an empty gun before I make a final decision).
  • The DeSantis pocket holster was clearly the holster of choice.  It's slower in the draw, but with practice it gets better.  Plus it's the most practical of the three holsters.

So how did I do?  I'd practiced a lot with the Glock 26, and not as much recently with the Glock 34.  As a result, I surprisingly shot the 26 a bit better than the 34.  I will confess my accuracy deteriorated rapidly once Karl put us on the clock, especially with one handed shooting which I never practice enough.  I have some work to do.

Overall, I will say I am very happy with the Glock 26 purchase.  It's very accurate, and the recoil is quite manageable. 

Various News Links For Your Weekend Reading

Clifford from Houston provided two good pieces of info regarding how best to survive an active shooter situation.  First up is this PSA entitled "Run, Hide and Fight."  Produced with DHS grant money by the City of Houston (Houstonian and Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons must be proud), it provides sound, concrete suggestions on what to do if you're caught in an active shooter situation.  What I've noticed in the last few years is that experts have shifted from a "comply with the bad guy" approach to "fight him if you have to" attitude.  This piece seems to back that up.

The best part of the video?  Notice the bad guy comes in, armed with a hidden shotgun, and walks right past the statutory notice sign on the front door prohibiting concealed handgun license holders from carrying a gun into the building.  You read that right - the City of Houston purposefully chose a gun free zone to depict a mass shooting.  Hmm.

His second contribution is humorous but still provocative.  What's your plan when jihad is on?

Austin Steve shared this link which should give us all food for thought.  Sometime it's not always about our gear.  It's about what we have between our ears and what condition our bodies are in that makes the difference.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Daily Briefing for Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Defense of Assault Rifles

I realize many well-meaning, intelligent people don't understand why someone would want an assault rifle.  The reasons why gun aficionados like these life safety tools are numerous, but they are not complex.

First, some facts.  Shootings like the recent one in Colorado predictably bring on:
  • A call for gun control, and
  • An increase in gun sales, stemming from a) a fear that another mass shooting might occur, and b) that politicians, ever so willing to curtail some one's rights in order to get re-elected, will implement more gun control laws.
Interestingly, Harvard neuroscientist Steven Pinker recently concluded that you are less likely to die as a result of violence today than at any time in human history.  Couple those conclusions with data lamented by liberty opponents showing that gun sales have climbed steadily over the last few years; in fact, November and December 2011 set all time monthly gun sales records.  Causal connection between the fact there are more guns and less crime?  I say yes.  But even if you disagree with that premise, the fact that we're less likely to die a violent death during times of increasing gun ownership certainly undermines, to a great extent, the position of gun control advocates.

So what possible legitimate purposes would an assault rifle have? 

A number of knowledgeable gun writers have addressed this over the years, including Hsoi with his usual engineer-like precision and the good Rabbi Dovid Bendory with his succinct top five reasons why such rifles and high capacity magazines make for good public policy and citizenship.  I will attempt to add a few thoughts to the exhaustive work already done on this subject.

  1. Assault rifles provide options that help save lives.  With such a platform, a shooter can add flashlights, laser devices, optics, and hand grips to help make more precise and accurate shots.  When you increase shot precision and accuracy, you decrease the likelihood of errant shots and collateral damage. 
  2. Assault rifles come in calibers which make the "one shot stop" realistic.  Despite what you see on television or movies, handguns are not as lethal as you might think.  They are certainly dangerous and unforgiving of any negligent use.  But the survival rate of a gunshot wound from a handgun caliber round, in an area where trauma care at a hospital can be provided relatively quickly, is quite remarkable.  Tom Givens at Rangemaster in Memphis provided statistics once that (and please forgive me, I am doing this from memory and thus my numbers may be off by a bit, but not much) in 2010, there were roughly 160 gun deaths in Shelby County, Tennessee, while there were over 7,000 patients treated for gun shot wounds that same year in the county.  If we assume most of those 7,000 people were shot with a handgun (which I think is a safe assumption), we can deduce that stopping someone with a handgun with just one shot isn't realistic.  If I can stop the threat with one shot instead of several, everyone around me is better off for it.
  3. And so if rifle ammunition used in assault rifles, such as the .223 caliber round used in an AR-15, is so lethal, then doesn't that make the point that such ammunition should be banned?  Um, no.  After all, hunting ammunition - which many, many, many gun control advocates swear up  and down they would NEVER try to restrict - often comes in calibers that much larger and far more powerful than .223.  If you were to ban .223 ammo, the nut job bent on shooting a place up with an assault rifle will step up to the AK-47 and its 7.62 mm round.  Want to take those away, too?  The next stop is likely the AR-10, which fires a .308 caliber round - a very popular hunting rifle caliber, by the way.  It just goes up from there.
  4. "But Paul - people are dying from these assault rifles.  We must do something about them!"  Um, again, no.  Even the New York Times reported upon the expiration of the Clinton assault weapon ban that "a study for the National Institute of Justice said that it could not 'clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence.'"  Even a writer at the Huffington Post - not exactly a front for Glenn Beck - concedes "Single-victim gun killings have dropped more than 40 percent since 1980, according to 2010 FBI crime data. But the total number of people dying in attacks that claimed four or more victims has climbed from an average of 161 a year in the 1980s to 163 between 2006 and 2008, according to FBI statistics."  Put another way, as our population as grown from the 1980s, the number of mass murders has decreased as a percentage of the population.  It's hard to call this an epidemic by any objective measure.
  5. Finally, we should remember the purpose of the Second Amendment.  The Second Amendment isn't about hunting. It's about protecting ourselves from a tyrannical government and from foreign invaders.  Many will scoff at this notion, claiming that the armed citizen is no match for today's modern militaries.  Yet our conflicts in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan prove that despite the best efforts of the wonderful men and women who serve our country, a few guys with assault rifles can make the task of conquering another country most difficult, if not impossible. 
So how do we curtail these tragic mass shootings?

First, it should come as no surprise that such tragic events tend to occur in - wait for it - gun free zones.  Schools (no guns allowed), colleges (no guns allowed), movie theaters (the one in Aurora had a no guns policy) all constitute soft targets.  Note we never hear of someone going nuts in a gun store.  Probably because everyone who works there is armed.  Many will no doubt disagree with this approach, despite the fact there is a growing body of research to support the notion that more guns equals less crime.

Second, we should begin prosecuting people who violate gun laws.  You read that correctly.  The failure to prosecute these people isn't a new phenomenon.

Finally, when we see people we know who appear to be in some sort of mental duress, we need to be demonstrating love and compassion for them.  How many warning signs did the alleged shooter demonstrate before hurting so many people?  Did anyone ask him how he was doing in the days leading up to the shooting?  Did anyone care to do so?  We can do so much for so many simply by asking them how they are doing.

One other note - regardless of whether you're a gun advocate like me or if you think they should all be confiscated - do us all a favor.  Take a few moments to educate yourself on the other side's arguments.  Gun control advocates might learn there's objective data and sound logic backing up our position.  Gun rights advocates might learn how to better articulate the benefits of high capacity magazines, adjustable stocks and pistol grips on rifles.  Take someone who hasn't ever shot an AR or AK to the range the next time you go.  Help take the mystery out of the unknown.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going Forward

I started my new job last week.  It's going great.  I'm drinking out of a fire hose at the moment - lots of information I need to know and understand.  It's taking up a lot of my evenings, predictably.  So for the foreseeable future, my blog entries will be much shorter and less frequent.  Once I have my sea legs, I will be in a better position to share more substance, more often. 

In addition, I am working on some other writing projects pertaining to preparedness.  I wouldn't say I am writing a book, but I am putting together a collection of essays on the subject.  I have no idea what I will do with them, if anything.  I will tell you writing my thoughts down has really helped me crystallize some philosophies on preparedness in general that I've struggled to articulate for years.  I hope that trend continues.

Of course, if the situation warrants, I will go into emergency blog mode and will provide info and analysis on a more expedited schedule. 

Some Gun Info

This Aurora shooting, as tragic as it is, really has the anti-gunners espousing some of their most unusual allegations yet.  Today, a law school classmate of mine - a nice guy, and a smart one - posted something to the effect that the NRA never shares stories of when law abiding citizens with gun permits stop active crimes in progress.  That statement floored me, because he was dead serious.  Local news outlets around the country regularly share stories about such incidents. 

So I want to share with you this piece about guns and crime rates.  If you're into preparedness, you need to understand the relationship between crimes and gun laws. 

Speaking of guns, I am becoming a fan of my new Glock 26 (the so called "baby Glock" in 9mm) more and more.  It shoots very well.  It takes the magazines from my Glock 34 and runs on those without any problems.  It's small enough to carry in my front pocket with a pocket holster.  I now carry a gun more often in situations where I normally didn't find it convenient to do so (such as when I am wearing my work out clothing).

I am taking the back up gun class at KR Training this Saturday to build some skills in using it. 

Next Preparedness Steps

I'm getting my severance check from my old employer in a few days.  I plan to use a portion of it to shore up my food storage plan.  That would make me feel much better, given all the things we're looking at over the next few months. 

I hope you are taking inventory of skills and supplies you need, making a plan to acquire those as time and resources become available.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Daily Briefing for Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ten Things To Make Us Hopeful For The Future

As your one stop shop for doom and gloom, I take my job of as your preferred purveyor of preparedness populism seriously.  I know I’ve been on a roll lately – debt crises, food riots, growing worries of global recession/depression, and zombie apocalypse – the incompetence of world leaders and general bitchassness of many in society has provided a virtual cornucopia of material to share wit h you.  Even early Friday morning’s tragic theater shooting in Aurora continues to provide good tutorials on the need to be prepared.
If things really are that bad, why bother working towards preparedness and self-sufficiency? 

ecause life goes on.  We have kids and family members counting on us.  And eventually, I like to believe, Americans will wake up and insist their leaders right the ship, exercising their own personal responsibility in the process.
I am optimistic by nature.  That may surprise many of you, given the content of some of my previous posts.  I take great comfort in the scripture found in the New Testament and what God has in store for his people and for Earth in the long term.  I see what our great things our nation has accomplished in its relatively young life.  I believe capitalism, if allowed to work, will continue to improve the quality of our lives.
And so today, I will make a rare departure from my usual “run-for-the-hills” post and instead
share with you ten reasons why I am bullish long term on America. 

1.       The tremendous amount of interest young Americans have for an aging Ron Paul.  Despite being the oldest candidate in  the primaries, his popularity among young people is the stuff of legends.  Paul’s message of liberty, personal responsibility, and financial conservatism resonates with this group, who will eventually inherit the mess begun during the Kennedy Administration.  These people will be running businesses and communities when I am well into my retirement years.  I like the fact they reject the traditional left/right paradigm.

2.       The creation of the tea party.  Many of you will no doubt disagree with me on this.  Yet you cannot deny the impact this movement has had on American politics.  Created out of thin air by citizens rallying together in anger over Obamacare, the tea party demonstrated that well-funded, well-entrenched incumbents out of touch with the citizenry can be defeated at the ballot box.  The tsunami of freshmen legislators at the federal and state levels in 2010 has its roots in the rise of the tea party.  Tea party members, as a whole, promote liberty and small government ideals.  Their rise in American politics should hearten those of us who value those things.

3.       Earnest discussion on government finances.  It seems to me that the level of acumen pertaining our country’s finances among the general population is growing at a rapid rate.  I hear more people talking about it, expressing concerns for entitlement funding, deficit spending, Fannie and Freddie, and effective tax policy.  I’m glad to hear people discussing these things more regularly.

4.       Growth in self sufficiency/prepping.  The recent Natural Geographic survey on prepping evidences people are becoming more aware of the need to be prepared. Back when I started blogging ten years ago, there were few preparedness sites or blogs on the internet.  Since then, the number of such sites has grown geometrically.

5.       Earnest discussion on the value of traditional higher education.  The Occupy Wall Street people were on to something here;  of course, they couldn’t articulate it well.  There’s no need for kids to go to school for four years, major in something worthless, and incur a bunch of student loans only to be utterly unemployable.  We are beginning to realize that a four year college education may not be a good investment after all. College is not for everyone.  We need people who can build things.  We’ve got enough people who can write haikus and recite interesting facts on art history.  We should be encouraging more young people to learn trades and occupations rather than going to college to major in creative writing and sociology (and for the record, I was a liberal arts major myself.)

6.       Merger of interests in the green/environmental movement and prepper crowd.  Ten years ago, these two groups had little in common.  Today, we see preppers becoming well versed in alternative energy and organic gardening.  Meanwhile, people in the environmental movement are becoming more concerned about the need to be ready for large scale emergencies.  Both have a growing distrust of government.  These two groups can learn a lot from each other, and it appears they are both willing to do so.

7.       Record levels of gun sales/CHL applications.  November and December 2012 set epic gun sale records.  I fully subscribe to the “more guns equals less crime” theory.  Record sales mean people are taking initiative for their own well being.
8.      Growth of alternative media.  The alternative media continues to grow by leaps and bounds, spurred on by demand for a fresh perspective on current events.  People are beginning to demand a more honest analysis of the news, free from the talking points of the DNC and RNC.

9.       Increased willingness to experiment with our educational system. Kids win when parents have choices.  Communities continue to experiment with charter schools and innovative learning programs.  Home schooling continues to grow in popularity.  We continue to confirm the notion that more spending on schools and centralization of school administration does not result in better results.

10.   Growth in Libertarianism.  I meet more and more people who were die hard Democrats or Republicans ten years ago who now espouse Libertarian values.  I’m one of those former Republicans.  The growth in Libertarian beliefs stems, in my opinion, from the last twelve years of unprecedented growth in the scope of the government, the rapid erosion of civil liberties, the gargantuan creation of debt, the increased entitlement rolls, and the expansion of crony capitalism.  More people believe in limiting government’s influence in the lives of Americans in an effort to grow the economy and improve our way of life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Daily Briefing for Friday, July 17, 2012

And The News Keeps A Rollin' On In

I'm going to make this short tonight, because some of you have some reading to do.  Except for Jerid, who has already read this stuff.

First, Peter Schiff is laying it out there like John Holmes at a bachelorette party.  If that simile escapes you, let me try a more direct approach: Peter Schiff just turned on the "brace for impact" sign from the cockpit.  Not to be outdone, CNBC is racing to get the message out there as well, no doubt in an effort to be able to say that if things do go tango uniform, they can say "we told you so."

To further add to the stress, CNBC runs this piece entitled "Corn Prices Headed for Record Highs As Crops Shrink."  Interestingly, back on May 24th we were being told to expect a "huge U.S. corn harvest."

From ABC News tonight: "Bernanke testified on Capitol Hill to deliver his semiannual report, painting a picture of slowing job growth, tepid manufacturing rates and weakened progress on the housing market in the second-quarter of 2012. The U.S. economy has continued to recover, he said, but growth indicators are moving at a pace that he called 'disappointing.'”

Are you making time to read articles like this?  Are you paying attention?  Are you formulating a plan to protect your assets?  Your family? 

This is your main stream media putting you on notice.  If you're paying attention, start talking to your friends and family about this.  Be the expert on what's going on in our country.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Daily Briefing for Sunday, July 15, 2012


I am loathe to do these, in large part because a) I sound like a broken record when I do, or perhaps even like a Chicken Little - which is far worse, b) the majority of you who regularly read this blog already know much, if not all, of this, and c) it detracts from talking about what we should be doing rather than why we should be doing that.  As yesterday was Bastille Day, I suppose it's appropriate to review the latest from the Good News Express:

  • The Los Angles Times (not Glen Beck) quotes "a fiscal policy advisor for the California League of Cities to say 'Some [California] cities may not go into a bankruptcy, but they may dissolve. They may cease to exist.'''  California has seen three cities file for bankruptcy protection this month.  Other cities "teeter on the abyss."  As a result, "cities across California are slashing day-to-day services and taking other drastic actions to skirt a similar fiscal collapse."  Please note the phrases "they may cease to exist," "teeter on the abyss," and "fiscal collapse" are not my words.  Those are direct quotes from the article. 
  • Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve (not Alex Jones) issued a report concluding - wait for it - that the stock market could have been 50% lower over a decade had the Fed not intervened.  Which begs the question that many who've regularly been dismissed as the lunatic fringe have asked for years: what is the true value of the equity markets, sans Fed involvement?  Furthermore, should we expect this to continue?
  • Over at CBS - the Tiffany Network - we hear that Chicago Police leadership lament the crime wave in that city, calling it "tribal warfare."
  • U6 unemployment - those are the folks who aren't working as well as those who have stopped looking or are underemployed - ticked up slightly again in June to 14.9 percent
  • Food prices will continue to climb over the next decade, due primarily to inflation, two different alphabet organizations announced last week.  And the Financial Times asked on Friday if we were entering another food crisis. 

So what does it all mean? 

For starters, we're not creating enough jobs fast enough.  This contributes to our economic malaise, including the lack of interest in equities as an investment.  The average volume of shares traded on the major stock indices continues to drift downward as it has over the last twelve months.  People are reluctant to invest. 

We're 115 days away from a Presidential election.  From the countless blogs and articles I read, I get the sense people who are paying attention are pensive about how things will go through the election in November.  The vast majority of America, however, continues to slumber along, consuming a steady diet of processed foods and reality television shows.

In the end, my analysis remains the same.  Anything you do to improve your ability to be self sufficient, be it storing food away, learning self defense strategies, taking up back yard gardening, or brushing up on first aid is not a futile effort.  Yes, it sounds odd when you say it out loud or even type it.  In the context of the news items above, however, what other viable options do we have?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daily Briefing for Saturday, July 14, 2012

Experiments With Carrying a BUG

And when I say BUG, I am not referring to a disease or Volkswagen.  I am referring to a Back Up Gun.

Our friend Karl Rehn at KR Training defines a BUG as

pistols or revolvers with barrels shorter than 4", typically carried in a pocket holster, ankle holster, belly band, fanny pack, or other non-belt-holster carry mode. These guns are much slower to draw and harder to shoot than a larger handgun carried in a belt holster, but in many situations, a BUG is the only viable carry option for many.

Like everything else in the gun world, I am one of the last people to embrace changes to the conventional wisdom.  I wasn't a proponent of carrying a back up gun for a number of reasons, but two things helped change my thinking on this.

  1. Perhaps the best use of a back up gun is so that you can arm a friend or a spouse (assuming they know how to effectively use a gun) in an emergency, thus creating two shooters that the bad guy must confront.
  2. Glock makes the whole back up gun easier since their magazines work in all other similar caliber Glocks, provided the magazine is large enough.  For example, in my little baby Glock 26 (which I just picked up on Wednesday), I can remove the magazine, slap in a magazine from my big ass Glock 34, and I am good to go. 
And so like that, I am joining the ranks of the BUG culture.

The main challenge I'm having now is determining how to carry the BUG.  I have a pocket holster on order, but I am afraid the Glock 26 will still be a bit large for pocket carry.  I am looking at ankle holsters as well.  Right now, I am experimenting with the GlockTech MIC holster

This isn't a review of the MIC holster.  I just got it yesterday, and so it will need to be tested for a while before I decide this is a worthwhile way to carry the Glock 26.  Instead, I want to spend a few minutes sharing with you some thoughts on how to go about field testing your guns and holsters before you decide to make them a part of your life safety equipment.

Too many people buy a gun, a cheap holster, and consider themselves ready for action.  Sadly, in many of those cases, they end up purchasing a gun that's not well made or suited for concealed carry in a piece of garbage holster that won't retain the weapon.  If you're going to carry a gun, you owe it to yourself and those around you to spend some time with the gun and holster in a safe environment to ensure it will work well for you.

Back to my testing of the MIC holster.  I have four criteria I use in determining whether a piece of self defense equipment warrants me relying on it for my well being.

  1. Is it safe to use?  This one's first for a reason. It may be the best thing since sliced bread, end world hunger, cure cancer, and enhance male performance.  But if it increases the risk of me shooting myself or someone else accidentally, the test stops right there.  Safety first.
  2. Is it tactical? A 6 inch barreled Taurus revolver in 44 Mag is a very safe gun.  From a tactical standpoint, however, it's a nightmare.  Heavy trigger pull, six round cylinder, over penetration risk, "you'll-look-like-a-nutjob-to-a-jury-if-you-shoot-someone-with-this" risk - this isn't the gun you want to use to keep you alive.  A tactical product means it enhances your ability to reliably get good hits on target.
  3. Is it comfortable?  If it's not a comfortable product to keep on your person, you are not going to carry it around.  Don't kid yourself.  If it's a pain, literally and figuratively, you won't use it.
  4. Is it better than nothing?  Is having a reliable, accurate, well made short barrel Derringer in .22 caliber (I know...there are some contradictions there....just go with it for now) better than nothing?  Hmm.  Maybe.  Then again, the pocket space I'd be losing in order to carry it might be better used for a Spyderco, a flashlight, or a cell phone. 

To do my testing, I am carrying the Glock 26 around the house, using the MIC.  For now, the gun is UNLOADED.  If something is going to go wrong, I want to make sure it happens with no rounds in the chamber (if you watch the video at the link on the MIC above, you'll understand why.  Their cutesy slogan on their website says it all.)

I've been practicing drawing from it as well.  If and when I feel this is something I can rely on, I will practice with using the MIC at the range.  Only then - after testing it for myself, and having others whose opinions I value provide their thoughts - will I make a decision as to whether to utilize the MIC.

Note this type of analysis doesn't just pertain to holsters.  It's equally applicable to guns, solar equipment, back up gas stoves, flashlights - you name it. 

It's part of the training process.  Don't be afraid to try something new.  When you do, have a plan to ensure you put the product through its paces to ensure it does what you want.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Guest Blogger for Friday, July 13, 2012

Paul's note - I asked Jordan to share some of his thoughts on hurricane preparedness, having lived in South Florida for essentially all of his life.  He and I did time together at the University of Miami School of Law many years ago.  This isn't your traditional "get some bottled water and a battery radio" guidance.  This is far more in depth; you won't read many of these things on the basic preparedness websites.  I appreciate his contribution to the body of literature on this subject.
Jordan From The 305 On Hurricane Preparedness

Paul asked me to pen a guest column about preparing for hurricanes.  I have a little experience in the area, having spent virtually my entire life in the suburbs just south of Miami, Florida, having lived through three direct hits (Andrew in 1992, Katrina and Wilma in 2005) and having gone through the drill many other times only thankfully to see the storms veer away at the last moment.  My hurricane plan is the product of 13 years of thought and practice.  This column is NOT a recitation of that plan.  Rather, I will try to hit some highlights, which hopefully are not new to you, but if they are, hopefully will augment your already-robust hurricane preparation plan.

First, two very general, but important, concepts about storm prep:

Make certain you have sufficient quantities of the necessary supplies (batteries, food, water, etc.) before any watches and warnings are posted.  This especially applies to any needed medications; always make sure you have a week or more supply at hand.  Fill up at least one automobile’s tank with gas when a watch is issued for your area. Also, well in advance of any storm make sure needed equipment (drills for installing or removing shutters, lanterns, etc.) works and is charged or has sufficient batteries to run for an extended period.  If like me you are stay prepared throughout the year, hurricane season involves no big gearing up, except maybe for a few extra bags of ice in the freezer.  If not, make sure your list is all checked off by the beginning of the season and that you keep an eye on the level of needed consumables. The absolute last place you want to be right before the storm hits is out the streets fighting the crowds for the scarce supplies left.  We’ve all seen those images on TV; don’t be one of those people. 

Have in place a methodical, organized plan for prepping your house, inside and out.  Order your activities to conserve time and effort.  If you have the manpower, divide up the activities.  For example, my general plan is as follows: (i) plug in all needed devices (phones, laptops, etc.) to charge; (ii) close the accordion and colonial shutters that cover most of our windows first, securing the majority of the openings, (iii) clean off the patio and clean out the yard, placing the items inside the house, (iv) install the panels over the windows and doors on our patio; (v) put up the panels over the other doors (always leave two exits, one of which can be a garage door you can manually open); (vi) do one last sweep of the outside and (vii) help with the inside prep my wife and kids have already started.  Naturally, the order of your house prep needs to fit your situation, including manpower available, size and complexity of your living arrangements, and time available before the storm approaches.  Start your prep as far in advance as practicable; we usually start once the storm warning is posted.  You want to be fully completed, inside and out, at least an hour or two before the first outer bands reach your area. 

Here are a few things I highly recommend you either add to your storm prep plan if they’re not part of it already:

  • Take photos of your house, inside and out, AFTER you have completed your preparations.  You now have a record of your property’s condition right before landfall and proof that you put up your shutters and did all other things required by your windstorm policy.  Keep the camera charged and ready for the “after” photos, in the event your house or any of your property sustains damage.  Take photos of the damage as soon it is safe to go outside, to help preserve your claim.  I would also take photos of any emergency repairs you need to make as well.
  • Keep PDFs of all important documents (insurance policies, etc.) in an easy-to-find folder on your PC. Before the storm hits, place that folder on portable storage media (CD, DVD, SD card, flash drive) and store it safely (preferably in a waterproof container in your “go bag”).  This involves scanning and properly filing the docs as they come in; I scan all important documents because I’m more likely to find the PDF on my PC than the paper original in the stack in the corner of my office.
  • Clean up your house.  Run the dishwasher.  Run the washing machine.  Pick up stuff off of the floors.  A clean house is easier and safer to navigate in the dark (you don’t want to trip on a toy left out and turn your ankle while the storm is raging; been there, done that).  Most likely you will be without power for several days; piles of dirty dishes and dirty clothes begin to stink pretty quickly in a hot and shuttered house (trust me on this one). 
  • Charge up all needed electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops) and leave them plugged in as long as possible before the storm hits.  Make sure all battery-powered devices (radios, lanterns, fans) have good batteries and work after being in storage for months.  Keep an old corded phone handset and plug it in the phone jack in or close to the room where you intend to ride out the storm; our modern cordless phones stop working once the power goes out.
  • Pick out the few plug-in devices you will use during the storm while you have power (we use one TV and one laptop) and unplug all the rest from their wall sockets.  As soon as power goes out, unplug those you were using as well.  TVs, computers, etc. can’t fried by a surge if they aren’t plugged in.
  • Turn your AC down really low and run it constantly for several hours before the storm hits.  Getting the temperature inside as low as possible will keep things comfortable for a bit longer once the power goes out.  Don’t worry about the added electrical usage; you’ll probably recoup it and more for the few days you’ll be without power.
  • Keep a “rabbit ears” TV antenna in storage.  Most of us get our TV programming through either satellite or cable services, both of which are susceptible to disruption by a storm.  While you may not be able to watch your favorite premium-tier programs over the air, you will be able to keep informed about recovery efforts, local alerts, etc. after the storm until your provider gets things back online (which could take weeks if you have a downed dish or cable line).  You don’t need a special antenna for the recently-mandated digital standard; just make certain your TV has a digital tuner (I believe most TVs made in the last 5 years or so do).  The antenna also helps out if, as recently happened to us, your provider and a local station get in a contractual squabble (we lost our local FOX affiliate for a week on DirecTV during the NFL playoffs but I saw the games in beautiful HD using my antenna). 
  • Once the lights go out, don’t use an electric lantern in each room.  Find the place in your house (usually a hallway) where one decent lantern will provide ample light to safely guide the way for the areas where you need to be (mostly the bedrooms).  Have everyone carry a flashlight, just in case they need to go off the lighted path or the primary lantern fails.  Have a backup lantern ready. Using one lantern at a time stretches your battery supply, which, given the current state of our electric grid, you may need to last for a while after a storm of any strength.
  • Put a cooler with ice, bottled water, sports drinks, etc. in a convenient spot in the house and use it once the power goes out instead of opening and closing your now-dead fridge and freezer.  You’ll have to ditch everything anyways (leading to a really interesting post-storm smorgasbord meal cooked on the gas grill), but keeping the doors closed helps preserve the food a bit longer.  We also keep many frozen water bottles of different sizes, which we stick in the fridge to help keep it cold once the power goes out.  They also work really well cooling you down when applied to the back of your neck, a welcome feeling after hours of cutting up and moving downed tree limbs and other debris the day after the storm.

Here are a few things I recommend not doing:
  • Don’t throw your patio furniture in the pool.  It sounds like a good idea but it is a massive bitch to drag it out of the deep end a few days later in the pounding sun.  Find a spot for it in your garage or elsewhere in your house where it will fit.
  • Don’t tape up your windows.  You should have hurricane shutters and/or impact windows.  Making pretty patterns with tape on your windows offers no protection and makes an utter mess of your windows that is very hard to remove, especially after being baked on by the sun for a few weeks or months. 
  • Don’t have a “hurricane party.”  Once you’re hunkered down, waiting for the inevitable, do not give in to temptation to get plastered.  So much can (and very well may) happen during a storm that you will need your full faculties.  A hurricane is not the time for poor decision-making due to alcohol.  I’m not saying you can’t have a post-prep beer or drink, but keep it light, for yourself and your family.

The news folks prattle on as to whether this year will be a good or bad hurricane season; I always say that “a bad hurricane season is when a storm hits you.”  So, I wish everyone a good hurricane season and hope you don’t have to put any of the above into action.  However, it is always important to be prepared, because odds are it will be a bad season for at least some of us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Live Action!

Tox and I watch Animal Planet on occasion, and one of our favorite shows stars the "Turtle Man."  The Turtle Man is this guy who is missing about half of his teeth and can remove any of God's creations from your house or yard.  And I do mean any.  His trademark tag line after a big catch is to yell out the phrase "Live Action!" as some sort of celebratory cheer for himself.

This video of a fight at a Florida courthouse reminded me of "Live Action!" when I watched it.  Don't worry about the back story, or what happens after the combatants are separated.  None of that matters for our purposes. 

Instead, focus on this video as an example of what real fights look like.  Forget Brad Pitt in Fight Club.  That's all choreographed.  Forget what you see on UFC.  Those guys are pros.  The fighting you see in this video is how the vast majority of people fight.  It's sloppy, it's uncoordinated, and it's tactically unsound. 

Things to consider:

  • In this instance, if anyone of the fighters would have had a few lessons of Krav Maga, they would have been at a fantastic advantage.  As my instructor used to tell me over and over, the trick to being a good fighter is good form and good balance.  If you have those, you'll be a rock star when it comes time to hit people.
  • Look how the bigger guy lost his tripping over someone else.  Out on the street, there are all sorts of hazards which can cause you to trip or fall down completely.  Be aware of that.
  • Going to ground sucks.  Stay on your feet if at all possible.  Again, forget what you see on UFC.  Learning how to force someone to tap out takes years of practice. 

Being prepared means having the ability to defend someone who attacks you.  Are you ready for that?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Daily Update for Monday, July 9, 2012

Is The United Nations Really Trying To Curtail Our Gun Rights?

The answer, sadly, seems to be yes. Now before you leftists who read this blog (which I think there may be a grand total of three of you) throw a flag on me to complain I am just falling for the the stereotypical Matt Drudge/Andrew Breitbart/World Net Daily/Rush Limbaugh conspiratorial allegations, I will tell you I did do some background on this.


Since President Obama took office, though, the U.S. has been more receptive to the notion. In mid-October, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying: "The United States is committed to actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons." And on Oct. 28, the General Assembly voted 153-1 to move forward in preparation for a United Nations conference on the arms trade treaty in 2012 that could yield a formal document. This time, Zimbabwe was the lone naysayer (19 nations abstained).

From our friends at Media Matters:

Top officials from the United Nations, the United States, and other high profile supporters have repeatedly and clearly said that the treaty does not aim to restrict anyone's "freedom to own" a gun. Indeed, the U.N. General Assembly's resolution on the treaty makes clear that countries will "exclusively" maintain the right within their borders to "regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownerships."

The chair of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, Ambassador Roberto García Moritán of Argentina, has stated that the definitive goal of the small arms treaty "is to try to have common standards to be applied by all countries when they export or import weapons."

So it seems clear to me that the Obama administration wants to restrict the ability of nations to engage in commerce pertaining to rifles, handguns, ammunition, parts and accessories. My question is rather simple: Why? 

During the 2008 campaign, then Senator Obama alleged that many of America's woes abroad were brought on herself in large part because of the United States allegedly putting its own interest ahead of other countries, often dictating to other countries what the U.S. thought best.  Is this effort not the same thing?  By supporting such a measure, are we not dictating to other countries what the should and should not sell to each other?

Bear in mind neither then-Senators Obama nor Clinton were champions of gun rights before assuming their current roles.  What makes us think they have different beliefs now that they have been promoted?

Their claim, of course, is that such restrictions are necessary so that weapons don't flow into third world countries whereby oppressive regimes can use them to commit human right violations.  I think it goes without saying we're all opposed to human rights violations.  But it naively assumes that such a ban would curtail such violations.  It also fails to consider that those trying to defend themselves from such oppressors may very well need the guns the UN, in its paternalistic wisdom, are trying to ban.

The freedom to own and possess firearms has nothing to do with hunting, as former Texas State Representative Susanna Hupp once famously told a Congressional committee several years ago.  She said it's about protecting the citizens from an overreaching government.  I realize that may seem silly to some on the left, and that's fine if it does.  But the writings of our founders make it clear, at least to me, that citizens - not just Americans, but citizens of every country on the planet - ought to have the ability to protect themselves from criminals, from violent regimes, from angry mobs, and foreign invaders.

The UN fails to be on the correct side of the issue.  Again.

Looking For Zombie Proof Real Estate?

Cousin Aimee shared this link.  Start saving your money up...these cribs are rather pricey.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Daily Briefing for Saturday, July 7, 2012

Enduring Disasters While On The Road

My hometown newspaper carried this story from the county's emergency management coordinator who was visiting the Washington, D.C. area during last week's derecho.  He makes some very good points about what to expect in a grid down environment, and what you can do when you travel to help prepare you for that possibility. 

In my new job, I will be traveling quite a bit. I will really focus on preparing for such contingencies in the coming weeks.

Getting Kids Involved in Preparedness

Tonight, we had the family of one of my wife's co-workers over for dinner.  They are very nice people, and perhaps more importantly, they are "awake" to what's going on around us.

We spent a fair amount of time this evening letting their kids play with my Airsoft gun.  We talked a few minutes about gun safety, about how semiautomatics work, and then the kids (and the other adults) got to have fun - by shooting me.  I demonstated how it's difficult to shoot people on the move, and I let them practice getting hits on center mass shots.

Needless to say, kids love shooting adults with Airsoft guns.  Adults love shooting lawyers with Airsoft guns.  Kids also love watching their parents participating in the fun.  Parents love watching their kids learn important preparedness skills.

If your kids are reluctant to get more engaged in preparedness, try using an Airsoft gun as a gateway into the subject.  You may find it works well.  If not, you'll at least have your own Airsoft gun for the next force on force class.  What's force on force?  Check out this article by Glenn Meyer featuring action shots of Karl Rehn of KR Training.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Daily Briefing for Friday, July 6, 2012

Weekend Reading Assignment

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Daily Briefing for Thursday, July 5, 2012

Recent Product Acquisitions
  • A tumbling composter for Father's Day.  I've already started loading organic matter into it.  I hope to be making my own dirt in the coming months.
  • Two live traps.  One is for squirrels; the other for opossums and raccoons.  Yes, here in the suburbs we have a need for such products.  I'd like to relocate the squirrel which has destroyed my allegedly squirrel proof feeder.  To date, I've unintentionally trapped a wren and dove in it, both of which were released unharmed.  I'm rather surprised birds would go in there.  So I'm spending some time learning how to trap squirrels. 
  • A Midland Weather Radio.  Until now, all of my weather radios came from Radio Shack.  I've not had much success getting the Shack to service their products when the break, so I am going to give Midland a try. 

And One Set of Products To Study Up On

Austin Jill shared this with me - a list of products you can use to recharge your various electronic gadgets when the grid goes tango uniform.  I'd like to learn more about items three and four on the list. 
I am still trying to get a better understanding of this story.  Jerid shared this link with me from ZeroHedge earlier today, which begins to help put things in better perspective.  If you aren't doing so, please start reading news articles on what is going on in the financial system.  At a minimum, you need to know this to be an informed citizen.  You may need to understand it if we have some sort of correction in the broader markets. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Would The Founding Fathers Qualify As Terrorists?

It may seem like a silly question to you.  It certainly would have seemed silly to me.  And then I read this.  

Professors at the University of Maryland and University of Massachusetts released a report earlier this year entitled

Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States,
1970 to 2008

It's certainly an interesting title.  The content will blow your mind.

The authors of this report (which you can download here) describe a number of categories from which terrorists in the United States might come.  For example,  the authors deem those who are extreme right-wing as likely terrorism perpetrators.  In their estimation, those who are extreme right wing are those in

groups that believe that one’s personal and/or national "way of life" is under attack and is either already lost or that the threat is imminent (for some the threat is from a specific ethnic, racial, or religious group), and believe in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism. Groups may also be fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation), anti-global, suspicious of centralized federal authority, reverent of individual liberty, and believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty. (emphasis added)

Friends, the fact that the intelligentsia would put this in writing as part of a project with the Department of Homeland Security ought to scare the living hell out of you.

I tend to think those brave men who literally risked their lives when they signed the Declaration of Independence precisely 236 years ago today would be classified as potential terrorists today, based upon the description above.  Many on the left may not like our founding fathers, and to be sure they were not perfect people.  But they had a vision for constitutional, limited government, self rule by the people, and the ability to pursue their lives in a way they sought fit. 

And for that, we should be grateful.  Not critical. 

Let me assure you - if you are preparing for the next derecho, hurricane, economic downturn, terrorist event, or regional emergency, you are in no way a right-wing extremist.  You are a patriot.  You are a being a good citizen.  You are being self-sufficient.  You are taking responsibility for your own welfare and that of your family's. 

If you have the audacity to be (and I can't believe I am typing this) "reverent of individual liberty," you are not a right-wing extremist.  Read the writings of our founding fathers.  You'll see liberty referenced many times in their missives.

If you are "suspicious of federal authority," you are not a right-wing extremist.  If you are "fiercely nationalistic," you are not a right-wing extremist.  You are simply an American, with the right to have any opinion of the federal government you damn well please.

So what are we to do with this?  Talk to your friends and family.  Remind them our liberty and ability to have dissenting opinions about the federal government's actions is what makes our country great.  Keep doing what you're doing in terms of preparedness and educating yourself.  Share what you're doing and learning with others to the extent you can.  Engage your political leaders.  Let them know you value self-sufficiency, patriotism, and the right to dissent.  Ask them to do the same when they vote on key issues.

Don't let the federal government define you. Only you can do that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ice Ice Baby

The chumps are acting ill because they're so full of eight balls
Gunshots ranged out like a bell
I grabbed my nine
All I heard were shells
Fallin' on the concrete real fast
Jumped in my car, slammed on the gas
Bumper to bumper the avenue's packed
I'm tryin' to get away before the jackers jack
Police on the scene
You know what I mean
They passed me up, confronted all the dope fiends
If there was a problem
Yo, I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

-- from Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby."

Andrew in Virginia, who endured the Great Land Hurricane of 2012, shared some of his thoughts on last night's blog based upon his recent experiences.  I'd like to discuss a couple of points he brought up.

  1. Generators.  I am in the minority on this.  I don't think most people should go out and buy one for emergency preparedness.  I can think of five big reasons: (1) they cost a considerable amount of money that could be better used towards other preparations; (2) they must be maintained to be reliable; (3) they require fuel that, unless you're using propane, must be rotated or treated for long term storage; (4) they can draw unwanted attention to your house if everyone else in your 'hood is grid down; and (5) if you do have one, it requires having a plan to utilize the generator efficiently so as to maximize the energy production capacity of your limited fuel supply.  Most people have neither the time, resources, nor commitment to make the generator a viable part of their emergency plan. 
  2. Ice.  Andrew took issue with me on this one, and since he's now an experienced operator in a grid down environment, he's entitled to some deference here.  He doesn't full embrace my assessment from last night's blog, where I pooh-pooh the notion (pooh-pooh being a technical term, of course) that one should make acquiring ice a priority in the grid down environment.  I can tell you from personal experience that I made it 17 days in Miami without ice (or electricity) in my apartment after Hurricane Andrew.  You can live without ice.  Been there.  Done it. 

    What many of us cannot afford to do is to stand in long lines, in brutal summer conditions, just to get a small amount of ice.  Many in Miami who did so after Andrew were overcome with dehydration and heat exhaustion from standing outside in line in the August heat and humidity.  And in those grid down conditions, where debris littered the roadway, traffic lights didn't work in huge sections of town, and everyone was calling 911 with various self-inflicted chain saw injuries, it wasn't like the ambulance could get to them in five minutes or less.  In short, the risk of acquiring ice in those conditions can outweigh the benefit it provides.
If you can get ice with relative ease in the grid down environment, by all means do so.  If you have the extra cash and are willing to maintain and create a plan for the generator, do that as well.  I remain of the opinion, however, that most of us don't need either one.  And if you do decide to acquire either one of these, understand the risks and limitations in doing so.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Daily Briefing for Monday, July 2, 2012

Ask Those Million Plus People How Not Being Prepared Is Working Out For Them.

This not meant to be heartless.  It is meant to be instructive.

The severe weather over the weekend has caused tremendous damage and disruptions to large portions of the United States.

Severe weather is one of the main perils for which we should prepare.  It's both frequent and has severe consequences.  Yet most of us do not:
  • Own a weather radio.
  • Have enough batteries to run our flashlights and small AM/FM radios (assuming we have one) for an extended period of time.
  • Have some water set aside to be used in an emergency.
  • Have some foods that can be prepared during a power outage, and a way to do that.
  • Think about creating a plan on where they might go and what they might do in case they lost power for a week (You do know that in many cases, if your home has been damaged by a storm, your homeowner's insurance policy will pay for you to stay in a hotel, right?)
  • Own the means to protect our family from criminals during regional emergencies like these.

These are often the same people who stand in line for ice or donuts after the storm. These individuals expect the nebulous "they" (i.e., the government, volunteer relief agencies, private companies) will come in and fix things for them. 

Don't be one of these people.  Have some basic supplies on hand.  Be able to feed and hydrate your family for a few days until electricity is restored.  Be ready to protect your family from those who will take advantage of the situation with looting and home invasions.  Pay attention to the news.  Know what the weather forecast is for the next day.  Know where you'd take your family if you had to leave home for a while. 

Many won't do these things, despite being able to do so.  For those who cannot do these things - the disabled, the elderly, those with other significant challenges - the resources the unprepared yet able bodied are consuming could be better used for those who cannot do for themselves.
Don't be a drag on the system in a grid down scenario.  As legendary firearms instructor Tom Givens once told me and my classmates in one of his courses, "it's time to get your feces coagulated." 


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Daily Briefing for Sunday, July 1, 2012

Because We Are Called To Do More.

Preppers can be a rather self-centered lot, and for good reason.  Operational Security, aka "OpSec," often requires we keep our efforts on the down low, lest we invite others to avail themselves of the fruits of our efforts in a crisis situation.  Further, most of us who are into this to one degree or another often feel a sense of frustration with those who see absolutely no need to be more self-sufficient for the next round of severe weather, an economic emergency, or their kid's lacerated scalp. 

Yet many in the movement got into it because their moral code moved them to do so.  For many of these people, this same moral code also prods them into helping others.  How do we reconcile these?  Can we?

Becky shared this Tanqueray commercial with me, as part of James Altucher's daily email

Below, I share Altucher's analysis of the video and his reasons for admiring the bartender:

Physical – Clearly he seems healthy. In addition to being a bartender who also serves as bouncer, kicking out a rough patron to the cheers of the other bar patrons. He also has the balance and poise to carry drinks through the room (while precisely messing with the arrogant pool player).

Emotional – The bartender seems to instinctively be on the lookout to help people. If your constant thought throughout the day is “What life can I save next?” then over time you build this instinct and opportunities will happen throughout the day. You will be a non-stop superhero and the people around you will sense this about you.

Another way to cultivate this instinct is to be in a constant state of surrender. You don’t have to believe in a higher power, you just have to picture yourself as transparent to ANY power (higher or inner or whatever you want to call it) and simply ask (out loud if possible) “What do you want me to do next?” If you always ask, “what you do want me to do next?” and you ask it with sincerity and without trying to control the answer, the answer will always come. Again, it’s a practice but, built up, it has many rewards. When you give, you can’t help but receive.

The bartender gives repeatedly and again almost on instinct. He helps the junior bartender with the message to the girl. He helps the bride jilted at the altar, while politely putting off other customers. He makes her laugh. He helps the girl playing pool by messing with the arrogant guy she’s playing.

And in doing so, you can see the respect the crowd gives him. The looks the girls give him. The space he becomes entitled to while he does his job. I know - it’s a commercial. But it’s not imaginary if you cultivate these things inside of yourself.

Mental – He’s the head bartender for a reason. He knows hundreds of drink recipes. He can make the customer’s laugh. He deals with the stress of having hundreds of customers asking for a drink, some of them so drunk he has to evict them. And he plays the piano and hasn’t given up on it after childhood was over (like I did).

Spiritual – he needs his moment at the end of the day. His cave. Again, he has given throughout the evening, always looking to save a life, to help where he can so that it became an instinct. And he gets to enjoy the fruits. Not by going home with any girl (which he clearly could’ve, given the looks he was getting) but finding his own private time to relax in peace.

And it’s all connected. Being open to helping people is spiritual. Being able to show balance and poise is spiritual and physical. Handling all the drink orders shows abilities in both the mental and physical categories. This is why no one “body” is more important than the others. They all flow together and building one up to the detriment of the others will ultimately create blockages in life.

There's a lot we can take away from this.  Prepping is about self-sufficiency.  Being able to help others is a by product of that.  We need to be confident, versitile, ever-mindful of the needs of others, attentive, physically fit, engaged with the others around us, and able to inspire others.  It's a tall order, but the successful prepper will work to cultivate the skills.