Sunday, January 27, 2013

Daily Briefing For Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Rabbit And The Snake

I posted this on my Facebook account recently, primarily because it's a fun video to watch.  Take a moment to see what all the fuss is about:

The remarkable thing about this video is that predator becomes the prey.  The rabbit puts its fear aside and protects its territory.

Evil and tyranny are everywhere.  Will we run from it out of fear, or will we be the rabbit, using whatever resources the Lord blessed us with, and challenge those forces which would harm us?

What makes this video remarkable is that the only offensive weapon the rabbit has, its teeth, provide an effective force in repelling such a dangerous animal.  Don't forget this lesson, folks.  Those elements out there that would have us live in fear are counting on us not using what we have to resist their efforts.

Sometimes, the rabbit does beat the snake.  And we can too.

Hoarding Or Preparing?

Recently, I've read a number of blogs and emails lamenting the "hoarding" of ammunition since the talk of tighter gun control measures began last month.  Are those buying ammo in large quantities these days truly "hoarding" it?

Hoarding by definition is "to accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place: to hoard food during a shortage."  If someone is buying ammunition out of a rational fear that such ammunition may become more difficult to acquire in the future due to laws or regulations, are they hoarding it?
By definition, the answer is yes.  Yet for most people, the term hoarding has a negative context.  Perhaps the better question is "should preppers purchase ammo in bulk to stock up in case this ammo goes away in the future?"  There's no doubt increased demand has let to acute shortages in popular calibers.  When the ammo is available, buyers often pay a substantial premium for it.
Before I weigh in on whether you should be stocking up on ammo, let's do a reality check.  Just how much ammo do you need, anyway?  I have friends who have several thousand rounds of ammo in popular calibers.  Knowing these folks, I'm pretty sure it's safe to say they won't use up even half that ammo in their lifetime.  Even in a worst case scenario, most of us won't be engaged in daily fire fights.  And if we are, our likelihood of survival is poor.  Our need for ammo for true emergencies is likely far less than we imagine. 
Given that we likely won't need all the ammunition we're accumulating, does that mean we shouldn't be stocking up on it?  I personally stock up on it, and have done so recently, in large part because I know I will use what I buy.  I generally buy in bulk to get the best price.  I also buy extra to provide it to my CHL students in need of ammunition for the range portion of their training. 
If you are stocking up on it these days "just in case," I would suggest that unless you don't have enough ammo for your immediate practice/training and self defense needs, you're probably better off waiting until this gun control nonsense blows over so you can get it at a better price.  And yes, I am predicting just that - this, too, shall pass.  The Democrats don't have the votes, and the Supreme Court is on our side.  And the 2014 elections will be here before you know it.  A growing number of state legislatures are considering bills that would prohibit state and local law enforcement from enforcing any such measure.  Sheriffs from around the country continue to voice opposition to laws that restrict our rights.  And there are too many modern sporting rifles and high capacity magazines to make any ban on them effective.  Given Canada's history with gun registration, I suspect we'll see the same response here - vast civil (yet peaceful) disobedience resulting in a repeal of any similar law.

On a side note, those in the gun community who espouse personal responsibility, self reliance and free markets are some of the most vocal critics of those stocking up on ammo.  We always knew the Obama administration would advance this agenda when it was politically expedient to do so, so it should come as no surprise.  Being critical of those who are preparing for the possible risk of long term shortages so that everyone can get their "fair share" of ammo seems counter to the notions of liberty and freedoms the gun community purportedly espouses.
The lesson here?  Have enough supplies to get you through shortages, regardless of how those shortages arise.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Daily Briefing For Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spread Sheeting Today....

This is a quick one, as I'm pretty tired.  But today I made great progress on a number of projects, including the development of a spreadsheet to track what food we have in inventory, as well as its caloric and protein content.  It's a good way to determine if you really have as much as you think you do and how long it will last you.

To make things easy, I'm basing all assumptions on a 2,600 daily calorie burn and 75 grams of daily protein consumption per person for each of us in the family.  Yes, those are big numbers, but they reflect the fact we're likely to be more physically active during a crisis, as well as providing us with some cushion to be able to help others as the need arises.  I'd rather budget for it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.

As I told the attendees at the conference earlier this month, food storage is nothing but a large math problem.  You need to know how many calories and how much protein you have on hand.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daily Briefing For Saturday, January 19, 2013

When It Goes Down In Your Living Room

I'm going to share a story with you that a friend shared with me; I have her permission to share it with you.  I have taken the liberty of changing the names of the individuals involved to protect their privacy.

I've known Kate for a long time.  Divorced with one child - a daughter in college -  she lives by herself in her home in the suburbs of a major city not too far from where I grew up.  She has an advanced degree and has a professional job for a large employer.  Over the years, I'd provided some basic handgun training to her, partly in response to threats her husband had made during their divorce proceedings.  She'd emailed me floor plans of her home, and I'd given her some suggestions on what to do should someone try to break in while she and her daughter were there.  We war gamed various scenarios that she might encounter and how she should respond to them.  One of the key points I stressed to her was that she needed to make securing her daughter in a safe location during a home invasion a top priority. 

What I didn't know at the time was how this advice potentially saved their lives.  I also didn't know that the threat they would face wouldn't come in the form of a boogieman breaking into their home.

Kate's college aged kid came home from school from college break.  During her time at home, she and some friends - whom Kate knew - went out partying one night.  As it happens from time to time with young people in this demographic, the kids started taking acid.  The resulting hallucinations were too much for Kate's daughter, who immediately returned home and told her mom what had happened.  Kate put her daughter into bed and called one of Kate's friends over for help in determining what to do next.

The other kids in the group weren't far behind, arriving at Kate's house minutes later.  One of the guys in the group - a college freshman, weighing about 200 pounds, had apparently taken four hits of acid.  (I'm by no means an expert on illicit drugs, but I'm told that's a tremendous amount of it.) 

And that's when it went down.

He began having horrific hallucinations and acting on them with incredible strength.  In a matter of only minutes, he was able to:

  • Throw Kate with such force she was airborne (twice), and in one instance hitting her head on a wall in the house.
  • Jump through the glass of two separate windows and a glass storm door, completely naked, resulting in massive cuts and bleeding, not to mention blood stains and splatter throughout the house.
Kate told me that through the ordeal, she remembered what I told her during some of our training sessions - secure your daughter first.  She did just that, and despite the multiple injuries she sustained, she kept her daughter and daughter's female friend safe in another room while all of this was going on.

Kate's friend quickly surmised that they needed to call 911.  Kate had been hesitant to do that, since she knew this kid, knew he didn't have evil intent, and thus didn't want him to get into trouble.  But at some point, having a naked, bleeding, out of control teenage boy going in and our of your house by jumping through closed windows is too much for anyone to handle by themselves.

Police showed up and took control of the situation.  Kate said it felt like it took an hour for them to arrive, yet her cell phone indicated she was on the phone with 911 for 11 minutes.  Before it was all over, the young man was tasered, subdued, and taken to the hospital where he spent time in ICU and received over 150 stitches and staples.  It does not appear any charges will be filed.

The young man's parents were most appreciative of Kate's efforts to help their son.  They've been prompt to pay for window replacement and other repairs. 

Kate took all of this hard.  She told me she was not only physically sore for days after the incident, mentally and emotionally she felt she had failed.  Kate didn't talk to anyone for days after this, hardly leaving her bed for the first four days afterwards.  "This happened on my watch," she told me several times.  "I feel responsible for these kids.  I should have called 911 sooner.  I should have known what to do for him."

After she told me this story, I told her we should debrief and learn what we can from the situation.  In summary, I told her:

1. You learned you can take a punch.  That boy roughed her up pretty well.  Despite the trauma, she learned she could stay focused and keep her priorities.  She played through the pain and didn't let it distract her.  As I tell my CHL students, real life isn't like paintball, where once you get shot, you're out of the game.  In the real world, when you get hit, shot, stabbed, clubbed, tripped or whatever, the rules don't prohibit you from staying in the fight. 

2. You quickly formulated a plan to determine when you'd use deadly force.  Kate quickly surmised that she was not willing to use her gun to subdue this kid for a host of reasons, even when he was attacking her.  However, she told me that had he begun attacking one of the girls, she would not have hesitated.  I reminded her that as citizens, we may use deadly force when we have a reasonable belief of an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death.  Note we need not determine what the motive and intent are of the attacker - it's irrelevant why they are doing what they are doing.  Some people might disagree with her assessment not to use deadly force on the kid after he'd assaulted her twice, but I'm not going to question her decision.  It's one thing to shoot someone breaking into your house in the middle of the night with the intent to rape or rob you.  It's another matter entirely to shoot someone you know - a friend of your child's - when they lack the ability to think logically.

3. You learned that you should have called 911 quicker. If I could pick one thing to improve upon here, it would be the fact she should have called 911 sooner than she did.  I understand her motives here - she was hoping to calm the young man so that law enforcement wouldn't be involved.  However, when he's fighting people and jumping through closed windows, that's when you have to realize you're not equipped to deal with this.  None of us are, unless you do it for a living. 

4. You learned how long it takes to get law enforcement to your house during a real emergency.  Subtract a minute off of her call to reflect the fact that she was on the phone with them for a short period of time after the cops arrived.  It took ten minutes for help to arrive.  A tremendous amount of bad things can happen in ten minutes.  Are you prepared to be your own first responder for ten minutes until police/fire/EMS arrives at your house? 

5. You learned you could think rationally and work effectively in a high stress environment.  We often simulate stress in tactical shooting courses to get people to realize what the real thing will be like.  Kate has now been through the real thing, and now she knows she can handle a lot more than she thought she could.

There are other lessons here, but you get the point.  Kate did a lot of things very well.  Many people would have frozen up in that situation.  She, on the other hand, was proactive, kept her focus, played through the pain, and never gave up on trying to fix the problem and on protecting her family. 

One last thing - I reminded her this didn't happen "on her watch."  She was not responsible for those young adults.  She was sitting at home, minding her business, when they showed up at her home.  I pointed out to her that none of us have a magic wand; we cannot fix everyone who is suffering, ill or in need of restoration.  Kate was given an emergency, and she dealt with it in an effective, responsible manner. 

I told her that she needs to build on this experience.  Take comfort in the fact she did a lot of things correctly.  Find lessons to learn from this.  (One of the lessons is that she will now install a steel door and door frame for her bedroom to help create a safer room for her to shelter in during an emergency.)  What she experienced and learned from that evening may save her life in the future.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If Larry Gatlin Were Writing "All The Gold In California" Today

All the gold in California
Is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills in somebody else’s name
So if you’re dreaming about California
It don’t matter at all where you played before, California’s a brand new game

Today's news (thanks to Jerid for sharing it) that Bundebank (that's the German Federal Bank) is withdrawing its gold holdings from the New York branch of the Federal Reserve as well as those in Paris.  Read into this whatever you want, but you have to wonder what's got the Germans spooked.  I'm not buying the "we're doing this to save the storage costs" theory.  Those fees are a drop in the bucket compared to the value of the roughly 3,396 tons of gold held by Germany. 

So if Larry were writing this song today, it might sound more like:

All the gold in New York City
Is not controlled by those in the U.S. of A but by those who didn't sell
So if you are thinking
That gold will save us, you've got a snowball's chance in hell.

Where's The Money At?

The Wall Street Journal reported this week (and evidenced by this graphic from them) that money appears to be flowing into equity funds and out of bonds and Treasurys.  Is this a bullish sign for the Suburban Dad Nation to get back into equities?

On January 2 of this year, the first trading day that the fiscal cliff deal was reached, stocks rose nicely on a 19% increase in volume on the S&P.  Yet at the close of business today, the 50 day moving average of the S&P is at 540 million shares, down from 557 million on January 2.  Yet that same average is up 0.6% in that same time period - nothing to sneeze at.

What's it all mean?  Candidly, I have no idea....yet.  If we start seeing higher trading volumes, I suspect the bulls are right and the markets will continue upward, especially if inflation concerns set in.  I would continue to watch for buying opportunities in metals.  But that's just me.

Happy Birthday, MLK!

Dr. King would have been 84 today.

We celebrate his achievements and honor his memory for promoting liberty.  And Dr. King himself was no stranger to the benefits of liberty, as Hsoi reminds us of Dr. King's regular exercise of his Second Amendment rights.  That's correct.  Martin Luther King, who gave us his famous "I Have A Dream" speech, packed heat for his own protection.  He was even denied a carry permit. 

We must not let emotion trump truth and logic.  We will preserve our Second Amendment rights.  If we've learned anything from Sandy Hook and subsequent events, it's:

  • We need to do a better job educating people about firearms.
  • We need to improve our mental health system.
  • We need to improve the data sharing functions for the background check system.
  • We need to do a better job of training educators on how to handle emergencies, both man-made and natural.

One More Reason To Get Healthy

The Texas Department of Insurance reported this week that thousands of Texans with health insurance should expect their premium to rise between 10 to 36 percent

Why?  According to the Department, it is

largely due to the Affordable Care Act. The Texas Department of Insurance expects that more than 163,000 consumers throughout the state will see double-digit increases in their premiums due to the provisions of the federal health care law. The law does not go into full effect until 2014, but several of its provisions will be enacted this year in an effort to ease the transition to an overhauled health care system.

Get yourself healthy.  Regardless of what you think of Obamacare, it's clear that premiums are going up, and that we need to start relying less on health insurance to keep ourselves well.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daily Briefing For Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Chapter From My Next Book
I keep a folder on my computer desk top with musings on a variety of subjects.  I keep telling myself I will write another book someday, but the reality is that "someday" ain't any time soon. 
Back in late 2011 and early 2012 when I experimented with a newsletter format, I wrote more in depth pieces about preparedness.  And I don't mean just the how-to stuff.  I wanted to get beyond that and branch into analysis of news and trends.  I don't think I was very successful.  No one came to me and said "Based on your newsletter, I've completely bought into what you're saying." I found it somewhat cathartic nonetheless, using the newsletter as justification to spend more time researching and analyzing what was happening around us.
One of my high school English teachers, Ron Smith, had us journal once a week about whatever subject fancied us.  Up to that point, I'd never sat down and committed my thoughts to writing on a regular basis.  I found that experience helpful; in a sense, blogging is the new journaling.  And because I travel a lot, I often sit with my laptop on a plane or in a hotel room and "journal" as we called it back then. Much of the end product is useless, yet every now and then I come up with interesting observations.     

One day, flying home from a business meeting, I wrote out the high points for a chapter I simply entitled "On Citizenship."  To date, it's been one of my more favorite writing efforts. 
I'd like to share it with you below.  Before you read it, ask yourself: am I preparing so I can be part of the solution after an emergency, or am I preparing just so that I'm not part of the problem?  I would suggest to you that good preparedness isn't about guns or water or storable foods or canning or victory gardens.  Good preparedness is good citizenship.  And good citizens look for ways to help, even in times of crisis.

While none of this is novel to most of you, it may be food for thought for many in the preparedness community.  Many in this community - the "I've got mine so screw everyone else crowd" - have grown rather self centered, but not because they are selfish.  I suspect this happens to most of them because they've been chided or ridiculed by society so often for expressing a desire to be more self sufficient. This results in a desire to emotionally retreat from our civic duties and instead focus on one's self. 

I totally get that mindset.  I've been guilty of it myself.  But as we ponder the deeper reasoning behind our efforts, we should all take a mental inventory and ask ourselves: to what extent to we plan on helping others in a crisis?

My thoughts on citizenship and preparedness are below.  What are yours? 
1.  You, and you alone, are responsible for your safety, well-being and happiness.  It’s not the government’s job, church’s job, nor your family’s job to provide for an adult’s well-being.  You are ultimately responsible for your situation.  We are all born with some sort of gifts as well as limitations.  What we do with them is up to us.  The attitude we choose to have towards life is just that – our choice.  Those whose preparedness plan is nothing more than following the instructions of government officers and depending on it for food, water and shelter will be sorely disappointed in the quality of their lives post disaster.  Just ask those in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
2.  Followers are a dime a dozen.  We need leaders.  People associate being a leader with holding some sort of elected office in government, the local PTA or HOA board.  We can all be leaders without ever holding office.  Leaders are the ones who demonstrate good citizenship, a willingness to work hard to help the community, exhibit wise thinking and knowledge, and inspire others to do the same.  Don’t be afraid to do these things.  We have plenty of couch sitters and ass scratchers in society.  We need more people out doing – leading a scout troop, teaching a Sunday School class, or even picking up litter on the side of the road.  Our movement is short of leaders offering solutions other than buying some land out in the middle of nowhere and becoming a homesteader (again, I am not being critical of those who do this; I just don’t think it’s realistic in our society for large numbers of people to do so.)  If you want to see more people being self-reliant, lead your own effort to make it happen and to encourage others to do so.
3.  Help others, even when it’s sometimes inconvenient to do so.  Be charitable.  Tithe.  Offer to help your friends when they need something.  Help them when they move into a new home or need a ride to the airport.  Have them over for dinner.  When you help others, you demonstrate you are concerned with their well-being.  This makes you more effective when you encourage them to prepare.

4.  Build relationships.  Write notes to people to let them know you’re thinking about them.  Reach out to those who are ill.  Take an interest in their kids.  People listen to whom they trust and value.  By building relationships, we put ourselves in a position to effectively encourage people to be more prepared for emergencies. 
5.  For those who have done a lot for you, do a lot for them.  Some people are givers by nature.  If someone has done a lot to help you or your kids, do the same for them to the extent you can.  Don’t be a taker.  Acknowledge their contributions to you by going the extra mile for them.  Effective preparedness in the suburban environment requires a sense of community.  The givers are the people you want on your team.


6.  When you commit to doing something, see it through.  Your friends and neighbors need to know that when (your name here) says they will do something, you can take it to the bank.  If you say you’ll man the grill for the neighborhood barbecue, by all means show up and do it.  When you say you’ll provide beverages and snacks for the school’s fundraiser, do it.  The world is full of people who agree to do things and flake out.  Don’t be a flake.  You are a survivalist. Survivalists are not flakes.
7.  Never stop seeking the truth.  A big chunk of what you think you know is wrong.  Information and innovation changes the way we think about and do things.  Never be satisfied that you know enough about the economy, politics, or God.  Never assume all of your opinions are correct.  Have enough character to be willing to re-examine what you know to ensure you are on the right track.  In a grid down situation, you will need every ounce of your analytical abilities and knowledge.  Don’t shortchange yourself by failing to grow mentally.

8.  Never stop self improvement.  Work incessantly on physical fitness, spiritual development, your physical appearance and health, your attitude towards life and others.  Operating under emergency conditions will require you to function at peak performance in every aspect of your life.  Condition yourself now for that contingency.
9.  Be in the know.  Know what the weather forecast is.  Know what’s happening in the financial markets.  Know what political issues are front and center at all levels of government.  You may get precious little warning before an emergency.  Not being a total dumb ass as to what’s going on around you will help you prepare.
10.  Toughen up.  Being prepared for an emergency requires a tremendous amount of mental, physical and emotional toughness.  It’s not the time to be weak.  Learn to do difficult things without complaining.  Things are not nearly as bad as you often think they are.  Nor are they as bad as they could be.

11. Get a gun and know how to use it safely and effectively.  When seconds count, the cops are minutes away.  The gun is one of the greatest life safety tools ever invented.  It can give an 80 year old woman a fighting chance against a 25 year old thug.  If you fear guns, it only means you need to learn how they work.  Seek out a good instructor who can help you learn.  Effective and safe gun ownership isn’t hard to learn, but it does take a commitment to do so.
12.  Be able to provide for your family’s needs in a grid down environment for at least 90 days.  Originally when I wrote this, I felt you should be able to provide for your family for an entire year.  However, I’m a realist – most people will do well to be self-sufficient for 90 days.  If you can manage on your own for three months, you can weather all but the most catastrophic emergencies. 
13. Be happy in your own skin.  So many today live through the lives of others, enabled by the growth of reality television.  If you’re constantly improving yourself, you are making the best with what you have.  Be happy with that.  Don’t fret over what you don’t have.  It won’t do any good.  It will also condition you to not fixate on what you’re lacking during a protracted emergency
14. Get in shape.  Most of us are overweight and in poor condition.  I know this from seeing the waistlines of many of us walking around in public.  I also see it when I look at the guy in the mirror.  Getting in shape costs little and is one of the most effective preparations you can make for a crisis. 
15. Be a good steward of what you have.  This includes not only your finances but also your home, your body, your tools, and the environment.  Make the stuff you own last.  Ensure that what you have is reliable and in good working order.  The power outage affecting your neighborhood is not the time to realize your generator isn’t working due to neglect.  Eat healthy.  Get regular check ups. 
16. Read good books. Reading fiction from time to time can be stimulating, but books on such subjects as politics, the economy, history, spiritual matters, psychology and how to do things are far better for you. 
17. Learn new skills that would be beneficial in a crisis.  Welding, first aid, solar electricity, gardening, wood working, making repairs around the house, fire fighting, ham radio, and preparing food in a grid down environment would all be helpful skills to have.  If you can do some of these things well, your help will be in high demand in an extended crisis.
18. Be a model citizen.  Vote.  Be courteous in public. Don’t be a jerk.  Don’t litter.  Don’t do anything you don’t want caught on surveillance camera and shown on the local news.  Respect the rights of others, even if you don’t agree with their cause.  Look for ways to help people.  Your 30 seconds of assistance to someone may help them in some fashion that’s worth far more than 30 seconds of your time. 
19. Share your knowledge with others and encourage them to prepare.  There are countless ways to do this.  My wife and I once had our supper club group over with a disaster food preparation theme – we demonstrated a variety of storable foods and alternative cooking methods to our friends.  Forward articles to them on various threats we face and ask “what’s your take on this?  Do you think this is something we should be prepared for?”  Let them know that while you’ll do you what you can to help them during an emergency, you won’t be able to provide for all of their needs in a crisis.  They will need to be prepared to take care of themselves.
20. Never stop instilling positive thoughts and ideas into your kids.  This may not seem like something a survivalist would concern themselves with.  You need to do so.  Your kids need to understand they are special, strong, and capable of handling any challenge thrown at them.  Note I am not saying you should coddle your kids, turning them into mush.  They need to understand hard work and failure.  They also need to understand that you love them regardless and that you think they can thrive during life’s challenges.  Set a good example for them.  When you make a mistake, own up to it.  They need examples of how to handle failure and mistakes, too.


21. Never forget the sacrifices of those before you.  A tremendous number of Americans have given their lives so that we could be free.  A tremendous amount of our ancestors have worked hard and lived earnestly in order to put you and me into a better position than they were in.  For example, my parents were rather poor when my father was in dental school.  My mom made his lunch for him every day, and to save money, she packed his sandwich in an old bread wrapper she re-used every day for that purpose.  Years later, when I heard that story, I began packing my own lunch time sandwich in an old bread wrapper, as a daily reminder to me to be thankful and appreciative of the sacrifices my parents made to give me the opportunities I have today.

22. Confront evil with extreme prejudice.  Note I did not say “confront evil with extreme violence.”  We must confront evil in order to eradicate it.  Confronting it with extreme prejudice means dealing with evil in a purposeful manner.  Bring it to people’s attention.  Demand it be stopped.  Take action to the extent you legally and morally can to end it.


23. Find what motivates you and use that to your advantage.  We are all motivated to prepare for different reasons.  Some of us relish the opportunity to challenge ourselves in a grid down environment.  Others are motivated to prepare to protect their families.  Many prepare because they want to help others in the community.  A few prepare out of a general sense of bad ass-ness.  Find what motivates you – even if its fear of a zombie apocalypse – and use that as your motivation to push your preparedness efforts.


24. Avoid violence, but be prepared to protect you and your family from imminent serious bodily injury. Colonel Jeff Cooper famously wrote “we are not conditioned to kill another person.”  Taking another life, even in defense of our own, is an unnatural act.  It requires a mindset to do so in order to protect you and your family.  When the time comes you need to be capable to what is necessary to preserve you and your family’s lives.


25. Show no favoritism towards the poor nor disdain towards the wealthy.  Consider Leviticus 19:15: "Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly."  Class warfare has permeated our political debate.  It’s unbiblical to favor one group over another based solely on their financial status.  If you’re guilty of this, stop it.  In a full blown crisis, the poor person who has handy-man skills becomes rich.  The wealthy person you detest could have resources you may need to survive.  These two individuals may need each other in that situation. 

26. Pay attention to your surroundings. Where is the nearest exit? Can you describe the suspicious person you see at the neighborhood?  What is the license plate number of their vehicle?  Does that mom with two little kids at the grocery store need your assistance?  Survivalists are attentive to the world around them. 

27.You can take a small flashlight, a pocket knife, and a cell phone almost anywhere in America.  Learn new ways to use these items effectively in an emergency.  Never leave the house without them.

28. Make an every day carry (EDC) kit.  Have it nearby wherever you are.  Most of us will never have to fight our way out of a crazed gunman at the mall or live through a protracted economic collapse.  The odds are much higher that you will have to bandage up a neighborhood kid or make a quick repair of a pair of eyeglasses at work.  Survivalists prepare themselves to handle large and small emergencies.


29. Choose your close friends well. Earlier I mentioned the need to build relationships with a variety of people; that suggestion still stands.  When it comes to choosing your close friends, choose well.  Choose people who value good citizenship like you do.  They don’t have to be survivalists, but they do need to share your core values.  They need to be people who are givers like you, not takers.  They need to be solid, reliable, stand-up kind of people.  As my friends back home in Tennessee used to say, “true friends are the kind that show up when you ask them to meet you somewhere with a shovel and not ask any questions.”  Don’t look for people your own age, profession, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or race.  Things like that don’t matter when the flag goes up.  You need to know they pack the gear – mentally, physically, and emotionally – to help out in times of trouble.


30. Know what you will do in the event of a fire, severe weather event, emergency medical event, or threat of violence.  Learn how to do CPR and use a fire extinguisher.  Get a weather radio and use it.  Think about what you’d do if there were an act of violence in the various places you visit daily.


32. When you travel, have a set of emergency supplies that stay in your suitcase.  Some emergency foods, a small AM/FM radio, some first aid items, a few extra batteries for your flashlight and radio can come in very handy during an emergency when on the road.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Daily Briefing For Thursday, January 10, 2013

When Do We Get To Start Rioting?

April 16, 1993. I was a first year law student at the University of Miami.  I was about to finish my first - and worst - year of law school.  By no means an expert in any area of the law, I was certainly more interested in the judicial system than most people. 

Let's rewind the tape for a minute.  A year before, a California jury acquitted the four officers accused of assaulting Rodney King, sparking a riot that would leave 53 dead.  Property damage costs of that horrific time were staggering.  The riot caused all Americans to once again talk about issues of race, of policing and of civil rights.

Back to April 16, 1993.  It was a Saturday.  I remember that because a) I wasn't at school that day, and b) the courts had decided to announce the verdict on the civil rights charges against the officers during the weekend, so as to help curtail the possibility of civil unrest stemming from an acquittal.

I watched the news coverage on a local television station - Channel 7, WSVN if memory serves.  I don't know how to describe Channel 7 other than its self-inflicted motto: If it bleeds, it leads.  If you want the most extreme, the most grotesque, the most inflammatory news coverage, you tuned into Channel 7.  I knew if there was going to be unrest that day, it would be on Channel 7.

Channel 7 had stationed a reporter at the local 911 call center so they could report in real time on calls for assistance from the forecasted mayhem that was to envelop the city.  And in the minutes before the verdict was announced, the reporter at the 911 call center broke into the non-stop coverage to report that someone had already called 911 to ask:  "When do we get to start rioting?"

The recent debate on the possibility of new gun control measures, either through statute or executive order, has sparked some similar questions.  So I think we need to address them.

We are a nation of laws.  We are not a democracy, where the majority gets to tell the minority what to do.  While it's true we do elect leaders in our republican (small "r" as opposed to big "R" Republican....there's a difference as you know) form of government, their efforts to legislate and regulate us are limited by our Constitution.  Simply because a President enacts an executive order or signs legislation passed by Congress does not mean it becomes the law of the land forever.  The Supreme Court may find the law violates the Constitution, striking it down.

When we live in a nation of laws with a constitutional government, we impliedly cede some of our rights to the government.  For example, when we have elections, we impliedly agree that as citizens we will be bound by the result, even when it means our candidate lost.  We agree that we will pay taxes, even if we think they are too high.  We agree to follow the laws, and we agree that if we break those laws, we can go to jail.

How can I say that we agree to those things?  Because we choose to live here.  If you don't like those rules, then it's incumbent on you to find a place more fitting to your taste.  No where in the Constitution does it say we get to riot or kill people or set things on fire if there are laws passed that we don't like.  If you think there's a clause in there permitting that, let me know.  But I'm fairly confident you won't find one.

Some will no doubt tell me this country was founded on the principles of rebellion and rioting.  I don't know that I would disagree with that.  And I'm well aware our Declaration of Independence says

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

It's important to remember that our Declaration of Independence was signed some twelve years before our Constitution was ratified.  Our Constitution comes with methods to change it as times change.  But as long as the Constitution is our ultimate law of the land, we must abide by it, even when we disagree with the resulting laws.

And so when I hear people talking about rioting or starting a revolution, I have to ask: Just what exactly do you intend to do?  Shoot at federal agents?  Burn down federal court houses?  Attack military bases?  What?  All of these things seem hypocritical to me, especially when those who may be doing the attacking or rioting are purportedly doing so to support the rule of law and the Constitution.

We do not defeat over regulation and over legislation with violence.  We do so using the system that is in place, created by the Constitution.  We do it in the courts and at the ballot box.  We do it by utilizing our First Amendment rights to educate others on the problems associated with an ever encroaching government.  We do it by educating ourselves on what our rights are under the Constitution.  We do it by encouraging others to do all of the same.

We can all envision a nightmare scenario where the Constitution is permanently suspended, due process is eliminated, property is seized without compensation, elections are suspended, people are jailed or executed for their political or religious beliefs, and on and on.  If this nightmare scenario were to ever come about, would I be saying the same thing?  Would I be saying "trust the rule of law?"  I pray we are never put into that position. 

So, in summary:

  1. Respect the Constitution.
  2. Pray for our leaders, even if you don't agree with them.  Pray for God to heal our collective souls.  Pray for wisdom for yourself.
  3. Educate yourself and others.
  4. Remember you get more flies with honey than you do vinegar. 
  5. Be vigilant about what's going on in the news and in politics.  Stay on top of current events.
  6. Reach out to those who disagree with you.  Build relationships with them.  Let them see you are not a bad person or a nut job.
  7. Value truth.  Don't hide from facts.
  8. Prepare for the possibility of more difficult times ahead, for you and your family.
  9. Support candidates who espouse your values.  This means supporting their campaigns financially.  It also means reaching out to them to let them know what's on your mind.
  10. Be a nice person.  Don't be a jerk, even if someone else is being a jerk to you.  Set a good example.
God bless us all.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Daily Update For Sunday, January 6, 2013

Postcripts From Yesterday's Conference

Yesterday's preparedness conference was an experiment on many different levels.  I wasn't sure what sort of attendance we would have (completely full room of 40 people plus presenters), how well it would be received, (evaluations from attendees were fantastic), and whether it could be an annual event (we announced the next one would be Saturday, January 4, 2014).  All in all, it was a success.

I want to share some of my observations from the conference.  Note these aren't observations about what the speakers said; these are thoughts I gleaned from talking with attendees.  As I mentioned Atlanta Jeff last week, one of the great opportunities I'd have during the conference is to take the pulse of folks like you and hear what's on your mind.

  1. The level of concern among the prepper nation is palpable.  While they are not whining, they are voicing their concerns.  They are also willing to start putting resources and time towards becoming more self sufficient.  Note they are not in a panic, but they are at a heightened level of alertness. 
  2. The level of preparedness acumen continues to grow.  I hear fewer "got my guns and MREs" stories and more reports of people creating thoughtful, sustainable plans to be self-reliant for a period of time.
  3. People are more open to having their preconceived notions challenged.  We live in interesting times.  More people are now willing to ask questions about the government's ability to provide for people during a disaster than they were previously.  They are asking questions about the forces at work in the financial markets.

In many ways, I feel vindicated.  I've proven to at least myself the preparedness movement is alive and well in Central Texas.  And it's nice to be in a room of nearly 50 people and talk about storable food, the risk of inflation, the need to be armed, and how we can help others during emergencies without being thought of as some sort of genetic anomaly.

Postscript From My Ongoing Discussion with eFoods Direct

Social media is a great thing.  One of its many tools is to call out businesses not helping their customers.  Here's a message I recently posted on eFoods Direct Facebook page:
I placed my order on November 25 (order number 100068142). Confirmation said order would be shipped in 10-14 days. Over a month word from eFoods. No response to message left via website. I called eFoods Direct on Dec. 20 - was told it would ship right after Christmas. Five days after alleged shipping date, still no word.

I am hosting a disaster preparedness conference this Saturday in Texas, where I will be doing a presentation on food storage plans. Wonder what I will say to conference attendees about eFoods customer service?

I got a call from eFoods on January 2 in response to this.  To their credit, they expedited shipment and refunded all shipping charges.  And as promised, my order arrived on Friday, just in time to have some of its contents used as door prizes at yesterday's conference. 
I ordered the "The 1-Month Food Supply" which according to their site "provides one adult with 192 servings of healthy, delicious storable food for 28 days."  Delaney and I opened the green plastic container which eFoods uses for all of its larger orders.  These containers are very nice - rugged and stackable.  I like that.
To see just how long this 1-Month Food Supply would actually last me, we did some math.  Using the nutrition information on each of the packages in the bin, we determined that this particular food supply contains 32,836 calories and 748 grams of protein.
Let's do the math.  If the standard diet for recommended daily intake (RDI) purposes presumes that the typical person needs to consume 2,000 calories and 50 grams of protein a day, the 1-Month Food supply provides 16.4 days' worth of calories and 14.96 days' worth of protein.  Of course, in a grid down environment, caloric and protein needs will likely be higher than the RDI numbers, due to stress and the likelihood one would be more physically active.
At best, the "1-Month Food Supply" will last you two weeks unless you supplement it with something else. 
I have had eFoods' products before.  They are easy to use and are tasty.  They are often high in fat, but for preparedness purposes, that's not a problem - when we're eating our grid down food, we won't be worried about gaining weight.  We'll want as much energy from our food as possible.
It's eFoods Direct's policy to bill your credit card at the time of purchase, rather than the time of shipment. In this case, I paid for my food 39 days before receiving it. Suppliers like Emergency Essentials, on the other hand, do not charge you until your food actually ships.
I should add that eFoods advises they are overwhelmed with demand now from preppers. I don't doubt that, and I don't fault them for it. What I do criticize them for is a) not updating their customers when food does not ship when they say it will, b) not responding to customer inquiries via their website,  c) billing their customers at order time rather than shipping time and d) not being more transparent about the fact that their 1-Month Food Supply doesn't provide the typical adult with enough nutrition for a month.  (I cannot opine on their three, six or twelve month packages as I have not ordered them.)
So what are the lessons here?  As I told the crowd yesterday, food storage is a math problem.  You must do the math to determine how many calories, protein, vitamins and minerals you need.  Don't assume that because someone sells you a "one month" supply that it is enough food to sustain you for a month. 
Would I order from eFoods again?  Probably so.  The food does taste good, and it ships in containers great for storage.  Some of their pricing specials make it an attractive option.  But when I order, I am doing so knowing what I am getting into.  You should do the same.
"Europe Must Be Prepared For Popular Uprisings In The Style Of North Africa."
That's not me talking, friends.  That's the International Red Cross.  Thanks to Clifford for sharing this article with me.  As we have discussed here over the last several months, the EU economic situation remains challenging. 
It's hard to believe that anyone would say this about Europe, especially an aid group like the Red Cross.  If it could happen there, could it happen here? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, January 1, 2013

All Is Quiet On New Year's Day

Like the iconic U2 song, all is indeed quiet today.  I'm cleaning the house and cleaning out closets, getting ready for the new year.  I wanted to update you on a few things.

Update On The Preparedness Conference

I've not been blogging much as of late in large part because the holidays were busy, AND I've been working to get the conference squared away.  I'm really pleased with our rosters of presenters.  We've seen a spike in registrations in the last two weeks.  While we still have room for other attendees, we will be approaching capacity soon at this pace.

Attendees who have pre-registered should be getting an email very soon with more information.  You can still sign up for the conference by clicking here.

Product Reviews

I have a couple of new toys I'd like to tell you about.  First up is my new Nutrimill.  It is a great way to make your own flour from your stored grains.  We made bread over the holidays, and the Nutrimill did the hard work.

I did have one glitch - the bowl that catches the flour wasn't seating correctly into the frame.  After multiple attempts to fix it, I ended up calling the customer service number - on December 26.  Once I saw they were located in Utah, I knew they'd be at work the day after Christmas.  And they were.

The customer service guy gave me a temporary fix and is shipping me a replacement frame, no questions asked. Needless to say, I am very pleased with their customer focus.

Next up is my newest flashlight - the Streamlight Pro Tac HL.  This little flashlight cranks out a whopping 600 lumens of light.  There's even a warning on the label advising against using the strobe function if you are susceptible to seizures. 

My only complaint about the light is the switch function.  To put it into strobe mode, you have to push the button twice very quickly.  I prefer the way my Fenix light works in that regard.  On the other hand, the Streamlight is programmable.  I will experiment with it in the coming days.

The Streamlight will run you about $60 on eBay.  Well worth it, based on my limited experience.

And Finally, A Not So Positive Review

I'm very frustrated with eFoods Direct.  I ordered a month's supply just after Thanksgiving.  To date, no food.  No response from them either, despite the fact I sent them a message through their website.  I called them on December 21 for an update and was told they were behind in their shipping, but that my order would go out December 26.  Here we are, a week later, and still no food.

To make things worse, they billed my credit card they day I placed my order - a month later, I still don't have my product. 

I left a complaint on their Facebook page yesterday.  We'll see how they respond.  I will keep you posted.