Saturday, December 14, 2013

Daily Briefing For Saturday, December 14, 2013

Man Up.

This is going to upset some folks.  If you're wanting some feel good news today, here's the Duck Dynasty crew singing Silent Night.  I ain't doing inspirational today. 

We are a weak people.  And yes, I include myself in that criticism.  For too long, we've allowed ourselves to become complacent and apathetic.  We're out of shape physically.  We complain about the slightest inconveniences, which if compared to those endured by our grandparents would pale in comparison.  The phrase "first world problems" often used to describe situations where those in modern societies cannot experience immediate gratification isn't just a funny hash tag on social media.  It's a legitimate description.

In a nation where 84 percent of the poor have air conditioning and 60 percent have a personal computer, people across the economic spectrum have become accustomed to having modern conveniences.  Let me be clear about this:  I am not lamenting the fact that poor people have stuff or that we need to cut off food stamps.  In fact, I celebrate it, because it means capitalism is working - our poor can benefit from modern technologies unavailable to the poor of other nations. 

This relative wealth and technology has caused us - and again, when I use the first person plural in this blog, I am including myself - to get soft in the middle.  As a result, we've lost a valuable quality humans need, which is fortitude.  We no idea where our food comes from, yet alone how to grow or process it ourselves.  We are losing the ability to do basic repairsWe can't even change our own tires or jump start a car.  And when people do try to be more versatile and live off the grid, the government tries to condemn their property as uninhabitable, with no good faith basis to do so.  How can this bode well for our nation?

Glenn Beck did a great monologue on this which will certainly upset some people, but it stirred me into writing this section of today's blog.  I encourage you to read or watch it

I don't do much in the way of yearly resolutions, but in planning the upcoming preparedness conference on January 4, I did make this promise to myself: This year is about acquiring skills, not stuff.  I'm pretty good on gear.  What I'm not good on is learning how to do the most basic repairs and using tools. 

I need to man up in 2014.  I suspect many others do as well.

Homelessness And Food Demand Increase, While Congress Cuts Military Pensions

Good news keeps rolling in! 

This week's bi-partisan budget deal in Congress significantly cuts military pensions, according to CNN.  I'm pretty sure this isn't the deal our military service people signed up for.

And it looks like the need for housing and emergency food assistance continues to increase, despite the fact we're told unemployment has fallen to 7%, a 5 year low.  Buried in that last story is the fact that "only about 63% of Americans over the age of 16 participate in the job market -- meaning they either have a job or are looking for one. That's nearly the lowest level since 1978, driven partly by Baby Boomers retiring, but also by workers who had simply given up hope after long and fruitless job searches."

What do these stories have in common?  Our nation's finances and economy are in shambles if not in some sort of alternative universe.  When we're having to cut military pensions for those currently receiving them while simultaneously being told how great the job market is, you have to wonder if anyone truly understands the forces at work in our economy. 

This is not a Blame Bush/Blame Obama situation.  We can go back decades to see how this all began and how it's continued to worsen over time. 

While the fix to all of this is certainly complicated, we need to take steps on an individual basis to make sure we're not caught in any upcoming economic downdraft.

Are People Beginning To Get It?

On some levels, I think so.  Business Week ran this piece outlining why gun control efforts are languishing in the United States - people realize that despite the vast increases of gun sales in the last few years, crime continues to trend downward.  The article makes many of the same points I made in January on this very subject:

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.
Solving the challenges that face us won't be done by putting on a Red State or Blue State jersey.  They will be solved only when we are intellectually honest enough to look at the data and apply solutions that are compliant with the Constitution. 

I still believe there is time to turn the ship around and put our country back on a track of liberty and prosperity for everyone.  It will require that more of us take an interest in news, politics, and helping one another. 

Good Book Recommendation For Skeptical Preppers

Stansberry Research, a financial research firm, has put out this book on simple steps you can do to make you reasonably well prepared for a number of things.  It's written by a medical doctor and contains some good advice (with the usual caveat of skipping over what he says about firearm recommendations).  I ran the medical supply part of the book by my father who agreed with his recommendations.  Easy and quick to read - if there's someone you know who could use a short book on a painless way to start getting better prepared, this is a good one to try. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Random Thoughts About Not-So-Random Things

I hope you are checking out the videos on my YouTube channel. I am learning more about making them with each video.  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven't already - it's free! 

Throwback Preparedness Play of the Day

I don't know why I was thinking about this, but something reminded me of the Apollo 13 mission recently.  Here's a somewhat lengthy video about what happened and the efforts to rescue the crew.  You'll note the laser-like focus the crew and the ground control teams put on managing the basics. 

Free Subscription To Emergency Management Magazine!

I read their stuff on Facebook from time to time.  It's worth getting this free magazine and "liking" them on Facebook if you're a user.  Here's an interesting article on how nursing homes can be better prepared for disasters. 

Some Ideas On Getting Women Into Preparedness

Most of us can relate - our spouses (usually the female ones) don't get into this as much as we'd like.  (If yours does, you're doing well.  Buy her something nice at Christmas this year.  Like an AR-10.)  Here's what one lady did to get her girlfriends to start thinking about getting on board the prepper train.  We actually did something similar several years ago.  I don't think it stuck, but it was a fun exercise. 

A Few More Preparedness Tips Thrown In For Good Measure

You'll like this - guaranteed.  41 Camping Hacks that are quick and easy ideas to help you get better prepared for living off grid.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Daily Briefing For Sunday, December 1, 2013

And This Is What Gives Me Hope

As we enter the last 30 days of 2013, we in the preparedness community often take stock of our efforts to see what we did well and where we can improve.  Sadly, it takes little to be better prepared than most people.  Consider last year's Adelphi University study on the level American preparedness.

Below is a summary of some of the striking findings from our 2012 poll of U.S. adults:
  • 44 percent don’t have first-aid kits 
  • 48 percent lack emergency supplies 
  • 53 percent do not have a minimum three-day supply of nonperishable food and water at home
  • 55 percent believe local authorities will come to their rescue if disaster strikes
  • 52 percent have not designated a family meeting place if they are separated during an emergency
  • 42 percent do not know the phone numbers of all of their immediate family members
  • 21 percent don’t know if their workplace has an emergency preparedness plan
  • 37 percent do not have a list of the drugs they are taking
  • 52 percent do not have copies of health insurance documents

And yet, I am hopeful.

I'm hopeful not because only 53 percent of Americans don't have enough food on hand to survive a three day emergency (that's an ice storm in the Deep South, a hurricane making landfall in New England, or a significant earthquake on the West coast), but because we continue to see more evidence that private sector innovation - and not government disaster or entitlement programs - will be the deciding factor in how well we extract ourselves from emergencies.

This innovation by our friends at IKEA - known for their shelving systems, quirky stores and cryptic assembly instructions - demonstrates once again that when the private sector is able to innovate, it can change lives dramatically.  Consider their newest invention:  a completely foldable, solar powered disaster shelter for refugees.

Technology for preparedness applications continues to improve in quality and affordability.  Twenty years ago, having a portable solar power system to recharge wireless devices and energy efficient lighting was little more than an article in Popular Mechanics.  These technological improvements - from the private sector - will no doubt improve the lives of people around the globe and give preppers here at home access to some incredible tools for being better prepared.

When we are better able to meet the basic needs of disaster victims, a nation rebounds quicker and with less societal costs.  Innovations like this are critical to a community's ability to recover.