Saturday, November 1, 2014

Daily Briefing for Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fall Back

DST ends Sunday morning at 2 AM.  This means we will "fall back" and gain an hour.

Fire preventionists suggest we change the batteries in our smoke alarms when changing to or from DST to ensure they are fresh....or do they?  FEMA recommends once a year, while the National Fire Protection Association has no recommendation on its website

I gleaned other guidance in my research.  One fire chief indicated that those smoke detectors with lithium batteries only needed to be tested while those 9 volt batteries needed to be replaced.

I'll be testing mine tomorrow at a minimum. 

Today At The Local Food Bank

Kendel and I did a shift at the local food bank, helping process donated food to be routed to families in need.  The folks at the Capital Area Food Bank do a fantastic job taking a bunch of volunteers who have never worked a shift before and turning them into a productive work force in a matter of minutes.

The preparedness community can learn a lot from working at a food bank.  For example:

  • If you ever wanted to know what kinds of dented cans are and are not acceptable for consumption, you will learn that in your shift.  Food bank staffs see it all - dents, scratches, torn boxes - you name it.  Given the tremendous data set they have to work with (our half day shift alone processed 6,600 pounds of food; over a week's worth of shifts, that comes out to over 79,000 pounds of food a week), they have learned what container damage is cosmetic and what is disqualifying. 

    Further, the food bank regularly donates food that has passed its "best by" date.  The general rules are that canned foods within three years of today's date are acceptable, except for tomato based products, for which one year of today's date is acceptable for usage.  The only food they require to be within the best by date is baby formula.
  • You learn about the circumstances of those in need.  Often when we try to decide on what's the right public policy position on remedies for poverty, we are content to simply look at lots of data.  Don't get me wrong - the data is crucial for good policy planning.  For example, most people are unaware that the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program - SNAP - is the successor to the food stamp program.  Even if we take Mother Jones at her word (which is hard for me to do, given their track record on a number of issues), SNAP consumes about five percent of the federal budget - not as much as many people probably believe.

    Understanding the circumstances the recipients find themselves in not only improves our humanity, it better enables us to understand the nature of the problems our country is facing.  That's not to say we'll all rush out and demand our politicians double the SNAP budget or increase other welfare program budgets, but it is to say we'll have a much better understanding of the issues so we can make informed decisions and comments about the subject.
  • You learn more about the food bank's efforts before and during disasters.  Our food bank played a critical role in feeding Katrina refugees as well as those displaced by the wildfires of 2011.  Those of us in the preparedness community need to understand what happens to those who do not have plans or resources after a disaster, regardless of whether you feel charitable towards them or not.  It's good intel to know where the local food distribution points are. 

    One thing I want to explore more at our food bank is its efforts in the area of disaster preparedness for low income individuals.  Their website makes mention of its efforts in this field, but there's not much there in the way of details.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2015 Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference

2015 Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference
Saturday, January 10
10:00 AM – 5:15 PM
Cabela’s, 15570 S Interstate 35 Frontage Rd, Buda, TX 78610

The Third Annual SDS Preparedness Conference will be the most advanced and in-depth conference yet.  Based on attendee feedback from last year’s conference, the 2015 event will offer:

  • more advanced topics, with
  • more time being devoted to each topic. 


Admission fee is $45.  To register, click on the KR Training registration page.  Once you’ve completed the registration form, you must then click on the “Pay for Classes” link.  Until you have paid for the event, you do not have a reservation.


Despite our best efforts at past events to encourage the Cabela’s dining facility to anticipate the surge of attendees during the lunch break, they cannot meet the demand in a timely fashion.  We highly recommend you consider bringing your own lunch this year.  Please note we will not have access to a microwave or other means to warm food. 


Take Exit 220 on Interstate 35.  Cabela’s is located on the west side of the interstate. The conference room is located on the second level in the rear of the building. 

We will have tables at this year’s conference, so please feel free to bring notepads and electronic devices.  There are a limited number of electrical outlets for recharging.  Cabela’s does not offer wifi. 

Area Hotels

For those coming in from out of town, there are two hotels within a very short distance of Cabela’s:

Friday Night Dinner

There will be an informal dinner Friday night, January 9, at the Logan’s Roadhouse located in the northeast parking lot of Cabela’s.  We’ll plan to be seated at 6 PM.  Please contact Paul at 512-267-4817 if you would like to join the group.  You will be responsible for your paying for your own meal.


9:30 AM - 10:00 AM          Registration

10:00 AM – 10:05 AM      Welcome and Announcements

10:05 AM – 11:00 AM      Paul Martin on “Building a Culture of Preparedness in America.”  Is the preparedness movement in America succeeding? Paul will take the audience through the current state of preparedness in the United States and offer a blue print on how to go about building a culture of preparedness to save lives and tax dollars.

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM      Lunch (We strongly recommend that you BYO.)

11:45 AM – 12:45 PM      Brian Brown of Team Rubicon on “Cyber Security/Data Management for Preppers.”  With more breaches of servers with sensitive data, how should the preparedness community protect themselves?

12:45 PM – 1:00 PM         Break

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM           John Kochan of KR Training on “Emergency Lighting and Power Options.”  Lighting is critical in grid down operations.  John will provide some in depth guidance on the most effective solutions currently available.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM           Amit Agrawal of Wells Fargo on the current state of the economy and financial markets.  Amit spoke at the first conference in 2013; he has been invited back due to attendee feedback from last year’s event.

3:00 PM – 3:15 PM           Break

3:15 PM – 4:15 PM           Kellie Bailey on “Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties Issues for the Preparedness Community.”  She is the chair of the Criminal Law section of the Austin Bar Association and will speak on legal issues facing those who are firearm and preparedness advocates.

4:15 PM – 5:15 PM           Paul Martin on “Advanced Food and Water Storage Strategies.”  This is one of the most requested topics at past preparedness seminars and field days.  Paul will give an advanced level presentation on how to build a food and water storage program.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Report from PrepperFest in Phoenix

I flew out to Phoenix on Sunday for a couple of work meetings on Monday.  I timed my meetings so as to give me an opportunity to attend PrepperFest in Scottsdale.

PrepperFest in Arizona is a two day affair.  I attended not because I needed to buy something  (I ended up doing so anyway...more on that later), but because I'm always interested to see:
  • What the prepper demographic looks like in large numbers
  • What new products, strategies or theories are being advanced into the marketplace
  • What the hot topics are with the conference speakers
  • What speakers I might be able to invite to some of my conferences
I made a few observations I'd like to share:
  1. The prepper demographic has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.  What had been a middle-aged white guy sporting tactical pants and Murica! t-shirts convention has gone completely mainstream.  No exaggeration here - young moms in yoga pants with small children or infants in tow, suburban dads in Dockers and golf shirts, of all ages and races.  This was about as diverse as a trip to Costco in Northwest Austin on a Saturday.  (For those of you not familiar with Northwest Austin, put it this way - there are nearly 30 languages spoken at my stepdaughter's school.)

    This is a very good sign to say the least.  People are paying attention to the news and are making the effort to at least learn more if not get better prepared.

  2. Aquaponics has become well established now in the prepper community.  I wasn't sure how well this strategy was going to be adopted by preppers, but suffice it to say there were multiple vendors there who paid big bucks for prime real estate at the expo.  Don't let my lack of optimism for aquaponics catching lead you to believe I don't think it's a good strategy.  It's just a strategy that requires more effort than simply stocking up on a thousand cans of Mountain House freeze dried.
  3. Preppers need to do a better job supporting these events.  A number of vendors reported that expos like this are tough for them, insofar as they don't manage to sell much merchandise at them.  I've seen it at the seminars and field day I host.  People don't want to pay for training, education or quality supplies.  That's why I'm convinced the only places preparedness stores will survive is in the Utah area, where there is a large base of customers (LDS church members) who make preparedness a priority. 
  4. Speaking of vendors, they are becoming much more diverse as well.  I never thought I'd live to see the day where there were a number of people of color at a preparedness expo, selling preparedness supplies no less.  Vendors from patriot types to granola hippies to soccer moms manned the vendor booths.  I fully expected to see a collection of middle aged, camo wearing white guys selling out of date MREs and chem suits from the Cold War era.  While there was a small amount of that, there were also RV salesmen, farmers selling milk goats and goat cheese, young ladies handing out samples of the newest freeze dried flavors, engineers selling solar generators that they mass produce in their garage and an assortment of other diverse vendors.
So what did I buy?  One tip for those of you planning to attend one of these expos in the future: there are deals to be made at the very end of the expo.  Vendors don't want to ship stuff back and will make some good deals.  I managed to purchase a couple of Survival Stills (one of which is for sale for $250 plus shipping through Friday).  Check out the video in the link.  I'll be testing this still in the coming days....stay tuned for reports.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Daily Briefing for Friday, October 24, 2014

Precautionites or Precautionaries?

I've started listening to Andrew Wilkow's radio show as of late, at the recommendation of Karl at KR Training.  Wilkow intersperses political opinion with regular calls for people to become more prepared in a reasonable fashion. 

In today's show, he suggested a better name for preppers might be "precautionites" or "precautionaries" to more accurately reflect the nature and motivation of those who engage in this endeavor.  One definition I found for the word precaution  - "a measure taken in advance to prevent something dangerous, unpleasant, or inconvenient from happening" - certainly matches the motivation of those who take preparedness seriously.

Precautionaries may be a better descriptor for us.  Preppers are preparing to deal with the aftermath, generally speaking.  If you're a precautionary, on the other hand, you're not just working to deal with the aftermath, you're taking action "to prevent something dangerous, unpleasant or inconvenient from happening."  We should be going beyond focusing efforts solely on survival.  We should be actively working to reduce risk by educating others and taking steps to avoid problems in the first place.

This message is certainly salient today as we see the dreadful news about the school shooting in Marysville, Washington.  There will no doubt be a rush to analyze and lay blame on a host of people and reasons.  Regardless of what we may think was the cause of this, we all should be taking steps to manage the possible risks we face in our schools and work places.  Building relationships with people who may be hurting inside and paying attention to warning signs from those who may take irrational measures should be on our "to do" lists along with learning first aid and having a plan to deal with emergencies. 

As you discuss today's news with your kids and family, discuss your emergency plans for sure, but then also ask them how they might deal with warning signs from fellow students and co-workers.  Often the prevention costs far less - in many ways - than the damages that can follow.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Daily Briefing for Saturday, October 18, 2014

So How About Those Royals?

I find baseball boring.  So let's talk about something else.

First Glimpse Into 2015 SDS Preparedness Conference

The speaker's roster is coming along well.  So far, we have:

  • Brian Brown of Team Rubicon talking about data and network security for preppers.
  • John Kochan of KR Training makes his debut as a speaker on the issue of emergency lighting and power options.
  • Kellie Bailey, the chair of the Austin Bar Association's Criminal Law Section, will speak on "Constitutional and Civil Liberties Issues for the Preparedness Community."  She is a panel attorney for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.
Be sure to save Saturday, January 10, 2015 on your calendar for this event, to be held at the Cabela's in Buda, Texas. 

Update On Book Writing Project

Last evening, I sent the manuscript - the fourth rough draft of it - to my editor for drill down.  That's freeing up some time for me to start thinking about publishing options.

It's never been easier to publish a book.  Many major publishing houses have created self-publishing subsidiaries to help those of us who don't have a book deal or the financial backing of a big time publisher.  It would be great to have the book picked up by a big publisher, but I am realistic. 

If I were to summarize the manuscript in three paragraphs, it would look something like this:

The preparedness movement in America has failed.  Despite numerous severe storms, earthquakes, pandemic threats, financial crises and civil unrest over the last 25 years, the typical American has not taken the most basic steps to be prepared for an emergency.  And those who do - "preppers" - are often portrayed as mentally unstable. 

America would be better off if it had a culture of preparedness. To create that culture, we can look to other successful cultural change efforts in American history and replicate those learnings in our effort to create a readiness culture.  Preppers themselves need to lead the charge, migrating away from a "I've got mine...too bad you don't have yours" mentality to a leadership role where they set a good example and help others prepare.

If we want more resilient communities less reliant on government or charity after a disaster, we need to make preparedness more of an obligation of good citizenship and less of a symptom of a mental illness.  To do that, we need to be able to "sell" preparedness by finding what themes and values resonate with our neighbors and then using those themes and values to motivate them to take action.

Obligatory Ebola Commentary

Like many of you, I have been following the developing news on Ebola.  Like most people, I'm not a medical expert.  I simply want to know the truth - not hype or downplaying.  Just tell us what's going on and what the plan is. 

I remain firmly convinced the Ebola threat is manageable in the United States....provided we actively manage it.  One-time Obama supporter Peggy Noonan penned this piece outlines why Americans are losing confidence in the government's handling of this crisis.  The New York Times reports this morning "Amid Assurances on Ebola, Obama Is Said to Seethe."  It's in large part because of our reactive rather than proactive approach to this terrible disease.

For now, we need to be executing the basics well.  Washing our hands, avoiding sick people, using Lysol wipes on surfaces in hotel rooms - this will go a long way not only to avoiding Ebola but the far more common contagion that is the flu.

Should you have masks?  Of course...but not just for Ebola.  I keep them handy not just for pandemics, but for other emergencies as well. Think back to 9/11 and all of those people who had on dust masks as they were fleeing the scene.  While dust masks aren't ideal, they are better than nothing.  I keep N100s at home and in my truck in case there's an emergency requiring some sort of respiratory infection. 

Winter Weather Outlook

NOAA has issued its 2014-15 winter weather outlook

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Daily Briefing for Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Sophomore Effort

In the past few months, my blogging has become quite sparse.  Time I would have normally spent in front of a keyboard typing about preparedness has been replaced with time in front of a keyboard typing about preparedness....for my second book.

I'm finishing up the manuscript this weekend, and I hope to have it to the editor in my family soon thereafter for a thorough and skeptical review.  Fortunately for me, my editor is not a prepper, as I didn't want someone who subscribes to my theories doing the initial edit and review.  I intentionally chose someone who I knew wouldn't be bashful about challenging my assertions, lest I suffer from confirmation bias in the manuscript editing process.  If we are to be leaders in our cause, we should actively seek intellectual honesty and skeptical analysis of our positions.

The book is yet to be titled.  I can tell you that it centers around the need to build a culture of preparedness in America, attempting to answer three central questions:

1. Do we need a culture of preparedness in America?
2. If so, what would that culture look like?
3. And how would be go about creating it?

This isn't a how-to book or a "rush out and buy guns and MREs" admonition that permeates the literature in this genre.  I've intentionally avoided much of that in this project, as I really wanted to focus on how we can create a preparedness culture and, hopefully, strengthen our communities as a result.

While the process has been tedious, I can say I've enjoyed it immensely.  For years now, I've had a number of ideas and theories about the preparedness movement which I had never explored in depth.  Collecting a number of essays I've written over the last two years, researching my ideas and converting them into chapters of a book has really enabled me to articulate for the first time in my life what I think the goal for those of us in the movement should be - namely, preparing ourselves but also creating a culture of preparedness to encourage others to do the same.

I look forward to sharing more details with you as the project moves forward.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Daily Briefing for Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Maverick's In A Flat Spin, Headed Out To Sea."

Remember that time that Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards were competing with Val Kilmer and some other actor to see who was the coolest 80s fighter pilot?  In Top Gun, the characters played by Cruise and Edwards find their plane in a flat spin (the preferred recovery technique from which was a subject heavily debated one night when I was a legal intern at NTSB with a bunch of NTSB crash investigators during a rather energetic happy hour.  But I digress.)

I was reminded of that scene last night when I pulled up Drudge to see what crises du jour were on tap.  Apparently, President Obama remarked at a DNC fundraiser Tuesday that "There's a sense possibly that the world is spinning so fast and nobody is able to control it."  Yeah.  Like a flat spin in a F-14 Tomcat.  Except we don't have Tom Cruise and Scientology to pull us out of it. 

The news today isn't simply bleak (although news is, rarely, all positive...lest none of us tune in to watch or read it.)  It reflects a complete disconnect of many assumptions we've made about the order of things for quite some time.  Russian government-connected cyber attacks on JP Morgan.  Ebola here, there, everywhereConfusion as to which bracket we're supposed to be playing in Syria.  Suggestions that ISIS is attempting to penetrate the southern borderOver 300 deaths in Ukraine since last month's cease fire.  Pro-democracy unrest continues in Hong Kong.

It's no wonder, then, that the Maplecroft Civil Unrest Index shows that that risk for "disrupting business has risen in one-fifth of the world over the last quarter, with Hong Kong and Ebola-struck Liberia leading the way."  This raises two important questions.

First, why didn't any of you people tell me that there's such a thing as a "Civil Unrest Index?" 

Second, what on earth are you and I to do in response to these intense and seemingly unconnected stories? 

I'll tell you what we're going to do:

  • Put things in perspective.  We've faced much more turbulent times in this nation and as a species than we are facing now.  Odds are this isn't the end of the world.
  • Be good citizens.  Stay informed.  Stay alert.  Be prepared.  Don't panic. 
  • Encourage others to do the same.  Tell them to make some basic preparations and have a plan to shelter in place...for Ebola, a winter storm, a job loss.  Your calm demeanor and willingness to help will make you an asset to your family and neighborhood.
How do I know this will work?  Because you can, in fact, escape a flat spin:

Whatever ails us right now can be alleviated.  While we encourage our leaders to make the tough but necessary choices to do so, we need to do our part at home.  Executing the basics in preparedness - like executing the basics in piloting - will enable us to get things back on track.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Moving The Needle In Our Schools

This isn't about Common Core or whether we should ban standardized testing in schools.  If you want to yell about that, move over to Facebook.

A couple of weekends ago, I made the third trek in as many years to my high school alma mater as the sponsor of what I am calling the "Student Responder Program."  We are teaching kids and faculty on how to be their own first responders until help arrives from police, fire and EMS. 

This year, we had 30 kids - a record - get certified by the American Heart Association in CPR and first aid.  In addition, I spent a fair amount of time with faculty and staff discussing the program moving forward.  These cultural change efforts generally take time, and I think the administration is beginning to get a feel for how best to incorporate a cadre of student responders into the day to day routine of the school.

Brett Young of Bedford County EMS and I during the training at Webb School a couple of weekends ago.  Note the Diet Mountain Dew bottle on the table.  No idea how that got there.

Concluding the course work with a quiz which I created.  Kids are playing for twenty bucks of Code Paul Cash.  Sometimes it pays - literally - to know where the nearest AED is and who Rick Rescorla was.
This concept of having people on campus act as responders rather than just victims to be rescued continues to gain traction.  One teacher in another school took a tactical medicine program to better equip her to be an asset during a school emergencyThis is the sort of thinking we need to make our schools safer.  Rather than "hide and hope," kids and faculty need to be part of the solution, since they're the ones closest to the action.

These cultural changes are often hard to make, but I can assure you they are worthwhile. 

Perhaps the best news we received over the weekend is that Bedford County EMS is already training students in other county schools to be medical first responders - for free.  Upon completion of the training, the students respond to medical emergencies on campus with the school nurse and render aid, including the administration of oxygen, CPR, bandaging, and other hands on care.  EMS has agreed to provide that same training to kids at Webb at no cost as well.  Needless to say, we are thrilled to be building a partnership with our local first responder community in a cost effective manner.

I started this program in part to test a theory I had - that kids can be trained to be part of the solution rather than people who just need to be rescued.  The theory, so far, is withstanding the scrutiny that's been applied to it.  Other schools are testing their own theories and ideas; as they do, eventually there will be an opportunity for schools doing so to come together and share best practices.  That's when this will become really exciting and meaningful to the participants.

Friends, if I can do something like this, you can too.  Pick a preparedness project that will help someone else - a school, a church, a neighborhood association - and be a leader for change.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Your Regular Reminder To Breathe

Yes, I'm not blogging much these days.  Writing a book takes up a lot of time.  But more on that later.

The Dow closed down 273 points today.  One strategist suggested "We could see a continuation of these 100-plus-point-day moves as investors worry about could this be the end of a three-year run without a correction."

In addition, the IMF downgraded global growth forecasts for this year and next.  Meanwhile, Europe is bracing for what the World Health Organization calls an "inevitable" outbreak of Ebola across the continent. 


Yes, there's much going on in the news now.  If you're paying attention to it, you're ahead of many.  It's not too late to top off your preparedness items or even start a preparedness effort in your home.  We will be facing things like this for the foreseeable future.  Our ancestors dealt with two world wars and a full blown pandemic all in the span of 30 years.  We've dealt with the Cuban Missile Crisis and 9/11.  We will face more challenges as time goes on.  And we will endure.

Panic is not part of our plan.  Preparing ourselves and our families for a wide array of risks is part of our plan.  Don't panic; prepare.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Daily Briefing for Monday, September 8, 2014

What Jerry Jones Can Teach Us About Preparedness

Yes.  That Jerry Jones.

ESPN recently drilled down deep into the mind of the owner of the iconic Dallas Cowboys, providing a superbly written piece and giving us a glimpse into what makes Jerry Jones tick.

I'm not a big sports fan (I follow a few sports just well enough so that I can keep up with some sports conversations), but I do find the business of sports very interesting.  I detest baseball, for example (the game simply moves too slow), but thoroughly enjoyed the movie Moneyball, which was all about the business of the sport.

Working in the government relations arena, I regularly meet people who are often larger than life, and Jones clearly fits that description.  The ESPN story sheds a little light into what makes him tick.

He has a high "tolerance for ambiguity."  As described in the article:

Jones likens himself to a riverboat gambler whose success depends on a well-honed "tolerance for ambiguity." It's a fancy way of saying that when a big bet goes south or the accumulated risks outweigh the potential rewards, he can still function at a high level.

"The riverboat gambler can be his most charmin', he can be his most clever, the smartest, and not know it's all gonna end on the next card and he's gonna be thrown overboard if it's the wrong card," Jones says. "And a part of havin' a tolerance for ambiguity is looking for the more positive and bein' able to handle the negative because you've got more goin' on."

Preppers have a low tolerance for ambiguity.  If we had a higher tolerance, we would still perceive the risks to ourselves and family, but we would not fret about them.  Instead, we stockpile food and water, putting bug out bags in our vehicles and learn how to cook with solar ovens because we're concerned about the next blackout, severe weather outbreak or other failure of society and infrastructure.

Assuming that we wanted to increase our tolerance for ambiguity, and assuming it's possible to do so, how would we go about it?  And should we go about it?

  • We would be intellectually honest about the true risk we face.  My wife and I were just having this conversation this evening, as we discussed building materials for the house we are building in a couple of years.  We discussed the likelihood of tornadoes hitting the Austin area.  While there is a risk of tornadoes, that risk is small. (I'm more worried about the wild land next door to us catching on fire, lighting up our property with it.
  • We would learn to function better despite the risk, regardless of whether the risk is accurately perceived.  Learning to "deal with it" rather than worry about it is a sign of strong character.  We would learn to relish the challenge rather than dread it.
  • We would treat risks as opportunities to learn rather than problems to be endured.  Learning is how we grow.  It's how we get better prepared.  Dreading or fearing a risk rather than thinking of it as an opportunity to test or practice a skill can reduce your tolerance for ambiguity.  Your mindset is critical in increasing your ambiguity tolerance. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

FREE Firearms Training at Upcoming Preparedness Field Day on August 2!

Yes, you read that correctly – FREE firearms training from KR Training’s Karl Rehn.  But before we get to that, let’s discuss what’s happening on August 2.


We've seen a lot of headlines as of late that serve as good reminders on the need to be prepared:




These issues will continue to affect our nation. Government and charitable organizations cannot be everywhere, all the time – we have to be prepared to be our own first responders.


At January's Preparedness Conference, many of you expressed interest in getting some hands-on experience in using the equipment and skills necessary to take care of yourself until help arrives. That's why we've put together the field day on August 2 – to give you the opportunity to do hands-on training.  Currently, there is no other prepper conference or seminar I'm aware of in Texas that is going to give you the opportunities this field day offers.


And if you’re worried about the heat in early August – please note many of these presentations will be indoors or in the shade.  You will not be outside in the sun all day.



Here's a list of topics and presenters who are confirmed for August 2.  Note these will be presented in a block format, which each presentation being offered more than once.  You'll have ample opportunity to attend your favorite choices of these presentations:



Food Storage and Nutrition – Kerri B. Gehring, Ph.D., an associate professor at Texas A&M will be presenting on the subject of “Food Storage and Nutrition.”  Many preppers have questions about food storage options and the nutritional retention of their food stores.  Dr. Gehring will speak to these issues and provide practical guidance on long term food storage options and strategies.


Fire Extinguisher Training – Mark Wobus, District Chief with the Bastrop Fire Department, and Lt. Brian Harvey of the Bluebonnet Fire Department, will provide attendees hands on training on how to use a fire extinguisher.  This is a live fire training opportunity.


Solar Cooking and Energy – I’ll be demonstrating some of the solar cooking and power equipment available on the market. 


Rainwater Collection  - I’ll share with you everything you need to know about setting up your own rainwater collection system.


Treat the Heat - Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics (and frequent guest instructor at KR Training) will be presenting on the subject of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of various heat related ailments.  Caleb served as a medic in the U.S. Army before beginning his own training company; he brings a wealth of knowledge from the tactical medicine community.


Herbal Medicine – Sam Coffman of The Human Path will do a short herb walk and discuss the details of using several local medicinal plants for acute injuries and illness as well as chronic illness.


First Aid - Sam Coffman will demonstrate (and coach) the use of a poultice using both plant material as well as charcoal, to deal with infection, inflammation and tissue healing. 


The only direction you can't fell  tree is UP- Never handled a chainsaw? John and Kelli Kochan of KR Training will demonstrate what you need to safely handle and maintain your chainsaw. Then gear up and get your hands on a saw for real.


Radios don't bite - Learn what various radios can and can't do, which to use for what type of communications and how to use them properly.  Ham radio operator John Kochan will lead this presentation.


What are ya gonna do when your cellphone quits working  - John Kochan will show you how to set up a communications plan for your family and friends. Hurricane, bomb threat or power outage, have the equipment and plan in place before you need it.


Intro into Reloading Ammo – Karl Rehn will demonstrate the equipment and skills needed to reload your own ammunition.


Simple Stick Defense – Frequent KR Training guest instructor Chuck Rives will show you that simple defensive stick techniques can be applied to a million different tools that you can pick up or carry in lots of worst case situations.  These techniques are simple, quick-to-learn and work with batons, canes, broomsticks, trashcans, clipboards, fire extinguishers, phone books or hundreds of other items that you might find around you all the time. 


Unarmed Combatives – Chuck Rives will be providing some hands on demonstration on various unarmed combative techniques you can use in the real world.


Trapping and Snaring – Greg Pleasant of Texas Parks and Wildlife will cover how to identify animal sign and trials to figure out what animals are making them and then setting snares and traps to catch them.  He will cover both primitive and modern snaring and trapping techniques.


Bug Out Bag Building – Brian Brown of Team Rubicon will bring his Mother of All Bug Out Bags and let participants see what gear he carries into the field during disaster response.


Map and Compass Orientation – Brian Brown will demonstrate how to read a map and use a compass in field conditions.



You can attend this all day, family friendly event for $50 per person.  You will not find another opportunity to see and learn about these skills and technology in one place in Central Texas.


Here’s where the free training part comes in – At the end of Saturday’s conference, Karl and his team of instructors will run people through various defensive handgun drills, culminating in each student shooting the NRA Defensive Pistol Qualification Test.  This training is free for anyone that signs up for the Field Day prior to July 19.


For those of you who want more training opportunities that weekend, on Sunday, August 3, Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics will be teaching his course in Dynamic First Aid.  Those of us who have been through his course can vouch for the excellent training and skills you gain from attending this class.  The class costs $160.


So to recap:


  • Lots of training opportunities on Saturday
  • FREE handgun proficiency training for those who sign up soon
  • Dynamic First Aid training on Sunday




You’ll need to go here to register for these events. (Please note you’ll need to sign up separately for the Field Day and the Dynamic First Aid courses)


I hope to see you there on August 2.  Call me at 512-267-4817 if you have questions.



Daily Briefing For Friday, June 27, 2014

Lessons In Road Rage

I'd like to share my road rage experience with you.

This morning, I was heading to lunch at the University of Texas Club, located in the UT stadium.  The stadium and club entrance are in the far left of the map below.  The parking garage which I entered is not on the map, but it's located in the corner of the intersection of Littlefield and Dedman, across the street from the police department.  The top of the map is north.

Prior to the incident I'm going to describe below, I made a right turn on red to head west on Littlefield, towards the stadium.  A few seconds after making the turn, I heard someone blowing their horn.  It's an urban environment, and so people are always blowing their horn at something, making it difficult to determine if the horn was meant for me or someone else.  I did notice a pick up truck - old, faded and missing paint - in my rear view mirror, with two male occupants.  From my quick glance, they didn't seem to be upset or troubled by anything I'd done.  I continued the short quarter mile trip to the parking garage, turning left off of Littlefield into the garage entrance.

As I stopped to get a ticket to enter the parking garage, the pick up truck screeched his tires and pulled in behind me, stopping about 20 yards away.  The driver jumped out and yelled at me as I got my ticket:


I didn't acknowledge his existence.  I took the ticket, the gate arm rose, and I drove on into the garage, cautiously monitoring my rear view mirror to see if he followed me inside.

That's it.  That's the story.  Thankfully that's all of the story.

I share it with you so that we can discuss what we might be able to learn from my experience.  Here are some of my thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Road rage is completely unnecessary and can be hazardous to those who engage in it.  How does road rage improve anyone's driving or life for that matter?  It doesn't.  It certainly didn't help me, seeing how I am still not certain what I did to offend this person.  (And if I did, I'd tell you...I can only speculate that he didn't like the fact I turned right on red, despite the fact he also had a red light just before I did so.) 

    I certainly want to be a courteous driver, and if I inconvenienced him or anyone else for that matter, I am truly sorry.  And I would have said so if need be. 
  • Getting out of your vehicle to confront another driver is a bad idea.  I am reminded of those Capital One credit card commercials where the spokesperson says "What in your wallet?"  You never know what another driver may have in their pocket, console or glove box.  Why on earth would you willingly go up to another vehicle (especially in Texas, when that other vehicle is a 4x4 pick up truck) and threaten or berate another person?  I have no desire to harm a soul, but I'm not going to endure injury or death so that an irate driver can have a sense of justice.  He had no idea what tools were accessible to me should he have pushed the issue further. 
  • Likewise, I would have gained nothing by getting out of my truck, either.  It's a two way street.  I lose the protection of my truck if I get out of it.  Why give up a tactically superior position just so I can pretend to be a bad ass?  I give myself points for not engaging the driver in any fashion.
  • Even though that was a relatively mild incident on the threat spectrum, I felt the adrenaline dump.  We can all train as much as we want, and yet we're going to get juiced in situations like that.  Adrenaline is a gift from God, but we have to realize the limitations it creates for us when we're under its influence
  • This took place on a major college campus, in front of a police station.  The stadium, the police department, the parking garage - this place has more cameras than Best Buy.  It's Surveillance City.  And yet the other individual involved decided to push a bad position, despite the fact he was being watched and recorded by multiple security cameras.

    We live in a surveillance society now.  With lots of security cameras and smart phones able to record videos, there's a high likelihood the entire encounter was caught on video.  When deciding what action to take in a situation like that, you must be mindful of the fact your actions will be recorded and, if possible, used against you.  To the extent you can, you want to video footage of your engagement to be a highlight reel of what to do rather than what not to do.  To do that, you'll need to get more training - beyond your basic CHL class.

    And in case you didn't catch that the first time - I could have stepped out of my truck, picked up a small rock, and hit the police station across the street.  It's that close.  Don't think crime and bad things happen in "good" areas, like in front of a police station?  Think again.
  • People who engage in road rage have much larger issues in their lives.  I can't imagine getting that angry every time I perceive someone is being a bad driver.  And given his comments, he clearly has issues with women.  People like that aren't mad at you, particularly - they have other anger issues in their lives, and you just happen to be a convenient target for that anger. 
  • Let's discuss what I could have done better or differently.  There's no teaching; there's only learning.  I don't have all of the answers.  So what could I have done better?

    My driving - I'm not a perfect driver.  Yet my radio was off, my cell phone was in the drink holder and was not in use, both of my hands were on the steering wheel, I wasn't rushing to get to lunch, and I was paying attention to the other vehicles around me.  I truly wish I knew what I'd done to upset him.  If I made an error in driving, I want to know about it so I can avoid doing so in the future.  If he's simply being a jerk, I can't fix that.  But I can continue to focus on being a safe driver, no matter what.

    My decision not to engage him - had he closed the distance, the thing for me to do would have been to drive on into the garage.  Or would it?  It would have been very difficult for him to get up to the door of my truck, as I was stopped right in front of the ticket kiosk.  That could have provided some protection.  On the downside, driving off would have been seen as me attempting to avoid conflict - something I'd be glad to see on the surveillance footage.  That call could have gone either way.

    Do you have a word track to help de-escalate situations like this?  In the CHL class, we call this "nonviolent dispute resolution."  The word track I suggest to my students sounds something like this:

    "I am so sorry.  Please forgive me.  What can I do to make it up to you?  <<Depending on the situation, you can offer to do something - like move your vehicle if they are complaining you took their parking space.>>"  This is not the response they are expecting.  Bullies want you to either fight back or cower in fear.  When you are rational and apologetic, yet calm and firm, you aren't any fun to play with anymore.  Saying those few words can save you a lot of trouble and cost nothing to say.

    Managing the moments after I pulled into the garage - I give myself a C on this.  I kept watching my rear view mirrors (which I had started doing the moment I heard the tires squealing).  That was good.  I should have picked up my phone and started to dial 911 in case he followed me into the garage.  I was too fixated on where I should park to avoid further conflict and not focused enough on being able to get help there should I have needed it. 

Be safe out there, everyone.  It's a crazy world.