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Ebola page

The Ebola page has been updated as of 2:00 pm on 10/21/2014.

Enterovirus 68

The Enterovirus 68 article has been updated as of 1:15 pm on 10/19/2014

Different Hikes. Different Skills.

Hiking to learn various skills.

Review: Our Constitution ROCKS!

Great intro to the Constitution for all ages.

Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver

Everything you need to know about why and how to include junk silver in your preps.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Negative Review -- Suburban Survival: Preparing for Socio-Economic Collapse

I've written a lot of positive reviews, which I hope folks find useful. I figure negative reviews should also be included to let folks know what to avoid. Here is my first negative review, slightly revamped from my original Amazon review in 2013.

Suburban Survival: Preparing for Socio-Economic Collapse by Joe Snuffy
My rating: only 1 out of 5 stars - NOT Recommended 

Living in the suburbs myself, I had high hopes for a book entitled "Suburban Survival." Unfortunately, the book is very disappointing on many levels. At best, it is an extremely lightweight contribution to survival literature. Most of the general advice it gives can be found for free in Red Cross or FEMA pamphlets, and on a few survival and preparedness blogs on the Internet. Having read the book cover to cover, I can honestly say I learned nothing new.

The advice given is often very general in its applications. Virtually nothing in the book is specific to suburban survival. However, its general advice could be useful to a complete beginner living in the suburbs, I suppose.

On the plus side, I agree completely with the author's emphasis on improving ones health and physical fitness as part of preparing for whatever lies ahead (an often overlooked area of preparedness, in my opinon).

On the negative side, the information is mostly very general in nature, sometimes outdated, and can be easily and quickly found elsewhere for free, as I've already mentioned. 

There is also a lot of the author's personal theories on how and why we have gotten into the mess we're in, delivered in an extremely condescending way by the author, who seems overly impressed with himself and equally unimpressed by other people, including his readers. During several sections of the book, I felt the author was talking down to his readers (to the point of being insulting about it), while at the same time stroking his own over-sized ego.  

I am very surprised that James Wesley, Rawles lent his name to the book by writing the Forward. I suppose they are friends, or something. The Rawles name was a factor in my initial purchase of the book, but his Forward, and any influence on the book he may have had, doesn't do anything to improve the book. 

I tend to not be an overly critical reviewer, but this book truly was a waste of my money and time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Our Constitution Rocks!

Juliette Turner (on twitter: @JuiletteTurner)  wrote a fantastic book on the US Constitution, Our Constitution ROCKS! Published when she was only fourteen (she's now sixteen), the book is intended to reach teenagers and young adults with the message that the Constitution is important and relevant today.

Even though its intended audience is young people, its message is not watered-down in the least. In fact, it is one of the most complete and detailed introductions to the Constitution that I've seen, literally examining every article, section, clause, and amendment.

The layout and graphics of the book are designed to appeal to young adults, so don't expect pages and pages of dry text like you might find in college textbook on the subject. Rather, expect 224 pages of interesting, easy-to-read explanations, facts, quotes, definitions, trivia, and other tidbits, broken down into short sections ranging from one sentence to a few short paragraphs. It is designed so that the information can be read and absorbed quickly by a generation of folks used to communicating via text messaging.

Each "chapter" of the book corresponds to a clause of the Constitution, and breaks the explanation of that clause into sections:

The Bottom Line: A simple, understandable modern-language version of what the clause it about.

What Were They Thinking?: Why they thought it was important to include the clause.

Why Should I Care?: How it affects us today.

Breakin' It Down: More detail and context.

How Can I Make a Difference?: How the reader can use the knowledge you just learned.

What Has It Done For Me Lately?: Modern day examples of the clause in action.

Fun Facts: Quotes, trivia, and other tidbits.

One thing I really like about the book is that Juliette Turner includes lots of quotes from our Founders as they debated over the Constitution. These quotes appear throughout the book, often in sections entitled "Debate" (see the picture below). These quotes help provide context and show what the Founders were thinking in their own words.

There is also a three page Bibliography in the back of the book which includes information on essays, books, articles, and websites that will help the reader further explore topics of interest to them.

Don't let the age of the book's author, or its intended audience, fool you. This is a complete, and very intelligent, introduction to the Constitution. Perfect for teens, it is also useful for adults, particularly for those needing a first introduction to the Constitution. Not only is it "not boring," like some might fear of a book on such a subject, but it is quite interesting and informative.

Going into the holiday season, I highly recommend this as a gift for any teens on your Christmas or Hanukkah list. And if you are looking for a good introduction to the Constitution, pick up a copy for yourself. You won't be disappointed, and you will learn a lot.

I should also note that Juliette Turner has a new book out, Our Presidents Rock!  I will post a review at a later date, after I've read it. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

On Leadership

Today started a series on Leadership in my #DailyTips for Preppers feature on Twitter (follow me @TimGamble - read all the tips on the Daily Tips page). I present these leadership tips here, with additional comments too wordy for Twitter. 

Entire books and doctoral thesis have been written, and university-level courses are taught, on the subject of leadership. A short set of tips is only a brief introduction to the topic. Keeping that in mind, it is an important topic to cover for the survivalist and prepping community, as many folks are planning to be leaders during a crisis, as well as its aftermath. However, being an effective leader isn't easy.

#DailyTip 275 Planning on being your group's leader? Be honest: are you a leader now? Do others think of you as a leader? 

If you a planning on being a leader, you're doing it wrong. You should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work today before you actually become one.

#DailyTip 276 Planning on being your group's leader? Lead by example. 

Leadership by example is really the only true leadership. The saying "Do what I say, not what I do" is pure rubbish and is meant to poke fun at those folks who seem to have that attitude.

#DailyTip 277 Good leaders don't just lead, they develop others into good leaders. 

True leaders develop others into leaders. You need to be able to spot leadership potential, and to nourish it into fruition. For some, this may be difficult as they tend to see other potential leaders as competition.

#DailyTip 278 Good leaders communicate very clearly. Always clearly define your expectations. 

This one is huge, in my opinion. Bad leaders often fail when it comes to clear communications. This could be due to a lack of self-confidence, poor communication skills, uncertainty over what actually needs to be done, or even an effort at CYA in case something goes wrong (if something goes wrong, they can blame others for "not understanding").

#DailyTip 279 Good leaders know how & why to delegate. It both frees up the leader's time and helps develop others.

Poor leaders often fail to delegate correctly, and tend to micro-manage unnecessarily.

#DailyTip 280 Good leaders know mistakes will happen. Never publicly criticize or shame someone for making a mistake. 

Mistakes happen. Unexpected events occur. Good leaders know this and aren't taken by surprise when it happens.

#DailyTips 281 Good leaders accept responsibility for their mistakes & the mistakes of those under them. "The buck stops here."

This is often a missing part of leadership today. It seems like no one wants to accept responsibility for anything anymore. Good leaders do.

#DailyTip 282 Good leaders know they must inspire trust in those they lead. 

If folks don't really trust you or your decisions, you are not going to be able to lead them effectively. Trust means both in your character and in your abilities.

#DailyTip 283 A good leader knows he sets the tone for those around him. 

The leaders on sports team are great examples of this idea. Good leaders exude a aura of confidence, determination, drive, and positivity that infects their teammates.

#DailyTip 284 A good leader never "shoots the messenger."

Bad news is always upsetting, but a good leader never takes it out on the one delivering the bad news.

#DailyTip 285 A good leader adapts his leadership style to the needs of those around him.

A good leader knows he has to adapt to the needs of those he leads. This may mean that the good leader must suppress his own ego and change his approach before he can effectively lead.

#DailyTip 286 A good leader maintains realistic expectations.

Expectations are a balancing act. You can be unrealistic in your expectations both by expecting too much and too little. Developing the ability to read people and accurately judge their capabilities is very important.

#DailyTip 287 A  good leader is always consistent and fair.

A good leader changes his mind, orders, expectations, etc., when it is necessary, but never at a whim. Inconsistency creates confusion and mistrust in folks.

A good leader is also fair, and doesn't single out individuals for special treatment (good or bad). A good leader doesn't foster a "good ol' boys club" or engage in nepotism.

#DailyTip 288 A good leader is willing to listen to honest feedback.

A good leader NEVER considers himself above criticism.

#DailyTip 289 A good leader is never a bully. Bullying others into doing what you want is NOT leadership.

Have you seen the movie "Ender's Game" based on the Orson Scott Card book by the same title? In it there is a character named Bonzo who was commander of Salamander Army at the Battle School. Despite being smart and talented, Bonzo was a complete jerk who relied on fear and intimidation to rise to the rank of commander. He was NOT a leader, but rather just a bully (in reality, he would have washed out of any military or business leadership program long before becoming a commander). In the end, Bonzo got himself seriously hurt when he started a fight with another student who stood up to his bullying tactics (watch the movie, or better yet, read the book for more details).

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is on the U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading List.

Good leadership is about getting people to work together effectively for a common goal. It is not about forcing others to do things your way.

#DailyTip 290 A good leader makes those around him better.

Think Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. Those two NBA stars were famous not only for their great abilities, but also for making their fellow teammates better. More than just setting a good example, or a positive tone, a good leader actively seeks to make those around him better.

NOTE: For a great discussion on leadership by The Maine Prepper and The Patriot Nurse, watch their video How to Be a Leader: Fundamentals and Principles on You Tube.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Forest Gardening Q & A

Since I started writing about forest gardening a several years ago, I have received a lot of questions from my readers. I've answered many of those questions for people through email, but I thought it would be a good idea to answer several of the more often repeated questions on this blog for everyone to read.

Question 1: Won't planting a lot of trees use up our water supplies?

Answer 1: I've been asked this question in several different ways by many people. After all, trees are a lot bigger than corn or wheat or squash, so they must drain water supplies faster.

Actually, the opposite is true. Trees are very efficient users of water, and they impact the environment in ways that actually help build up water supplies.

Forests play a major role in the water cycle and help stabilize water tables and maintain freshwater supplies. They do this by promoting water fall in the form of rain and dew (this process is called transpiration), providing shade and mulch to reduce surface evaporation, and slowing down rain run-off (giving rain time to soak into the soil, with the added benefit of preventing soil erosion).
"Trees regulate water supply, keeping it available for their own needs and for those of other plants, for humans and other animals. The roots of the great forest trees penetrate deeply into the earth and draw up great quantities of water which pass through the trees and out through the leaves to create "oceans of the air". Thus the water is kept available for rain. Trees may deprive plants grown immediately beneath but help those at a distance. Forest height and the cooling effect of the water transpired by the leaves can promote rain in the same way as mountain ranges that force the rain clouds to rise and cool. Paul Schreiber, the meteorologist, estimated that a region covered with forest increased rainfall to the same degree as elevating it 350ft.
When rain falls on forest canopies, its force is broken by the leaves and branches so that it seeps gently through the forest debris to replenish the water tables below. Sinking wells where there are no tree belts in the area to maintain water tables can be a dangerous living off capital. Water running off of bared hillsides carries away the soil, not only depriving the uplands but also silting up dams and reservoirs and causing rivers to flood." -- from the essay Trees for a Future

Question 2: Won't birds and animals eat the food produced in a forest garden?

Answer 2: This has been brought up to me twice - once as a sincere question and once as a disparaging accusation. More on the latter in a moment, but first let me answer the sincere question:

Yes, they will eat some. However, I have asked several people with decades of combined forest gardening experience and none of them report ever losing all or even most of a crop due to birds, squirrels, deer or other critters. Forest gardens are no more or less susceptible to foraging by various critters than any other method of growing food (except maybe greenhouses).

Of course birds and animals will consume a small part of your tree crops before you can harvest. Same as they do with other types of gardening and agriculture. And I think that is a good thing.

One of my favorite gardening memories is watching a rather large box turtle munching away on some low-hanging tomatoes in my garden a few years ago. It hung around my garden for about a week before moving on, during which time it ate a number of tomatoes. But I still had plenty left, and the turtle provided some great entertainment.

Which brings up the accusatory comment I mentioned earlier. One person responded to my praise of forest gardening by writing me a rather disparaging note that forest gardens would be totally consumed by birds and wildlife. I was accused of being rather naive. Of course this person had no personal experience with forest gardening, and ignored the multitude of examples of successful forest gardens that have been around for decades in some cases. Oh well... one lesson I've learned over the last few years is "you can't please everyone all the time."

Question 3: Can you recommend trees/shrubs/vegetables/herbs that will do well in my specific area, which happens to be particularly hot/cold/wet/arid?

Answer 3: I have been asked for specific advice many, many times over the past few years. As much as I would love to be able to give that kind of detailed suggestions, I am not a horticulturalist. I am still in the process of learning what grows well in my particular area. The best I can do is point people in the direction of some really good reference books and websites, so that they can research the information themselves:

Edible Forest Gardens (2 volume set) - This two volume set is the best and most detailed explanation of forest gardening that I know of. Includes an extensive matrix of edible and useful plants with lots of detailed information. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Arbor Day Foundation - In the USA, the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Wizard is a very useful database of trees, including fruit and nut trees. You can look up recommended trees by zip code, hardiness zones, types, height, spread, soil type, sun exposure and growth rate.

How to Make a Forest Garden - This book by Patrick Whitefield covers the basics of forest gardening, including core principles, design and how to choose plants. Also includes over details of over 100 suggested plants for a forest garden.

North American Native Plant Society - Native plant enthusiasts from the USA and Canada. Can connect you with one of the many regional native plant associations.

Finally, I recommend checking out your local resources such as universities with agricultural programs, local community colleges, agricultural extension offices, master gardening courses, gardening clubs, 4-H clubs, etc... Talk to people who are already growing things near you. They will be your best source of what will work in your area.

Question 4: What is that "plant zone" that you keep mentioning?

Answer 4: I am a little surprised that many people don't know their plant hardiness zone, or even what a plant hardiness zone is. But I have gotten that question more than once or twice.

Your choice of trees and other plants will be greatly influenced by your local climate. There is a system called the Plant Hardiness Zones which will make this task easier. Each zone is given a number & letter code which can then be matched to the appropriate code for the trees and plants you are considering. For example, I live in hardiness zone 7b.

Many tree and plant catalogs include information on what hardiness zones are preferred by their plants. In looking through the catalogs, I can easily see which trees and plants would make a good fit for my climate and which would not by matching up the hardiness zones.

To determine your particular plant hardiness zone, click on the link for your particular country or region:

New Zealand
UK & Ireland
Rest of Europe
Israel and much of the Middle East
South America
South America (second map)
China and Mongolia
South Korea
India and surrounding area

For an index to all my Forest Gardening articles, please click here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ebola and Food Safety information from WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the following Information Note on Ebola and Food Safety. For the latest updates on Ebola, please see my Ebola page. For information on how to prepare for pandemics, including links to medical videos and other medical resources, please see my page Preparing for Pandemics.

Information note: Ebola and food safety

Ebola: general information

Currently an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) is ongoing in several African countries. Ebola virus disease is a severe illness.

The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.

During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.

Appropriate infection and prevention control measures can be implemented to stop transmission and supportive care to patients help to considerably reduce the mortality. Spread of the infection can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings, during burial ceremonies or at home.

Current outbreak: a human to human transmission

Ebola viruses are known to cause epidemics of disease among wild animals, particularly non-human primates.

Potential hosts of Ebola viruses are non-human primates, duikers, bats, small rodents, and shrews.
The initial source of past EVD outbreaks was likely human contact with wild animals through hunting, butchering and preparing meat from infected wild animals (“bush meat”), with subsequent transmission from human to human.

However, in the current outbreak, the majority of cases are a result of human to human transmission.

Food, animals and Ebola

If food products are properly prepared and cooked, humans cannot become infected by consuming them: the Ebola virus is inactivated through cooking.

Basic hygiene measures can prevent infection in people in direct contact with infected animals or with raw meat and by-products.

Basic hygiene measures include regular hand washing and changing of clothes and boots before and after touching these animals and their products.

However, sick and diseased animal should never be consumed.