Wednesday, January 27, 2016

MORE Free Resources for Preppers

A year ago, I wrote a very popular post of Free Resources for Preppers. This article presents a dozen more free resources.

1) LDS Preparedness Manual (you'll have to give them an email address to download) - The Mormons have taught/required preparedness and self-reliance of their members for generations, and have accumulated much practical knowledge on the subject, much of which is presented here.The link is to the most current edition, but if you don't want to give them your email address, you can get the  2011 edition at this link (.pdf automatically downloads).

2) The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency (.pdf automatically downloads) by John Seymour. I found the link to the 1976 book edition of the book on the City Farmer News website, so check them out.

3) The Complete Outdoorsman's Handbook (.pdf automatically downloads) by Jerome J. Knap.

4) Back To Eden Organic Gardening Film (link to the documentary on You Tube): "Back to Eden Film shares the story of one man’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive organic gardening methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden. The food growing system that has resulted from Paul Gautschi’s incredible experiences has garnered the interest of visitors from around the world. Never, until now, have Paul’s organic gardening methods been documented and shared like this!"

5) Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees (.pdf automatically downloads) - a publication of the US Forest Service. Bees are, of course, very important to the pollination process, and our gardens depend on them. Its important to understand their role, and how to protect them.

6) Plans For a Complete Beekeeping System (several downloading options available) - Again, bees are important for your garden and fruit trees. Besides, I love honey.

7) #HistoryHub - a part of my website, #HistoryHub has the text of over 40 primary historical documents, and over a dozen secondary sources. Whether you are a home schooler or just wanting to understand real history (not the ideological propaganda taught in schools), you should check it out. And keep checking back, because I frequently update #HistoryHub.

8) Basic Physical Health with Limited Resources (.pdf automatically downloads) - an LDS publication. Maintaining good health before, during, and after a SHTF event is extremely important.

9) Surviving The New World Order (several downloading options available) by B.A. Brooks. I'm typically not one to buy into grand conspiracies, but this 20-page booklet has a lot of really usefully prepper and survivalist information.

10) LDS Nutritution and Diet Manual (.pdf automatically downloads) - another LDS publication dealing with health and nutrition.

11) The Alpha Strategy: The Ultimate Plan for Financial Self-Defense for the Small Investor
 (.pdf automatically downloads) - a famous, but now out-of-print, book from 1980. The Alpha Strategy presents a plan to protect your assets from both high inflation and depression, as well as high taxation and political manipulation.

12) Article Archive of The Backwoods Home Magazine -  100s of free articles on homesteading, gardening, raising food, self-reliance, and other topics of interest to preppers and survivalists.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Steps to Good Health

***UPDATED on 8/21/2016***

Because of my diabetes diagnose last summer, and my related eye problems, the importance of good health has become very real to me. Yes, most people are concerned with good health. But considering the epidemic proportions of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, and other chromic illnesses that are largely preventable, I wonder how real that concern actually is. I realize now that my own concern was mostly "in theory" only. Being concerned about our health is useless unless that concern motivates us to take action to develop good health. I hope my  recent experiences will spur others to take action in their lives. Here are some steps to good health you can take:

1) Don't use tobacco in any form - I know smokers get tired of hearing this, but smoking is very damaging to your health. Multiple medical studies have proved that smoking and other uses of tobacco are directly responsible for about 22% of all cancer cases (not just lung cancer). Smoking and tobacco use are also directly responsible for, or contribute to, a wide-range of other health problems. For help quitting, see the American Cancer Association's online Guide to Quitting Smoking.

2) Don't abuse drugs or alcohol - An occasional alcoholic drink probably won't cause health problems for most people, and in fact a daily glass of red wine may have health benefits. However, heavy alcohol consumption - certainly to the point of getting drunk - can cause serious problems, including liver disease and even several forms of cancer.

Marijuana currently enjoys a favorable status in modern society, and legalization is happening everywhere. Both sides of the marijuana debate are guilty of exaggeration in promoting their viewpoint. It is neither as dangerous as its opponents claim, nor as safe and beneficial as its supporters claim. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Occasionally smoking a single joint of marijuana is unlikely to cause health problems and may be of some benefit with certain medical conditions, but prolonged and consistent marijuana use can damage your health, including causing various types of lung problems and even the loss of IQ points.

For help with substance abuse, see the website's for Alcoholics Anonymous and  Narcotics Anonymous.

3) Maintain a healthy weight - Being overweight, even if you are just a little "fluffy," is bad for your health, especially over the long-term. The National Institutes of Health has this to say on the importance of maintaining a healthy weight: "Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers. That is why maintaining a healthy weight is so important: It helps you lower your risk for developing these problems, helps you feel good about yourself, and gives you more energy to enjoy life."

Personal Note: Prior to my diabetes diagnose, I was not obese, but did carry a few extra pounds, especially around the mid-section (the so-called "spare tire"). I do believe that carrying around even that bit of extra weight for a number of years was a contributing factor to my diabetes.

4) Eat healthy - An obvious step, but one that is difficult because so many people have radically different ideas of what constitutes healthy foods. Worse, many of those varying ideas are based not on fact, but on ideology and/or self-interest (think $). Michael Pollan has an excellent book & documentary entitled In Defense of Food which explains what happened to the American diet over the last 100 years or so, which he argues has lead to a dramatic rise in obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. You may be able to catch the documentary on PBS, so check your local listings. You can also find both the documentary and the book on Amazon.

Over the last 6+ months, I have been highly motivated to deeply research this subject, including carefully monitoring my own health, especially the impact of individual foods on my blood sugar. For me, potatoes (in any form) and grains (even rice, corn, and whole grains) are absolutely devastating my health, so I have eliminated them entirely from my diet. My new diet is 50% proteins and fats (especially eggs, fish, poultry, olive oil, nuts) and 50% carbohydrates (non-starchy vegetables and fruits, so I avoid potatoes and grains entirely, as well as added sugar, and I eat beans only in moderation). This diet means I eat mostly whole foods (foods that look like food as it appears in nature), and not much at all in the way of highly processed industrial foods.

Here is a list of what I consider to be excellent sources of information on eating healthy:

*    Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-Healthy Eating Plan (on the Mayo Clinic website)
     
*    Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Pyramid (on Dr. Andrew Weil's website)

    Traditional Asian Diet (on the Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology website)

   The Paleo Manifesto (fascinating book by John Durant)

*     60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar (by Dennis Pollock) - the BEST book I've found so far for diabetics, pre-diabetics, and others concerned with blood sugar levels. 

*     Paleo Comfort Foods  - Great cookbook of healthy recipes, recommended to me by my doctor, who follows a "mostly paleo" diet.   

*     Life Without Bread - Also recommended to me by my doctor.

*     The Maker's Diet and The Maker's Diet Meals - Healthy living, and eating, from a Biblical perspective.

5) Greatly reduce your sugar intake - Desperately needing to reduce my blood sugar levels, I have been shocked and frustrated by how much added sugar is in most foods today. Even foods you think wouldn't have added sugar, such as a simple can of green beans, may actually have lots of added sugar (depends on the brand - you have to read labels carefully). I've also found that many foods marketed as "healthy" are anything but healthy, and often are loaded with added sugar. Seriously, health claims on food have no real meaning; it is only marketing, not science.

Grains & potatoes, which make up a large percentage of modern diets,  are quickly and easily converted into sugar by our bodies. This fact, combined with all the added sugar in our modern foods, means that we typically consume enormous amounts of sugar, waaaaay more than our bodies are designed to handle. Most everyone, not just diabetics and pre-diabetics, need to greatly reduce the sugar in our diets.

6) Be physically active - Many experts recommend at least one hour of moderate exercise a day, at least five days a week. What is moderate exercise? It should be vigorous enough to cause you to break out in a slight sweat. Walking, hiking, swimming and bike riding are excellent, low impact, ways to exercise. Gardening, yardwork, chopping wood, and mowing your lawn with a push-mower are also good workouts. Use common sense - if you are elderly, badly out-of-shape, or suffer from serious health conditions, please get your doctor's advise before starting an exercise program.

7) Regular visits to a doctor, dentist, and eye-doctor - Find a doctor you like and are comfortable with, hopefully one who takes a holistic approach to your health care and believes as strongly in preventing disease as he does in curing disease. What constitutes "regular check-ups" depends on your age & health conditions and should be mutually decided on by you and your doctor.

Don't skip going to the dentist or eye-doctor in order to save money. It could cost you dearly in the long-run, both in terms of your finances and your health. Believe me, as I am speaking from personal experience here. If I had been getting regular eye-exams, by diabetes & its related eye problems would have been caught much earlier, preventing the damage to my eyes, and saving me the expense of a series of six monthly injections in my eyes.

8) Get adequate sleep on a regular basis - I know plenty of people who claim to get by on six hours of sleep a night or less. You might "get by" with less, but the research is overwhelming - adequate sleep on a consistent basis is very important to good health. Lack of adequate sleep not only makes you tired, but also impairs your concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and negatively impacts your mood. Not only that, but a long-term lack of adequate sleep compromises your immune system and plays a role in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, and even several forms of cancer. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis really is a must for your health.

Personal Note: I have noticed a trend in my morning (fasting) blood sugar levels. If I do not get a good nights sleep, my morning levels are consistently higher than when I do get a solid 8 hours. 

Special Note to Preppers: All the skills, guns, and stockpiled supplies in the world won't help you if die of a heart attack from all the extra activity you will likely be doing in a SHTF situation. Many others have noted the shockingly high percentage of so-called "preppers" who still smoke or who are seriously overweight. If you are not prioritizing your health, you are NOT a prepper. In fact, you are actually choosing to endanger your family in a SHTF situation by forcing them to deal with the consequences of your bad health. You need to do what you can to improve your health now, even if that means some sacrifice and hard work. Quit making excuses. Yes, it is hard, and you may have limitations, but you can do it.

I am sorry to be blunt, but this is a serious situation - literally a life-and-death situation - for you and your family. So, put on your big-boy pants and deal with your health issues now, before its too late. 

(On a lighter note, you can actually make developing good health fun by turning it into a family project. The shared experience will be both easier and have the added benefit of bringing your family closer together.)

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Friday, January 15, 2016

What To Do Before Losing Your Job

The stock market is off to its worst ever start, with the DOW down over 1,400 points in jut two weeks. Just today, the DOW was down almost 400 points.  Company earnings for the 4th quarter of 2015 are coming in much lower than expected. Wal-mart has announced it is closing over 150 stores in the US, with at least 10,000 employees losing their jobs. There is a global recession going on, and it is looking like the US is headed that way. Of course, we know what that means: Lay offs. Here's what to do BEFORE receiving your down-size notice:
  1. Realize that unless you own the company, you are not indisepensible to it. No matter how great you think you are at your job, you can lose your job to downsizing during a recession. No one is immune. You need to do these next four steps, now.
  2. Prepare financially to the extent you can. This means getting on a strict budget, paying off debt, and building savings (see my article Finances - Get Back to Basics for more ideas and tips). Building up an extra supply of food and other needed items could also come in handy.
  3. Get ready to look for a new job now, don't wait until you are fired. Update your resume today. Make sure you have updated contact info for all your references. Start networking. Make some phone calls to your friends and contacts to see if their companies or industries are hiring. Be discrete - some companies frown on their employees job hunting, but what they don't know won't hurt them.
  4. Take steps to protect your current job. Check out Fifteen Commandments of Keeping Your Job. Don't give your employer a reason to fire you.
  5. Learn new skills. Take some classes at a local community college. Take a marketing and/or public relations class (surprisingly useful to most jobs/careers). Learn to sell (read the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham - considered a business classic). Brush up on your computer skills. Learn bookkeeping/accounting. Learn Spanish for the workplace. The more you know, the more employable you will be.
You're Fired. Now What?

Okay, you've been downsized, laid-off, restructured, or whatever euphemism for being fired that your company choose to use. Now what? How do you find a job during the middle of an economic crisis? Your job-hunting strategies will be much the same as during the good times.
  1. You are much more likely to find a job through a friend or family member than through the classifieds. So get out there and work your "network." Call or email all your friends, family, former co-workers, fellow church members, old college roommates, neighbors, industry colleagues and anyone else you know. Tell them you are out of work and ask them if they know if their company or industry is hiring. Ask them to let you know of any openings they hear of.
  2. Step away from your computer. Job hunting sites like monster.com and careerbuilder.com are useful job hunting tools, and you should use them. However, you are still more likely to find a job through your network of personal contacts than though the Internet. Don't let your Internet search consume all of your job hunting time.
  3. Take advantage of any job-hunting help that may be offered by your former employer or your local government.  Local governments, and occasionally the companies themselves, will often try to help people left unemployed by large-scale lay offs by conducting job fairs, holding job-hunting seminars, or even offering special training.
  4. If you are a college graduate, get your college to help. Most colleges and universities have a career development office to help both current students and alumni. These offices offer everything from aptitude testing and resume help, to job boards listing openings provided by other alumni.
  5. Check out the resources of you local community college. Many have career development centers that offer everything from free and low-cost training courses to aptitude testing to skills assessment to help writing your resume. Best of all, these resources are available to the community as a whole, not just current or former students.
  6. Consider temporary or part-time work while continuing your job hunt. The extra income will help. Be aware of how this may or may not effect any unemployment benefits you might be receiving.
  7. Consider learning a trade. Demand seems soft for many so-called "white collar" professions, and likely will remain so for the foreseeable future. But there is an actual shortage of qualified trades people. Training can be had for low cost at your local community college, and you may even qualify for reduced rates (or even free) if you have been recently laid off or are currently unemployed. For more information of the trades, see the wikipedia article Tradesman, the website of the Center For America, and the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.
  8. Don't be a "Job Snob." Be willing to settle for less until you can find more. You may have to take a job making less money, or with less prestige, than your old job. Be willing to work outside your preferred industry. Don't despair, you can always find a new, better paying job once the economy turns around.

Health Benefits of 15 Teas

Please check out HelloNatural.co. Click infographic to enlarge.



The Health Benefits of Tea



From Visually.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Self-Reliance Mindset: Gain Knowledge. Learn Skills. Take Responsibility.

In a world that is and will be experiencing an unknown amount of economic hardships, political chaos, and imminent danger, we will not have the luxury to depend on "good times," the government, our parents, or society at large to help us have stable and successful lives. We are going to have to do that for ourselves. We have to be as self-reliant as possible.

To be self-reliant, we must gain knowledge, learn skills, and take responsibility for ourselves and our families. The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now.

Develop a self-reliance mindset. 

First and foremost, you MUST develop a self-reliance mindset. This entails taking responsibility for your own life, not waiting for others to do it for you. Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? That is called "learned helplessness." Don't be like them. Instead, develop "learned self-reliance."

Developing Self-Reliance (1951)


Take responsibility for your own life and success. Your company isn’t going to protect you. The government is going to take care of you. And your family and friends have enough problems of their own.

Taking responsibility means doing what needs to be done, not just what is fun or what you want to do. Taking responsibility means not waiting around for others to do it for you. Taking responsibility means not assuming if you don’t do it then someone else will. Be proactive.

If you know your company or industry is struggling, don’t wait for them to “downsize” you before you start looking for work. Get moving - polish up your résumé now, start networking and making contacts & inquires, before you lose your job.

If your entire industry is struggling, don’t wait for it to implode. Start thinking about what new industry you might want to move to, and start learning the new skills you will need and making contacts in that industry. Consider developing a side-business now, so that you will at least have that to fall back on. You may even be able to turn it into a full-time career.

On the job, the more knowledge and skills you have the less likely you are to be let go in “cost saving” efforts. And if you are let go, the more knowledge and skills you have the quicker you will be able to find new work. Don’t just limit yourself to the skills needed for your current job. Learn other skills as well. Learn bookkeeping/accounting. Develop computer skills. Learn a foreign language (particularly if your company/industry does a lot of business with non-English speakers). Learn how to sell, even if that's not your current job.

In your personal life, learn how to manage your finances. Learn how to live on a budget. Develop the skills of a smart consumer. This means reducing your expenses, and living within your means (a budget or spending plan is an excellent tool for achieving this goal). Setting aside an ample emergency fund is also very important. Pay off your credit cards and consumer loan debt. Avoid new debt. (My article, Finances - Get Back to Basics, may be of interest.)

Learn how to raise and preserve some of your own food. Get into homesteading. Learn how to do the routine maintenance on your car. Learn the basics of home maintenance. Develop Do-It-Yourself skills. Accumulate a good tool kit. Learn to sew. Learn how to eat healthy and how to take care of your health. Learn first aid & CPR. There is a multitude of everyday skills that you can learn in order to be more self-reliant.

Stay informed of current affairs. Pay attention to the news. News aggregation websites, like Drudge Report, Liberty Mill, and Prepper Website, are worth checking out at least daily. Reading your state or local newspaper (or  at least visiting their websites) will help you keep up with news and events closer to you. Blue Force Tracker is a great website for national security and military news, as well as veterens' issues. 

Understand how the world really works. Learn real history and economics, not the biased indoctrination they feed you in public schools. For a list of good history books, see my Real History Book list. Also, check out the #HistoryHub portion of this website (click tab at top of this webpage). For a list of good sources for learning economics, see my article Economic Education Resources.

John McCann, in his book, Practical Self-Reliance - Reducing Your Dependency On Others, gives a great definition of self-reliance, and how it differs from self-sufficiency:
In my opinion, self-reliance is being able to do as much as we can without outside assistance.... On the other hand, self-sufficiency is the ability to maintain oneself without outside aid, being able to provide for all of one's needs. Unfortunately, in today's world, we must live with a dependence or inter-dependence on others. In the pioneer days people could not produce everything they needed and had to rely on others for supplies they could not furnish. Even mountain men went to rendezvous in order to sell their furs and purchase needed supplies. They were both very self-reliant, but not self-sufficient.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Three to Watch

If you are into movies with a survival-type theme, let me suggest Heatstroke (2014). I watched it recently because one of the stars is Maisie Williams, who you might know from Game of Thrones or, more recently, her appearances on Doctor Who. It was surprisingly good. The story, without giving away any spoilers, is two women are lost in the desert grasslands of southern Africa, battling nature (predators, snakes, scorpions, brutal heat, lack of water), while trying to avoid/escape from some real bad guys. The movie does start off a bit slow with family drama (teenage girl angry with her divorced parents and her dad's girlfriend, who she blames for the divorce). But after about 15 minutes or so, it finally gets to the action and gets much, much better.

I've also recently watched, and was quite impressed by, the Back to Eden documentary. Here's the blurb from their website: "Back to Eden Film shares the story of one man’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive organic gardening methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden. The food growing system that has resulted from Paul Gautschi’s incredible experiences has garnered the interest of visitors from around the world. Never, until now, have Paul’s organic gardening methods been documented and shared like this!" You can watch it for free on their website if you give them your email address. It is also available on You Tube.

The two hour documentary, In Defense of Food, recently aired on my local PBS station (check listings in your area). It is based on Michael Pollan's book by the same name. It is a fantastic review of what has gone wrong with the Western diet, leading to all sorts of health problems (way too much sugar, too many unpronounceable non-food ingredients, reliance on incomplete & changing science, false marketing claims, etc.). Pollan's advice is summed up in his motto: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I don't agree with everything Pollan says, but I do agree with most of it. It is definitely worth watching, and will be very eye-opening, in many different ways. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.