Monday, August 19, 2019

A Survival Lesson from Everybody Loves Raymond

Ray and Debra Barone
This morning while eating breakfast, I happened to catch a repeat of Everybody Loves Raymond.  This particular episode opens with Ray and Debra sitting on the couch watching TV. Debra is eating a piece of fruit when she gets choked on a bite. She jumps to her feet, coughing and wheezing, obviously having trouble breathing. Rather than patting her on the back or performing the Heimlich maneuver, Ray simply turns up the TV. Finally, Debra is able to dislodge the fruit from her her throat. Needless to say, she gets mad at Ray for not saving her, calling him useless in an emergency.

Ray, in his typical fashion, starts whining that he is indeed "good in an emergency." Its just that Debra's choking wasn't a real emergency, since she was able to cough up the piece of fruit on her own. If it had been a real emergency, he would have stepped up and saved her. Debra isn't buying Ray's spin, and again tells him he is useless in an emergency. Ray gets mad at this, and later goes to his mother, seeking comfort.

However, much to Ray's surprise, his Mother agrees with Debra, and tells Ray that she would rather have his father (a Korean War vet) or his brother (a police officer) around in an emergency. This only upsets Ray more, and the rest of the episode is centered around his whining and trying to prove himself (quite incompetently, of course).

The Survival Lesson - Taking Personal Responsibility

At one point in the episode, Ray's brother Robert, the police officer, tries to show Ray how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Ray  doesn't listen, instead getting mad at Robert for trying to "show him up" in front of Debra. Ray had no interest in learning what to do in an emergency. Rather, he just wanted people to treat him like he could handle an emergency, even though he clearly couldn't. He felt he was entitled to the credit and respect without having to do anything to actually earn it.

What Ray should have done, instead of whining and getting mad, was to take personal responsibility for his weakness - his lack of survival instincts and knowledge. He then could have done something about it. He could have listened to his brother, learned
the Heimlich maneuver, and even taken a first aid or emergency preparedness course. By actually doing something to correct the problem, Ray would at least have had a legitimate reason to hold his head high. Debra, and the rest of his family, would have renewed reason to respect Ray. But, Ray never really took personal responsibility. 

The episode ended, as most of their episodes ended, with Debra forgiving Ray despite Ray never learning, never changing, never growing up, never taking responsibility for anything. Well, it is just a sitcom.

The Bottom Line:  Survival is about attitude as much as anything else. Part of the survival attitude is the ability and willingness to take personal responsibility for your life. Its an attitude that is missing form most people's lives in the modern world. Like Ray, many people are too busy watching TV, or demanding respect they haven't earned. Don't be like Raymond.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Spiritual Preparedness

I've talked about this topic before, and I realize that some folks just aren't interested in it, but it is important. Here is what I want to share with my fellow preppers about Spiritual Preparedness:

I.)  Figure out your relationship with God.  This is the most important prep you can make, because the one SHTF event we are all guaranteed to face is our own death. Think about that for a moment. All the things we may be concerned about - an EMP attack, the collapse of the dollar, nuclear war, the Yellowstone super volcano, a worldwide pandemic, or whatever - may or may not happen in our lifetime, if it happens at all. But death is guaranteed to come for us all. We spend a lot of time and effort preparing for events that might not happen, so shouldn't we spend at least of little time and effort preparing for the one event that will happen? 

Not sure about God? I understand. It certainly took me a long time to figure out my relationship with God. I'm still figuring it out. My suggestions? Pray (a simple "God, if you exist, help me find you" will suffice for now). Read the Bible. Talk to a Bible-believing pastor or priest about your doubts. Make sure they don't compromise on the Bible being the inerrant Word of God. Too many modern (read: liberal) "pastors" and other "Christians" try to compromise with worldly ways by deciding that certain passages (the ones that they don't like or that make them uncomfortable) are irrelevant today. Run far from these fake believers.

II.)  All believers should pray daily. "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2). Prayer is the heart of our relationship with God. 

III.)  All believers should read/study the Bible daily. "It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’" (Matthew 4:4, in which Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3).

IV.)  Keep the Sabbath. God created for six days, then he rested on the seventh day. Later, He engraved this pattern of one day in seven for rest in His Commandments. Set aside the Sabbath as a Holy day of rest, family, and worship. Join with other believers in worship on a regular basis. Christianity isn't meant to be a "do-it-yourself" religion. Christians are meant to be a part of the Church, supporting, encouraging, and helping one another.

V.)  Men, be the spiritual leader of your family. Leaders lead by example. Set the example of regular Church attendance, daily prayer and Bible reading. and living by God's ways instead of worldly ways. Institute daily family devotionals. Pray for your family. Pray with your family. Read the Bible to your family. Better yet, read the Bible with your family. Take responsibility for raising your children to be godly men and women. 

A real men is steadfast in his love for his wife and family. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). We are to put our wife and family first - even to the point of being willing to die for them. This means to put them above ourselves, our career, our friends, and our hobbies. Above even our own egos. [Questions: Men, do you pray for your wife everyday? When is the last time you lead your wife in prayer?]

Commit to live God's way, rather than by the world's standards. Learn and obey His commandments and teachings. A line form an Orthodox prayer puts it wonderfully: "Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments." Don't compromise with modern world. Don't be embarrassed by accepting the authority of God's Word over the whim of public opinion as the standard for right and wrong. It won't be easy, but will be worth it!

Quick, can you name all Ten Commandments without looking them up? Do you know how Jesus' answer regarding the most important commandment fits in with the Ten Commandments? Hint: the first four tell us how to love God, the rest tell us how to love others.  
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Thursday, August 8, 2019

More Fulani (Muslim) Violence Against Christians in Nigeria

The genocide against Christians in Nigeria by Muslim militants continues. Over the last 18 years, an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians have been murdered by Muslim groups, while another 2 million people have been displaced." Countless others have been injured. And the genocide is only increasing. The following unedited press release by International Christian Concern details the most recent violence. 

Three Young Men Wounded During Fulani Militant Ambush

08/07/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on Thursday evening, August 1, 2019, Fulani militants ambushed and shot three young men, all members of the Baptist church in Ancha village of Miango District in Nigeria’s Plateau State. The three men were serving as part of the community volunteer watch. Thankfully, all three survived; however, they all suffered gunshot wounds and had to be admitted to the local hospital.

The three survivors, Akore Joseph (19), Nuhu Ishaya (21), and Achi Danjuma (22) shared their story with ICC. Akore began, “We had gone on patrol earlier [that day], and had left my mobile phone battery to be recharged in the next village. So I asked my friends to come with me to go and get it.  On our way back from picking it up, we were walking and talking [when]… all of a sudden, sporadic gunshots erupted from the corn farms. I turned to flee. It was as I fled that a bullet hit me.” Akore was shot in his right shoulder. After fleeing, the three men hid from their attackers until they felt it was safe.

Corroborating the incident, Nuhu Ishaya said, “We tried to hide as secure as we could.  They searched for a while, but didn’t locate us so they went away. We were bleeding. We eventually ran to the nearest village and told the villagers what happened to us.” Nuhu was shot twice, once on the left wrist and also on his upper thigh.

Achi Danjuma, the third survivor, recalled that they had been talking about a previous attack that took place in the village of Hukke, which they were returning from. As they discussed it, they were then attacked themselves. He explained, “The militants recently killed some boys at Hukke village.  It was the memory of that attack that came upon us and we became uneasy and talked about it along the way.” A bullet struck Achi on his right arm.

Pastor of the local Baptist church, Rev. Nanchwat Laven, lamented about the toll that the attacks have taken on his congregation. Yet, he continues to look up to God to intervene and bring them relief and peace. He said that after he learned about the attack, he called Nuhu Ishaya’s cellphone. Someone else answered and eventually told the pastor that he was Fulani, and that they were attacking the Irigwe (the major tribe in Miango), because they are proving “stubborn” by not letting the Fulanis’ cattle graze freely.

Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said, “This attack is deeply concerning. Ancha village is a small community that has suffered on numerous occasions. They lost 20 lives during an attack in 2017 and have suffered several other smaller attacks since. I have personally prayed over the mass graves in Ancha that these attacks have created. The Nigerian government must intervene, protect their citizens, and prosecute those who are killing wantonly.”
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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Achieving Menos - Health, Energy, Fitness, and Vitality

The ancient Greeks had a moral value called Menos. Very loosely translated it means "life, energy, vitality."  More than just good health, the value also embodied physical, spiritual, and emotional fitness, as well as a certain vigor of life. Someone with menos is in excellent health, physically fit, mentally and emotionally fit, and highly energetic - ready and willing to enthusiastically take on life's challenges. The value of menos is one that I seek to build in my life, especially as a prepper, survivalist, and believer in self-reliance. Of course, I have a ways to go yet, but I'm getting there.

Here is a list of basic rules I've come up with to achieve menos in my life.  Healthy living is a much more complex topic, of course, but this list makes a good starting point.

1) Avoid smoking and/or abusing drugs or alcohol. This one should be obvious, but a lot of people fail to achieve this important step to improving their health.

2) Get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep per night. 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 is very important to good health and energy. Lack of adequate sleep not only makes you tired, but according to research, 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.

3) Be physically active everyday. 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, ways to exercise, as are gardening and yard work (use a push mower - your riding mower doesn't count as exercise). Try to mix in some Resistance training, too. Resistance training typically means weight lifting, but also includes exercises utilizing rubber exercise bands or even your own body (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, leg squats) to cause muscles to contract and expand. Don't want to join a gym? Me neither. Get yourself a set of exercise bands and/or dumbbells and use them at home!

NOTE: Use common sense - if you are elderly, pregnant, badly out-of-shape, or have a serious health condition, please get your doctor's advise before starting an exercise program.

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 facts, but on ideology and/or self-interest (think $). Since being diagnosed with diabetes (as well as high blood pressure, low testosterone, and mild anemia) almost five years ago, I've done a lot of research into what actually constitutes a healthy diet. Here is how I now eat:

I've eliminated all grains (including rice and corn), white potatoes, and refined sugar from my diet. Naturally, this means I no longer eat sweets and most junk foods.

Healthy fats make up the largest percentage of my diet. Examples of healthy fats include eggs, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring, trout, mackerel, shrimp, among others), butter, avocados, most nuts, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Eggs have become the staple of my diet. I eat two eggs for breakfast each morning and  usually have a hard boiled egg for an evening snack. In addition, I occasionally eat eggs at other meals. I typically eat two dozen eggs a week, and have for the last four years. Yet my cholesterol numbers and blood pressure are both well within the normal range without any medication. The bad reputation eggs have is based on extremely outdated science from the 60s and 70's, yet is so ingrained into the cultural psyche that even most doctors repeat that nonsense today.  

I keep my carbohydrate intake relatively low. The carbs I do eat are the high-quality carbs such as the cruciferous vegetables, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and various greens (spinach, turnip, mustard, kale, collard, etc). These are extremely nutritious and have only a mild impact on my blood sugar.  

Lettuces, summer (yellow) squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic, peppers, and radishes are also nutritious and have only a mild effect on my blood sugar. Tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and most beans are also okay, but have a somewhat greater impact on my blood sugar, so I am especially careful about serving size with them.

Because of their high sugar content, I have to be very careful with fruit. When I do eat fruit, I have a citrus fruit, a small apple or pear, or a small (1/3 cup) serving of berries. I do not drink fruit juice (too much sugar).

I've tested these dietary changes on myself, closely monitoring my blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, testosterone levels, iron levels, and weight as I made these changes. All my numbers are now within normal ranges without medication. That's right: after being diagnosed with diabetes with a A1C of 10.1 (very high),  I now maintain an A1C range of 5.5-5.7 without taking insulin, metformin, or any other drug, so I must be doing something right.

5) Consume much less refined sugar. I already mentioned reducing sugar, but it bears repeating. Our modern American diet suffers from an extreme excess of sugar. A major contributor to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer is the high rate of sugar consumption in all its forms, especially high fructose corn syrup. Cut back drastically on the amount of sugar you consume, and when you do use sweeteners, prefer natural sources such as fruit & honey.

6) Make regular visits to a doctor, dentist, and eye-doctor. Had I followed this advice, my diabetes would have been caught much sooner, before my eye problems developed, and would have saved me from the 70+ eye injections and five laser surgeries it took to save my eyesight. 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 or she 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.

7) Remember that menos is about more than health and fitness. It is also about spiritual and emotional fitness. To that end, here are some tips to address those areas:
  • Be a life long learner. Always seek to expand your knowledge base. Read books. Take classes. Watch documentaries. Visit museums and historical sites. Stay up on current affairs. Work crossword puzzles and logic puzzles.
  • Deal with any addictions or mental health issues as soon as possible. See my article Prepper's Guide to Mental Health and Emotional Preparedness.
  • Develop your relationships with others - your spouse, kids, family, friends, neighbors...
  • Get right with God. Don't roll your eyes. This is important. Develop your relationship with God. Read the Bible and pray daily. Go to Church. Follow God's wisdom, not worldly ways. 
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