Friday, December 2, 2016

Urban Camouflage (more than just the "Gray Man")

How is your Urban Camouflage? No, I'm not talking about a new fashion trend. Rather, I'm talking about fitting in with your surrounding community, and not drawing attention to yourself as a potential victim or as a malcontent. This is sometimes called the "gray man" disguise, but it is more than that. You don't want to draw the attention of criminals & thugs by looking like a potential target or easy prey. You also don't draw the attention of the government as a serious malcontent and potential trouble-maker. 

Every neighborhood has at least one Gladys Kravitz.
Additionally, you need to be very private and guarded with your personal information and plans. The idea is to not draw unwanted attention to yourself and your family, regardless of if that attention is from identity thieves, criminals, thugs, law enforcement, government officials, or even just nosy neighbors. 

Don't paint yourself as a potential target. 

Bad guys look for easy prey and rich targets. They prefer someone who is both, but most will choose easy over rich every time. Avoid looking like a rich target by not wearing expensive or flashy clothes, expensive jewellery, or driving a high-priced car. Avoid looking like easy prey by wearing practical clothes & shoes, and by walking confidently, head up, while paying attention to your surroundings. Muggers, pick-pockets, and other bad folks especially look for victims who are distracted. Try to walk, shop, and travel in groups whenever possible. Groups look less like a potential target than someone walking by alone. 

Sadly, folks with obvious physical restrictions will look like easy prey to bad guys. The elderly, pregnant women, folks with mobility problems and other physical disabilities, should take extra precautions when out in public. 

For more on being the "Gray Man," please see my earlier article Results from the "Grayman" Training Exercise. 

Don't draw unwanted attention.

Don't draw negative attention from law enforcement, government officials, or local bureaucrats. Don't come across as a potential trouble-maker or serious malcontent. We have learned from a number of scandals in recent years that many government officials and bureaucrats can and do hold grudges, and are willing to abuse their power to "get even."

Never make personal threats, especially against government officials or law enforcement (not even in "jest"). Remember that nothing you say or do online is truly anonymous. Don't flout laws, even when you disagree passionately with them (speak out against them, but don't break laws just to make a point unless you are willing to pay a price). 

Stress to family members, especially school-age children, the importance of privacy. Its not just identity theft you have to worry about. Public school officials often question students about personal family information, such as parents' political and religious affiliations, the presence of guns in the household, or even whether or not the family recycles! All to "protect the children," of course. Many schools now routinely go so far as to spy on students through social media. Maje sure your children understand that "what happens in the family, stays in the family."  

Its not just schools that are invading people's privacy.  Employers now routinely spy on employees and applicants through social media. Its a great way for employers to get information that is otherwise illegal for them to ask about, such as whether or not a female applicant may have a baby in the near future. In the wake of the recent election, several employers have made national news by expressing a wish to "punish" employees that voted for Trump. Social media is a great way to identify an employees politics. For goodness sake, don't overshare on social media!!!

Finally, it is now very politically correct for government and law enforcement to consider preppers, tea party conservatives, and traditional Bible-believing Christians, to be "potential domestic terrorists." In today's environment, its quite probable that Trump supporters are now on that list of potential threats. 

We have also seen that wearing a Trump shirt or a Make America Great Again hat can make you a target for violence from the Left. I'm not saying to hide your affiliations or political support. Just to be aware of the possible consequences for doing so.

The Bottom Line

In an urban environment, whether a large city or small town, you need to be aware of how you are perceived by others, and all the possible consequences that may result. The art of Urban Camouflage is to use this awareness to attract as little attention to yourself as possible, thereby avoiding much of the potential negative consequences.  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Future of the Second Amendment

Now that the election is over, and we know that Donald Trump will be next next President, what is the future of the Second Amendment? Is our right to self-defense secure? Are our guns safe from government's power-hungry grasp? 

The answer, with a couple of caveats, is that our guns rights are safe for the next four, maybe eight, years. However, here are those important caveats:
  • Donald Trump must keep his promise of appointing Constitutionalists to the Supreme Court, such as those on the list of possible nominees he made public before the election. The court is precariously balanced at 4 to 4, and the replacement for Justice Scalia will decide the future of the Second Amendment. 
  • The progressives have not given up their desire to disarm Americans. Not just gun control, but gun confiscation, remains one of their most important goals. Even if blocked on a national level, they will continue the fight on the local and state level.
One big concern on a state level is that progressives won three out of four gun control measures on state ballots in this year's election. Gun control measures won in California, Washington, and Nevada. In Maine, another gun control measure was only narrowly defeated by a razor-thin margin. Even if Trump holds true to his election promises, your rights as a gun-owner are still under threat, especially if you live in a blue state. 

Gun owners and other pro-Constitution folks can breathe a bit easier with the defeat of Hillary Clinton, but the fight is far from over. We must remain eternally vigilant in defending our rights. It is when we feel the safest that our enemies can make the most progress against us. 

We must watch Obama closely, and insist that he keep his campaign promises regarding his judicial appoints. We must pay close attention to our state and local governments, and fight efforts to curtail our rights on those levels. One of the best ways to do this is to join forces with others to defend the Second Amendment:

A) National Rifle Association (TwitterWebsiteYouTube)
B) Gun Owners Association (TwitterWebsite, YouTube)
C) Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (TwitterWebsiteYouTube)
D) National Association for Gun Rights (TwitterWebsiteYouTube)


If you are in Law Enforcement or the Military, please join Oath Keepers.  Even if you're not, you can support them by joining as an associate member. You can also sign up for their free email list. Website: https://www.oathkeepers.org/    
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Did you like this article? You may be interested in these:

Fight Back! -- Defending the Second Amendment

A Long-Term Way to Protect the Second Amendment

Jesus, Self-Defense, and the Pajama Boy

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Typical Prepper versus Gypsy Survivalist...

What the Gypsy Survival Strategy Might Actually Look Like

In my recent article, Gypsy Survival - A Different Prepper Strategy, I introduced an idea I've been thinking about for a number of years. It is a prepper strategy based on disconnecting from the system and extreme mobility, rather than stockpiling or homesteading. In  this article, I want to consider what the Gypsy Survival Strategy might actually look like by comparing it to typical prepper ideas on several points. 

Typical Prepper: Home is your physical address. Perhaps an apartment or house. Maybe a homestead or farm. Probably have a mortgage and property taxes. Costs money, time, and effort to maintain. Still, it is yours (at least until the government or bank decides otherwise). Requires furniture and other stuff, which costs money/time/effort to buy and maintain.

Gypsy Survivalist: Home is wherever you are with family and friends. Not a physical address, which would only be temporary anyway. Most likely sleep in a tent, camper, trailer, RV, or mobile home of some sort. All your stuff fits inside your vehicle and/or mobile home. Little, probably no, furniture or large other items.

Typical Prepper: Bugging-in at your current location, or bugging-out to a prearranged location, such as a retreat that would then likely become your permanent location if you could not return to the original location. 

Gypsy Survivalist: No permanent location or home. Constantly moving away from danger or towards opportunity as conditions warrant. 

Typical Prepper: Probably have "roots" where you live. Friends & family that permanently live nearby. A particular church you attend. A job/career/employer for which you feel some loyalty or responsibility. Organizations that you are a part of... Things that may make you reluctant/slow to leave a location if things suddendly go bad. 

Gypsy Survivalist: No roots in the local community, thus nothing holding you back. Your roots are with the community of like-minded family & friends you travel with... (Interestingly, Roma and other "gypsies" never marry, date, or even have strong friendships with non-Roma; all that is done within the larger Roma/Gypsy community.)

Typical Prepper: Unless they are making money homesteading, farming, or from their own small business, most preppers have regular jobs/careers working for someone else. Could be anything from blue collar workers to professionals. The need for such employment is a limiting factor for many preppers (including me).

Gypsy Survivalist: Typically self-employed or take temporary/part-time work for which they feel no loyalty towards employer. Easy to just leave whenever. Traditionally, gypsies tend to be entertainers of some sort (singers, musicians, actors, storytellers, fortune tellers, etc.). Think vaudeville. This seems to hold true today, although to a somewhat lesser extent. Other common gypsy employment is as animal trainers, artisans, craftsmen, tinkers, handymen, and similar professions. Gypsies can be professionals, and some are, but their lifestyle often makes for a difficult career path in terms of advancement, though their is always some need for temporary nurses, accountants, etc.

Typical Prepper: Stockpiling food, water,  and supplies in quantity. Lots of redundancy. This requires space to store, money to buy, time to organize/maintain. Decreases mobility.

Gypsy Survivalist: Goods and other stuff kept on-hand would have to be minimal. A few days to a couple of weeks worth of food & supplies at most. Emphasis would have to be on collecting & providing as needed, rather than storing. Example: Instead of storing lots of water in jugs or tanks, the Gypsy Survivalist would depend on their ability to collect/treat water using tools like the Lifestraw Family Water Filter or Lifestraw Go Bottles. Food is obtained by buying or trading with locals, by hunting, fishing, & collecting wild edibles, and possibly by having small gardens when camped at a suitable location for a period of time. I've also heard tale of some gypsies traveling with a few goats or chickens.

Typical Prepper: Lots of tools and other gear. Lots of redundancy. Requires money to buy, room to store, time/effort to maintain. Probably lots of big tools, especially if homesteading is part of the plan. Again, cost & need for room to store are factors.

Gypsy Survivalist: Minimal tools and gear with little redundancy. Would have to emphasize quality, usefulness, and practicality, over quantity. Would require a certain amount of ingenuity and creative thinking. Get the most "bang for your buck," so to speak. No need to have yard or garden tools (other than maybe a shovel). No need for power tools (maybe a gas-powered chain saw?). Would have at least a good set of basic tools and skill to use them, and a few tools of the trade for tinkers/metalworkers, handymen types.

Typical Prepper: Large library of books on prepping, homesteading, gardening, country skills, survival medicine, and a variety of other potentially useful topics. I've seen preppers/survivalists brag about their libraries of thousands of books. My own is in the hundreds. Again, cost and room to store are issues. Besides, in reality most of those books will go unread.

Gypsy Survivalist: No room for a large library. Maybe one or two 3-foot shelves worth of books. Will force you to be choosy about what books you keep on-hand. Only the most important, useful, and often-used will make the cut. Again, quality over quantity. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Minimum Pre-Crisis Preparations for a Nuclear Event

The following is Chapter 16 of the 1987 edition of Cresson H. Kearny's Nuclear War Survival Skills. These points are expanded upon throughout the book. The entire book is available for free download at http://www.oism.org/nwss/


Chapter 16: Minimum Pre-Crisis Preparations


Your chances of surviving a nuclear attack will be improved if you make the following low-cost preparations before a serious crisis arises. Once many Americans become convinced that a nuclear attack is a near certainty, they will rush to stores and buy all available survival supplies. If you wait to prepare until a crisis does arise, you are likely to be among the majority who will have to make-do with inadequate supplies of water containers, food, and materials. Furthermore, even if you have the necessary materials and instructions to make the most needed survival items, you and your family are not likely to have time to make all of them during a few days of tense crisis.

The following recommendations are intended primarily for the majority who live in areas likely to be subjected to blast, fire, or extremely heavy fallout. These people should plan to evacuate to a safer area. (Many citizens living outside high-risk areas, especially homeowners with yards, can and should make better pre-crisis preparations. These would include building high-protection-factor permanent shelters covered with earth.)

SHELTER

Keep on hand the tools and materials your family or group will need to build or improve a high- protection-factor expedient shelter: One or more shovels, a pick (if in a hard-soil area), a bow-saw with an extra blade, a hammer, and 4-mil polyethylene film for rainproofing your planned shelter. Also store the necessary nails, wire, etc. needed for the kind of shelter you plan to build.


Keep instructions for shelter-building and other survival essentials in a safe and convenient place.

VENTILATION-COOLING

Make a homemade shelter-ventilating pump, a KAP, of the size required for the shelter you plan to build or use.


WATER

Keep on hand water containers (including at least four 30-gallon untreated polyethylene trash bags and two sacks or pillowcases for each person), a pliable garden hose or other tube for siphoning, and a plastic bottle of sodium hypochlorite bleach (such as Clorox) for disinfecting water and utensils.


FALLOUT METER

Make one or two KFMs and learn how to use this simple instrument.


FOOD

Store at least a 2-week supply of compact, nonperishable food. The balanced ration of basic dry foods described in Chapter 9, Food, satisfies requirements for adults and larger children at minimum cost. If your family includes babies or small children, be sure to store more milk powder, vegetable oil, and sugar.


Continuing to breast-feed babies born during an impending crisis would greatly simplify their care should the crisis develop and worsen

For preparing and cooking basic foods:


° Make a 3-Pipe Grain Mill like the one described in Chapter 9, Food, or buy a small hand-cranked grain mill, which grinds more efficiently than other expedient devices. Book Page: 133
° Make a Bucket-Stove as described in Chapter 9. During evacuation, the stove can be used as a container. Store some kitchen-type wooden matches in a waterproof container.
° Keep essential containers and utensils on hand for storing and transporting food and for cooking and serving in a shelter.
SANITATION

Insect screen or mosquito netting, and fly bait. See Chapter 12.


A hose-vented 5-gallon can, with heavy plastic bags for liners, for use as a toilet. Include some smaller plastic bags and toilet paper with these supplies. Tampons.
MEDICINES

° Any special medications needed by family members.
° Potassium iodide, a 2-oz bottle, and a medicine- dropper, for prophylactic protection of the thyroid gland against radioactive iodines. (Described in the last section of Chapter 13, Survival Without Doctors.)
° A first-aid kit and a tube of antibiotic ointment.
LIGHT
° Long-burning candles (with small wicks) sufficient for at least 14 nights.
° An expedient lamp, with extra cotton-string, wicks, and cooking oil as described in Chapter 11.
° A flashlight and extra batteries.
RADIO 
A transistor radio with extra batteries and a metal box in which to protect it.

OTHER ESSENTIALS

Review the EVACUATION CHECKLIST (developed primarily for persons who make no preparations before a crisis) and add items that are special requirements of your family.

 
Book Page: 134

Friday, October 7, 2016

Gypsy Survival - A Different Prepper Strategy



Many survival strategies involve hunkering down in place, homesteading, rural retreats and survival communities, or "bugging out" to those locations, where, through a combination of self-reliance and stockpiles of food & supplies, any future hard times can be survived. But I've long been intrigued by another possibility, which I call Gypsy Survival.

Gypsy Survival is a strategy that is loosely based on current and historical groups of highly nomadic peoples often referred to as "gypsies." This includes the Romani people, the Sinti, Irish Travellers, Scottish Tinkers, and Indigenous Norwegian Travellers, as well as other groups. In addition to these real-life examples, the concept of gypsies has been heavily fictionalized over the years. The Gypsy Survival Strategy I present here is a conglomeration of lessons and ideas from all these groups, as well as some of my own thoughts. My use of the term "gypsy" throughout this article refers to this conglomeration of ideas, not any one particular group, and is intended in a completely non-pejorative way.


Three Distinctive Features

I see three distinctive features of the gypsy lifestyle that could be adapted into a very successful survival strategy.

1) Gypsies lead a highly nomadic, very mobile lifestyle. Gypsies don't set down roots in any specific location. Home is not a place, but rather is being with family.  Where the "being with" actually takes place is irrelevant. Community, too, isn't a particular place, such as a neighborhood or town, but rather is the larger group of fellow gypsies.

Survival Advantage: Because there is nothing to hold them to a particular place, such as property owned or personal ties to local people, gypsies have the ability to quickly pack up and flee from danger. Or to quickly move to where there is more opportunity. This ability is more than just bugging out. Gypsies, because they have no roots and few possessions, can immediately leave one location and set up home in a new location, without any reluctance to leave or "stuff" holding them back.

2) Gypsies are NOT part of the worldly system, and have no desire to "fit in" or conform to the standards of modern society.  Rather than being swayed by the world around them, and the opinions of others, gypsies hold firm to their own language, culture, beliefs, and traditions. They have no need to "Get Out of Babylon," because they are already mostly out of the worldly system.

Survival Advantage: By being less dependent on the worldly system, gypsies have a considerable amount of flexibility in responding to threats and danger. They are not dependent on government or the established social order. Nor are they dependent on their employers or careers. They also make less compromises in maintaining their way of life, including religious beliefs, traditions, and other aspects of their culture that are very important to them.

3) Gypsies are loyal to the family/clan/tribe, NOT to a place (country, state, community), a government, or even to a company, career, or job. Privacy is of high importance. What happens within the gypsy community stays within their community. Disputes are handled internally, without bringing in any outside authorities. The preservation of their way of life, culture, beliefs, and traditions is of utmost importance.

Survival Advantage: Loyalty within families, and even within the larger gypsy community, means that they are there for each other. Gypsies help and protect their own. They are also better able to maintain their way of life and culture without compromising with the outside world. 

Possible Disadvantages

There are, of course, disadvantages to the gypsy lifestyle. Lack of property means that they typically cannot produce their own food. Instead, they must depend on what they can hunt, gather, and buy or trade for with outsiders. 

The gypsy refusal to assimilate into the outside world, and to conform with outside societal norms, means that they are typically the object of suspicion and distrust. This often leads to official discrimination, persecution, and even attempts at genocide against them. 


Other Hallmarks of the Gypsy Survival Strategy

Gypsies have developed the ability to vanish into the background. Did you know that there are over a million gypsies estimated to be living in the United States? Chances are that there are some living near you, and you don't even know it. This ability to go unnoticed, and to quickly vanish in the face of trouble, serves them quite well.

Gypsies prefer to avoid trouble rather than face it head on. As the saying goes, the surest way to survive a fight is to not get in a fight in the first place. They flee first, and only fight when it is unavoidable. Yes, gypsies will defend themselves when necessary, but they prefer to avoid danger if at all possible.

Gypsies typically don't own real estate. The days of living in their horse-drawn wagons (called vardos by some) are long gone, of course. Today most gypsies live in campers, trailers, or mobile homes. Occasionally, some my rent or lease apartments or houses, but even this is uncommon. This means that leaving an area is relatively a simple, and quick, driving away, with little packing up required. 

Gypsies live simple lifestyles, with relatively few possessions. This saves them time, space, and money. It also enables them to pack up and flee quickly when necessary. Unlike possessions, knowledge and skills cannot be lost, stolen, or broken

Gypsies work for themselves. Sometimes this means being self-employed (examples: artisans, craftsmen, animal trainers, entertainers, etc.)  Sometimes this means hiring themselves out to do part-time or temporary work. Gypsies can and do work in almost every career field imaginable. The point is that they don't tie themselves down to a particular company or career field.

Privacy is of utmost importance. What happens within the gypsy community stays within the gypsy community. Disputes are handled internally. They hold their language, rules, customs, and traditions closely, rarely sharing them with outsiders. Outsiders are rarely, if ever, brought into the gypsy community, and marriages with outsiders are highly discouraged. When dealing with outsiders, gypsies are notoriously vague in giving names and other bits of personal information, and never give specifics about the larger gypsy community. 


Check out the follow-up to this article, "Typical Prepper versus Gypsy Survivalist...  What the Gypsy Survival Strategy Might Actually Look Like."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Things are looking bad - What you need to do NOW

Things are starting to look really bad worldwide in terms of economics & geopolitcs, and even for our freedoms here in America. I don't know if "the end of the world as we know it" will happen anytime soon or not, but it is definately a good idea to get prepared now in case it does. Here is what you should be working on NOW:

1) Develop Good Health and Fitness - This is a touchy subject for many people, but improving your health and fitness is one of the most important things anyone can do to increase their chances of survival during a disaster or in a post-SHTF world. This should be on top of everyone's To Do list, even above stockpiling food, water and ammo. Lose weight. Get into shape. Stop smoking. Eat healthy. Visit your Doctor for a checkup. Visit your Dentist and go ahead with any dental work you need.

2) Develop a Good Mental Attitude - Mental attitude plays an enormous role in overcoming adversity, so develop good mental health. I suggest starting with your spiritual side, according to whatever spiritual beliefs you may have. Some suggestions: Pray. Read scripture. Go to Church or Synagogue. Get right with God.

While you're doing that, work on other aspects of your mental health and attitude. Reconnect with nature, family and friends. Work on building new, positive relationships. Don't be afraid of "weeding out" toxic people from your life. Reduce stress by taking up a fun hobby or two, and learning to relax. Be a life-long learner by reading, taking classes, learning new skills...

3) Overcome any addictions in your life.  Are you addicted to tobacco, alcohol, legal or illegal drugs? Struggling with pron or gambling addiction? Work on overcoming your addictions as quickly as possible. Yes, I know - easier said than done. But you don't want to be dealing with an addiction in the middle or just after of a SHTF event. You will have enough danger and stress just from the event, without having to add the dangers, and distractions of your addiction on top of that. Especially since you may not be able to "feed" your addiction after the event, and therefore will be dealing with withdrawal, which will have both emotional and physical complications.

4) Reduce Your Consumption of Everything - Adopt a simpler lifestyle. Live well within your means. Be a Saver, not a Consumer. If you had to, could you survive on less than half your current income? You may have to one day...Develop and get used to a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle now. It will be easier on you and your family in the long run.

Yes, this probably means lowering your standard of living, but it needs to be done. Greatly reduce your spending, especially on lifestyle items such as eating out, entertainment, vacations, new cars, designer clothes, and so forth. Consider eliminating your cable or satellite TV, or at the very least subscribing to only the basic package. Downsize your cars to get out from under your car payments. Having a couple of "meat free" days each week can save you big bucks over the course of a year. Take leftovers to work for your lunch. Use coupons, shop sales, compare prices, do whatever it takes to reduce your expenses. If you smoke, stopping will not only be better for your health, but will save you big bucks over the course of a year.

5) Get Out of Debt and Stay Out - Use the savings generated by reducing your consumption of everything to pay off your car loans, credit cards, student loans, payday loans and other consumer debt. If at all possible, pay off your mortgage or at the very least refinance into a lower fixed rate.

Check out Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball Plan on his website. 

6) Secure Your Current Assets - Make sure the banks and insurance companies you use are sound (there are rating services you can use, BankRate.com is one, but most importantly ask questions and pay attention to the news). Put a portion of your savings into silver, gold and/or other hard assets. Again, pay off your mortgage if at all possible or at least refinance into a lower fixed rate. Guard against identity theft. Pay your taxes on time and in full (government has extraordinary powers to seize your savings, paycheck, investments, and property to collect back taxes).

7) Become Self-Reliant - Don't wait around for the government, your parents, union leaders, community organizers or anyone else to take care of you. Don't sit around whining that life is unfair, or that someone else has it so much better than you. Learn to take care of yourself. Self-reliance is not anti-social or selfish. In fact, building self-reliance may be one of the most generous things you can do, because the reality is that you will be of no help to your family, friends or neighbors if you are the one in need of help.

For more on Self-Reliance, see my articles What is Self-Reliance and Self-Reliance Mindset

"Do It Yourself" should become your motto. Learn to grow, make and repair things, and have the tools and supplies you need to do so. Learn to garden, and make sure you have all the hoes, shovels, seeds, rich dirt and other supplies you will need to do so. Learn to can and preserve food, and make sure your have the equipment and supplies you need. Learn to sew, and make sure you have the scissors, cloth, thread, needles and other supplies you need. Learn how to do basic home maintenance, including plumping and electrical work, and basic auto and small engine repair. Make sure you have the necessary tools and supplies.

See my article Basic Starter Tool Set if you're new to D-I-Y. 

8) Stock Up - Here is where most preppers start, but it is number eight on my list. Stock up on food, water, medicine, first aid supplies, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, and other items. Imagine that, for whatever reasons, you are unable to buy anything from any store for a month. What will you run out of first? Second? What else will you eventually run out of?

BONUS STEP: Take Security Seriously - Own and learn how to use a gun (obeying all pertinent laws, of course). Learn situational awareness. Pay attention to what's going on around you. Everyone in your family should take a good course in self-defense. Everyone in your family should learn first aid. Consider moving if you live in or near a bad neighborhood or if your neighborhood is going downhill. Harden your home against outside threats (steps might include installing heavy-duty safety doors, dead bolt locks, burglar bars on windows, additional outside lighting, getting a dog, planting thorny shrubs under windows, etc.). Discuss with your children how to deal with strangers in various situations. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

10 Outdoor Adventure Books Every Boy (and Man) Should Read

Here are ten books of outdoor adventures and wilderness survival that I think every boy* on his way to manhood should read. If you are already a grown man, but haven't read one or more of these books, I recommend you do so. They can be enjoyed by all ages.

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, is the classic "stranded on a desert island" book. The protagonist, Robinson Crusoe, "chronicles his daily battle to stay alive, as he conquers isolation, fashions shelter and clothes, enlists the help of a native islander who he names 'Friday', and fights off cannibals and mutineers."

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling, is actually a collection of short stories by Kipling published in the 1890s. Set in India, the stories are actually fables in which talking animals are used to teach a moral. The most famous of these stories are about the abandoned "man cub" Mowgli - a boy raised in the wild by wolves.

Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss, is about a shipped-wrecked family that must survive and adapt to life alone on a tropical island. Written in the early 1800s, the book is somewhat "off" in certain details of natural history (for example, an impossibly wide range on animals are native to the island). However, this is still a classic tale of family adventure and survival.
 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is an American classic. Considered "controversial" in today's highly sensitive, PC-culture because of its honest portrayal or race relations of its day, including the frequent use of the word "nigger," this book should be mandatory reading for every school kid, but often avoided. However, the book's protagonist is solidly anti-racist, as is the book's overall theme.

Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson. Yes, this is the book the Disney movie is based on. A very moving story of a boy and his dog growing up together in the hills of west Texas.

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, is the first of the Little House on the Prairie books. Sometimes considered a girl's book because it is told from the point of view of Laura Ingell, the story is really about the life and struggles of an American pioneer family in the 1870s. Pioneering life is hard, with plenty of adventures to keep things interesting.

The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both by Jack London, are  set in Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. Full of dogs, wolves, adventure, and survival, these fast-paced books will hold the attention of most boys, while teaching positive themes of morality and redemption.

Stormy, by Jim Kjelgaard, is a fantastic adventure story about a boy, Allan Marley, and Stormy, an abused dog accused of turning on its master. I won't give away too much of this story, but basically the two have some amazing adventures and ultimately save each other.

Big Red: The Story of a Champion Irish Setter and a Trapper's Son Who Grew Up Together, Roaming the Wilderness, is another book by Jim Kjelgaard (too often forgotten as a great author of young adult adventure books). The rather long title pretty much sums up this book. All of Kjelgaard's books are must-reads for boys, in my opinion.

Bonus Book

Not an adventure novel, but rather a wide-ranging collection of articles on topics of particular interest to boys, The Dangerous Book for Boys, by Conn Iggulden, is a book I wish I had when I was growing up. Topics covered include essential gear for boys, paper airplanes, the seven wonders of the ancient world, the 5 knots every boy should know, dinosaurs, making a bow and arrow, understanding grammar, famous battles, first aid, cloud formations, astronomy, navigation, the Declaration of Independence, building a workbench, and seven poems every boy should know, among many others.

There is a similar book for girls, The Daring Book for Girls, by Andrea J. Buchanan.
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*Yes, girls (and women) can read and enjoy these books, too!



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Thursday, March 10, 2016

48 Hours Until The End - What are your final preps?

Imagine that you know for certain that a major economic & political collapse will happen the day after tomorrow, and that the world will never be the same again. This is the big one. It doesn't matter what will trigger the collapse, only that you know it will happen for certain in exactly two days. Assume, too, that must folks are unaware of the impending doom. You now have 48 hours, and only 48 hours, to make any final, last minute preparations. What do you do? What will be your last minute preps?

With the 48-hour countdown, it is too late for any long-term plans or ideas. If you've been thinking about buying some land in the country to start homesteading, but haven't done so yet - too late. You have to figure something else out. Been planning to address your health issues, lose weight, and get into shape? Too late. You'll have to face The End with your current level of health and fitness. But there is time to do plenty of other last minute preps.

Here's what I will do during the last 48 hours:
  • Get all cash out of my bank accounts, and collect the contents of any safe-deposit boxes.*
  • Refill any prescriptions for me and my family.
  • Make sure both my vehicles are fully gassed-up, and check oil, tire pressure, etc.
  • Make sure my extra gas storage is full (I keep five 5-gallon gas cans safely stored on my property away from my house). I would buy additional cans/gas to add to this storage.
  • Purchase an extra  case or two of motor oil (future supplies may be limited).
  • (I don't use propane or heating oil, but if I did, I would make sure I had full tanks.)
  • Make sure that my water storage is full and fresh. Would make some last minute extra purchases of 5-gallon water cans and/or several cases of bottled water to add to my water storage.
  • Make a quick check of my food storage, to see to if I'm running low on anything.
  • Go to local grocery stores, Wal-marts, etc. and buy as much canned & dry foods as possible (including extra food for my dog), also cleaning supplies, unscented bleach, sanitation and hygiene supplies, matches, charcoal, etc.
  • Go to local stores & shops that sell ammo (I've already made a list of all within 25 miles of my home) and buy as much as I can of the types I use.
  • Go by my local coin dealer and two local pawn shops that sell silver coins (again, I've already made a list of silver dealers in my area), and buy as much junk silver as possible. 
  • If I have any cash left at this point, I would buy extra tools & spare parts (spark plugs, duct tape, etc.) that I may need.
  • Wash the laundry! (Power and/or water may be interrupted for awhile. Might as well get caught up on the washing while I still can.)
  • Review with my family, and others as appropriate, our plans for bugging in security & safety, and when/how we will bug out if necessary.

Bugging Out

I plan to "bug in" at my current location unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. Then, I have planned two options for bugging out. To make sure I'm ready for those options, if I need them, I will make sure my vehicles are full of gas, as wel as check the tires and oil. I will also review my bug out plans, make sure I have the needed road maps, and even pre-pack my vehicles to the extent I can so that when I'm forced to bug-out, I can do so as quickly as possible.

If your "Plan A" is bugging out immediately, then do so as early on as you can to avoid the traffic jams and confusion of the last minute escape. Once you arrive at your bug-out location, you can continue with whatever last minute preps you can.

Extreme Ideas

These ideas aren't legal right now, but in a full-fledged collapse like we are considering in this exercise, there will be little or no government or law enforcement to deem things illegal.

Visit the local library and check out as many books as possible that might be useful - homesteading, first aid, alternative medicine, country skills, canning & food preservation, fish & game cookbooks, books for homeschooling, etc.  Once the collapse happens, they'll be no one to return the books to, so Free Books! 

Max out the credit cards buying food, tools, ammo, supplies, even junk silver if you can find any. In a full-fledged economic & political collapse, the banks and financial institutions will collapse, so they'll be no one to collect on the debt. (But be careful, if it isn't a full-fledged collapse, you'll have to pay the bills.

A Final Note

*In his excellent book, The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse, Fernando Aguirre states that once the banks re-opened following the economic collapse in Argentina in 2001, people found that the contents of their safe-deposit boxes were missing, having been confiscated by the government and/or stolen by bank management. That is why I include reclaiming the contents of safe-deposit boxes before the collapse happens. I love Fernando's book because t is full of such tidbits of what happened in Argentina's collapse, which gives us a good idea of some of the things that may happen in a similar collapse in the USA. I highly recommend his book.

What Would You Do?

What would you do? Have I left anything off my list? Put your ideas in the comments section: 

Monday, February 22, 2016

US Navy SEAL Ethos/Creed


The U.S. Navy SEALs were established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 as a small, elite maritime military force to conduct Unconventional Warfare. They carry out the types of clandestine, small-unit, high-impact missions that large forces with high-profile platforms (such as ships, tanks, jets and submarines) cannot. SEALs also conduct essential on-the-ground Special Reconnaissance of critical targets for imminent strikes by larger conventional forces.*

Although the SEALs always had an unspoken creed of honor, it wasn't until 2005 that they formally adopted the following creed.**

SEAL Ethos/Creed

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me - my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.
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*from Navy Seal History at http://navyseals.com/nsw/navy-seal-history/
**as presented on the Naval Warfare Command Website webpage: http://www.public.navy.mil/nsw/Pages/EthosCreed.aspx

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Survivalist Myth? The Golden Horde

Its a nightmare many survivalists and preppers have: masses of people fleeing the big cities and descending on rural areas after some sort of collapse of our society's economic system, power grid, and/or just-in-time food distribution system. Folks already living in those rural areas would have to contend with refugees that are totally unprepared, many of which would turn to looting and violence to take the rapidly dwindling food and other resources.

James Wesley, Rawles, in his book How to Survive the End of the World as we Know It (an excellent book, by the way), describes this mass exodus as "The Golden Horde." Its a term he got from his father, who was comparing the potential mass exodus from the big cities to the Mongol horde of the 13th century. Here is how Rawles describes it on page six of his book:
"Because of the urbanization of the US population, if the entire eastern or western power grid goes down for more than a week, the cities will rapidly become unlivable. I foresee that there could be an almost unstoppable chain of events:

     Power failures, followed by
     Municipal water supply failures, followed by
     Collapse of law and order, followed by
     Fires and full-scale looting, followed by
     Massive "Golden Horde" out-migration from major cities

As the comfort levels in the cities drops to nil, there will be a massive outpouring from the big cities and suburbs into the hinterboonies."
Is The Golden Horde scenario realistic, or a myth?

At one point in our nations history, the Golden Horde probably would have happened in a long-term grid-down event. But those days are long past, as the concept of self-reliance has been intentionally erased from the American people. Let me explain with some recent real-life examples.

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? They had several days warning that a major hurricane was on the way, yet they did nothing. Even after Katrina hit flooding large sections of the city and collapsing its infrastructure, they did nothing to get themselves out of the situation. Instead they stood around in knee-deep water until authorities were able to round them up and ship them to the horrible and dangerous conditions of the Superdome.

That is called "learned helplessness," a behavioral term for when an organism (animal or human) has been taught through external stimuli to NOT help themselves, but to depend on outside factors. In the case of those people in New Orleans, generations of public education and government dependence left much of the population unable to help themselves. For most, it didn't even occur to them to try to get out of that situation on their own. And, if it did, they simply didn't know how to even start to help themselves.

Interestingly, the term "learned helplessness" appears in declassified CIA documents. The CIA defines learned helplessness as a type of instilled "apathy" which it is very difficult or even impossible to overcome.

Rawles mentions "municipal water supply failures" in his list of events leading to a Golden Horde. Well, in Flint, Michigan, the munipal water supply failed in 2014, and remains very dangerously tainted almost two years later. Despite knowing this, most folks living in the affected area are still living there, still drinking the tainted water, still waitng for government to fix it.

In certain areas of Chicago and Detriot, collapse of law and order has already occurred. Those areas are effectively without rule of law (WROL), and have been for years. People living in those areas are being slaughtered by gangs and criminals. Yet, there have been no mass exodus from those areas. Sure, the folks living there want to be safe, but they only know to wait for government to take care of it rather than to get themsleves out of those situations.

Golden Hordes might have been a possibility in the 1940s, 50s, and even 60s, but generations of learned helplessness means it is highly unlikely today. Of course, a few folks today will try to escape the big cities, but most won't even try. Instead of fleeing masses, the masses are much more likely to sttay in the cities waiting for help that will never arrive. The suffering and death will be extraordinary.
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Despite using Rawles Golden Horde idea as an example, I have a lot of respect for him and do recommend his books and website.


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.