Saturday, December 29, 2018

Soft Skills Preppers Need to Develop

Soft skills are general skills that are often seen as part of our personality, and as such are typically self-learned without realizing it while we are growing up. Examples include listening skills and getting along with others. Hard skills, on the other hand, are technical skills that are intentionally taught to us by others, usually in the classroom or on-the-job. An example would be computer skills.

In prepper and survivalist circles, most talk centers around the hard skills we need: first aid, water purification, bushcraft skills, shooting & self-defense skills and so forth. But soft skills can also be very important, and fortunately they can be developed if we realize the need.

Communication and Listening Skills

More than just the ability to talk, good communications skills include both active listening and the ability to explain ideas to others in a way they can understand.

Social Skills / Networking 

A huge complaint I often hear in the prepper community is the difficulty in finding or forming community. Networking and social skills are about finding, meeting, and getting along with others. (Related Article: Why Preppers Have a Hard Time Building Community)

Teamwork

Are you a team player, or a lone wolf? Do you follow the rules, or do you insist on doing things your way and only your way? Is cooperation and compromise in your vocabulary, or do you see them strictly as "dirty words?" Working together with others to achieve goals, such as security and survival, is important.

Leadership Skills

Leadership is very different from just being the boss.  And it has nothing to do with forcing others to do what you tell them to do. (Related article: There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss)

Creativity / Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is especially valuable during the chaos and confusion of a disaster or crisis. Disasters are unpredictable in both their nature and their consequences. The ability to think outside the box and to come up with solutions for unexpected problems could easily be the difference between life and death.

Logic / Critical Thinking 

Disasters cause confusion and panic that can lead to purely emotional responses, which are usually not the best responses. The ability to remain calm, think clearly, and use reason in responding to the disaster is critical. (Related article: How To Not Panic In An Emergency)

Organization / Time Management

There's so much to do in terms of planning and logistics that it can be easy to get overwhelmed and let things "fall through the cracks." The ability to manage your time and to be organized is a highly underrated skill. (Personal note: This is one of the soft skills I most need to work on myself.)

Adaptability

Adaptability, the ability to recognize, accept and deal with change in a positive way, doesn't come easy for most of us, but fortunately it is a skill that can be learned. (Related article: Adaptability - The Key to Urban Survival)

Responsibility / Work Ethic

Taking responsibility for your own life and having a strong work ethic are closely related. The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now. Having a strong work ethic is a major key to success in life in any situation, not just in survival situations.

Learning and developing these soft skills can be done. Start by realizing the importance of these skills, then make an honest assessment about your own skill level for each of these categories. Decide which skills you need to develop and start researching those skills. There are lots of articles and videos about these skills on the Internet, and entire books have been written on each. You might even be able to find courses on soft skills being taught at your local community college. Most importantly, soft skills are best learned the same way hard skills are - through practice.
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Friday, December 21, 2018

Major Guangzhou House Church Shut Down by Authorities

Government Crackdown on Influential Churches Across China Continues

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on the morning of December 15, more than 100 police and government officials raided a children’s Bible class at Guangzhou’s Rongguili Church.

They registered the names of the students, interrogated their parents and staff, confiscated their cell phones, and copied contact information from the church’s computers to prevent members from documenting and reporting the raid.

According to South China Morning Post, officials from the education and religious affairs departments stayed until 8:00 p.m. and confiscated church property, including more than 4,000 books. Entry and exit points for the roads leading to the church have been cordoned off by police.

When the worshippers went to their church the next day for Sunday service, more than 30 police officers were present to prevent members from entering. A notice issued by the Yuexiu Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau shows that the church is now disbanded and Christians should instead worship at other state-sanctioned churches nearby.

Rongguili Church was founded by the late Lin Xiangao, an iconic leader in the Chinese house church known for his resistance against the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Thousands attend the church every week and it is widely seen as the beacon of faith in southern China.

This incident makes Rongguili Church the third victim in the latest clampdown on influential house churches in China, following Beijing’s Zion Church and Sichuan’s Autumn Rain Covenant Church.

Father Francis Liu shared the church’s prayer request on Twitter. The church asked people to “pray for the Lord’s mercy on the copied file as it contains personal information of preachers and other churches. May God bless them as local authorities have already taken turns to visit the home of one of the listed.”

A house church member in Beijing who has closely followed the latest crackdown against house churches told ICC, “It seems like the government has been deliberately targeting several influential house churches in China… What might be the reason behind their action at this particular moment we don’t know, but God knows! May God’s will be done.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “From Beijing to Sichuan to Guangzhou, the carefully planned crackdown against house churches shows that the Chinese government has sought to take house churches out of the Christian landscape and force believers to join state-sanctioned churches instead. By doing so, Christians will be subjected to indoctrination through party ideology. This is a clear violation of religious liberty and should be condemned by the international community.”  

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/    

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Egyptian Police Officer Murders Two Christian Men

Christians’ Confidence in Police Further Plunges Following Yet Another Attack

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on the evening of December 12, Egyptian police officer Rabi Mustapha Khalifa shot and killed Coptic Christian Emad Kmal Sadeq and his son David. The police officer was stationed as a security guard at the Nahded al-Qadasa Church in Minya City, Upper Egypt. He has since been detained in custody pending an investigation. At the time of writing, no charges are believed to have been filed.

The police have claimed that “the victims tried to take his (Mustapha’s) gun during a fight.” 

However, Christians familiar with the situation say that the incident was the outcome of a dispute that originated a few days prior. Video footage also further calls the police’s narrative into question.

According to Ezzat Ibrahim, manager of the al-Kalma Center for Human Rights, “On the day of the incident, the policeman extended the number of his work hours for the reason to kill the two Christians.”  

Two days before the incident, a dispute arose between the police officer and the Christians over the police officer’s motorbike. “The two Christians were demolishing their own home; they asked him to move his motorbike away from the dust and house. He refused to take his motorbike away and menaced them, saying, ‘If you don’t give me some pieces of wood, I’m going to shoot fire at your son!’” 

Video footage of the December 12 incident posted on social media shows that the police officer walked over to the Christians’ home with his weapon pulled. After what appears to be a brief conversation, the two Christian men were shot in the street. The father, Emad, was 49 years old and his son David was 21 years old.

The incident is reminiscent of an incident that took place in August, when a policeman tasked with guarding a church in Beni Suef attempted to incite violence against Christians during a service. Christians gathered yesterday in Minya to protest the latest incitement of violence encouraged by the police toward Christians.

One Minya Christian told ICC, “That’s [a] very horrible situation. Maybe the local media can consider the killer as psycho, then he will not be punished. Now, when I meet a policeman, I will not show him my ID… I’m sure that he intentionally killed them; I think he threatened them before.”
“A day before the incident, the killer had threatened them,” another Christian told ICC. “Their family is now ruined (homeless).” 

“I think that the police supported this killing of the two Copts. The two Christians were very widespread religious, so I think that this killing is intentional,” added another local Christian.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s annual report ranks Egypt as a Tier 2 country, where religious freedom continues to be regularly violated and suppressed.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “It is extremely worrying that a police officer, one specifically tasked with the security of a church, would be the perpetrator of such a violent act of persecution against Christians. Historically, the authorities are rarely held accountable for using their position to harass, intimidate, and even attack Christians. Tensions in Minya remain high as Christians are extremely concerned that they will be further singled out by the local authorities. We must keep Egypt’s Christians, and specifically the victims’ family, in our prayers.” 

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/   
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Friday, December 14, 2018

Arrested Sichuan, China, House Church Members Criminally Charged

NOTE: This is a vivid reminder that in many parts of the world merely being a follower of Jesus is dangerous. Please take a few moments to pray for these brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
Chinese Church Leaders Officially Charged with Various Crimes

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that after more than 100 members were arrested during the December 9 crackdown on Sichuan’s Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China, several detained leaders have been criminally charged.

Both Pastor Wang Yi and his wife Jiang Rong have been detained for allegedly inciting subversion of state power, a crime that can result in imprisonment of five years, but up to 15 years in extreme cases. Wang has not yet been allowed to meet with lawyers or family members. Jiang was issued “residential surveillance at a designated location,” where she could be held for as long as six months in facilities commonly known as secret prisons, subject to torture and abuse.

Elder Li Yingqiang who was responsible for posting updates and prayer requests online for the church, has been detained for allegedly picking a quarrel and inciting trouble on the internet. Additionally, deacon Ge Yingfeng and Lu Jinheng were detained for alleged illegal operations, according to South China Morning Post.

In the meantime, more than 50 seminary students from the church were sent to a “re-education camp.” However, they were released and sent home, accompanied by local officials after praying and worshipping for more than 48 hours under surveillance.

The church’s Facebook page was last updated on December 10 with prayer requests. Due to security concerns, the official prayer request updates are now shared through other social media channels to prevent local police from targeting more members.

In spite of the turmoil, many members continue to gather in homes for their weekly small groups. Videos and photos shared by Brent Pinkall on Facebook yesterday demonstrate the perseverance of these Christians as they sing praises and read the Bible together.

Although still under house arrest, Pastor Jin Tianming of Beijing’s heavily persecuted Shouwang church issued a statement in support of Pastor Wang Yi and Autumn Rain Covenant Church. He said, “When I read Pastor Wang Yi’s statement on his faith [issued 48 hours after his arrest], my heart was touched. I will say honestly in the Lord, his stance with respect to the church-state relations, is also my stance.”

He continued to call on Christians to “lift up our hands for Pastor Wang Yi and remember Autumn Rain Covenant Church [in prayers]!”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “While trumped up charges against Christians can land them in prison, the faith they live out will never be extinguished by the evil schemes of the communist government. We are closely following the plight and pleas of these Chinese Christians and will continue to raise awareness in order for the international community to rally behind them.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/   
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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Egyptian Christian Receives Three-Year Prison Sentence for Insulting Islam

Note: Islam is NOT a tolerant religion. 

Village Atmosphere Remains Tense Following July Mob Attack Against Christians Over Facebook Post 

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on November 27, Coptic Christian Abd Adel Bebawy was sentenced by an Egyptian court to three years in prison for “insulting Islam in the first degree.” His lawyer was granted access to the verdict on December 6 and has opened an appeal which is expected to be heard at the end of December.

Bebawy was originally arrested in Minbal, a village located in Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate on July 6, 2018. He had posted on Facebook an image of God, the angel Gabriel, and a verse from the Quran. The day after he was arrested and charged by the police, a mob gathered in Minbal and attacked several Christian homes. It is common for Islamic extremists in Egypt to collectively punish the Christian community for the perceived wrongs of one individual.

One Christian woman, Mariam, shared with ICC shortly following the July attack, “The mob stoned the houses of all the Christians (in Minbal). The Christians were afraid and all locked themselves in their houses and closed the wooden shutters of the windows.”

The attackers have continued to make it clear that Bebawy and his family would not be welcomed back into the village. He has remained imprisoned since July. Regarding the recent verdict, a close relative shared with ICC how she “was expecting this to happen in the first degree. But what I hope is that he will be freed in the appeal.” 

She continued to say that she “didn’t care if [they] had to leave their village or the country, [I] just want his freedom.”

It is believed by those familiar with the case that the judge issued the three-year prison sentence so that the local community would not again form a mob. Hakem, a lawyer familiar with the case, said, “Usually the judge gives the maximum penalty in the first degree to secure himself that he applied the law knowing that the other judge in the second degree will reduce or set him free.” 

Egypt is designated by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as a Tier 2 Country. According to the constitution, Islam is the official state religion and Sharia is the principal source of legislation.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Egypt’s record on religious freedom has fluctuated greatly throughout the years. While the constitution guarantees freedom of religion to Christians, this does not necessarily exist in practice. 

The situation in Minbal shows how delicate the atmosphere is. We must not only pray for the release of Abd Adel Bebawy from prison, but also that any potential progress made toward securing his release would not incite further violence against Christians living in Minbal.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/ 

More Than 100 Sichuan, China, House Church Members Arrested

NOTE: Merely being a follower of Jesus is very dangerous in most parts of the world.

Leaders, Members of Autumn Rain Covenant Church Unaccounted For

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that more than 100 members and leaders of Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province have been arrested. The arrests took place on December 9 after local authorities raided the homes of many church members.

According to a statement from the church, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, the police raided and surrounded the church, arresting a church staff member. Around 9:00 p.m., members’ WeChat accounts and cellphone group discussions were blocked, while the church’s telephone line was also shut down. In the meantime, the police ambushed dozens of homes, arresting numerous church members and leaders, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife. Some were forced to sign a document stating that they will no longer attend the house church.

A member requesting anonymity told Associated French Press, “Most church members were taken from their homes, and some were grabbed off the street. Some were found via their smartphone’s location and were taken away.”

“The police had the whole neighborhood under control, as well as the surrounding area,” he continued. “They didn’t let anyone get close.”

Radio Free Asia noted that the officers refused to provide legal documentation or provide a reason for the arrests. A video shared by the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness confirmed the illegal procedure, documenting the process in which the authorities snatched a Christian from his home, while his wife pursued and questioned their motives.

Elder Lee Yingqiang wrote letters to encourage fellow church members to stand strong in their faith. Despite the persecution, he said, “We will never change our statement of faith shared publicly earlier and our push for house churches to gather in public; we will also not change our stance insisting on the separation of church and state, and the wonderful inheritance of the path to cross of Chinese house churches – we will neither register with the Religious Affairs Bureau, nor join the state-sanctioned churches.”

In the latest updates shared by the church’s Facebook page, photos have surfaced, showing that several members released today were tortured during their detention. One brother shared that during the 24 hours he was detained, he received no food or water, while he was tied to a chair with little sleep. The administrator commented that “these criminal acts are just horrendous.” 

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Chinese authorities seek to intimidate the house church leaders and members by persistently threatening, harassing, and detaining them. They have the mindset that by doing so, Christianity in China will submit to the government’s control. What they don’t know is that Christians often grow stronger and more united after they experience persecution. 

Beijing’s scheme will never prevail, and its distorted view of religious freedom and human rights will continue to be condemned by the international community.” 

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/   

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Pastor and Five Evangelists Arrested for Preaching in Uganda


This news is a stark reminder that in many parts of the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still illegal and can lead to imprisonment or even worse. 

International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that on Saturday, November 24, Pastor Tom Palapande and his team of five evangelists were arrested in eastern Uganda. Local Muslims reported to the Ugandan police that the Christians were using the Quran to undermine the prophet Mohammed and people of the Islamic faith.

“The Muslims came in the company of their Sheikhs and disrupted our open-air market preaching as the police watched. We were then arrested and taken to Soronko district police headquarters for questioning. We were charged with causing public disturbance and inciting violence, offenses [to which] we responded not guilty. The police locked us up from Saturday to Monday so as to investigate the matter,” Pastor Tom told ICC following his release.

He added,  “We were not causing any violence. We are evangelists known across eastern Uganda for…answering questions on Islam and Christianity. When the Sheikhs fail to answer questions, they usually turn their disappointment to us because we know how to handle the Quran and the Bible. We also hold public debates with them and they hate us because, through our ministry, many Muslims have converted to Christianity.” 

On Sunday, members of Pastor Tom’s church were praying for him and the other evangelists. “We missed church service for the first time this year. The church was praying for us, and on Monday we were released, but with conditions: not to hold and discuss the Quran,” Pastor Tom continued.

The arrest and resulting detention have not discouraged Pastor Tom from preaching the Gospel.  Pastor Tom stated, “We keep doing this because it is a command from our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas risked their lives for the name of Jesus; so do we. The danger will not keep us quiet because how shall they hear unless someone preaches to them?

This past June, Pastor Tom was attacked in a stoning while preaching in Kuwait, where the population is approximately 95% Muslim. As a result, he sustained an injury to his forehead. “The injury almost blinded me, but [I was saved] thanks to my small local church that contributed some little money for me to seek treatment,” the pastor remarked.

Pastor Tom concluded, “The biggest challenge is having evangelical churches and pastors partnering with us. Many pastors watch from a distance due to the threat of being killed or their churches burnt.”

Nathan Johnson, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “These kind of attacks on Christians in East Africa are becoming increasingly common. The Ugandan government must ensure that these men have the right to spread their message to anyone. The government must ensure that the rights of Christians are protected equally.”

----- This article is from a press release by International Christian Concern (ICC). You can visit their website at   https://www.persecution.org/ 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

There's a Major Difference Between Being a Leader and Just a Boss

This article is a response of sorts to several articles I've read recently on leadership and survival. My concern is that those particular authors don't seem to understand the important difference between being a leader and being a boss. What they describe isn't actual leadership, but rather ways of establishing themselves as the boss of their survival group or post-SHTF community. 

First, let me say this: If you want to be your group's or community's leader, you should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. You will not magically turn into a leader once SHTF happens, no matter how you plan to exert your dominance. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work to do before you actually become one. The good news is that leadership skills can be developed. Start by understanding the difference between being a leader and just a boss. 

A leader and a boss have the same starting point. They both have a purpose, goal, or mission that they want to accomplish. They both set about accomplishing their mission by utilizing others. That is where the differences start.
 
A boss drives others by depending on his position (authority) to make them obey his orders. This is often accomplished through fear and intimidation. It is Do as I say or face repercussions. At work, the repercussion might be public chastisement, a bad evaluation, the withholding of a pay raise or promotion, or even being fired.. In a survival situation, the repercussions may range from public criticism  to being thrown out of the group. Worse are those who seem to want to maintain their "leadership" by showing favoritism to "good" followers and disfavor to "bad" followers. Establishing your dominance by withholding food & supplies from "bad" followers while doling out favors to your preferred followers will keep people in line. Sure...  More likely, it will cause resentment and an eventual uprising against your tyranny.  

By contrast, a real leader depends on the goodwill he generates in others to get them to join him in his mission.  He develops this goodwill by inspiring others with his example and generating enthusiasm in them for his vision. People follow a leader not out of fear of the consequences, but rather because of their respect for him and their belief in his vision. Rather than punishing "bad" followers, he works with others to develop them and to find the best way to use each individual. Even in large organizations like a multinational corporation or an army, the top leader does this to the next rung of leadership under him, who in turn develop the next rung of leaders, who in turn develop... and so on until even those at the very bottom are being developed and utilized according to their individual abilities. 

I once worked for a man who was a truly great  leader. He reluctantly had to fire someone not just because of their incompetence, but actual criminal activity on the job. It was how he handled the firing that demonstrated true leadership. The firing was a last resort after trying hard to help this individual. The day after he fired the person, he called the rest of the staff together and apologized to us for having to do so.  He accounted for it as his failure - first for hiring the wrong person, then for being unable to successfully develop him. He also took the opportunity to express his vision for the company, using words like "we" and "us" much more than words like "I" and "me."

A boss would never have apologized or taken the blame upon himself. Instead, most bosses would have used the fired worker as an example to the rest staff as to what could happen to "problem" employees. It is the Do as I say or face repercussions method of establishing their authority and dominance

In early 2017, I wrote a well-received article entitled How To Be a Survival Group Leader. If you are interested in this topic, please read (or reread) it. It goes into a lot of detail on how to be a good leader, as opposed to just a boss.
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Friday, November 30, 2018

Book Review: Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal

https://amzn.to/2QpFVVX
Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal, is a popular health advice book from the editors of Reader's Digest, that is now in its Third Edition (released in April 2018). I have all three editions, which is an indicator of how much I like this book.  This book takes the approach of connecting the foods we eat to the ailments that they cause/worsen or help heal. This food-health connection is extremely important, and is a natural way to deal with our health issues. 

The book is set up like an encyclopedia, with alphabetical entries for various foods, ailments, and conditions. The third edition has 170+ foods entries, 100+ ailments, 50+ healthy recipes (the first edition lacks these recipes), and a number of special features covering topics like GMOs, pesticides, high-fructose corn syrup, and food & drug interactions, among others. 

Each food entry starts with a summary of how that particular food may cause harm, and how it may heal. For example, the entry for grapefruits list possible harms as allergies, canker-sores, and drug interactions, and with healing benefits to high cholesterol, cancer, inflammation, and for weight control.  The remainder of the article fills in the details. It also gives tips for eating, buying, and storing the foods.

The enteries for ailments follows a similar format. For example, under Eye Problems, the summary list foods that harm as those with high saturated fats, and foods that heal as carrots, corn, leafy greens, and fish. The rest of the article then fills in the details. Ailment entries close with a section called Beyond the Diet. In the Case of eye problems, this section mentions shading your eyes from the sun, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, not smoking, and controlling your blood pressure as important steps to take to protect/heal your eyes.

Our healthcare system will only continue to get more expensive, and government intervention will likely lead to problems such as rationing and doctor shortages. Taking care of our health so that we minimize our need for professional medical care is the best solution to an expensive and increasingly dysfunctional system. This book will help you accomplish that goal. 

Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal is available on Amazon for about $14. It is well worth that price, in my opinion.
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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Knife Review: Cold Steel Finn Hawk

https://amzn.to/2P19rwu
I love Cold Steel knives. They make well-designed, high quality knives at an affordable price. My latest Cold Steel acquisition is the Finn Hawk - a full-tang, fixed blade knife with a 4-inch blade. The Finn Hawk has quickly become my "go to" knife for general use. I give it 5 out of 5 stars, because I literally have nothing to complain about with this knife. I cannot find a single negative thing to say about it.

Here are the specs:
  • Over-all Length: 8¾ inches
  • Blade Length: 4 inches
  • Grind: Scandi 
  • Spine: 1/8-inch thickness, 90-degree (can be used to spark a ferro rod)
  • Weight: 5.1 ounces (not including sheath)
  • Handle/Grip: Dual Injection Mold, outer layer is TPR rubber
  • Steel: German 4116 Stainless
  • Sheath: secure-ex polymer sheath with belt loop
  • Price: currently under $20 on Amazon, so its affordable
The Finn Hawk comes quite sharp right out of the box, and seems to hold its sharpness well. It is a Scandi grind, so its fairly easy to sharpen when needed. Ir is a full-tang knife, except for the very-back tip which sweeps upwards to allow for a lanyard hole, so maybe technically it could be argued not full-tang, but its definitely more than a three-quarters tang, so I let others argue the technicality.

The Finn Hawk has proven to be a great general-purpose field knife for me. Frankly, I like it better than my Swiss Moras. An all-around great knife for work around the homestead or campsite. Priced at under $20, it is an amazing deal for its quality and usefulness (find it on Amazon). I like this knife so much, I've decided to order a second one to have as a back-up.
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Friday, November 23, 2018

Urban Survival: Twenty-Two Practical Tips

Many people live in cities, obviously. This is a choice for some, a necessity for others. Regardless of why you are in the city, here are some tips to help you survive whatever the future may being.

1) Live as near to where you work as possible. There are many advantages to living near your workplace - you can save time, gas money, and wear & tear on your car. In an emergency, you can "get home" quicker and more safely. You might even get a discount on your auto insurance, saving money you can spend on your preps, paying off debt, or building an emergency fund. Walking distance from work is ideal. Or only minutes via car or public transport.

2) Practice OPSEC regarding your preparations. You don't want a bunch of neighbors and co-workers showing up at you apartment demanding food in a crisis because they know you are a prepper. I've written a three part series on OPSEC (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) you might want to read.

3) Know your way around your city, particularly the areas in which you live, work, shop, worship, and go to school. Also, know where the bad neighborhoods and high crime areas of your city are, and how to avoid them.

4) Know several escape routes from your city should bugging-out ever become necessary or even mandatory. Have paper copies of directions and maps, in case GPS & Google Maps are down when you need them. If you are bugging-out on foot, abandoned train tracks may be your best option. Most cities have many of these, and some have already been turned into greenways and walking/jogging trails. Learn these now. Acquire or make maps, especially of the ones leading out of town.

5) Maintain a vehicle in very good condition, should you ever need to bug-out. Keep the gas tank topped off, and if possible to safely do so, keep at least one 5-gallon can of gas on hand for emergencies (rotate it on a regular basis). Even if you can't store the gas safely, keep an empty can on hand just-in-case. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items such as some food and water, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, extra oil, and jumper cables or battery starter. For winter, include extra gloves and head/neck coverings. A warm blanket is also a good idea, as is a power bar for your phone.


6) Know how to be a "Gray Man." The gray man knows how to fit in with his city, especially among his neighbors and co-workers. He doesn't stand out as anything particularly special or noticeable. He and his house, vehicle, and family blend in with their community. They look and act like they belong, and don't draw unnecessary or unwanted attention. 


7) Know how to not look like a victim. This is somewhat similar to being the gray man, but not exactly. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car.  Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - wear practical clothes and shoes, pay attention to your surroundings, and walk confidently, head up.  Don't bury yourself in your smart phone or IPod. Practice situational awareness. 

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I use Aqua-Tainers.
8) Stockpile water. Water takes up a lot of space, but try to keep at least one weeks' worth on hand at all times. Two weeks is even better. At the first sign of trouble - a blackout, riots, a major storm or whatever - start hoarding water any way you can. Fill up your sinks, tubs, pots, pitchers, bottles, etc.

9) Have a way to filter/treat water.  Tap water may still be available, but not safe. You may also need find other sources of water, and will want to filter/treat that water, too. Rain water, and local streams and ponds, may also be source for water after your supplies run out. Another source is water sitting in hot water heaters (learn how to access that water now, before you need it). A sillcock key, also known as a water key, may allow you to access water spigots on commercial buildings, and at parks and golf courses.

10) Avoid trouble, especially after the trouble starts. What I mean by this is don't go looking for trouble. Don't join in the riots or looting. Don't even go watch out of curiosity. Don't "cowboy up" and start patrolling the streets during a riot (you'll be outnumbered and out gunned). If at all possible, avoid entirely the areas experiencing trouble. Hide, keep quiet, and stay invisible. Be prepared to use self-defense, but remember self-defense is a last resort. Avoiding the trouble in the first place is always you safest option.

11) Take commonsense precautions to secure your home and vehicle. Find ways to harden your home and vehicle. Keep doors
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Wedge Door Alarm
and windows locked. Make use of steering wheel bars and door alarms. Have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Install a steel security door. Consider a security system or a doorbell with camera and monitor. Consider owning a handgun or home defense shotgun (legally and safely, of course, and get well-trained!). The Shooter's Bible Guide to Home Defense may provide more information.      

12) You can grow food in the city. In fact, I've written an article on that you should read:  Urban Survival: Apartment & City Gardening.

13) Keep some cash around the house. Hide it well, and don't tell anyone except your spouse about it. ATMs may be down and banks closed during an emergency. Some junk silver may also be good to hide at home. If you ever have to bug-out, don't forget these stashes!

 
14) Stockpile as much food, water, and other supplies as possible.  Need room to put all those supplies? Get creative. Raise
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Water Bricks
your bed on blocks to get extra storage room under it. Create overhead storage areas. Use water bricks to store water, dry foods (beans, rice, pasta, dog food), or even small supplies (batteries, first aid supplies, ammo, etc.). They are made to stack easily, and can even be turned into tables, nightstands, and other pieces of furniture (thereby serving a dual purpose).  Another possibility is to rent a nearby storage unit.

 
15) Be smart when out in public. Pay attention to your surroundings. Be wary of people who look out-of-place, are loitering, seem to be paying close attention to you, or who act nervous. Shop in groups. Let people know where you are going and when to expect you back. Keep your phone fully charged. Use well-light and highly visible parking spaces. Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, look out a window first to identify possible dangers. Don't get so involved with your smart phone or IPod that you ignore your surroundings. Always be alert.

16) Yip-yip dogs are great for city dwellers. Yip-yip dogs are the small breeds of dogs that tend to be very nervous and bark (yip) quite readily. These make great early warning systems for people trying to break in your home, or messing around your property or vehicles.

17) Bug-out bags and get home bags are a must for city dwellers.
You never know when an emergency will rise, and you probably won't have time to pack. A bug-out bag already packed and ready to go may be the only thing you have time to grab on your way out of the city. It should be designed for three-days use at a minimum, but longer is better. A get home bag is one you can keep in your vehicle to help you get home in an emergency should you have to go on foot, and should contain things such as a flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries, bottled water, and practical walking shoes, especially you you normally wear dress shoes or heels at work.


18) Sanitation & hygiene are especially important considerations for city dwellers. High population density means cities are breeding grounds for all sorts of disease and pestilence. This situation will only be worse during and after a SHTF situation as the city's infrastructure breaks down (sewer system problems, no trash pick-up, lack of running water, and so forth). Plan on dealing with sanitation and hygiene, and stock up on supplies such as large trash bags, cleaning solutions, soap, detergent, bleach, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and even disposable earloop face masks. Have a way to wash clothes and bed sheets, such as a washing wand, even if the power is off. Also, consider pest control for after SHTF (rat poison, roach motels, mouse and rat traps, etc.). 

19) Have a communications plan, and designate a contact outside the city. See my article Do you have a Family Communications Plan? for more details. 

20) Take a good non-lethal.self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover self-defense, but also give info on avoiding dangerous situations. These 

21) If you can carry a gun legally, do so. Know and obey the laws, get all the proper licenses and permits, get well-trained, and practice gun safety, of course. But carry if you can.

22) Have plenty of batteries, and go solar. The power grid may go down completely, or it just may be weak, unreliable, and inconsistent. Be prepared to power your gadgets (phones, radios, flashlights, headlamps) with batteries and/or solar power. 

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Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio. This one has is all: AM/FM/SW/NOAA (weather alert) bands; powered five ways (electrical cord, USB port, AA batteries, solar, and hand-crank); plus flashlight, reading lamp, and cellphone charger.


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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Gear Review: The Laplander Folding Saw

The Laplander Folding Saw
 One of the most useful tools I own is my Bacho Laplander Folding  Saw. I use it around the home for various yard work and gardening tasks, take it camping with me, and have given it a permanent place in my survival bag (bug-out bag). 

Very sharp and tough, this folding saw's blade is 7½  inches long. I've used it to easily handle branches up to 3 inches in diameter, and am sure it could handle bigger with a little effort. It is designed to cut wood, plastic, and bone. The teeth are arranged so that the saw cuts both ways - on the push and the pull.

The Laplander saw has a good locking mechanism that locks the blade in place in either the open or folded position (so it doesn't accidentally open up in your pack or tool box). I've never had the locking mechanism fail. Folded, it measures 9 inches long, so it easily fits in my survival bag.

This is a very high quality folding saw made in Sweden. It is currently on sale at Amazon for 45% off as of 11-22-2018 (price subject to change at Amazon's whim, of course).  Others love this folding saw, too, as it maintains a 4½ star rating on Amazon with over 2,000 customer reviews.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

3 Steps to Take Now Before the Next Recession


Things seem to be working  well with the economy right now. Unemployment is at record lows.  Consumer and business confidence is at record highs. And wages are rising. The economic times are good.

But, there are some blips on the screen.  Although wages are rising more than in recent decades, they are not rising as much as we would like or expect given the current state of the economy. Government spending is still at insane levels, with the national debt continuing to expand. The middle class tax cuts still have not been made permanent. The stock market is very volatile, with large swings spooking ordinary (and professorial) investors. And the overall state of both international and domestic events is creating a lot of uncertainty, which makes companies, big and small, less likely to make major investments in property, plants, and equipment. 

Regardless of when it happens, one thing is for sure: There will be another recession or economic crisis at some point. Maybe it happens in a couple of months or maybe it happens a few years from now.  But it will happen. Here are three things you can do NOW to prepare for Next Great Recession.

1) Reduce Your Consumption of Everything - Adopt a much simpler lifestyle. Live well within your means. Be a Saver, not a Consumer. If you had to, could you survive on half your current income? You may have to one day, so start living that way now. This will take some will power and a willingness to put aside the need for instant gratification. But it can pay great dividends. Use the money you don't spend now to prepare for the future, such as building an emergency fund, paying off debt, paying off your mortgage, finally buying and starting that homestead you've always wanted, stocking up on food and other supplies, or maybe even buying some silver or gold.

2) 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 fixed rate.
Being debt free will give you lots of breathing room and flexibility in dealing with future economic downturns. 


"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." -- Proverbs 22:7 (ESV)
  
3) Secure Your Current Assets - There are a number of ways you can secure your current assets. Make sure the banks and insurance companies you use are sound (there are rating services you can use, 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. Pay off your mortgage if at all possible, or at least refinance into a fixed rate. Pay off your vehicles, and anything else that you are making payments on that you don't want to loose. Guard against identity theft. Pay your taxes on time and in full (the government has extraordinary powers to seize your savings, paycheck, investments, and property to collect back taxes).

The Bottom Line: The economy works in cycles. The best time to prepare for the bad economic times that will come is during the good economic times. Start today, and secure a good future for yourself and your family. 
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How To Not Panic In An Emergency


Probably the single most important survival skill is the ability to not panic, to stay calm in the face of danger, adversity, and intense stress. No amount of other skills, gear, supplies, cash, gold, silver, or guns & ammo will save us if we panic when we face a true SHTF event. Panic, and all our preparations are for naught.

So, the most important preparedness question we can ask ourselves becomes How can I remain calm and regain control when under extreme pressure? Although we can never be certain what our reaction to extreme pressure will be until we face it, there are things we can do, and practice, to increase our odds of remaining calm and in control.

A Navy Seal Technique: Box Breathing

You should practice Box Breathing often under normal conditions so you'll be able to remember the technique under pressure, which won't be as easy as you may think. Instructions for Box Breathing:
  • Inhale deeply for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath (lungs full) for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath (lungs empty) for 4 seconds
  • Repeat as needed
More than just a psychological trick, there is actual medical science behind this technique. By using it, you are increasing the nitric oxide levels in your blood, increasing your blood flow, and reducing your blood pressure. These are physical changes that will help you regain or remain in control of your emotions.
 
Know, Practice, Memorize What To Do In a Crisis

Not knowing what to do, or not remembering what to do, in a crisis can be a cause of panic for many people. Learn now, practice now, and memorize now, what to do in a crisis, and what your priorities should be. I am emphasizing the word now because this is a skill you can learn, but you must learn it before a crisis hits. Its not a skill you can learn "on the fly" during a crisis. 

Two things that are important to learn are the STOP Plan and a set of ordered priorities for any emergency. I've written about both of these in an earlier article, DISASTER!! Tips & priorities for dealing with emergencies. Please read that article for more details, but for now, here are the basics:


The STOP plan (Stop. Think. Observe. Plan.) has been around the emergency preparedness field for a couple of decades now. It is an effective and easy-to-remember method for getting people to think through any emergency situation they are facing, rather than just reacting emotionally. 
  
>>>Stop. Don't panic. Stay calm. This is a good time to use the Box Breathing method.

>>>Think. Take a moment think about what is happening. You need to make rational decisions, and not react emotionally.

>>>Observe. Look around. What is your situation? What are the threats you face? What resources do you have available to deal with those threats? 

>>>Plan. Decide how you are going to deal with the crisis. Make a plan, share your plan with others with you, and stick to the plan, making changes only in relation to changing circumstances.

Depending on the circumstances, you may have only seconds to do the above. Or you may have hours, days, or even longer. Do the best you can do in the time you have. Thinking through possible scenarios ahead of time helps.   

Knowing the order of priorities in any emergency allows you to focus one step at a time on what is really important, rather than just being overwhelmed by everything at once. Here is a suggested order of priorities:

1) Safety. Quickly remove yourself and others out of the path of immediate danger.

2) Address serious medical concerns. Here is the basic order of concern for most injuries and conditions:
  1. Make sure the person can breathe.
  2. Stop any major bleeding.
  3. Immobilize the neck/back if there is an injury to those regions.
  4. Treat shock, hypothermia, hyperthermia, and/or heart attack. 
  5. Treat dehydration.
  6. Treat broken bones (immobilize/splint).
  7. Treat lesser injuries.
3) Shelter from the elements. This may mean a formal shelter, a tent or other temporary shelter, or just warm clothes, rain gear, and/or a blanket.

4) Water. Clean water is a must in any situation, emergency or not.

5) Food. Last on the list, you can go longer without food than anything else on this list. 


God Helps

A number of people will roll their eyes at this bit of advice. Yet, I know this: My own relationship with God gives me great peace, comfort, and courage, especially in difficult times, as well as a sense of purpose, focus, and an understanding of what my priorities should be. I've adopted Joshua 1:9, "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go," as my personal motto. And, I really do believe God answers prayers and can work miracles. 

I encourage everyone to "get right with God." This won't guarantee you'll never panic, but you'll be surprised how much it does help you face the obstacles and dangers of life. Pray and read the Bible daily. Commit to live God's way, rather than by the world's standards. Learn and obey His commandments and teachings. Keep the Sabbath and join with others in worship on a regular basis. 

Not Sure About God? Please talk to a Bible-believing pastor or priest about your doubts.

The Bottom Line

This article has given you a set of four very important tools to help you deal with any emergency or crisis without panicking.Please read the two other articles linked in this article for even more details, and practice, practice, practice...

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Return of the Gun Grabbers - And How to Fight Back!


"After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it." -- William Burroughs
  
The gun grabbers are back. Now that the Democrats have retaken the House, they are making no secret of their intention to pass aggressive and sweeping anti-gun and anti self-defense legislation in 2019. Many of the newly elected members are far-left anti-gun fanatics and feel emboldened by their success in the recent election.

Its not just the new members that are planning to gut the Second Amendment. Nancy Pelosi, still the odds-on favorite to be the next Speaker, gave an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo in which she said that gun-control legislation would be a top priority once the new Congress is sworn-in.

Yes, the GOP still holds the Senate, but the establishment GOP have a bad habit of learning the wrong lessons from elections.  And there are a number of GOP Senators who have a history of being very wishy-washy on gun rights, despite their usually pro Second Amendment rhetoric during elections.

Make no mistake, our Second Amendment rights and our Right to Self-Defense are under assault. In the coming year, our elected officials will be deciding on your right of gun ownership and your right to protect yourself and your family.

We must watch the politicians closely. We must pay close attention to our federal, state, and local governments, and fight efforts to curtail our rights on all levels. Two of the best ways to do this is to join forces with others to defend the Second Amendment and to let your elected officials know what you think about our Second Amendment rights.


Organizations fighting for 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)

E) The Second Amendment Foundation (Twitter, Website, Facebook)
F) Law Enforcement Alliance of America (Website)

If you are in Law Enforcement or the Military, consider joining 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/    
 

Contact Federal Elected Officials


  • President Donald Trump - Contact the President of the United States by filling out the online contact form or by calling the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 or the comments line at 202-456-1111 during business hours.
  • Members of the U.S. Congress
    • U.S. Senators - Get contact information for your Senators in the U.S. Senate.
    • U.S. Representatives - Find the website and contact information for your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
 Contact State Elected Officials
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Friday, November 9, 2018

A Big Mistake Some Preppers Make

Here is a big mistake that some preppers make:  Having an unbalanced approach to preparedness.   

By "unbalanced approach" I mean they put most, if not all, their time, effort & money into one or two (fun) aspects of prepping, while ignoring all the rest.  Some may buy gold and silver; others guns and ammo. Still others may get way into gardening. Which is fine. The mistake they have in common, though, is ignoring all the other (less fun) aspects of prepping to focus exclusively on their preferred prep.Yet preparedness requires attention to a wide variety of potential problems and their solutions, not just the fun ones.

Here is a great example of what I mean: Several years ago when the Doomsday Prepper series was all the rage, a local TV news program did a regular segment featuring local preppers.  One of the "preppers" featured was an somewhat older man (probably early 60s) who showed off his gun collection with great pride. I don't remember the exact number, but it was something like 89 firearms of all types. When they interviewed his wife, she complained that he simply wasn't interested in other aspects of prepping like food and water storage, and they still hadn't gotten those basics squared away yet. 

The gentleman simply wasn't a prepper or survivalist. He was a gun collector. Nothing wrong with that, but simply having a lot of guns doesn't make you prepared, if that is all you are doing.  Being a "prepper" was simply the excuse he gave his wife for buying all those guns.  

I think some folks make be making a similar mistake with gold and silver. The radio and TV ads make it seem simple: buy some gold and silver, then rest comfortably in the knowledge that you are prepared for any economic meltdown or collapse of the dollar. 

Precious metals certainly may have a place in any preparedness plan, but by themselves gold and silver are not a preparedness plan. Once doomsday happens, you are going to need more than just some, or even a lot of, gold and silver to survive.

The solution is simple: Don't concentrate all your efforts into only one or two categories of prepping because they are more fun than other preps.  You need to also do the less fun stuff of getting your finances in order, paying off debt, learning first aid & CPR, learning home repair courses, acquiring hand tools and gardening equipment, learning how to garden, getting you communication plans squared away,  prepping your home security, and accumulating at least a year's worth of food, water, medicine and other supplies, among many other things. 

Here are a couple of articles of mine you may also be interested in:
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