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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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Advanced Urban Survival

This article is a follow-up to my recent Urban Survival: Twenty-Two Practical Tips. Please read that article if you haven't already.

Discussing advanced urban survival should start with an examination of the main differences between rural/small town areas and the big cities and urban centers. There are a lot of differences, but in this article, I want to discuss two in particular - Population Density and Space Availability.
Both of these categories presents urban preppers and survivalists with problems and opportunities different from those in small towns and rural areas. 

Population Density

Big cities have many more people concentrated in a relatively small area. This much greater population density means a much greater threat that city folks will have to deal with crime, violence, looting, and riots, especially after the infrastructure starts to break down after any long-term (or even short-term) grid-down situation. Pollution and sanitation will typically be bigger issues, as will the potential spread of disease. Resources such as food, water, and gasoline will quickly be depleted by the sheer numbers of people using those resources.  These facts suggest that urban survival needs to place particular emphasis on sanitation and disease prevention/treatment, security and self-dense, and stockpiling/caching supplies likely to run out quickly post-SHTF. 

On the other hand, being around more people can have its advantages. More people can mean more hands-on-deck in an emergency, as well as safety-in-numbers. More people probably means more available skill sets. More people may mean a greater opportunity to find and build relationships with like-minded people. 

In order to turn these possibilities into reality, urban survival requires you to build community now, before any SHTF crisis. Learn to get along and work with other people, particularly those with different backgrounds from yours. Befriend your neighbors. Get to know them, their attitudes and beliefs, and their skills. Form a neighborhood watch. This can official (working with your local police, posting signs, etc.) or informal (exchanging phone numbers and agreeing to keep an eye out for strangers or anything else suspicious in the neighborhood). The point is you and your neighbors will begin getting to know one another and watching out for each other. You can build from there. Perhaps you will even find some nearby good friends with which you can form a survival group or mutual aid group (MAG). 

I've written a number of articles on building community that might interest you. They are listed at the bottom of this article.


Space Availability

Limited space, both outdoor and indoor, is a major obstacle for urban preppers. Most apartment and condo dwellers have no space for gardening, raising chickens, or other homesteading activities (thus their frustration with a lot of typical prepper advice). Even home owners in the city typically have very small yards without much room for those type activities. Additionally, limited storage space inside apartments and condos creates a real limitation on how much food, water, gear, and other stuff you can store. 

However, it is possible to overcame these space limitations. My suggestions for doing so can be summed up in three words - minimalism, prioritization, and creativity

Minimalism - The minimalist lifestyle is about eliminating the unnecessary and superfluous, and doing more with less. This will ultimately free up both space and time (and probably money). Declutter you life. Hold a garage sale. Sell it on eBay. Donate stuff to the Salvation Army. Fill up the dumpster. Doing so will free up an amazing amount of storage space. But where to start? There are lots of articles on the web that you can look up, but here are some of the best suggestions I've seen: 
  • Reduce your wardrobe, shoes, belts, ties, handbags, etc. Chances are you have a lot of stuff in your closet (an your kids') that you no longer wear or need. Clean it out.
  • Reduce your collections of books, DVDs, and CDs. Decide what you really want or need, and get rid of the rest.
  • Throw out clutter, such as old magazines, catalogs, as well as all those receipts and warranties from 10 years ago.
  • Get rid of toys, games, books, puzzles, stuffed animals and other junk that your kids have outgrown, broken, or otherwise don't play with anymore. 
Prioritization - This is crucial for the urban prepper and survivalist. You can't afford to waste space or money on non-essentials. Figure out what is really important and focus your time, efforts, and money on those things. Make lists based on those priorities and stick to those lists. This will also help you in your minimization activities. Once you figure out what is important, get rid of the rest.  Prioritized lists will also help you avoid impulse buying,  saving you both space and money.

Creativity - Do container gardening on your porch or balcony. Find out if there are any community gardens in your area you can join. See if your church could start a community garden. Store stuff under the bed. Put your bed on risers to create more storage space. Use flat storage boxes to store stuff under the sofa. 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. A final suggestion, watch little house videos on You Tube. They have come up with some amazingly creative ways to use space and create storage.

Articles of Interest:

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Gear Review: The Pocket Chainsaw

We've all seen the wire saw (sometimes called a commando saw), which is that small, lightweight wire saw included in survival kits and bug-out bags. But I remember a survival show host (Les Stroud?) using one in an episode of his show, and the wire ring on one side pulled off with the first tug or two. #EpicFail
 
After seeing that show, I decide to test my wire saw out. Although the wire ring did stay on mine, after only cutting two small (about 1/3 inch diameter) pine branches, the wire became so bent, twisted, and kinked up that I could not cut completely through a third branch with it.  My conclusion: the wire saw is a good idea in theory, but doesn't really work in reality. A useless piece of gear that I threw away.

So, I traded up to a survival pocket chain saw. Its a chain saw blade with two nylon hand straps, and comes with a pouch that can be worn on your belt. Its too big for a Altoids survival kit, of course, but small & light enough (less than one pound including the pouch) to easily carry in a bug-out bag, tackle box, or keep in the glove compartment of your vehicle. For small limbs, the wood saw on my Swiss Army Knife works very well.

https://amzn.to/2zqYyiGAfter the failure of my wire saw, I decided I need to test out the pocket chain saw. I cut down a dead cherry tree in my yard with it (see the pictures in this article of that tree and the pocket chainsaw I used). 




https://amzn.to/2zqYyiGThe pocket chainsaw worked extremely well. I was able to cut down and cut up a 9+ inch diameter cherry tree with nothing but my pocket chainsaw and my own muscle power. I did learn a few things: 1) A gas-powered chainsaw would have been much easier and faster, of course, but a real chainsaw and a can of gas won't fit in your bug-out  bag. The pocket chainsaw is a viable alternative. 2) You need to have a lot of strength and stamina to really use this - fitness matters. By the way, using a pocket chainsaw is a GREAT upper body workout! 3) Wear gloves (you should include a pair of work gloves in your bug-out bag anyway), otherwise the hand straps will eat into your hands.   

Since then, I've also successfully used the pocket chainsaw to cut up several smaller trees and large branches. The handles have not ripped off, and the chain hasn't knotted up. Using it is hard work - again, fitness matters - but it is definitely a better option than the useless wire saw. I keep my pocket chainsaw in my bug-out bag. 

The pocket chainsaw is on Amazon for about $16, and currently comes with a free fire starter.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Survival 101: Going Old School


In any future long-term grid-down scenario, we will be living in a new world. Excuse me, I mean an old world. We will loose most of the modern conveniences we've grown accustomed to in this age of high tech, the Internet, Amazon, and a throw-away economy of disposable goods. We will suddenly be thrust back into a world in which our grandparents and great grandparents lived. For most of us this will be a hard adjustment to make.We need to start thinking now about how people used to live back in the "Olden Times." And to start planning how we can live there ourselves.

For example, take something as simple as entertainment and recreation. Modern entertainment typically revolves around screen time: TV, movies, video games, e-readers, smart phones, and so forth. But our grandparents, and definitely our great grandparents, didn't have these options. They had to entertain themselves. Shocking, right? I mean, how on earth did they do that? Well, they read books made of paper (barbaric, right?). They played card games and board games, told stories, made their own music, and got together with neighbors to celebrate holidays and special occasions.To go old school, maybe pick up some classic board games (you know, the ones that don't require electricity or batteries) and a few decks of cards. Or maybe learn a (non-electric) musical instrument (I want to learn to play the harmonica). Many other possibilities exist.

Another example: In today's modern times, there are plenty of readily available doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical options for when we get sick. In Olden Times, doctors were scarce, especially in rural areas and small towns. When folks got sick, they usually had to rely on Mom's chicken soup, or Grandma's home remedies. In other words, do-it-yourself healthcare was the first line of defense. To go old school, start figuring out how to take care of your and your family's health yourself. Pick up a few good books on home remedies and herbal medicine  

More Examples

Modern: Riding lawn mower for cutting grass.
Old School: Reel Mower (no gas required).

Modern: Computer/printer.
Old School: Manual typewriter.

Modern: Washing machine and dryer.
Old School: Hand washing and clotheslines.

Modern: Electric mixer.
Old School: Hand mixer.

Modern: Electric can opener.
Old School: Manual can opener.

Modern: Take-out, microwaves.
Old-School: Cooking from scratch, cast-iron cookware (gas stoves, wood stoves, outdoor cooking).

Modern: The Internet, Wikipedia.
Old School: Reference books (paper!), the library.

Modern: GPS, Google Maps.
Old School: Road atlas, folding maps.

Modern: Credit & debit cards, ETFs.
Old School: Cash, silver coins, barter.

Modern: Debt, installment plans, rent-to-own.
Old School: Delay purchase until you can save the money (modern folks are going to have a real hard time with this one). 

Modern: Baby formula, store-bought baby food in tiny jars.
Old School: Breast feeding, making baby food at home.

Modern: Disposable diapers.
Old School: Cloth diapers.

This is, of course, only a very limited list - merely some examples to get you thinking.  There are lots and lots that can be added to this list. The point is to start thinking through how your world will change if and when the grid goes down. Then, start taking steps to prepare.

P.S. You might want to read my article Understanding Preparedness - Loss of Comforts of Civilization for more on how the world will change, post grid-down.
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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. 

https://amzn.to/2S9zLGH
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
https://amzn.to/2SaQ5Hx
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
https://amzn.to/2TAMWSO
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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http://amzn.to/2h6IWci

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.

http://amzn.to/2wnn0SN


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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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Monday, November 19, 2018

Tips To Improve Your Health and Fitness for Free!


Improving your health and fitness doesn't require gym memberships, personal trainers, special exercise equipment, or expensive "health foods." Here are some FREE health & fitness tips you can start doing today:

  • Drink water instead of sodas or sweet tea. You don't have to buy bottled water, as tap water works just as well (and the dirty little secret of most bottled waters is that they really are just tap water).
  • Skip the desserts. You'll lose weight and save money at the same time.
  • Skip the late night snacks. Another way to lose weight and save money at the same time.
  • Eat healthier. This doesn't have to mean buying special health foods or more costly organic foods.  Instead, it means eating less junk foods, fast foods, & sweets, and more veggies, especially leafy-greens and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower).
  • Go for a walk. Walking is great exercise. Start with a 15-minute walk each day, and over the next several weeks try to work your way up to 45-minutes tor even an hour. You can walk around your neighborhood, in your local mall (great way to walk on a rainy day), or at local parks & greenways. I even know an older couple who walk laps inside their local Walmart most mornings, rain or shine. Everyone has somewhere they can walk for free. Once you start walking, don't quit. The key to walking for fitness is consistency
  • Be active. Yard work - such as cutting grass with a push mower, gardening, raking leaves, chopping wood - makes great free exercise. In fact, anything that raises your pulse rate and causes you to lightly sweat counts as exercise. 
  • Check out your local parks. Local parks often have walking/jogging trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, obstacle/fitness courses, and other opportunities for free exercise. 
  • Stretching exercises and calisthenics are free. Jumping jacks, sit-ups, toe-touches, leg squats,  push-ups, etc., require no special equipment and cost nothing. You can also find lots of free You Tube videos with fitness exercises and workout programs.
  • Stop smoking. Yes, this is hard. But it can be done for free and it will even save you hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars a year.   

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Problems Faced by 1800s Backcountry Farms


After Congress passed the Homestead Act in 1862, many Easterners moved West, eager for the opportunity to farm their own land. The 160 acres of land of land for free (if you lived and worked on the land for five years), along with the recently completed transcontinental railroad granting ready access, made their dreams seem easily within their reach. However, they quickly found out that they would face many problems and hardships. 

Economic Hardships

One surprising hardship was money. Despite getting the land for free, there were still costs associated with starting and operating their farms. Large-scale farming in the late 1800s was expensive. Farmers had to buy seed, fertilizer, tools, and machinery. They also had to buy household goods. 

It is a romanticized myth that these farmers were 100% self-sufficient and produced all of their own food, clothing, furniture, cookware, and other goods. They still had to buy many goods elsewhere, most of which were produced back East. The added distance these goods had to be shipped only increased their cost. Even after mail-order catalog companies came into existence (Montgomery Ward in 1872; Sears and Roebuck in 1893) the costs remained relatively expensive, and the selection relatively limited, compared to the markets back East.  

Many of these new farmers quickly went into debt setting up and operating their free homesteads. This debt became difficult to pay off after the success of the Homestead Act resulted in overproduction of crops causing the prices paid on the food markets to decline sharply under the glut.  

Nature and Isolation

The new farmers also faced problems caused by nature. Many parts of the Great Plains experience very hot, dry summers and extremely harsh winters. Both drought and insect blights were common.  Predators such as bears and wolves, as well as poisonous snakes, only added to the difficulties. Working the land was long, difficult, and tiring, and there was little help available beyond the farmer and his family.

With 160-acres plots, the nearest neighbor was quite a distance away. The isolated nature of the homesteads meant that farm life could be quite lonely and monotonous. Also, the isolation meant you were on your own. There was no way to call for help in an emergency, and no nearby neighbors to quickly rush to your aid when needed. 

Finally, the new farmers, due to their isolation and relative poverty, lacked political power. They were largely ignored by the politicians, and often taken advantage of by the railroads and banks with little or no recourse. 

Conclusions

Rural agrarian lifestyles, represented by the modern homesteading movement, as well as the isolated bug-out retreat, offer many desirable benefits. But also many potential hardships. This article is in no way meant to discourage folks from pursuing their dreams of homesteading or leading self-reliant lives away from the big cities.  On the contrary, I share those dreams. Rather, I intend this article to de-romanticize the idea so that we can make realistic, practical plans with our eyes wide-open.

Liked this article? You may also be interested in my article 1800s Backcountry Homesteads: Most Important Crop/Food Staple
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If you are interested in preparedness, gardening, homesteading, and country skills, check out The Encyclopedia of Country Living. This large book is a treasure trove of useful information on your journey to simpler, more natural, more sustainable life of self-reliance. It also makes a great Christmas gift!

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Saturday, November 17, 2018

Spiritual Preparedness

I've talked about this before, and I realize that some folks just aren't interested in this particular topic, but it is important. Here is what I want to share with you.

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

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

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

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

Keep the Sabbath. We are meant to toil, to work, as part of mankind's punishment for the Fall.  But God engraved His example, the pattern of one day in seven for rest, in His Commandments. Set aside the Sabbath as a Holy day of rest, family, and worship. Join with other believers in worship on a regular basis. Christianity isn't meant to be a "do-it-yourself" religion. Christians are meant to be a part of The Church, supporting, encouraging, and helping one another.

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

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

Commit to live God's way, rather than by the world's standards. Learn and obey His commandments and teachings. A line form an Orthodox prayer puts it wonderfully: "Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments." Don't compromise with modern world. Don't be embarrassed by accepting the authority of God's Word over the whim of public opinion as the standard for right and wrong. It won't be easy, but will be worth it!
Quick, can you name all Ten Commandments without looking them up? Do you know how Jesus' answer regarding the most important commandment fits in with the Ten Commandments? Hint: the first five tell us how to love God, the second five tell us how to love others.  
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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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Monday, November 5, 2018

What Churches Can Do To Prepare For Bad Times


Should churches prepare for bad times?

I have no doubt the answer is Yes! The Bible makes it clear that preparedness (both physical and spiritual) is not only prudent, but in fact is commanded by God. If you doubt this fact, please read my article Are preppers and survivalists are failing to trust God? which contains many, many quotes from the Bible. 

Besides. believers are a family. We often call each other "brothers and sisters" even when we are not related by blood or marriage. Jesus has taught us to love one another, to help one another. This is what I mean when I suggest churches get involved in prepping - that we help each other as we struggle to survive tough times that may lie ahead.
 
What can churches so to prepare for bad times ahead?

1) Admit the need for emergency preparedness.  Yes, at some point Jesus will return and establish His Kingdom and we will all be safe. But until, we will face persecution, danger, and difficult times. In the last few years, we've seen mass shootings at several churches and synagogues. We've seen Christians in America fired from their jobs, harassed, bullied, sued, and even jailed, for standing up for their beliefs. In October, a church in Seattle was fire-bombed while service was in progress. Earlier this year, an Orthodox priest in Charlotte, NC was brutally attached in the church's parking lot early on a Sunday morning. The tactics of bullying, intimidation, and violence being employed by the left against anyone supporting traditional values and beliefs are only growing in intensity. 

2) You don't have to call it "prepping" or "survivalism." Those terms have negative connotations for some people, and may meet with automatic resistance. "Emergency preparedness" or "disaster preparedness" are legitimate names for what I'm suggesting, and may be more acceptable to your fellow church members. Of course, you know your church better than I, so call it whatever you feel is appropriate. 

3) Church security is the place to start.  We want our churches to be open and welcoming to the larger community, but recent events have shown we do need to think about security also. Security cameras covering the entrances and parking lot are a good idea. A multi-camera CCTV system with DVR recorder can be had for under $200 (here's one such system on Amazon). Most churches cannot afford paid security, but perhaps they have police officers or military veterans in the congregation who can act as armed security during services. Really, anyone in the congregation with the proper permits and training can be volunteer security.  

4) Create a church communications plan. Many churches have phone trees (sometimes called prayer trees or prayer chains), in which prayer requests and other information can be spread quickly to all church members. Basically, person A calls two predetermined people, who each in turn call two predetermined people. Those four people each call two people, and so forth until the entire church is notified.  if your church doesn't already have one of these, set one up. It can be used to pass on not just prayer requests, but all sorts of news and information.

5) Start a church community garden. If your church has, or can get access to, some open land, then start a community gardening program. There are many ways this can be done, from one massive garden that everyone works and shares its harvest, to individuals & families being provided smaller plots to garden as they see fit. The garden could be limited to church members only, or it could be opened up a larger community. The community gardening program would also provide encouragement and education to folks wanting to garden in their own yards.

6) Hold classes in food storage and canning. Churches could encourage and educate their members to store food and water. Chances are your church has a number of older members who would love to pass on their knowledge of canning and other food preservation techniques. If not, check your your local agricultural extension office.

7) Hold classes in first aid and CPR. Your church could offer its members courses in first aid and CPR. You many have members already qualified to teach those courses. If not, contact your local fire department or EMS. Many will be happy to work with your church to provide first aid training.

8) Hold classes in budgeting and family finance. Encourage and educate church members on personal finances, budgeting, and becoming debt-free. There are a number of ministries which educate and encourage folks in their personal finances, and a lot of free and low-cost programs and bible studies available. Check out Dave Ramsey's website and radio program. Also, Money Matters with Ken Moraif. And Crown Financial. There may be others.

9) Hold other preparedness classes. Churches could provide occasional or on-going classes in preparedness. How to do this and what subjects to cover are limited only by your imagination. Your church members could also work together to buy supplies in bulk, combining your individual purchases to get the best prices possible.

10) Sponsor scout-like youth groups - Your church could host various types of scouting and scouting-like groups, including Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA. Both are great alternatives to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, which have both now gone all-in on political correctness. Your church can also start its own scout-like group using scouting handbooks (anyone can buy them), but not being connected to the national groups. These programs are a great way to teach young people the values and skills that will help them no matter what life throws their way.

11) Store food and other supplies - A church I attended many years ago had a small room where they stored old coats & jackets, blankets, canned and dried food, baby supplies, and other similar things. These were then given to the homeless or other people in need that would show up at the church from time-to-time asking for help. Your church could do something similar - buying and storing supplies that could be distributed to either church members and/or needy folks in an emergency.

12) Emphasize prayer and discipleship. Our country is in need of prayer. Although we were founded as a nation based on Christian principles, we are no longer a Christian nation. Chances are most of our neighbors are unchurched, many are not believers, and some have never truly heard the Gospel message. It used to be that America took the Gospel to places that had never heard it, such as Africa and Asia. But now, America itself has become a field in need for missionary work. The Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19,20) doesn't just apply to professional missionaries in the far-corners of the globe. It applies to all of us in dealing with our friends and neighbors.

What churches can do to help their members and communities prepare is in no way limited by this short list of twelve things. There are many, many other possibilities, and most also make terrific opportunities to reach out to the unchurched in our communities.
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